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Can white voters really doom Obama?

Can white voters really doom Obama? | Upsetment | Scoop.it

Polls show white voters who fear racial change will back Romney. It's their loss.

As an older, white voter, I strongly support President Obama because he is the more decent man.

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Why Michigan's Iraqi Christians thought Trump would spare their loved ones

Why Michigan's Iraqi Christians thought Trump would spare their loved ones | Upsetment | Scoop.it
After more than 100 Iraqi Christians were rounded up for deportation in June, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a class action suit on behalf of the detainees. On Wednesday, a federal judge heard arguments on whether to grant an emergency stay.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
First, let's be clear, many of these deportations were started under Obama. Second, there is no question that in most if not all the cases, there were criminal acts that justify deporting the people. This is a story about compassion, its presence or absence. Should the US government show compassion to these immigrants, most of whom having gone astray as kids new to this country and trying to find their ways and now law-abiding, or should we enforce the laws without concern for the people who are caught up in that process? 

Making this a fascinating set of cases is the religious and cultural background of the immigrants involved. They are from a conservative Christian faith; they are Chaldeans, a sect of Catholic. The Chaldean community voted overwhelmingly for Trump because of their own rigid values and morality. They wanted his conservative and his anti-Islamic positions. Now, they are hoping for his compassion, a trait I have yet to see in him. 

Anyway, now they can better understand the irony that is American politics. We Americans seem to make a policy of voting against our own best interests as soon as we think there is an enemy who we must hate even if that means not loving ourselves. 
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Kindergarten Blast Suspect Had Explosive Material at Home, China Says

Kindergarten Blast Suspect Had Explosive Material at Home, China Says | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Writings about death and killing were also found at the home of the 22-year-old suspect, who died in the explosion, the state broadcaster quoted the authorities as saying.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
So, why would anybody try to kill small children, kids in kindergarten? Well, that is surely one of the easiest way to terrify anywhere. What parent is not concerned about their child's welfare let alone their safety from some merciless killer. However, in China, where having children has been so restricted and where family is so incredibly important, the terror effect of such an attack is even higher than in England, where the target was young girls or even Sandy Hook in America, where a madman also targeted little kids in school. 

Of course, like any idiom of madness and distress, this one will take off among the mentally ill, of China and possibly elsewhere, just as other social memes take off. In fact, among the mentally ill and raging, such memes have swifter lift-off than you can imagine because one of the bizarre things about becoming part of madness, say in deciding that you follow ISIS, is the reassuring sense that you have now become part of a group, that you—who may be the ultimate loser and loner—somehow belong. 

One of the worst things about these disgusting terror causers is that they usually die in the moment, which makes them seem heroic to other insane people and do not allow society to make a proper mockery and joke of them. In the end, it will only be when society sees such behavior as coming from pathetic losers that the meme will not have attractiveness. Perhaps that was why the heads of dead perpetrators were once displayed on pikes in places like London. Maybe, we should once again make it clear that they do not belong to society. For beginners, I would suggest consigning their bodies very openly to the garbage and not to normal human disposal. 

How would you deal with such want-to-terrorize mad-people?
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Zinke Says Tribes Are ‘Happy’ to Have Bears Ears Modifications; Tribes Disagree - Indian Country Media Network

Zinke Says Tribes Are ‘Happy’ to Have Bears Ears Modifications; Tribes Disagree - Indian Country Media Network | Upsetment | Scoop.it
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke recommends reducing the size of Bears Ears National Monument and calls tribes 'happy' with that decision.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
A few simple observations: 1) Native Americans have a hard time expressing anger directly in conversation. They may dislike what somebody is saying, but they are too courteous to say, "Hey man, you're talking nonsense." 2) When the White Man says that "Natives" are happy, that usually means that the White Man has figured out a way to screw somebody usually for the sake of that precious yellow metal or its modern green equivalent, in this case by reopening land that was going to be protected to mineral exploration. Worse, it may mean more uranium mining with all the resulting health issues. 3) When somebody says they are going to be responsibly responsible, they other are dumb as shit or they actually are speaking in New Speak. I think that Sec. Zinke is the latter; this means as long as industry is happy he'll do what he can for the tribes to be peaceful. If business wants more; well fuck the Indians once again. 

