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Total number of comments: 1634 (since 2013-11-28 14:42:37)


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  • GOP Voter Suppression: Comedian Louis Black says F#%! it!
    • How can you not be aware that voter suppression laws are invariably written by Republicans to target people who are statistically likely to vote Democratic? If Democrats tried the same scam there would be war in the streets. You're not elevating the argument, you're intentionally diverting it to favor the GOP in the midterms - the party which doesn't need incumbents because it just keeps running whackos with demands going further and further into America's unjust past. Including the repeal of the 14th Amendment.

  • BDS Success: Israeli Firm Sodastream Leaves Palestinian West Bank after Boycott
  • Does Fox "News" cultivate Closed Minded "Right Wing Authoritarians"?
    • I think that the average conservative has core beliefs and prejudices that Fox and the right-wing movement appeal to, but in turn his emotional need to show his solidarity with that movement causes him to change his positions on various issues. I did an analysis of a 1980 Texas voters' survey in college and concluded that a lot of people supported Reagan even though their positions on the issues were very different from his. He looked more "American", a reassuring white Christian patriarch, so they had to vote for him. Then he and his sponsors went to work reversing their supporters' beliefs on long-settled matters like minimum wages, the Civil Rights Act, abortion, etc. The supporters complied over time. For instance, many conservatives were willing to consider global warming at least an issue that we make plans to deal with, until it was ordained a "Democrat" trick by their trusted patriarchs, and thus had to be attacked with kamikaze intensity.

      Now that we have a black president and a Democratic Party whose future is composed of non-whites, the fear of whites that they are losing their monopoly on power overwhelms any agreement they might have had with minorities on real issues. They must be on the other side of everything now, even the right of a white man to murder a black man for looking "threatening". Fox helps them to keep track of their constant Orwellian self-editing of their own convictions.

      Now, however, this process has reached the point where democracy itself is being maligned. Unless they face some tangible blowback, they will vote away their right to vote just to make sure we lose ours.

  • The end of National Sovereignty in the Middle East? Iraqi Kurdistan sends troops into Syria
    • National sovereignty is not just dying there. A recent poll shows secessionism growing in the USA:

      link to

      A substantial number of Americans will never accept sharing real power with people of other races, religions or gender orientations. And that implication that secession is necessary to protect "real" Americans is really the implication that the only real nation is a "pure" tribe; the rest of us are just conquered subcreatures fit only to serve.

      They, like their jihadi counterparts, are fighting to undo the Age of Reason. At least nationalism gave us a legitimate basis to evolve democracy. Without it, even the slender fantasy of equality between peoples goes down the toilet. The last time democracy failed, it took 2200 years to get it going again.

  • Why is this Man Smiling? Iranian Officials say Confidant of US Deal on Nuclear
    • Boy, this is not what the extremist Arab sheikhs had in mind when they bankrolled the jihadis in Syria to roll back the fictional Shia threat.

  • Reza Aslan, religion Ph.D. vs. Sam Harris
    • I have a theory about these cycles of seeming barbarism and civilization alternating between the Christian and Moslem world over the centuries. And it's pretty alarming.

      When the Christians were fending off the superior Islamic civilization of the Middle Ages, you could argue that the rational thing for Christians to do was surrender, since they'd likely have ended up with a higher standard of living. The superstition, bigotry and violence of the Catholic church rejected that rational argument and rallied ordinary Christians to the defense of their corrupt and incompetent elites. The Moslems, on the other hand, were confident about their march of progress, and could afford to have "liberal" things like law by precedent (which an Ottoman caliph terminated), universities, science, etc.

      Now you might see where this is going. After various blows reversed this struggle, the West began conquering the Islamic world, but at the same time gained confidence and optimism in human reason freed of the tyranny of the Church. Logic says that the conquered Moslems should have simply surrendered to, say, the attempted conversion of Algeria into a French province.

      But they didn't. They fought, and they are fighting, and the longer the fight goes on, the more the fighters look to a mythical past for inspiration, as Medieval Christians looked to Christian Rome as an inspiration. The more it's necessary to patrol the borders of thought and behavior to prevent defections, the more theocracy serves to rally and aggregate young warriors across artificial borders.

      If true, the cycle might not turn when the Moslems get better, but when us Christians get worse. Which I contend is already well under way. America is to the Christian capitalist world what Haroun al-Rashid's Baghdad was to the Islamic world, and it's already in economic and cultural decline in its heartland.

      Of course, a new civilizational player is entering the game in China, which has its own agendas for both sides and a vast pile of cash.

  • Is Baghdad next? ISIL takes Hit Base in Iraq, loots it for Weapons
    • The % of the local population that is not sick of decades of war must now be very small. That is worsened by having such wretched governments to fight for.

      But ISIS is not just getting recruits from the angriest of that %, disgruntled young men are pouring in from other places, encouraged by preachers who in turn are encouraged by kings and princes precisely to get these boys to go make trouble somewhere else. A few thousand shock troops a month to feed into the meat grinder probably goes a long way against demoralized opposition.

  • Cold as Hell: North Dakota Burns up the World with Fracked Oil
    • Writ large, welcome to the story of how right-wing sociopaths and religious fanatics took over Ann Richards' Texas in a few short years.

  • Top 5 Ways Lower oil Prices Could Change the World
    • Remember, Saudi Arabia, joined by Japan and later China, have been propping up the US $ by purchasing dollars with their export earnings for 40 years. Saudi Arabia uses its voting plurality in OPEC to maintain the US $ as the currency for all transactions. So we can't be sure what falling oil prices & a slowing Chinese economy would do to the dollar - the Saudi-Reagan engineered '86 crash preceded the '87 Wall Street crash and the recessionary Bush I era.

  • Why do Politicians spend $9 billion a year to Jail the Mentally Ill?
    • In America, it makes us feel more righteous to spend a billion to punish a category of bad person than to spend a million to reform him. "Righteous" is the illusion of being in control of one's environment by exerting brute force against it, it seems.

  • The Wider Appeal of ISIL and Sunni Grievances
    • Well, it's unwise to push local Sunni populations as long as elsewhere far-right Sunni aristocratic families control trillions of petrodollars to spend on radicals to prove that they deserve the thrones of their respective monarchies more than the current occupants, or those monarchs in turn are pressured to spend on radicals for the same reasons of credibility and to get their own young troublemakers to go fight somewhere else. The problem is not in the "unsuccessful" countries, but in the "successful" ones that we do not dare confront.

  • Iraq's Sole Yazidi Lawmaker Says 25,000 Girls Abducted By ISIL To Be Raped, Sold
    • Oil & gas riches - in the Middle East - are the reason it's profitable to simply exterminate people you don't like. The oil under their feet is more valuable than the wealth they could ever generate thru their labor. So you don't make your country poorer by throwing them overboard, and your kind keep it all for themselves.

  • Islamophobia: Is Sam Harris As Dangerous As Sarah Palin? (The Young Turks)
    • Also, isn't it amazing how a few rich extremists can rewrite the attitudes and history of their nations? Nowhere in this discussion is the effect of class mentioned. Both in the Arab world and in America, the rich made things worse for the masses, then scapegoated the Left and reaped huge benefits as egalitarian aspirations were reversed in favor of theocracy.

      The goal of the right-wing movement is to indoctrinate us to believe that secular improvement by democratic means is impossible, leaving only faith in the supernatural. I see now that this is not just an American thing. The global financial elite, led by Americans and Arabs, are foisting this learned helplessness on one continent after another.

    • There's not a single thing these bigots are saying that doesn't apply to the right-wing Christian movement in the USA. A hard core committed to violently seizing America and its weapons and dominating the world, a layer of "violence-condoning conservatives" called the Tea Party (or Promise Keepers or Oath Keepers or Moral Majority or Christians For Koch or whatever), and around them all the rest of the ordinary greedbag GOP who would vote for Satan himself to get a tax cut and make all the Negroes mysteriously disappear.

      For example. Those extremists murdering abortion providers in the '90s haven't paid any price or faced any backlash for their crimes, have they? Their hatred was mainstreamed into a "secular" Tea Party that quietly has made abortion impossible in many Red states. The terrrorists won. Their wealthy sponsors have studied the process and are preparing new targets to repeat it on, just as ISIS' sponsors in palaces in Dubai, etc, are preparing the next act.

  • Listening to Nobelist Malala Yousafzai instead of just Honoring Her
    • The game of international power goes on with us or without us. The problem is that most countries have natural limitations that force them to get involved, but limit how much they can do, which probably leads to a certain pragmatism across their political spectrums lacking in the USA where we think we can do, or not do, whatever we please. Socialists in West Germany looking at the gunbarrels of tens of thousands of Soviet tanks understood, defense good, nukes bad. Thus Sweden, having stayed out of the Cold War, still maintains a strong army to deal with all comers.

      But it all gets far too complicated when we know we're too big to play no role in global affairs, yet we're too ignorant to deal with any complex conflict overseas without blowing up stuff. We don't even have a real debate over what our self-imposed limitations should be because there is NO CONSTITUENCY for America to demote itself to simply being a Great Power state. Anyone who cares about the issue is either a total imperialist or a total pacifist, because they think such absurd positions have no negative consequences.

