Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Steve Leser on Fox

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

To fellow veterans and active duty military re: House GOP blocking protections for Active Duty Military against Predatory Lenders

Fellow military vets and current active duty, if you don't know this already, you need to understand that Republicans say they love military folks but that love manifests itself like how ticks love dogs. 

Sure, they will fight to get you the most expensive weapons systems, because the defense contracting firms are donating tons of money to their campaigns so that they do, but the fight isn't nearly as hard to make sure those weapons systems actually work once delivered.

Then, when it comes to ponying up to pay for health services for veterans after they've served, or protecting active duty military from predatory lenders, or just plain not throwing military personnel into meat-grinding conflicts that didn't need to happen in the first place? Republicans don't have much love for active duty or veterans at all, just the opposite.


House Republicans Want To Block Predatory Lending Protections For American Troops

WASHINGTON -- House Republicans are pushing legislation to block predatory lending protections for American soldiers, under pressure from the banking lobby.

GOP lawmakers tucked the deregulation item into the National Defense Authorization Act -- a major bill setting the military's funding, along with a number of other controversial terms on Guantanamo Bay and other issues. If the banking item is enacted, it would impose a one-year delay on new Department of Defense rules meant to shield military families from abusive terms on payday loans and other forms of high-interest credit. The bill is being considered Wednesday before the House Armed Services Committee.

The military has been struggling with the financial impact of predatory lending on service members for years. A 2014 report issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau documents a host of abuses targeting troops. One family that took out a $2,600 loan ended up paying back $3,966.84 over the course of a year. Another borrower spent $1,428.28 to pay off a $485 loan in just six months. Thousands of service members receive short-term, high-interest loans each year.

In 2006, Congress passed legislation imposing a 36 percent cap on interest rates for payday loans, auto title loans and tax refund anticipation loans to military families. Lenders responded by slightly tweaking the terms of their loans to avoid the limits. Since the law applied to payday loans with terms of 91 days or less, and amounts of $2,000 or less, credit companies were able to shirk the rules with 92-day loans, or loans of $2,001.
(more at above link)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Daily Beast's Tomasky: "The Clintons Still Aren't Corrupt"

Well said by Tomasky. Hillary and Bill are the most investigated folks on the planet and the best the GOP has been able to come up with in 22 years of vitriolic persecution of them is, Bill got consensual oral sex from someone. Oh and he didn't want to tell the truth about that. Knock me over with a feather. Get out the vapors and smelling salts!

Republicans have wasted hundreds of millions of dollars in politically motivated investigations that found no wrongdoing and that was before Benghazi for which we have now seen no less than eight investigations that have all ended with "Gee, neither Secretary Clinton nor the rest of the Obama administration did anything wrong."

I'm waiting for the next manufactured outrage since that's all the GOP seems to have regarding Hillary and Bill.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

President Obama should call the Armenian Genocide what it is.

This is very disappointing. I acknowledge the complications in terms of our relationship with Turkey, which is very important, but the message needs to be sent that the world and the US will not turn its back on genocides and war crimes anywhere for any reason.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Laser Focus 2-3-15 - ISIS, some fellow Liberals and War

Hear this as delivered on my radio show on Feb 3 2015 by clicking 

Some of the things that help human beings and other intelligent organisms to understand the world and survive are the ability we have to categorize individual events and correlate multiple events to ascertain causality.

Why am I talking about this? Bear with me and it will become clear. From the moment we are born, we humans build our knowledge of the world. We have the ability to go to school and to read and learn without having to experience something, but we also learn from our own experiences about events and what they mean and what other events they cause.

We also learned eventually that our ability to observe and determine causality and relationships are potentially flawed. The scientific method was developed to go beyond casual observation and ensure that proper experimentation and analysis providing repeatable results was what governed human understanding of the world around us. These kinds of experiments and rigorous analysis led us to understand things like, the sun does not revolve around the earth like casual observation might lead one to believe.

