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

Travis Bickle

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  • Tax Deadbeat Romney Calls Working People Leeches
    • Worse than the 47% he was disparaging, per who that represents....those on social security, etc. And it isn't as tho the worst of those people ever went to specifically arrange for their own nest to be feathered. SOP for the GOP.

      Their really is a lot of Projection amongst the most insipid of these characters, both foreign and domestic.

    • It's becoming increasingly hard to see Romney's appeal to middle of the roader's, classic conservatives or independents, who might be wavering.

      What this portends is the necessity of Romney relying even more on the hard, crazed right wing, and creating such a dirty, nasty food fight with Obama that the above-mentioned centrists throw up their hands in disgust and stay at home. At that point it becomes a get-out-the-vote exercise between the hard right and hard left, in which he'd stand a sporting chance.

      But then what happens with a character like this as president?

  • Top Myths about Iran's Nuclear Enrichment Program
    • Just curious...do you know where these claims about Parchin originated?

    • Welll.....there you have it!!!

    • You oughta go back and read the history, thoroughly and with care. Apply some judgement.

    • Do the Iranians have such an inferiority complex? Not being critical, just curious. Expats I meet, hardly a good sample, reflect quite a self-confident lot. Hardly like the Palestinians, or the impression I am given in reading of the Arab World's perception of themselves militarily, given how Israel has dominated them over the years.

    • Hype-up foreign threat to paint yourself as the only True Defender of the State, positioning your political opponents as soft, naive or unpatriotic. Its a marketing strategy: note how the GOP in the US has used it over the years.

      That said, keeping the region economically backward is in the interest of the foreign policy strategy they've pursued since 1948. So, its not necessarily saber rattling, except to the extent they will want to prepare people and the world for War as an inevitability ("those people were just ASKING for it!")

    • 1---The reactions of Netanyahu and others appear as an understandable reflection of psychological projection: it's what they have done and would be themselves be doing, and in all rationality they cannot imagine Iran doing anything else.

      3---The mis-translation of "wiping Israel of the map," has been propagated (same root as the word propaganda), consciously. It was not a mistake. Aside from the sheer bluster of Hitchens v. Cole, looked at linguistically or in context of where and how that statement was originally made, and later clarified, there is no question in any objective mind of what it meant. So, the only thing for the truth-teller to do is to try to shout louder. The point is how it is has been and is being repeated, and how the perception of what was said is empowering events. Sad.

      4---Lying fatwas, I think you have to give some credence to. It becomes a matter of judgement, and when your nation simply cannot afford any sort of mistake (albeit, due to the bed you have made for yourself), can you look at any such statement any other way? Ultimately, words mean NOTHING. Would you bet your life on them when there was a loaded gun to your head? There is no gun and the bullets are only theoretical, but given Israel's sorry history with its neighbors and the Palestinians, who would feel differently? I can feel Israel's pain, but they'd do better to recognize the underlying problem and begin to work on that.

      6---There has a lot of breathless media anticipation recently about an Iranian site the IAEC is about to get access to, where we are implicitly promised absolute final proof of Iranian duplicity. Forgot the location, but the essence of it is that a Soviet scientist who'd worked on diamond manufacturing with some high-pressure technique had his expertise hijacked for enrichment there (?: I know I got this all wrong, but the gist of the thing is out there for anyone wanting the details). The Iranians had been stiff-arming the inspectors until they got the area cleaned-up, all done underneath a canopy so satellites couldn't track them. The announcers promising that IAEA instruments are so delicate they would find their evidence anyway.....which leads to the real question:

      ---SO WHAT?

      What if Iran just came out and said they are going to throw out the inspectors and develop their capabilities, nuclear and otherwise, as they choose and when they choose, as a simple matter of sovereignty?

      The US and Israel do not want them to have more power, nuclear or otherwise, for reasons economic and political. Iranian economic and political development must be stopped, and the nukes are more symbolic of that power than anything else. Its either stop Iranian development, or the US must learn to live with their increasing control over our energy resources. And pressure will increase on Israel to deal with the Palestinians fairly, losing their current strategic regional hegemony.

      The question becomes what are those odds that will be....acceptable?

  • Netanyahu in 1992: Iran close to having nuclear bomb
    • In the same way what Israel is doing is pretty obvious to both of us, I think its pretty obvious to anyone taking a objective and careful look at the situation (whether or not they'll admit it).

      But such people are not who Netanyahu/friends are speaking to: the battle for mindshare is over the masses, sitting slack jawed in front of their TVs, with a lack of time, energy, or ability to gain a fuller and more informed view of whats going on, or to develop a more critical/informed opinion.

      There would still be plenty of disagreement on what's going on and what to do about it, but even that's a ways off.

    • Getting just a little OT. Objectively, Carter had more competence and did more good relative to Reagan; the GOP has, through propaganda, turned that on its head. Perceptions are Trump. At least in the short run, which is all some people care about.

    • First point is that a similar list of potential capabilities could be attributed to any number of semi-developed and developed nations. The point these people are really angling toward is that IRAN, as a case and as a people, simply cannot be entrusted with such a capability, even latent. It is not so much a matter of paranoia, but racism. And how it'd crimp Israel's style.

      Here are the pertinent questions:

      How can Israel trust their security to the assurances of a Fatwa, or its equivalent? Even to a disinterest third-party, the idea is laughable. It isn't even a matter of Iran being rational or irrational: its a matter of Israel being put in a position of having to reap what it has sowed: it would then either have to negotiate a respectful accommodation with its neighbors or suffer the consequences in terms of diminished power.

      Can Israel allow Iran to develop economically beyond a certain point, aside from even a peaceful nuclear capability, given Israel's security has alway been premised on military force and an implicit regional domination rather than peaceful accommodation and respect? If Iran got to the point of economic power and influence of Turkey, would that be acceptable to Israel? I think not.

      With all their threats, quite aside from the internal domestic politics, can Netanyahu/Israel afford to let a "bluff" be called, and accept even a latent Iranian capability that crimps their historical style? Remember, the Likud may be right wing, but they ARE the elected government and we must accept their actions as reflecting the Israeli people's collective will.

      It may not be rational, for all sorts of objectively compelling reasons, but for the subjective ones that count, its hard not to see an attack on Iran soon.

      (Avoiding that inevitability would entail secret negotiations with the US bearing fruit, and they'd have to be done without Israel. Even then the pressure for Israel to lash out would be immense.)

  • Top Ten Likely Consequences of Muslim anti-US Embassy Riots
  • Romney Jumps the Shark: Libya, Egypt and the Butterfly Effect
    • The "butterfly effect," it needs to be said, is intimately elated to the concept of chaos, or a practically unmanageable complexity and unpredictability.

      The lesson/observation to draw is how even a small and unintentional act can have big consequences. Speaking more practically, with modern technologies and communications, a trivial but intentional act, which this may have been, can cause enormous damage and has to be acknowledged as (perhaps) a powerful act of willful political inflammation.