  • In Iraqi Classrooms, Sunni Muslim Extremists Ban Evolution, Patriotism And Literature
    • If you seriously want to study how much deeper the Christian fundamentalist plot to do exactly what you describe goes, you should research a Texan evangelist named R. J. Rushdoony. He's like a nexus for all the Dominionists and other right-wing factions in the '70s and '80s. His son-in-law Gary North is still a big figure in this movement today. Rushdoony also founded an important "libertarian" research institute named for Ludwig von Mises, helping to establish the ties between the Christians and libertarians that now bear fruit in the Tea Party.

      And yes, he was the one who started the talk about stoning sinners to death. But he had an entire theory of governance behind that, which seems to be the blueprint for what's happening.

  • Why Obama underestimated ISIL in Syria and Iraq
    • Marx called it "the commoditization of all relationships". It was only a matter of time.

    • He knows it was ill-gotten. In the past he mentioned Iran and other countries had grievances against the US and he got slagged for it by the GOP and the media, while all us on the "left" did nothing useful for him, like offset the Tea Party in the 2010 midterms. Politicians adapt to reward those who will help them stay in power, even if it's an America full of greedy lying cowards.

    • Well, it was really more of a second world country, i.e., Soviet Bloc. Which hasn't always made the masses happy either. And there was a large group of armed religious radicals, the Shia in the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution, who took Iran's side against Saddam Hussein and rebelled against him in 1991.

  • Michele Bachmann (R-MN) declares Christian Jihad on all Muslims
    • Some conservatives were willing to consider global warming as a concern 15 years ago. But the instant it was associated with liberals, the tribal mentality of the Right required it to be branded a nefarious lie. Because they're sure it will be blamed on free enterprise/private property, and if it is true that sacred private property can cause catastrophic harm, then what other harm might it be responsible for? Or even get sued or regulated for?

      They decided all that first, then embraced fake science to defend their property. They will defend their property to everyone's extinction because inequality is their only reason for being and they refuse to accept the possibility of a human race continuing without them.

    • The job of the fanatics is to rally the grass-roots deconstruction of modern America, eliminating unions, public schools, progressive churches, and the very idea of human equality out in the boondocks. One of Glenn Beck's movements-du-jour was called "We Surround You." If you know the story of the Serbian siege of Sarajevo, you know what is intended next.

    • You're defining "left-wing" completely differently than it is defined in any other democracy except maybe Colombia and Israel. The mainstream media consists of the view of unapologetically vicious plantation owners on one side and kinda guilty, wimpy plantation owners who want the peasants to kinda like them on the other side.

  • Can Iraq Convince its Sunnis to Fight Extremists?
    • Anything is better than dealing with how the entire Sunni Arab region will react to seeing a hundred thousand Iranian infantrymen marching their way to save the Shia majority and clean out ISIS - which otherwise would be the most logical solution.

  • Right Wing on Holder: al-Qaeda, Black Panther, Stalinist
    • If he'd done even one prosecution of a capitalist, I wonder how much louder - and from more respectable and powerful institutions - these smears would have been. We say the Left should have more of a say after the crimes of the Right, but the Further Right has us too cowed by its armed followers.

  • US strikes ISIL oil fields in Quest to Defund it: But will it Replace oil with Fracking?
    • Did you not read the article? 100,000 barrels a day is one-tenth of one % of world production. All Syrian production is trivial. This is about America covering its ass due to previous f***ups in places that were significant producers, and America helplessly getting screwed over by the most significant producers of all, the far-right Arab monarchies who bankroll extremism.

  • Apocalypse Now, Iraq Edition
    • Well, we could always go away and allow this to escalate into its inevitable outcome - an Islamic World War I between the Arab theo-monarchs and the Iranian bloc, with the trench lines dug all the way from the Turkish border to the Kuwaiti border. Maybe we could even profit from it. But I'm getting sick of people who proclaim that bad consequences from not getting involved are impossible, and should not be discussed and prepared for. Something that big eating up all the money and resources of countries that important will have consequences for our lives and I'd like to know what they are.

  • Student Debt Factories: The Scandal of For-Profit Colleges
    • Since the German system means making the verdict that some kids are "good enough" to track into white collar jobs and the rest only fit to be proles, it is important that the proles there have the leverage via labor unions and a Socialist party to keep their wages reasonably close to the bourgeoisie. We don't have that in America. Wealth is rapidly polarizing, schools are financed by local property taxes (property = wealth), and statistics show economic mobility is disappearing. So tracking would produce the same thing that the prison system does: only white bourgeois kids would be judged good enough for bourgeois jobs, and blacks, well, you know.

      So the problem is that we have to look at Europe as a positive example in a far more comprehensive fashion than is possible.

  • The Syrian Maelstrom: How Repression, Drought & Climate Change Drove the Civil War
    • You came to the wrong site with facts. The regulars here all think that Assad and Gadafi are saints.

      And if Arabs rebel against anti-American tyrants, then they're naive and childlike and have to be kept under strongman rule. But if they join ISIS, then they're justly reacting to American-funded injustice, so any genocides they commit are our fault. Or didn't really happen.

  • NYC Climate Demo: Top 5 Massive Rallies that had no Effect
    • And yet Nixon got the vote of 2 out of every 3 Americans in 1972.

      I have wondered if ordinary Americans hadn't already decided by '67 that Vietnam itself was a bad investment. (I'm certain the Army decided that by Feb '68 based on the death figures, before troops began voting on whether to fight) But they hung on grimly to avoid admitting defeat to a youth movement they feared far more than they did actual Communists. Crushing nonconformance was the real war they wanted Nixon to wage, and he did.

      And of course, those old bastards have been getting revenge on the left ever since.

  • How The Koch Brothers Corrupted Florida State University (+163 Other Colleges) (Young Turks)
    • The 1% is 99% white. There's no diversity in plutocracy that represents the rest of the human race.

      And the reason why the '29 Crash was inevitable was that the rich controlled every respectable institution and critiques like Keynesianism were kept out of our minds. What makes you think that today's ever-growing polarization of wealth will stop at some cozy diversity of views, instead of total mind control? Everything can be bought now.

  • The Arab Political Crisis: It isn't a Matter of Civilization and it isn't Unique
    • More support for your argument that other continents are not that far ahead of the Middle East:

      1. We forget that South America appeared to be a land of opportunity before the Great Depression; European and Japanese immigrants flocked there. In 1900 Argentina had the world's 5th highest GNP. Though much of this was ruined by Wall Street collaboration with local oligarchs, it means they had a big head start over the Middle East in building modern governments and economies.

      2. France, at times in the past the world's greatest military power and society, faced a Communist Party scheme to overthrow democracy in the late '40s, and a far-right insurgency after DeGaulle abandoned Algeria in the '60s. As late as 1968 Paris was in a protracted violent uprising.

      3. Except for the garrison state of Prussia, Germany was a fractious backwater for most of the 19th century. Well, we all know how that changed, with many ups and downs. (Ditto Japan.)

      4. According to the book "Late Victorian Holocausts" by Mike Davis, in the early 1800s China and India were still the biggest national economies in the world. China still had vast reserves of gold. Britain's evil opium racket ruined both countries. But we can say now that those countries are being restored to their natural eminence. Yet a few decades back they were regarded as basket cases. What they have that the Middle East lacks is a single state, economy and legal regime, like it or not, to pool their vast resources for various projects. As we know, powerful forces have prevented the creation of Prince Faisal's single Arab kingdom under one ideology after another, leaving kingdoms and republics illegitimate in the eyes of their own divided people.

      I wonder if the US had lost the Civil War and disintegrated into dozens of warring states, we'd be looked at today like some of these unfortunate lands. Strange that some at this site seem to think that would have made the world a better place.

    • Finland's Marshal Mannerheim was a dictator. There was a postwar understanding between the sides that made it and Austria neutral democracies. Hitler, by the way, exploited fascist movements in all the democracies to advance his conquests; these were not healthy democracies, especially France. You surely aren't going to claim moral equivalence there to Hungary 1956, Czechoslovakia 1968, etc?

      Democracy was dying out all over the world in 1939, and the Great Depression was the cause. The Marshall Plan created the economic conditions to stop the recurrence of the chaos that only aided fascists and communists. The brilliance of the Europeans was that they realized this UNPRECEDENTED prosperity must be fairly distributed via negotiation with the working class. But that was carried out under US hegemony. The Europeans saw the Marshall Plan as our New Deal taken to its necessary conclusion, social democracy, while our country failed and turned against the New Deal over time.

      Obviously, our hypocrisy towards Asian democracy was about racism. Compare our relationships with Tito and Ho Chi Minh.

    • You only see suffering Arabs when pro-American dictators are there to blame. You never see the corruption of the anti-American dictators like Gadafi who stole billions and distributed it to his favored provinces and family at the expense of others, who rebelled, or Assad who favored his ethnic group and their allies against the Sunnis, who rebelled. (Both "socialists" had already sold out to America by collaborating with corporations and Bush's renditions.) Real Libyans and Syrians were willing to die to put a stop to that. Yet you have to replace them with a legion of mercenaries because real "natives" can't possibly hate "socialism". You're just as blind as the capitalist imperialists who started this mess.

      And don't forget how the Marxist regime in Afghanistan (led by an incompetent University of Wisconsin campus radical) angered his conservative population so badly that the Soviets had to invade and kill him to maintain their position - which was the opportunity for the Saudi and Pakistani fanatics and their ally Reagan to create the jihadi threat.