There is a segment of fellow folks on the left that do not seem to understand the idea of rigorous analysis when it comes to analyzing whether intervention in a situation overseas is warranted.

I think about this a lot and started thinking about this when ISIS executed the Japanese prisoners they had been holding over the weekend. You see, since the Iraq war, and Rude one you and I have talked about this, many fellow Liberals and Progressives have been superficially analyzing events where the US was considering intervening.

The prevailing opinion among this small group of fellow Liberals and progressives, and its far from all of us, just this group, is that every potential military use is like Iraq and illegitimate automatically.

Let me respond directly to this group of fellow Liberals and Progressives. No everything is not like Iraq. 

In Iraq, the Bush administration made a big deal about WMD, made a big show for a year about Iraq not allowing the UN weapons inspectors back into the country, then when they got them in they ignored their results. In hindsight (and actually I called it before the Iraq war in several articles) it was clearly a lie from the getgo. Iraq was not threatening anyone. Their troops were not massing on the border of any of their neighbors. Nothing was going on there.

This is a completely different situation from ISIS who are attempting to take over two countries and have explicitly stated their intent to take over many more. I want to go back to the Japanese Nationals. Their execution is a watershed event. The Japanese have it in their constitution that their military cannot be used overseas. So the idea of executing one of their journalists who you capture is completely despicable. Japan represented no threat at all to ISIS and they killed two of their citizens anyway. This is extremely important for everyone to think about. Because there is an opinion among this group on the left that I’ve been talking about that if the US simply leaves people alone, stops being involved in other countries that everyone will leave us alone too. In some cases that is true, but it is not true of ISIS.

This subgroup of fellow Liberals and Progressives believes that if we will leave ISIS alone, they will leave us alone. Well, by default, and by their Constitution, the Japanese leave everyone alone. But ISIS did not leave THEM alone. So there is your answer. With certain groups and certain countries, leaving them alone is not the right answer. How can you tell which is which? Well, ISIS doesn’t exactly make it hard to figure out to which group they belong.

Today, ISIS executed a Jordanian prisoner by putting them in a cage and burning them alive.

ISIS has demonstrated that they are one of the most ruthlessly violent and cruel groups in human history.

This nonsense with ISIS has gone far enough. Here’s what we need. We haven’t seen it in 60 years since the Korean War, but we need a fully global effort led by the UN to fight ISIS. If the UN won’t do it, anyone willing to do it should. The UN Security Council has already passed resolutions denouncing ISIS and target funding for ISIS and similar measures. It’s time for a resolution for the use of force against ISIS and all countries responding should be reflagged under the UN banner. ISIS should be degraded at least to the point where they cannot hold territory. And all fellow Liberals and Progressives should be supportive of that effort.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Regarding the execution of Japanese citizens by ISIS

I would like to express my shock and outrage at the execution of Japanese Citizens by the cowardly and criminal terrorist group ISIS and also express solidarity with and give my condolences to the people of Japan.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Leser Focus - My special statement on the rampant and intentional dishonesty of Conservative Punditry

This can be heard as delivered on KCAA 1050am on my Tuesday 1-13-2015 show by downloading the .mp3 file by clicking this link:

I noted with some amusement the tribulations of Steve Emerson, a conservative and self-proclaimed expert in terrorism who made some interesting claims on TV the other day.
Mr Emerson exclaimed that quote:

“In Britain, it’s not just no-go zones, there are actual cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in. And, parts of London, there are actually Muslim religious police that actually beat and actually wound seriously anyone who doesn’t dress according to religious Muslim attire.”

Now folks, Birmingham is one of the United Kingdom’s largest cities with a population of about a million people. Fourteen percent of those people are Muslim, it is not totally Muslim as Mr. Emerson claims. There are no Muslim religious police anywhere in the UK and no police of any kind who attempt to enforce Sharia or Muslim laws including those on dress.

Emerson’s statements were widely retweeted and made it to the British Government. UK Prime Minister David Cameron was having breakfast when the allegation was reported to him and he says he nearly choked on his porridge. He said of Emerson that “he must be a complete idiot.”

