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Total number of comments: 172 (since 2013-11-28 14:42:42)

Nathanael

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  • A Russo-Iranian Bloc against the United States?
    • The real issue for Russia is Chinese government opinion. I haven't heard a single comment from China.

      When you're playing Great Power politics, it's important to keep track of *all* the Great Powers. Russia has nothing to fear from the US or the EU right now. However, as Putin acts ludicrous and destablizing, he should (but won't) watch for the Chinese reaction.

  • The Crimean Crisis and the Middle East: Will Syria & Iran be the Winners?
    • World War I.

    • Bingo. Saudi reserves are the big mystery in the world economy, and Saudi oil price manipulation is actually the linchpin of world geopolitics. This is probably going to all come falling apart quite suddently due to the incredible secrecy which surrounds Saudi oil reserves.

    • Putin is not remotely a "chess master". He reminds me of Kaiser Wilhelm.... which should be a warning to us all.

      What we're missing is a Woodrow Wilson figure (There was a real chessmaster).

  • Top 5 US Government Decisions that put Troops more at Risk than Snowden Did
    • The current police state will collapse due to its own incompetence; the NSA can blackmail Congressmen, but it can't even tell who has access to the information it's illegally collected, and as a result *anyone* can hijack it. Remember, a Soviet mole was running large portions of the CIA for over a decade!

      The question is really what comes next after this pathetic incompetent police state collapses. It could be a new era of peace, democracy, and the rule of law. Or it could be a much more competent police state. Or, worse, it could be a long series of civil wars.

    • Snowden did the right thing, just like the Soviet dissidents who defected did.

      There's no point in a quixotic imprisonment under a Stalinist government with no rule of law when you can get out, which he did.

      It's embarassing and weird that he's safer in Putin's Russia -- Putin's government has said, basically, that they would have loved to turn Snowden over to the US, but that the US's dramatic and blatant violations of US and international law while attempting to kidnap Snowden made it politically impossible (in terms of international and Russian politics) for them to turn him over.

  • Gatesgate: Why Obama was right to Distrust his Generals on Afghanistan
    • " Obama understood (as apparently others cannot) that that is a non-negotiable provision when U.S. forces are deployed."

      That (extraterritoriality) is a provision which no foreign government will ever agree to under any circumstances. It's actually largely prohibited by international law.

      Only the countries conquered in WWII have ever really agreed to it, and that's because, uh, they were conquered.

      It is an impossible request. Whether Obama knew that is an open question.

    • It's not just formal authority. In 2008 Obama had an honest-to-god popular mandate, too. That's a rather serious form of power.

      The only formal restrictions on Obama's power were the Supreme Court, which had made itself illegitimate in 2000 when it stole the election, and the arcane 60-vote bullshit in the US Senate, which nobody outside the US Senate understood, and nobody except them and a few media pundits actually approved of.

      The power of popular is powerful.

    • "The officers Obama was dealing with were known to be insurbordinate and bullies. "

      Why weren't they cashiered, like MacArthur? "Dishonorable discharge" is correct for insubordinate bullies in the military.

      We need a President who's actually willing to nail the jackasses like this.

  • Top Ten Things Bob Gates was Wrong about, Some Criminal
    • It's kind of hard to miss that fact. Even if you are Bob Gates. You have to be wilfully blind to not see the ways Israel's government has been isolating Israel, right up to deliberately and pointlessly insulting the Turkish ambassador.

    • Lew, you've got your history completely whacked.

      For the reason why the US now loses wars, look at Robert Franks's book _The Generals_.

      Basically, up to and including WWII, the US dissolved the military after each war and built a brand new one for each new war -- one which was purpose-built for the new war. Since WWII, we have the "military-industrial complex", which is not designed to win any actual war, but rather to feed itself.

      This is why the US won every war for 150 years and then started losing every war.

    • I can give you the full list of wars we won since Korea (which was a draw): Grenada, Gulf War I (which was kind of easy) and Kosovo (which was brilliance on the part of General Clark).

      Every other one has been lost, while spending goes up and up and up.

      We even lost the Cold War, as far as I can tell from the USSR-like behavior of our current government.