  • Changing US-Iran Relations: Kerry: Iran has a Role in Defeating ISIL Militants
    • This reminds me of a forgotten story from 1940.
      The West regarded Stalin's co-invasion of Poland, conquest of the Baltic states and invasion of Finland as being as evil as Hitler's actions. Britain and France prepared to send help to Finland against the USSR. Hitler's invasion of France prevented the catastrophe of having the Western democracies simultaneously at war with Hitler and Stalin - which would have created a Hell that peaceniks are incapable of comprehending.

      But this shows what happens when you try to get too finicky about accepting the lesser of two evils. Unfortunately, that bloody regime in Syria is now Stalin to ISIS' Hitler. Though it would be closer to the truth to substitute Iran for the former proxy and the Arab monarchies for the latter.

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  • Coalition Of One: Iran Leads Own Fight Against Islamic State
    • I don't think the issue is that Iranian victory would raise its profile in the Arab world, but that it would cause the tyrants of the Arab world to freak out and use their oil leverage to escalate the regional war still further and threaten the US with economic ruin (since OPEC props up the $ by using it for all its transactions) unless it attacks Iran. Ordinary Arabs still don't count in the countries that have money.

  • Arab Allies will wage Financial war on ISIL: Is it Enough?
    • On the one hand, money has always been the main issue, since the Sunni extremists would not exist without the wealth of the oil sheikhs. On the other hand, stopping this money is like stopping the flow of money to drug cartels. How's that going after all these years? As long as the sheikhs are more afraid of diversity of thought and religion than of their own jihadi Frankenstein monster, they will keep sending the money, just like American drug users will keep sending their money to the murderers in Mexico as long as they're more afraid of sober life than the effects of the drugs on their own persons. There is no empathy in supply and demand.

  • Media, Politicians should stop Letting ISIL Manipulate them
    • Beheading is seen as a violation of the "modern", Western person in the same way that many of the indignities the US & Israeli occupations imposed on Moslems were hated as violations of the Moslem person. It's all about perceiving an insult by the other side so we can say that they hate our very existence and thus intend to utterly destroy us, instead of having negotiable policy goals that may be based on our own past misdeeds.

      However, that being said, we must ask this question: when did Americans gain the entitlement to be able to go anywhere in the world without consequences? Or for that matter, agents of Wall Street exploitation, military advisers tilting a playing field in a foreign war, aid workers unwittingly propping up a bad regime, etc? I mean, before WW2 celebrity journalists like Henry Stanley and Lowell Thomas risked their lives in lawless places precisely because the American public knew that they were lawless, that large parts of the globe were off-limits to those unable to defend their own persons. That's why Indiana Jones (and movie serial adventurers in general) made no sense in the postwar world, where every inch of land was declared officially part of our bloc, the enemy bloc, or the neutralist bloc, and anything that happened anywhere was closely monitored as an event that might tilt the scales between them. Maybe that was just too ludicrous to endure?

  • The Plutocracy Strikes Back: The Pathologies of Rule by a Handful of Billionaires
    • Economic hierarchies always start as "meritocracies." You know what merit was in the Dark Ages? Being good at riding around on a horse while beheading people. But the meritorious always find their children are worthless parasites, so they must rig the entire social system to ensure their kids always stay on top.

      Every private property system either infinitely polarizes wealth over time or develops some form of regulation to control this... or it falls to revolution, as happened to the kingdoms of ancient Greece in the 6th century, replaced by every variant of "cracy" that Aristotle coined.

      These bastards have no vision of a future, only rehashes of the past. Destroying the hope of ordinary Americans in a better collective future was their way of destroying any alternatives to their rule. There's always a constituency for the past, after all, from South Carolina to Tehran.

      History indicates that reactionary aristocracies fall when people can see better alternatives overseas. So consider the problem the Kochs face - as the slaveowners would have faced if they'd won in 1861 - with Internet-driven awareness of better ways of life in the outside world. Their only choice is to declare war on that outside world, isn't it?

  • Obama's ISIL Actions are Defensive, Despite Rhetoric of going on Offense
    • I would have been impressed if Obama were talking about an anti-ISIS coalition that included Iran. I realize that's got a legitimate, non-Israel Lobby drawback. If Iranian troops are front and center in driving ISIS out of Sunni towns, yeah, that will provoke a backlash. But then, sometimes people don't deserve to feel provoked. If ISIS are bad guys, then the people who support them - whether billionaire Saudis or wretched Anbar refugees - embrace moral responsibility for ISIS' particularly sadistic modus operandi. Iran is a lesser evil than ISIS even more than Stalin was a lesser evil than Hitler in the context of a world war.

      And without Iranian muscle and its ties to the Iraqi Shia and Kurds, there's no way to create a functioning state. Because the US proved it doesn't know how to create one. We don't understand other cultures well enough to do nation building. Yet someone is going to have to do it.

      Iran is also necessary because Putin's mischief in the Ukraine makes it hard to get the Russians involved in any way beyond their demand to preserve Assad and their naval base in Syria. We can't demand that Putin get out of the Ukraine and then at the same time expect him to do us a favor in Iraq, unless we give him something really big in return. I don't know if we have such a thing to give.

      The main job of the US is to strongarm the Arab monarchies into accepting that their attempt to use jihadis to co-opt the Syrian revolution and impose terror on Iraqis is so offensive to the rest of the world as to jeopardize their membership in the world community. They could have found or shaped a more moderate movement and kicked in more petrobucks for better weapons to compensate, but they did it this way because they are oblivious to world opinion. The US and the Arab ultraconservatives both have proven unworthy of ruling Iraq. But the US still has to disarm the ever-growing Cold War between the Arabs and Iranians to prevent countless other wars and remove future temptations for US intervention. Getting them both into the same coalition is messy, but it's a way of forcing them to negotiate some sort of demarcation of interests in the lands in between.

      Like it or not, that's the best we can do.

  • ISIL isn't Medieval: Revolution, Terror and Statemaking are Modern
    • Many movements call upon the past, but we have to look at what rank & file members expect to get out of that. If you talk about restoring the past when, for instance, your ancestors got to whip slaves in exchange for not questioning the power of plantation owners, then you should be suspect. But it's easy to play a cafeteria game with history, selecting memes from different eras and mashing them together to evade the moral sticky bits. Was the average Nazi looking for the restoration of pre-1914 prosperity, the Teutonic knights, or something even older and stranger?

  • Elizabeth Warren: Taking on Entrenched Wall Street Interests that have Rigged the Game (Moyers)
    • You're right, but if we don't get control of our country back from the 1% first, it seems very unlikely that, after Warren is no longer around, we will ever get our country back from the Israel Lobby. The best bet is to put her feet to the fire on the "us Americans paying for it" part when she's having to decide what to cut to save social programs. Without that she's got no constituency.

  • Top 5 Signs the US is de facto allied with Iran versus ISIL
    • Russia and Iran both fear Sunni extremist movements. Russia wants its naval base in Syria preserved. So Russia seems to be slowly getting the US to move its way despite its misdeeds further west.

    • Somewhere Otto von Bismarck is very happy. But I'm very happy right here. The problem with doing it covertly is that it avoids confronting the American people about the reality that Iran (and Russia, and China) has a sphere of influence that is about as legally legitimate as the Monroe Doctrine. The road out of Iraq and Afghanistan is to accept that those states will do what we claim to want to do out of their logical self-interest.

  • Elon Musk's Nevada Gigafactory may Save the World
    • Also, why do electric car bashers never bring up the fact that oil refineries themselves are major users of electricity? If oil companies didn't treat that figure as a trade secret, we could tell how many miles of electric car driving would be produced simply by diverting that electricity from gasoline production.

  • Obama & Cameron find little Enthusiasm at NATO for new Iraq War
    • But you've also just described many of the Christians, racists, and psychopaths who join the US military and its associated mercenary corporations. You think right-wingers can't convince themselves that killing for Wall Street makes their lives special or meaningful? Hell, the armies of explicitly racist regimes - South Africa, Rhodesia, Nazi Germany, and the Confederate States of America had a fantastic record of holding out against numerically superior enemies. I would argue that white supremacy has been the most lethally effective ideology, the most dangerous drug, in human history, from Cortez' tiny band to today's extremist minority parading their guns in Texas restaurants and rallying far larger numbers to vote in people almost as bad. I guess the global elimination tournament will come down to its champion ca. 622-1492 versus its champion ca. 1492-1992, one fanaticism on another. Or China gets a bye to the final.

  • Duck Dynasty star to Hannity: Convert or kill ISIS (Chris Hayes)
    • People who want to convert you are creepier than people who want to kill you in self-defense. That's what makes ISIS itself so creepy. They'll forgive any crime as long as you are willing to be assimilated into their hive - for the purpose of jointly committing crimes against everyone else.

  • Top 5 Reasons "Labor Day" isn't for Laborers Anymore
    • You've hit on a key delusion of Americans. Because our slavery tradition was based on kidnapping, our oligarchs can now claim that it's not slavery as long as it's entered into voluntarily. Europeans know better because they are mostly descended from peons, who lost all their freedom in one unfair market transaction after another, and Asians know better because their own parents might have been debt serfs. For them, modernity is largely about being saved from the "property rights" of oligarchs monopolizing power.