This brings up a simple reality, at best the current administration in Washington is dominated by the concerns of business. Worse, within the US government those parts of the system that are supposed to be concerned with other constituencies have next to no say and are so far removed from those constituencies as to be uninterested. Be it Native Americans, veterans, people in inner cities, the poor: Washington just doesn't care about anybody. It is really time to change the system, and that will have to start with either a new political party or it will wait until the people take up arms. I hope it will be the former. 
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Rep. Steve Scalise shot at GOP baseball practice - Gunman wounded and in custody

Rep. Steve Scalise shot at GOP baseball practice - Gunman wounded and in custody | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Witnesses claim fifty shots fired by man with rifle.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Clearly, the shooter was either doing his best to not kill anyone or he's the worst shot in history. From a vantage point getting off fifty rounds with minimal attempts to fire back, maybe one guy with a pistol responding. I point this out because this seems to me to be a clear political statement. I won't be surprised to find it is a parent or other relative from one of the many shooting incidents such as Sandy Hook determined that congress start giving serious consideration to the threat that is guns. Of course, that's just my guess given the situation. That said, his goal was to instill terror, no question about that. Therefore, interesting that neither Trump nor Pence used the "T" word in their responses. Want to bet they would have said something different if he had been Islamic or Black instead of a white shooter?  

Maybe the strangest thing to me is that all these GOP congressmen and staff were out there practicing and there were so few ready to fire back. I guess that good guy with a gun theory really has its limitations. Not that handguns can do much against a guy with a rifle in a defensible position, but still one has to wonder where their guns were. 

As for the people who were wounded—other than the gunman, whom I want to see in prison or a mental hospital asap despite my own desire to see better gun control—I wish them all a speedy recovery, especial Rep Scales who apparently was the most severely wounded. 
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Delta and Bank of America take brave stand against free Shakespeare

Delta and Bank of America take brave stand against free Shakespeare | Upsetment | Scoop.it
The controversy over the Public Theater's production of "Julius Caesar" only hurts audiences
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Yes, clearly that is supposed to be Caesar a la Donald Trump. Yes, he will be brutally murdered; that's what happens in Shakespeare's play and what actually happened in ancient Rome. Last year, by the way, a different theater company used an actor who clearly was supposed to look like Barak Obama. That's the whole point of the play, to not only tell a bit of history but to remind us that this is about the consequences of political assassination and dividing a nation. That Caesar is brutally murdered isn't celebrated in the play. Rather it is the catalyst that brings about the destruction of the men who assassinate the rule and also the foundation of a tyranny that would rule Rome for generations acting as if it were in the name of the people. If anything the play reminds us that such assassination is a wrong step indeed. Also, we must remember that Shakespeare was writing at a time when England happily recognized that the threats to the life of their beloved queen had been stopped. 

Sadly, because the American public don't believe in thinking and companies worry more about image than values, funding for this worthy production has been pulled. Fortunately, however, the Public Theatre, which produced and owns the rights to Hamilton, is currently in good financial condition. For my part, I don't particularly want to see another production of Julius Caesar right now, but I do support the right of artists to use their art to make us think and to discuss. I hope my books get people talking, too. You can check them out at http://www.kennethweene.com 
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Panama cuts ties with Taiwan, recognizes 'One China'

Panama cuts ties with Taiwan, recognizes 'One China' | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Panama established diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China and accepted the communist nation's 'One China' mantra.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
As a kid, I grew up more aware of Formosa (Taiwan) than I was of most places in the world. Why? Because the US was poised to go to war to protect that small island "nation" from imminent invasion from mainland China. Taiwan was the last bastion of the "free" Chinese and our staunch ally. Of course, much of that was hooey. For one thing, those brave nationalist forces had not done very well against the Chinese Communists in the civil war at the end of World War 2—that failure despite the millions of dollars of aid given to Chiang Kai-shek and his side, most of which Chiang having withheld from battle against the Japanese to have it ready for the coming struggle with Mao. For another, the times when the Taiwanese military might have been of assistance, for example in Korea, we wouldn't even ask them to help for fear of the Communist and the Russian reactions. 

