Recent Comments

  • Abortion Clinics, White Christian Terrorism and GOP Candidates (30)
  • Thank You for Your Support (80)
    • Thank you Juan for all that do and the information you provide. The entries and articles are invaluable to many of my friends and relations. Please continue your good work!

  • Abortion Clinics, White Christian Terrorism and GOP Candidates (30)
    • Juan Cole notes that terrorism is defined as " non-state actors using violence against civilians to achieve a political aim." What do you call it when STATE actors use violence against civilians to achieve a political aim (for example, the fire-bombing of Dresden or the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki)?

  • Turkey reels as Putin imposes Stiff Economic Sanctions (8)
    • All Erdogan needs do to get this off the table before the sanctions bite either way is climb down a little further. The nub is in Dr Cole's last question, Will the Turks blame Erdogan? Will he risk that? More likely he'll find an acceptable accomodation, the lesson, however, will have been learned.

  • Did Turkey send a deliberate message to Russia & was the US involved? (6)
    • Several points:

      It is important to note that Turkey took the position that those being bombed by the downed Russian jet were not ISIS but rather ethnic Turkmen that Erdogan considers brethren.

      The missile strike on the Russian jet that was shot down did not kill either the pilot or co-pilot, but the pilot was killed later by Syrian rebels while the co-pilot hid and was later led to safety.

      Also, the article above suggests Turkish support for the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria known as Jabhat al-Nusra; I am not aware of any credible information that the Turkish government has given active support to this group - which the U.S. State Department has designated as a foreign terror organization.

  • Turkey reels as Putin imposes Stiff Economic Sanctions (8)
  • Abortion Clinics, White Christian Terrorism and GOP Candidates (30)
  • Turkey reels as Putin imposes Stiff Economic Sanctions (8)
    • Maybe the Russian response is about something more important than the arithmetic. It does seem shocking that Turkey would shoot down a Russian bomber, given the apparently extensive economic ties between the two countries. Maybe Putin is outraged enough by the stab in the back that he doesn't care how the numbers fall out, as long as Turkey gets hurt. Or maybe he just wants to test the West's commitment to Turkey now that containment is a policy of the past. If I were Obama, I'd be looking at the clause in NATO's charter that covers expelling a reckless member.

  • Abortion Clinics, White Christian Terrorism and GOP Candidates (30)
    • The word "dealbreaker" is the most important mystery in America's political system. It appears that far-right extremists are overrunning Congress and state government simply because their hateful, classist and racist agendas are NOT dealbreakers for most of the people who bother to vote.

      They would vote for Hitler if they could get a tax cut out of it.

  • Poll: Muslims actually HATE ISIL/ Daesh (5)
    • Pakistan is the only odd one out. While those who view ISIL as favourable are comparatively small in Pakistan compared to other countries, most people there don't know what to make of ISIL.

    • This is not surprising at all. The vast majority of Muslims in the world a very much like all other humans--tethered to their cultures and traditions, but empathetic toward other people that they co-exist with in the world.

      But, unfortunately, politics and instabilities come to bear on how we all interpret the multitudinous contexts that shape our views in the moment.

      The nations, cultural/religious hierarchies, and the geopolitical hegemonic power plays that unfold are multitudinous, nuanced, and in play--those that project reductive interpretations to sow strife will be known for their fruits.

      For stability it is crucial to project ecumenical narrations that respect the ineffable tapestry.

      With this said--I will resist all authoritarian gestures that seek to enforce sectarian domination within the context of the 'state', as per international law.

  • Pres. Obama refuses to recognize new Israel Squatter Settlements on Palestinian Land (4)
    • Long over due to demand that AIPAC be required to register as foreign lobbyist. And I would be shocked, awed, and pleased to see for once an evenhanded condemnation of terrorism on both sides.

  • Top Ten differences between White Terrorists and Others (10)
  • Thank You for Your Support (80)
  • Turkey reels as Putin imposes Stiff Economic Sanctions (8)
  • Top Ten differences between White Terrorists and Others (10)
    • neither can you possibly mean 'more nefarious'?
      This time, the 'white terrorist' in question indeed did hit a hospital and people seeking medical assistance. What can be worse than randomly shooting kindergardeners, and where is the difference between shooting the audience of a batman movie and people at a bus stop?

