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Total number of comments: 689 (since 2013-11-28 14:42:39)

Travis Bickle

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  • Victim of McCarthy-Era Witch Hunt calls on U-Illinois not to Fire Critic of Israeli Policies
    • Your link is an important update.

      For one thing, we learn that his offer had been extended and accepted NINE months prior to the firing. We also learn the political and financial pressure was immense, and that the legal ramifications were weighted before the trigger was pulled.

      But it's the overall sordidness of this affair which is most impressive.

    • The social control was in the intention to make an example of Salaita. Even unpublicized, actions like these stand to have an enormous impact on any prof tempted to wade into political waters, much less presume to be a catalyst.

      But these are the very people who have the background and credibility to make a difference in the world. Its implicit in their job description, especially at schools where they supervising PhD candidates. Which is why I hope Salaita finishes the fight others have started; otherwise his loss is not that of just one prof.

      Even at the biggest state schools tenured profs who become controversial are defended as family. I have no idea of Richard Falk's status at Princeton, but I suspect he is supported strongly by their administration on these same basic grounds. University people are nice folks, and this is how they behave. The political element is legitimately something to be considered when making a senior appt. The issue here is not that he was passed on, even for political reasons, but that the implementation of a contract offered and accepted was interfered with, once past the stage of deliberation.

    • The positions and postings on this blog have none of the stridency of Salaita's tweets, but to the "if you aren't with us you're against us" crowd, I expect they are more offensive, because of how persuasively they have laid out the logic and facts of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. If there is any one thing they would do, if they could do it, it would be to shut this blog down or somehow otherwise destroy our host.

      I suspect tenure, and the safety afforded by the significant reach of this blog, are what has accounted for his staying at UM. Even then, when universities decide to get rid of a tenured prof, and are otherwise constrained, there are ways to make it awfully, awfully uncomfortable for them to stay. So, this issue with Salaita really is an important one.

      As goes Salaita, so goes the rest of Americans who may wish to speak out. To adapt what has been said of any number of previously targeted people, we are all Steven Salaita.

    • Especially senior administrators at major universities secure and keep their positions by doing what they're told by their diverse constituencies, meaning they have a very good sense of the relevant politics and bend naturally to them. I doubt this one is any different, so have some sympathy for her. What could change the overall equation here is the universal commitment these folks have to their universities reputation and the budgets unto which they are entrusted.

      The appropriate response in this case is to sue, and to sue big. It will cost the university millions, even if they defend successfully. No amount of technicalities or clever lawyering will save them from the humiliation that awaits them (assuming the facts as I get them). Far more importantly, this is an opportunity to drag into the open the sordidness of those behind this firing. A full-airing of what has happened stands to do an enormous amount of good, and something along these lines is long overdue. This is not about some lone professor who was given the shaft as an example to others (as has been done before). These manipulators need to have a bright, public spotlight shone on them because their influence extends far too deeply into many spheres, including the formulation and implementation of US foreign policy.

      The key is make everything about this episode very public and to keep it very public. However events unfold, the professor needs to resist the temptation to settle quietly, which in the big picture is not what is best for the US, or the world.

  • Sean Hannity Pwned by Patricia Bynes when he tries to "Educate" Her
    • IS "pwned" supposed to mean "owned", as used currently, that she turned the tables and dominated Hannity ? I don't think so; but maybe that's just me.

      Looks like a garden-variety case of a bully who came up against someone who tried to talk back, so he just talked over the woman before cutting the interview short. The weakness of his bluster was pretty transparent, but your typical fox aficionado would see what he wanted (and expected) to see, and would say he had given her a paddling.

    • None other than Jeb Bush made the obvious point that stand-your-ground cannot be twisted into meaning chase-down-and-confront, whatever else may have happened.

      When you think about it, about everything that gets to a court is political. In many/most cases, there's something called the law, which contains society's collective consensus on what is/isn't appropriate and what to do about it. But once an event catches the attention of those working to mould the law and social conventions to their own ends, it becomes blatantly political and all bets are off. We're into the world of art and creativity.

  • How will Obama and the US respond to IS's murder of James Foley ?
    • This situation here is set to get out of hand, as if the region ever were in-hand.

      But first, connect a few dots, starting with the alarmism of the press conference with Hagel and Dempsey, summarized here: link to complex.foreignpolicy.com

      Then scan the three pertinent and illustrative posts on this website in the last 24-hours ("If Terrorism Hits.....", "Failed US War on Terror....," "ISIS to US....."). NOT to mention a slew of earlier articles whose underlying motif is that these guys are a different animal, that may actually amount to something serious. NOT to mention a guest article where the author made the still typically unrecognized reality that Al Qaeda is a movement, and not a top-down organization that can be dealt with on those terms. Especially in this regional, one never really knows, even when they are sober and presumably have learned something from the bitter experience of the last decade.

      This time around the US is bound to do a better job on its homework, and it has a nut holding on the wheel a bit more securely than the last time around (at least for the moment). However, this game is one we ultimately have no real control over. While we may blow-up a bunch of stuff and get even more of our (and local) people killed, to think we can control events there is insane. Remember that line about people that continue to bash their head against the wall in the face of all experience?

      It strikes me the IS is just daring the US to commit again, drawing from its apparently bottomless well of money and hubris. And they quite possibly are being managed by the same professional army guys who gave us such a good time back in those happy pre-surge days. McGraham et al like to strut-on about how the surge was a success, but I suspect the IS may be in better touch with the reality of things than those bozos.

      US Independence is the only way out of this mess, and we'll never be totally extricated until the Palestinian/Israeli thing is resolved (absolution also being a theoretical option), but that's just not going to happen anytime soon. So the best the administration can do is aim for relatively less harm, but it can push REALLY HARD for alternative energy, as a no-kidding matter of true national security.

  • ISIS to US: We'll drown you in Blood; beheads US Journalist, Holds Tikrit
    • The problem with crying wolf is that there may just be one this time around. As alway, let the buyer beware.

  • Dutch Lawyer who saved Jewish Boy in WWII returns Medal to Israel over Bombing of his Family in Gaza
    • There are countless other stories that could be told, but somehow his story succinctly brings the issue into extraordinary focus.

      Such moments and actions are more than just gestures: they have an outsized ability to make a difference. More will follow.

  • One Nation, under SWAT: The undemocratic Militarization of the Police
    • Alternatives? Human nature is what it has always been, and there is a certain proportion of people with, for lack of better phrase, fascist tendencies and dispositions. People with an authoritarian streak to their personalities, perhaps aggravated by a latent sense of powerlessness and inadequacy, gravitate toward occupations that can compensate for their inadequacies.