What was really going on was that even at the end of the World War, we recognized that Japan as a major economic powerhouse had to be kept friendly to America. In that way, we could maintain a dominant role in the western Pacific. We feared both the Communist push into Asia, which kept us from seeing our natural alliance with the Vietnamese leader Ho or even our opportunity to have a positive relationship  with Communist China—something we have now reached to a small degree. That fear and the nature of warfare at that time, with the use of ships requiring ports, meant that we wanted Formosa as a forward base. In todays world of nuclear vessels such a base is relatively unimportant. Sure they might be useful for dry-docking, but then those shipyards would be vulnerable to air attack. And, bombers can now be located anywhere in the world and flown to the attack, to say nothing of using missiles. Sorry, Taiwan, but you are no longer a necessary part of our defense strategy and Japan is now supposed to take care of herself. 

So off to Beijing went Nixon and the world had a moment of respite. 

What will happen to Formosa as the number of countries recognizing it goes down? Probably not much. China has no particular reason to bother invading and as time passes the people on the island have a lessening sense of threat from China and a greater desire to be part of the far larger economic and political creature that lies so close. From the other side, China sees Formosa's industrial strength as a positive. When Beijing eventually does take over the island, all those industrial and trade connections will be there to support China's goal of world hegemony. Not since 1421 has the Chinese government had such a clear longterm plan to become the dominant power in the world. At that time a Chinese fleet under Zheng He set sail to discover the world (at least according to historian Gavin Menzies. Again according to Menzies, another fleet traveled to Italy in 1434. But, after that, China turned inward. 

China is certainly no longer contemplating its own navel. Today, she is pushing aggressively forward in Africa and in South America to say nothing of those artificial islands being created in the China Sea. 

I wonder if when Xi Jinping met with Donald Trump in Florida if the Chinese president said, "You keep Formosa for now while China takes the rest of the world."? Perhaps even told our naive POTUS, "You can even build a hotel in Taipei." 

Anyway, Taiwan no longer matters much in the course of current affairs and countries that once may have wanted to do business with Formosa are now more interested in Beijing. 
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Alexei Navalny, Putin critic and Russian opposition leader, arrested as thousands protest on Russia Day

Alexei Navalny, Putin critic and Russian opposition leader, arrested as thousands protest on Russia Day | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Thousands of anti-government activists took to the streets of Moscow and other Russian cities on Russia Day.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
There is no doubt that Putin is moving ever closer to a full dictatorship. Sadly, the United States and our allies can only keep imposing economic sanctions while Putin ably moves forward on the international scene taking advantage of every situation. 

Was it a mistake to not move into Syria and take control before Russia acted? Would such a confrontational approach have worked? Perhaps we should be pushing the Russians into another competition of military expenditures, one which will again tax Russia and throw the American industrial right into a feeding frenzy. 

Or perhaps, we should try to find common ground and recognize that dictatorships are part of the world in which we live. We shouldn't be trusting Moscow under Putin or relying on any partnership, for example the space station or getting the Syrian situation under some kind of reasonable order.

However, we should try to find common ground on specific issues. As for the brave Russian people who are speaking out against his tyranny, well let's give them what support we can, particularly by arranging financial help so they can keep going, but let nobody expect that there won't be another oligarch to follow this one. Russian society has had czars and dictators, but what does it know of democracy? Sadly, very little and not very successful at that. 
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Drug crisis is pushing up death rates for almost all groups of Americans

Drug crisis is pushing up death rates for almost all groups of Americans | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Opioids and alcohol are killing whites, blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans in the prime of life.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Driven by prescription drugs as much as by illegal ones, America's drug epidemic is killing people at record numbers, especially those who should be living productive lives. Deaton, a Nobel laureate, said the bigger picture for the United States is “catastrophic.” Death rates are supposed to go down, not up, he said. “A society where this is going the wrong way, there’s something very, very seriously wrong with it.”