      What we've seen might actually be a more proper use of the word "terrorism."

  • The West Will Have to Compromise on Syria (Schmidt)
    • What is too often missed or glossed over is the indirect influence of Israel, so the second piece of beneficial new thinking becomes critical.

      Sadly, it takes quite a bit more than being recognized to be able to address this underlying, aggravating condition. And the forces deployed against even such a recognition are substantial.

      In fairness, a equitable and enduring peace between Israel and the Palestinians will not solve all the regional problems. (As the above proposition will predictably be painted by its opponents, preferring indefinite foot-to-the-throat domination). But until the situation is properly recognized and fairly reconciled, the volatility of the region will continue.....every bit as indefinitely.

  • America's 9/11 response subverted our values, liberties (Cole @ Detroit News)
    • "Terrorism" is a term of rhetoric, as you look into the evolution of its usage.

      However, try broaching the clear and rational logic for framing 9/11 as a crime and you will draw nothing but contempt and dismissive ridicule.

      You will NOT hear any sort of rationality, but the response could well be a physical assault. Draw your own conclusions.

  • Dear Democrats: If you do That you have to do This
    • There was a Govenor, think his name was Warren? From Maryland? Anyway, he was an ordained minister, and he was swinging mightily for the fences....also quoting from Mathew.....

    • Kerry's performance, overall, was the lamest I heard. Your observation was one of a long series. I can understand the need to whip up the base, but I don't think they're as mindless as the TPrtyrs, and I couldn't see even the die-hards I know buying the swill he was selling.

  • Top Ten Ways we are Better off than in January 2009
    • "Why" indeed.

      Is it a plot, communication incompetence, or is it somehow fate?

      At the local gym they have a series of TVs I can switch between. Daytime coverage of the Demo convention was remarkable and maybe illustrative:

      FOX, was predictably attacking every word being said; and the crawl they ran when they couldn't talk over whomever couldn't have been scripted better by Karl Rove . CNN, was doing the SAME THING, in apparent(?) atonement for having given Ryan such a blatant pass the week before.

      They/We could go through the issues chapter and verse, and highlight in a fair way the many shortcomings of Obama, but that's what they were--shortcomings, where he didn't solve all our problems and in the eyes of many compromised needlessly.

      But what does the GOP have? NOTHING. These guys have got ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!

    • Really.....looking at things as objectively as possible....THE GOP HAS NOTHING.

      What can they do?

      1) Inflame the base, who are beyond rationality and at an underlying level, racist, selling a vision of an America which never was to people who feed off hatred and resentment for those trying to make a better and more inclusive society.

      2) Disgust the independents and centrists by the dirtiest campaign you can muster. Your first move should be to accuse the Demo's of doing PRECISELY what you intend to do, spreading confusion and blurring distinctions. Lost undecided Demo votes will be added to those already lost on the disenchanted left.

      Keep in mind, that with the current political stratification, there are a handful of states that are nominally "toss-ups," and within them a couple dozen precincts that may tell the tale.

      Objectively, it's not a bad strategy, given the GOP has absolutely so little else to work with and it plays into Romney's 3:1 spending advantage, so we can expect the dirtiest sort of media carpet-bombing in the following weeks. Obama will have no choice but to respond in kind, to the extent he can, or loose big.

      In any case,

      -- If Obama squeaks it out, he stands to do so in the electoral college, and don't expect the GOP to let it go like Gore did.
      -- The Demos can write-off the Senate.

  • Science Fictional Despair in Deraa, Syria (Photo)
    • Having heard and respected the arguments against a no-fly zone, I cannot help but think another, deeper look, might make it a reasonable thing to do.

      Main point is that the situation has evolved into one where the Syrian AF appears to be using and even relying on fixed wing aircraft to keep going. At a minimum, throwing some real apprehension into their pilots through even a partial CAP might relieve a lot of pressure on the resistance and tip the scales a bit. It doesn't have to follow the model of Libya, where that operation immediately became one of neutralizing armor (calling it a no-fly operation wasn't really accurate).

      The armchair generals making policy seem to be good at ignoring the real generals, but I cannot help but think the real generals may not be as good as they could be about encouraging creative ideas from the real colonels, as opposed to the armchair ones like me.

      Then there are the assets to be used, and in the current deployment of the Enterprise, Eisenhower and Stennis, I hope there isn't some other agenda afoot:

      link to gonavy.jp

  • Romney & Bush Disappearance (Bill Maher Poster)
    • .....AND, having thoughtfully considered everything, Romney and the GOP are determined to go back to precisely those policies that worked so very well for Bush, chapter and verse.

  • Labor Day Question: Are you Better off than You were in 1970?
    • Super390 and Jawbone both are getting to the real point.

      Obama and others say we have a stark choice coming up and they're right. Romney etal have taken a thoughtful look at the policies that began with Reagan and got us to where we were in 2008 and have decided....that WAS the right course!

      There is a fundamental perspective that we all get what we earn/deserve, and it's compelling looked at in a vacuum. That to take the fruits of my hard work and give it to those who did less is unfair/socialism/communism. That works as long as you don't have to find a balance to life together and if the exchange of value is fair....an idealistic and highly, highly naive precept of how the Invisible Hand works.

      In reality this approach leads to the good ole days that never were, of feudalism.

    • This post really does get at the root of the problem in the intent it exposes. Very much worth forwarding.

      People always want to do better than the next guy, and once they create a little bit of separation they not only want but need more, less they fall back.

      It'd be futile and counterproductive to try to eliminate the Invisible Hand. As Adam Smith essentially (actually) said, for true progress it bears being managed.

  • Tutu Slams Tony Blair for Illegal Iraq War, boycotts Leadership Conference
    • Cause and Effect can be slippery. Because I have had oatmeal every morning for the past ten years we have seen an Arab Spring.

      I wouldn't say the US destruction of Iraq didn't have some impact on the region and Syria in particular.

      I would venture that the Arab world in general appears to be pushing for real change after 60+ years of aggravating events and circumstances, one of which has been US/Western intervention in more and less subtle ways.

  • Top Ten Clint Eastwood Empty-Chair Falsehoods
    • Think we have to reflect on all this...ignorance...as symptomatic of a deeper condition, otherwise you get lost in a futile process of endless corrections that fall on deaf ears.

      1--The hopeful view is of people being mis-informed, and who when corrected by new information will sway views. Presumably the genesis of this blog. On the margins this could work, leading to rationality taking us wherever. Hey, I'll take it.

      2--However, there is evidently a deeper set of pathologies operating here, evidenced by an unwillingness to listen to new/different information, even when presented gently and with enormous clarity. (But let's be honest, the sort of Look-At-The-Simple-Facts-You-Clueless-A** doesn't help ANYONE's mind to change).

