American Citizen In Detention

Closing Thought–04Mar19

Our president is always going on and on about the “hostages” he has helped release from countries like North Korea…..and yet an American citizen is being held in Saudi Arabia and he is silent and prefers to deal with it with inaction……


A US citizen has been detained and tortured in Saudi Arabia and may be on his last leg, sources tell the New York Times. Walid Fitaihi was apparently held against his will in November 2017 at the Ritz Carlton in Riyadh, where guards blindfolded, stripped, slapped, and bound him, then shocked him with electricity for about an hour. A friend says the Harvard-trained doctor was whipped so badly he couldn’t sleep on his wounded back for days. “It is believed that Dr. Fitaihi has been and is tortured at least psychologically during his imprisonment,” his attorney Howard Cooper wrote the State Department in January, per CNN. Cooper described his client as “physically deteriorated” and “emotionally broken.” Now American friends of Fitaihi, 54, are pressing Washington to address his case and criticizing President Trump’s inaction.


And Fitaihi isn’t alone: The dual American-Saudi citizen is one of hundreds of eminent Saudis detained, and at times apparently tortured, in a 2017 crackdown led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Fitaihi’s friend says he was likely tortured for information about Adel Fakeih, a relative by marriage and an ex-senior aide to the crown prince. Al Jazeera notes that Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, himself a murder victim of Saudi agents, tweeted about Fitaihi in 2018: “What has happened to us?” he wrote in Arabic. “How can someone like Dr. Walid Fitaihi be arrested and what are the justifications for it?” Meanwhile, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner met with the crown prince this week, but it seems Fitaihi’s imprisonment wasn’t discussed. Trump says he has successfully extricated 20 US citizens held abroad.

Once again we can see how this president puts personal gain over the lives of his fellow countrymen……

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Medicare For All

The idea of expanding Medicare to cover all Americans is becoming more and more popular…..

In a historic step toward replacing America’s uniquely expensive and deadly for-profit healthcare system with a humane program that would leave no one behind, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) on Wednesday will officially introduce Medicare for All legislation that policy experts and advocates have praised as comprehensive, strong, and “battle-ready.”

“The state of our healthcare system is absolutely atrocious,” Jayapal told reporters on the eve of the bill’s release. “How is it possible that the United States, the richest country in the world, is the only major country that does not guarantee healthcare to our residents?”

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/02/27/time-medicare-all-has-come-jayapal-unveils-visionary-bill-remake-us-healthcare

Of course few Repubs will like this turn of events….and we will be bombarded with the specter of socialism….it is all they can do for they no zero ideas.

The news that Medicare For All is moving along the insurance companies who have a choke hold on American health care suffered a bit on the markets…..

Support for Medicare for All is rapidly gaining momentum in Congress—and insurance investors are starting to get nervous.

Health insurance stocks tanked on Wednesday as Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) introduced comprehensive Medicare for All legislation with the backing of more than 100 House Democrats and major progressive organizations, including America’s largest nurses’ union and national consumer advocacy groups.

“The S&P 500 Managed Health Care Index plunged as much as 4.9 percent, the most since Dec. 6, led by UnitedHealth Group Inc., Humana Inc., and WellCare Health Plans Inc.,” Bloomberg reported after Jayapal unveiled her bill during an event on Capitol Hill. “Insurers UnitedHealth and Cigna Corp, which also own the country’s largest pharmacy benefit managers, were both down about four percent.”

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/02/28/insurance-stocks-plunge-medicare-all-bill-unveiled-major-democratic-support

All I can say is screw the “industry” Americans need adequate health care…..

I among others have been calling for this action for decades and finally we have someone who listens and acts…..

CPAC–2019

Yep it is that time of the year again….the annual CPAC meeting…the meeting of the conserv minds (not now but in the past….it was where big political ideas were hashed out)…….now it is a collection to dolts, buffoons, misogynists, bigots and total mental midgets…..in other words cheerleaders of the Trump presidency.

I have waited for some of my conserv friends to post on the meeting….so far any true conserv is avoiding this group of slugs at all costs.

I guess it will fall on me to give my analysis……I am a progressive, a radical in some eyes, so my analysis may be a bit skewed….

The “Big Ideas” this time around is abortions and creeping socialism……in other words those ideas from the 1980s and Reaganite ideas and policies…..this is the best mental midgets can do.

Plus where are the Big Idea conservatives?  Gone to podcasts everyone……most true conservs will not come to help justify the stupid that is the Trump policies…..conservs like Rick Wilson, Bill Kristol, Steve Schmidt, etc……people that still think in conserv ideas and not the manure that Trump and his enablers push…..

