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Total number of comments: 2636 (since 2013-11-28 14:21:48)

joe from Lowell

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  • Massive War Crimes: Syrian Regime Tortured, Starved, Murdered 11,000 Prisoners
    • I think it grossly underestimates the involvement of Syrians in Syrian politics and civil war by looking at it purely through the lens of international affairs.

    • This theory that the United States pursues a policy of destabilization in the MENA region runs contrary to the historical record. The US has always worked to promote stability as its main foreign policy goal there, even at the expense of other interests. For example, backing the military dictatorship in Egypt during the Cold War, or its relationship with the House of Saud. What country would desire instability in the region where its energy supplies come from?

      I think the error comes in looking at the outcome of the Iraq War and concluding that it must have been the plan all along, as opposed to a debacle that the Bush administration unleashed and couldn't control.

      It's true, the Obama administration has downgraded stability as a goal, and elevated other considerations like reform, out of a combination of principle and a recognition that the old order is inevitably changing, but that doesn't mean they are actively setting out to promote instability. Remember, their initial diplomatic stance towards Syria upon taking office was to pursue a diplomatic thaw with Assad, and it was only after the Arab Spring protests and their suppression that the policy changed.

      Look at the oil price spike that was set off by the Libyan Civil War. Would you "instability" in the corner office of the company that delivers your heating oil?

    • joe from Lowell 01/23/2014 at 9:44 am

      An ad hominem (Latin for "to the man" or "to the person"[1]), short for argumentum ad hominem, is a general category of fallacies in which a claim or argument is rejected on the basis of some irrelevant fact about the author of or the person presenting the claim or argument.

      link to en.wikipedia.org

    • "the United States, Russia, Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia that are the main players in this deadly game"

      Are there no Baathists in Syria? Are there no Syrian rebels?

      What is going on in Syria is, and has always been, mainly about the Syrians. The presence of backing by foreign powers does not make the war mainly about them.

    • "No doubt it has been US military adventurism and arm-twisting of the UN which has prevented the development and acceptance of such institutions of conflict resolution."

      "No doubt" is doing an awful lot of work in this sentence.

  • After Defending Pot, Obama has to Pardon Medical Marijuana Growers He Jailed
    • joe from Lowell 01/23/2014 at 10:08 am

      "Stalin was not on the Left, by the way, nor Mao, and the Pol Pots are just the most successful of sociopaths and no respecters of political alignment."

      Wow.

    • joe from Lowell 01/23/2014 at 10:06 am

      Digging through the hyperbole and verbiage, I'm able to get to this: Presidents use executive orders in cases where they don't expect to get what they want through the political process.

      Yep.

      "And of course given the realities of captive legislature and gridlock and the ignoring of the general welfare by the Imperium, saying the remedy lies in moving an issue through Congress is a little disingenuous."

      I guess that explains why Colorado and Washington just legalized marijuana; because political victory on the issue is so impossible, owing to the nefarious powers-that-be.

      I remember when you used to write comments like this explaining why the Military Industrial Complex was never, ever going to allow the withdrawal of American troops from those permanent bases in Iraq.

      As it turns out, there are politics in the United States, and sometimes powerful interests lose.

      "I bet there are a lot of Executive Orders that Joe and others think are just peachy."

      Sure, like his recent series of executive orders on immigration. Still, I would have vastly preferred that Congress pass immigration reform. The EPA's rule-making under the Clean Air Act has made real gains in the area of GHG emissions, but we still need a climate bill to pass through Congress.

      Executive orders absolutely have their place. You pick the right tool for the job.

    • joe from Lowell 01/23/2014 at 9:59 am

      Thank your for the ad hominem.

      The reasoning of the judge who ruled against the metadata collection was rather different from yours, though arriving at the same result. If you want to get into discussions of law, you need to think beyond the result, and get the reasoning right.

    • This heated insistence on executive orders, and the personal insults directed at the President for not pursuing that path, look exactly like the discourse around Don't Ask Don't Tell a month before Congress repealed it.

      As we all now (hopefully) understand, that repeal never would have happened if Obama had issued those executive orders. Doing so would have shifted the debate from the actual issue - which was a winner for the pro-reform side - to the personality and "lawlessness" of President Obama.

      Executive orders are a second-best, temporary solution when you can't actually win on the issue. Why settle? The public mood is changing, and we are in the process of winning this one for real.

    • "Is the implication that people who advocate ending the prohibition idiocy on pot are attacking the long-standing reading of the Commerce Clause, the foundation of the federal regulatory apparatus?"

      Not all of us; just Professor Cole, who wrote, "It isn’t even clear these raids and arrests were constitutional, since no interstate commerce was involved."

      You know, JT, you don't have to defend every argument just because it is made on behalf of a cause you support. You are actually allowed to conclude that a particular argument by someone on your own side is nonsensical.