      NOT all the people in the military or police forces are cut from this clothe, but it's where a lot of them end-up. It always gives me a pause to see some police higher-up at a press conference, holding forth in a uniform he may have designed (or personally chosen, you can bet), which makes him look like he's a Rommel wannabe.

      RESPONSIBLE people, in and out of these organizations, have always had to work to keep such people in-line. This is an ongoing problem that is hardly news to them.

  • Iraq Intervention? More like Ceaseless Escalation
    • Absolutely. But do it through the UN and let the US contribute things like logistical help; who would object? Bring other partners onboard not to give it the appearance of a sorely missed legitimacy, but the reality of it.

      To do this sort of job right (versus blowing things up) requires a degree of trust and credibility the US has little or none of.

      The way things are now being handled lands somewhere between lame and sanctimonious.

  • Gaza and the Palestine Crisis in History: World War II
    • This series is quite good, and complements a few similar, spontaneous blog postings, that went far to sketch-out the historical context of the current conflict. I hope further readings follow that expand on what I think of as more purely descriptive history. What is needed by most of us is a fuller understanding of how things got to be the way they are, and that may require adding some different colors to your palette.

  • Israel can't Afford to Lose Jews Like Me
    • And you hardly have to reconcile the whole problem is one gulp to stop the rockets, from which everything else could theoretically flow. A nice cease-fire/virtual peace had been holding for many months, despite the blockade and a number of relatively small Israeli offenses.

      But then, Israel got spooked because Hamas appeared to be hooking-up with WB Palestinians to press an effective diplomatic offensive. The kidnapping of those 3 Israeli kids, not even done by Hamas, was the excuse Israel needed to set things back to the way it actually prefers them.

      They just demonstrated what they will do if a entity appears to be emerging that can presume to speak for all the Palestinian people. Having to face a party that could make offers they would be obliged to consider and then be judged on, was more than Israel's leadership could stomach. The fundamental mistake being made here is to think that Israel, as represented by its duly elected government, actually wants any sort of peace that would be just to the Palestinians.

  • Why is Obama bombing Iraq, Really?
    • The Iranian air force isn't that big or good, and close ground support requires a lot of coordination that the US can do far better than the Iranians, if at all in this case.

      What I find intriguing is the idea this may provide the US and Iran with a way to work together in a meaningful way on something complex, operationally and diplomatically. The positive potential, even if only in theory, must be driving at least some Israelis up the wall.

    • The point being, that the initial attitude of Churchill et al was "no-sweat, these are just a bunch of Turks; we'll be in Constantnoble (sic) by lunch." It was a prelude to the glory of WWI in Europe (Huh? Machine Guns?). Reading closer about Gallipoli and you'll see that gentlemanly attitudes and positive thinking abounded, to be cruelly slapped down at every turn. Switching back to Iraq: anytime any military op is expected to be "no-sweat," look out for trouble.

    • It's tempting and easy to say the US is Israel's tool; ipso facto, what we now see.....

      But it really only "tends to be" in matters, human blood not withstanding, when the US has no particular druthers. What is it for congressmen to sell themselves for however many tax dollars Israel is costing YOU, or the tens of thousands of Palestinians/Arabs that have been "mowed" down over the last 50 years? By and large, neither party really matters to the US and it can afford to be manipulated.

      What changes "the calculus," as Obama would phrase it, is if the oil supply is threatened, and whether a conflict might overspill to threaten real US interests (but notice the restraint on Syria).

      So, yeah, in the case of Iraq look more closely, but the dynamics and the agendas at play here are far, far more complex. Israel may influence this policy heavily, but they won't dictate it as is normal.

    • The Gallipoli campaign was a case study in hubris, which is your apparent point. However, the winning edge in battle is notoriously hard to keep sharp, and some say today's peshmerga is hardly the same well-trained and hardened machine as ten years ago. One slip with close air support, of all things, is one too many. On the other hand, to have survived the IS is evidently at the top of its game.

  • Is Zionism/ Jewish Nationalism a Political Cult? The Salaita Firing
    • The Salon article you link fleshes out the details and issues at hand remarkably well. Not to mention the petition.

      But power bows only to power, and I'm afraid that by itself that petition isn't go to do much. What is needed is to put a price on this action, and in this country, under these circumstances. that's done by going legal.

      Even if the action is unsuccessful, the career of the next controversial prof up for a job like this is not going to be treated so cavalierly. To Yale's credit, Prof Cole was not put in the position of resigning before having the rug jerked on him. Many factors go into such hiring decisions, and the politics involved cannot be gotten away from totally. But the foolishness of how UIUC handled matters does stand to be corrected by substantive legal pain.

    • First, this firing should be put in a proper context for a university prof. If he is a tenured prof going into a tenured position, his bono fides are established. The institution of tenure is there to empower him to push things, based on an explicitly endorsed record of having his act together. That tenure is awarded due to writing and other activities is beside the point. A tenured prof is hired because a school thinks he is worth listening to. He is given that protected status because he has earned it and it is understood that his thinking may run counter to the conventional wisdom. The role of universities may be changing, but this is still an implicit part of the job description for a fully engaged and tenured professor, or anyone who aspires to be one.

      Second, none of what what repeated in the linked article is crazy. It is rhetorically confrontational and inflammatory, but none of his comments are indefensible as matters of logic, history or fact. That his tweets can be easily defended, despite their hyperbole, is a point that shouldn't even have to be made.

      Third, I'd recommend he engage a good lawyer, maybe even from the ACLU, for consideration of a tortuous interference action. INAL, but it seems clear from the facts that his perspective and activities were well known and endorsed by the fact of his having received that offer. A clear paper trail should exist if were ex parte visits and other pressures applied. There are a lot of legal technicalities that may still allow for Camera or whomever to get away with this. However, if the next university knows the little man may just fight back, they may be a lot more careful and show some backbone. With big organizations there is always a cost/benefit analysis to be made, so make it one they have to take seriously.

      The real problem here, which may still be remedied, is that he is not fighting back.

  • Israel caused $5 billion in damage to Gaza, 40,000 Homes Destroyed or Damaged
    • Those countless MLK Blvds have always seemed like cheap sops, to distract the downtrodden with a cheap and meaningless gesture. For meaningful change the overall system, with all its entrenched momentum and vested interests, has to be challenged and uprooted.

      Maybe its best to recognize things for what they are, then make whatever personal moves are appropriate. Frustration comes from trying to make things something they're not. One might apply this thought to any frustration they may feel with recent Israeli behavior: there will be less cognitive dissonance, and you can focus better on what needs to be done, once you accept things for what they really are.