Opening day of CPAC gave us a step back into conserv history……

Starving people eating dog food. Parents aborting babies after taking them home from the hospital. That was the dark vision — of creeping socialism and of abortion unrestrained — that marked the opening day of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the annual gathering of conservatives that offers an untrammeled view of Republican perspectives, and a sign of where the party is headed politically. President Trump is expected to speak at the conference on Saturday morning.

https://news.yahoo.com/infanticide-and-socialism-mark-dark-tone-in-conservative-175854123.html

Reason.com has an op-ed that sums up what most true conservs are feeling about CPAC……..

This is what I’m thinking as I work up the courage to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), held annually just outside of Washington, D.C. The event, sponsored by the American Conservative Union, officially started today and thousands of conservatives are out in force. CPAC started in 1974 and there was a time in the Aughts when it routinely reached out to libertarians and even groups such as the ACLU. Over the years, Reason people, including myself, have spoken on panels there. But that was then and this is…a weird political moment where the Republican president is chumming it up with a North Korean dictator while his former personal lawyer and fixer is testifying about his boss’s alleged high crimes and misdemeanors before Congress. And the House is rejecting the president’s emergency declaration about a Southern border crisis. These are not normal times, so is there any reason to expect CPAC to be an island of normalcy? Probably not, especially given some relatively recent highlights of the conference.

https://reason.com/blog/2019/02/28/is-cpac-still-whack

As a progressive I like a good debate with my conserv opponents and friends….but what the GOP has now is NOTHING like the conservatism that many were proud to embrace……now all they have is hate, bigotry and falsehoods…..

I hope the conservs can reclaim their mantle for I miss them in the public discourse….but they cannot do it with the collection of slugs at this year’s CPAC….look at the agenda and the people that are talking……SLUGS!

http://cpac.conservative.org/agenda/

Our Beloved Supreme Leader had his day in the sun of CPAC…..his speech was a rehash of the 2016 election, the size of his inauguration crowd and finally he said that anyone that does not kiss his flabby ass hates America.

Two hours of rambling, babbling lies and bullsh*t (his word not mine)……was boring with NOTHING new…not even the use of bullsh*t was new……He gave yawns instead of ideas…..

President Donald Trump told an appreciative audience of conservatives Saturday that he will win re-election in 2020 and by a bigger margin than his 2016 victory, the AP reports. He mocked Democrats for their framework to combat climate change and said House lawmakers pushing to expand their investigations of him are “sick.” In a wide-ranging speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Trump rehashed his outsider campaign that overcame long odds and a crowded field of established politicians to claim the White House over Democrat Hillary Clinton. When he made his prediction of a second term, the crowd responded with chants of “USA, USA, USA.” Trump praised the conservative movement, saying “Our movement and our future in our country is unlimited.”

As he looked back to 2016, the president described himself as “probably more of a conservative than a Republican,” but says people just didn’t understand that. Trump also called the Mueller probe “this phony thing” and took aim at the Democrats’ Green New Deal, a policy proposal floated by some liberal Democrats in Congress and backed to varying degrees by several of the party’s 2020 presidential candidates. “I think the New Green Deal or whatever the hell they call it—the Green New Deal—I encourage it,” he said before mocking the notion of a world with “no planes, no energy.” The Democratic plan calls for a drastic drop in greenhouse-gas emissions from fossil fuels such as oil, coal and natural gas, but in no way grounds airplanes or pivots the country to renewable energy only.

All in all CPAC has become an enabler of a worthless ineffective president…..the GOP is truly lost and as some have said…it is dead…..

Appearing on MSNBC with host Alex Witt, GOP strategist Rick Tyler was visibly upset at what he heard from Donald Trump during his speech at CPAC, and even more so by the enthusiastic reception the president was receiving.

Asked by host Witt, “What can be done to resurrect the Republican Party as it was — or is that gone?” Tyler said the party is dead.

“Rest in peace,” he lamented. “No, it’s over. The problem is that the Republican Party has no grounding governing philosophy anymore because they’ve signed on to all these things as I just mentioned that were antithetical to the conservative movement.”

https://www.rawstory.com/2019/03/gop-strategist-stunned-reception-trumps-unhinged-cpac-speech-republican-party-dead/amp/

DEAD…Dead…dead!

All in all CPAC is degrading to the conservs, degrading to American politics, degrading to the office of president and finally degrading to the sense of good taste…..

Turn The Page!

Those Inevitable Sanctions

Sanctions seems to be the word of the Trump administration…..we have imposed sanctions on Iran, China, Russia, Venezuela and several others…..sanctions are the only diplomatic tactic the president and his band of slow thinking slugs have in their book of “things to do”…..