      3--Strikes me the advent of a relatively slave-less society is somewhat of an aberration, looking back over the last 10,000 yrs. Looking at modern aboriginals, before Babylon etal I imagine the relationship of stronger tribes to weaker ones was even more ....direct. Its the law of the jungle bubbling a fraction of an inch beneath our nominal, passing civility. If y don't believe me, have everyone in your office skip lunch AND their coffee pick-me-ups and see how the civility meter dips.

      4--What we're looking at in Tampa is a cynical gang that seems to understand this. At best their vision is a kinder and gentler variety of the plantation. Again, sold to people ignorant of where they are going to fit in that brave new world. The brilliance of Tampa is how they've managed to convince so many of these people that they are somehow on the "inside".

      Direct quotations recently heard in small town coffee-klatch of deep red state, by (ostensibly) college-educated notables:

      "There's no need for a minimum wage, we'll pay them what they're worth." or its close parallel..."If I make $$ you'll make $$: don't worry, I'll take care of you."

      "Those people never had it so good: we took care of them...." in reference to a families past ownership of slaves.

      The world can turn in reverse in regards to progress, and historically that should come as no surprise.

    • The tendency to cling to the Independent Western Man myth, who "just gets the job done," is behind many of the problems in the US, and particularly how it relates to the rest of the world.

      Thoughtless, pretty well defines that world-view. Closely related to the prideful ignorance you heard supporting him from the audience during his revealing, and rather embarrassing performance.

  • Top Ten Repeated Paul Ryan Lies
    • If, admittedly through discipline, you listen to Fox or the relatively coherent GOP arguments, they are engaging.....assuming you didn't know a bit more than what they are telling you OR are too uneducated to think critically about the logic or lack thereof.

      Of ignorance, I remember an eloquent WSJ editorial by Phil Graham laying the 08 crash at the feet of Fannie/Freddie Mae. It was all true, ABSENT the fact that they contributed a fraction of what others did to the crash. The underlying point was that it was not his intent to educate, but to mislead. This is a fundamental difference in the discourse that generally comes from the right and it's incredibly tough to EFFECTIVELY counter without doing the same thing.

      Heard great presentation the other day about how the top 1% pays FAR MORE than their share of taxes, to the tune of 20-40% of total income taxes received (or whatever %). True, but the listener has to THINK and APPRECIATE about how when the top 1% receives such a large share of the total income their tax contribution relative to that income is disproportionately small. To do so it is necessary to make several observations, instead of just one, and apply a modest bit of critical thought. For people with limited time, education, and perhaps mental bandwidth to begin with, the underlying needs of a fuller understanding becomes a stretch.

    • This is a remarkable but not extraordinary response. I've re-read it a couple times to appreciate how illustrative it is. Its not worth going through line-by-line, but there are a couple over-arching observations to be made:

      Fundamentally, you don't listen. Its a problem I have at times as well, but its more acute here, because it seems you perhaps CAN not listen. Pt #1 accurately and directly states why the credit was down-graded in 2 simple sentences which you simple did not get. #2 is a similar case. My question, which CLEARLY can ONLY be rhetorical here, is whether you are able to hear what is being said, when the statements are so very short, simple and declarative.

      With Pt #3 you transposed Romney for Ryan in your opening clause. So, with that correction (hey, I make those sort of goofs all the time), we have another problem: simple analytic judgement. Ryan has said he would defer to Romney in a variety of policy regards; Biden's were less than Obama's, but this is normal between any two politicians and it's understood they will follow their leader so generally you have a wash. The difference is that Biden's philosophies/policies were never the leading edge of Demo thinking, whereas Ryan's thinking very much represents the wave what Romney is hoping to capitalize on.

      Pt #4 we get to the core problem with your assessment: its not only shallow and apparently un-informable, but couched in an us-versus-them worldview: the issue is not seen as how to get American out of its problems, but how to defeat the "left's agenda." Whether or not a given policy/idea would be helpful isn't even considered next to the need to defeat the that.

      We might agree on one thing, that perhaps the vote is too widely awarded.

    • Then there are Framing Biases....where we/I casually but consistently mention Hitler, Goebbels and Rove in the same breath. But properly done it's the FIRST thing you say. In the battle for mind-share, its the first statement that really counts, as Maestro Hitler teaches us, so striking first with the defining lie becomes essential.

    • So.....where would I go to take you up on that guarantee?

    • Nice quote. I'd always though the B-L came from Goebbels, but see he modestly deferred to the Fuhrer on it. And its only a tiny bit off-topic, but entirely relevant to look more closely at matters of propaganda for our more modern populace who are oh, so far beyond such things.

      A more practical distillation of the B-L would be the instinct to think, "where there's smoke there must be fire." There's a matter of hard-wiring that really is hard to transcend. So, we have our new verb, to swift-boat.

      Another trick Rove uses consistently, and gets not enough credit for, is PRE-EMPTIVE attacks, to essentially hijack an opponent's rebuttal. A classic case would be, when deploying their campaign of class-conflict, to make a central part of that plan to accuse the Demo's of class-conflict. At worst it confuses the issue, but in fact the effectiveness of the tactic is profound.

      Seriously, this election will be a great test for the ideal of democracy. Not that it will make a huge difference given how policy is really made, but at least for the democratic potential and the hope for cks and balances, etc.

  • Mitt Romney's coming War on Iran: A Tale of Two Conventions
    • Don't forget the underlying point is Iranian nuclear weapons CAPABILITY. The mere ability constrains Israel, ergo it's an existential threat.

      GIVE Iran that one bomb and your point is true, but somewhat beside the point since the strategic impact would've already been made. Its also unnecessary and counterproductive to the spread of Iranian influence at various levels. The whole subject of their acquisition is a red herring.

      From Israel's LEGITIMATE perspective, however, SHOULD Iran field a weapon, they could absorb far fewer hits than Iran. Remember the FACTS, that a reliable tactical weapon, perfectly delivered, can knock out an airbase, an armored column or make a bad mess of a city. In Japan in 1945, with flimsy construction, say 100,000 people were killed in 2 crowded cities per blast; horrible, but that's a fraction of 6-7 million. The problem is that Iran could start making more after the first, and ABM defenses simply cannot resist a competent coordinated attack. However, when you think about it, everything Iran might (really) want to accomplish does not require the bomb.

      So yes. The real solution is detente with Iran, to offset Israel's current regional hegemony, with no weapon but the potential of one, if Israel doesn't start dealing with its neighbors with respect and equity. Works for me; and paradoxically, for Israel as well.

      That solution would come from stiffing the Lobby and letting Iran develop their capabilities. But figure the odds of that for yourself.

    • good point. Strikes me Obama etal have been successfully bending without breaking down to the Lobbies Will ("bend" being the wrong word here, but you get the drift). But it isn't as though they are not being boxed-in by the staff work of folks at the Asst Sec level, such at Dennis Ross before he left or Elliott Abrams), with their patient and longer term positioning strategies.

    • "What is it with them...?"