      You are allowed to say that "It isn’t even clear these raids and arrests were constitutional, since no interstate commerce was involved," is bad Con Law, and inconsistent with the modern regulatory state, even if you support marijuana legalization - and you don't even have to have any ulterior motive, beyond the truth, to do so.

    • joe from Lowell 01/21/2014 at 3:31 pm

      The comment Professor Cole decided to allow through was a second comment, and it's not clear what I meant without the first.

      I was referring to Dr. Cole's statement about drug laws being unconstitutional on the grounds that the drugs aren't sold across state lines.

      That is the argument used by opponents of the New Deal in the 1930s, and their fellow travelers today, to try to strike down the modern regulatory and welfare state. It was struck down decades ago, and crops up only in the fevered rants of libertarian extremists like the Koch brothers and their hired mouthpieces.

    • joe from Lowell 01/21/2014 at 3:28 pm

      Which, of course, they do retain that right. There is no action Obama can take to strip federal law enforcement of the right to enforce the federal laws that they have been specifically ordered to enforce via legislation.

    • joe from Lowell 01/21/2014 at 3:27 pm

      "Uh, I think the President can call the DEA in and tell them to back off."

      And given the tiny numbers of arrests - less than 200 in the entire country in five years, no? - it's pretty clear that he has.

      Nonetheless, that's not going to grind the entire machinery of a major federal agency to a halt, or eliminate its legal and political authority to continue to do its job. It still misses the mark quite badly to discuss the ongoing execution of the DEA's mission as if it was happening at the personal behest of Barack Obama.

    • Just so you know, the argument you're making here was dismissed by the Supreme Court some 80 years ago, when it was brought to them by right-wingers attempting to strike down the New Deal, and continues to be a favorite of reactionary right-wingers, since its application would eliminate the modern welfare and regulatory states.

    • He has averaged 36 medical marijuana prosecutions a year since taking office in 2009, whereas even W. only averaged 20 a year....Now Obama comes out and says pot is no worse than alcohol. So was he not in control of Holder and the Department of Justice?

      First of all, isn't this number meaningless without comparing the number of medicinal pot dispensaries, and how it has increased steadily over the years?

      But more importantly, what makes you think that the DEA sits around and waits for the Attorney General of the Oval Office to give them marching orders? The DEA is empowered to carry out its mission by federal law, passed by multiple Congresses and signed by multiple Presidents.

      Did you spend the Bush years claiming that the Bush administration sent out hundreds of millions of Social Security checks? Did you spend the Reagan administration talking about how Ronald Reagan is personally responsible for all of the enforcement actions the EPA took against polluters?

      The permanent executive branch agencies operating in accordance with federal law are not agents of the Oval Office. In many cases, they have not only federal law authorizing them to act on their own, but represent a significant political power center in their own right. You often find administrations fighting against "their own" federal agencies over changes of policy. That has certainly been happening under this President; he's been taken to court by immigrations agents, for instance, over executive orders limiting enforcement actions.

      If you don't understand that the DEA had a great deal of independence and power, both in the law and in the political arena, then you're not going to understand the politics of prohibition and reform very well.

  • 4 Ways Obama has Misled on NSA Surveillance
    • 1. Kindly reread President Obama's statement. It does not read, "There have been no abuses," you erroneously quote him, but rather, "In the use of the data." All of your citation about abuses in the collection of the data, not the use.

      2. "The record is far less clear." Clear to whom? I'm not inclined to believe that you have better information on this than the President of the United States. It's true that we're being asked to take his word for it, and that we cannot confirm the claim, but that is a weak basis for concluding that his statement was wrong in any way.

      3. An subtle act of misdirection. President Obama is talking about whether Americans are being spied on - that is, whether anyone in the government apparatus is using the data to look at Americans. Your point, that data has been collected onto servers, is a different one. The question of spying is about whether people are looking through that data to surveil US persons, not whether the data exists.

      4. Seems legit.

  • America Black Ops Wars in 134 Countries
    • I guess I'm out of step with the rest of the internet.

      When someone exaggerates his case beyond recognition and uses over-the-top language to draw eyeballs, it doesn't make me want to negotiate with him down to the truth. It makes me want to reject his argument in his entirely - a habit that goes back to the Bush administration's WMD case, if not before.

      "134 Chances for Blowback"

      From Finland? For training Central American navy personnel in explosives?

  • Obama NSA Defense FAIL: The al-Mihdar Red Herring
    • Let's lay out the facts again: the NSA was monitoring a subject in Yemen, who Mihdar called. They didn't know who the call was coming from.

      The FBI was surveilling Midhar.

      What would make the NSA, who were monitoring someone in Yemen, think to ask contacts at the FBI about Midhar?

      (Some unspecified) "They" had him under surveillance doesn't answer this question.

    • I think you misunderstand. The people who caught the phone call in Yemen didn't "fail to talk to" anyone else about who it came from. They didn't know who it came from.

      What would make someone in Washington respond to the interception of that phone call in Yemen talk to someone else about al-Midhar, when they didn't know it was al-Midhar?

