The Military Army Blog

The Observer view on why expanding British military action into Syria would be a mistake

German chancellor Angela Merkel, Franch president Francois Hollande and Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo visit the Palace de la Republic to show their respects to the vicitism fo the Paris terror attacks, on November 25. Photograph: Getty

It is odd listening to our politicians talking portentously about the heavy responsibility they bear in deciding whether Britain should go to war in Syria. The sad fact of the matter is that, to all intents and purposes, Britain is already at war in both Syria[1] and Iraq and has been for at least a year. The current intense debate about whether to step up our involvement by joining the US and France in the aerial bombing of Islamic State[2] terrorists in Syria has been fuelled by the dreadful Paris attacks and fears that something similar may happen here. But as they grapple with their consciences, some of the leading parliamentary participants in this debate exhibit an inexplicable forgetfulness about what they have previously agreed and an inability to recognise what is actually happening, almost daily, in the world beyond Westminster. Following hard on a series of Isis advances and atrocities, MPs decided on 26 September last year, without much fuss, to support British air strikes in Iraq[3]. All the main party leaderships concurred. The vote in favour was overwhelming 524-43. Since then, RAF Tornados have conducted hundreds of attacks and sorties.

French fighter planes. France launched air strikes against Isis targets in Iraq on 23 November from the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, newly deployed in the eastern Mediterranean. Photograph: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP/Getty Images

At the same time, Britain has been contributing airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, refuelling support and command and control assistance to coalition operations in Syria. British drone strikes have killed British-born terrorists in Syria and British pilots have been embedded with coalition forces there. The legal right of collective self-defence, recognised in the UN charter, underpinned the 2014 Iraq[4] intervention and still applies to British armed action in Syria. Even though some among the Labour leadership do not appear to grasp it, Isis, in its turn, has been waging vengeful war on Britain from its headquarters in Raqqa, Syria, for at least the past 12 months. According to the security services, Isis was behind seven major terrorist plots targeting the UK in this period. It is now busy expanding its external planning capability to launch more mass casualty attacks. Isis has continued to inculcate and recruit young British Muslims, up to 800 of whom have joined it in Syria. It assiduously disseminates a poisonous ideology intended to demean our values and undermine the integrity of our society. And it murders our people. In June, a gunman linked to Isis killed 30 British holidaymakers on a beach in Tunisia. We said then[5] Isis had declared war on Britain and that it was time to wake up. This is even more true today.

Thus the fundamental question that MPs must answer this week, if David Cameron[6] calls a vote, is not whether we should go to war with Isis in Syria that is already happening but how we may best ensure that we eventually prevail. And here it is easy to become bogged down in complex and often contradictory geo-strategic, political, historical and military considerations that can be twisted around to support almost any conclusion, depending on your point of view. It is true, for example, as Mr Cameron says, that the longer Isis is allowed to grow in Syria, the greater the threat it will pose . Study of the group s core beliefs, which centre on an exclusive caliphate governing all Muslims whose desired destination is the end of times , meaning the Apocalypse, shows how futile is any hope of a negotiated settlement or compromise. But it is also true, as many argue, that extended RAF bombing cannot, by itself, have a definitive impact and may even make matters worse. Such decisions are not simple or straightforward. If they were, we would not now be having such a difficult national conversation. Nor is there a single correct solution. Even the most passionate advocates of bombing, and their most dedicated opponents, must admit there is room for error in their judgments and a need for flexibility in their approach. And so when Mr Cameron sets out his best case in favour[7], as he did in the Commons last Thursday, he and his arguments deserve to be heard with attention and respect.