  • Poll: Muslims actually HATE ISIL/ Daesh (5)
    • I think I forgot to check the notify box

    • What would explain why 79% of Indonesians Muslims have an unfavorable view; only 4% are favorable and 11% not know/wont answer whereas in Malaysian, only 64% of the Muslims surveyed have an unfavorable view; 11% have a favorable view and 25% don't know/wont answer? Malaysia is much more urban (an cosmopolitan) than Indonesian. It citizens should know that ISIS has been responsible for the deaths of untold numbers of Muslims. Does this survey possible suggest that more conservative forms of Islam are making inroads into the country? Any thoughts. Hope you might reply Stephen (I have been visiting Malaysia via Youtube daily since march -- I am interested in its cultural diversity and it youth culture which seems to be quite "Western" (Kpop, hiphop crews, shuffle crews, bboy crews, etc.)

  • Top Ten differences between White Terrorists and Others (10)
    • Number one is interesting. What exactly is the difference between being randomly killed by a gunman and being randomly killed by a suicide bomber, both of which don't even know you personally? Is one of them a more painful death than the other or what? I don't get it... (you can't possibly mean 'numbers' unless you want to actually point out the relative inefficience of non-white terrorists, with the exception of 9/11, compared to white hits like Oklahoma City, Sandy Hook, Columbine, etc.etc.)

  • Abortion Clinics, White Christian Terrorism and GOP Candidates (30)
  • Hundreds of Thousands in Global Climate Marches as COP21 begins in Paris (2)
    • I am not sure how the system works for edit, but this should be part of my earlier post. I wanted to see if the HTML worked and the clock kept running.

      I wanted to add that Hansen provides a plausible carbon budget that should be considered by world leaders.

      Here is the link to Hansen's post

      link to

    • Excellent article by James Hansen, one of the world's leading climate scientists.

      UK and US have already met their climate budget going back to the 1700's since greenhouse gasses stay around for thousands of years

      He notes that after the 2008 climate summit when leaders looked bad, they will do everything this time around to make sure that they look like they are doing something.

      But it will not be enough. Specifically on Obama's position

      A prelude of Paris deceit is shown by Chart 3, a press conference with John Podesta, once czar of Obama’s climate policy, and Energy Secretary Ernie Moniz. They express optimism on the Paris summit, citing an agreement of the U.S. and China to work together to develop carbon capture and storage (CCS). That spin is so gross, it is best described as unadulterated 100% pure bullshit.

  • Abortion Clinics, White Christian Terrorism and GOP Candidates (30)
    • The phrase "abortion clinics" buys into the right wing's characterization of Planned Parenthood clinics. Planned Parenthood provides many services other than abortions. Perhaps a better way of describing the clinics that have been attacked would be something like "clinics that provide abortions."

  • Israeli squatters in Palestine storm Palestinian activist center in Hebron (1)
  • Turkey reels as Putin imposes Stiff Economic Sanctions (8)
    • I'm not sure this is at all so clear-cut. For the last year, Turkey has steered a quite independent course from Europe, forgoing sanctions and providing an alternative to the South Stream project. And 30 billion dollars of trade is nothing to sniff at, but.... if you look beyond the dollar totals, you will see that this trade is overwhelmingly unidirectional. Turkey imports Russian goods, mainly gas and oil, but in turn exports very little to back to Russia. Yes, you could phrase this as a balance of trade issue, but that's seems too clever by half. Is Russia going to cut off its second largest natural gas customer or it's 4th largest oil customer? And long-term what does this rift mean for the energy-dependent Russian economy? Europe is weaning itself off of unreliable Russian energy. South Stream is kaput. The Chinese have mothballed an already extremely favorable energy deal.

      No doubt, even before the current rift, the Turkish economy was slowing from around 9 percent growth to around 3.8% (why did you round down?). That's still pretty healthy. Inflation is around 6 or so percent, not great, but pretty low by Turkish standards.

      I do think the loss of tourist dollars will hurt, as will the loss of jobs for Turkish workers and businesses. But again, dig a little deeper, and you have to ask yourself, with the Russian economy in recession, wouldn't a lot of these tourist dollars dry up anyway? And as for the businesses and workers, many (likely most) of them are focused in the building and construction sector. Since the late 1980s, Turkey has built a lot of mid-range apartment and office buildings in Russia. Well, what do you think happens to this sector in a recession?

      And let me add, I am no fan of the current government in Turkey, or the downing of the Russian jet, but as a scholar of Russia, I find your analysis of the economics here troubling and one-sided. I am quite wary of your source,, which is run by a frequent contributor to RT News, and is aimed specifically to counter the reporting from the Economist, the NYT, etc. While I have all kinds of long-running problems with western reporting on Russia, I think it has actually improved pretty significantly over the past some years (and is in any case much more reliable than RT News). Maybe it's just that you now operating on my turf, so I can see more clearly, but I don't think this piece is up to your usual standards.