      For Americans, the myth persists that our ancestors were free yeoman farmers, and that all subsequent improvements in life were due to our beloved entrepreneurial masters and all degenerations were due to evil elected government. Slavery thus must have been due to a misunderstanding, not due to capitalists finally revealing their full agenda.

  • ISIS: How to Defeat a Phony "Caliphate"
    • The immediate problem is the de-escalation of a Saudi/GCC vs Iran cold war that the US did much to create. Since most commenters on this site assume any US action at all is evil, it's hardly worth the effort to suggest that the US will have to be involved in that de-escalation. However, someone will have to use some kind of power to establish a boundary between the two sides and then punish anyone who sends their proxies on the warpath like ISIS. Now, this may mean drawing a line that will trap many people on the wrong side. But we did that in Europe in 1945 and it kept the Cold War stable for 40 years.

      Russia and China understand this; they will take Iran's side and demand protected enclaves in Syria and Iraq for their own naval and investment ambitions. Once those big boys enter the scene, the Sunni autocrats will be shaking in their Guccis and looking to the US. I'm afraid what will happen then because the GOP, the corporate Democrats and the Israel Lobby will want blood. In fact that is the perfect time for the US, Russia and China to exploit this situation to force the Sunni monarchs to stop using terrorist recruitment as a pressure valve for their own screwed-up societies. Which is in the interests of all countries victimized by terror groups.

      It's what Bismarck would have done in the old days of Great Power deals.

    • The oil sheikhs could have guaranteed that protection from their proxies at any moment. They didn't feel like it. Either they accept ethnic cleansing as part of their plan to roll back the Shia, or worse, the right to commit atrocities as a recruitment tool is part of the well-known use of such movements by those sheikhs to make their own disaffected young men go someplace else and die. The US lacks the guts to confront those autocrats, which blew the deal on Syria.

  • US Public Worried about ISIL, Putin-- But Climate Change is Real Challenge
    • The survey choices above show how depressingly shallow Americans are about the outside world. It's like looking at Nielsen ratings, with a constant turnover of new shows that are really copies of old shows. I'd like to say the decline in the fantasy of an Iranian threat is good news, but I can see it's only getting crowded out by sexier threats. Note that Shia extremism always is traced right back to the Iranian state by our indoctrinators, but Sunni extremism is only traced back to a black box of "those crazy Moslems"; thus protecting the oil-rich Gulf elites who fund both extremism/terrorism and much of America's financial sector. We can't face that contradiction, or the economic sacrifices we'd have to make if we treated the Sauds as an enemy.

    • The pain receptor analogy is a good description of our elites' conversion of global exploitation into the citizenry's global paranoia.

      However, paranoia seems to be most virulent when the enemy has a face we can hate. Even epidemics have a face; the disease-carrying foreigners we must stop before they contaminate our land. This is the problem with global warming, because our own country is the most responsible for the economic model driving the process. We met the enemy, he is us, so we make up other enemies instead.

      And that leads to the other problem; all our fantasy enemies in the above survey allow us to imagine solutions without sacrifice by anyone we likely know... since we never estimate the cost of future wars accurately. The jobs and land rights created by fossil fuels have come to be an island of stability in late capitalism, viewed as sacred entitlements, so the fact that alternative energy will create new jobs to replace those hardly matters; the ones who scream loudest and with the best connections to hold onto what they have count more.

    • The smart guys decided it would be more profitable to have a country in which there is no real concept of public good. So they destroyed it, and now reap truly vast financial rewards. They figure to have private islands to flee to before the consequences overwhelm their fellow citizens.

      Now as to how usefully smart they are, imagine if this bunch had been the ones running things in the '30s and '40s. Pretty scary.

  • Mitch McConnell caught Promising Billionaires he'll Enrich them at our Expense
    • In addition to dean's comment, consider the effects of such a deflationary economy: if you own actual dollars (or bonds), they increase in value. William Greider, in books like "Secrets of the Temple", argued that the brutal deflations that wracked and radicalized America after the Civil War were forced by Eastern bankers who cared only about the value of their cash holdings, while Western elites wanted an inflationary economy that would drive up the value of their more speculative holdings. The question is, why do today's oligarchs follow the Eastern doctrine rather than the Western when so much of their holdings seems to be speculative in value?

    • In order to live with themselves, the rich have to believe that they are the sole source of value in America - all the rest of us are worthless peons without their Galtian genius. But that leads inexorably to the conclusion that they should be getting all the money. If the rest of us AREN'T getting poorer, then they left money on the table. And a good businessman never leaves money on the table.

      The objective question we should ask is, why was it that in the past it was believed that the economy could not function like this, while now it's being put into practice: an economy in which the rich only need to trade with each other, and the rest of us are interchangeable temps one step ahead of bankruptcy?

  • Why Would They Stay? Making Sense of ISIS and Iraqi Sunnis
    • Let's assume that someone is behind ISIS with money and access to expertise. He needs the extremist angle to recruit shock troops to do the dirty work of quickly advancing across the desert. But he knows the extremists will wear out their welcome among their tribal and Baathist allies.

      Machiavelli, whom someone in the Middle East has probably read, said that when a prince conquers a city, he must commit his crimes quickly, then pass the blame to his governor, fire him and then benefit from the seeming improvement in conditions. I would suggest that ISIS is the evil governor, and the prince is already rigging together the new regime that will "liberate" the tribesmen from ISIS. Baathists will end up running everything, unfortunately, but the locals and the international community will heave a sigh of relief.

  • The new Jewish exodus: Emigrating Israelis replaced by European Jewry
    • It might be helpful if Europe still genuinely had a Left. The parties of the Left are always where competing minorities find themselves having to work together. That's why Israel's Left had to be destroyed - too many Jews fraternizing with Arabs. If immigrant Arabs were to recognize themselves as Europe's new proletariat, instead of refugees clinging to religious identity, they would only have one choice. If immigrant Jewish leftists were to recognize the hand of class warfare in their fate, they would only have one choice. Good luck on finding the kind of leadership on the Left to bridge that gap.

  • 5 Ironies of US Reaction to Egypt/UAE Bombing of Libya
    • The problem is, Libya's government may have asked for the intervention, as is its right to do, but it can't admit it, fearing loss of face at home. Which leaves us all in the dark opining on what the right thing is to do.

  • Why Militarized Policing is the worst Response to Ferguson's Problems
    • Actually, there is a split among whites. If all whites were on the same side, logically Obama would have gotten no white votes at all. But there are now two Americas, one mostly urban and somewhat integrated and multicultural, and the other one like what you describe.

      This is partly why the Tea Party whites are so freaked out. They see their own children betraying them by hanging out with blacks, Latinos, gays, non-Christians, etc. Now blacks are actually moving into old inner-ring suburbs, while white bigot flight surges further into the exurbs, bleeding into the ugliness of rural tribalism.

      So those whites are very, very organized and political, while the laid-back whites are politically ignorant, unaware of the alarming historical parallels of this proto-secessionist wave, inclined to be libertarian and maybe not that sympathetic to their minority neighbor's incompatibility with white patriarchal capitalism. A weak opposition, at best, which is exposed in midterm elections like 1994 and 2010. When will that white America take a stand on fascist cops when it wouldn't do so after Occupy?

  • What do Iraq's Sunni Arabs have in common with Ferguson, Mo. African-Americans?
    • As a Marine, you are expecting professionalism. Which may be the thing that is becoming obsolete. Consider the cycle of warfare in the last half-millenium. The monarchs of Europe created small professional armies to wage small, endless feuds with each other over tiny pieces of land. But when an important cause arose that forced all-out war between great alliances, the rules and limitations got thrown out, and the civilian population got involved. Sometimes vast armies of fanatics or conscripts overwhelmed the professionals and then wreaked havoc on the land. Then after the cataclysm, the surviving kings got together to negotiate a new set of rules to put the genie back in the bottle for a century or so:

      Wars of the Reformation > Treaty of Westphalia 1648
      Wars of the French Revolution > Congress of Vienna 1815
      World Wars > Treaty of Versailles (whoops - that one didn't take) Formation of the United Nations 1945

      Really, nuclear weapons were what forced the cycle back to small wars this time. And ever since movements and peoples have struggled against the Great Powers and their professional power projection capabilities - just as they did after the previous arrangements. Eventually, there will be mass movements in some form of battlefield again, and then people's wars. The thing is, all that uncoordinated running around you observed is what drives professional armies crazy. Conventional armies want to fight conventional foes - not have to play traffic cop between umpteen nutty armed guerrilla factions as the US has had to do recently.

  • Iran Hard Liners denounce US Human Rights Abuses in Ferguson, Mo.
    • The followers of the American Right are under the delusion that it can storm into power with overwhelming turnout, change all the laws to prevent its enemies from voting it out, and then hold on to its "restored" America - all without the rest of the world mattering. They think everyone else is just jealous of the Good Old Master Race and will return to business as usual once we've rattled a few nuclear sabers.

      I think they do not understand the changes that have happened. Even foreign conservatives find America increasingly barbaric and irrational. The abandonment of the GOP by every US minority in recent decades was based on observations that non-white people overseas can also make, and some of their countries are much more prominent than in Reagan's time. Non-white societies; Saudi Arabia, Japan, and China, have taken turns bailing out the US by buying and propping up the US $ for decades. Is there a point where a US divestment movement arises?