Recently the Trump admin has issued more sanctions against Venezuela….because they are subverting democracy (at least that is the excuse….this time)……

Personally I do not believe that these sanctions will work without covert action by one of our shadowy groups…sanctions do not work as a sole penalty…..they are basically a feel good attempt to control another nation.

Economic sanctions are the penalties of choice for the start of hostilities with any given nation…..the US uses this penalty liberally (that is with a small “L”)……in recent history sanctions have been imposed in Iraq, Iran, Venezuela (most recently) and in all that time what has it accomplished?

Good question, right?

But what is included in “sanctions”?

The Council on Foreign Relations defines sanctions as “a lower-cost, lower-risk, middle course of action between diplomacy and war.” Money is that middle course, and economic sanctions are the means. Some of the most common punitive financial measures include:

  • Tariffs: Surcharges on imported goods, often imposed to aid domestic industries and markets.
  • Quotas: Limits on the number of goods that may be imported or exported. 
  • Embargoes: Restrictions on or cessation of trading with a nation or bloc of nations. These can include limiting or banning travel by individuals to and from nations.
  • Non-tariff barriers: These are designed to make foreign goods more expensive by complying with onerous regulatory requirements.
  • Asset seizure/freeze: Capturing or holding the financial assets of nations, citizens, or preventing the sale or moving of those assets. 

If the US is honest then they would also state that sanctions only work about 30% of the time…..that is not a good chance for success.

If the reader would like more info on what sanctions are about………https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/what-are-economic-sanctions

I am opposed to these types of punitive action because they seldom have the intended result of punishing the elites and leadership of any given nation instead the average person suffers far more than the intended targets.

Economic sanctions have long been used as a foreign policy tool, sometimes perceived as the tool of choice for nations where diplomacy has failed to yield desired results. Yet as widely used as they are, and despite the fact that some sanctions may remain in place for years, they generally fail to achieve their objectives. One of the most definitive studies on the effectiveness of sanctions — covering the period from 1915 to 2006 — has shown that comprehensive sanctions are effective at best 30 percent of the time, and that the more comprehensive the level of sanctions, the lower their degree of success. In spite of this, sanctions remain one of the few internationally accepted means (short of military conflict) of attempting to change the behavior of national leaders.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/daniel-wagner/do-sanctions-work_b_7191464.html

Again the people of the targeted nation suffer far more than the elites…..so the conclusion is that economic sanctions have a dismal record of success…….of course the establishment will point to the success of sanctions against South Africa in the 1980s…..they will ignore the failures like Iraq in the 1990s, Iran since 1979……

In short economic sanctions, in my opinion, are a worthless exercise that punish NO one but the people to the targeted nation……diplomacy is more effective (at least it was prior to the Trump presidency)……

The American War on Terror

And it is has been raging for 18 years……18 years in case you missed it……let’s look shall we?

In September 2001, the Bush administration launched the “Global War on Terror.” Though “global” has long since been dropped from the name, as it turns out, they weren’t kidding.

 

When I first set out to map all the places in the world where the United States is still fighting terrorism so many years later, I didn’t think it would be that hard to do. This was before the 2017 incident in Niger in which four American soldiers were killed on a counterterror mission and Americans were given an inkling of how far-reaching the war on terrorism might really be. I imagined a map that would highlight Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Syria—the places many Americans automatically think of in association with the war on terror—as well as perhaps a dozen less-noticed countries like the Philippines and Somalia. I had no idea that I was embarking on a research odyssey that would, in its second annual update, map U.S. counterterror missions in 80 countries in 2017 and 2018, or 40% of the nations on this planet (a map first featured in Smithsonian magazine).

As co-director of the Costs of War Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, I’m all too aware of the costs that accompany such a sprawling overseas presence. Our project’s research shows that, since 2001, the U.S. war on terror has resulted in the loss—conservatively estimated—of almost half a million lives in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan alone. By the end of 2019, we also estimate that Washington’s global war will cost American taxpayers no less than $5.9 trillion already spent and in commitments to caring for veterans of the war throughout their lifetimes.

In general, the American public has largely ignored these post-9/11 wars and their costs. But the vastness of Washington’s counterterror activities suggests, now more than ever, that it’s time to pay attention. Recently, the Trump administration has been talking of withdrawing from Syria and negotiating peace with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Yet, unbeknownst to many Americans, the war on terror reaches far beyond such lands and under Trump is actually ramping up in a number of places. That our counterterror missions are so extensive and their costs so staggeringly high should prompt Americans to demand answers to a few obvious and urgent questions: Is this global war truly making Americans safer? Is it reducing violence against civilians in the U.S. and other places? If, as I believe, the answer to both those questions is no, then isn’t there a more effective way to accomplish such goals?