David Cameron addresses the House of Commons, making his case for air strikes on Syria. Photograph: AP

The prime minister made many persuasive points. He is right to say that Britain cannot and must not depend on others for its defence and that no action comes without risk. It is important, too, that we show solidarity with our long-time ally, France, after the great hurt it has sustained. There is no doubt that Britain faces an extremely serious security threat and that, regretfully, the likelihood of a successful Isis operation on British soil is growing. If we do not suppress Isis now, then when? he asked. Mr Cameron was correct to stress the twin imperatives of encouraging and assisting the moderate political and armed opposition to the Assad regime in Damascus and of simultaneously trying to advance the Vienna peace process that recently revived moribund negotiations first begun in Geneva in 2012. Mr Cameron rightly highlighted Britain s humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people, which has indeed been significant, in terms of cash, if not refugee placements, by comparison with most other countries. And recalling mistakes made in Iraq, he placed welcome emphasis on ensuring adequate, collective funding for Syrian postwar reconstruction. These were key elements in what he claimed was an internationally agreed comprehensive strategy . But while not rejecting much of Mr Cameron s statement, and without questioning his sincerity, it must be said the prime minister s proposal, taken in the round, is neither comprehensive nor a strategy. On the contrary, it is, to a worrying degree, an exercise in wishful thinking. Mr Cameron has not yet made a convincing case for expanded military action in Syria.

There are three main areas of unresolved, critical concern. First, it remains wholly unclear how additional British bombing, however skilful and accurate, would further the primary objective of dislodging Isis from Raqqa and the rest of its territory in Syria and Iraq, an essential aim if the pernicious concept of a reconstituted, omnipotent caliphate is to be exploded. Only substantial, well-trained ground forces could do this and western troops are not available. Nobody, not even the French, is prepared to risk them. Notwithstanding the suspiciously chimerical army of 70,000[8] rebel fighters conjured by Mr Cameron from the northern deserts, capable local ground forces are mostly lacking. In a state fracturing along religious and ethnic fault lines with Shia-dominated Iran supporting the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad, himself a member of the Shia Alawite sect, in a deadly struggle with predominantly Sunni forces and Kurdish separatists, in addition to the murderous Isis they may be impossible to muster. The Kurds, responsible for Isis s few significant battlefield reverses to date, chiefly wish to secure their own territory, not fight a liberation war for all Syria. And Syria s Sunni Arab fighters (as became the case in post-surge, post-Petraeus Iraq in 2007) are divided, unreliable and badly led.

Syrian Kurdish-led forces. Photograph: Reuters

And even if Isis were routed on the ground, what then? Another vacuum in another ungoverned space, to be filled by whom? Iranian-commanded Shia militia from Baghdad? Assad army forces backed by Russian air support? If Mr Cameron, possibly backed by France, is seriously suggesting (as his memorandum to the foreign affairs select committee implied) that the international community cut a deal with Assad s regime to tackle Isis and so secure the lands of eastern Syria, he must think again. The Syrian people, not least the Sunni Muslim majority, would never stand for it. Neither would the Gulf states and many other coalition members, whatever Russia and Iran might say. It is at this point that the spectre of Iraq after the 2003 invasion looms especially large. Saddam Hussein s regime, though secular in nature, was dominated by and protective of the country s Sunni minority. After the dictator fell, Iraq s bigger Shia population eventually seized dominant governmental control. Many Sunnis felt disenfranchised. Their alienation in turn spawned the Sunni rebellion against the American occupiers in 2005 and the rise of al-Qaida in Mesopotamia, the forerunners of Sunni-led Isis. Although they are a majority in Syria, Sunni Muslims were also marginalised by Assad s Alawite Shia regime. It is they who have stood at the heart of the anti-Assad uprising since it began in 2011.

Thus if a lasting political settlement is to be reached in either country, it is absolutely essential that Sunni interests and aspirations are fully recognised. If Isis and other extremist groups are to be defeated and permanently excluded and inclusive, democratic governance established, the victorious charge must ultimately be led by moderate, indigenous Sunnis, not by vengeful western politicians or well-meaning UN mediators or self-interested Kurds or Tehran-backed Shia militia. Their presumptuous intervention now, as in the past, would only exacerbate existing divisions.