    • Erdogan appears to be having serious regrets. Apparently he called twice but Putin wouldn't take his calls. He's now manoeuvring for a meeting in Paris on the side lines of the climate change conference, a meeting he may well not get either. He has treated the body of the downed Russian pilot with impressive reverence, and he has uttered a formulaic apology saying he wishes the event had not occurred. However, he still insists the plane was in Turkey's airspace, albeit only for seconds, and until he revises that claim I imagine Putin will continue to rub his nose in it. Meanwhile, few Europeans would consider it an acceptable response to shoot down an aircraft actively engaged in combating ISIL even if it did stray over the Turkish border, and that taken with Obama's knee jerk support of Turkey's 'right to defend its airspace', so like his support for Israel's carnage in Gaza, will only increase European respect for Putin and sympathy for Russia. Furthermore, the whole thing is unlikely to help Cameron when he tries to coax the UK Parliament to authorise bombing in Syria, and if Cameron fails at that, as he did once before, Obama's tenuous 'strategy' will suffer a further blow.

      They seek one here,
      They seek one there,
      His courtiers seek one everywhere.
      Where will they find one,
      Nobody knows
      Of a good dry cleaner for Emperor's clothes.

    • After Russia, Iran is a major supplier of gas to Turkey and also has growing trade links. Turkey's problems would be compounded if Iran also joins in the ban on the sale of gas to Turkey and limits her trade. It would really put the squeeze on Turkey during the winter months, but it would be an unwise decision. The problems in Syria cannot be resolved without some sort of agreement and joint action by Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, as well as the United States and Russia. Iran could play a more constructive role by trying to bring Russia and Turkey back together and form an effective coalition against ISIS.

  • Poll: Muslims actually HATE ISIL/ Daesh (5)
    • Are people really being told that how Muslims hate isis? I think you should add to Somalia to your list of how much we really HATE them 100% and the Shabab murderers as well. It would be much much better and appreciated if you'd call them gangsters or killers rather than Islamic extremists and they'll definitely won't like that name. Thank you, and I'm in Mogadishu Somalia where corruption impunity is the norm.

  • Abortion Clinics, White Christian Terrorism and GOP Candidates (30)
    • I hope you are wrong, but I fear you are correct. Today's conservative movement has a very large and strong faction of people who are real extremists who live in a delusional world and ignore facts and cling to beliefs, no matter how illogical and counter-factual they may be. You cannot reason with them. I live in a senior community, among many of these type and most are old white men, so the best hope is that in 20 years most of them will have died off.

    • I read that the security guard at the stadium where the France--German soccer match was being played who didn't allow the suicide bomber in and died when he set his vest off, was a Muslim of ethnic North African ancestry.

    • They were aided by European diseases like small pox which decimated their societies. I have seen an estimate that after the Pilgrims landed many tribes in the Northeast lost up to 90% of their populations to small pox. It was sort of an unintentional biological warfare.

    • You wrote, "there has never been a claim by such abortionist killers that they are attempting a societal-wide form of “christian sharia”. " Right wing fundamentalists want to impose the very thing you say is missing from anti-abortion killers. Just because the violent extremists don't mouth that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. From that wing of the conservative movement you see all the time statements like our government is founded on Christianity, how God's law must be supreme, and similar. The Hobby Lobby case is an excellent example of how, in the name of religious freedom, the right wing has been successful in allowing right wing business owners to impose their religious beliefs on their employees. There is a coherent and unified theory among right wing evangelicals and it gives cover or justification to extremists who want to use violence to achieve those ends.

  • Did Turkey send a deliberate message to Russia & was the US involved? (6)
    • It is my theory of politics that when you have a government controlled by one man or one party/movement, those in control are more likely to identify the national interest as being the same as their own, personal interest. I don't think Russia has been well served by its policies in the Ukraine, either, but Putin seems intent on trying to regain past glory, so he chooses policies that fill that goal rather than a long term view of what is in the national interest of Russia. Erdogan is more firmly in control since the recent election than before, so I think that leads to more adventurism in foreign policy, and more poor choices in foreign policy.

  • Abortion Clinics, White Christian Terrorism and GOP Candidates (30)
    • Much like the right-wing attacks on Muslims as a whole based on the actions of a few terrorists, this mis-represents most pro-life people based on the actions of a few extremists.