What to do? Not continue the failed policies of a war on drugs. Instead, can we push for treatment, provide better education about the dangers, and most importantly improve the quality of life possibilities of those who have less. A society that emphasizes economic differences inherently produces despair and surrender among those at the bottom. Using drugs to feel better becomes their way out both for the moment and in the relatively short-term forever. 

If you'd like to get to know some of those people on the bottom and hopefully to better understand that they are worthwhile, read Tales From the Dew Drop Inne. Who better represents the bottom of the barrel than Cal working part-time at Chan's takeout Chinese or the rest of the gang who hang at that local bar? Here's the trailer:


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Qatar blockade: Gulf states silent on Tillerson plea to ease measures - BBC News

Qatar blockade: Gulf states silent on Tillerson plea to ease measures - BBC News | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Saudi Arabia and others ignore a Rex Tillerson call to ease their measures but hail Trump comments.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Apparently this administration is talking out of two sides of the issue, for a blockade of Qatar and for easing of that blockade. Meanwhile, Qatar has been a major American military ally and hosts a base. It is also one of the few countries of the Middle East that has consistently tried to find bridges for peace between the Sunni and Shia. In the end, it appears that Russia will be a big winner here and of course Iran, which will provide the shipping of food and other goods that Qatar needs. Can anybody save us from this buffoonery? 
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Turkey Throws Support Behind Qatar in Rift Among Arab Nations

Turkey Throws Support Behind Qatar in Rift Among Arab Nations | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Moving away from a neutral stance, Turkey passed new laws to allow greater military cooperation with Qatar, where it already has an army base.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
As both Turkey and Iran rush to support their small but very wealthy neighbor, the scenario is setting up that can lead to some major conflict in the Middle East. Once again, Saudi Arabia has flexed its somewhat limited muscles, but Riyadh never worries about that; after all it has its American bodyguard waiting in the wings. And, sadly, our ingenu POTSUS is preoccupied with showing us his masculine powers. Hey Washington, some careful foreplay required here. 
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Trump wants to start charging stores to accept food stamps

Trump wants to start charging stores to accept food stamps | Upsetment | Scoop.it
The Office of Management and Budget says the fee would be assessed when stores sign up and would require renewal after five years.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
The small amount of revenue, 2.4 Oil over 10 years)  obtained by this fee for doing business would hardly pay for the actual administration of this change in the program. What would be accomplished is forcing the smallest stores that serve the poor under. The big chains will easily absorb the cost. Once the small guys are gone, then the chains will make up the difference by either raising the prices of the goods most bought by the poor or by cutting quality on the items available in poorer neighborhoods. 

By the way, if you haven't read my essay Oy vey iz mir, which is about this very topic, you'll find it at:
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Qatar row: Trump claims credit for isolation - BBC News

Qatar row: Trump claims credit for isolation - BBC News | Upsetment | Scoop.it
The US president says his Mid-East trip is "already paying off" and might help end terrorism.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
So Mr. Trump is taking credit for isolating one of our allies, a country where we have a major military base. One of the Arab countries that has integrated fully with the Western economy. One of the few bridges between the feuding sides of the Middle East.  IDIOTIC! This man truly thinks the world is revolving around him. Can no one rid us of this meddlesome fool? 
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Qatar row: Saudi and Egypt among countries to cut Doha links - BBC News

Qatar row: Saudi and Egypt among countries to cut Doha links - BBC News | Upsetment | Scoop.it
A diplomatic crisis erupts as Qatar's neighbours sever ties, accusing it of fuelling instability.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
If you look at a map, it becomes clear that this has to do with Saudi Arabia's concerns. Sure Qatar has been more sympathetic to some of the extreme groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood and maybe even ISIS, than other Arab countries, but the small peninsula kingdom has also been friendlier to the West, including housing a major American base. Qatar has also been friendlier to Iran, with many Shia living in this predominantly Salafi country. 