Civilians walk along a damaged street after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria s President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus. Photograph: Bassam Khabieh/Reuters

Practical, credible measures to attain this political imperative are nowhere to be found in Mr Cameron s strategy. Likewise, the overriding necessity, in Syrian eyes of deposing Assad is given no great priority and, indeed, is curiously downplayed. Whatever Mr Cameron may pretend, Tehran s leadership is not onside it still argues, absurdly, that Assad should stand for re-election at the end of a transitional period. Yet the prime minister s plan deliberately bypasses such complexities. By suggesting he has the solutions, and promising what he cannot deliver, Mr Cameron, like Tony Blair in 2003, stretches public trust in the government s case to breaking point. Second, Mr Cameron s comprehensive strategy places far too much faith in a positive outcome in the Vienna peace process, which has yet to produce anything much beyond a deceptive show of international amity. Its overly optimistic 18-month Syrian transition road map is a mere paper trail so far. Assad shows no sign of stepping down, Moscow and Tehran show no sign (as yet) of pushing him, the main Syrian opposition coalition says it will boycott any talks while Assad is still involved, and there is no agreement on which of the many other rebel groups are moderate enough to attend the talks. This is treacherous ground from which to launch a military campaign. Likewise, the global coalition[9] energetically promoted by President Hollande since the Paris attacks and backed by Mr Cameron, which in reality boils down to a faint hope of increased military co-operation between Moscow and Washington, fails to inspire confidence. Entirely lacking is a vision for a Syria whole and free. Instead, Britain s international partners can often resemble vultures, contesting the dismembered parts. The Saudis and Qataris remain at total odds with Iran, the Russians and the Turks are at each other s throats over border violations, and there is still no broad agreement with Moscow (despite Mr Hollande s valiant efforts) over who should actually be bombed and where. Indeed, President Vladimir Putin increasingly plays the role of cowboy, not collaborator.

In the meantime, Britain s closest ally, the US, is running on idle, with an insouciant, strangely detached Barack Obama waxing ever more philosophical, though grimly determined not to be sucked into another Middle Eastern quagmire. And as long as Assad, the original villain of the piece, stays, the refugees, who fear him more than Isis, will just keep on coming. As we report today from the Turkey-Syria border, the very last thing those Syrian civilians who remain want is yet more heavy ordnance descending on their heads.

Barack Obama: determined not to be sucked in. Photograph: Yin Bogu/Xinhua Press/Corbis

Third and last, there is scant ground for confidence that Mr Cameron s comprehensive strategy will go any significant way towards addressing the core problem of contagion. By this is meant the apparently inexorable, global spread of jihadi ideology and the terrifying willingness of far too many young Muslims, from London and Birmingham and Bradford, from Lille and Brussels and Copenhagen, and from many other parts of Europe and North America, to reject the liberal values, standards and democratically agreed, albeit imperfect laws of their home countries and to resort instead to extremist, fundamentalist thinking, arbitrary, divisive and misogynistic norms and the most awful violence to express their vision of a better society. Isis did not invent the idea of a holy war or crusade. It has no monopoly and no patent, historical or modern, on fanatical, religiously inspired intolerance. Nor did it invent fascism or apocalyptic nihilism, although its beliefs and methods ape both. If Isis is destroyed but not discredited, debunked and exposed for the evil sham it is, other, possibly ever more extreme Islamist groups will likely take its place. As we said at the beginning, Britain is already at war. It is already assisting its French and American allies militarily. But at bottom, it is a war of values and ideas, not of more and more bombs. This is the fight we must win, however long it takes. Mr Cameron has failed to make the case for expanded military action in Syria. His proposal should not be supported.

Comments will be opened later today


  1. ^ Syria (
  2. ^ Islamic State (
  3. ^ support British air strikes in Iraq (
  4. ^ Iraq (
  5. ^ We said then (
  6. ^ David Cameron (
  7. ^ best case in favour (
  8. ^ chimerical army of 70,000 (
  9. ^ global coalition (

Author JK Rowling Finally Answers Enduring Harry Potter Question …

LONDON (TheBlaze/AP) Harry Potter readers have long wanted to know: Why did the boy wizard choose to honor Severus Snape a teacher who had been so mean to him? Author JK Rowling took to Twitter to answer the enduring question on Friday in an exchange with a fan who asked why one of Harry s children received the middle name of Severus. The acclaimed author explained that Harry paid tribute to Snape because of forgiveness and gratitude. Though Snape bullied Harry, he also saved him.

Author JK Rowling Finally Answers Enduring Harry Potter Question ...