  • Hiroshima Taught us that the "National Security State" isn't about Security for us (Noam Chomsky)
    • Your first paragraph refers to the big, ugly, growling, spoiled and hunger Tiger sitting next to us, that nobody wants to look at or recognize for what it is, preferring to remember those days when it was just a cute little rescue kitty from down at the shelter.

      Past the metaphors, Israel has a first rate military in terms of quality, but it is only sustainable with immense amounts of US aid. This little action with Gaza will deplete their munitions, and (as an example) it takes an enormous amount of money to keep their 200-odd aircraft properly maintained with proficient crews.

      Nukes are their trump card, and there's plenty of good evidence they have used this threat (gently, I'm sure) to get US cooperation. But don't take my word for it, look into this on your own and it'll mean more to you. Look at the difference between tactical nukes and multi-stage thermonuclear weapons; look critically at evidence and projections of how many they actually have; look at their ability to deliver them and to where.

  • Israel Still Holding Gaza Civilians Hostage, Doesn't Get Geneva Conventions
    • There's nothing wrong about spreading the word, as it was put. But it is possible to be more strategic about it. This isn't so pertinent to you necessarily, but keep in mind that some people are listened to more than others. Approached with this awareness the "tipping point" for meaningful action drops precipitously.

    • Very, very good and to the point. Especially in how Israel represents the biggest destabilizing factor and threat to the Middle East, and BEYOND.

      Anytime a country that small and inconsequential on its merits can effective dictate the policy of the Worlds hegemony, there exists an incredibly dangerous situation.

  • Top 5 Ways the US is Israel's Accomplice in War Crimes in Gaza
  • Are Israelis and Zionists really talking about a Final Solution of the Palestinian Problem?
    • You know...this all would make more sense from a very stark, realpolitik perspective, than many folks here may be willing to admit.

      After a couple millennium of being cast to the winds, victimized and ostracized by communities around the world, maybe we should recognize that as a group Israelis may have a well-developed sense of who and what represent threats, and the ramifications of not accepting that understanding. They may have realistically concluded that neighbors will never, ever, accept them, regardless of ephemeral 3rd party guarantees and however a 2-state solution may be defined. Various Israeli leaders have said as much, that if they were Palestinians they'd have taken up guns long ago. Under such circumstances the best Israel can hope for is the equivalent of buffer zones like the Sinai and perpetually effete governments like those of Egypt. Similarly, an ugly civil war in Syria is good news as long as it lasts. Really, to be realistic in an unforgiving world (made all the more unforgiving by their actions) how can Israel prudently proceed otherwise? Certainly these little home-made rockets present no real threat, but the underlying hostility and threat from their builders stands only to grow. The only REAL solution will be one of physically unassailability: hence the Iron Wall; preferable with astute politics and actions that keep their neighbors forever (sic) divided and weakened. Maybe Israel has understood from the beginning that there will never be any real security from its neighbors, given the highly dubious nature of their claim to the land. There may be temporary support from the US or others, but that could pass in a heartbeat and at some point it will.

      The chore then is to keep up the facade of looking for peace, and to string events along, while they patiently continue the process of consolidating their position. Inevitably, this must mean cleansing and incorporating Gaza and the WP. Naturally, fleece the Goyen for everything you can in the meantime to finance the operation, which necessarily entails keeping up as good a PR front as possible. The situation here may not be at all that complex or hard to understand once one gets past their idealism and naiveté.

  • Israel seeks to force 400,000 People from Homes in North Gaza
    • Saw Netanyahu et al on AJ last night announcing these plans, and it rather answers your prior question of whether Israel has gone "too far." Their tone was that of someone announcing a resolve to do something absolutely nasty. The answer is that they apparently intend to go quite a bit further, and they really just do not care what you, I, or the rest of the world think. They kept coming back to that close-minded, and increasingly hollow and desperate line, that "we will not compromise our security."

      They've gotten into a spin they appear to be incapable of recovering from.

  • Unlike Iraq, Iran, Libya, N. Korea, Israel has Impunity from Defying UNSC (Gaza Ceasefire)
    • This gets to how LITTLE Obama has to do: namely let Israel be accountable for its actions. It'd be far less than any active measures. What if Samantha and her potential deputees somehow, accidently, just missed a key vote? Because even this incredibly low bar to US independent action would be next to impossible (and yet, the most realistic and positive scenario I've heard.

  • Israel's Gaza Campaign Endangers US Security: Why Obama & Kerry are Furious
    • You know, the US has sacrificed its own security interests to those of Israel for a long time. The question becomes when will the cost become so high that it will outweigh the combination of carrots and sticks the congress has brought to heel with. And that could be quite a bit. As other commenters have suggested, if American priorities change, in-line with more genuinely compelling interests, Israel's status would shift, but there's a lot of history for their continued domination of US policy.

      Back in the Yom Kippur War, the US stripped a full wing of F4's from Europe and allowed them to be flown directly into combat after a quick repaint. Those were front line aircraft and the backbone of our European defenses. OK, Israel needed them badly, but were they the 51rst state?

      Then there was Desert Storm, where Schwarzkopf's planning was hamstrung by the need to hunt scuds far beyond the point of diminishing returns, due to Israel's power to make their needs (in this case, psychological) come first. A number of more recent US generals have voiced how the US relationship with Israel has endangered troops operating in the area, as well as hugely complicated their overall missions, due to the politics of guilt by association (if not the reality of it).

      No, how Israel has managed to compromise true US national security interests is a problem that goes far deeper, and its been with us for some time.

    • A wise and benevolent, term-limited dictator is what this vision would take, and the case could be made that's what the US Presidency is turning into, but we aren't there yet. Being practical, this is just not a reasonable scenario.

      It'll take Israel doing something that looses them all the support they've bought and paid for, and that's beyond my ability to imagine. But as you've pointed out before, forever is a long time, and at some point fate will catch up with them

    • Cynicism aside, judging by past Israeli behavior, supply chain issues could lead to a cease-fire on their part, as stocks will need to be replenished. But prompt US replenishment is an absolute given. You will note that ground-operations are proceeding, assuring a nominal amount of Hamas rockets in response. Once fully re-suppled, Israel can resume full-scale ops, blaming it on those dinner-party-interrupting Hamas rockets ("there, see, what have we been telling you?...its all THEIR fault").

      But speaking practically, this operation has been planned for a long time, and Israel started it now with certain set objectives. When those objectives are met, which may include shaking down some amount of money/resources, or other concessions from the US, they will allow a cease-fire of some description. Their behavior in these regards has been very consistent,

    • Frankly, I think you're underestimating the negative ramifications on US interests in the region. With a broader and deeper analysis, I suspect it'd look even uglier than you suggest.