    • The relevance of the author's character is Gates's record of (a) lying, (b) supporting violent, fascist, and criminal thugs, and (c) geopolitical incompetence. In this context, he has no place to criticize Biden from.

      This doesn't mean that Biden is *right*, but it does mean you can't believe anything Gates says.

    • In retrospect, since Amin wasn't a CIA agent, the USSR should just have left Afghanistan alone.

      Unfortunately, Brezhnev was still running the USSR. Running it into the ground.

      Gorbachev took three years before he gave up and got out of Afghanistan. That's too long, but it's already smarter than Obama.

      Anyway, looking at counterfactuals, if the Soviets and the US had left Afghanistan alone, it's not clear what would have happened. It probably would have spread into Pakistan one way or another. The USSR would have been able to maintain their border with no difficulty. Eventually Iran would probably have stepped in in a non-military way as an "honest broker" and been treated fairly positively (this being ex-Persian territory culturally).

    • That's the defense that James Buchanan made of his record as President.

      No, really, look it up. "I prevented things from getting much worse" was Buchanan's defense. And it's sort of true, except in retrospect not really.

      I guess we won't be able to judge until some time later whether Obama actually prevented any of these potential disasters you list, or merely delayed them.

      If he merely delayed them they'll probably be worse when they do happen than they would be if they'd happened earlier. If he prevented them, great.

    • " If you say that he is not a trustworthy character because of his past dealings; give us a reason why we should not believe him now. "

      Because he is not a trustworthy person! Seriously, look up the word "trust"! He committed multiple treasonous activities, committed perjury several times, lied to Congress, so why should we believe the book he wrote?

  • Spain, Portugal show that 50%, even 70% Power from Renewables is Possible Right now
    • The Rajoy government in Spain went completely bonkers and is trying to tax people for going off the grid. Solar has already reached grid parity, so Rajoy, as agent of the coal and oil lobbies, is applying confiscatory taxes to it.

      Unfortunately, you should probably write about this. The mere fact that solar is actually cheaper and quite sufficient for all energy needs isn't going to help if the government puts confiscatory taxes on it and sends police into people's homes to confiscate their unauthorized solar panels (which is actually part of Rajoy's latest law).

  • America's Secret 4th Branch of Government: The NSA kept even Obama in the Dark
    • It seems that the only way out of this is for a loyal army unit to massacre the NSA criminals. Since the DOJ sure isn't doing anything.

      How third world.

  • The Hubris of the Syria Interventionists
    • Woodrow Wilson style ethnic carveup would work in many places. With the ethnic integration of Syria, unfortunately, likely the only form of outside intervention which would work would be Stalin-style ethnic carveup.

      The US will not do Wilson-style redrawing of the map in any case, and certainly not with Russia objecting to it.

      So, best if we just stay out of it.

  • Greenwald Partner falsely detained as Terrorist: How to Create a Dictatorship
    • James Clapper has admitted to outright lying to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Evidence is piling up that Keith Alexander lied to both the Senate and House committees.

      They need to be in prison for their crimes. Their actions are the actions of traitors, as they help nobody but al-Qaeda.

    • Care to comment on the violation of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, or do you just want to blather pro-NSA nonsense when it's easy?

    • Yep. In contrast, it is well established that private letters, phone calls, and mail -- and so also email, etc. -- have a strong expectation of privacy.

      This was one of the issues over which the English Civil War was fought and it was one of the issues over which the Glorious Revolution was instigated. A government which does not respect this particular right to privacy -- which is embedded in US law in the form of the Fourth Amendment -- is a government which is trying to suppress all dissent. They knew this in the 1600s and we know it now.

      Such an abusive government is illegitimate and should be liquidated.

    • UK "intelligence" has no legal right or power to steal someone's possessions based on the suspicion that that person may have documents which US intelligence would not like them to have.

      I mean seriously! Joe from Lowell never, ever answers the question of what *UK* law he thinks Miranda broke, because Miranda didn't break any law in the UK.

      Miranda was "caught" possessing lawfully received documents which are completely legal to publish in the United Kingdom, Bill. It's horrifying that you would consider that justification to detain him and steal his stuff.