This is a Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012 file photo of British author J.K. Rowling as she poses for the photographers during photo call to unveil her new book, entitled: The Casual Vacancy , at the Southbank Centre in London. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis, File)

Harry hoped in his heart that he too would be forgiven. The deaths at the Battle of Hogwarts would haunt Harry forever. Rowling said that while a whole essay could be written on why Harry gave his son Snape s name, it goes to the heart of who Harry was, post-war. Rowling s seven Harry Potter novels have sold more than 450 million copies and been made into eight films. Readers eagerly seek clues about her thinking behind the character.

Snape is all grey. You can t make him a saint: he was vindictive & bullying. You can t make him a devil: he died to save the wizarding world, Rowling tweeted. The question of Snape has dogged readers in part because he returned to side of the villain, Lord Voldemort, and killed Harry s hero, headmaster Albus Dumbledore, in one of the later books in the series, The Half Blood Prince.

In the final book, The Deathly Hallows, Rowling reveals that Snape was acting on Dumbledore s orders and had protected Harry at school out of love for Harry s mother, Lily.

Snape died for Harry out of love for Lily, Rowling said.

The author later said her Twitter timeline had exploded with love & fury.

I ve got to say this: you lot have been arguing about Snape for years. My timeline just exploded with love & fury yet again. Never change, she wrote.

Watch the latest video at[1]


  1. ^ (

This week at progressive state blogs: Can Roy Blunt change his …

This week in progressive state blogs is designed specifically to focus attention on the writing and analysis of people focused on their home turf. Let me know via comments or Kosmail if you have a favorite state- or city-based blog you think I should be watching. Inclusion of a blogpost does not necessarily indicate my agreement or endorsement of its contents.

At Eclectablog of Michigan, Eclectablog writes Federal climate scientists attacked, intimidated by GOP climate change deniers and scientists are fighting back[1]:

Idiocracy wasn t a movie. It was a documentary. In June of this year, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published research in the peer-reviewed journalScience. Their research was based on improved and more accurate land and sea temperature data that showed that the warming of the earth continues apace. This flies in the face of claims by climate change deniers that there has been a global warming pause [2] or hiatus. That data was made public in October.

This Week At Progressive State Blogs: Can Roy Blunt Change His ...

After the publication of the research, Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX), a virulent climate change denier who is the Chair of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, subpoenaed scientists at NOAA demanding that they turn over internal e-mails related to their research. Although Smith, a former lawyer, is not a scientist himself, it is his belief that the scientists altered data in order to support the theory of global climate change and he wanted proof[3]. […]

NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan was having none of it. She stubbornly refused to provide the emails demanded by Smith. I have not or will not allow anyone to manipulate the science or coerce the scientists who work for me, Sullivan wrote to Smith in a letter. If the committee doubts the integrity of the study, it has the tools it needs to commission a competing scientific assessment.

At Blue Virginia, Lowell writes Video: Howard Dean Says “Authoritarian” GOP in “Full Terror Mode that Donald Trump is Going to Get the Nomination”:[4]

Howard Dean absolutely nailed it (see below for a partial transcript) in this interview with Chris Hayes yesterday. The fact is, these are crazy times we live in, the likes of which I’m not sure we’ve ever seen in this country’s history (other than the Civil War). And no, that’s not a good thing in any way, other than the likelihood that the Republican Party might finally implode, leading to a Democratic landslide in 2016. We’d all better hope that scenario comes to pass, because frankly, we can’t go on like this much longer as a country, with a bunch of crazy, extremist bigots running around saying wildly irresponsible things, while making the country close to ungovernable and preventing us from investing in our future, tackling climate change effectively, reforming our tax code to (among other things) make it more progressive, etc, etc.:

This Week At Progressive State Blogs: Can Roy Blunt Change His ...

I make two things of this: 1) the Republicans are now in full-terror mode that Donald Trump is going to get the momination, and they think he can’t win; and 2) this is very interesting watching all these people who are all authoritarians themselves call Donald Trump a fascist; the Republican Party is an authoritarian party… Any party which, as a party – and this one is a party that has done this – which restricts the right to vote is a party that places their own authority above the authority of the people and above the value of democracy…This is a party that has a strong authoritarian bent, it has for a very long time, and now they’re complaining that Donald Trump is a fascist?!? I have never seen anybody called a fascist, let alone the leading candidate of the party, by people in their own party…These guys are terrified, they are absolutely terrified, because there is a winning path for Donald Trump to win, and we’re going to know what it is on the 15th of March, where Florida, the first winnter-take-all-state [votes]…This is do-or-die time. You’re seeing this now because the Republicans are not stupid. They now realize that not only is Donald Trump the real thing, that he’s now the odds-on favorite to win the nomination.