      A good degree of Erdoğan's posturing is theatre, but even amongst educated, secular folk, there is a growing and perhaps even boiling contempt for Israeli actions. There were student demonstrations in support of Palestine last week, from the people most opposed to him. Recep is a populist, and Turkey's alliance history with Israel runs deep, but the I'm wondering where Israel really may be screwing their own pooch this time around. They are unleashing an awful, awful lot of bad karma here.

      But we always come back to the question of what Obama/Kerry can do about the situation, given how Israel effectively owns the US Congress? (And their direct influence on the executive branch, to be fair). Is it really just a matter of Obama/Kerry growing a backbone? I don't mean that rhetorically: I'm just trying to imagine how the US might possibly, at some point, manage to get itself out of this corner, given the above.

  • Gaza: Why a 'Cease-Fire' is Not enough
    • Just on the face of it this all sounds transparently like disinformation, to de-legimize Hamas by association.

      The engineering skills to build a tunnel are common and construction in the developing world is often done intuitively. I cannot imagine anyone going to North Korea for anything state-of-the-art. Any ladder of sophistication they've climbed could have been acquired at any good engineering library.

    • Most importantly, Mearsheimer & Walt did the most thorough and careful description of Israeli influence (lobby influence? the distinctions become tedious) on US politics, best distilled in this article, although they later did a thick book on the subject. link to lrb.co.uk

    • The current "cease-fire," such as it is, is on the face of it just another in a long series of cynical tactics. As I understand it, Israel will continue operations on the ground, only suspending shelling of civilians for however many hours to allow them to safely flee (to where is unclear). I suspect they even have a handy loophole in there that allows for shelling to support IDF operations that are being resisted.

      So, Hamas might well agree to that, because it at least gives civilians the promise of a break. Hamas also has to play the game of taking a first step toward finding reasonable conditions for disengagement. But, they are backed into doing so.

      At whatever point Israel feels they have turned back the international tide against their actions, or events like MH17 distract the world sufficiently, they can go back to plan A, surely as they began it all due to those "original Hamas provocations".

      At some point there will be another cease-fire, along the lines of the one that was holding in the months leading up to current events. But I see no evidence or thinking to suggest what we are seeing is anything other than a repeat of the last lawn mowing. Hence, we'd do better to look at the metrics for what Israel found acceptable then: in terms of time and money expended, and casualties (last time it was about 14:1400; that the ratio is more equitable this time around may not have so much of a bearing), we have about reached that point.

  • Did Israel go too Far? The Massacre at the UN School/ Refugee Center
    • You're right, as far as you go. The world, however, is turning, literally and figuratively. The context in which Israel (and others) may get away with things is always changing, and Israel has to change with the world to stay alive. Otherwise, its just a matter of time before their disconnection with it becomes too extreme and they become history. Forever, or indefinitely, is too long a clock to try to run out.

    • Its easy to share your exasperation, but this is the messiness of democracy, when disengaged, uninformed, and sometimes outright stupid citizens are to some degree allowed to influence policy. Ultimately the only hope is education and a proliferation of engaging information that will somehow shine through the smoke once issues become important.

      Especially when issues are smaller and under-the-radar of special interests, things can work more cleanly. Whatever the concern, the problem is rarely that knowledgeable people aren't getting to participate in the policy process. The government is full of conscientious people who know their business and go outside their office, often to academia, when they need more perspective. The problem is that top policy-makers are swayed by intemperate political factors rather than rationality. And that would've included you and me until whatever point we had both the time and inclination to think and observe events a bit more critically ourselves.

      Your argument is not invalid, but you have to consider where it leads us: to a corporate bottom-line state with no soul or genuine human sensibility, where dissent and creative organic progress cannot emerge. This would be a state where accountants, who know the price of everything and the value of nothing, run things. In joyful collaboration, of course, with the NSA, since a technocratic perspective and approach can grasp neither the potential nor the inevitability of human weakness, much less the magnitude of its consequences.

    • What we are seeing with Israel isn't exactly hubris (although there is that as well), but where their behavior is leading them is every bit as inevitable.

      You (they, we) can keep on with anything indefinitely if we are in harmony with the world around us. On the other hand, if we insist on conflict and disregard the rest of our world, we're operating on borrowed time. Israel inflicting their victim's mentality and self-righteousness on the rest of the world is a case in point, which seems to be leading them to the very self-fulfilling prophecy they most dread.

      Whether it's the West Bank exploding behind their back or Hamas (or successor organization) coming up with a $50 improvement to their homemade rockets that makes a real difference, Israel's fate at some point will be sealed.

      Even now, what we're seeing may actually be acts of desperation. Its a matter of the underlying weakness of their position. Israel isn't exactly weak in any sort of military sense, but their position stands only to deteriorate, one way or the other, slowly, one intifada at a time...

  • If Israel Is In Mortal Danger, Why Did Bloomberg Fly There? (The Young Turks)
    • Since Israel wants it all and respects no other claims this is impossible. Period. They MAY leave some small, disjointed parts of it, for which they have no better use, as a sort of fig-leaf to cover the underlying reality: The came, they saw, they conquered, they kept.

  • U.N.: One Child Killed Every Hour in Gaza
    • The tide of power in the PR wars does seem to be shifting, partially due to social media and partially due to people like Erakat, who are being empowered by Israel's behavior. More will inevitably come on-line as the underlying invalidity of Israel's behavior and attitude becomes totally inescapable.

      Along these same lines, on AJ a couple nights ago I caught another Palestinian American, Diane Buttu, who was absolutely articulate and compelling in native American English. She was up against an Israeli shill who was equally capable, but it was a fair argument in terms of opposing lawyers, and the weight of the realities was decidedly to her advantage.

      This sort of equity has been missing in the past, and it presents more of a threat to Zionism than those silly rockets.

    • For all you potential palestinian commentators out there, let's make that a hint: in all your statements refer to "the US and Israel" in one breath, regardless of whatever else you say. This is a powerful meme, and if applied consistently enough it will eventually take root, and may well have an impact. This is how the game you're in has to be played, and played this way its a game you can win.

    • The Syrian civil war is, of course, quantitatively a far larger tragedy overshadowed due to a lack of press coverage.

      The issues you raise are also bulleted talking-points now being used determinedly by Israel as it attempts to distract people from what it is doing in Gaza.

      Just an observation. I wouldn't want the situation in Syria, especially, to be taken advantage of, if you know what I mean.

  • Gaza War Devastates Israeli Tourism Revenue, Points to Fragile Apartheid Future
    • Taking Hamas fully out would present Netanyahu with a bit of a dilemma: He NEEDS them for the unifying threat they represent. Part of what brought about the current situation was the threat of Hamas unifying with the other Pal actors in a peaceful and effective manner.