  • Messianic Israeli Minister obsessed with Palestinian Land accuses Kerry of Messianic Obsession
    • Professor, you're a Middle East expert.

      Do you think the use of the term "messianic" to describe John Kerry is a dog whistle for religious-right Israelis?

    • joe from Lowell 01/15/2014 at 2:23 pm

      Yes. From the piece, 'State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, using similar language to Carney, registered dismay at the comments, considering Kerry had been working "day and night to try to promote a secure peace for Israel because of the secretary's deep concern for Israel's future."'

  • Dubai Calls for End to Iran Sanctions, Says no Nuclear Threat
    • Just so.

      It's become quite clear that there are two distinct groups behind the international sanctions regime on Iran: those who were genuinely concerned about nuclear proliferation and worried about a potential conflict with Iran (the Gulf states, Europe, the Obama administration) and those for whom the Iranian nuclear program was merely a pretext for a desired conflict (hot or not) with Iran (Likud, many American conservatives).

      A diplomatic solution, and overall diplomatic thaw, is the Holy Grail for the latter group, but a mortal threat to the agenda of the former.

  • "Fox was Romney's War Room"; GOP being run by Fox News: Zucker & Gabriel Sherman Agree
    • joe from Lowell 01/15/2014 at 2:28 pm

      On the contrary, Hunter, pro-Israeli bias is more or less universal among American centrists.

    • joe from Lowell 01/14/2014 at 9:15 pm

      "Fox Was Romney's War Room"

      No wonder he lost.

      No wonder they thought the polls were skewed, and that they really had that krafty Kenyan on Benghazi: they were basing their strategy and tactics on reality as laundered by Fox News.

  • False Nostalgia: The Original Fallujah Campaign Destabilized Iraq
    • joe from Lowell 01/14/2014 at 9:33 am

      "It was being alleged at the time that Fallujah had become the center of the network of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who affiliated with al-Qaeda. It was being alleged by US generals that 80% of attacks in Iraq were being carried out by Zarqawi."

      In 2004, the Bush administration was still convinced that the Iraqi insurgency was in its last throes, that only a handful of Saddam government dead-enders objected to the occupation, so of course the attacks on U.S. troops had to be coming from al Qaeda.

      It's difficult to remember now just how profoundly they believed their fantasy about Iraq blossoming into a capitalist, pro-western, democratic utopia once the government was decapitated.

  • Top Ten Ways Ariel Sharon Ruined Israel and the Middle East
    • joe from Lowell 01/14/2014 at 9:24 pm

      Actually, the US came out in favor of the 1967 borders, altered only with the consent of the Palestinians, almost three years ago:

      link to cnn.com

  • Iran Negotiations Breakthrough: Reduction of 19.25% Enriched Uranium Stock begins Jan. 20
    • joe from Lowell 01/12/2014 at 10:25 pm

      Great news.

      Weird write-up. It's as if the disbursements of funds is the lede, and the deal over Iran's nuclear program some background for a piece of news aimed at people investing in Iranian mutual funds.

  • New Congressional Sanctions on Iran Will Backfire . . . on Congress
    • joe from Lowell 01/12/2014 at 10:56 pm

      I have been critical of some of Professor Cole's coverage of this issue, but I really don't see where you get the claim that "Dr. Cole continues to excuse the depravity and untrustworthiness of the regime in Tehran."

    • And President Obama clearly indicating his intent to veto any new sanctions, those legislators can posture for AIPAC to their hearts' content, without having to worry about the repercussions of their bill actually being adopted.

    • joe from Lowell 01/12/2014 at 10:52 pm

      "The sanctions have certainly affected the Iranian economy, but even Saddam Hussein’s unpopular regime managed to stay in power for many years despite crippling sanctions and it was only a disastrous war and occupation that ultimately deposed him."

      Saddam Hussein didn't have to run for re-election. As Americans saw in 2008 and then 2010, a bad economy makes voters eager to turn out the incumbent leadership.

    • joe from Lowell 01/12/2014 at 10:50 pm

      Just right about the likely consequences of new sanctions. If the US were to tighten the sanctions, or even fail to open them up in response to Iran's cooperation, the rest of the world would jump ship and the US would be isolated. Doing so would also give the Iranian hardliners a leg up, allowing them to denounce cooperation and negotiation as leading nowhere and strengthening them vis a vis the reformers.

      Both of which are, as you say, exactly the opposite of what the sponsors of additional sanctions should hope to achieve.

  • Top 5 US Government Decisions that put Troops more at Risk than Snowden Did
  • Iraq's Real Problem: A US Occupation legacy of Sectarian Politics
    • joe from Lowell 01/10/2014 at 12:51 pm

      Uh, yeah, never before in American history have we considered the wishes of national governments.

      Excellent point, JT.

    • Hmmm...is it really appropriate for the United States to go around the sovereign government in Baghdad and initiate talks with the the locals in Anbar?