      Think you know the answer, squishy tho it may be: its all symptomatic of deep psychological pathologies. Insecurity being core, in not being able to trust anyone they don't have a foot to the throat of; never, ever, having enough money/wealth/power. And the more the have of all that good stuff, and the greater the distance between them and "the others", the more afraid they are of "those people", hence more money for national defense at one level and gated communities on the other. Oh, and how Those People hate us for our freedom!

      Come to think of it, maybe they do have something to be afraid of. After all, the trick to successful long-term fleecing is not to get too greedy, and that's all a bit too subtle for this crowd.

  • White Terrorist Plot to Assassinate the 'Commander in Chief'
    • Interesting this is being treated as a "gang" problem.

      Really, its more of a surprise this sort of thing hasn't cropped up earlier; it may well have in such an UTR manner. Not to inflame things, but rather to look matters in the face, you'd have be a True Believer in American Exceptionalism to think otherwise.

  • Ayatollah Cameron Threatens to invade Ecuador Embassy re: Assange (or, Whitewashing Iran for the US National Security State)
    • This is not really about Assange, but about the ability and disposition being exercised by the US/Elite Establishment to confirm its power over the Little People, domestically and abroad. Especially individuals like Assange, or Bradley Manning, and any one else who stands to empower The People so effectively. Its one thing for a smart guy with a blog like this one, but another thing when people like Assange can multiply their impact so dramatically. In today's world that could potentially mean anybody with a used laptop and a lack of sufficient respect. Were the Establishment to NOT make an example of such people it would leave itself open to the End of Top-Down Power as we have always known it, from several billion different points. These are very, very big stakes indeed.

      The thing about Sweden, as noted in this link from one of Glenn Greenwald's many excellent posts, is how lacking in transparency their legal system is link to ggdrafts.blogspot.com.br
      In terms of disposition to abuse people on demand by the US, Sweden was notoriously complicit in the CIA renditions of people later determined to be innocent.link to hrw.org

      Regarding Assange, the public record to this point demonstrates an extraordinarily well-focused and relentless national commitment to "get" this particular guy, aside from whatever he may have done to/with those women, and the unabridged story of his prosecution is nothing if not "shady."

      To be fair, there is no "threat" to invade the embassy; the "observation" being made is that the legal status of the embassy could be changed, which would allow whatever naturally follows in terms of "law enforcement." Funny how law works, when it is twisted to serve the purposes of a government: it essentially becomes arbitrary and is no longer really law.

      Which is the underlying issue at stake. At whatever point Assange is lucky enough to make it to Ecuador, he stands to be abducted off the street or whatever else the lawyers in DC/Langley rationalize. And so other smart alecs with access and and spare jump drives get the right message, he will not be forgotten until he is either in a grave or the equivalent of Gitmo.

      And between the fate of Manning and Assange the message will not be lost. Creativity and initiative, and all that other stuff, is fine as long as it serves to make the system and/or those above you stronger. Otherwise, ye best know your place.

  • Arabs and the Olympics (Majid)
    • Thanks for trying to sort this post out; I wouldn't touch it. It did somehow remind me of the maybe pertinent perspective amongst some, that in the 1967 War, "their God beat our God."

      Best to close this post down.

  • You might be Paul Ryan if....
  • In Switch, Egypt's Civilian President Makes Coup against Generals
    • AND another thing....

      Reporter on Egyptian military moves in the Sinai have been disparaged. link to npr.org

      It sounds like a Potemkin sham, for the sake or just what? Could tie into this whole business, where the underlying illegitimacy of the Israel/Egyptian peace is prone to unravel at some point.

    • You know, I just cannot get why Morsi would be incapable of doing something major without the US enabling him. Strikes me what's happened has been a complex and subtle matter of cutting a deal with the right people: not so much a coup as really good politics if he did it right.

      Otherwise I agree with pts 2 and 3, which do not support #1.

      Overall, wouldn't you rate developments positively?

      Answering my own question, I suppose it depends on what we mean by positively....

    • Since the election there have been a series of offsetting maneuvers between SCAF and Morsi. Looking at in their totality, they appear designed to either come out on top (intimidate) politically or to set the stage to settle things more directly (violently). It has struck me Morsi has been in a use-his legitimacy-or-loose-it situation since the election, and it wasn't as though it was that empowering a victory to begin with. So whatever he wanted to do needed to be done promptly.

      If Morsi has essentially pulled off a junior officers coup, then SCAF's understandable strategy of patience and undercutting will have collapsed. Given the age of the core cohort that supported Mubarek this seems very likely, as was their susceptibility to these "Young Turks," (so to speak).

      If you're right, and the relationship/deal he has cut with them holds, then there should be a foundation for real and ongoing stability. But what that portends for relations with Israel--and hence relations with the US--- becomes a very open question, given the questionability of that relationship's current legitimacy On The Street (I really do hate to use that phrase, but is there any another?)

  • Two Ways Mitt Romney Really Will Kill lots of People
    • When looking to future behavior you're best served by looking at track records. In governance Romney was centrist and pragmatic.

      Things are a great deal different now. He has a sporting chance of winning, in his Gollum-like pursuit of the Ring Of Power (....My Precioussss....), and the breath-taking deals he must have cut to this point, judging strictly from the toughness of his backers (read: Adelson etal), and the pronouncements he has been comfortable making publicly.

      As we re-new our passports, fret, and wonder Oh What Can We Do...think about his true record, but consider how much the future of the US will have to rely on his very LACK of integrity.

  • The Collapse of the Climate Change Contrarians and the End of Coal
    • When it gets down to it, Mother Earth may be satisfied to strip things down to bacteria for a major rebuild. Watching the crocodiles and the zebra video (think it was here....), I'm reminded that Gaia doesn't play favorites and she's pretty dispassionate about things.

    • ."....more people are now employed in green industries than work in coal. Thanks for pointing it out."

      Bears pointing out again!

  • "Now the King loved science and geometry..." (Chagall Lithograph from Arabian Nights)
    • These art postings are a great idea on a number of levels. I suppose a bit more might be said about them, but its better to let the humanity of the art speak for itself.

  • Romney on Jerusalem: A World of Hurt for America
  • Top Ten Most Distasteful things about Romney Trip to Israel
    • Israel starts a war with Iran and we'll have to finish it for them. Even if Iran restrains itself from attacking the 5th Fleet (who in a way are in the position of being hostages to our absurd "relationship": a trip-wire for US involvement if Iran tries to retaliate), "something" will happen. That's guaranteed by Mitt. Maybe naively, I think that Obama might otherwise tell Israel they're on their own.

    • The closer Romney gets the scarier he looks.....which is saying alot: think Rick Perry.

    • That was my first reaction as well: it puts everything else about Romney in Israel in context.

  • Syrian Baath Escalates, Uses Jets to Bomb Aleppo
    • So, turning the military against al-assad will be the key to "resolving" the situation. Best that can be hoped and worked toward would be for a kinder and gentler junta to have Had Enough. At that point we would get back to the status quo ante, hopefully with a more enlightened viewpoint toward the cilivian/military relationship, not unlike in Egypt.