  • Is Rula Jebreal right about US Media Bias against Palestinians?
    • Pick-up the Philo interview at minute 17-18:00, where he talks about how pressure is brought to bear on individual people. If a guy like a Tom Brokaw was incensed enough to call Israel out publicly, the appropriate quality and quantity of pressure would be brought to bear to put him back in his place. It is hard to imagine ANY one reporter, producer, or anchor, who'd stand-up to pressure that can be modulated as high as it needs to go, both directly AND indirectly. Said reporter would find himself very, very cold and alone. This is very evil stuff.

    • In and amongst the drama, the propaganda driving matters gets lost. This is the stuff that precludes meaningful progress toward resolving the underlying conflict.

      With all due respect to Rula for even broaching the subject so directly, she and others become so (understandably) indignant that there message gets lost. NOT so the relentlessly coordinated PR offensive of Israel. In watching the 3 panel split screen between Host, Lake, and Rula, notice how sagely the Host nods his head as the Israeli apologist makes the case for Israel's forbearance (and remember, he is NOT even an official spokesperson).

      But the clip from Greg Phil is terrific if you have the patience to bear with his initially rambling delivery, which starts hitting home at about 9:00. In fact, it may be more effective to have him slowly lure in his listeners with his does. From then on his delivery is positively enlightening, especially at minutes 16 and 18 when he is able to describe precisely how pressure is applied in the case of BBC to distort their coverage, and his conclusion around 21:00.

  • From Kerry to Selena Gomez & Rihanna, Israel's Claims of Precision, Compassion are Dissed
    • Not to be too sarcastic, but the various denials of the Palestinians include such luxuries as food and potable water. And the sufferings of the Israeli's are real, with any number of people who may have turned an ankle scurrying for a shelter (a direct hit, like a meteorite strike, will kill you) or loosing sleep.

      Bibi was on the shows talking about "what would you do," which is the real question. And the issue is one of proportionality, and how do you honestly address the underlying condition.

  • Falluja and Gaza: Why Counter-Terrorism fails when the Problem is Political
    • There is also the fact of how much ego our putative leadership has tied up in their own exceptionalism. The think they are the masters of their particular domain and are constantly stroked by supplicants to think that way. It's only natural, as well, that being ambitious people, they are constantly eyeing their immediate organizational competition and alliances within their particular milieu. This is how life works, and once on the international stage, ALL these people by nature are going to look at events almost exclusively in terms of personality match-ups. And it only follows that if you can knock off a fraction of those in that notorious deck of Iraqi playing cards, the problem will be largely solved, as the post alluded.

      The thing also is that "leaders" in relatively developed organizations are really managers, whose skill is navigating their system. Real leadership is a creative out-in-front deal, and the distinction is enormously critical. When the israelis and the US knock off managers they create the chaos and clear the way when genuinely powerful and creative leaders to rise-up from obscurity, who will be far, far from manageable.

    • Getting back to the topic, I think this is the real bottom line, whatever fine-points we may want to put on it. It's a pretty fundamental attitude you can hear the Israelis in power say in as many words, that if "you (meaning the Palestinians, or you, Don NC), aren't for them, you're against them."

      Now, connect that dot with their influence (arguably control) over the US congress and government more generally, not to mention unfettered access to the NSA databases: link to techdirt.com

      Then, throw in a arsenal of at least 200 thermonuclear weapons (not just air base or armored column busters, but city vaporizers), plus the missiles to deliver them far beyond their own neighborhood. At this point, State Department vapidness in the face of egregious Israel behavior perhaps, at many different levels, becomes more understandable.

      Have a nice day.

    • Don't have the energy to speak to this totally, but there are a lot of smart, well-informed people in government, giving well-thought through advice on foreign policy and any number of other things. When they get in a corner they call on specialist in academia to round out their thinking, Prof Cole being a case in point post 911. The problem is the politics you have to endure in a democracy and the inherent nature of organizations when it comes to policy decisions.

      On relatively mundane things it is possible, notwithstanding the idiosyncrasies of one agency and its middle managers, for a good position to be developed and by and large implemented. However, once it becomes more important, it gets kicked upstairs to people without the background to use the specialists correctly as they (necessarily) have to adapt advice for the inevitable politics and how it fits into the larger policy picture. When it becomes really important, how much time do you think a guy like Obama really has to get acquainted with the pros and cons of an issue and the alternatives being presented to him?

      When you think about it, it's a pretty pessimistic picture. And that assumes you've got a President who has the wisdom to know how to use people properly, can recognize the biases of their perspectives (and use them to his advantage), and has the strength to tell his underlings what is acceptable in terms of what they bring him. Think of the how (this is anecdotal, I think) Obama got boxed in by the generals when it came to his alternatives in Afghanistan.

      Throw in a bunch of neocons that have never really been discredited (to the extent they still ARE influencing policy), the politics needs of a gerrymandered congress, the ramifications of the Citizens United case, and one is led to start looking for a personal alternative off the grid, or perhaps someplace like Ecuador.

  • Gaza: 4 Dead Boys on the Beach & Israel's Precision War
    • The removal of the on-the-scene NBC reporter from Gaza may be the story to watch more carefully here. The killing of the children was tragic, but only made a story by the happenstance of it being caught on film. Mohyeldin may have been replaced by Engles to put a Western face on the reporting, to make the bitter pill of Israel's behavior easier for the various publics to swallow.

      Greenwald's report raises the spectra of the long hand of Israel's power, especially into the US media coverage, but I don't see any direct evidence at this point. There is the apparent pattern of Mohyeldin's reporting, which failed to follow the normal standards of current stenographic journalism, and he may have been pulled for that crime.

    • Here you're getting at what may be the greater danger to the US in the region. Maybe we should be afraid of someone other than the Iranians, you know. Just saying.....

    • It reminds me an old line from Vietnam. When the indignant observer asks the helicopter gunner, HOW, oh how can you shoot women and children? The guy responds honestly that the trick is to adjust one's aim and not lead the target quite as far as usual. Suspect that was the mindset of the guys pulling the trigger here: an afternoon at the shooting-gallery. Or mowing the lawn, in their own words.

  • Israel, Gaza and the Fatal Spirit of Versailles
    • As far as the purported cease-fire goes, one has to wonder how genuine it was. A "cease-fire" the Palestinians could hardly respond to at any level appeared more like a ploy to give Israel the thin diplomatic cover to do what they intended to do all along.

    • Of course you're right. But it's the mindset of Israel that needs to be gotten past. It's illustrated by the manner in which one of your own quite sincere commenters a few months ago (to paraphrase it) put the onus on the Palestinians: "the situation will resolve when the Palestinians finally come to understand we're here to stay here and aren't going away." Were that was all there was to it....