At Capital & Main of California, Judith Lewis Mernit writes The Heat s On: An L.A. Arts Festival Tackles Climate Change[5]:

Bad enough that the climate is changing and humans are causing it; worse, most of us don t even want to talk about it.

This Week At Progressive State Blogs: Can Roy Blunt Change His ...

Where are the books? The poems? The plays? The goddamn operas? asked author and climate activist Bill McKibben a decade ago[6] on Grist, comparing the climate crisis to the AIDS epidemic, which, McKibben noted, produced a staggering outpouring of art that, in turn, has had real political effect. To be fair, that has started to change: Authors such as Paolo Bacigalupi (The Water Knife) and filmmaker Larry Fessenden (The Last Winter) have begun to address environmental catastrophe in their works. But it s likely that other authors, artists and goddamn opera writers have assumed that their climate-focused work would struggle for an audience: A recent Pew Research Center poll[7] found that only 42 percent of U.S. citizens consider rising seas and global temperatures disturbing. (Europeans are more worried about Russia; Russians are worried about money.)

Writer-director Guy Zimmerman, the longtime artistic director of the Padua Playwrights group, remembers hearing a group of scientists talk about the climate s public relations problem at a conference a few years ago.

They were so demoralized, Zimmerman tells Capital & Main[8]. They said they d been saying the same things for 20 years and no one was listening. It struck him that humans were due for a shift in the narrative paradigm. Instead of presenting the climate crisis as an apocalyptic fiat over which the ordinary human has no control, he wondered, why not see it as an opportunity?

At The Progressive Pulse of North Carolina, Patrick McHugh writes NC s Small Business Could Use a Boost[9]:

With the sounds of Small Business Saturday in the air, it s a good time to take stock of how main street businesses in North Carolina have fared over the last several years. The end of the Great Recession certainly improved the prospects for small businesses, but the recovery here in North Carolina has had a decidedly big-business bent. Most small businesses have not seen the level of growth that their larger competitors have enjoyed during the recovery, a clear sign that we have not done enough to help Main Street to prosper.

This Week At Progressive State Blogs: Can Roy Blunt Change His ...

As can be seen to the left, the fastest growth in employment during the recovery has occurred in larger businesses. The biggest businesses (more than 1000 employees) have expanded their collective workforce by more than 15% since 2009, the next largest set of establishments (between 500 and 1000 workers) by almost 12%. In contrast the smallest businesses in North Carolina have struggled to take advantage of the current period of prolonged economic growth. The growth gap between larger and smaller businesses that we ve seen in North Carolina has not happened to the same degree in many other states. Large firms have added jobs faster than smaller companies over the last six years nationwide, but the difference in North Carolina is much more pronounced. Growth for the largest US companies was twice that of the smallest, while here in North Carolina the largest companies lapped the smallest group five times. This imbalance is an economic problem because small businesses are the veins circulating capital through local economies. Owners with roots in a community often source more locally, spend more of their earnings nearby, pay better, and invest in their communities. All of that helps to keep money flowing around and creating jobs. None of this is to denigrate how many large companies can help communities, but when local businesses don t prosper, growth doesn t always translate into deeper economic health.

At Kansas Free Press, David Norlin writes Syria-ously, Tim? [10]

Tim Huelskamp finally arrived in Salina Nov. 23rd, after town-hauling it all over West-Central smaller towns. Speculation was, he didn’t want to face more critical questions likely in more populous areas.

This Week At Progressive State Blogs: Can Roy Blunt Change His ...