      The basis of the pro-life position is that the unborn child is a human, with human rights. Attempts to reduce abortions are, or the most part, made not with reducing women's rights in mind, but with protecting the right to life of the unborn child.

      That said, I am disappointed that American pro-life groups have concentrated on making hoops to jump through and making abortion more difficult, instead of dealing with the reasons women want abortions. We should work to reduce demand, rather than supply.

  • As French Pres. Hollande meets Putin, France considers alliance w/ Syrian Army (4)
    • Taking on Daesh in a serious way means ground forces.

      The Kurds aren't willing to conquer and hold Sunni areas. The Sunni rebels are weak, divided and dominated by jihadists. The Syrian regime troops have been ruled out. Western forces after the Iraqi debacle won't go in and Egypt, Saudi and other Arab armies aren't volunteering.

      So there is no plan to take on Daesh in a serious way.

  • Top Ten differences between White Terrorists and Others (10)
    • There's a much simpler answer. People who want to drag America back to its barbaric, racist past are called "patriots", and in reality tens of millions of Americans support that and condemn anyone who shows any signs of moderation or compromise. Therefore, terrorists who are the antithesis of moderation and compromise are the best patriots of all. And of course a patriot supports the supremacy of the race responsible for all that is good about America, so he is 99% likely to be white.

      You claim they're not part of an intentional conspiracy. The abortion clinic bombers have essentially won their war and gotten away with it. Their violence did not discredit the establishment anti-abortion movement, it strengthened it to the point where it no longer needs the bombers to legislate abortion out of existence piecemeal. We are dealing with a large faction of Americans who turn their worst males into terrorists to carry out plausibly deniable executions of dissenters. Maybe one day after they've killed off all of us they will get funding from the regime to go overseas and commit terrorism there to spread its ideology. Saudi Arabia has done exactly that.

  • Abortion Clinics, White Christian Terrorism and GOP Candidates (30)
    • A judge once famously declared that pornography is hard to define but one knows it when one sees it, i.e. "interior dialog".

      The death penalty is still practiced in a number of states in the US, despite controversy. How much of that controversy has been functional in nature, weighing costs and benefits, such as its (lack of) deterrence?

      The standards you are invoking do not seem to guide lawmaking and jurisprudence in actual practice - other than as an ideal to strive for or as a facade to legitimize the system. Quite like religious ideals, come to think of it ;-)

    • Do you think so? What percentage of the total electorate (not just Republicans) finds the fundamentalist position on women's rights a total deal-breaker? Check out the percentage of fundamentalists in the US and you will see what I mean. Even if a Bible-thumping candidate wins the nomination by appealing to evangelist hard-liners, will he be able to overcome his , uh, extremist anti-intellectualism in the general election?

  • Top Ten differences between White Terrorists and Others (10)
  • Abortion Clinics, White Christian Terrorism and GOP Candidates (30)
    • So, beating black protesters in Birmingham while the leading GOP contender for president eggs them on, shooting black protesters in Minneapolis, shooting up and burning Planned Parenthood clinics after a completely bogus GOP smear campaign that was like Shake & Bake McCarthyism. Ready to fight back yet?

      This isn't about the leaders, after all. It's about our fellow Americans and whether we can share a country with them anymore. You won't save yourselves by letting them secede, either, because I'm in one of the prime secession zones and I deny their right to restore barbarism, racism, and theocracy on one acre of our soil. I will fight, and as we have seen in other parts of the world, you will not be able to avoid being dragged in.

    • Nods. Fundamentalists of all persuasions miss the simple truth that if a woman really wants to abort a fetus, she will. It just means more women will die. You don't need to look at other countries to see this. It was true here until Roe v Wade. Unfortunately, fundamentalists seem to see women, at best, as sub-human, and at worst, as evil incarnate, so their deaths do not matter. (That includes, sadly, female fundamentalists. Sometimes they are the worst. That sort of siding with an abuser is a feature of abusive/hostage relationships.)

    • You are so right. I am puzzled by how many women (the majority of readers) continue to put male writers at the top of best-seller lists in spite of the cardboard female characters the latter create.

      For generations, women were raised to believe that their destiny was to "nurture" and even when they worked they were shuttled into such low-paid, work/skill intensive jobs as teaching, nursing, and office management.

      Women who dared to assert themselves were labeled with synonyms of the b word--a female dog who dares to defend herself.

      Some women have always dared not to care. It is hard to defy expectations, but not impossible. I think it's one of those things that has a threshold. One day, things could, seemingly all of a sudden, change.