      Start out with that attitude, but couple it with a victim's insecurities and the pathological need to get EVERYTHING they want or imagine they might want. Add-in an opportunistic short-sightedness and the uncritical empowerment of a powerful third party. Then, consider a leadership with an abject disregard for the other side, who sees them not even as animals, but a lawn that needs mowing, who carry with them a purely zero-sum view toward negotiations.

      The situation is only going to change when the underlying FORCE imbalance shifts, which at this point is overwhelmingly asymmetric. As another commenter notes, such states of affairs simply do not last. Forever is too long a time for Israel to wait. Being tough and strong is good, but the smart money builds up the imbalance, then works for a genuinely gracious, considerate and lasting peace. The analogies to be drawn with Germany are appropriate, and Israel needs to think about them from ALL sides. (Here I'm think of your thought experiment with Bibi in the dock.)

  • The Map: A Palestinian Nation Thwarted & Speaking Truth to Power
    • It doesn't detract from the monstrosity we are seeing, but in serving US interests, the fate of neither Israel nor the Palestinians really amounts to very much. Even the billions US taxpayers spend to underwrite Israel's bad behavior isn't all that much for such a rich country, as much of it is used to stimulate our own economy though the transfer of arms. Hence, congressmen don't feel that bad about being manipulated by AIPAC et al. If that was all there was to it, it'd be a dirty, nasty shame, but not a whole lot more.

      The situation, however, has gotten way out of hand. Since 1991, the missions of American servicemen in the region have been unnecessarily and dangerously complicated by this conflict. When the situation gets so bad that the US ends up acting against its own best interests Israel really has gone too far. (the 2003 invasion of Iraq wasn't due to Israel, but there's a compelling case that it would not have happened without Israeli and domestic Israel-first influence).

    • Succinctly putting things into context is the single most enlightening contribution that can be made to understanding any complex issue. Especially when there is so much (intentional) smoke being deployed to confuse people as to the realities. You've done a few other posts like this and they're your most influential.

  • Israel's Groundhog Day: Reverse Snowballs and the Horror of Lawn-Mowing
    • Spot on. There seems to be a psychopathology involved here too deep to quickly explain. Partially, perhaps, how a victim is drawn to assume the role of their past tormentor (parallels between the Warsaw ghetto and Gaza?). Thinking they are, indeed, exceptional in their relationships (above and beyond their clout with the US.....).

      But your point about the un-sustainability of their mindset is most important.

    • Your words seem to put things too strongly, but I'm afraid they ring true.

  • Stop Saying 'If X fired Rockets at U.S.': It's Racist, & assumes we're Colonial
    • We could go through all the chicken & egg arguments about who started what, but there are a few things that are certain: one is that Israeli policy has, at least since 1967, explicitly been one of the DIS-proportionate use of force. Certainly, there has been a tit for tat, but if anyone has been restrained (albeit by incapacity), its been the Pals.

      As for what we now see. This whole episode's timing can be directly traced to right-wing Israeli political needs and the crude, short-sighted belligerence of its leadership. Its worth noting the low, tactical cunning, in waiting for Ramadan before kicking things off, a fact rarely mentioned by the MSM. The kidnapping of those teenagers was only a convenient pretext for the current "lawn mowing." You'll also notice how Israeli attacks are focused at the time of the first call to prayer (VERY early, when people wake up for breakfast before their day-long fast), and again at Iftar (around 2030 local) when they break their fast. It's simply sound tactics to focus on the weaknesses that can be exploited in an enemies religion, but there is NOTHING about this that has to do with Israeli self-defense. Unless, of course, you credit Israel with enough self-awareness to understand how desperate their actions really are. The hasbara of World Class Liars and the manipulation of a rich, enabling power, can string things along for a long time, but it's an approach that cannot hope to endure.

      At this point, Israel is clinging to a policy and mind-set that is fundamentally corrupt and counterproductive. On their present course they are doomed, ironically enough, to the very failure Israel was created to avoid.

    • I'm not unsympathetic to everything you say, but I'd try to avoid exaggerating the disparity and disproportionality. Most of those Israel bombs and missiles will only have 100-500 pounds of explosives; artillery shells and rockets I dunno. Similarly, those homemade rockets ARE getting better, and the larger ones can go over a hundred miles and carry enough explosives for a direct hit to punch a hole through the wall of a house. I saw a picture where one had knocked over a man's bookcase and caused a horrible mess. Another landed near a moving a car, causing the driver to panic and run into a lamp-post. As an instrument of terror they have, without question, positively RUINED many, many, Israeli dinner parties.

      In fairness, these things may well become more accurate and dangerous. So, we should sympathize with Israeli concerns. But Israel's underlying problem is its racism, and unless they can get past that things really can only get worse.

      EXHIBIT A: Mowing the lawn. How mainstream Israel refers to the periodic process we now see. First point is that they do not even credit the Palestinians as being animals. The second is that the metaphor is deceptive, in that lawns are considerately cultivated and managed. What they really mean is to go after an overgrown lot periodically with a weed-wacker.

    • So could we please stop doing politics by propaganda, false analogies, and appeal to the basest instincts of race-baiting? Could we please just analyze what is going on in Palestine?

      Why not? Because this sort of thing is the best Israel can do in attempting to rationalize its actions. In terms of legitimate arguments, Israel has nothing.

  • ABC News' Diane Sawyer Mistakes Stricken Palestinians for Israelis
    • In Dianne's crowd, personally and professionally, I suspect she'd find it difficult to say very much critical of Israel. A little tepid aint-it-a-shame hand-wringing perhaps; or maybe aping those State Dept officials ("our hearts go out to the woman and children....Israel's right to defend itself, etc).

      I wouldn't be surprised if she didn't even know what tape was playing as she read her script.

    • The point is about propaganda, in this case a by-the-way framing "mistake", made either by someone with an overt agenda or someone who cannot help but take care of their friends at some level.

      YOUR point would be one you should re-consider in terms of what is proportional, but also in terms of context. Israel's real complaint, and the reason for the consistently disproportionate use of force (an explicit policy of the Israeli government over many decades), is that the Palestinians resist. It's like a rapist beating the crap out of a practically defenseless woman because she resists: these rapists are only defending themselves, after all, as they proceed with their colonization.

      This may be a provocative analogy, but if it causes you just think about the realities rather than just having a knee-jerk reaction, it'll be worth your while. The sliminess with which Israel has handled themselves, in practice and propaganda, is such that anyone with any powers of discernment and without a vested interest (this may be a high bar...) who has looked in any depth at the history of this conflict cannot come away without feeling the need to take a shower.

