Recent Comments

  • Syria After Trump's Withdrawal: Top Reasons an "Arab Force" will Fail (10)
    • The Saudi proxy, Army of Islam, has been pretty decisively defeated.

    • I think that US support for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, begun under Obama and extended under Trump, is the only positive thing the US has done in the middle east since the Iran nuclear deal and turning that territory over to MBS is a formula for disaster. The successes of the Kurdish-led SDF in liberating most of the ISIS Caliphate seems to have happened in spite of Trump, not because of him. I think we should continue our sponsorship of Kurdish efforts to keep that part of Syria liberated and ISIS-free.

      Unlike our disastrous War on Terror and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, the neocons had nothing to do with this...it's not an occupation. That vast part of Syria east of the Euphrates, rich in oil and agricultural resources, is now in the hands of the people who live there, free of both Assad's brutal tyranny and the Wahhabist Caliphate of ISIS. How many casualties did this alliance cost us? Five American combatants have been lost, most in accidents, not combat. Why would the US abandon that hard won territory and its people to a war criminal like Assad, whose rule will only add fuel to an ISIS resurgence? Turning the territory over to MBS and his Salafi-Jihadist allies would be similarly disastrous for the area and its people. Why not continue to support it as a self-supporting secular territory that respects all religions and cultures and ensures that ISIS will not rise again there?

  • The Hannity Case is so Serious it Requires a Consumer Boycott of his Advertisers (12)
    • That capitalist system would work a whole lot better with a simple rule that is in place in most other countries: broadcasters aren't allowed to lie. Fox tried to get a station in Canada: gave up when their lawyers told them you lose your license for lying on the air in Canada. Kicked out of Britain for the same reason.

      The supreme objective of the capitalist shouldn't be permitted to include lying to make a buck.

      It's that simple.

  • Syria After Trump's Withdrawal: Top Reasons an "Arab Force" will Fail (10)
  • Trump can't Actually care much about Syrians if he only let in 11 Refugees this Year (2)
    • In previous interventions the US would take in "pro-American" "freedom fighters" when the intervention failed, but it seems they are no longer offering that incentive. Are there other incentives instead? Cash?

  • Israel to French Mayor: You can’t visit Occupied Palestine if you stand against Occupation (2)
  • Syria After Trump's Withdrawal: Top Reasons an "Arab Force" will Fail (10)
    • These ideas are from the Saudis and Emiratis are as nonsensical as they are disgusting. After 7+ years of sustained strife that has only been exacerbated through Saudi and Emerati lawlessness and intransigence, one begins to wonder: these rulers and tyrants are absolutely morally depraved and intellectually deficient.

  • Why do Red State Teachers need to Strike for a living Wage? It is about Class (2)
    • It isn't just that these Red States have a contempt for teachers. This region specifically has been inculcated (even brainwashed) into a renewed hatred of public schools. The teachers are the agents of this alien enemy. Public schools were absent from the Confederate States because they were a phenomenon spreading across the North. As we know, the war against public schools got organized the instant that they were required to be integrated in the South. In the early '60s Georgia's rulers crafted a scheme to destroy all public schools in a stroke by legislating 1 for 1 tax credits for donations for private schools, instantly transferring the entire public school budget and more to the Christian Right. It wasn't carried out then, but I hear talk of such a scheme now.

      Now if the impoverished teachers at Christian Right schools in these states start making demands, things will really go nuts.

  • Israel to French Mayor: You can’t visit Occupied Palestine if you stand against Occupation (2)
    • God damn it, what will it take to get Israeli officials to admit that international law is opposed to what Israel currently defines as its interest? Occupation is occupation. There are laws about that. If Israel wants to say that those laws are wrong, then it must say that applies for all invaders. If Israel wants to say it is uniquely above international law, go ahead, sound like North Korea. But don't refuse to admit that the laws exist. Hitler or Stalin could just as easily have conquered the entire world by saying that it was in their country's interest.

  • The Hannity Case is so Serious it Requires a Consumer Boycott of his Advertisers (12)
    • It seems like Dr. Cole has some nascent economic analysis in that exchange value, not use value is the most important aspect of the commodity for capitalist producers. This holds with capitalist production generally and the capitalist, corporate news in particular. I repeat that the capitalist, corporate media's goal is not to provide information so that (working) people can make important decisions about their lives. It is to provide content that attracts the viewers their advertisers covet. And, all of this is just to profit. If people gain some information and understanding about the material forces shaping their lives, so be it. However, again, the supreme objective of the capitalist, corporate media is profit.

    • Agreed Pence would be no better than Trump. Nor Ryan for that matter. They've already done much damage, and whatever happens in November, it will take decades to undo harm they already have done, through legislation but also through appointments to court. Pretty sad state of affairs, challenging the
      will to be optimistic.

  • Syria After Trump's Withdrawal: Top Reasons an "Arab Force" will Fail (10)
    • Another amusing idea coming from a shrinking empire: Saudis and Emiratis are forced to hire African mercenaries, particularly Chadians, to do their dirty work in Yemen and elsewhere. As noted, all these desperate attempts will fail.

  • Why do Red State Teachers need to Strike for a living Wage? It is about Class (2)
    • Underpaying teachers and underfunding public education in Red States serves to effectively "dumb-down" those who attend these public schools.

      Q - Who generally attends public schools?
      A - Children of working citizens and those of limited means.

      What kind of mean-spirited WHITE •••clown legislators want to increase their prison populations? The direct result of "dumbing-down" school children particularly children of color.

