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Total number of comments: 738 (since 2013-11-28 14:42:39)

Travis Bickle

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  • How GOP threats against Iran have Guaranteed end of European Sanctions
    • The more you think about it, the more far-reaching the ramifications of establishing a reasonable relationship with Iran would be. Especially over time, as unnaturally stunted relationships with Iran's neighbors and the West become more balanced.

      It would, as many people have observed, drive a change in our relationship with everyone in the region. The screaming against a deal here is hardly against a nuclear deal of some sort, but against ANY type of deal (e.g., change).

      So many of these relationships with the West are so deeply invested in backward values and priorities, and are so deeply entrenched, that the screams could get really loud. And a good deal of suffering would have to be expected as well, as there is such a deep commitment to the status quo.

      Those in power regionally, who've been feeding off their current relationships—particularly with the US—for generations, simply will not be able to take this quietly.

  • What's Religion Got to do with it? German Co-Pilot as Terrorist
    • There was also Egyptair 990, which went down off after 911, and a highly political investigation/cover-up that followed.

      Lufthansa and Turkish Air have developed a extremely elaborate system for screening pilot training candidates. I wonder if this guy slipped in before it was instituted. In fact, they prefer to build new pilots from the ground-up and often pass on ex-military types, largely due to personality concerns. Highly focused personality screening is a big and central part of this process.

      You have to wonder about the miracles of modern psychological testing, along with the whole engineering approach to managing human behavior. This has become endemic in business, largely for the panacea that quantifying the process offers more traditional HR departments. But minds are notoriously fickle things.

  • Obama-Netanyahu Tiff worsens: US won't rule out using UN to create Palestine
    • I don't know about the attack on the Cole, but I'd say an appropriate relationship with Israel was knocked off-track when the US allowing Israel to away with its attack on the USS Liberty in 1967 link to aljazeera.com

      Until that time there was certainly a political relationship in flux, as there will always be with any number of other countries.

      When Israel got away with what they did, however, a precedent was established that has harmed genuine US interests in the region enormously ever since—indirectly and directly— for nearly 50 years.

  • Obama with Drama: Translating his comments on Israel's Netanyahu from the Vulcan
    • It's really true. Netanyahu is just the face of the problem, in that he is the politician in Israel at the moment most sensitive to the situation, and the most able to giving the people there what they want.

      If he had a stoke and died tomorrow, his successor would have to respond to a nearly identical set of circumstances. They would not come with the baggage Netanyahu has accumulated in the course of his career, which which give them a nominally better situation with which to work, but only nominally better.

  • Tom Friedman & funding ISIL: Israel/Iran Derangement Syndrome
    • .....for this strain of Zionism, the Middle East has to be in flames and broken up by constant American military invasions and special ops covert actions and coups in order to keep Israel from having any peer...

      And, as you later point out, this is what most Middle Easterners understand Israel hawks (and I'd argue, the rest of Israel, liberal handwringing aside) want and need. But, its not just a matter of what they prefer: to divide/conquer/maintain has been implicit in Israel's demonstrated behavior since its 1948.

      The more interested point now is how the various Israeli/American and neocon Opinion Molders have begun to come out of the closet with their core arguments, and their real agenda. Last week there was this guy from his perch at Johns Hopkins: link to washingtonpost.com

      and now Friedman. In frustration, they have beginning to show what is really driving their angst over ANY deal with Iran.

      As in many traditional, backward societies, they are beginning to boil over with green-eyed jealously as it become apparent their girlfriend may be developing a significant relationship with someone else.

      If they are no longer the center of their objects world, then who else will they have to buy them all the things they could otherwise not afford? Who else will they have to manipulate in order to feel better about themselves? Who else will they be able to abuse and otherwise beat-up publicly to convince the world of their legitimacy? And worst of all, who else would be able to shield them for the consequences of their actions?

      The consequences of Israeli hubris have always been inevitable, but the reality of their agenda and motivations becomes ever more clear as fate closes in.

  • Mideast Reacts with Horror: "Israel has elected Extremism and Racism"
    • Well, yes.

      Bibi will, once again, just say what needs to be said, and most importantly, what his (temporarily) disenchanted supporters want to hear. They'll hear what they want to hear as certainly as they have only seen what they want to see when viewing Israeli behavior over the years.

