Obama addresses the nation on ISIS

From the Daily Kos:

My fellow Americans – tonight, I want to speak to you about what the United States will do with our friends and allies to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL.

As Commander-in-Chief, my highest priority is the security of the American people. Over the last several years, we have consistently taken the fight to terrorists who threaten our country. We took out Osama bin Laden and much of al Qaeda’s leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We’ve targeted al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, and recently eliminated the top commander of its affiliate in Somalia. We’ve done so while bringing more than 140,000 American troops home from Iraq, and drawing down our forces in Afghanistan, where our combat mission will end later this year. Thanks to our military and counterterrorism professionals, America is safer.

Still, we continue to face a terrorist threat. We cannot erase every trace of evil from the world, and small groups of killers have the capacity to do great harm. That was the case before 9/11, and that remains true today. That’s why we must remain vigilant as threats emerge. At this moment, the greatest threats come from the Middle East and North Africa, where radical groups exploit grievances for their own gain. And one of those groups is ISIL – which calls itself the “Islamic State.”

Now let’s make two things clear: ISIL is not “Islamic.” No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim. And ISIL is certainly not a state. It was formerly al Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq, and has taken advantage of sectarian strife and Syria’s civil war to gain territory on both sides of the Iraq-Syrian border. It is recognized by no government, nor the people it subjugates. ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way.

In a region that has known so much bloodshed, these terrorists are unique in their brutality. They execute captured prisoners. They kill children. They enslave, rape, and force women into marriage. They threatened a religious minority with genocide. In acts of barbarism, they took the lives of two American journalists – Jim Foley and Steven Sotloff. (more…)

Our schizophrenic attitude toward war

It wa just a couple of years ago that we were still stinging from starting the never-ending Iraq war. We didn’t want to invade anybody. We didn’t want to bomb anybody. We wanted to get out. That attitude was so yesterday. According to a new CNN poll, we are ready to R-U-M-B-L-E with ISIS.

I’ll be the first to tell you I don’t have any good answers for ISIS or Syria, or for Afghanistan for that matter. All of these places look like black holes in which we can throw both troops and money at the problem for years without resolution. Our money isn’t infinite. Our resources are limited.

If we are to believe the press, ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) is a threat to the United States. They aren’t a threat some time in the future. They are a threat today. We’ve gotta do something. Now.

Glenn Greenwald points out the obvious. In 2003, six months after we invaded Iraq, a majority of Republicans, Democrats and Independents thought that Saddam had something to do with 9/11. The press and the White House have led us down this road before. Hopefully, we are older, smarter and wiser now. We can listen to Senator John McCain or we can sit back and think. How can we really neutralize or eliminate ISIS without throwing trillions of dollars into the Middle East money pit and killing thousands of innocents?

Ray Rice, the NFL and Domestic Violence (Update)

Ray Rice - A Powerful man

Ray Rice – A Powerful man

First, let’s start with the obvious. Our society has changed. Domestic abuse used to be something that we would “keep in the home.” If you went to tell the police, they weren’t interested. If you told your pastor, he would tell you to pray more and love your husband more. Now, that’s all changed. Domestic abuse/domestic violence needs to stop and it needs to stop now.

If you are a football fan, you know Ray Rice. You have seen him on the field. He is short, stocky and powerful. You’ve seen him run over 250-pound linebackers. You’ve seen him stiff arm a 200-pound cornerback into the ground. He is listed at 5’8″ tall and he weighs 208 pounds. He is all muscle. This is the man who we see in this new video pounding his fiancée into unconsciousness. There is no excuse. There’s no apology that is adequate. And, in my mind, there is no punishment that will make up for beating another human being senseless.

Let’s be honest. The NFL does not really care about Ray Rice or even his fiancée. I wish they did, but they do not. The NFL is a multibillion-dollar business. They care about their public relations and their image. It’s okay to sell a violent product to the public. We expect football to be violent on the field. It’s not okay for that violence to creep into the public eye off the field. That hurts revenue. The NFL understood almost immediately when they suspended Ray Rice for two games, for beating the crap out of his fiancée, that the punishment was inadequate. They instigated a huge PR campaign to smooth things over with the public. There are thousands of women who follow the NFL. They don’t want to lose that audience. A new policy was announced which “reflected the values of the NFL.” This new policy was a zero tolerance policy. For the first offense the NFL player would be suspended for six games. For the second offense the NFL player would be banished from the NFL. Finally, a real policy.

It would be nice if this was the end of the story. Unfortunately it is not. A video surfaced today which revealed Ray Rice beating the snot out of his then fiancée, now wife. The previous video, which almost everyone has seen by now, surfaced months ago showing Ray Rice dragging his unconscious fiancée by her hair as if we were watching an R-rated episode of the Flintstones. The anger, the brutality of this new video is shocking. This is a side of human beings we don’t see much in our “civilized” society. It is ugly. Once this new video surfaced, the NFL moved quickly to indefinitely suspend Ray Rice. But, here’s the question. Did the NFL know of this “secret” video? Currently the NFL is standing by their story that they knew nothing of this new, raw, brutal video. Here’s another question. What’s the difference? We knew that Ray Rice had beaten his fiancée into unconsciousness. We saw him drag her by her hair. Does he really deserve a harsher penalty because now we can actually see him knock her out? In my mind, he deserves a harsher penalty because of his actions. In a civilized society, we truly cannot tolerate domestic violence. It must be eliminated. Even if you’re an NFL football star.

Now, I don’t want anyone to think that I’m picking on Ray Rice. I’m not. He isn’t the only NFL player in trouble for domestic violence. Ray McDonald just got arrested a couple of days ago for the same thing. (No video has surfaced yet.) I have been following the NFL since the late 1960s. There has always been an undercurrent of domestic violence. I guess one of the big questions is whether you play a game as violent as football and be peaceful at home. Continue reading