Salafi is the utrastrict-conservative branch of the Sunni faith developed in Saudi Arabia which is often called Wahhabism in the US. It is also the home of alJeezera, the Arab media company. 

So what is the actual Saudi underlying concern? Qatar is an outlier country in the Middle East. Although religiously conservative, this small, but wealthy kingdom has been a major force towards economic and military westernization and especially globalism. This is very much at odds with Saudi Arabia's desire to become a world power by wielding the sword of Islamic solidarity. Left to its own, Qatar would be at peace with the Shia and is already welcoming to the non-Islamic world including hosting the World Cup. 

My take: Under the guise of fighting terrorism and using the Trump administration's naivety, Saudi Arabia is flogging its team into the traces. Egypt, the other big country involved, desperate for economic aid and trying to find common ground with Saudi Arabia will go along since that's better than being left to its own chaos. Mostly, this is a team-building exercise from Riyadh. 

In the background, looms the unspoken Saudi-Israeli agreement to build a new canal to bypass the Suez and that requires security in the Gulf, which Qatar, with her perfect location, can help provide. Of course, that canal would put enormous pressure on Iran by accommodating larger oil tankers and by moving traffic faster, so in the long run, this is not only a way to push Saudi preeminence but also to push back against Iran. 

Now, if Iran were smart and the US less naive and willing to support the process, Tehran would be offering aide to counter Saudi Arabia in Cairo. On the other hand, that might get Iran on board with expanding and modernizing the canal situation, which would mean they would have to talk a bit with Israel, which has both the technology at the ready and which would assuredly oppose any canal plans that left them out. 

So, can the US find a way to make use of this moment, or will we sit back and watch the Saudis move towards a preeminence that in the long run will not be good for stability and peace?
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Moving to Scuttle Obama Legacy, Donald Trump to Crack Down on Cuba

Moving to Scuttle Obama Legacy, Donald Trump to Crack Down on Cuba | Upsetment | Scoop.it
The president is expected to declare that the two-year-old Obama-era approach of engagement amounted to a failed policy of appeasement.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
How will this help anyone? I know there is an old guard of Cuban exiles and their children here in the US, especially in Miami, but seriously, do most Cuban Americans really want this or do they want a return to a warmer relationship between their mother country and the US? For my part, this is just pandering to old anger. My guess, if the Cuban government offered to allow a Trump Hotel, the song would change immediately. Personally, I think it amazing how we Americans try to ignore the realities of history like our sponsoring an invasion of Cuba or our support of a Mafia-linked regime. On the other hand, I do know that when Castro took power, there was a wonderful rich Cuban culture that he tried to destroy and many wonderful families whose lives he disrupted. But, should that antagonism continue today?  
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For many of Iraq's Yazidis, going home is not an option

For many of Iraq's Yazidis, going home is not an option | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Although Sinjar has mostly been liberated from the Islamic State, the traumatized Yazidi community remains largely displaced and reluctant to return home to where the suffering began.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
These are Yazdi especially the women and children, are among the world's most hapless refugees. Will anyone come forward to help them? This is the stuff of horror stories. My heart goes out to them and I wish that the US and other nations would make a special effort to help them. How can we leave them stranded in this purgatory. 
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More U.S. Troops Bound for Afghanistan, As Marines, Commandos, Arrive In Syria