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/02/19/mapping-american-war-terror

The president tells the nation that ISIS has been defeated…..(not likely)…..but if it is totally defeated why do we need 400 troops to remain in Syria?

President Trump has continued to back away from his announced total US withdrawal from Syria this week, with administration officials on Thursday and Friday confirming that they now intend to keep 400 troops in Syria indefinitely after the pullout.

The US is estimated to have 2,000 troops in Syria presently, which Trump announced were all being withdrawn, as of late last year. On Thursday, officials indicated that 200 troops will stay to be part of an international stabilization force.

(antiwar.com)

Measuring the success against ISIS……

Over the past four years the United States and its partners have labored mightily to remove ISIS “Core” from its self-declared Caliphate in Iraq and Syria, sever the global organization’s connection to its branches, and disrupt its propaganda and recruitment capabilities, but the number of ISIS-affiliated groups has grown and emerged in new places.  In this global fight, we continue to assess progress against ISIS and its branches and networks using maps that show territory physically taken, fighters killed, locations of enemy and friendly forces, and we count numbers of IDPs in camps or returned to their homes.  We attempt to identify jihadist leaders and their locations so they can be detained or targeted.  This information tells us very little about the underlying political and social competition or the longer-term prospects of our partners for sustainably defeating ISIS.  As history has taught us, quantitative assessment of an insurgent or violent extremist enemy’s strength versus our own only provides a fleeting, surface-level snapshot of current conditions. 

In order to make a clear case that the aggregate efforts of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS (or Daesh as they are called in some countries) are showing progress towards “defeating” ISIS, we must understand the nature of this movement as a competition between its local jihadist groups and existing government leaders and institutions, at all levels, for the allegiance or submission of the population.  In other words, we must address it for what it is: a networked global insurgency.  ISIS branches and affiliates are competing for control over populations in vulnerable communities around the world, using the physical and ideological potency of the global network to strengthen itself.  Understanding this competition is central to the ability of the US and its allies to select the appropriate tools to assist legitimate local leaders to achieve and sustain strategic success against ISIS.    

https://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/measuring-strategic-progress-against-isis

The US is focusing on making sure that terrorism of ISIS/AQ is not exported…….but the sunni jihad which ISIS is part of is not thinking the same as the US war planners…….

For decades, Sunni jihadism has been characterized by transnational terrorism, suicide bombing, and excommunication. These three pillars not only attracted the ire of American and European governments, but turned off many of the jihadists’ target constituents, namely Sunnis living in the Muslim world. Yet there are signs that Sunni extremists are changing their ways, drifting away from the global agenda that reached its apotheosis in al-Qaeda’s attack on the World Trade Center, and toward a hyperlocal one.

The transformation is happening in various countries, including Afghanistan, Yemen, and Mali. Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s offshoot in Syria, provides an illustrative example of how the jihadist threat is changing across the region.

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/02/sunni-jihad-turns-away-transnational-terrorism/582745/

The “jihad” is changing direction will the US and its allies do the same?

My prediction is NO! The establishment is to set in their ways to change directions and that will be a dangerous precedent for them to pursue.

A side note–A famous name has made the “Most Wanted List”…..bin Laden…..(thought he was dead? Well, his son is now come of age and the US wants to remove him before he can consolidate power)…..

“Submit a tip, get paid,” reads the tweet from the State Department’s Counter-Terrorism Rewards Program. In this case, the US is looking for a big tip—and offering a handsome reward: The US announced it will pay up to $1 million for information leading to Hamza bin Laden, the 30-year-old son of Osama. The State Department describes him as an emerging al-Qaeda leader who has issued audio and video threats against the US and Western nations loyal to it in revenge for his father’s death. The BBC reports that letters found in the compound where Osama was killed in 2011 indicated Hamza was the son he was grooming to take over for him. He was added to the US’ Specially Designated Global Terrorist list in 2017, and he has another familial terror tie: Relatives in 2018 said he had married the daughter of Mohamed Atta, the eldest of the 9/11 hijackers.


As for his general whereabouts, “We do believe he’s probably in the Afghan-Pakistan border [region] and… he’ll cross into Iran. But he could be anywhere though in … south central Asia,” said Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security Michael Evanoff. NBC News reports the UN took action against Hamza as well on Thursday: Member states are required to freeze his assets and adhere to a travel ban and arms embargo against him. In the meantime, Saudi Arabia has made its own move against the young bin Laden: Per the kingdom’s interior ministry, his citizenship there has been taken away, the Independent reports. The Washington Post notes that the revocation actually occurred by royal decree in November; it’s not clear why it’s coming to light only now.

One million? Daddy was worth $25 million…..is he really a threat or is this just a form of intimidation?