Mr. Emerson also blamed the Oklahoma City bombing on Muslims.

Mr. Emerson is popular with Conservatives because he likes to blame the President and European Leaders for terrorism, who he and they regard as too left wing. An August 2014 article by Mr. Emerson is titled “The President’s True Colors Finally Revealed” and excoriates President Obama for offering to Hamas to guarantee Israeli adherence to any peace agreement that would be signed. This is supposed proof of the President hating Israel and being an ally of Hamas who Emerson goes to great pains to identify as an organization of bad people.

What I encounter far too often when I debate conservatives both in media and in personal appearances are people who simply make stuff up to attack Democrats and the President. Mr. Emerson was caught here and he finally apologized because his falsehoods were easily demonstrable and his statements went viral on twitter. If both of those things hadn’t been the case, he would have gotten away with it and those who watched him on TV would have simply believed what he had said.

That happens as I said, far too often. Conservatives in media here in the US are deliberately misinforming their fans and constituents on a daily basis. There have been a number of studies that have come out where grassroots conservatives were asked about certain things and they regurgitate answers that are not true about a host of things that they said they were told on conservative media.

According to Chris Mooney who recently came out with a book titled "The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science and Reality.", Conservatives are, by and large, authoritarian and absolute in their beliefs, and they limit challenges against their belief systems by surrounding themselves with sources of information that will tell them they are right...and by defiantly, even violently, challenging those who tell them they are wrong.

Mooney’s book illustrates a number of the survey’s I was just mentioning about such things like were there WMD in Iraq, there weren’t but Conservatives think there were, is Global Warming in dispute as far as the Scientific Community is concerned, it’s not but Conservatives think it is. Mooney has many other examples.

We can point to politifact lies of the year for the last six years since President Obama has been in office. Most of those are lies by Conservative media personalities and Republican elected officials about the President and his programs.

I hope we see more instances where Conservative pundits are called out for lying via a viral social media response. Deliberately misleading the public when you are one of the folks who is in the media and trusted to deliver truthful information is a despicable act.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Slate: Don’t Accept Putin’s Version of History. The West didn’t provoke Russia. It gave it more credit than it deserved.

Excellent article by Slate's Anne Applebaum. Since the fall of the USSR, the US and NATO did everything to reassure Russia and make Russia feel like a part of what was going on in the world. Putin and his government did nothing but take advantage of that. Ms. Applebaum lays out the history. 

But one Western policy stands out as a phenomenal success, particularly when measured against the low expectations with which it began: The integration of Central Europe and the Baltic States into the European Union and NATO. Thanks to this double project, more than 90 million people have enjoyed relative safety and relative prosperity for more than two decades, in a region whose historic instability helped launch two world wars.
For the record: No treaties prohibiting NATO expansion were ever signed with Russia. No promises were broken. Nor did the impetus for NATO expansion come from a “triumphalist” Washington. On the contrary, Poland's first efforts to apply in 1992 were rebuffed. I well remember the angry reaction of the U.S. ambassador to Warsaw at the time. But Poland and others persisted, precisely because they were already seeing signs of the Russian revanchism to come.

When the slow, cautious expansion did eventually take place, constant efforts were made to reassure Russia. No NATO bases were ever placed in the new member states, and until 2013 no exercises were conducted there. A Russia-NATO agreement in 1997 promised no movement of nuclear installations. A Russia-NATO council was set up in 2002. In response to Russian objections, Ukraine and Georgia were in fact denied NATO membership plans in 2008.

Meanwhile, not only was Russia not “humiliated” during this era, it was given de facto “great power” status, along with the Soviet U.N. Security Council seat and Soviet embassies. Russia also received Soviet nuclear weapons, some transferred from Ukraine in 1994 in exchange for Russian recognition of Ukraine's borders. Presidents Clinton and Bush both treated their Russian counterparts as fellow “great power” leaders and invited them to join the G-8—although Russia, neither a large economy nor a democracy, did not qualify.

(more at above link)