      Would that include arming them, against the will of the national government?

  • Gatesgate: Why Obama was right to Distrust his Generals on Afghanistan
    • "Can you imagine Harry Truman blaming his generals for “boxing him in”? Hell no. Harry fired them!"

      You mean like Stanley McChrystal? BTW, Truman put up with MacArthur for much longer than Obama put up with McChrystal.

    • joe from Lowell 01/10/2014 at 12:46 pm

      'remember his statement on the campaign trail,”i will sign no healthcare bill that doesn’t include the public option. you can take that to the bank.”'

      No. I don't. Can't find any such quote on google, either. I think you just made it up.

    • joe from Lowell 01/10/2014 at 12:43 pm

      I'm curious: what context do you think the reduction of the US embassy support staff in 2014 provides on the issue of the American withdrawal in 2009-2011?

      A demonstration of the administration's lack of interest in a big presence?

    • joe from Lowell 01/10/2014 at 12:40 pm

      At a minimum, it's proof of good instincts.

      When it comes to competence, I'd look more at HOW the troop withdrawal was carried out, rather than WHETHER. Competence is a very different thing than judgment, which is different from ideology. It's useful to understand the differences.

    • joe from Lowell 01/10/2014 at 12:38 pm

      Bill,

      Looks like Smedley Butler is the center square in this year's JT Bingo card.

    • joe from Lowell 01/10/2014 at 12:36 pm

      'So, does ANYONE actually act as the Decider? Or does the “complicated nature” let everyone off the hook?'

      The complicated nature - no scare quotes necessary, thanks, grown-ups can actually acknowledge complexity - puts more people on the hook.

    • joe from Lowell 01/10/2014 at 12:34 pm

      This is not “politics,” as if Obama should be in campaign mode. This is national security

      National security is a field of government endeavor, also known as "politics," just like agricultural policy and transportation. The researchers who study how governments and individuals carry out and think about national security are called "political scientists," just like their brethren who study other fields of government. May favorite national-security-focused political scientists is Robert Farley at the Lawyers, Guns, and Money blog.

      And where does this idea that the term "politics" only applies to electoral politics come from?

      "President Obama, as head of the executive branch and Commander in Chief, can accept or reject recommendations, or he can send them back for a further work-up. Likewise, he can retain or fire Cabinet secretaries, depending on how he views their recommendations and responses to his executive program."

      And, like in every other government endeavor, the formal authority an actor may have is but one factor that comes into play in determining his behavior.

      The failure to look at military/national security issues using the same tools that help us understand other governmental and political actions is a common failure on both left and right.

    • joe from Lowell 01/10/2014 at 12:29 pm

      Regardless of how ordinary such immunity may be in situations very different from Iraq, it remains the case that it was an impossibility that the Iraqi government would approve it in 2011, and Obama knew it when he raised it is response to Malaki's request.

      'That Iraq would not approve the SOFA re-negotiated in 2012 is a reflection on Maliki and his inability to impose his political will and expend political capital within his own government. It is not a reflection on Obama making an “impossible request.”'

      This makes no sense. It's BOTH. Had Obama not made that request, Malaki's inability to get it approved would have made no difference.

      And you've got your facts wrong in another area: there was not SOFA renegotiated in 2012, nor even in 2011. President Obama made the Iraqis' assent to immunity a precondition for even engaging in negotiations over a new SOFA, and since it was never approved, there were no such negotiations.

    • Proof of the "incompetence" of the Obama administration is the absence of American troops in Iraq?

      MOAR INCOMPETENCE, PLEEZE!

    • "The Buck Stops at the President’s Desk. No amount of pretzel arguments are going to change that."

      People resort to cliches like this when the complicated nature of how politics actually works is too much for them.

    • Malaki unsuccessfully tried to extend the SOFA deadline, not Obama.

      Obama's response was to make an impossible request, and make it a condition for even reopening the talks.

  • About that Country you Destroyed: A Letter to George W. Bush
    • joe from Lowell 01/10/2014 at 12:52 pm

      "Nader is the opposite of a narcissist."

      You've never read anything from the people who used to work for him, have you?

    • joe from Lowell 01/09/2014 at 12:10 pm

      "Blaming Nader for the Bush presidency is like blaming the sun for setting and causing darkness."

      The sun doesn't have a choice. Nader did. He had many choices. Among them, he chose to concentrate his appearances and money in the last weeks of the campaign not in states where he might get the most votes, like Massachusetts, Vermont, or Washington, but in states where he had the greatest chance of flipping the election to Bush.

      "Bush won because we have a country of people that voted for him and a supreme court that is now politically corrupt."

      The American people voted for Al Gore by more than half a million votes. The installation of George Bush was carried out against the expressed will of the American voters.

    • joe from Lowell 01/08/2014 at 12:03 pm

      I saw the headline, and honest to God, I wasn't sure which country it referred to. Iraq? The U.S.?