Turns out, he didn’t have to worry. Such stage shows masquerade as ‘listening’ tours, but primarily feature the representative front and center. They are held during most people’s working day, with resulting attendance consisting primarily of retirees, other Republican office-holders, business folks with potential benefit from federal sausage-making, and standard-bearers of the rep’s fan club. Room for dissenting views is largely overshadowed, if the rep is even moderately skilled in the art of question deflection, non-sequitur creation, and appeals to his base’s basest emotions. Tim is. Despite his “Front Lines of Freedom” newsletter claim that, “Saline County residents were especially concerned about the threat of ISIS,” I saw little of that, but plenty of contradictions in his barriers to Syrians fleeing for their lives.

His drumbeat that we are the land of freedom seems not to apply to Syrians–unless they are Christian. From all evidence, he hasn’t consulted Jesus’ actual stance on such exclusions. At Show Me Progress of Missouri, Willykay writes Can the leopard (Roy Blunt) change its money-grubbing spots?[11]

So last Thursday (11/19) readers of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch were treated to a quarter-page ad that proclaimed in large letters thank You Senator Blunt for protecting access to patient care. The ad was paid for by the Federation of American Hospitals[12], a for-profit hospital lobbying group.

This Week At Progressive State Blogs: Can Roy Blunt Change His ...

As near as I can make out Blunt s service to the group consisted of advocacy[13]against cutting down the federal subsidy that compensates for Medicare bad debt. This is the debt that occurs when Medicare beneficiaries cannot manage co-pays or other Republican-sponsored (and Blunt endorsed) outlays designed to make sure that our elderly have got skin in the game[14]. Laudable, right? But bear in mind that this is the same Senator Blunt who just a few years ago proclaimed[15] that, We ve had Medicare since 1965, and Medicare has never done anything to make people more healthy. It s also the same Roy Blunt who has voted against just about any expansion of healthcare that hasn t involved a subsidy to healthcare industry beneficiaries folks who, incidentally, have done quite a lot of good for ol Roy in their turn. Healthcare industries and Big Pharma account for quite a sizable chunk of Blunt s campaign dosh[16].

Not too different from Karl Rove s PAC ads[17] that tried to paint the Senator as a defender of veterans the same Roy Blunt who voted over and over again against the best interests of veterans (see here[18] and here[19] for examples). So what s going on? Could it have anything to do with the election next year which Roy is going into with a Senate approval ranking of 84 from the top? That s 16 from the lowest posible ranking. Maybe a few of Roy s constituents have finally caught on about who it is Roy seeks to serve. At Intelligent Discontent of Montana, Don Pogreba writes 55th Bedwetting Bigots Report for Duty to Help Murderers and Terrorists[20]:

To celebrate the week of Thanksgiving, a holiday they no doubt mythologize as the heartwarming tale of a band of indigenous people welcoming a group of bedraggled, hungry refugees with open arms, the 55th Bedwetting Bigot Brigade of the Montana Militia (whose members also serve in the Legislature every two years) has called on Governor Steve Bullock to illegally block imaginary refugees from coming to Montana to flee a very real genocide.

This Week At Progressive State Blogs: Can Roy Blunt Change His ...

This band of patriots led by Lt. Colonel Fred Craven Thomas, wrote a letter to Governor Bullock asking that the governor ignore the Constitution, Christian morality, and basic human decency to block Syrian refugees from the United States. In the letter, they write that Bullock should[21]:

use all legal means to block or resist the placement of Syrian refugees in our great state at this time. Of course, one of the measures of a great state should be its moral standing in the world and how it treats the most disadvantaged. The leaders of a great state should not, in the face of inhumane cruelty, let their fear of widows and orphans lead them to demagogue while lives are on the line. That some of these cowards voted to block the illusory threat[22] of Sharia law in Montana while taking the position that others across the world should face its harshest imposition moves beyond cowardice to craven gutlessness, and lays bare the fear that drives their ideology. At Bold Nebraska, Jane Kleeb writes Our Bold Next Steps[23]:

As we enter the holiday season and end of 2015, the Bold team is taking time to visit with supporters and donors to discuss our next steps. […]

This Week At Progressive State Blogs: Can Roy Blunt Change His ...

