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Total number of comments: 19 (since 2013-11-28 15:54:59)

John Ransom

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  • Egypt's Coptic Christians Protest Killing by Fundamentalists of 4 at Church
    • I am confused about something not related to above story! I read in the New York Times recently that for the Jerusalem mayoral election the Palestinians had the right to vote, but that there was a very long tradition of boycotting. Only something under 2% of the Palestinian population participates. But they have the right to vote. But I thought I read elsewhere that Palestinians do *not* have the right to vote in an election like the one for Mayor of Jerusalem. If someone knows, which is correct?

  • Obama's Reassurances about Domestic Surveillance are not Reassuring
    • Prof. Cole writes: "It is one of the problems with having a standing army and a huge intelligence-industrial complex, which the founding generation warned against– it becomes a lobby within the government for militarism and against civil liberties." Precisely, and contrary to the way a few (not all) of the comments here prefer to characterize it, the appropriate "level of analysis" is not President Obama. As in 'now my eyes have been opened to what a horrible person he is.' This "personalist" reading of events is superficial and without a doubt fails to capture the logic of Obama's position, which includes (as Cole rightly says) his to-some-extent capture by constituencies *inside* the government. The problem--as we used to say in the sixties!--is systemic and we will not succeed in tracing them to Obama's personal character.

  • European Union Boycotts Israeli Colonies on the Palestinian West Bank
    • Well said: "The Israelis are perfectly nice people, but all Occupation regimes distort and degrade the character of the Occupiers." This shows that it's not about the ethnicity of the people involved. Stories from the Holocaust include when new German soldiers arrived at one of the death camps to work there. At first, they were kind of nice! But the imperatives of a death camp quickly chased all that out of them. This shows that both approaches to the other are clear possibilities: (1) benign or even friendly regard for the other (2) acting the role of the cruel master. We're all capable of either attitudes, sometimes mixed up together as well; things are complex.

  • How Unreasonable Searches of Private Documents Caused the American Revolution
    • Well not that Prof. Cole needs my praise but he has hit on a very crucial point: the founding generation (FG), in addition to quite rightly wanting their papers secure, were also heavily involved in smuggling. They were trying to avoid onerous British taxes (and certainly trying to add to their bottom line) that had been set up as part of Britain's imperial economy, which always subordinated the needs of colonies to the home country. It may not sound noble, trying to avoid taxes by smuggling, but the FG was pursuing the right principle: don't let government agents or laws get so darn close! Don't let them see and touch everything! Even when it's supposedly "for the good of all" the central power inevitably abuses the powers placed in its hands. That's why if police don't execute a search warrant properly, what they find *is thrown out* EVEN IF if it helps convict an actual criminal of criminal acts.

  • The Great Benghazi Conspiracy and Republican Forgeries
    • Professor Cole, I know that mere praise doesn't add much, but your voice of clarity and calm in the context of such difficult political times is, well, a tonic.

    • Well said SAF. From your lips to Obama's ears.

  • Top Ten Republican Myths on Libya
    • As Prof. Cole points out: "Benghazi, a city of over a million, is not dominated by 'al-Qaeda,' contrary to what Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has repeatedly said or implied."

      And if it were true that freeing the Libyan people from Qaddafi meant that everything would land in al-Qaeda's lap not more than a year-and-a-half after his death, then why do Graham and McCain keep insisting we rush to intervene everywhere in the Middle East?

  • Egypt's Morsi Backs down Slightly, but Opposition to Campaign against his Referendum
    • John S. Ransom 12/09/2012 at 5:33 pm

      Once again the quality of the insights provided in Juan Cole's reporting fly so much higher than what passes for thinking in, for instance, something like the New York Times.

  • Gaza's Health Crisis and Israel's Crimes Against Humanity
    • Yesterday's Italian newspaper La Repubblica carried a report yesterday authored by Fabio Scuto; the following passage struck me (translation follows):
      La campagna aerea, le eliminazioni mirate, la distruzione di “arsenali” e commissariati di polizia è proseguita anche ieri — 23 le vittime della giornata, che portano i morti palestinesi a oltre 100 — ma una indicazione che le cose a Gaza per Israele non stanno andando come previsto è l’aumento costante del numero di vittime tra i civili palestinesi. Anche prima della strage della famiglia Al Dalou, i resoconti delle vittime tra i bambini, le donne e gli anziani si sono moltiplicati, mentre il danno causato ai militanti di Hamas o di altre organizzazioni è stato relativamente limitato. Ci sono diverse ragioni per questo: Hamas opera all’interno di una popolazione civile, e nasconde i suoi arsenali in aree edificate. Lo stesso vale per lanciamissili, missili e altre armi ancora. Inoltre, gran parte dei militanti è molto attenta a non rimanere al di sopra del suolo gran parte della giornata. Resta nella rete di gallerie costruite sotto la Striscia negli ultimi anni e certamente è a rischiopiù basso rispetto alla maggioranza della popolazione di Gaza. Il lancio di un missile poi è estremamente rapido e avviene talvolta tramite telecomando.
      The air campaign, the targeted eliminations, the destruction of "arsenals" and police stations continued yesterday -- 23 died yesterday, bringing the number of Palestinian dead to over 100 -- but an indication that things in Gaza are not going as planned is the constant increase of the number of victims among Palestinian civilians. Even before the slaughter of the Al Dalou family, the number of victims among children, women and the old have multiplied, while the damage caused to Hamas militants has been relatively limited. There are different reasons for this: Hamas operates from within the civil population, and hides its arsenals in housing districts. It's the same for rockets, missiles, and other kinds of arms. In addition, large numbers of of militants are very careful not to remain above ground for most of the day. They remain in the network of tunnels constructed under the Gaza strip in recent years and without a doubt are at a much lower risk than the majority of the population of Gaza. The launch of a missile is extremely rapid and can happen at times via telecommando.