    • The suppression of Occupy showed that we have to do something more organized than mere protests and riots.

      People have repeatedly commented on how "millenials" are all focused on community, and structure, and fitting in. They've missed the meaning of this. When millenials are screwed over, they won't get mad, they'll get even.

      Witness Snowden, who keeps winning.

      There is going to be an honest-to-god revolution in the US. I have no idea what's going to come after it (it could be terrible or great -- it all depends on organizations) but the current situation is completely unsustainable, therefore it will collapse within 20 years.

  • Has Military Suppression of Political Islam ever Worked?
    • "American exceptionalism is so deeply buried in our character that he is unsure what can pry it loose."

      Utter, total, scorched-earth defeat.

      That's what finally did in German exceptionalism, in 1945.

      I hope that the people in charge of the nukes manage to avoid setting them off while the US is losing.

  • Detroit's Bankruptcy and America's Future: Robots, Race, Globalization and the 1%
    • So here's an interesting scenario: the 3-D printers and the raw materials will simply be stolen. Few will successfully investigate the thefts, because *everyone* will steal this stuff, *all the time*. Money economy dies.

      Eventually, some smart rich guy will figure out that he'll be better off offering his 3-D printers and materials for free ("no threat of arrest") in exchange for the loyalty of the people using them.

      Result: feudalism, an economy based on personal loyalties.

    • Another idiot living in a fantasy world.

      "In every way we are getting better all the time."

      What drugs are you on? They must be pretty strong!

      I suggest you ask the people evacuated from the exclusion zone around Chernobyl whether "in every way we are getting better all the time". You could also ask the native Americans. Heck, ask anyone living in the real world.

      Here in reality, some things get better, other things get worse, there is no magical guarantee of progress.

    • TJ, you're living in a fantasy world. I suggest you visit Easter Island and tell the corpses there about the "story of constant and unstoppable progress".

    • Co-operatives were the most functional part of the Soviet system in the USSR. The co-operatives actively resisted the dismantling and privatization which was imposed on the "collective" farms and "state" factories. They didn't all succeed, but to the extent they succeeded, the co-operatives are still the most vibrant part of the Russian economy.

      Co-operatives are an excellent basis for economic organization. They so have a significant failure mode, which we could discuess at another time -- the tendency for the owner/workers to get bored and stop paying attention -- but this is also the major failure mode for democracy. We haven't found anything better than co-ops/democracy as a method of organization.

    • Indeed. This is why the 0.1% in our country are complete idiots, idiots like most of the aristocracy of France under Louis XVI were idiots.

      If you want to retain power, you keep everyone fed, housed, and clothed. This was understood by the Pharoahs of ancient Egypt -- a Pharoah who failed to feed the people was overthrown in quick order. This was understood by Emperor Augustus of Rome, who put up monuments bragging about how many people received the wheat ration from him (bragging how many people were on welfare).

      This basic principle of how to stay in power is not understood by the idiots in the GOP and the idiot right-wingers running major corporations. They are dooming themselves.

    • Elections are supposed to be the method to keep governments under control. We have serious problems in our election system, but a functioning election system (proportional representation, approval voting, with hand-counted paper ballots) is a powerful tool to keep governments under control.

      Big businesses, of course, have NOTHING keeping them under control. They were also supposed to be kept under control by elections (but corporate elections are basically a fraud). They were supposed to be kept under control by regulation from governments -- which they have bought off, so that the governments refuse to cancel their charters even when the businesses commit murder sprees.

    • It's actually the short-term thinking which is the fundamental problem in American society, and in world "crony capitalist" society.

      Short-term thinking was also the major problem in the USSR.

      The issue is not one of "capitalism" or "communism", but one of short-term thinking versus long-term thinking. We need long-term thinkers in power, and I don't know how to achieve this.

    • Juan is correct. Jobs aren't created by magic or by invisible hands. (And, by the way, TJ, it seems you have never actually read Adam Smith, since you don't understand his theories at all. They're much more... socialist... than most people think they are.)

      As for central planning -- central planning is the *modus operandi* of every corporation in the United States. If central planning has failed, then the United States is on the express path to failure. In fact, central planning frequently works excellently, as the executives of Amazon will tell you.