We conducted a survey in 2015 to our supporters and found the vast majority want us to stop risky fossil fuel projects and help push for more renewable energy in order to protect our land and water. The survey showed folks want us to expand into issues like affordable health care, voter registration, immigration rights and campaign finance reform. […][24]

Our mission has not and will not change mobilize new energy to restore political balance. We showed that an unlikely alliance can change the political landscape of our state when we all took on a foreign tarsands pipeline and won! We shook up the status quo in our state and nation. We brought creativity and hard work to an issue that normally would have been decided with a bunch of lobbyists in suits behind political closed doors. Maybe it will take these bold boots kicking down the political doors, but we will do so with a smile and standing shoulder to shoulder with rural and urban communities.[25]

At Miscellany Blue of New Hampshire, William Tucker writes Campaign vignette: Al Baldasaro plays a supporting role in Trump campaign shtick:[26]

State Rep. Al Baldasaro is one of Donald Trump s most outspoken supporters. The Londonderry Republican, himself no stranger tocontroversy[27], had a front row seat for Trump s rally in Worcester last week and made a cameo appearance. Chris Caesar was on hand to capture the action:

This Week At Progressive State Blogs: Can Roy Blunt Change His ...

Near the end, Trump did single out one man in the crowd[28] as a winner: New Hampshire State Representative Al Baldasaro, who sat in the front row and helped the GOP front-runner for president publicly call for someone s death without having to say the words himself. The candidate called Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl a soldier who was captured in Afghanistan and later rescued after allegedly fleeing duty a dirty rotten traitor and a bum, but let Baldasaro take the money shot.

Now in the old days what do we do with Sgt. Bergdahl 50 years ago? He asked of the former Marine. Baldasaro gleefully mimics an execution shot to the head, to major cheers from the crowd.

That s right! Trump said. Boom, boom! Great veteran. Boom. He s gone. He s gone.

At Blue Oklahoma, DocHoc writes Mythical Bombast[29]:

It s always funny whenever The Oklahoman

criticizes what its editorial board sees as the big bad liberal bias in the corporate media. It s so funny that it becomes ridiculous. But the hysterical laughter gets followed by sad tears.

This Week At Progressive State Blogs: Can Roy Blunt Change His ...

An editorial in the newspaper on Friday made the standard GOP claim[30] about liberal bias in the media and based its claims on how some of the Republican presidential candidates, such as Ben Carson, were getting treated badly by those pesky journalists who report their whacked-out statements and policy positions. What the editorial didn t mention was how Fox News reports its news or the extremely conservative editorial positions of The Wall Street Journal or even its own aversion[31] to the bombast of Donald Trump. What the editorial also didn t mention was that The Oklahoman has long been considered one of the most conservative and biased metropolitan newspapers in the country. If anything, the newspaper has grown even more conservative under its relatively new ownership by Philip, Anschutz, the Colorado billionaire who made his riches in the drilling business. The specifics of the editorial matter little. I think it s more important to report on howThe Oklahoman has supported conservative local politicians, such as U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, who consistently embarrass the state, which gets nothing in return but bad press. Some might argue that, well, Inhofe s bombast about how global warming is aliberal hoax[32] is every bit as bombasty as one of Trump s quotables, but that would be bringing logic to an illogical premise in the first place. Inhofe s denial of scientific principles does indirectly benefit the oil and gas industry here, but the industry is going to frack where it wants to frack, earthquakes or not, Inhofe or no Inhofe. Seriously, Inhofe s overall impact on the state s national and worldwide reputation and image has been an extremely negative one and he hasn t done anything extraordinary to help the Oklahoma economy, except to try to increase military funding (i.e., federal spending) here, which has probably often been done despite him not because of him.

At Raging Chicken Press of Pennsylvania, Sean Kitchen writes Which PA Representative Added Vets Only Amendment to PTSD Treatment in Medical Marijuana Bill?[33]

My former State Representative Montgomery County Republican Todd Stephens attached an amendment to Pennsylvania s medical marijuana bill that would limit those seeking the green leafy plant s healing powers for issues with post-traumatic stress syndrome or properly known as PTSD to combat veterans only and has happened to piss off a Philadelphia marine and medical marijuana activist.

This Week At Progressive State Blogs: Can Roy Blunt Change His ...