      This is illustrative of how people get away with abusing others everywhere: we have all seen this sort of thing play out in other settings, however mundane.

      The offender here will simply say he was caught up in the moment and all is well. Bibi will reassure everyone that he is a Man of Peace, and that if he only had some Palestinians who were ready to make peace, we'd all have a merry christmas. Then he'll trot out those market tested tropes: Israel has a right to exist; they live in a very tough neighborhood; etc, ad naseum.

      He'll speak out sincerity on one hand, and have the stick of the anti-Semitic label ready on the other, if anyone responsible says he's proven himself to be full of s---.

      Then there is the cognitive dissonance that has been mentioned on this blog before. For the supporters of Israel in the congress who really are too stupid to have seen through the facade of Israeli good faith, or too compromised to do anything else, his reassurances will be all the lip service they need.

      Remember, this is only something he SAID. Israeli actions over the years have been consistent and unambiguous, if one simply looks at the facts.

  • The Palestinian-Israelis' Selma Moment?
    • And breaking news is that the administration is reevaluating things with Israel in light of how Bibi handled himself. The question now becomes what can/will they be able to do any differently?

      Bibi may even have considered whether this move would further compromise his relationship with the US. But he either calculated that he didn't care or that he had the US firmly in hand (as evidenced by his demonstrated control of Congress).

      I rather suspect both are true.

    • You know Bibi (and by extension, Israel in general), has turned an important corner. Or, perhaps we should say, crossed an important bridge.

      It seems to have even caused some second thoughts with the ever-loyal Jeffrey Goldberg:

      link to theatlantic.com

      Bibi won by consolidating his base in the most blatant way, with the sort of people who shoot when they loose. He had to be pressured into this experiment, but Bibi now knows which votes really matter.

      By acquiescing to their likes the rest of Israel is tacitly saying what it really stands for.

  • The Impotence of the Big Dick strain of American Nationalism
    • I'm also put off by the cheap shot, although maybe even apt, at tired old men's compensatory behaviors. But the issues are more complex and there's more than a little naiveté shown when you allow yourself to get caught-up in your own rhetoric.

      There is indeed, a Tragedy in Great Power Politics, a really fairly simple observation developed more fully in a thin book by John Mearsheimer by the same name. When there is no 911 to call, countries have to rely on themselves, and at bottom they cannot totally trust anyone or anything but overwhelming force. We might argue on what he said since I haven't read it in awhile, but you get the drift.

      The problem is how you keep that reality in balance: why aren't we invading Canada for the nukes THEY are secretly developing in a cave? Remember Condee's mushroom cloud? And she was a Woman!!! Penis envy I suppose. Which may even be true, but it misses the point, which is the point.

      Politicians HAVE to go with the worse case scenario, but as long as you've got Iran as a threat you don't have to invade Canada. Iran was a side show (except for 1979-80), as long as you had the USSR as a bogeyman. Security, and the inevitable lack of it—which is as enduring as our individual mortality—is the underlying problem. As usual, it becomes a question of balance.

  • The Letter: Top 5 Similarities of GOP and Iran Hard Liners
    • Even at that, note the treaty—duly approved and incorporated into the Law of the Land by congress—having to do with Torture. See how that turned out.

    • A very fine post on todays IC by Iranian FM Zarif goes directly to this point of congressional ignorance and obstructionism, and the prospects of a deal between Iran and West:

      link to juancole.com

      It gives hope to how an agreement's implementation may yet be finessed past the yahoos. I cannot help but think that any number of congressmen are not so much stupid as spineless in the face of the AIPAC et al, and they just need a way out.

      The realities of things might provide not just the cover for a deal to stand, but for our congress to make whatever statements they need to make before moving onto other things.

  • Iran FM Zarif Schools GOP Senators on Int'l Law: This is a UNSC Resolution
    • A remarkably balanced and informative statement about the potential of the talks, nothwithstanding the best (worst) efforts of the obstructionists.

  • Treason of the Wonks: How to Create a National Insecurity State
    • Putting aside the irony of this coming from another professor, at least he has heard the sound of a gun fired in anger.

      The fact is that we do need smart, thoughtful, and well informed people to weigh options and come-up with new ones. Universities are the single place I know of to find them. The problem is in the selection. And we do DESPERATELY need new blood.