      The best intentions of the resistant are thus better directed not at beating the military (fat chance), but at getting their attention and nominal respect, and negotiating a move along the above lines.

  • Ghoul's Glossary: From Atrocity (Syria) to CEO (Romney)
    • The link under the unicorn myth is worth noting for the subtlety of the propaganda, at a level beneath the threat of how an uncivilized country like Iran would, for some reason, "gift" one of a few astronomically expensive and complex devices to a terror group.

      The better argument they struggle to make, chiefly through REPETITIVELY JUST SAYING IT LOUD, is how Iran might/would use a nuclear capability as a shield to embolden non-nuclear acts of terror. It is true how more power provides confidence, but it's funny how confidence only emboldens and becomes a threat when it comes from currently weak country. It is far more true, when a state has unquestioned hegemony it provides them the freedom of action and option to avoid development of more peaceful relationships: just ask Israel.

      Now, imagine there were some power to offset Israel's, preferably without a common border, so their conflicts would be limited to political influence rather than substantive issues of ownership. Such a balance would serve to keep each other's actions in check. An increasingly modern and capable KSA would also be good for the neighborhood.

      Progress ultimately cannot be successfully fought and its course needs to be embraced and channeled. After all, who really wants to take the alternative argument to its natural conclusion, that its in anyone's enlightened self-interest to keep everyone else poor, hungry and resentful?

      The more we think of an nuclear capable Iran, the worse it bodes for current Israeli policies and the better it portends for a fair accommodation with the Palestinians, and a just and lasting regional peace.

  • Top Five Reasons Israel is Losing the Public Relations Battle
    • The people who make policy don't listen to MSM in any way other than to assess how the people are being managed. It is the elites who must finesse the people to do their bidding, one way or the other.

      Hence, the "problem" is solved by 1) getting past this representative democracy vanity, 2) having a offsetting voice that is as effective, if you choose to stay with the current set-up.

      There are bound to be other tacts, but I need to focus on feeding my own personal wolves.

    • I sympathize to the extent possible. Then there's that "self-hating Jew" business to shut people like you up, copyrighted by exactly whom?

    • To the degree to which Iran was not so prominently mentioned prior to GWB we can attribute the pre-emince of the Iraqi "near threat." There is truth in your take of #2, but it is due to Iraqi overshadowing.

      The US does have strategic interests that happen to complement those of Israel to a degree, but only at the Grand Level of checking their power. Were it not for Israeli influence on domestic US politics, US policies and strategies I think would be far less belligerent toward Iran.

      But in this regard, notice the recent movement of of US Naval assets into the Gulf. A bluff, a deliberate provocation or legitimate preparation? Will Iran be wise enough to simply ignore these actions, despite possible provocations, and resume any serious discussions once the elections are past? How does the US election figure in for Obama here, or for the GOP as we notice Romney's forthcoming trip to present his credentials to Israel, as he focuses ever more on his key constituencies?

      Wise heads may be playing a delicate and subtle game here, and that's the hope. But it is never a good idea to bring a number of combustable elements together in such proximity, including the political and the military ones.

  • States with Highest White Teen Births most Opposed to Obamacare
    • In regard to these sorts of issues, a first-class liberal arts education is indispensable. Illustrative of this, remember the pithy and far-reaching advice of Dean Wormer to Flounder, in Animal House, that, "fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life."

      Would that everybody received such a fundamental, base-line of education.

    • In this series of maps I keep being disturbed by the sense these are co-variates, as I think one commenter developed the idea. Underneath these things I suspect EDUCATION may be a more accurate and predictive correlate for behavior going against one's own self-interests.

  • Morsi provokes Constitutional Crisis in Egypt by recalling Parliament
    • Strikes me this may be a "use it or lose it" decision. Since the strategy of the SCAF is to whittle away, water-down, and wait-out the trend toward civilian control, Morsi needs to mobilize and exercise the people power, or at least press for everything he might be able to negotiate, before that influence is dissipated.

      It's otherwise a necessary, but bad assumption, that the enthusiasm we've been seeing can be sustained. In general, it is them with the deeper commitment, and the long game, who endure, and I expect this will be the case here as well. The SCAF, in this game, is now in the position of making a comparable offsetting move that does NOT energize the civilian opposition; if it cannot continue to exchange relatively peaceful moves, and instead attempts to exercise brute force, the real underlying issue of civilian v. military control is forced.

  • States with fewest Passports most Opposed to Obamacare
    • Making a conceptual adjustment in this graphic for latinos, what it tends to show is a urban/rural split, reflecting substantial non-latino immigrants in the cities, and/or people with a perspective that is necessarily more worldly. But it also suggests formal education, especially when you think of the NE.

      However you view it, direct interest and experience with a wider world is anathema to bigotry.

  • The Arab World's Fourths of July
    • Great comment. The long game is everything, and if they play it smart even 2016 shouldn't be positioned as decisive, but a stepping stone.

    • That would be my reaction as well, since cynicism is what we fall back on if we have to come up with a forecast.

      In the larger scheme of things, the reality is that the most probable outcome is itself improbable. Juan mentions Turkey, but they had the guiding precedence and Attaturk to give them a chance to get to where they are at the moment; maybe the model will be enough for the Egyptian junta to do the The Right Thing. But who knows? And with the confidence to make a bet with their own money???

      I see a two steps forward, one step back sort of deal: pick your own ratios. And, of course, the world of politics just as easily can spin in reverse.

    • Self-governance, presumably by some flavor of democracy, is an ongoing challenge always (ALWAYS) prone to backsliding, and forever the subject of backward pressures. There will be an ongoing challenge in the best of cases.

      Generations after the US founding there was a civil war that killed 700-800,000 people out of 31 million (coincidentally, about the population of Iraq?). A few (!!!) generations later there are people who have forgotten at least part of what it was supposed to have settled.

      Every generation is a blank-slate, that needs to be educated to what has been learned or agreed on to that point. Along with understanding that a theory is not just an opinion, and not all opinions have the same underlying validity. If this isn't done, you have the beginnings of a problem. No exceptions.

    • Television is the problem.

      What you have sketched-out doesn't make for good TV, assuming people watch with any real attention in the first place. It just takes way too much bandwidth to get your head around all this unless someone has been educated to the essentials over the course of a lifetime; they then have to be critical enough in the present to appreciate what lies beyond the surface, when they have their own survival needs to address.

      As a recovering addict, it is simply amazing how your time, ability to concentrate, and appreciation for complexity and nuance, all open-up once the TV is gone. It's like coming out of a medicated fog.

      For better or worse I suppose.

  • Aphorisms: Outrage
    • This, a humorous out-take quoted on Slate:

      "[President Obama] does not want you to have the self-esteem of getting up and earning, and having that title of American. He'd rather you be his slave."

      β€”Rep. Allen West

      Don't think these guys know how to push their constituents buttons.