    • No, it doesn't.

      There are a couple of reasons people might create new robots.

      (1) For fun. This requires engineers with free time and money. In a world with lots of unemployment, that doesn't happen. Therefore, we need to hand them money as in the Alaska Permanent Fund.
      (2) For profit. This requires lots of people buying lots of stuff, which people can't do without money. With lots of unemployment, people won' have money... unless we just hand them money as in the Alaska Permanent Fund.

      The conclusions are inescapable. In a world where almost everything is made by robots, the only way to have a functioning money economy is to continuously distribute money to everyone, pretty much evenly.

    • Globally, in a sense, this is sort of correct -- the richer will be the ones more able to migrate.

      But with massive numbers of economic migrants, the current elite-of-the-temperate-zone don't have a chance of survival. The new migrants can ally with the old residents to smash the old 1% without a second thought, and make it look easy.

      So the current global 0.1% elite, if they want to survive, had better have a better plan than just being a bunch of worthless greedheads. I believe most of the current 0.1% are incapable of making such a plan, because they are congenitally incapable of long-term thinking -- it's a mental defect, probably psychopathy. (There are exceptions, of course, like Al Gore and Gorbachev and Soros, who will do their best to find a long-term plan, but they're an insignificant fraction of the global elite and unfortunately seem to have no influence over the majority of Koch-addled 0.1%ers.)

    • The feudal system relied on the feudal lord owing duties to the serfs, and generally living up to those duties.

      Those duties weren't much -- food, clothing, and shelter -- but when the elite failed to provide them, the feudal lord in the area was killed or expelled. Quite consistently. He was replaced with a *different* feudal lord, of course, but that doesn't change the picture for him.

      The equivalent in the modern day would be an absolute obligation for the government, or the "feudal lord" factory owners, to feed, clothe, and house everyone. But just try and get the idiots like the Koch Brothers to realize that that's their best move.

    • Tesla moved extra robots into the factory.

      At the moment, most of Tesla's rather large employment is in sales & service, which aren't really automatable. Some in delivery, which is. Some in engineering, which isn't, but people do enginering for fun, so it's not really necessary to pay them.

      Within the factory, the majority of the employees are doing... sewing. Nobody has yet figured out how to fully automate sewing, and if they do, that eliminates the last major manual-labor job in the world. Pay attention to this; automating this will change the world.

      And some are doing bolting. Robots can bolt things together but humans are slightly better at it. This will probably change over time.

    • People I know from Michigan say that Snyder is getting away with everything he does because people are "voting with their feet" and moving to other states. Period.

      In the US as a whole, Mexicans are "voting with their feet" and moving back to Mexico.

      But this "voluntary migration" as a relief for the social pressures has its limits, and I think we are reaching them.

    • Steerpike: the problem is that our current elites don't have any interest in having dozens of servants. Robots can do all the work better!

      So,....

    • Actually, for all the failures of the Oligarchic State Control system under the Soviet Union...
      ...it worked better than the US system is working now.

      Homelessness rates were WAY down on what we have now, except where Stalin decided to make people homeless deliberately. Again, once Stalin was removed, people weren't starving in the streets. Here? People are.

      I'm not saying the USSR had a good system; it didn't. But we don't either. We'd better try something else. Like nationalized robot labor -- that would be different.

    • Indeed, Marxists believed in putting production in the hands of the workers.

      Juan Cole is suggesting a world with, well, no workers. That's extremely different -- the workers do not have the means of production, becuase *there are no workers*.

  • Argentina's President Kirchner: US Industrial Espionage gave me Chills down my Spine
    • "My thought is that many nations in Latin America seem to have a new direction and a new willingness to find a path to prosperity that doesn’t involve the U.S. Maybe it is too soon to declare Latin American independence from U.S. imperialism, but it may be closer than anybody inside the beltway realizes."

      Yep. I wish I knew a good blog with a South American specialist, the way this is a blog with a Middle Eastern specialist. South America is the place to watch for signs fo the future.