      What happens is that with anything of any significance, the realities of how things will unfold is impossible to predict: it'll always be a matter of guessing. Especially under the pressure of cicumstances, the winners in these discussions are typically the tallest and the loudest. Those whose thinking is ideological-driven are especially strong, since this allows them to discard other thinking and to concentrate on proving their own point (really just a vision).

      It becomes a ego thing: the root source of downfall. Finding people with a little less ego, or (perhaps the key in practicality) those who can keep it in check, might be a good starting point. Add to the list: experience in the messy realities of actions, intellectual honesty.....others?

  • Syria: As al-Qaeda defeats 'moderate' US allies, will US ally with al-Qaeda?
    • This gets somewhat at what seems to be the core of the problem: policy driven by reactionary shortsightedness for (largely domestic) political reasons. If there were a coherent and well thought through strategy it would need to include looking ruthlessly at whether we do, in fact, want to back the strongest of the local thugs. Pursuing that approach, the long-term viability of that particular option should dismiss it. But its the process that is most important: I don't get that there is such a process, or if there is that it can survive the political realities.

      The reality is that policy cannot be made and implemented in a non-political vacuum, and if you think too much along these lines you end-up shacking-up with the unitary executive theory.

    • It seems to me that whenever the US meddles, the momentum of effective resistance immediately shifts to back the other side.

      It's as though defeating the US, and whomever then becomes its evident local stooge/collaborator, is the greatest single motivation and goal for those who are genuinely committed and effective.

      It's impossible politically to just abandon the situation, and serious security problems would inevitably germinate in a safe haven for groups like AQ or ISIL. But, maybe we should be playing things here with a bit more subtlety.

  • Why Netanyahu's Congress Speech will Fail: Iran Can't be Stopped, only Monitored
    • You know, of course, that the Israelis pride themselves on being nothing if not cynical, flinty-eyed realists and peerless America manipulators. So, whatever other games and odds they will be playing with the forthcoming Congressional Show, you have to consider their longer game.

      In the immediate term there is the sheer theatre as the Likud plays to their local base in the run-up to elections. But, it is also apparent how this show can serve to strengthen and even extend their power in the US. You can argue they're overplaying their hand, and at some point soon their abuse of this one-sided relationship will become too blatant and just collapse, but for now I'd take the other side.

      Looking at the history, I'd suggest they're also playing events for what they are worth in terms of simple $. You can see where if some sort of "disaster" occurs and an agreement is reached with Iran, they will be in an excellent position to shake down the US for untold (more) billions.

      In all these matters we have to recognize the longer-game being played, where they rely so exclusively on being able to shape US policy/actions. Iran moving to get out of its box can easily be undone in the next administration (where they may well own the President as well as the congress). Until then their position can be shored up, and stands to be capitalized on in a variety of other ways.

  • Jeb Bush on Foreign Policy: Peddling old Iraq Myths Again
    • The sad fact is that sheer insistence and repetition of mythical assertions such as these can create a reality all their own. We have too obvious painful examples of this.

      The real news here, and one that people should recognize and try to address, is that we are looking at a guy who may very well be your next President. He is a smart, well-connected, and a relatively qualified guy, while the other putative contenders (e.g., Christie? Scott Walker) are complete empty suits. Frankly, I'm not that impressed with Hillary's entitlement and it isn't as though they've got any depth on their bench (Warren?). Objectively, as a politician, Bush showed far more true competence and success as Governor of Florida than his brother did in Texas, and in the world of the GOP he's about as moderate as it gets.

      The thing to do here, thinking of the venn diagram of advisors shown in the clip, is to get him some better advisors: these are the people who shape the options, and it was these guys who managed the Shrub into the Iraq debacle.

  • Just when you thought they Couldn't be Worse: ISIL trafficking Human Organs
    • Doesn't this seem just a little too over-the-top dastardly?

      It harks back to those days when Saddam was taking babies out of incubators. They do seem to be a nasty group, for whom it wouldn't be too much, but doesn't this seem to stretch credulity?

      After all, it there that hug of a pent-up demand for organs? Assuming as we can, that their evil knows no bounds, it'd be as probable that they are selling these delicacies into dog food.

      But, then again, it wouldn't hit the those Intervention-Now buttons quite so well.