  • Top Ten Things Bob Gates was Wrong about, Some Criminal
    • joe from Lowell 01/09/2014 at 11:07 pm

      'And yes, it will be messy, but as you repeatedly point out about our own nation’s messy “democratization”, eventually SOMETHING settles out'

      There's a problem with this logic. The birth of democracy may be messy, but that doesn't mean everything that's messy is the birth of democracy.

      You say "paws off." "Paws off" was exactly the world's stance towards Afghanistan in the 1990s. How'd that work?

    • joe from Lowell 01/09/2014 at 2:27 pm

      The habit of viewing events in the developing world only through the lens of great-power proxy fights is deeply ingrained in western political thought, even (at this point, perhaps I should say "especially") among those most opposed to such great-power meddling.

    • Obama's greatest successes seem to be where he prevented things from getting much worse, when they easily could have.

      We could have had bank runs in this country in 2009.

      We could have had 20-25% unemployment.

      Health care costs could have continued to rise at rate much higher than inflation for the past five years, as they did over the previous decade, throwing our health care system into crisis.

      Americans could have continued to die in a hot shooting war in Iraq.

      There could have been a series of attacks from al Qaeda, which as of 2009 had recovered almost to it's strength in 2001.

      The international consensus against chemical weapons could have broken down, resulting in arms races and new stockpiles and an end to the longstanding disarmament trend.

      A nuclear arms race could have broken out in the Middle East, with the Iranian domino knocking over Saudi, Egyptian, and Turkish dominoes.

      But they didn't. However, because they didn't - because these problems were prevented instead of needing to be addressed after they'd blossomed into actual crises - President Obama is much less likely to receive credit than if they he'd responded after the problems had boiled over, even though those later responses would likely have been more expensive and less effective.

    • joe from Lowell 01/09/2014 at 1:28 pm

      Reading your comment again, your evidence of Obama's naiveté amounts to:

      1. You feel pretty sure his expectations for a speech were too high. You have no evidence of these expectations, but you feel it is so. This is what we call "circular reasoning." We know Obama is naive because he had high expectations for the speech, and we know he had high expectations for the speech because he's just so naive. See the logical flaw?

      2. The Israeli policy of building settlements has not been ended. I'm not entirely sure how this is supposed to demonstrate President Obama's naiveté, and I'm left wondering how, exactly, the building of settlements by Israel in the Occupied Territories depends upon the actions of the US President.

      3. His response to the Syria chemical weapons crisis was aimed at chemical weapons, not the overthrow of the regime, and succeeded in eliminating the chemical weapons, not the overthrow of the regime.

      OK. As truly compelling as those are as evidence of naiveté and incompetence, might I offer as a counterpoint: the successful nuclear arms reduction talks with Russia (you know, the ones that succeeded when you were chuckling about the naiveté of Obama's "Reset with Russia?"), bringing the Iranians to the table on their nuclear program, and recognizing that the old realpolitik relationships with the regimes in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia had been rendered obsolete by the Arab Spring.

    • It's certainly true that the US cannot conduct nation-building from the outside, but in 1992, Kabul fell to the forces Ahmed Shah Mashood.

      Could a native Afghan government, organized by Afghans but receiving material support from the outside, have succeeded?

      We don't know.

    • joe from Lowell 01/09/2014 at 11:47 am

      "Cabinet Cecretaries do not make policy, they carry out policy set by the president and those above them in the administration. I don’t think those policies can properly be laid at Gates’ feet."

      This is especially true when we're talking about the CIA, where Gates spent most of his time. The CIA is a tool of the Oval Office.

    • There are those, Hunter, who passionately believe that all one needs to understand the world is the proper ideological framework. In this sense, JT McPhee is little different from the Bush administration officials who actively weeded out people with experience and education in Arab language and history from the team they sent into Iraq.

    • joe from Lowell 01/09/2014 at 11:41 am

      "I am convinced" is the worst possible evidence one could possibly cite to back up an argument. You are convinced Barack Obama thought a single speech was all it would take to change global public opinion? Gee, that's nice. It's amazing what people can convince themselves of, as long it supports what they really want to believe.

      As for Syria, as usual, you have to misstate history for your argument to make sense.

      Obama never cited Assad's ouster as a red line, as a demand that he would back up with force. He only ever cited chemical weapons usage as his red line - a red line he enforced with the threat of American air strikes, which resulting in the accomplishment of his stated goal.

      An Assad regime stripped of its chemical arsenal is "stronger than ever?" That's odd - the Assad regime's chemical arsenal had been the core stick in its regional power. And now, thanks to Obama, it's gone.

      I love the phrase "fumble so badly that Russians intervene with a plan." In what universe is a foreign policy that results in Russia stripping a client state of its core military power, at America's behest, a fumble?

      If that's a fumble, I want more.

    • I think you confuse humility with neglect.

      No, this administration doesn't have a strategy for how to bring the rest of the world to heel. What it has is an awareness of the impossibility of that goal, a recognition of the limits of American power, and a commitment to doing what can be done in response to events.