  • Romney Binder full of Top Ten Mistakes and Falsehoods
    • John S. Ransom 10/17/2012 at 6:54 pm

      Re Benghazi attack: But isn't it true that while there was a terrorist element at the tail end of the demonstrations in front of the US embassy in Libya, the demonstrations initially started off as a response to the anti-Muslim film caused so much distress in the Muslim world? Or is that a misunderstanding on my part? Is the actual truth that the whole thing was a terrorist attack on the embassy, from start to finish?

  • Dear Mitt: *You* Don't Get to Say That
  • Hurricane Isaac may Threaten RNC convention of Climate-Change Deniers in Tampa
    • Wasn't there a hurricane that interrupted the Republican convention in 2008 as well?

  • Israeli President Peres Smacks down PM Netanyahu on Iran Attack, Supports Obama
    • D. Matthews already said my point: namely, that a crucial insight from Cole's analysis is the usefulness of the supposed Iranian threat for keeping "peace with Palestinians" off the front burner.

  • The Collapse of the Climate Change Contrarians and the End of Coal
    • Professor Cole writes: "Our Congress is a latter-day Nero, fiddling while the world burns, and any of them that doesn’t get it should be turned out in November if you care about the fate of your children and grandchildren."
      Completely true. And this is the real problem, and not just in the United States, which is the extent to which each crisis we confront, no matter how far afield from each other, finds its roots in a crisis of the *elites* who do not know how to govern. The elites act, alright. They seem perversely, in retrospect at least, to be *trying* to do a bad job, proceeding in clearly irresponsible ways, and refusing every opportunity to take on a serious problem. I follow the Italian press and one of the ways Berlusconi's strange nightmare hold on the Italian people manifested itself was the incredibly long ride of clueless, mistaken optimism that everything was fine. Through changes in policies and laws, elites materially and directly reshape the playing field of national, regional, and world economies. The rules are changed to favor a much more speculative approach that encourages risk. But then when the easily foreseeable crises results, it's not called a crisis of governance, a crisis of elite competence; no, now the whole problem changes over from being the result of how the system's rules were rigged, to being a noun phrase, to being "a fiscal crisis." In this way elites successfully load the community with the debts incurred as a result of *their* folly; their folly is nationalized and takes on the air of a collective responsibility. When it comes to the environment, the Nero metaphor is especially striking. It seems to me to be a widely shared consensus across the elite political spectrum that nothing much can or even should be done to promote renewable energy until and unless market forces permit. There, too, an energy crisis is at the same time a crisis of the elites.

  • Morsi Reaffirms Israel Peace Treaty to Clinton
    • "The problem for the US will not be that Morsi wants to abrogate Camp David. It will be that he wants to implement it." Bravo. Well said.

  • Top Ten Surprises on Libya's Election Day
    • Yes, well, it's not a surprise to those of us who read Professor Cole's newsletter: indeed, it was due to him that I started reading the sensationalist headlines about the possibility of violence in the Libyan election with the skepticism they deserved. And even when the New York Times does report on the overwhelmingly successful and peaceful Libyan vote, which had quite minimal incidence of violence, they still push the "party line" on how to view the "Arab spring": that is, at best an ambiguous good that could just as easily go in the "wrong" direction.

  • Ghoul's Glossary
    • I loved learning (because you mentioned it) about the word "synecdoche." What a strange word!

  • The Arab World's Fourths of July
    • Professor Cole writes: "Even the First Amendment to the Constitution, which forbade Congress to designate an official American religion, was considered solely a Federal initiative, and states often had Established religions."

      This isn't right, I don't think. Many state constitutions before the formation of the Federal government included sections on religious liberty. In fact, one of the more effective criticisms of the original draft of the Constitution by anti-Federalists was that it lacked this basic guarantee, and was a step backward relative to what could be found in state constitutions. The same is true for the freedom of press. The Bill of Rights was based in large part on the version of the same thing written by George Mason for Virginia's constitution. See Mason's "Virginia Declaration of Rights." Section XVI of Mason's "Declaration" reads: "That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator and the manner of discharging it, can be directed by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore, all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other."

  • Omar Khayyam (128): Lovers are at home in heaven and in hell
    • These seem to be masterfully brief indications of the essence of this or that existential position on the chess board. Thus the seekers of truth do not ascribe importance to the distinction between what is lovely and what ugly, precisely because it could very well be in the 'ugly' side of things that the 'seekers of truth' get most of their information. You know you have 'lovers' on your hands when their personal firewall, separating themselves from everything without, is strong enough to endure any environment. The one who loses her heart starts to ignore dress codes. I really enjoyed reading the poem. Thanks a lot.

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