  • Is ISIL's 'Shock and Awe' more Awe-ful because One Victim?
    • The current alarm re lone wolf terrorism relates to this one as well. link to juancole.com

      The thing to let sink in is how a few guys, or one "lone wolf" leveraged with simple technology, can be so asymmetrically effective.

      There is a fight shaping up between the Machine and the People, and this conflict is only showing the tools at work. Each person stands to make an enormous difference today, and once a system emerges that honestly and properly serves the people, the more fascist pretenders will drop away.

  • Israel and Lebanon: Is a 3rd War in the Offing?
    • We can split hairs over Netanyahu's "warmongering", but the fundamental behavior of the Right-Wing in Israel (and everywhere, thinking of the Conservative mindset), is to push the people's External Threat button especially hard around Election Time.

      I rather think killing that General was an oops moment, given how Israel should want like to play off AQ and Hezbollah. Still, attributing good long-term judgment and thoughtfulness to Israeli actions isn't a particularly useful exercise. Which, come to think of it, may have been the point.

  • 5 Top Reasons Romney ought to have Withdrawn
    • Not being a specialist, I do know enough to know that someone truly knowledgable could amaze you with the tax and accounting shenanigans afforded by uninsured/indigent ER visits.

      Apparently, part of the game here is to use these visits as a write-off. I once chose to do some physical therapy out-of-pocket, but was accidentally billed their "rack rate" until corrections were made. Whereas they were happy to have me as a cash-client for $350, for insurance (legal acct.?) purposes my treatment would've been billed at over $6,500.

      Go figure. No....don't.....

  • Netanyahu & Boehner: How Israel went from being a Democratic to a Republican Project
    • This post is, as usual, useful, but it's illustrative of the problem in communicating the importance of such things in that it demands too much focus (if not background). Not to be too critical, but analogizing between Netanyahu and Barzani or Franco, detracts hugely from the simple eloquence of your first paragraph.

      The accepted science on these things in cognitive psychology is that when presented with too much new or contradictory information, brains default to their pre-existing prejudices. The threshold at which human's mental "fuses" blow, whether they be progressives OR conservatives, is really rather low (depressingly so). Which is why this website, as well as ones like Red-State, have such big Amen Choruses. People wittingly or unwitting triggering this phenomena goes far to explain the increase in political polarization over the last decade or so.

      There are, of course, critical readers of all stripes who may divert the mental voltage necessary to appreciate your point more fully. But it strikes me that it would be possible to be more effective by being simpler and more direct.....without going all simplistic.

      Otherwise, Amen Brother.

  • How Stable is Saudi Arabia?
    • Looking at KSA closely you see a regime based on guile and cunning, and the power & flash of its oil only distracts from the Saud's underlying lack of legitimacy.

      In fairness, they've kept this up for a long time, but in perspective 100 years is nothing, and some less-clever Prince will inevitably come to power. It's like Israel in some ways: hoping to dance and manipulate a way past their perfidies forever. But absent the legitimacy afforded by considerately managing relations with the totality of their peoples, as well as their neighbors, the fates of both regimes is sealed. We can only guess at how the details will unfold, but it's a foregone matter (e.g., Mussolini, Gadaffi, et al).

  • Netanyahu Imported by GOP to ensure Iran War
    • This counterpunch article really is superb, mainly in how quickly Fantina takes apart the thoroughly predictable Israeli lines.

      Far too often commentators go overlong, out of outraged exasperation and inadvertently hurt their cause. The truth here is far simpler, and more effectively addressed by brevity. In addition to their use of an increasingly transparent bundle of "Big Lies," Netanyahu etal have two other major tactics, emotional ad homimen smears and dust-kicking. Both tactics are designed to obfuscate what they are up to, and to allow their "substantive" arguments to work.

      The lesson for those commentators with the better soap boxes is to keep very calm and patiently, and focus on the real issues and their underlying simplicity. The answers to this conflict may not be easy or apparent, but at least it should be possible to get past the lies and draw attention to the truths involved

    • Without taking the time to try to explore this myself, do you have a source handy for the assertion of 100,000 medium range missiles in Iran?

  • Hezbollah's Surprising Denunciation of Paris Attacks: is it Courting the West?
  • Did Drought and Climate Change cause Middle Eastern States to Collapse in 2014?
    • "Climate" is synonymous with context, which is essential for a usable perspective. Not quite the same thing as a cause/effect relationship, but critical nonetheless.