    • Totally deceptive. I wonder if this was Dianne's mistake, as she's just the (responsible) talking head, or some Producer with an agenda. It was only a snippet, but it established the context and anything that follows would been negligible in impact. Whatever might have followed in the report, or in a retraction/clarification of some sort (don't hold your breath), would have been permanently tainted by the initial bias (lie) this managed to establish.

  • The Second Iran-Iraq War and the American Switch
    • Great context for the practicalities and unpredictabilities that surround current events. But despite a genuine mutual threat, can the power's that be in the US come to regard Iran as anything other than an expedient? Unless the underlying values of the US change, it seems the Iranians will inevitably be stiffed.

      The Iranians certainly have a realistic understanding of US politics, and the confidence that may come out of this sort of relationship won't hurt. But I'm not sure further development, and perhaps an outright consolidation of Iranian influence over Iraq, is a pill those with influence over US policy are going to be happy to swallow.

  • Prelude to Ethnic Cleansing? Israel Plans 3200 more Squatter homes on Palestinian Land
    • Interesting negotiating ploy in operation here: either be polite and we;ll take your land piecemeal, or don't cooperate and we'll just take it outright.

      I wonder how often there has ever be any true negotiations on anything of any significance when BOTH parties did not hold something for which the others were willing to make concessions. In other words, unless there is some sort of rough equity there simply isn't a basis for re-balancing the equation.

      Instead, what we seeing here is world-class manipulation. The genuinely rational course of action for the Pals has, at least to many who are there, always been pretty obvious.

  • Press Freedom is the Issue, not Glenn Greenwald's Personality
    • Hope you don't get too distracted by your day job to put together more posts like the two I've seen here recently. There is a general condition of which this issue (Greenwald/Snowden) is just one symptom, and it needs to be responded to. Political tension along these lines has always been a part of the natural order. At this point, however, it looms as something far, far more dangerous, and insidiously so. Whenever someone can do more, they must, and you may be able to do more than just nudge things on the margins.

      One problem here is that Kinsey's, Gregory etal, have the ear of the nation. Whatever you post here or speak about on Democracy Now isn't going to go that far, at least in terms that matter. Given the degree of political polarization that has set in, you are preaching to the choir, so it may be useful to think more strategically, and infectiously.

      One small thing you might do is avoid citing Noam Chomsky. He's great as an intellectual and observer, but he's fundamentally a polemicist, and sometimes its better to drop the footnotes when all they'll do is leave you open to the distraction of ad hominem disparagement. There's too much at stake for that. Chomsky's better thinking stands to be incorporated organically into your own, one way or the other.

      I've read a couple of your thrillers, and they're great airport popcorn. Art is incredibly powerful, and has a potential in the right hands to touch everyone, everywhere. It's the point of greatest leverage in influencing operating assumptions and values. Maybe there's an angle there worth mulling over.

  • 'Journalist' Michael Kinsley says Gov't should make Publishing Decisions
    • I'm not sure he's a neo-con, as such. He is a cheerleader for the conventional wisdom, and eloquently rephrasing the lines he's heard, which keep getting him invited back to toney dinner parties with the powers that be. It's how you get into "good" schools, good parties, etc. Not unlike Tom Friedman, he has gotten ahead by getting along.

    • A must read, re-read, and pass on post. Thanks for putting it together. MIGHTILY important!

  • Mass Protests, Strikes in Turkey over Erdogan's Neoliberal Response to Miner Deaths
    • The thing about Turkey, is that viewed through the lens of comparative politics it can stand-in as a caricature for other, more advanced (?), countries. I wouldn't call it's political leadership more "primitive" although you could also make that case, but in practical administration of things like this, simply less polished and more prone to show their mien.

      There is a whole class of people, whose occupations cut across society, only some of whom are politicians. But when they get together, speaking in candor with one another, I doubt their underlying attitudes vary much from that of Tayyip Bey. Throw in that joker who owns the Los Angeles basketball franchise and the self-righteous rancher who recently made news, and you get a rather clear, albeit disturbing picture.

  • Condoleezza Rice, Charged with War Crimes at Rutgers, withdraws as Commencement Speaker
    • I'll confess to condescension along with a dose of sarcasm in that post. But my experience is that the exceptionally ambitious are often driven by something deeper, and very often unhealthy.

      Alberto was, if memory serves, the son of a migrant with nothing. Rice, it seems, was from a strong, established family. But when people don't have what it takes to back away from something as WRONG as what was going on, their characters must have been fundamentally compromised in some manner. IMHO

    • On the off-change you check back, I'd invite you to lay down a simple, to-the-point, defense of Rice's actions and any contribution she has made to the national/world's well-being.

      It is easy to succumb to exasperation and hence you get a bit of hyperbole on this website about those who sold the Iraqi misadventure. But if you have any refutation about the essence of her criminality and culpability, or ANY sort of credible counterpoint, I'm open to be educated. How open-minded are you?

    • Hey, let's be fair to the real example she sets: for being a world-class sycophant. This is the express route to career advancement, especially if one wants to be in the political game, where your willingness to enthusiastically peddle the values and agendas of your betters is the name of the game. To the extent corporations need alignment with common values there is a similarity, but it tends to be more a matter of getting along with the team to further evolving goals in the face of competition. Splitting hairs, I suppose. However, on that basis of ambition, maybe her example and what she has to say would be valued by some.

      I would give her a little slack. Like Alberto Gonzales, she was chosen due to her drive to fit-in and belong, and to transcend her background. Neither of these people have any inkling of how they have been used to serve the purposes of others; the first requirement for an effective salesman is the ability to con themselves and the power of delusion runs deep.

      These two high-tone lackeys I find kinda pitiful, even as they continue to rationalize their actions: to think they helped "make" policy and that they were every anything other than dupes. In his own way, The Bush Boy goes in the same bag, although his gift was knowing how to co-opt others: a sales manager and conman in-chief, as it were. Values completely aside, comparing his post-presidency with that of others, he really is nothing if not pathetic.

      Your should save your real scorn for Cheney (as you do), and the small and nameable group of manipulators who know their dark agenda is best managed by keeping to the shadows.

  • Did the Supreme Court just Kill Dirty Coal Plants & Save the World?
    • Thanks for taking the time for this post, which I think I got. But I'm an Average Joe, and it made me concentrate way too much, even as you were burning up too many of your own keystrokes, time and energy.

      If it is possible, being able to boil your perspective down to a few pithy bullet-points could go a long ways toward making it more genuinely meaningful. That is, in the sense you'll connect with a great deal more people, any one of whom could have the direct/indirect clout to make a real difference on a given issue, in ways we cannot even imagine.