      Dick Cheney had a strategy of his administration's role in the world. I'm quite happy to do without one.

    • joe from Lowell 01/08/2014 at 11:54 am

      An excellent write-up.

      Your #6 does a particularly good job of handling the al-Qaeda/CIA question without advancing popular myth.

  • The Year in Drone Strikes: As Many as 35 Civilians Dead, 5 Children
  • Spain, Portugal show that 50%, even 70% Power from Renewables is Possible Right now
    • Both Spain and Portugal sent their militaries to Iraq.

      Both Spain and Portugal sent their militaries to Afghanistan, too.

    • joe from Lowell 01/07/2014 at 7:27 pm

      So, no numbers and no link supporting your assertion about comparative investment between the US and Spain?

      OK. Before I follow your change of subject, let me file this one under "silence is deafening."

      So, anyway, care to explain why distributed solar doesn't count?

    • joe from Lowell 01/07/2014 at 7:21 pm

      You misunderstand: Spain and Portugal import 3/4 of their electricity - not energy more broadly, such as fossil fuels, but generated electrical power - from abroad.

      It certainly is fair to talk about talk about the small segment of Spanish and Portuguese energy consumption that comes from domestic generation. What isn't fair is to compare this small segment to overall American generation, instead of discussing where the power they consume comes from.

    • Hold it: there's a big hole in Professor Cole's argument.

      The figures he provide are for Spain and Portugal's domestic electrical generation, not usage.

      Both countries import about 3/4 of the electricity they consume.

    • "Proportionally speaking, its investment in renewables is laughable"

      Link? Numbers?

    • joe from Lowell 01/07/2014 at 9:43 am

      Indeed. Conservation is at least as big an opportunity as renewables for getting off fossil fuels.

    • joe from Lowell 01/07/2014 at 9:39 am

      I don't think you're allowed to advocate for nuclear power, and then complain about power sources that are subsidized by the taxpayers.

    • joe from Lowell 01/07/2014 at 9:38 am

      "There is a meme that coal plants are being killed off by cheap natural gas from fracking."

      A "meme" which is very accurate at describing the closing of coal-fired power plants to date.

      "But these analyses slight the impact of wind power in particular. In 2013, virtually all the closings of coal-fired plants in the US were owing to inability to compete with wind power."

      No. Any coal-fired power plant that closed in 2013 was scheduled for closing before 2013. It's going forward, as American renewable production, bolstered by the largest investment of any country in the world, continues its exponential growth, that we'll start seeing power plant closing caused by renewables.

      Natural gas was only even a bridge from coal to renewables. I agree that we'll start seeing it wind down as wind and solar ramp up, and that we may be at the deflection point now, or hit it very soon.

  • Kerry may Nix Keystone XL for Global Climate Agreement
    • Remember when Obama's approval of the KXL pipeline was a done deal?

      I believe he was going to sign off immediately after the bombing of Iran.

  • The Failure of the Trillion Dollar National Security State
    • joe from Lowell 01/07/2014 at 11:35 am

      He might have even written a column challenging those responsibilities, and calling for the United States to dramatically reduce its commitments. Another potentially-interesting piece.

    • joe from Lowell 01/07/2014 at 9:57 am

      'Despite the apologists’ straw man, Engelhardt never said the whole out-of-control, over-the-top Church Of The Sacred Security-tization Of Everything is just about “stopping al Quaeda,”'

      From the article: "At a cost of nearly a trillion dollars a year, its main global enemy consists of thousands of lightly armed jihadis and wannabe jihadis scattered mainly across the backlands of the planet."

      Sigh.

    • joe from Lowell 01/07/2014 at 9:54 am

      I have never once heard of counter-terrorism used as the justification for the F-22, the F-35, the LCS, or the nuclear triad.

    • joe from Lowell 01/07/2014 at 9:53 am

      He writes editorials, and tries to incorporate some military language and numbers to give them more heft, but his misuse of them just ends up undercutting his points.

    • Mr. Englehardt seems to be under the impression that all, or even most, of the $trillion dollars a year spend on national security is aimed at al Qaeda.

      I assure you, Tom, that exactly zero of American's 11 super carrier battle groups have the suppression of al Qaeda on their agenda. Nor do the bomber, missile, and submarine legs of the nuclear triad. Nor any of the 50 state national guards. Nor the F-22, F-35, or LCS programs.

      One could write an interesting piece about the resources devoted to stopping al Qaeda, based on solid facts and sound logic. This is not that piece.

  • Recognizing Israel as a Jewish State is like saying the US is a White State
    • joe from Lowell 01/07/2014 at 9:44 am

      No, Doremus, that is not exactly what Netanyahu is demanding.

      He is not, like Amir, talking about the country's name.

    • joe from Lowell 01/06/2014 at 4:44 pm

      The US formally referred to East Germany as the German Democratic Republic, and North Korea as the People's Democratic Republic of Korea.