  • Psychologists, who Took $81 mn. to Advise, Practice Torture, betrayed the Profession
  • Why the Founding Fathers thought banning Torture Foundational to the US Constitution
    • Ahhhhsoooooo........

      My words, forced from me under duress (aka torture), cannot be used against me in court, BUT the act of torture itself may well be permissible if some hot-headed highway patrolman thought (sic) I might be withholding information that could save lives (or protect property, ensure his safety, etc, etc).

      That would be....tortured logic....but when sufficient force is applied to any situation it generally yields.

      There was plenty of CIA reform back in the 1970's, which included the FISA courts, which at this point can only be considered a rubber-stamp. But organizations like CIA only function well (relatively speaking) when they are fueled by self-righteousness. Combined with their insularity, that CIA would backslide was a given, and if any reforms come of this, by nature they will NOT last.

      In terms of genuine reform, there is an interesting bureaucratic initiative to take away CIA Operations and put that function under the military, where we can hope the over-achieving eager beavers normally drawn to CIA can be properly managed with military discipline. This would leave CIA with its original mission from 1948 for "centralizing" the analysis of intelligence.

      This move would go far to make CIA culture a cross between that of a good university and a reporting organization, encouraging rigorous observation and good thinking rather than political manipulation, which frankly, is its current raison d'etre.

  • UN General Assembly Demands Israel Mothball its Nuclear Arsenal
    • Okay, Okay, this is the fair thing to do and it'd be the single best step that could be taken toward sorting out things in the region, were it only plausible to see it happen. But in the real world this statement is nothing more than a gesture to highlight Israel's hypocrisy.

      Whatever other pieces of hasbara come out of Israel, the reality is that they have dug themselves so deeply into a hole that the nuclear trump card really is their only insurance, such as it is. Give up the nukes and they really would be sunk. This speaks to the dearth of genuine support and true legitimacy they have bothered to develop with their neighbors. e.g., nil.

  • Iran Leader Khamenei: We are not Opposed to Nuclear Talks, Will Accept Just Deal
    • Or, can Israel/KSA accept such a deal?

      This could be seen as a test or whether the US is capable of putting its own self-interests above that of a couple other nations who have proven to be very good at manipulating it.

      What is a stake is whether Israel/KSA etal can keep Iran from becoming a bigger factor in the region, completely apart from this business of nukes, to their detriment and to the benefit of the US.

  • "Iran too big a fish for Israel to fry" - Former IAEA Head Hans Blix on Nuclear Talks
    • And, of course, you're right. Rational policies are often developed, but once an issue takes on real importance, or draws the attention of other-than-rational agendas, the best thinking is often either adapted to the unreal realities of the politics or is stuck in a drawer.

      Still, in the wake of Gulf War II, the NIE estimate from the US intelligence agencies essentially derailed the war then being got-up on Iran, so its really not such a black and white and hopeless situation at all.

      There is no case for surrender; we just need to recognize THESE realities and work with them. Those susceptible to one set of fantasies can as easily be deflected or directed by another.

      The irony and proscription for rational people is that one shouldn't get too hung up on the facts, unless you're dealing with individuals willing and ready to engage them. My hope and perhaps my fantasy is there are people in authority dealing with things at this level. Its our only hope.

  • 3rd Possibility: Coming Civil War in West Bank/ Jerusalem?
    • There's a long-standing line amongst Israeli leadership, which gets out to the West often enough if you listen, that THERE IS a Palestinian State, and its called Jordan! Problem solved.

      This has all transparently been the case since 1967, at least, when the process of colonization was discreetly, but explicitly entered into by the government. It has been proceeding apace ever since. There have been two constraints. One has been political: how much can Israel get away with at any one time, given the need to keep up a impressions and indirectly get someone else (e.g., the USA) to pick up the bill, and 2) demographically: they need settlers.

      In the early nineties, after the Gulf War 1.0 and the Fall of the Wall, you had an interesting confluence, where Israel had a ton of immigrants but it lacked the political cover from Washington, since Bush 41/Baker had it in their heads that the US could follow another course. Bush/Baker's truculence led to the need for the facade of sincerity at Oslo.

      No, this post is pretty realistic. The question is in the timing and the ferocity with which the inevitable will happen. "Civil War," kinda overstates it, IMHO, but it will be ethnic cleansing, however much kinder and gentler a form it takes.

