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Total number of comments: 24 (since 2013-11-28 15:55:02)

skeptonomist

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  • Can you Pass the Hamas Quiz?
    • There's a lot of legalistic quibbling here about what people said 20 or 30 or 50 years ago, which is apparently supposed to justify acts of violence now and keeping Hamas in power in Gaza. Does ultimate peace and the establishment of a real Palestinian state really depend on Hamas staying in power? This is pretty hard to believe. Why exactly did Hamas start shooting rockets into Israel? Apparently because they themselves were being excluded from power, being denied pay.

      Peace and the Palestinian state will probably also depend on ousting Netanyahu and Likud in Israel, but this has happened from time to time. They keep getting elected because of the threats from Hamas and other militant organizations. As long as Hamas is in power and dedicated to the extinction of Israel Likud can retain power and pursue their own ends of assimilating Jerusalem and the West Bank. Hamas' rockets provide a distraction from the expansion of settlements and other Israeli actions in the West Bank.

  • Ignore the Smears: Germany's Green Energy is 1/3 of its Power, Price Falling, Coal Down
    • Negative electricity prices are a sign that electricity storage is not keeping up with generation. Battery fabrication has a long way to go if alternate sources ever really replace fossil fuels for all uses. Or is the future in hydrogen technology? That was a fad for a while but nobody talks about it anymore (it is energy storage, an alternative to batteries, not an energy source).

  • Hyenas vs. Rhinos: Who could the NYT get to write an Op-ed on Iraq? Hmm...
    • Sullivan claims that Times editors and columnists have not called for intervention in Iraq, but Roger Cohen's column "The Diplomacy of Force" is a pretty blatant call for military force in general and specifically in Iraq. He seems to be a Times insider; not only is he a regular columnist but also the "foreign editor". What was he saying about the Iraq invasion? He has also written very jingoistically about the Ukraine. The Times editors are also obviously biased on one side of this conflict.

  • The Rise of the Drones (Infographic)
    • A single drone uses 40Gbaud - or is this for the whole fleet? Not a useful or probably use valid number or comparison.

  • Why Tunisia's Transition to Democracy is Succeeding while Egypt Falters
    • It's premature to declare success in Tunisia. The revolution in Egypt followed a fairly standard course. After the overthrow of the old regime there was a nominally democratic government (you can't say Tunisia will be "the first Arab democracy"), but some influential elements were dissatisfied - with some good reason as the Morsi government seemed to be moving towards consolidating power for the Islamist faction - and the military took over. This general progression happens time after time in countries without a democratic tradition and odds are it will happen in Tunisia also. If the military are not as strong as they are in Egypt or Latin American countries some fanatical civilian faction - most likely Islamists - can seize power.

  • Iraq's Sunni Civil War
    • Maliki was imposed on Iraq by a combination of American force and money and when these things are withdrawn it is very likely that the country will fall apart without a ruthless strongman like Saddam Hussein. This was always a major reason for not overthrowing Hussein and why should it be different now? There has been little sign that Sunnis in general are satisfied - many groups have probably been biding their time. If the US is going to remain involved the best strategy may be to pay off the Sunni leaders - it seemed to have worked for Petraeus, and this kind of thing was standard for the British for a long time.

  • The American Genocide Against Iraq: 4% of Population Dead as result of US sanctions, wars
    • Also, our objective is more (economic) imperialistic than genocidal.

    • Was it desirable that the oppressive regime of Saddam Hussein be continued? It was responsible itself for hundreds of thousands of deaths in insurrections and the war with Iran. What then would have been the cost of replacing the regime through a civil war without foreign intervention? We are getting an idea of this in the Syrian civil war. Not that this justifies the US invasion, which I consider to be a war crime, but it is not completely irrelevant to make a comparison of this sort. Unless the Hussein regime continued unchallenged there would eventually be civil violence in some way resembling that after the US invasion - takeover by Shiites would inevitably be resisted by Sunnis.

      The US is not responsible for all violence in the middle east, although it is not our place to accelerate it either. The US is a criminal meddler, not a genocide.

  • Is Iran out of the US War Queue? The Twilight of the Hawks
    • The NSA doesn't exist to counter Iran. The main bogeyman for the US now is "Al Qaeda" (terrorists of any kind). Israel and AIPAC want to keep Iran on the list, but this will not be necessary to keep the US on a "war" footing. We can get scared about a few thousand fanatics who have no real war-making capacity at all.

  • The World after the Kerry-Lavrov accord on Syria
    • The whole chemical weapons thing has provided a field day for cable news and pundits, but probably will make little difference in the end; nor would things have been changed if the US had made some token "punitive" strikes. If Russia and its allies want to protect the Assad regime they will provide the aid they think is necessary. The war will go on and finally will turn on something other than chemical weapons. The small tactical benefits they might have provided to Assad would not be worth further alienation of international opinion.

  • A US attack on Syria will Prolong the War
    • The US didn't completely end the Iraqi civil war, but it was able to throttle it down considerably by judicious payments. Of course the administration pretended it was due to military action, the "surge". I wonder whether anyone in the Obama administration is smart enough to think of doing things this way - if it's possible. This is how Britain managed its 19th century empire and had considerable influence on international politics, despite a relatively small land military.

      If the rebellion succeeds, at some point the US will have to try to decide which faction(s) to support.