As a former prosecutor who touts a 99 percent conviction rate in the Sex Crimes and Major Case Unit, Representative Stephens is possibly harming those he sought justice for in court. Victims of rape and sexual abuse face a one in five chance of getting their day in court [34]and half of assault survivors will suffer from PTSD[35]. At yesterday s Campaign for Compassion rally, one demonstrator took shot at Todd Stephens on this issue. Former Marine and ongoing medical marijuana activist for veterans who suffer from PTSD, Michael Whiter was shocked when he heard about Todd Stephens amendment. Whiter spent ten years as a Marine and served tours in Kosovo and Iraq. Back home, he was the first person to be cited for smoking marijuana in public after Philadelphia s decriminalization ordinance went into effect[36]. Since Senate Bill 3 had been passed by the House Rules Committee, over 90 amendments have been added to the bill in order to stall the bill in the House or delay the implementation of the law if it were to make it to the Governor s desk.

Whiter told the Raging Chicken that being a vet with PTSD, I m happy that PTSD is a qualifying condition under SB3, but it is unacceptable for any politician to say that only vets with PTSD can gain access to medical cannabis. Especially a politician who has worked with sex crime victims and families of murder victims.

At RI, Christopher Rocheleau and Adrian Rojas write Second Chance Act deserves a second chance at full funding[37]:

Every year state and federal prisons release more than 650,000 people back into society, a population equal to the size of Boston. Rather than providing the means for a successful transition, many states hurl prisoners out into the community with little or no support. Two thirds of released prisoners will re-offend and land back in prison with a price tag of over $30,000 per year.

This Week At Progressive State Blogs: Can Roy Blunt Change His ...

During his state of the union address in 2004, then-president George W. Bush said America is the land of the second chance, and then the gates of the prison open, the path ahead should lead to a better life. Bush went on to sign the Second Chance Act, providing funding for prisoner reentry programs. But congress has since reduced and cut portions of a program that could save states millions in the cost of corrections. […]

The Second Chance Act was passed to reduce recidivism, better society, and give those who deserve it a second chance at life. Truth is, resources are limited, though the RI Department of Corrections does its best to use what is available to make re-entry into society available. If Rhode Island were to utilize the Second Chance Act properly, or to create new legislation to help with these issues, there would be a difference in recidivism, homelessness, and crime.


  1. ^ Federal climate scientists attacked, intimidated by GOP climate change deniers and scientists are fighting back (
  2. ^ global warming pause (
  3. ^ he wanted proof (
  4. ^ Video: Howard Dean Says “Authoritarian” GOP in “Full Terror Mode that Donald Trump is Going to Get the Nomination”: (
  5. ^ The Heat s On: An L.A. Arts Festival Tackles Climate Change (
  6. ^ a decade ago (
  7. ^ A recent Pew Research Center poll (
  8. ^ Capital & Main (
  9. ^ NC s Small Business Could Use a Boost (
  10. ^ Syria-ously, Tim? (
  11. ^ Can the leopard (Roy Blunt) change its money-grubbing spots? (
  12. ^ Federation of American Hospitals (
  13. ^ advocacy (
  14. ^ got skin in the game (
  15. ^ proclaimed (
  16. ^ sizable chunk of Blunt s campaign dosh (
  17. ^ Karl Rove s PAC ads (
  18. ^ here (
  19. ^ here (
  20. ^ 55th Bedwetting Bigots Report for Duty to Help Murderers and Terrorists (
  21. ^ Bullock should (
  22. ^ these cowards voted to block the illusory threat (
  23. ^ Our Bold Next Steps (
  24. ^ survey in 2015 (
  25. ^ Our mission (
  26. ^ Campaign vignette: Al Baldasaro plays a supporting role in Trump campaign shtick (
  27. ^ controversy (
  28. ^ Trump did single out one man in the crowd (
  29. ^ Mythical Bombast (
  30. ^ made the standard GOP claim (
  31. ^ even its own aversion (
  32. ^ liberal hoax (
  33. ^ Which PA Representative Added Vets Only Amendment to PTSD Treatment in Medical Marijuana Bill? (
  34. ^ one in five chance of getting their day in court (
  35. ^ half of assault survivors will suffer from PTSD (
  36. ^ Philadelphia s decriminalization ordinance went into effect (
  37. ^ Second Chance Act deserves a second chance at full funding (