Friday, April 29, 2011

The Big Bang.

Our whole universe was in a hot dense state,
Then nearly fourteen billion years ago expansion started. Wait...
The Earth began to cool,
The autotrophs began to drool,
Neanderthals developed tools,
We built a wall (we built the pyramids),
Math, science, history, unraveling the mysteries,
That all started with the big bang!

"Since the dawn of man" is really not that long,
As every galaxy was formed in less time than it takes to sing this song.
A fraction of a second and the elements were made.
The bipeds stood up straight,
The dinosaurs all met their fate,
They tried to leap but they were late
And they all died (they froze their asses off)
The oceans and pangea
See ya wouldn't wanna be ya
Set in motion by the same big bang!

It all started with the big BANG!

It's expanding ever outward but one day
It will cause the stars to go the other way,
Collapsing ever inward, we won't be here, it wont be hurt
Our best and brightest figure that it'll make an even bigger bang!

Australopithecus would really have been sick of us
Debating out while here they're catching deer (we're catching viruses)
Religion or astronomy, Encarta, Deuteronomy
It all started with the big bang!

Music and mythology, Einstein and astrology
It all started with the big bang!
It all started with the big BANG!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Defenders of Israel's Gaza onslaught of 2008-9 can barely contain their joy. In a Washington Post op-ed on Friday, Judge Richard Goldstone offered some second thoughts about it that softened his earlier criticism of Israel's actions in Gaza as 'war crimes'" writes J.M. Rosenberg in Foreign Policy Matters April 4 2011.
He continues "In fact, Goldstone altered only one of his original findings. He now says that he has concluded that the Israeli Defense Forces did not intentionally target civilians during attacks in which 1,400 Palestinians died, of whom half were civilians and 400 were children.  Rather they were collateral damage, not the intended targets but people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
And this 'exoneration' of Israel's behavior has Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and their defenders in Israel and the United States crazily dancing in the end zone.  You see, they shout, Goldstone lied all along. We didn't kill all these people on purpose. Hooray for us.
These celebrations tell us infinitely more about the Israeli government and its cutouts here than Goldstone's column does about what happened in Gaza.
Imagine if the United States government was forced to admit that it killed hundreds of innocent people in a few days and that hundreds of that number were kids.  Does anyone imagine that our government would pat itself on the back because the killings were deemed unintentional?
No doubt, many many innocent people have been killed at American hands just as at Israel's in Gaza. But it is hard to recall American officials saying that the discovery that the deaths were unintentional exonerated us. As for victory laps such as those being taken by Netanyahu and Barak, they wouldn't happen here.
The only way Goldstone could really exonerate Israel would be to prove that the hundreds of non-combatant dead, including all those kids, were, in fact, not civilians at all. He would have to prove that they were fighters who were killed while engaged in battle with Israel. But not even the Israelis claim that.
No, the civilian dead were indeed civilians and they are still dead.  They are dead because the Israeli government made the decision that taking care not to kill innocents would put more Israeli soldiers in harms way.
Elections were coming and the Israeli government felt that the Israeli public would not tolerate a war that took more than few soldiers' lives.  So the army would bombard targets from afar; if civilians were killed, so what.  The strategy worked. While 1,432 Palestinians were killed, only a dozen Israelis were.  That was a ratio that did not hurt any politician's political standing, being almost unprecedented in the history of warfare. (Actually, it suggests that the Gaza was not a war at all, but rather an attack by a powerful army against powerless militants.)
The jubilation over Goldstone's minor edit is also misplaced because the strong opposition felt in most quarters to the Gaza onslaught had nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not the killings of civilians were intentional but that they took place at all.  Even if it could be proven that the United Nations school was destroyed by accident, what difference would it make?  It was destroyed.  Would Israel exonerate Hamas if it, by accident, hit an Israeli hospital when its target was a nearby army base. It is a distinction without a difference and only the morally bankrupt would point to it with pride.
Furthermore, opponents of the Gaza war were outraged by Israel's actions in Gaza right from the start not following publication of the Goldstone report. The outrage was produced  when it became clear that Israel was not exercising its legitimate right to defend itself against rocket fire from Gaza by targeting the people launching the missiles but by targeting the whole Gazan population.
Additionally the whole war was unnecessary.  A cease-fire between Hamas and Israel had been in effect for the six months leading up to Israel's decision to invade. Why did it end?
This comes from US News, a newsweekly owned by Mortimer Zuckerman, one of  the Israeli government's leading defenders in the United States. (He is the former president of the Conference of Presidents Of Major Jewish Organizations.)
"Why now? Two reasons: the expiration of the Israeli-Gazan cease-fire on December 19 and the Israeli national election coming up on February 10. The six-month cease-fire started coming apart at the beginning of November after Israeli commandos killed a team of Hamas fighters during a raid on a tunnel they suspected was being dug for the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers. That raid set off more Palestinian rocketing which prompted further Israeli attacks. All this prompted Hamas to declare that it wouldn't extend the cease-fire unless Israel lifted it's punishing siege of the Gaza Strip, which was imposed after the militant group Hamas was elected to power nearly three years ago."
US News has it exactly right.  The ceasefire ended because Israel decided to end it. And then when the rockets started falling, Israel had the pretext it wanted to attack.  None of this is surprising, Israeli leaders have never been shy about saying that their goal is not merely ending mortar attacks from Gaza but eliminating the Hamas government (elected, incidentally, in a democratic election forced on the Palestinians by the United States).
The bottom line is that Goldstone's edit doesn't matter except to those who defended and still defend this indefensible war.  The damage done to Israel's reputation is indelible.  But that is insignificant when compared to the life-long damage inflicted on all those who lost loved ones in the monstrous Gaza war."