  • The New Jim Crow: Has the Right finally Repealed the Civil Rights Act?
    • Those "voter ID" laws have just gotten started.

      But more ominously, whenever "sacred" right-wing crap like voter ID and defense of marriage laws get overturned, right-wingers simply double down on the crazy. At some point, they can bully us as a minority by threatening to shut down the country when they don't get their way - their Congressmen have already made a ritual out of this. But the next step is threatening secession. I hope the Ferguson incident makes people understand that if the Red States secede, life will be hell for the non-whites trapped there. Jim Crow could not have been created if the rest of the US wasn't sick with fighting racism by 1876. They're trying to wear us out again with endless threats of national disruption.

    • The great mystery of whether we would be richer or poorer without the empire is why it's impossible to engage citizens about our options without their eyes glazing over. We just don't know how much the corporations have benefited from the leverage they obtain from the omnipresent Pentagon. If we tried to pull the plug on it, it would be interesting to see which corporations would go full-kamikaze to stop it.

      But indeed, the distribution of wealth would have been very different, and making America as unequal as possible seems to be the unifying principle of the rich and the factions of the Right. Just as being able to abuse blacks made white Americans amenable to rule by plantation owners and robber barons, perhaps the plan the last 40-50 years has been to make Americans accept the slashing of their wages and benefits by addicting them to the idea that they are a master race over the rest of the world. Weapons they can see, subtle comparisons about standards of living and social welfare are over their heads.

    • (cont)

      Cities force different kinds of people to have to deal with each other. As turbulent as the process is, they will make far faster progress towards respect & solidarity than those in the sticks. We've seen that divide grow in our lifetimes, such that the new Confederacy is now a ring of hostile suburbs, whose children now move back into cities out of disgust. If this reurbanization didn't cause real estate bubbles that drive out blacks, we could trigger a real chain-reaction of genuine integrated economic growth. But that's why the GOP is increasingly a party openly at war with the very idea of cities (see Ted Cruz smear Agenda 21).

      What we need is the combination of new technologies & organizations that would sustain meaningful wages, workers' rights, & high voter turnout in cities. Then the ordinary people in the Red states, especially women, would have to choose between supporting their crazy gun-toting patriarchs, or feeding their children. Once they abandon the crazies, the racist culture of "real" Americans will be hollow.

      But we don't know how hard the capitalists would fight this. After all, they bankrolled the rise of the Right for the last 60 years. They are still the plantation owners of 1676, and the bigots are still their suckers. Personally, I think they will all have to be taken down to save the world.

    • To understand the problem, you have to understand the origins, and for me that has been a source of despair. "The Creation of the White Race", by Theodore Allen, argues that rebellion-prone Southern white indentured servants were given their freedom en masse in exchange for their tacit cooperation in controlling their replacements, black captives mostly brought in from the West Indies. But then the entire legal system and society of the South were rebuilt around this brutal tribal casteism. I.e., the poor whites embraced this historic crime as their holy tradition and culture. This in turn saved the investors in the Southern colonies and served as the foundation of American capitalism. "Free enterprise" literally was founded on the freedom of whites requiring the bondage of blacks.

      If it's that hard-wired in our culture, I fear you would need done to us what the Allies did to Germany in WW2 - blow it up, but then rebuild and oversee a real democracy in its place. Not likely in the nuclear age.

      The slim alternative to that is restore the economic advantage that cities once had over suburban/rural regions. See next post.

  • 6 Things To Know If Police Stop You In The US
    • I had hoped in the past that measures like these would change things, but we seem to have gone over the abyss. I see a shared evil: the American people, their police, and their soldiers, have become so spoiled that they believe they have an infinite privilege to endanger others without endangering themselves. Because the Other is always a terrorist, and I am told I am a hero. The forms this self-love take depend on your position in society, but we are all becoming more sociopathic as the inherent short-term bias of free-market logic dictates; screw someone else, make a pile of money, and run before the consequences catch you.

      With cops, robbers, and bystanders all in fear of each others' volatility, they all get bigger and bigger guns in the myopic belief that they alone are the "good" Americans, that they can defeat the "bad" Others in single combat. But there is no Other who will submit to our righteous power. We all are self-righteous cowards who shoot first just to be safe.

      Maybe the institutions of a democratic republic literally can't handle this many giant a**holes in a society.

  • Can al-Abadi win over Iraq's Moderate Sunnis?
    • The problem is, why would said Sunnis necessarily want to rejoin Iraq after getting rid of ISIS? Consider the very cynical alliances between Baathists, ISIS, and far-right oil sheikhs bankrolling this horde all the way across the Middle East. Maybe when ISIS wears out its welcome, a "moderate" Arab nationalist force suddenly appears, controlled by Saudi money, and establishes something more sustainable?

      It looks like Iraq is becoming like Germany in 1945, dismembered to serve as the Oder-Neisse line in a new Cold War; Iran and Saudi will each pour money and arms into their occupation zone, and create their NATO and Warsaw Pact to endlessly patrol the barbed wire across the desert. Problem is, they're both as bad as the Warsaw Pact, but the US is economically chained to Saudi Arabia.

    • By saying Maliki is the good guy when he so utterly failed to stop ISIS, you don't seem to be advocating that anybody stop ISIS at all, because you judge the quality of a regime by how opposed it is to America. Like, I'm glad that the Communists of Vietnam invaded Cambodia and overthrew Pol Pot, instead of the US intervening again. It was worth Vietnam ruling Cambodia. Similarly, as brutal as the Iranian regime is, I would be glad if it saved the targets of ISIS' madness and became the dominant power in the region. But that does require sacrificing many innocent lives to the vengeance of Iran's proxies, and it means at best a long Cold War between Iran and Saudi Arabia. If we stay out and that happens, that's on us too. I just think it's the least bad solution right now.

    • What good would this independence have done Maliki once ISIS entered Baghad and beheaded him? I mean, you can call the US the source of all evil, but what is your actual position on who stops ISIS, which captured many weapons from Iraqi troops who WOULDN'T fight for Maliki? At least I am willing to say the US should kiss Iranian ass and admit that Iraq is permanently part of Iran's sphere of influence, so please send your legions and airstrikes to stop ISIS' reign of terror. So you can't say I'm an American imperialist, Bill. Which of those do you prefer getting its hands on millions of Shia, ISIS or Iran? It seems you are basing that decision on what will punish America or Barack Obama more.

  • Dutch Lawyer who saved Jewish Boy in WWII returns Medal to Israel over Bombing of his Family in Gaza
    • Explain to me what right the UN had to make the Palestinians give up any land at all from what Prof. Cole pointed out many times was a League of Nations mandate meant to become a single Palestinian state? Recall King Ibn Saud telling Franklin Roosevelt that it was wrong that Palestinians should be punished for the crimes of Germans - and extracting a promise from him that nothing would be done to them without consulting with Arab leaders. Just another broken US promise to the redskins, I guess.

    • So what makes one persecuted minority of more value to you than another, given that Israel's leadership has done everything in its power to burn all bridges so that its people would have no choice but to pursue an endless cycle of persecution, provocation and incremental ethnic cleansing, or face the option that you're presenting to shame us into silence?

      And don't be ridiculous; the light-skinned Israelis are useful to capitalism and will all be welcomed to America the way that all Soviet Jews were, thanks to their lobby controlling both our political parties. As for the swarthier ones, even Donald Sterling pointed out that Israel doesn't treat them well now.

  • One Nation, under SWAT: The undemocratic Militarization of the Police
    • I wish we could come up with a real alternative to police forces as we know them, but all are scary. We've had lynch mob law, KKK law, posse law, Pinkerton law, bought-by-tycoons National Guard law, and simple lawlessness.

      I could dog-whistle about the virtues of right-wing small towns where everyone knows each other, but we know about the meth labs in rural America, and we know about gay kids beaten to death and left on a barbed wire fence.

      The police culture across the US seems to be unfixable. We can't use the existing cops to start new forces for that reason, even if we fix the drug laws. Where are we supposed to go to find people who can be trusted with the power to maintain order when we're all angry, paranoid, self-entitled idiots?

    • I think even if we legalized marijuana and somehow the Mexican cartels sufficiently ruined their country so as to destroy themselves, the militarization of police would be hard to stop.

      Part of the problem is related to why American have given their military carte blanche to pursue omnipotence (and the NSA to pursue omniscience). Technology is getting more powerful with less and less organization; thus everyone at home and abroad could be seen as a threat. We've demanded an arms race with the entire rest of the world put together as a tribal prerogative, and an arms race against each other as a Constitutional right.

      Missing in all of that, you notice, is any teaching that I, myself, might be part of the problem I'm battling. The people of the US, the military of the US, and the police of the US, all live in mental fortresses to shield them from any responsibility for the threats they demand to be perfectly defended against. They are all becoming increasingly infantile, sociopathic, and shameless liars.

      For instance, the white man who values property as the basis of his power over others is so paranoid about phantom threats to his goodies that he simultaneously arms against the government - but worships that government's military and police when it punishes the poor and non-white. Hell, he's the prime recruit for those forces, and his older version is likely a veteran. What he really wants is the benefit of power without the hassle of sharing power with people different than himself. Tyranny and anarchy both point seductive paths towards that goal.