  • Snowden: Top Ten Signs that Putin might not be on Washington's Side
    • The US government's desire to torture whistleblowers and create political prisoners has definitely given whistleblowers a STRONG incentive to turn to the other superpowers.

      The US government is doing the same sort of deranged nonsense which the USSR did -- the sort which encouraged people in the USSR to defect to the West.

    • The "missile defense" nonsense -- which would never have worked -- was exceptionally stupid geopolitically, as its only function was to anger and alienate Russian leaders.

      Result: Russian leaders are doing their best to sabotage US government geopolitical moves even when this is not in Russia's best interest (as in Syria). Now, obviously, supporting Iran economically is very much in Russia's best interest, and defending people like Snowden is too.

      Supporting Assad isn't really in Russia's best interest. However, supporting Assad is seen by Putin as showing the US that the US isn't the only superpower, so Putin does it.

  • Critics: Obama's Climate Plan a Day Late and a Penny Short (Lazare)
    • The EPA is *REQUIRED* to regulate existing power plants.

      They were ordered to do so by the federal courts after a large lawsuit brought by several state governments, including New York.

      President Obama has been foot-dragging in the worst possible way. He is now trumpeting the action which he was ORDERED to do by the COURTS and the STATES -- as if it was a voluntary action.

      Pathetic, but some people will probably believe that lie.

  • Erdogan Clears Gezi Park Protesters, sets Stage for Polarization
  • Rafsanjani's Exclusion from Iran's Presidential Race a Sign of Creeping Totalitarianism
    • My question regarding where Khamenei's raw power base is -- hasn't been answered. Perhaps nobody here knows.

      A further question is, who can count the regular Iranian military as their power base? They have carefully stayed out of internal politics for decades, but as the country sinks into an unpopular dictatorship, that won't stick. 10, 20 years from now what sort of situation will we be looking at?

    • Where is Khamenei's power base? It seems to me he doesn't have one.

      Rafsenjani has a power base -- he's been personally bankrolling the university education of the majority of the country's young people. Ahmedinijad has a power base -- the rural, religious "old ways are best" conservatives. The Green Movement has a power base. Heck,the Communists have a power base.

      Where is Khamenei's power base? I don't see it. The "clerical establishment", perhaps? But he has alienated a lot of them by opposing the very principles of Shi'a governnance, in favor of making himself a new Caliph. As such, I wonder how long it will be before he is overthrown.

  • Bibi's $127,000-bed in the Sky: PM Sleeps in the Clouds as he Plans Austerity for Israelis
  • Erdogan: Turkey will not be Dragged into Bloody Quagmire in Syria, after Deadly Bombings Kill 49
    • While I suspect a direct Turkish invasion of Syria would actually not be a quagmire *if* Turkey had Russian support, Turkey simply cannot do it unless Turkey has Russian support, and Turkey doesn't have Russian support.

  • Will New Pakistani Government Ban US Drone Strikes in Light of Court Ruling? (Ross)
    • What's really sad, Bill, is that I know how the US *could have* neutralized al-Qaeda and eliminated the Taliban. It would have required several intensive immersion programs in various Middle Eastern languages and cultures, taken by hundreds of thousands of American soliders. Nobody even considered it.

    • Bill, the drone program has been the best recruitment program al-Qaeda and its "affiliated forces" have ever had. There are now far more al-Qaeda leaders than there were in 2000, and they are far more competent. (Because they're the ones who didn't get targeted.)

      Face facts. Al-Qaeda is a distributed organization which can't be stopped by "killing leaders". There have been many such situations in the past. The drone program has been entirely counterproductive.

    • "Is it just me, or is it actually the case that Our Players just do not get it that they don’t know how to play the Game"

      It's not just you. Erdogan has an understanding of geopolitics. The Saudi princes seem to have an understanding of geopolitics. Khamenei in Iran seems to have an understanding of geopolitics. The people in power in the US don't seem to have a clue.

      I haven't seen such craziness on such a large scale, geopolitically, in my lifetime; I had to look back in history to the incompetence of Wilhelm II to see such a dramatic example of idiocy in geopolitics.

    • Yeah. Pakistan wins by having a peaceful election transition. And countries which are intent on peace... well, their first priority is usually to stop mad bombers and murderous gangs. So the government probably will ban the drone murders.