  • Hajizadeh: If Israel attacks Iran, it will be Destroyed
    • Really. The barriers to deploying truly devastating technolgies are dropping and will be even more effective against the vulnerabilities of the West. The only real security for the West will come from relationships based oh fairness, equity and respect.

    • Unless Israel begins to work toward peace the forces against it will focus their energies on growing stronger. Only theoretically is there no motion in one direction of the other.

      During the last big rocket and missile barrages, mostly from Lebanon, most were small, practically unguided (pointed in the direction of a city, running out of fuel and dropping), and had warheads hardly larger than a hand grenade, hardly catastrophic assuming they did explode and it was in some place other than a field. They causing far more casualties indirectly than directly, through car crashes and heart attacks as people panicked at the sound of end of the world air raid sirens: An honest use of the tactic and the word Terrorism.

      It's the missiles than WILL eventually come, regardless of what they do if they stay with their current course, that Israel really needs to recognize and worry about. Security through intimidation is not security. The combination of cost decreases and weapon effectiveness increases will not be something they can defeat forever. Forever is just a bit too long to be an effective planning horizon. Unless, of course, Israel figures their opponents are too feckless and inhuman to harbor a grudge and can be waited out for thousands of years: it whatever time frame you specify, a very, very poor bet.

    • Or, to look at the predictable reactions from the powers that be, Iran's voicing a right to self-defense will be painted as an Existential Threat: "See! There they go again: no secret what these people are up to!"

      Kind of like Iran's "threat" to deploy an effective air defense system with those Russian S-300 missiles. (Sale delayed under pressure from guess who?)

      You realize, of course, this is all being quite successfully sold?

  • Flow Chart of Authority in Today's Egypt (!!!)
    • I think of US Republicanism as a buffered Democracy, increasingly less so since the founding, due to how Senators are now elected. A org chart along the above lines would have them on the outside of several concentric circles.

      But maybe, along with Egypt, the size of arrows inputing the deliberative body and presidency might be adjusted to reflect their influence. This chart implies the people have a equal input in Egypt. Maybe so, and what of the US case?

    • This would imply Egypt was still a bit unclear about the concept of democracy.

  • Top Five Things Morsi has to Do if Egypt is to Succeed
    • The economic issues are the really fundamental ones. Salafism can take many forms as Saudi Arabia has shown: it becomes a matter of style.

      Thing about Saudi Arabia is that they have bought US/Western support and acceptance. Not just by selling/safe-keeping oil, but by incredible amounts of arms and infrastructure purchases. What Egypt has is the canal, which they are also essentially safe-keeping for the West, but little else.

      Tourism? OK, there we have the value-added of a safe distraction for well-off Western tourists.

      Otherwise you have grants & aid for security purchases, to support the military, the mukhabarat, and Israel: pigs feeding at the same US trough with dung and crumbs trickling down to the people. Its a classic case of neo-colonialism.

      WTF....Expecting additional "help" from the IMF ???!!!

      So, what you're left with is what's "worked" before.

      No, what Egypt needs a real revolution. With persistence and flexibility Egyptians may yet pull this off over the course of years, but they'll need to be paced for the long, long road ahead, keeping the Signposts in perspective.

  • Cole's Opposition to Iraq War in January, 2003
    • The REAL overall point is that these guys JUST DON"T CARE, for the facts, or truth, or anything else, quite apart from their bad judgement and questionable values.

      THEY JUST DON'T CARE. It's all about consolidating and extending their power while diminishing that of others. There is something to be said for stability, caution, and the prudence of conservatism. But these people, who have managed to get, and still hold enormous power. With the latest Iraq war there are a dozen individuals, without whom it never would have happened, and they have not gone away.

      That 100's of thousands of people (Americans, Iraqis, and others) have been killed, permanently maimed, or had their lives destroyed, due to the latest Iraq war alone, simply does not matter to them: THEY JUST DON'T CARE.

  • Morsi: Between Human Rights and Extremism
    • You paint the profile of an astute and subtle guy.

      On the radio they played part of his speech in the background before a report, where while knowing no Arabic, it was easy to hear the rhythm and confidence in his voice, and the response from the crowd. I could not help but think he was connecting with his audience very, very well. Apparently he also stepped away from the podium and his notes, speaking to the audience directly like he was Bono or someone else with some real power, opening his coat to show the lack of an armored vest.

      Morsi seems to have come out of nowhere, or at least as a second-choice alternative. But there is a special motivation in people who are given a shot at something they didn't at all expect. The pureness of energy they sometimes bring, relatively unsullied by the habit of compromising that characterizes most leaders, implies this guy may try to do something, even if it is only to serve Egypt with competence and integrity.

      Sounds like an Existential Threat, if you know what I mean.

  • Top Six Things Congress would do if they Cared if we are Healthy
    • I agree, to keep relatively better off (and preferably to extend that lead), is deeply ingrained in the lizard brain that really drives things. (Its part of why I think the so-called abolition of slavery is a blip in terms of history, and stands to be reversed by neo-slavery in some form).

      Politicians and elites who hope to guide society have to manage these tendencies. The Right does this wonderfully because they relate to them so well; the rationality of progressives flounders.

    • That sums it all up.

    • Speaking to the underlying religion of the Pocketbook.

      According to the Congressional Research Service, pasted below:

      "The United States spends more money on health care than any other country in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The OECD consists of 30 democracies, most of which are considered the most economically advanced countries in the world. According to OECD data, the United States spent $6,102 per capita on health care in 2004 -- more than double the OECD average and 19.9% more than Luxembourg, the second-highest spending country. In 2004, 15.3% of the U.S. economy was devoted to health care, compared with 8.9% in the average OECD country and 11.6% in second-placed Switzerland".

      On this link is a fuller article with a graphic showing vividly THE HORRIBLE return on investment the US gets for its healthcare dollars. link to prwatch.org

      That alone ought to bring serious participation from the greedy and selfish, but I kinda think that with Obama representing any sort of improvement that isn't really the issue.

    • I think much of our exasperation comes from seeing things inconsistent with assumptions: such as we are all the same once you get past the superficial. The reality is that people tend to be greedy and selfish unless cultivated past their inherent baseness. As it is, the more greedy and selfish, and the fundamentally sociopathic (without feeling for others), meet and breed with their own, further refining a certain class of people who are increasingly powerful.

      The argument that healthcare should be a right and not a privilege carries no weight unless there is an over-riding moral dimension; speaking to Enlightened Best Interests in general should also be useful. But these things work only when there is a deeper sense of trans-generational responsibility, and only with more deeply-schooled elites with the freedom to do what is right is there a chance for more prudent and thoughtful policy making.

      We come up against the downside of modern democracy, which allows for the predominating influence of short-sighted sociopaths and arrivistes with no deeper sense of broader and longer-term responsibility. What's needed is a re-balancing of power and authority. Here I'm less than enthusiastic about further empowering democratic participation, except for the need to take power away from the oligarchs who have now effectively cornered it.