  • Need for Tough Love: Defending the Gaza Assault Hurts Israeli, American Interests
    • Another problem is, Americans may want to reduce the size of our hegemony, or defer to the UN, or avoid getting involved in Iraq or Europe again. But when push comes to shove, we panic at the sight of American power visibly being reduced. Our fear and our ego freak out. We saw that when Mao won in 1949, leading to McCarthy's reign of terror at home. But another effect was something we rarely hear about today. Right before the Korean War, Dean Acheson declared Korea to be outside of the US "defense perimeter". No one said anything about it because no one knew Korea existed. But when Kim Il Sung invaded, presumably emboldened by Acheson's statement, suddenly we all freaked out at the footage of actual Reds on the march and Acheson and Truman and all the rest joined the stampede to do a 180 and treat this as a major threat.

      If we identify our power as white power and Israelis as whiter than Arabs, we can never get out of our anti-Palestinian bias, much less our increasingly dysfunctional hegemony. Israel's game is to maintain a permanent state of that 1949-50 witchhunting panic, the belief that Israel's destruction is imminent, so that we cannot have the time to reflect on the long-term costs of our policies.

      Which is why it is imperative that Israel keeps lying about its nuclear arsenal, whose existence should allay this hysteria. If we want to topple this madness, we must make our government admit that the nukes exist, hundreds of them, and that they embolden Israeli expansionism. Once Israel is exposed as (perhaps) the 2nd biggest nuclear power in the world, even a low-information American idiot will come to think of Israel as "nuclear" before he thinks of it as "endangered".

  • Iraq: Al-Abadi garners Iranian, US, Saudi Support: But can He Unite Iraq?
    • I think we are seeing the long-term insanity inherent in the events circa 1980-81, when the right-wing US, Saudi Arabia, & Pakistan seemed to declare war on leftism everywhere in the Islamic Middle East under cover of opposing the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, while bankrolling right-wing extremism. It's like when the US government declared war on socialistic Black Panthers, while its military and CIA encouraged drug smugglers who spawned capitalist black gangsters in our cities. We sent a message: if you try to get out of the hell our empire created for you via socialism, we will murder you. Leaving only the opposite extreme as an endurable option.

      Thus today there are only right-wingers to fight amongst themselves from Egypt to Pakistan. But guess what? Right-wing solutions to the ills of global capitalism make no damn sense. Corrupt local tycoons bankrolling local Islamists doesn't produce social justice. Medieval law doesn't stop polarization of wealth. And worse, while we always feared a global proletariat united against us, it turns out the right-wing alternatives all hate each other murderously and never stop fighting. Moslem vs Judeo-Christian fundamentalists, Wahhabis vs the heirs of Khomeini, every ethnic group in Afghanistan. Because reactionary ideologies, like Sauron, don't share power with others.

      This makes me suspect that the Saudis can't really back away from extremism. Escalating it is the only way to maintain a shred of legitimacy, even though the Sauds know it puts everyone in greater danger including themselves personally. Under these conditions, why should Iran concede anything? And the US has worked in the past to promote Saudi paranoia about Iran. So we're stuck with our agendas.

  • The Long Knives Come out in Baghdad
    • Part of the problem is that the US refused to build up Iraq's air force, which Prof. Cole mentioned some years ago, due to fear of how it might be used. For militiamen to fight ISIS, they would either need comparable weapons (armor) to fight them in the countryside, or to fight them in their home cities with counterweapons like RPGs. The comparable weapons seem to all have been sent west by Maliki to fight the Sunnis - and gotten captured. The counterweapons? Maybe the militias still have a lot of RPGs and mines buried in secret caches, but not where ISIS currently is.

    • Setting aside the semantics of "caliphate", ISIS is still not a state in the same way that Castro's army was not a state until it marched into Havana and formed one, or Mao's army was not a state until it marched into Beijing after 20 years of fighting. Remember in "Lawrence of Arabia" when the Arab Legion marched into Aqaba, and the British easily sabotaged their rule there? People start demanding actual governmental services after a while, not just endless punishment. And the most important thing in Iraq is the state petroleum company, whose engineers threatened to sabotage the oil industry several times to foil the demands of the US Occupation. Thanks to sanctions, that industry was a patchwork of weird fixes that only the engineers understood, making them irreplaceable.

  • Party of Palin? Why Almost No Scientists Are Republican
    • The good news: Republicans don't have a problem with scientists stating their views.

      The bad news: Republicans clearly don't know how many of their dogmas don't pass muster with most scientists.

      The likely outcome: Republicans will be happy to be presented with the One Right-Wing Scientist to tell them what they want to hear and ignore all the others, just like they're happy to be presented with the One Right-Wing Black Man who says it's okay to shoot black kids. They're looking for validation of what they already are willing to kill for.

    • The problem with limiting science is, then you will give evil people an incentive to place their desire to oppress others under the umbrella of "faith", which then we are bullied into believing must always take precedence over facts. Re: Hobby Lobby. Too many people think that only religion can dictate values and morals - which means the most extreme religion will run all of its competitors off the road for the honor since the purer the faith, the more "real" the religion.

  • Nightmare in Iraq
    • I enjoy bashing Bush as much as the next sentient being, but you're blaming ISIS on Bush as a reason for the US doing nothing about ISIS' ongoing crimes. Kind of contradictory.

  • "Move a little Inland:" Press Lord Cranky Billionaire Rupert Murdoch on what to do about Global Warming
    • Reason: Murdoch is not American. If he were, he'd have to deny that there was any warming or any issue with CO2 at all in order to stay in synch with our Right. But his US tentacles are in synch, because he needs the whole right-wing ideology as strong as possible in every country where he's being taxed and regulated.

    • The key is legalizing the trinity of serfdom:
      1. debtor's prison
      2. prison slave labor
      3. inheritable debt
      We're close to that now. And no pitchforks yet.

  • Why is Obama bombing Iraq, Really?
    • The question is, did the US intervene because it refuses to let Iran intervene? Iran views Bagdad as a satellite, but also has good relations with the Kurds. It would surely use its own air force rather than let these fanatics rape and pillage the capitals of two allied regimes (because ISIS surely lacks the means to govern them).

      Of course, we should just let Iran act in its self interest and do some good besides. But America is officially brain-dead on accepting the right of other countries to have spheres of influence. No, there's only international law and there's no spheres of influence amending international law. Except for... the Monroe Doctrine?

    • #2 is correct. Eventually, everyone will be a terrorist, at least when it suits their interests. All governments do is play for time, meaning until the next election.

  • Is Zionism/ Jewish Nationalism a Political Cult? The Salaita Firing
    • Prof. Cole, we would not have democracy were it not for nationalism. You know the timeline. It was the rise of people's awareness of their national identity that forced hereditary monarchs, step by painful step, to have to recognize the consent of the governed or be overthrown. The Treaty of Westphalia, the English wars of the 17th century, and most importantly the American and French Revolutions.

      Yes, that puts a dark contradiction at the heart of liberal society. We live in the world of those who outlived their opponents, often by fighting. You must agree that without nationalism, no one would have cared to combat the Secession in 1861, or gotten all that bothered about Pearl Harbor. People get nationalism, they don't get or sacrifice their lives for political theory. If "advanced" countries have outgrown nationalism, where does that leave the developing, hard-to-unify countries that must demand some degree of sacrifice from their populations to obtain economic growth while fending off exploitation from the rich countries?

    • Who have African-Americans destroyed and occupied? Did I miss something?

  • British Cabinet Member Resigns over UK Gov't Gaza Stance, wanted to go to ICC
    • British Moslems are doomed to learn the same lesson about white capitalists and their favored parties that American Moslems learned about the GOP after 2000.

    • The problem is, politicians with consciences are too indispensable. What is the historical record for whether these resignations have done any good or merely purged the gene pool of anyone who isn't a partisan whore?

  • The Hateful Likud Charter Calls for Destruction of Any Palestinian State
    • I think the plan is for the US media to finally become fully accurate about the time that Israel has driven out or killed the last Palestinian. Sort of like how that same media, about 120 years ago, waited until the native Americans were fully crushed before bothering to explain what was done to them.

  • Proposition 1: How to Swindle the Middle Class
    • This fits into the recent pattern in Michigan, where financially troubled local governments are declared bankrupt so that their elections can be replaced by undemocratic boards stuffed with right-wing developers. Why isn't the Party of Small Government opposed to all this concentration of power in Lansing? Because it's black cities losing democracy, and cities in general losing democracy, which apparently is a net gain for "real" Americans.

  • Are Israelis and Zionists really talking about a Final Solution of the Palestinian Problem?
    • Once the Israelis get away with a completed Palestinian ethnic cleansing/genocide, we will start to see the same rhetorical games played by all far-right nationalist extremists around the World. Right now, members of the neo-Confederate League of the South are working hard to get on the ballot in Maryland elections, looking to push their way into the state GOP and thus acceptance as the legitimate defenders of free enterprise and limited government. The reality is, they are a secessionist group, and the moment they secede, they will start to do bad things to a long list of groups they hate. But of course, even elected to state government, they can do some of that. The implied goal is that through terror and discrimination, white Christians can ethnically cleanse their state of "parasites," and thus tax cuts will ensue.

      So what happens in Israel matters not because they are so different than us, but because they are so much alike.

    • Anyone who might be able to make a legal case in a future world that Israel stole his family's property is a threat. Therefore children are a threat.