      But this isn't really about names. Netanyahu isn't demanding that the Palestinians call Israel "The Jewish State of Israel."

    • joe from Lowell 01/06/2014 at 1:08 pm

      able to replace or be replaced by another identical item; mutually interchangeable.

      Your sentence means exactly the opposite of what you intended.

    • joe from Lowell 01/06/2014 at 1:07 pm

      The really creepy part is that this ethnicity-based state was established in the immediate aftermath of World War Two, by Europeans.

      "You have a sinking feeling that the real reason Netanyahu wants Palestinians to assent to the Jewishness of the Israeli state (whatever that might mean) is that he has malicious plans for the 20% of the population that is not Jewish."

      I think it's more like a poison pill - a condition one side adds to a deal because they want the negotiations to fail, so they pick something because it's totally unacceptable to the other side.

      Next week, the Palestinians will have to announce their support for Israel as a Jewish state, eat a pork sausage, down a shot of whiskey, and host a wet t-shirt contest.

  • Obama Era a new Gilded Age, with Rich Getting Richer, Poor Poorer
    • joe from Lowell 01/07/2014 at 9:58 am

      Much better.

      Although you can trace the flatlining of median wages to the early 1970s.

    • joe from Lowell 01/06/2014 at 1:47 pm

      Huh?

      It was the Obama administration that cracked down on Swiss banks and curtailed their ability to help Americans avoid taxes.

      link to aljazeera.com

      link to jawclap.com

    • joe from Lowell 01/06/2014 at 1:44 pm

      Economic analyses that use the term "Obama Era" or otherwise compare today to 2008 and attribute the consequences to President Obama all fail for the seam reason: they don't take into account the consequences of the previous decade of policy, and how those factors continued, and continue, to influence the American economy. As a result, they attribute those consequences to Obama-era policies, even when Obama-era policies have run directly counter to those pre-existing trends.

      For instance, conservatives like to compare current unemployment rates to those just prior to Obama taking office, as if the job losses that occurred "under Obama" in the first six months of 2009 had nothing to do with the Bush administration.

      I can't help but notice that, despite the cheap-shot claim that Obama has been driven to promote wealth inequality, the author has been unable to name a single policy of the Obama administration that has contributed to the problem.

  • John McCain and Lindsey Graham Want to invade Falluja Yet Again
    • joe from Lowell 01/06/2014 at 4:46 pm

      Refresh my memory: Was Russia particularly eager to authorize military actions against its client states (Syria is a major recipient of Russian military aid, including its air force and its chemical weapons arsenal, as well as the host of a Russian naval base) before the Libya operation?

    • joe from Lowell 01/06/2014 at 1:58 pm

      "The sneerers appear to be people who profit and gain personally from, and/or have been personally involved in, or glued their identities to, the “business” activities that engender the stuff Butler, as a very experienced practitioner sickened by it, so properly decried."

      OK, I'll bite: what, exactly... makes one "appear to profit from" American foreign policy?

      You know, JT, all those weeks you spent insisting that the Syrian government had never used chemical weapons, and pushing the crack-pot theory that the rebels had gassed themselves, I don't recall anyone ever accusing you of profiting from or being involved with the Syrian government.

    • joe from Lowell 01/06/2014 at 1:20 pm

      ” Perhaps the lesson to be drawn when comparing how the two wars ended is that unconditional surrender and allied occupation resulted in the better outcome.”
      "On the other hand, a more likely reason was the relative magnanimity shown by the victors to the defeated after World War II compared with the vindictiveness demanded by the French after WWI."

      But these are not mutually exclusive options. There are two variables at play here: when the war ends, and how the victors treat the vanquished in the post-war peace deal.

      There is no reason why one cannot think that both points about World War 1 - that Germany didn't experience enough hardship during the war, and that the peace deal drafter after the war was too harsh - are valid.

  • The Politics of War Casualty Counts, from the "GWOT" to Syria
    • joe from Lowell 01/06/2014 at 1:54 pm

      Admittedly, it's asking a lot for some people to read all the way to the third paragraph.

    • "But the media do pay consistent attention to casualties in the Syrian civil war, whose numbers mobilize not only supporters of a cease fire, but also interventionists ranging from the “humanitarians” to the international political and religious opponents of the Syrian regime."

      Always happy to be nice, JT.

    • joe from Lowell 01/06/2014 at 1:52 pm

      "But the media do pay consistent attention to casualties in the Syrian civil war, whose numbers mobilize not only supporters of a cease fire, but also interventionists ranging from the “humanitarians” to the international political and religious opponents of the Syrian regime."

    • People who complain that too much coverage is being given to the deaths in the world's worst ongoing civil war are trying to sell something.

      If Mr. Munk wanted to teach a lesson about politicized coverage of war casualties, he's provided a very enlightening demonstration.