More U.S. Troops Bound for Afghanistan, As Marines, Commandos, Arrive In Syria | Upsetment | Scoop.it
More U.S. Troops Bound for Afghanistan, As Marines, Commandos, Arrive In Syria « | Foreign Policy | the Global Magazine of News and Ideas
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Sadly, the United States cannot learn the lesson of Afghanistan. The British tried twice and then there was Russia, but we still think we can win there. Why and how? Because we think we can win the Afghan people to our side. History shows that the Afghanis will seem to cooperate with any conqueror until the conquering army exhausts itself and ends surrounded and forced to retreat. Sure there are Afghans who want us to defeat the Taliban before we leave, but there is another lesson to learn from history, nobody ever wins against an insurgency built on ethnic identity—consider, for example, the Philippines—except by genocide. So unless we are ready to kill off the Pashtun, and I think that would be a horror and crime equal to Hitler's, we had best get the hell out of this war now. Please, Mr. Trump, enough of the madness that Bush Jr. started and Obama continued. Enough!
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Journalists Face New Limits On Press Access In Covering Congress

Journalists Face New Limits On Press Access In Covering Congress | Upsetment | Scoop.it
And it's the public that will lose out.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Of all the rights guaranteed in the first ten amendments to the constitution, none is more important to our democracy than the right to a free press. Without transparency how can we hope to avoid tyranny? Still, here we are with the GOP once again attacking freedom of the press. How many of those supporting this egregious attack on a basic freedom are staunch supporters of the Second Amendment? I guess they don't really believe in the constitution after all, just in getting their own way. I hope that some of the more independently minded Republicans like McCain, Collins, and Graham will recognize the evil that is rearing its head within their party's smoke-filled rooms. 

I have to question whether patriotism has given way to partisanship. As for my feelings about the press, you should read Times to Try the Soul of Man. Available in print, ebook, and audible. https://www.amazon.com/Times-Try-Soul-Kenneth-Weene-ebook/dp/B00VYSQ1VO/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8 
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Jeff Sessions personally asked Congress to let him prosecute medical marijuana providers

Jeff Sessions personally asked Congress to let him prosecute medical marijuana providers | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Sessions attempts to link medical marijuana protections to the opiate epidemic and violent crime.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
I fear that many people will not get the greater implications behind this. While for the Obama administration there was concern about weakening the federal government's stance on drugs—a wrongheaded concern at best, there is much more at stake with the current administration. This is now about the Fourteenth Amendment and a bottom-line issue of American government. At the end of the Civil War there was no peace treaty. Instead, the seceding states had to ratify this amendment in order to rejoin the union. It was, in effect, the articles of surrender. One of the basic issues that was addressed was the supremacy of the federal government. 

Since the LBJ administration, there has been a growing resentment of that supremacy. That the Civil Rights Act forced states to accept Washington's arbitration of their voting (and other civil rights) laws was an anathema. This statism at the expense of nationalism went well beyond the Confederate states. And, that sense of states' rights has fed the GOP since the 60s. Even as people chant USA and We're Number One, they want to have more control at the local level. Of course, this doesn't make a lot of sense since people are constantly moving about the country, working in one area and then retiring to another. Chasing jobs across state lines. Still, whoever accused America of making sense? 

Even as the federal government has arrogated more and more control and tried to tell the states who can marry, who can use what bathroom, who can have an abortion, and who can carry a gun, the states have pushed back. Finding the right balance between federal and state is not easy. While the Democrats tend to take the more easily defined position of federal predominance in all, the Republicans are more pressed to find a coherent position. They want local preeminence in social issues, but they don't really want that across the board. Rather, there goal is more theologically based. They want local autonomy on some issues, for example education and certainly those bathrooms. However, when it comes to imposing their moral judgments on others, they have no hesitancy about going the federal route. This reflects the reconstructionist and dispensationalist religious leanings of their base. 

That is why I see Mr. Sessions's position as being a real threat not only to medical marijuana use bot to religious freedom. This is a step towards a theocratic values system, one which hides below the surface of the Republican party as it currently functions. 