      Some men sense this and are scared to death that they will no longer have women at home who will take care of them and support them when they are immature, nasty jerks and women at work who will take the blame for their incompetence and allow them to take unearned credit.

      As male/female percentages equalize in top grad schools, they are afraid their spoiled sons will have to study as hard as their neighbors' daughters in high school and college instead of "sowing wild oats" and hitting weekly keggers.

      This is really why they are attacking birth control, as well as abortion. They want to turn back the clock to an imagined good old days when Dear Old Dad could act like a 2 year old and everyone would say, "Aw--we love him so much. Father knows best."

      On some level, we all know what is happening. It's sad, in a way, but when we are choosing leaders and trying to prevent murders, we should be thinking about it.

    • You are missing the point of stochastic terrorism. Instead of a unified terrorist force with a unified ideology that can be identified and hated, the right wing in our capitalist media culture can simply issue fatwas in the form of smears, and violent individuals can choose the fatwa that they are willing to kill for and then carry it out with the ample weapons at everyone's disposal. The central, totalitarian ideology is not lacking, it exists as an overlap of the all the seemingly independent right-wing extremist factions. But if you dig into the furthest right prophets of extremism, like R. J. Rushdoony, you discover that they unified all these ideas into a comprehensive system of patriarchal tyranny, then disguised it by forming hundreds of foundations, think tanks, and religious pressure groups. Then they all advanced together, a sort of cloud of extremism that could maintain plausibly deniable links with elected GOP leaders.

      You will find that the rank & file soldiers of ISIS and al-Qaeda are often ignorant boys who know little about their leaders' global agenda. They care about their village or a killed relative or their own bad experiences. Hitler understood with the Fuhrer principle that the henchmen don't want to mess with the complexities of an organic, world-explaining ideology, they want faith and trust in leaders as a replacement for complex argumentation. Stochastic terrorism carries that further by a "politics of the deed" that once inspired anarchists to independently carry out the assassinations of several world leaders.

    • Great point, but my impression is the people screaming for theonomy like to pick and chose. There were 22 violations demanding death, and the Kentucky court clerk would have been stoned to death before any chance to become religious. Yes, the Old Testament does not mention abortion, but it DOES take a position on rape. "If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay the girl's father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the girl, for he has violated (anah) her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives." Deuteronomy 22:28-29

  • Israel To Coordinate With Google, YouTube, To Censor Palestinian Videos Of Conflict (6)
  • Top Ten differences between White Terrorists and Others (10)
    • This could probably do with some tweaking to reflect the way in which groups like ETA, the IRA, Ulster Freedom Fighters, Red Brigades etc are represented. A useful hypothesis could be that their whiteness is replaced with a different ethnic (Basque, Irish) or political (loyalist, extreme-left) label, thus rendering them 'honorary non-whites' and so able to be referred to as 'terrorist', with everything that implies (as stated in the original list).

  • Abortion Clinics, White Christian Terrorism and GOP Candidates (30)
    • @Sufi Muslim, thank you for the reference. I have no doubt that Khaled Abou El Fadl is eminently qualified and his book very compelling to Muslims. Yet, your comment also highlights to me a fundamental disconnect.

      To a secular, agnostic humanist like myself even the title hardly computes. There are many views of the divine, and from the outside looking in, any dialog with this realm will be but an interior dialog. One that doesn't hold any particular sway in a secular society that accommodates many beliefs and ways of life. In order to inform how such a society should be structured the arguments for the law of the land need to be functional in nature. I.e. based on what they accomplish and measured against the shared values of a diverse society, regardless if the true motivation ultimately flows from deeply held religious convictions.

    • Its all always been about Power.

      And in a practical sense nothing defines your power other than whether others have more/less than you do.

      With exceptions, women are socialized to seek the protection of men, with relatively more Power, whether it was from lions and tigers and bears, or not having enough money to send "their" kids to good schools and otherwise live the life to which they are accustomed (or would like to become accustomed: ambition is another, not unrelated topic). Men respond to this same need in their own way, due to their own exigencies.

      Whether we're talking about division of labor, or just who is the parasite, whenever a man and woman come together you will have a certain type of conflict; when any two men come meet there is another type. What matters is how these things are managed. This extends to relations between states when you think about it, and it's at the heart of what motivates people (individually or collectively) to do all the counter produce and irrational things they do.

      Because, its all about Power. And even at that, it doesn't necessarily make a lot of sense.