  • Iraq's Sunni Civil War
    • joe from Lowell 01/04/2014 at 1:15 pm

      Iraq is sovereign state, and Malaki is the head of that state. For him to only be PM of the Shiite south would mean the partition of that country - historically, not a pretty process. Should Abraham Lincoln have fought to be only President of the Northern States?

      Also, the Kurds threw in with Malaki, and the Kurdish leadership support his governing coalition.

  • 17% of Americans Support Afghanistan War: CNN (Video of the Day)
    • joe from Lowell 01/01/2014 at 2:32 pm

      I have a "Huh?" too. What does your question have to do with what I wrote?

      We were discussing the execution, and speed, of a withdrawal policy. What does the Iraqi Parliament's and Bush's agreement have to do with how quickly the Obama administration executed the withdrawal?

      So why the interest there? By having a secure base, you get to project power in the region and you get to contain Iran, China, Russia and most importantly, Pakistan

      Not through the type of "fingers" the administration is talking about keeping there. You project power in a region with the types of bases and garrisons the Bush administration intended for Iraq - large concentrations of ground forces numbering in the tens of thousands, major air bases with substantial fighter, bomber, and attack units stationed there. A few thousand trainers and advisors do not project power and check the People's Republic of China. A "force" like that is used to prop up a friendly government's military and maintain good relations, not project power throughout a region. They'll be lucky if they can project power beyond Kabul.

    • He did: he's just leaving slowly, but inexorably, as he did in Iraq.

      The pace of a military withdrawal, as executed by a competent Commander in Chief, is a function of practical considerations, not an expression of one's opinion about the wisdom of that war. President Obama took almost three years to get out of Iraq, and he certainly never supported that operation.

  • Top Ten Middle East Stories 2013: How the Region has Changed
    • joe from Lowell 12/31/2013 at 3:00 pm

      Your description of events following the chemical warfare massacre in Syria is strangely written.

      The chemical attacks were "allegedly" carried out by regime forces?

      President Obama was proposing to send troops into Damascus?

      The diplomatic solution to disarm Syria of its weapons stockpiles and capabilities is an "inspection program?"

  • Assange warns of Information Apartheid & Encompassing State: "This is the Last Free Generation"
    • Theora, have you ever actually read Assange's Wikileaks manifesto?

      To say that his vision is not radical or libertarian is an exercise in wishful thinking.

      If you wish to understand and discuss someone's philosophy, noting that he is on your side on one issue isn't enough.

    • joe from Lowell 12/31/2013 at 2:51 pm

      You managed to go three sentences on the topic of Assange's framing before jettisoning the topic entirely and diving into your take, in your framing, on the underlying issues.

      On topic: the notion that the solution to a political problem is for private-sector actors to conspire together to undermine the government's capacity, as opposed to engaging in politics, is the very model of a techno-utopian anarchist approach to politics. Are Bernie Sanders, Ron Wyden, or any of the actual liberal/leftist critics of the NSA ignoring the political process and calling for industry to roll over the public sector? Or are they calling for government reform through the democratic political process?

      Beyond that point, you just devolve into grouchy "Nuh-uhs," even ignoring very clear statements from Assange because you don't want to acknowledge that any critic of the NSA could be wrong about something. I mean, Assange goes into a great deal of effort to explain that "information apartheid" of the government having access to data that the public doesn't have access to, and I am creating a "straw man" to point that out?

      I refuse to buy into your "with us or with the terrorists" duality. I do not have to agree with Julian Assange, even to the point of ignoring most of what he says out of a determination to be on his side, in order to find fault with the NSA.

    • The most interesting thing about this is the libertarian framing.

      The government isn't the expression of the popular majority, and a distant "other" against whom we struggle.

      Government officials having power, through their offices, that the general public doesn't have is some sort of problem.

      Leaving out the corporate data gathering element entirely, and discussing collection purely as a government endeavor.

      Even the misappropriation of a term - apartheid - to put a liberal-friendly face on his argument.

      There are a lot of directions from which one can approach data issues. It's always interesting to me how Assange's esoteric techno-anarchism gets folded into more liberal critiques, when in a lot of ways, it doesn't really fit.

  • Benghazi Consular attack was Local, not al-Qaeda: NYT Correspondent Demolishes GOP Talking Points
    • joe from Lowell 12/31/2013 at 3:09 pm

      And that's what chills me: reading about those teenagers coming up to him asking to fight because he's known as a tough guy.

      In similar circumstances, how many young men in New England would walk up to the crank who rails about fluoride in the drinking water at Town Meeting, and ask him to organize them to fight?

    • joe from Lowell 12/31/2013 at 3:07 pm

      There are no far left members of Congress. Who ever said there were? Bill O'Reilly?

    • joe from Lowell 12/31/2013 at 3:07 pm

      Then why assume that data mining and data collection capabilities of the NSA mean they know everything about the attack?

    • Why are you assuming the attack was organized over the internet?

    • Mr. Abu Khattala sounds like a type that would be familiar to anyone who attends New England town meetings, or reads the letters to the editor in small-market newspapers.

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