By the way, if you want to read more of my thoughts on the Fourteenth Amendment, visit
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Town That Helped Power Northwest Feels Left Behind In Shift Away From Coal

Town That Helped Power Northwest Feels Left Behind In Shift Away From Coal | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Colstrip, Mont., is home to the second-largest coal power plant in the West. The plant's customers in other states are turning away from coal, so locals are looking for support in making a transition.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
The Obama era regulations were built with a recognition that the coal industry was doomed not because of those changing government regulations but because demand was changing as a result of real concern among energy customers. So, the regulations came with a plan to help coal industry workers and communities to adjust over time. Well, the folks in many places like Colstrip, Montana, decided that they were going to protect their industry by voting Republican. So, the regulations will go, the demand won't come back, and that plan to help has disappeared. Talk about screwing yourself. Now they want to demand that the consumers of their energy production be somehow responsible for their loss in income and security. Wait a minute! That would require the federal government stepping in to force consumers to somehow become responsible for what producers have done to themselves. Instead of a willing government plan utilizing everyone's support offered by Mr. Obama, they now want to go after their customers directly. Does this really make sense? My response: Hey, you guys voted for Trump so I'm sure he's going to make you great again. Then, I've always been a bit sarcastic when it comes to idiots who think they're going to get a free blowjob. 

Meanwhile, if you are fascinated by stories of corruption and people who stand up to it, try out Times to Try the Soul of Man. Here's the trailer for it.
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Kosovo's Ramush Haradinaj, ex-KLA commander, set for election win - BBC News

Kosovo's Ramush Haradinaj, ex-KLA commander, set for election win - BBC News | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Ramush Haradinaj, who is also a former prime minister, is wanted by Serbia for alleged war crimes.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Will Serbia ever recognize Kosovo? Will there be a real peace between these two historical enemies? Will Russia, the great troublemaker of the Balkans, ever support such a peace? And into the middle of this turmoil comes the European Union with an expectation that all can somehow be set right. And, what about the disaster that is Kosovo's economy. Not that other Balkan countries aren't also in trouble, for example there's Greece. Can the EU actually help this historically troubled and depressed region find peace and prosperity? I know it was Bosnia, not Kosovo or Serbia, where Ferdinand was assassinated, but I figured that World War 1 was the end of western Europe's attempts to change the nature the eastern part of their continent. Not even the wonderful nations of Rumania or Czechoslovakia  made it out of World War 2 safely. I just see enmity, paranoia, and economic woes ahead for the entire region. Oh well, I guess that makes the Balkans very much like most of the world. Doom and gloom; gloom and doom!
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Justice Department Argues Trump Can Take Payments From Foreign Governments

Justice Department Argues Trump Can Take Payments From Foreign Governments | Upsetment | Scoop.it
The Department of Justice is trying to persuade a judge to throw out a lawsuit claiming that President Trump is violating the Constitution
Kenneth Weene's insight:
I have no question that crops from George Washington's farm reached England and were consumed by the government, especially since the the court and government were one at that time. However, did Washington deal directly with those foreign governments or with agents who then sold the products on? I cannot imagine that while founding the republic, old George was negotiating the price of cotton to be made into the king's underwear. Seriously, we have moved into some uncharted waters with Mr. Trump, and he has done nothing to make me feel that he is able to discriminate between his pocketbook and the public good. I remember the consternation when Ike's secretary of defense, Charles E. Wilson said, What's good for General Motors is good for America.: Now, this administration is starting to sound like, "What's good for America must be good for King Donald."

I do hope we are foxy enough to stop this usurpation of our system of government. 
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Dial One If Your Neighbor’s Gardener Looks Mexican

Dial One If Your Neighbor’s Gardener Looks Mexican | Upsetment | Scoop.it

A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) program launched under Barack Obama to build trust with community groups has been reconfigured to focus on assisting victims of crimes committed by immigrants.