  • Graphs of Death: US Drone Strikes Visualized (Pegg)
    • Factoring out a lull for the first 3 months of '12, we'd be on-pace to matching total deaths for '11....a leveling off, implying possibly a budget/allowance of some sort...this is consistent with how the metrics-driven people now running things think and act.

      Assuming these best case #'s, there is a steep decrease in the proportion of civilian casualties, possibly due to closer management of drone usage. Gotta be careful or we'll think there are responsible adults managing things.

    • Just cannot put aside how self-serving figures coming out of the CIA and the administration would be inclined to be.

      These figures would also show a pattern of civilian deaths declining in 2010 as a proportion to overall (bad guy) deaths, to the point of being practically eliminated. It begs that awkward business of how to define civilians I suppose.

      Or, maybe a Star Chamber, presided over by a Wise and Enlightened Great Leader, really is the way to go.

    • Putting aside the integrity of the source, it is telling that they essentially owe up the the degree of acceptable collateral damage. (Which, as everybody knows, is just a Cost of Doing Business, taken care of by sending out checks to people who place no other value on each other's life [sic]).

      Otherwise, I wonder about the pattern. The increase going through 2010 might suggest Obama having been brought onboard to the true existential nature of the GWOT that uninitiated simply cannot get. More probably it was due to a lack of dissenting internal analysis combined with an increase in targets as more drones were brought into service.

      What's more interesting is the decline. What could account for that decline, as there were more drones, more theatres (eg, Africa, Yemen), and more confidence in them as a proven tool?

      Again, assuming these numbers could be taken at face value.

  • Video of the Day: The Nile Crocodile v. Wildebeest
    • The lesson here being the world becomes much simpler when we are reminded how simple things really are?

  • Could Syria-Turkey Conflict Pull NATO In?
    • Above Hurriyet Daily link didn't work.

      Here's my cut n' paste version. link to hurriyetdailynews.com

      It says Art 5 was not pursued, and the plane was in Syrian airspace 5 minutes but had been well clear of it when shot at (a missile?). Other places I read this sort of airspace clipping with all the various islands was not uncommon.

      Think it needs to be considered that Syria may well be actively looking to provoke Turkey. I'd be willing to hypothesize Israel is keeping well away from where it could be used by al-assad to consolidate the people against some external foreign threat, in which case with Turkey they may be simply making do...

    • Just heard some bluster from Turkey about this being "unacceptable," given the need to defend their territory. This has GOT to blow over.

      It was shot down over international waters indisputably, and whatever issues exist, infringement of Turkish airspace is not at issue:

      link to acus.org

    • Adding onto your point, when you pack more and more combustable elements into a small space, the potentials of something unforeseen happen go up geometrically, if not faster. This business was hardly foreseen but something like it was becoming inevitable.

      "We" need to ratchet-down the concentration of combustable elements or a chain-reaction will result. The Syrian regime actually will be drawn to provoking such an external crisis the more its internal prerogatives slip away, as a way of uniting the People. Israel is the best option to fill that role, but in a pinch they'll pretty much have to look to Turkey.

      "Our" best interests lie in letting the Syrians sort this thing out for itself. To support that policy, appropriate strategies and tactics can be deployed. One would be to avoid putting planes in a position of getting shot at by trigger-happy, OR state-empowered AA artillerymen.

    • You're fundamentally right IMHO. Still, tolerating relatively petty infringements is something a state cannot let itself become a habit. That its two different parties is irrelevant when the underlying issue of respect is at stake.

      With the NATO/WP this sort of thing had to been anticipated and could be kept in its proper place: here there is a more critical degree of messaging involved, both in the shooting and in the responses.

  • Will Egypt's Mursi challenge US-Israeli Mideast Policy?
    • I doubt very much if there's any conversation between the US and Egyptian military going on along these lines. It'd be understood.

      Even as Obama calls Mursi to congratulate him on his victory, the opportunity to work together, etc. And he probably is sincere. Its a bit of a paradox, but it's called politics. Take current events as a snapshot in a longer, unfolding drama.

    • The single easy, consensus call in your list deals with the canal. Along with other key properties around the world, is so central to worldwide security that they might as well consider themselves as caretakers.

      So, you factor out that and the the business with oil, which Egypt has very little of, and...once again...our single and over-riding concerns gets back to doing whatever it takes to maintaining the regional hegemony of Israel.

      Peace with Israel isn't so much the issue, but that Egypt might give support in some significant form to the Palestinians very much is. Its really more of a threat to Israel than the potential of Iranian nukes. You might even say, an Existential Threat.

      Don't expect Israel, er Washington, to let things drift out from under control of the puppets (SCAF) in whom they've invested 100s of Billions of YOUR tax dollars.

  • Campbell: Israeli PM Sharon Threatened Bush with Nuking Iraq (Mearsheimber & Walt vindicated)
    • And since Israel will NOT be giving them up (after all, they've not admitted to even having them), the US should back-off and let Iran develop latency. That alone would go far to even the regional power differential and increase the probability of reaching an enduring accommodation with the Palestinians.

    • Not withstanding agreement on your general point, the Liberty incident makes a lot more sense when you just look at events unfolding on the ground adjacent to where the Liberty was situated that week. Israel had events well in hand and simply wanted to keep it that way

    • I agree, but I wouldn't bet Israel wouldn't do. Just that it'd be Israel's problem if they did, and whatever security they didn't enjoy by coercion would promptly evaporate: They'd be rocketed irreversibly down the course they now appear to be merely sliding down. Theoretically they can still turn themselves around, but this sort of attack would ultimately be suicidal to Israel as a state.

    • No problem getting a bunch of responses here. Stephen King's Chuckee was small but it didn't keep him from being the driving force of that story.

      For a multitude of reasons Israel has a ring through the noise of US foreign policy, and they aren't shy about exercising their power. To say the Likudniks is more correct, but it also true that Israelis in general are responsible through tacit support of the Right (in the same way we in the US all bear a degree of responsibility for the actions of GWB).

      Now, take your observations and apply them to the Moscow talks. Obama has to be under incredible pressure, even as he knows that the best interests of the US have nothing to do with Israeli priorities in this matter. If he can get past the elections the pressure will lessen, but the Israelis know it; they may have even worked a deal to allow him that time with the understanding of what is to follow....

      I was struck by the new conference following the March meeting between Obama and Netanyahu. N was looking at O intently as he spoke, as if to confirm, once again, a central understanding he wanted to make sure there was no misunderstanding about: that Israel is a sovereign country and its prerogatives are under no constraint.

      Not to re-open the whole whats-going-to-happen-with-Iran discussion, but logic aside, the situation is looking worse and worse. Raytheon in Tucson just had a announcement of success on a new missile, designed to take out speedboats. The momentum of any number of other factors is all one-sided in preparation for a War of some sort, and creating a reality.