    • Dumbpire is a nice word for the blundering US fake empire; mind if I borrow it?

  • Israeli Gen. Charges Syria Chem Weapons Use: Is Israel Allying with Sunnis to overthrow Alawites, cut off Iran?
    • On another point, I cannot figure out what the heck Putin is up to. There is really no benefit I can see for Russia, long-run, medium-run, or short-run, in supporting Assad. All the Middle Eastern countries have given up on Assad except Iran; Iran supports Assad because of Sunni-Shia politics and because of Hizbollah in Lebanon.

      But Iran's support is unimportant, because Iran was never going to have a major effect on the outcome or the process of the war. Russia's support *matters* because Russia is still a Great Power, and I am pretty sure that only Russia's opposition prevents there from being a "no-fly zone" over Syria right now. (Turkey could enforce such a zone all by itself.)

      And I just don't see what's in it for Russia at this point. Apart from giving Putin even more of a "We Love Brutality" reputation, what's in it for him? I don't think that reputation is a good idea even in Russia; Putin is no Stalin and even Stalin had to watch his back for people who would have been happy to kill and replace him.

    • The internal fault lines in Saudi Arabia run deep. I don't read much analysis of them any more, but the monarchy and the Wahhabi clerics have been in an *uneasy* alliance for quite a long time, arguably since before the founding of the state. They don't have the same views.

      What the rest of the population of Saudi Arabia thinks is yet another matter (several other matters, really), and I would love to know. Frustration with the monarchy led to bin Laden's creation of al-Qaeda and most of the 9/11 hijackers were from Sauid Arabia -- so that's one group! Then there are the women demanding the right to drive cars. There are clearly multiple groups with their own viewpoints, allied neither with the monarchy nor with the Wahhabis, and that's before we get to the Shia.

      But I don't understand the internal politics of Saudi Arabia. Which is unfortunate because I think it's going to become *very important* the moment the oil money stops papering over the differences.

    • FWIW, there appears to be independent evidence of the chemical weapons use by the Assad government in Syria -- reports NOT sourced from the (untrustworthy) Israeli government.

      I read about this last week -- I believe it was a UN investigation? See if you can dig up the reports.

      Obviously Obama doesn't give a damn.

  • America's Murder Inc. Abroad: Engelhardt on Scahill's Latest
    • The war in Syria is going on longer than one might have predicted, due to the unreasonable levels of loyalty of Alawites and some other ethnic/religious groups to Assad.

      The war in Libya went quicker partly because Qaddafi was abandoned by a LOT of the groups who previously supported him.

      The war in Syria is also going on unreasonably long because the Great Powers have been unwilling to destroy Assad's aerial bombing capability. Once Assad resorted to bombing his own cities, he was guaranteed to lose, but unfortunately it also means he can keep going until he runs out of bombs, planes, or pilots. The opposition doesn't have the correct countermeasures -- not enough anti-aircraft missiles, and no fighter planes. Any one of a lot of countries could have supplied that, but nobody did.

    • And yet this entire, bloated "national security" organization is helpless against pretty much any attack anywhere; not only can it not win any wars, it can't identify attacks before they happen. (Due to "East Germany syndrome" -- collecting so much information that nobody can read it.)

      It'll be interesting to watch it fall. Ugly and violent, but interesting. It is *guaranteed* to collapse from its own incompetence. The current military technological landscape gives the advantage to guerilla warfare quite decisively, with a small exception when air power can be brought to bear. The democratization of drones (happening as we speak) will end the age of "air power" and usher in an age where guerilla tactics are *completely* dominant. There have been such ages before.

  • Minimum Wage: Beggaring Workers does not Help Employment (Infographics)
    • That Bakken Oil Boom is very visible on the map. When that busts, it's going to hit the US economy hard.

      Jesper: unfortunately, economics is not well-developed enough to have a good theory of the minimum wage. The theory of monopsony helps a little.

      We know that at current levels we can keep raising the minimum wage and it will actually cause unemployment to DROP. We have never tried raising the minimum wage far enough that it causes unemployment to rise. Perhaps we should try it -- that's the only way to tell how high that number is!