    • Your observations are generally good, but its a matter of how far you stretch them and the conclusions reached. For example, Hersch may have been a bit overblown with his book, The Samson Option, but there is that small thing.....

      Defensively Israel has got things wrapped-up for the foreseeable future, and as long as the Arabs can be manipulated into remaining in their current disarray nothing is going to happen to them. But the long-range futility of their actions that is compelling. A new generation of SAMS will be overset by a new generation of ECM, but the underlying economics, as well as the demographics, are all stacked against Israel and they're only getting worse.

    • The oft asked question of "how this all ends," you have just done a very realistic job of answering.

      You have, however, not given enough mention to the PR smoke and mirrors and hang-wringing that will be seen.

  • Americans 64 times more likely to be Murdered than die in Terrorism
    • The core of the disconnection you note here is rhetorical abuse of the word "terrorism."

      There's also an enormous amount of violence, (arguably terrorism if one isn't careful with the term), in Central America, due to gangs like the Mara Salvatrucha.

      What strikes me is what these societal breakdowns have in common is how they are, by and large, instigated if not actively aggravated by outside factors. The US creating or abetting much of the current chaos in the Middle East obviously, but the youth gangs we now see in Central American are also direct fallout from active US meddling in that region under Reagan.

      I suppose Boko Haram is a different animal, but it would still appear to be a consequence of neo-colonialism and all that goes with it.

  • Mr. 2%: Tony Blair’s Secret Oil Contract with Saudis Revealed
    • Maybe I should listen to the clip, but TB has been out of office for a while. While this shows where his values lie, and arguably have always resided, its not as though he did the deal while IN-office: THAT would have actually been a conflict of interest. At this time, it is understood it's all about him and cashing-in, like the countless whores who've preceded him.

  • Why it Isn't that Important Whether ISIL Leader was Killed
    • Insightful. There is also often a trade-off being between doing the smart thing or doing the right thing politically: e.g. appearences that will support other more important goals. The reality is that in this little conflict, and for the needs of US politicians, the extingencies of appearances trumps that of the realities.

      Given our class of professional politicians, committed mainly to personal power and gain, and especially since the stakes to the US are not that great, don't expect too much that is reality driven.

    • Page: 7
    • If the underlying legitimacy of the movement is sufficient, new leadership will emerge and fill the gap. If that new leadership is not up to the job, the movement will dip down and find other to try, whether or not we kill them outright. No matter who does it, be it in business or war, culling ineffective top guys puts pressure on the movement to produce leadership (people, ideas, strategies, tactics), more appropriate to the cause. You'll helping them to refine themselves: look at how this gang has evolved its current set of capablities with the thinest sort of legitimacy.

      Killing leadership causes a movement to evolve, and to inevitably become stronger, assuming the movement has a degree of legitimacy. I won't venture to say that was the case with ISIS; with Hamas/Hizbullah I would.

      Of course, if an ego (or that of a nation, government, or a bureaucracy like the military), is all tied-up with the notion of superior-people as a matter of self-validation, this'd be an awful tough thing to recognize, much less accept.

      And as a matter of practicality, what else are you doing to do? As a matter of tactics, killing C&C will toss a wrench into their operations. But strategically, assuming a legitimacy to their cause, you're only liable to be creating a more capable organization.

  • Why McCain & GOP are Slamming Obama for Writing Iran re: ISIL
    • So what are the real odds of a meaningful agreement with Iran being approved by the congress, or otherwise implemented, AND, more importantly, enduring?

      Given domestic US politics, and the election in 2 years, is this all just hot air and noble gestures? Is there a scenario for a success that the US and Iran, at THEIR true core want, that I'm just not seeing?

  • Far Right Extremist Avigdor Lieberman says Swedish Recognition of Palestine will Strengthen Extremists
    • A bit off-topic, but Al Jazeera is broadcasting a documentary which addresses the Israeli mindset, which is the sometimes unrecognized undercurrent of posts such as this one.

      The documentary tells the tale of the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty during the 1967 war, and the subsequent cover-up. As a centerpiece, the producer uses a previously disappeared audio-tape of the tactical communications between the attackers. The entire broadcast is on the following link.

      link to aljazeera.com

      What motivated the attack and the mindset encouraged by how Washington handled the matter, set the precedent for US/Israel relationship ever since. Although there is a tragedy in how those men died and their ship all but sunk, the real damage, as the piece concludes, goes far deeper.