  • Must US Aid to Egypt be Cut Off? (Wang & Meyer)
    • What are the generals supposed to do in order to make sure US aid continues? They are not going to reinstall Morsi and the US does not want them to do it. If aid is really cut off, they could change their Israel policy - at least that is a potent threat they wield. Probably some elections will be held again, when the power of the Brotherhood is broken - possibly they will not be allowed to run anyone. Pretending that the US wants something different and that aid would be cut off - in more than a token way - is a sham.

  • Top Ten American Steps toward a Police State
    • Do Israelis put up with this kind of thing? How has surveillance been worked out over the years there? At any rate Israelis are under far greater danger from terrorist attacks - and some outright quasi-military attacks - than anyone in the US.

  • Obama should Resist the Clintons & Europe on Syria
    • Libya will be viewed by the administration and many others as important, regardless of dissimilarities, just because it was successful.

    • All this is generally cogent, but there is an important recent counterexample in Libya. This did have NATO backing and obvious self-interested motives for intervention.

  • Its the Corporations, Stupid: Why we are 2nd Amendment Fundamentalists but the 4th Amendment doesn't Count
    • Good account of the corporatist influence. A few "libertarians" oppose surveillance, or claim to - when it is a Democratic administration doing it - but most seem to be OK with it.

      Why didn't the surveillance catch the Boston Marathon bombers? Were they not talking to each other on their phones? Apparently they learned how to make bombs from internet information - why didn't Google inform the authorities about this? Were they aware that their communications would be spied on? Will Tsarnaev be asked about this? If all or most serious terrorists actually knew already about the surveillance, how would NSA know that they did?

      Anyway, if terrorists didn't know about the extent of surveillance before this they do now, and probably only the really dumb ones will be caught, and only if they are gregarious.

  • Belize Construction company Destroys Mayan Pyramid in Latest Refutation of Libertarianism
    • The East India Company was the main opium trader in China (there were also American companies), but the trade appears to have been encouraged in the beginning because of Britain's trade deficit with China, and the two Opium Wars to keep the trade flowing were fought by British armed forces. This was the classic nationalistic colonial partnership of corporations with the government. The same type of partnership has existed between the US government and US corporations in Latin America. I don't know if the Belize case is of this nature, but you can still find plenty of cases in Latin America where the US government policy is colonial exploitation. Corporations were involved with government from their very beginning, but from various historical lines of evidence we know that corporations act like non-democratic governments when they get sufficient power. Why would it be better to be ruled directly by corporations (or other mega-businesses) than by an elected government?

  • Top Ten Ways Margaret Thatcher's Policies Made our World more Unequal
    • Thatcher's great jingoistic success with the Falklands war may have been a major inspiration for both Bushes and Dick Cheney.

  • The Top other thing Netanyahu Needs to Apologize For: The Gaza Blockade
    • This post is over the top, blaming Israel for all problems in the Gaza strip. In fact Hamas is in control there, attacking Israel and defying any attempt by Israel and other countries and the UN to reach a reasonable solution. The Gaza area is in effect a renegade state, which apparently thinks it has a right to take over Israel itself - or what exactly might be its reasonable objectives? The solution cannot be to let Hamas run wild - if Israel is not permitted to defend itself, how is Hamas to be brought under control?

  • Isaac Asimov Predicts Interactive Internet 25 Years Ago
    • Development of the Internet was well along by 1988, it just wasn't commercialized. Asimov was a respected science popularizer, science fiction writer and probably as good a futurist as anyone, but I'll bet others were thinking about a fully commercial internet by 1988.

  • WaPo says Gasoline Price Increase Mysterious, Ignores US blockade of Iran Oil!
    • Actually, there have been no unusual increases in either gasoline (FRED:DCOILWTICO) or oil price (GASREGW) since early 2011. These things vary seasonally and otherwise in a quasi-random fashion. The whole story is foolishness - there is nothing especially mysterious about gasoline prices currently.

  • Tampa Area Republicans terrified of Tea Party, Ryan (Guzzo)
    • Can the Tea Party survive as a grass-roots organization without big-money backing? It got this support initially as the plutocratic masters of the Republican party saw how it could increase turnout. But it is unlikely that the big money will let the unpopular social agenda take over from their real objectives of cutting taxes and destroying social programs. Will the "Tea Party" split into a social (anti-abortion, pro-religion) wing and a "libertarian" wing concerned mainly with the plutocratic economic agenda? Will any of the working-class people duped into supporting the plutocratic agenda ever wise up?

  • The Collapse of the Climate Change Contrarians and the End of Coal
    • Too much is made of Muller's conversion - he does not seem to be a very reliable judge. He was positive there was no warming and now he's positive there is, in both cases without really understanding the evidence. His claim that there was a one degree increase 1750 to 1850 compared to only 1.5 degrees since and that the early increase was caused by CO2 does not make sense since there has been by far more CO2 added recently - especially in the last 60-100 years when others see the real temperature increase (the hockey stick).
      Just leave Muller out of it - there is sufficient evidence without him.

  • Egypt: Fundamentalist President + Junta = ?
    • Why suppose that the officer corps doesn't know that "the ballot box will over time trump the military"? Or more strictly that this will happen if there are true free elections. Their game has been and still is to make ostensible concessions, but there is no reason to think that they don't anticipate making further restrictions if necessary. They seem to have played pretty well so far.

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