      The critical point of leverage is the ability of the Informed Guy to effectively educate others, whereby their understanding is multiplied exponentially. Naturally, I'm making a copy of this and sticking it to my own forehead....

  • New FCC Rules Will Put "Stake in Internet's Heart"
    • This thread may be dated and sliding down, but here's a great new post from Techdirt, that gives a little more insight to motivations and realities of the net neutrality issue:

      link to techdirt.com

      It illustrates how businesses, when their over-riding value is to maximize shareholder wealth, will cling ruthlessly to inefficiency or even create it outright.

      In the case of airlines, they figure that they can make more money pressuring people to upgrade past a degrading boarding experience than by making simple modifications to improve the lot of everyone. Same with broadband access: cable companies see making more money by extorting those with the resources to upgrade. The key to all such tactics is to make sure standard services are sub-standard.

      Now that I think of it, the big pharmaceuticals are going down a similar path. To maximize shareholder wealth they need to focus on high-margin drugs for rich people and countries, such as those for the rarer forms of cancer. Meanwhile, R&D for things like antibiotics and vaccinations are cut or eliminated altogether. From a purely financial perspective, this is only rational. But while there are a limited number of generally aged people who may die from a rare cancer, obsolescent antibiotics and a lack of vaccines stand to kill millions, even in the First World.

    • With all due respect, on a number of levels I hope you rethink this. As an individual you can just quit, blow up your TV and retire to eat a lot of peaches. But the world of your children and grandchildren will not quit just because you gave up. Sure, be realistic and understand your personal limitations. But, at least for the moment, any one person stands to be able to do a great, great deal, due to how the internet has, as they say in Business Schools, lowered the barriers to entry (in this case, to the marketplace of ideas).

      The real danger here is how a price wall is being (consciously?) prepared to once again go up, marginalizing dissenting perspectives and voices. Due to how the internet is now the critical point of dissemination for alternative news as well as ideas, this issue is arguably far more important than any of the other concerns you'll be reading about here.

    • This issue gets less attention than it should...by a long shot...

      There is only so much bandwidth, so if the FCC provides preferencial access to the big guys, that automatically denies access to the little guys. Practically speaking, websites like this one, or the next scrappy little start-up that isn't towing the conventional marketing wisdom, will be far harder to discover or access.

      The whole leveling power of the internet will be—and this is no overstatement—eliminated. It won't happen overnight, but as soon as those bills come due. Fundamentally, websites will have to pay big company prices to play.

      To provide equal access to you, the consumer, commercial entrepreneurs will have to pay the same rates as companies like Walmart's. Similarly, in the marketplace of ideas, websites like this one will be marginalized, and in short order stand to be deflected into oblivion altogether.

      Could it be that's the point?

  • FCC Plots Murder of Blogs on Behalf of Billionaire Media Lords
    • Isn't it transparent on the face of that article that there is NO difference between GIVING one set of companies preferential bandwidth and LIMITING bandwidth to everyone else?

      Regardless of how they spin it, and the doublespeak here is nauseating, at this point the issue has become a zero-sum game the public is about to lose. Of course, this assumes you sense the good of the people may not be defined by whats good for the profitability of the very largest corporations..

  • Israel, US Complain about not being able to Divide and Rule the Palestinians
    • The paradox of Israeli/Palestinian negotiations is that they cannot continue unless they end. That is, real and meaningful negotiations cannot begin until the pretense of negotiations end. To this point that is all there has ever been (aside from the pure horse trading of Camp David I).

      A fresh start would in any case frustrate Israel's demonstrated agenda and the programs it has in-place with the current "process." So, the screams we now hear from Tel Aviv are to be expected given how they represent the potential of a real step forward. There is an easy key to understanding here: watch what Israel does.

  • NYPD closes Unit that Spied on Muslims
    • That was exactly my thought as I was clicking the comments link. In-line with another post about how the NSA denies there're be any abuse of its primitive bulk face-recognition practices, in the face of institution imperatives for power and growth, these big bureaucracies simply cannot let go of bad ideas.

      Instead, their inclination will be to see it as more of a public relations problem, to be "solved" by better concealing their actions, or perhaps declaring them "Top Secret," and will declare divulging existence of the new program to be a threat to national security. Thinking practically, maybe the FBI will pick it up...

  • The FBI's Facial Recognition Database Combines Lo-Res Photos With Zero Civil Liberties Considerations
    • And that would be painting a big red flag on yourself. Not a good idea if you need to use the airlines or otherwise be unencumbered by existence at the top of a potential terrorist watch-list. (Since your status would not be used for prosecutorial purposes, only investigative leads, it would be OK, along the lines rationalized in the article).

    • The behavior of these people takes the sting out of any definition of cynicism. Another perhaps more likely (e.g., demonstrated) response from their demonstrated menu would've been to make this matter Top Secret retroactively.

  • Russian Sanctions-Busting?: Putin's bruited 500k b/d oil deal with Iran draws US Threats
    • Realities aside, think about how such a deal will feed into the narrative that Iranian negotiations were nothing but a bad faith ploy by Iran, in its plan for world domination, and a slap in the face of US benevolence and forbearance.

  • Is Rand Paul right that Cheney invaded Iraq for Halliburton Profits?
    • There are also geographic choke-points for resources. Whatever it has given up, the UK has hung onto a number of the world's most strategic points/islands, of which the Falklands are only one.

  • Top Ten Ways in which it was Actually the Israeli Gov't that Derailed the Peace Talks
    • I suspect that if you were able to look into it more closely, you might well discover that when Kerry was putting together "his" team, Israel/AIPAC one way or the other told him to choose Indyk, a guy who is essentially a unpaid (e.g. legal) Israeli agent.

      Remember the case of how The Lobby exercised its veto prerogatives with Chas Freedman's nomination for the NIC?

      link to en.wikipedia.org

      Keep in mind, that position would have been hardly as important a place to have a man as it would be to own the lead diplomate responsible for developing and driving Kerry's work.

  • State Department Official Freaks Out That Declassifying CIA Torture Report Might Make The World Angry
    • I'm wondering if there is an inherent weakness with groups of any sort when it comes to recognizing their mistakes, learning, and doing what is appropriate to move on. Exhibit A being when the nominal leader says its better, in this case, to put it all "behind us." Maintenance of legitimacy (e.g., the collective ego), is perhaps even more important than growth and more power, which remain imperatives as well. But nowhere in the group psyche is there any natural tendency or tolerance for significant correction, growth and transcendence, that individuals are at least capable of achieving.

      It's like once a group enter a collective they develop and become controlled by an ego which is self-reinforcing. It becomes stronger with size and is too distributed for there to be significant self-control, absent the entrance of an external (uncompromised) dictatorial force to direct change.

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