      But once they are driven out of Israel/Palestine, they will never have leverage in, say, the World Court to have land restored. Future Israel will make a pitiful cash settlement to the far-flung descendants of its victims, as so many corporations have before.

  • Gaza and Soweto
    • Jabotinsky's statement above proves the crimes against Palestinians were no mistake - they were the Zionist program from 20 years before Israel was official. The elimination of the natives. Hamas is the final product of those crimes, assisted by Israeli secret police in its early days for the purpose of making peace impossible. Israel continually switches sides from one Palestinian movement to the other so it can claim that it has no one to negotiate with... while the colonization continues. Feature, not bug.

      And according to the right-wing media of the 1980s the ANC was full of commies, so of course they would want to "enslave" the productive white population instead of removing it.

    • Gotta love intellectuals. We can't compensate our opponents, so we WILL eliminate them. The word justice never enters into it.

    • Ever wonder why South Africa was developing (in partnership with Israel) atomic bombs? One per Bantustan, in case of emergency.

    • In fact, this well describes the history of an entire class of countries: settler societies. The USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the former Rhodesia... and Israel. Under English practice (perhaps enforced by clever elites) intermarriage with natives was taboo, while entire white families were exported to keep up the conqueror population. Spain and France did not follow these practices as rigidly in their early empires. White supremacy is the only way vast lands have been successfully stolen in the modern world.

      So the question is, how consciously did the Zionists, many from the US and Britain, follow this horrible but successful Anglo-American model in their plans for supplanting the Palestinians? (Extra credit question: how much is the American far right, in turn, using the Zionist blueprint to inspire its plans to "restore" America to its white Christian laissez-faire past?)

  • Impeachment is a Cash Cow (Colbert Report)
    • No, the Republicans can't really get 67 votes in the next Senate to impeach. But shouldn't they pay some price for intentionally impeaching every elected Democratic president for the purpose of sabotaging governance and creating a slanderous meme implying that Democratic voters are basically illegitimate people whose votes shouldn't count? This isn't a war against Clinton and Obama, this is a war against 100,000,000 American citizens who refuse to vote Republican - a one-sided war when it comes to impeachments.

  • Could States Rights & Decentralization Save Iraq?
    • If each state is run by extremists now freed from the need for coalition building, why should they respect the frontiers of the other states? Why not invade their neighbors, try to seize an oil field, or ethnically cleanse the cities and bring in their own settlers? When the dominant ideology is that the people over the border are actually evil personified, how can people really live in peace with each other?

  • The U.S Has More Solar Workers Than Coal Miners
    • Again we see the free-market fallacy that economics is not political. A rich man can indoctrinate and isolate communities to believe that their way of life - laboring for him - is uniquely patriotic and must be protected from new competition, that the competition itself is part of a subversive conspiracy to install an alien lifestyle or even an alien God. (Thus environmentalists are smeared as pagan earth-worshippers, economics be damned.)

      That's not some recent perversion of conservatism that true libertarians will surely oppose. That's the way all societies built culture to ensure continuity in behavior - a continuity that makes its members willing to sacrifice for common survival. Economics is then built on that rigged playing field.

  • Ignore the Smears: Germany's Green Energy is 1/3 of its Power, Price Falling, Coal Down
    • Watching conservative fossil-fuel companies and their proxies smear alternative energy for being too cheap is a hilarious proof of how fake our established "free markets" are in every industry. We've never had free markets; we've always had social status hierarchies in which new money battles old money for unmerited power over how people think and act.

  • Mosul w/out Christians for First time in 1,900 Years as Radical Fundamentalists Threaten Minorities
    • It will be Iran. The US will be powerless to stop it because we spent so much time tying ISIS' predecessors to al-Qaeda. Saudi will go bonkers, pour weapons into the hands of its extremist proxies, and try to stem the Iranian tide. The Middle East will finally have its first World War, and not a Jew in sight.

      But the Israelis and neocons are idiots for having encouraged this process. World wars lead to other world wars, and new powers and alliances arise from them. Israel is committing suicide by risking that.

  • The Colbert Report: "Questionable Compassion for Child Immigrants"
    • Conservatives, especially Southerners, got burned badly in the '60s by being seen as bullies supporting the beating of MLK's non-violent protestors, and baby-killers for supporting the war on Vietnam. They learned the self-victimization game quickly. Now they are full of compassion for everyone who they want to deprive of government aid and protection - the pregnant women that they logically imply are murderers, the native Americans they say were victims of the Federal government (not the greedy settlers who voted for that government), the blacks they say are living on a "welfare plantation" because getting a tiny AFDC check is so much like being beaten and paid nothing to work. But most of all, they trumpet themselves as victims of equality and power-sharing, and embrace fetuses, Israelis, crime victims, white men who were cheated out of jobs by "them", as their fellow wretched of the earth. Implying that the billions of humans and millions of Americans worse off than them are really inferior and will deserve what they get once we go back to the 18th century where we all belong, free to starve if the eternally infallible private property system so decrees.

  • Obama needs Europe in responding to MH17 Crash, but NSA Spying a Bar
    • We should have dissolved NATO in 1991. It should have been Europe's business to defend itself from whatever arose from the ruins in Russia. Instead we tried to expand NATO and guaranteed the Russian people would turn to a strongman to stem the tide of humiliation and Wall Street rapine.

      If we're willing to demand that our government respects the will of Europe's voters - not just in one or two gerrymandered neocon states - then there's a way out of this. Europe must abandon the pathology of "austerity" and start taxing its tycoons and paying its people to build their own military, fully independent of the Pentagon. Which has not existed in 60 years. I'm proposing that all of Europe adopt deGaulle's stance of having a sovereign foreign policy, kick out US bases and aircraft, and stop treating their entire national militaries as supplements on Pentagon's order of battle.

      That means it's up to them how to deal with Putin, war or peace. DeGaulle's handful of nukes aimed at Moscow may have been all the deterrent the West ever needed, and surely Germany, France and the UK together can build such a deterrent now. As for the rest of the world, the Communists' power projection turned out to be laughable and a narrow-minded nationalist like Putin can't even get past Syria.

    • You're right, but the way that democracy interferes with diplomacy makes it impossible that things will be done your way. Complex arguments don't sway publics - either they cave in to a faction expressing a simple emotion, belligerence or cowardice, or they put their faith in a leader whose complex maneuverings they trust without understanding.

      I wish I knew of an alternative to that, but I've given up expecting voters to understand a damn thing about the outside world when they want to believe that Latin American kids are Moslem terrorists carrying the Ebola virus.

    • Rogue states? Sounds like Russia has rejoined the ranks of historical great powers, all of whom have committed countless horrible crimes since the rise of the West 500 years ago.

      Have you forgotten that Iranian airliner full of civilians the US Navy shot down 25 years ago? What worthy cause were we there supporting at the time? Saddam Hussein?

      Or the way we rewarded Suharto's new dictatorship in Indonesia with an alliance after it murdered half a million Chinese and leftists in 1965-66? And went on to murder hundreds of thousands more in several anti-separatist wars?

      That's normal great power behavior. To be a rogue state, you have to threaten wars without being of use to the global capitalist economy. China and Russia are too important to ostracize with that economy still in danger of collapsing.

  • Gaza: 4 Dead Boys on the Beach & Israel's Precision War
    • As Baby Jessica proved years ago, one baby dying in a well surrounded by TV cameras is worth one million babies dying in the ghetto.

  • Border Wars in the Homeland "Stop Stepping on the Pictures"
    • I think the time has come for people to seriously consider the replacement of police forces with new kinds of public law enforcement institutions. Representing the real people, the poor, not commuting henchmen who love the rich. Unfortunately the privatizers and militia racists will move in exactly the wrong direction.

      The mayor of New Haven once cited "suburban adventurers" on his police force as part of the problem of abuse of his minority population. We firstly need police to be required to live in the neighborhoods that they bully and dominate. Meaning, they need to be recruited from the neighborhood and responsible to some sort of council of residents. We must put an end to the sense of military occupation that guarantees that young males in slums will grow up on the wrong end of the Stanford Prison Experiment, with the corresponding attitudes that ensure the continued state of racial cold war.

    • Based on what I've read, the atrocious behavior of the officers recounted here is actually a return to the normal behavior of policemen and sheriffs since the Constitution was signed - at least, their behavior towards "strangers" and "troublemakers". What is new are the resources they have at their disposal. Our idea of who is a threat has always trumped vague terms like "reasonable". But in the past establishment terror was dished out at the local level, in dark back rooms in police stations, in alleyways, and in town squares beset by Klansmen & lynch mobs, all based on the local understanding of the caste system. Now the entire outside world is seen as a threat because it refuses to submit to our order, so logically the military and then illogically domestic law enforcement have been provided omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence to battle it.

  • Israel, Gaza and the Fatal Spirit of Versailles
    • Maybe, but I think the allies had to learn why they did things the wrong way after 1918 in order to have any chance to do things right after 1945. It wasn't just the nature of the surrender. The 1918 German elites surrendered partly due to fear of Communist rebellion within their own soldiery - but the Allies lacked the expected empathy. In '45 the Western allies, conversely, faced Communism in the form of their own fellow co-occupier, which kept millions of troops mobilized. So the West had to quickly get Germany on its feet again and not engage in the many punitive acts that sabotaged the Weimar Republic's economy. The much larger role of the US the second time around also meant a greater emphasis on, well, nation-building (a dirty word today). The 1945 Allies were more socialistic and more willing to engage in social engineering to excise the pathologies of German society.