Kenneth Weene's insight:
Which should be the greater concern of ICE: finding and removing illegals or working with law enforcement to find the criminal element within the larger illegal immigrant population? For my part, I'm far more worried about the sex trafficker than I am about the undocumented Mexican cutting somebody's lawn. That's why I believe in a positive ICE community outreach. Certainly, I want those who have suffered from crimes by anyone to have support and comfort from government, but this repurposing of a program that was making valuable inroads into the suspiciousness of the undocumented community so they would cooperate with law enforcement is just a bad idea. While I don't like the idea that undocumented workers are here without proper papers—primarily because that means they can be exploited by employers unwilling to pay decent wages and benefits, I am less concerned about busboys, cleaners, gardeners, and crop pickers than I am about a lot of other things. What about you?
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Iran FM Zarif slams 'repugnant' Trump statement on Tehran attacks - BBC News

Iran FM Zarif slams 'repugnant' Trump statement on Tehran attacks - BBC News | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Javad Zarif rejects a White House statement on the Tehran attacks calling Iran a "terror sponsor".
Kenneth Weene's insight:
I feel like I'm beating the same drum over and over, but it needs saying:

Mr. Trump seems determined to stir up trouble in the Middle East. Sadly, many Americans are convinced that Iran is our implacable foe and a sponsor of terrorism. My view is that Iran is our natural ally and that Iran has never supported any terrorist attack on America. Saudi Arabia on the  other hand, for all its oil sales to the US has never been a strong ally. For one thing, it is the heart of most of the Islamic terrorism starting with Bin Laden. If we have a positive relationship with Iran and recognize that that Shia power is the natural balance to Saudi presumptions of being the center of the Muslim world, everybody will be a lot safer. As far as ISIS goes, I see Iran as their implacable enemy. For one thing, the final goal of ISIS is a Sunni caliphate, which would destroy the Shia sect. 
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Kansas Tax Cut Experiment Comes To An End As Lawmakers Vote To Raise Taxes

Kansas Tax Cut Experiment Comes To An End As Lawmakers Vote To Raise Taxes | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Legislators have rolled back a series of major tax cuts that became an example for conservative lawmakers around the country but didn't deliver the growth promised by Gov. Sam Brownback.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Hooray, a glimmer of sanity in Kansas. When will the right understand that the Laffer curve is based on the belief that people will invest in expanding and creating new businesses and ignores the reality that concentration of wealth leads instead to hoarding in the form of property, stocks, etc. Kansas has been suffering under the madness of the Brownback approach. Glad to see that the legislature is getting the message. 
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Trump Plans to Shift Infrastructure Funding to Cities, States and Business

Trump Plans to Shift Infrastructure Funding to Cities, States and Business | Upsetment | Scoop.it
The move would be part of an effort to fulfill a campaign promise to lead $1 trillion in projects to rebuild roads, bridges, railways and waterways.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
There are two parts to this new plan, one has to do with air traffic controllers. I'm all for investing in new computer enhanced equipment; who wouldn't be? If privatization will help make that happen, great as long as it doesn't mean any lowering standards for training controllers or making their jobs more difficult so that safety is impacted. And I know this will be something many won't like my saying, but I have no problem with charging fees for each plane flying to access that system even if this is more onerous for the individual flyer than for airlines. 

The second, and much larger part of the plan has to do with building roads, bridges, etc. It really isn't a plan at all, but rather an outline. As with much of Mr. Trump's "thinking," this is at best sketchy. What we do know, however, is that he wants local governments to pay a big part of the costs. That means that states like Massachusetts and California, states with plenty of tax base, will be able to take advantage of whatever incentives the federal government might offer. But, what of the rest of the country. Once again, I see the Trump administration screwing over the states that supported him. Where once states like West Virginia. Arkansas, Kansas, North Dakota and Kentucky were receiving federal largess when it came to roads, now they will be pinched by the requirement that they pay more. As for cities that are already in trouble such as Detroit, Flint, and Columbus, well forget about them. 

Then, too, there is the delusion of the far right voters that they will see a decrease in taxes. It isn't that their taxes will go down under this plan but that they will go up only at a local level. Of course, they may not be called taxes but user fees or registration fees for automobiles, but the costs will still have to be paid. 

Another concern is that this plan makes rail development even less likely except within states like California and Arizona that have two or more distant major population centers. 

Meanwhile, we are decades behind in repairing, maintaining, and developing American infrastructure. While the rest of the world develops ultra-fast trains, we're still trying to get shovels on the ground. 
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