      There is a fine case to be made that a nuclear Iran would be the BEST thing (see Sagan, Waltz and Betts, link to iis-db.stanford.edu ), in terms of creating a regional equilibrium of power. This would also serve to encourage a fair and equitable solution to the Israel/Palestinian conflict, by neutralizing Israel's current regional hegemony. To be sure, in a realpolitical sense Iran needs to be constrained, but so does Israel. Saudi concerns are also real, but there is a Gulf between them, and a fair and equitable balance between the various powers is possible and needs to be pursued.

  • Did the Egyptian Generals make their Coup because of a Conspiracy Theory?
    • When events are not unfolding along the lines we anticipate, and especially if we (like SCAF), are used to being in control, it causes dissonance. In this case an attribution to Enemy Action. The SCAF premise seems to be that they are playing a role where their wisdom, judgement and actions are naturally accepted and deferred to by "their" people. Events are not fitting into that assumption, so something nefarious is afoot: Something under the radar. A Conspiracy.

  • Global Disappointment in Obama Actually Rational, unlike in US (Pew)
    • Tony Judt has put out a lot of very, very worthwhile pieces, especially pertaining to the practical ramifications of events over the last decade or so, and he's going to be missed.

    • Your comments remind me of the never fully-extinguished existence of racism which has been brought forth by Obama's election. It's an argument whether it has come about spontaneously or has been nurtured, but it really makes no difference.

      There appears to be a substantial # of people who would literally cut off their nose to spite their face. If that is the case, and a more balanced offset does not emerge, we have simply had it.

    • With all due respect, I'm sure many, many of us sympathize entirely with your evident exasperation with the consistency and comprehensiveness of the trends you've just outlined.

      Still, you have to understand this post had me thinking at some level that your site had been hacked, to the extent you exaggerated your observations so far as to make them appear ridiculous.

      Your initially assessment of Obama got to the heart of his actual performance, aggravated by the promise of his being anything BUT such a leader. But then, with your "Most American think...." generalizations, the effectiveness toward which your point was building spun out of control.

      For some time it has struck me that truly representative democracy has a serious flaw with how the mass of yahoos can be (and now are being) mobilized. That's why a republic is preferable, where there are several levels of responsibility insulating key policy-makers from the rabble. However, with new media focus on serving the prejudices of individual markets, and the proliferation of increasingly sophisticated propaganda tools, the freedom of responsible action by responsible (and responsibly constrained) authorities is being eroded.

      The response needs to be an offsetting discourse, AS WELL AS some new mechanism(s) to educate EVERYONE to less simplistic, black and white realities. The human condition, alas, may make that sort of awareness genetically impossible. In lieu of such new mediums and communications, it seems all we can hope for is a Benevolent King to emerge, at which point we are accepting the case for a Unitary Executive, which at best is like playing russian roulette.

      The Practical Move? See link to escapeartist.com

  • You Always Knew it, but Now . . .
    • Here's the link to Acemoglu and Robinson's book comparing how countries have historically developed with more/less checks on the elite. It really is worth promoting, tho I have no stake in it!

      link to amazon.com

    • In looking at any case, first try to separate the symptoms from the underlying problem. Greed, IMO, is the underlying chronic condition which will never go away but must be constantly addressed to keep in check. Most of these points are symptomatic of the worsening condition that we should use to mobilize ourselves to the seriousness of what's going on...even for those who'd prefer to feed on others, there's a point at which you realize you're pooping in your own bed. It is these people ultimately, who must at some point, recognize it is in their enlightened self-interest to find a more sane balance.

      Here's a great book that looks at where the road we are now most definitely is taking us: http://whynationsfail.com

      On the baselinescenario blog, Simon Johnson comments that it is:

      "a brilliant and sometimes breathtaking survey of country-level governance over history and around the world. Professors Acemoglu and Robinson discern a simple pattern – when elites are held in check, typically by effective legal mechanisms, everyone else in society does much better and sustained economic growth becomes possible. But powerful people – kings, barons, industrialists, bankers – work long and hard to relax the constraints on their actions. And when they succeed, the effects are not just redistribution toward themselves but also an undermining of economic growth and often a tearing at the fabric of society."

  • Libya's Problems will be Solved by more Democracy, not Less (Hilsum)
    • Really. We're far too infatuated with the dream of things happening overnite. A success, on their terms, because that's all that (should) really matter, is going to take generations before it settles down to something they can more or less take for granted.

      It took several generations before the US got to the point it could have a really bloody civil war. It seems the best you can hope for in participatory governance is to keep the violence in check, and backsliding can happen at any moment.

      Give them support and encouragement to find their own way and in their own time, and keep the machinations and wet-dreams of the West out of it.

    • And there you have it: Libya and its people need to find their own way.

    • Events really do support the idea that the key to practical respect from the US is a nuclear break-out capacity, at least. Developing a more subtle practical influence along the lines of the UK and Israel is along ways down the road for most other countries. To the extent countries like Germany have respect, it is for their ability to drag their feet before eventually doing what they must...

      Otherwise, Libya really is the most promising part of the so-called Arab Spring: the only Real Revolution. Half a revolution is something else...a tantrum maybe? It can cause change on the margins and over time possible steer the boat in a different direction, possible only temporarily. It keeps the powers that be from taking things totally for granted. Is better than nothing.

      But Libya represents something very different and very positive. They had a big enough expat community of technocrats that oil production, if I heard correctly, is back to 90%+ of pre-war levels. The bureaucracy is also quickly coming back together with the same new blood, carrying with it experience with more enlightened governance. They'll have problems, obviously, but there seems to be an underlying force of secularism undergirding things. If the Brotherhood makes inroads it may well come in a more benign and amiable form.

      We can only speculate how things will unfold and progress always tends to be a two steps forward, one step back sort of thing. But still, the ingredients for Libya finding its way in a good way seem to be in place, largely by virtue of their having gone through the pain of making a clean break with a real revolution.

      Maybe that's what we should see as necessary for Syria, however (infinity) more bloody the circumstances there may make it?

  • Planned Israeli Detention Camps for Africans Draw Human Rights Protests
    • As people used to say about the old USSR, Israel is just riddled with "internal contradictions," only they seem to want to stick to them to the bitter, bitter end.

  • Faux News & Patriotism (Jamiol Cartoon)
    • Another example of how this works is unfolding at this moment. Romney's weakness being he's out of touch, they are now attacking Obama on this precise point. The salvo they just launched was locked and loaded, and they were just waiting for the opportunity to unload.

      As a word, propaganda must have roots in the notion of dissemination. And to disseminate any idea, relentless repetition is key. Similarly, if you want to defend against it you need to confuse the point. The best way to to this is to hijack it. Jujitsu, as it were. Think of how Kerry's war record was not only distorted, but turned ACTIVELY against him. The brilliance of the Swift-boaters, aside from their timing (where it was tough to effectively respond), was how they were able to latch onto, and leverage their impact, against what was rationally the strength of Kerry's war record.

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