    • The key to unassailable power in America is to have a powerful base in both parties at the same time. Every institution that is too big to fail in America has that. The rich in all their manifestation have the GOP by ideology, the entire belief system that the rich must be better to justify inequality. Then they just buy Democrats as needed on an issue-to-issue basis. The Israelis started with a key faction in the Democratic Party, then cynically worked with the neocons and Christians in the GOP to become unassailable there. This leaves room for none of the safe partisan maneuvering that normally allows debate in this country.

  • Wealth Gap Costing US in Growth (John Oliver)
    • The rich will never, ever, ever believe that greater power for themselves will harm the country, because they believe they are the master race and know how to do everything better than the rest of us. To them, America's great success after their counterparts were humiliated by the New Deal is only a pale shadow of what they would have accomplished if they'd stayed in charge - not because there's any evidence of how that would have worked, but because it must be true, or their entire meritocratic fantasy is wrong.

  • Quashing Jewish Dissent on Israel
    • Then Nelson Mandela was no angel either. Good. The angels work for rich white guy God, not us.

    • Why should Jews be any different than Gentiles in America when it comes to being pressured to vote against their interests and conscience by flag-waving, religion-spouting elites - or told that their failure to do same justifies their creeping exclusion from the political process?

  • Helpless Giant: How Imperial US Elites Tied America Down All by Themselves
    • Besides the British episode, other empires have ended up paralyzed by the contradictions between their military power and the decline of their economic base, hastened by the greed of corrupt elites.

      Kevin Phillips' book "American Theocracy" argues that this is pretty much the norm for global hegemons, as the imperial economy become divorced from reality while military commitments go viral. But he specifies the rise of extremist religion as a conservative reaction against the reality of imperial decline as the real poison, a sort of violent national senility that hastens total collapse.

      Although I read the comparison by a former GOP strategist between the GOP and the Spanish Hapsburgs with understandable relish, I read further about the Spanish decline and found that its doom was baked into its foundations, Catholicism or no Catholicism. The Hapsburg model of marrying into territory required all the new acquisition's existing military commitments to be added to Spain's own, while the feudal rules governing the marriages prevented an empire-wide tax system to cover the cost. It was never a feasible business model.

      But I suspect every empire has these inherent flaws. America's model of being a non-empire empire has caused us to adopt the military commitments of the European empires we supplanted (Vietnam, Iraq, etc.). Britain's trade empire seduced local rulers into handing over valuable ports in exchange for aiding them against their enemies. There is no free lunch in expanding your global influence over alien peoples, except maybe genocide.

    • This has all happened before.

      Read the fascinating book, "The Strange Death of Liberal England", in which author George Dangerfield practically accused the Conservative Party of sedition in the Irish crisis of 1914, conspiring with the Army to disobey orders to stand against Protestant violence in revenge for the House of Lords losing its Tory-biased veto rights. This happened in a Britain supposedly at the height of its power, with the Liberal Party and its Labour allies representing the vast majority of the population. The entire political culture collapsed in an instant because of a hissy fit from a dying elite. Then WW1 bailed them all out and erased the crisis in a burst of amnesia. But Dangerfield discloses evidence that in August German leaders were misled by the crisis into believing they could avoid British intervention against an invasion of France. So Britain's vast military might was useless because of the perception that it was a giant crippled by internal turmoil.

  • Is Pope Francis the Green Pope?
    • I do support there being a powerful voice to restore non-lunatic conservatism to the public arena. When I say he's a pre-Reagan conservative, that puts him in the company of Eisenhower, who made some of the most meaningful statements against the warfare state, and Romney's dad, who confessed that he was "hoodwinked" about Vietnam. There were many decent conservatives in Europe too. What we need back are conservatives we can have a genuine dialogue with.

    • Francis is not a progressive. He's a pre-Reaganite conservative.

      We've been so drenched in Orwellian historical revisions by the Right-Wing Movement that we don't recall what a real conservative looks like anymore.

  • The Map: A Palestinian Nation Thwarted & Speaking Truth to Power
    • This is interesting because it sounds like what happened in South Africa; the blacks won, but under the rules of global capitalism they weren't allowed to win economic power. So the tiny white minority still has all the money, without the need of racist state terror. According to Naomi Klein, the neoliberal "advisors" got to Nelson Mandela when he had attained victory, and fooled him into compromising with the rich. Presumably any Palestinian leader who somehow won an agreement for a one-state solution would suffer the same fate.

    • By which I mean, the Israeli claim that it was a pre-emptive strike against an inevitable coordinated Arab invasion.

    • This is not the greatest tragedy of the 20th Century; it was full of mega-genocides (over 1,000,000 dead). But this can still become the greatest tragedy of the 21st Century if we don't change our biases.

    • We also have been disinformed about who really started the Six-Day War.

    • I wouldn't be so sure that was the main reason - the US had a serious anti-Semitism problem at the time, led by mainstream heroes like Henry Ford and Charles Lindberg. Keeping Eastern European Jews out of the US was seen as absolutely necessary to preserving American identity as keeping Mexicans out is today.

      However, the sick irony today is that right-wing Christians now want Jews to emigrate to Palestine to slaughter Arabs, and stop voting Democratic in US elections. So now they're very nice to the Israeli leadership.

      Basically, a Jew becomes acceptably "white" only when he joins the anti-immigrant GOP here, or goes over there to eliminate the "browns".

  • ABC News' Diane Sawyer Mistakes Stricken Palestinians for Israelis
    • Conversely, consider the psychological study in which white Americans were shown a quick glimpse of a photo of a white man holding a knife on a black man. I think 1/3 of respondents later claimed the photo showed a black man holding a knife on a white man. So, yes, Diane Sawyer might see the Israelis as being enough her race to do that. Isn't that what white Americans are being indoctrinated to think about Israelis? "Our" race?

    • Many times on Fox News, when a Republican congressman is reported as being caught in wrongdoing, the little (R) after his name mysteriously turns into a (D). Of course this is soon forgotten. Done repetitively, this reinforces the prejudices of the audience.

  • The Return of Jim Crow in North Carolina
    • So, three strikes, you're out, America.

    • By the way, this is actually the 3rd time that black people have lost their voting rights in the South. In the early Virginia colony, African captives had to be brought in as indentured servants, meaning when their terms ran out they became colonial subjects like everyone else. Apparently some did have voting rights. But Bacon's Rebellion of 1676, in which white and black servants joined the rebels, led to the complete re-engineering of Southern law and culture, and the conversion of blacks not only to slaves, but to people so despised by poor whites that alliances against the oligarchy became impossible. That is where America's identity really began.

    • Here it is, just as I have feared for many years.

      The last time, blacks were disenfranchised en masse, but it involved many laws over several decades, pushing down the pool of eligible black voters even further in the early 20th Century.

      This time, they can use computers to surgically gerrymander minority votes to impotence.

      But the most important part of all this? The refusal of mainstream America to accept that right-wingers still hate blacks enough to strip them of all their rights. They will accept an endless procession of excuses and plausible denials, amplified by the corporate agenda to make America the most unequal country possible.

      For all our supposed racial enlightenment over the generations, we will end up right back where we were in 1900. What does this prove about the essential nature of our political and economic systems? Why do a handful of bigots always triumph? And why is theirs always the side of "property rights" and "limited government"? These things are all tied together.

  • China's New Soft Power: Transformers 4, X-Men & Hollywood
    • But seriously, China is evincing a better understanding of how American capitalism really works - cultural indoctrination, co-optation, settler colonization in Tibet, and the marriage to militant nationalism, than anyone in America is allowed to possess below the 1-percenters. The Saudi despots never used their vast dollar holdings to humanize ordinary Arabs in the eyes of the American people because they don't like ordinary Arabs either. That would have done far more to help the Palestinian struggle than training a few terrorists.

    • The machinery of Western cultural imperialism is for sale to the highest bidder. Film at 11.

  • Unitarians divest from Fossil Fuels: Clear Commitment on Climate Change
    • Disinvest in Texas, so our secessionist governor and his even worse successor can't keep braying that all these low-wage jobs the energy bubble is enabling is proof that neo-Victorian economics is the solution to America's problems.

  • Inside the Mosul of the 'Islamic State': Manhunts, Salafi Coercion and Fired Christians
    • My God, these ISIS sh**heads are even stupider than the Taliban. I guess the latter had better Pakistani and Saudi advisors.

  • SCOTUS: Corporate "Persons" have Religions, can Deny You Birth Control Coverage
    • Obviously, rulings like this are planned out to interlock with future laws, state initiatives, and other right-wing mischief so as to give the old privileged classes, white, rich, male & Christian, the "freedom" to reduce the rest of us to poverty, servitude, imprisonment, and oppression. "Restoring" the old days means they're about outcomes, not principles. Look at the clever asymmetries used in the early Jim Crow laws to disproportionately disenfranchise blacks, after which it was easy to pass new laws that were blatantly discriminatory. Thus will freedom be defined in the future, so that gays, women, blacks, the poor, Moslems, etc., will find it consists of nothing that they want.

  • UN to Detroit: Denial of Water to Thousands 'Violates Human Rights'
    • Nothing like starting a cholera or dysentery epidemic to clear the Democrats out of their strongholds, eh?

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