  • Why there Were no CIA Torture Black Sites in Latin America (Grandin)
    • It hasn't been exactly peaceful (though I'd agree with "largely" peaceful) -- the US side of it was brutal and violent, as were the US's allies like Pinochet. The good guys were pretty impressively non-violent, though not quite Ghandi style.

      South American countries, and to a lesser extent Central American countries, have simply figured out how to beat the US empire. It's a lesson the rest of the world is going to learn. Heck, it would be good for those of us in the US to learn it -- the empire is bad for us too.

      As for the "underreported" nature of the development -- that is also true, but it's underreported because the US imperialists do *not want* people to read about how South Americans beat the US. Stories of the US losing, and how it was beaten, are consistently underreported within the US.

  • Lawmakers Threaten Brooklyn College for Event on Boycott of Israel over Settlements (Democracy Now!)
    • A parallel movement to "Christian nationalism", then? That's a movement which wants to make the US a "Christian nation" by ignoring the 1st Amendment.

    • Name the councilmembers. It's important to name-and-shame these would-be censors.

  • Top Five Objections to the White House's Drone Killing Memo
    • Please look up the reason why the laws against Star Chamber style courts were passed.

      There were kings who claimed the exact same powers which Obama claims. Those kings were quite clear: they would conduct a careful review, done entirely by direct employees of the king, in secret, and then the king would decide whether you were innocent or guilty. What could you possibly complain about?

      Well, you, Joe From Lowell, would obviously *NOT* complain. If the king's men say you're a traitor, you're a traitor!

      This makes you, technically, a supporter of *autocracy*, also known as *despotism* or *tyrrany*.

      There were different rules for war. War involved, you know, armies and battlefields. Assassinations did NOT count as acts of war even if they took place during a war.

    • Joe, if there were an objective definition of "operational commander of an al-Qaeda group", which could be appealed in court, that would mean something.

      But there isn't. The US government freely declares random schlubs to be "operational commanders of al-Qaeda" -- witness the absolutely ridiculous number of "#2 leader in al-Qaeda!!!" who the US has announced the deaths of.

      After all, you could be an "operational commander of an al-Qaeda group" if the President decided that you were. And you would have *no legal recourse* to prove that you weren't. WHICH IS THE POINT, YOU MORON.

    • Joe: the warmaking power simply does not apply to assassinations of civilians sitting at home.

      Never has, never will.

      Go learn what "warmaking" actually consists of, legally.

    • Joe From Lowell, since you are an operational leader of al-Qaeda (if the President decides that you are), the President can murder you, according to the doctrines in this white paper.

      The key is the fact that there is NO REVIEW. The President has arrogated the power of judge, jury and executioner into the executive branch.

    • The US goes around committing acts of terrorism and supporting brutal dictators. What the hell do you EXPECT the results to be, bunnies and puppies?

      Realpolitik says the US should stop murdering civilians and stop supporting brutal dictators. Nobody in the US government understands realpolitik.

    • Travis: you're correct. The US has been aiding and abetting the political plans of bin Laden. He wanted to convince the world that the US was a brutal, murderous, vicious, evil country which slaughtered civilians.

      Well, the US has been doing its best to be a brutal, murderous, vicious, evil country which slaughters civilians. Bin Laden's mission has been accomplished.

    • Bill, because the US military has arrogated to itself the "right" to murder random civilians in Pakistan, frankly, I think Al-Qaeda is the one on the right side of the law of war at this point; the US is simply committing war crimes.

      The US has committed multiple acts of war against Pakistan. Pakistan is simply being polite in not declaring war on the US; in fact, Pakistan has the right to get a UN operation against the US.

      The murder of bin Laden was illegal; the legal thing to do was to have him arrested by the Pakistani government.

    • Joe, you obviously didn't read the white paper. In fact, this is a pretty accurate description of *exactly what it says*:

      "Now, a U.S. Citizen can just disagree with U.S. policy, associate (used to be a freedom) with people someone (we don’t know who) has deemed to be undesirable, and now that person can be legally killed on the order of someone in the White House."

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