Friday, April 1, 2011


I know its been a while but lets get right into this

An operation billed as a humanitarian intervention in Libya by President Obama was described in starkly more military terms Thursday by the administration’s top two defense officials.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told lawmakers that continuing coalition attacks on Libyan government troops — even when they were not directly threatening civilians — would encourage senior government and military officials to break with Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi and inspire more civilians to join opposition forces.
“His military, at a certain point, is going to have to face the question of whether they are prepared over time to be destroyed by these air attacks or whether they decide it’s time for him to go,” Gates told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The testimony came amid reports that another member of Gaddafi’s inner circle had defected, boosting the spirits of the beleaguered rebels. A top Libyan Foreign Ministry official, Ali Abdel Salam al-Treki, announced his defection in a statement sent to news agencies by his nephew. British Prime Minister David Cameron and White House spokesman Jay Carney on Thursday hailed the earlier defection of Libyan Foreign Minister Musa Kusa, saying it was a sign that Gaddafi’s power was eroding.
In eastern Libya, rebels fought their way back into the key oil-refinery town of Brega but were soon forced to withdraw under heavy shelling from Gaddafi’s forces, which maintain a huge firepower advantage over the ragtag opposition army.
In his testimony, Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, blamed the rebels’ losses in recent days on the heavy cloud cover in Libya, which has prevented U.S. and allied jets from attacking Gaddafi’s ground forces.
Mullen said the sustained bombing campaign had destroyed as much as 25 percent of Gaddafi’s military arsenal and pledged that coalition forces would continue to hammer away at his ground forces.
Some of the United States’ partners have acknowledged that the initial descriptions of the intervention in Libya no longer apply. “What is happening in Libya is not a no-fly zone,” a senior European diplomat told reporters, speaking on the customary condition of anonymity. “The no-fly zone was a diplomatic thing, to get the Arabs on board. What we have in Libya is more than that.”
Although Gates said that unseating Gaddafi was not the stated goal of the military mission, he made clear that the United States and its allies intended to use military force to aid the Libyan opposition and compel Gaddafi and his inner circle to surrender.
“I mean we’re blowing up [Gaddafi’s] ammunition supplies,” Gates said in separate testimony before the House. “He can’t resupply from abroad . . . over time, that should work to the advantage of those in the opposition.”
The defense secretary also made clear his preference that other nations take the lead in training and arming the Libyan rebels. “If there is going to be that kind of assistance to the opposition, there are plenty of sources for it other than the United States,” he said. French officials have been among the most aggressive in pressing for military aid to the rebels.
In the House, lawmakers from both parties berated Gates over the cost of the mission, its undetermined length and what they said were its fuzzy goals. In the Senate, there was more support for the intervention, with several lawmakers saying they worried that the United States was not doing enough to oust Gaddafi.
The militaristic language used by Gates and Mullen prompted some lawmakers who oppose the intervention to accuse the Obama administration of misleading the public about its aims in Libya. “It seems to me, and I think everybody else, that we are clearly involved in regime change,” said Sen. James Webb (D-Va.).
Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) said the administration’s efforts to label the Libya mission a humanitarian intervention were dishonest. “This is the most muddled definition of an operation probably in U.S. military history,” he said. “To say this is not about regime change is crazy. Of course, it is about regime change.”
Gates acknowledged that the U.N. Security Council resolution approving a no-fly zone over Libya had authorized only the interdiction of Libyan aircraft, the enforcement of an arms embargo and the use of military force to protect civilians. But he defended the efforts to degrade Gaddafi’s military as a means of protecting the Libyan people from further attacks by the government.
The CIA has told lawmakers in classified briefings that Gaddafi’s forces have moved into towns where there are no reporters and killed a “substantial number” of people, said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, on Thursday. She advocated expanding the U.S. objectives to include Gaddafi’s ouster.
Mullen and Gates said that the U.S. level of participation in the coalition would begin to decline significantly in the coming days with NATO taking over command. In the Senate, several lawmakers voiced concern that reducing the U.S. role would lessen the effectiveness of the attacks on Gaddafi’s ground forces. They pressed Mullen and Gates for assurances that American AC-130 aircraft, which are among the most effective weapons in the U.S. arsenal against ground forces, would remain in the fight.
“I just can’t understand how we’re going to meet the objective that you’ve identified without going forward in a forceful fashion than we are right now,” said Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.).
In the House, mainly Republican lawmakers complained that the United States did not know enough about the rebel forces challenging Gaddafi’s decades-long rule. “We may not know much about the opposition or the rebels, but we know a great deal about Gaddafi,” Gates replied tersely. “This guy has been a huge problem for the United States for a long time.”
A senior administration official said the congressional criticism reflected the lack of options.
“There are appropriately a lot of questions being raised, but apart from those who want to go further and impose regime change militarily, there are not a lot of alternatives put forward,” said the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “It’s a situation that involves bad choices and worse choices.”