  • Are US Drone Strikes in Pakistan War Crimes? Only 12% of those Killed are Known Militants
    • This may be a good example of selective interpretation: reading just enough to support and validate a pre-existing perspective and failing to consider closely-related information.

      Only read the third and fourth sentences of para 4 in isolation and Slim is correct. Limiting oneself to para 4 and 5, but reading for meaning, challenges the ease of a black & white interpretation.

  • Top 4 Things we can learn from War on Terror in "War on Ebola"
    • Think about that a minute. Fear can get in the way of effective action and isn't necessarily that productive, but it can provide needed concentration on very real problems and threats. Getting past fear may be a first step but it does nothing to address real, objective problems. Magical, positive thinking is effete and fatal.

      To paraphrase what the Chairman said, and is often incompletely quoted, the US is a paper tiger, but its bombs and guns are very real.

    • And then there was the Tom Clancy thriller that presaged 9/11, with I think it was a disaffected airline pilot plowing his 747 into the Capitol.

    • Ebola is a real threat. AQ etal may be real, but they are/were trivial, their dangers largely manipulated for political ends. There are two problems here: one is of these people having been crying wolfe in the case of terrorism. The other is that while Ebola may be effectively managed by Western medicine and social infrastructure, that may well include national security resources. Hence, we get to the concerns of this posting.

      If not this Ebola, then Ebola 2.0 or Marburg (sic?), or something even more nasty may emerge, and it may well be cataclysmically more dangerous than these other purported threats. And the sort of political manipulation that is characteristic of the GWOT could have consequences in that case that would be genuinely terrifying.

  • Gaza and Israel: Serial "Ceasefires" and the 70-Year War Continues (Chomsky)
    • This article may be the clearest and most cogent presentation of the actual simplicity of what is going that I have read.

      Palestinians and others typically become so exasperated with how Israel manages to get away with things that they cannot present a forcefully compelling narrative to an uninformed outsider. An excellent example, that adds plenty of good color, but ultimately fails to connect near as well as this piece, is also on IC today: link to juancole.com

      I hope others use Chomsky's piece not so much as a model of how to do it, but as an example of something that works. The trick, I think, is to come to the desk cold, and to focus on the underlying realities, which are really rather straightforward.

      Quickly concede and put into proper perspective all the things the usual suspects will use to otherwise distract readers. These "points" are easy to anticipate, as Chomsky did here. The arguments Israel makes are not only incredibly threadbare, but scarce. If you succinctly incorporate them into your piece you will be leaving the apologists without a leg to stand on, which is the simple honest reality you want to present. That is something everybody can get.

  • Israeli settlers destroy Palestinian grape vines as Israel Steals More Land
    • Your're right. But I'd make a distinction: it can go the easy way or it can go the hard way for Israel (relatively speaking, of course). And the hard way, the longer they persist, could be quite ugly.

      The longer I notice the results of closed-minded negativity and pig-headed stubbornness in various spheres, the more I've come to believe in the power of self-fulfilling prophecies.

    • Hey, I'm from the southern US, and have as much bigotry in my blood as the next Bubba. The problem with racism, however, is when you don't give the other guy enough credit and go all stupid on the reality of things.

      Israel (and this includes the non-extremist factions who give the Likudniks their tacit support), doesn't get that the Palestinians will remember what is happening and keep coming back for thousands of years if that's what it takes for satisfaction. The Jews essentially manufactured the illusion of a patrimony, but with the Palestinians there will never be a dimming of their collective memory. Looking at the development of a Palestinian identity, Israel has done a wonderful job at pulling together what was once a genuinely disparate group. Revenge is a dish best served cold, but it will be served. There's always hope and Israel could turn around the momentum of its fate, but they're continuing to dig an ever-deeper hole for themselves.

      So, you're all correct. There has never been any secret about Israel's long-standing Iron Wall (e.g., Bunker) Strategy, only PR smoke to give them cover and facilitate manipulation of the US to finance the ultimate futility of their hubris.

  • History and Betrayal: UNSCOP and Palestine, 1947
    • These short histories are awfully illuminating and stand to make a difference. They ought to be collected together on the website and somehow given an appropriate prominence.

  • 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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