      Breaking-down the School-to-Prison Pipeline is not about class, per se. It is about the dismal attitude of extreme Republican politicians towards public education and their investments in Charter Schools and sprawling corporate-owned prisons.

  • Comey did it to himself & Us, by gutting Privacy, Encryption, & 4th Amendment (15)
    • So.....there is a hierarchy of bad guys. With people like Dick Cheney at the top, and James Comey somewhere further down. The real question is this -- "Are ANY of these Republicans on the side of right and decency....or are ALL of them thieves, crooks and liars?" My vote would be that they are all "thieves, crooks and liars".

  • Syria After Trump's Withdrawal: Top Reasons an "Arab Force" will Fail (10)
    • I think a good question for Trump to ask is: if we stay, who will we be shooting at and bombing a year or two from now? That's about all we've done for the last seventeen or so years (not counting earlier less strategic uses of force, like the demolition of the pharmaceutical plant in the Sudan in 1998). From today's column, my best guess is the target will be "chaos", and the results will be more chaos.

      Using the time warn (pun intended) broken clock analogy, maybe this is one of those times Trump is right.

  • With Turkish Troops in Syria, is Erdogan's Neo-Ottomanism a Diplomatic or Military Project? (1)
    • Why Turkey, indeed Nato, has any diplomatic credibility regarding Syria is beyond me.

      Turkey, a "key Nato member", has demonstrably supported terrorists attacking Syria, systematically looted the nation's oil and antiquities and is now occupying the North in contravention of international law.

      All this on top of reportedly burning alive hundreds of Kurds sheltering in basements a few years back in what was nothing short of a Nazi style pogram.

      And Nato has the gall to accuse Russia of stoking the Ukranian civil war while France, the UK and US (interesting acronym) use air stikes to deliberately prolong the outrageously evil war in Syria.

      "... the pledge ... to fight terrorism and overcome sectarianism" could not be more hollow even if it was stated by the White House.

  • Syria After Trump's Withdrawal: Top Reasons an "Arab Force" will Fail (10)
    • The US getting out of Syria more or less means that the Syrian government has won the war. Without US backing, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries would most likely not want to get involved. With Russia's and Iran's help the remaining ISIS pockets in Eastern Deir-Ezzor can be addressed, all the more so as Iraqi army and militias would close the border from the other side. It would also mean the resurrection of Syria as a unified sovereign state. The Kurds would have to be satisfied with some limited autonomy but would also be protected against Turkish attacks. One could consider this a defeat of the US, and it would be up to President Trump to sell it as a victory.

    • .
      the prospect of the Saudi Army occupying a big part of Syria seems to have sharpened thinking about what the US Air Force did in Eastern Syria over the last 4 years.
      IIRC, the Train and Equip Mission started in mid-2014.
      acknowledging mass movement of locals and imposition of Kurdish suzerainty is short of naming ethnic cleansing, but it is also a long way past "well, the Kurds deserve that territory. They earned it."
      .
      by the way,
      except for the "White Army, "
      what ground troops could Prince MbS put there ?
      I think this is a job for Erik Prince.
      He knows this landscape.
      .

    • Well sir, after reading this article I am reminded of actor William Bendix and his 1950ish TV series called The Life of Riley. His catch phrase was...."What a revoltin' development this is!"

      In that our involvement has only made things worse in the middle east I have to agree with Trump and his plan to get the hell out of Dodge.

  • The Hannity Case is so Serious it Requires a Consumer Boycott of his Advertisers (12)
    • someone sent me this by email

      BOYCOTT SEAN HANNITY ADVERTISERS. Here are his main advertisers:

      AARP

      AT&T

      Chewy

      Cigna

      ExxonMobil

      Geico

      IBM

      Jenny Craig

      Jos A Bank

      LegalZoom

      Mitsubishi

      Round Table Pizza

      Sandals Resorts

      Trivago

      US Bank

      USAA Insurance

  • Syria After Trump's Withdrawal: Top Reasons an "Arab Force" will Fail (10)
    • If one listens closely, one can almost hear the "geopolitical tectonic plates" shifting, grinding. Trump's inability to think clearly is like a lubricant in the process, nothing can rest as it was a few days previously. Where this geopolitical bloody deadly tangle will end up is difficult to predict.

      Between the fake news of the corrupt propagandists and the real events of real persons in real time, those who care about local and/or world politics are being worn out trying to keep up, while also subject to what I have called "a form of pollution, a pollution of the personal space of each of us, a pollution of our culture’s common human space, a pollution of our culture’s common social space."

      For me personally, I find it important to spend a good portion of hours NOT thinking about Trump, while still overall supporting the positive necessary steps towards countering Trumpism (and other authoritarian regimes/parties): maintaining personal and family balances, supporting favored social movements while also focusing on the main legal step Juan recently highlighted, electing the nominees of the Democratic party (whatever their faults) in every district Americans can vote in.

  • The Hannity Case is so Serious it Requires a Consumer Boycott of his Advertisers (12)
    • Who are the advertisers we should boycott?

    • Too many of those newsies and entertainers have no understanding at all about their collusion, or appearance of collusion. They think a $300 round of golf, or an evening out, all paid for by the rich guy, is just a friendly gesture. They falsely assume that a free ride on a private or corporate jet is just what friends offer to each other... but in fact it is the buying and selling of everything American. Their behavior is despicable.

    • PS:::: Here's a breakdown of how D and GOP spending is being deployed for key House seats in November. The spending on both sides is about equal, but people living in these battleground districts can now begin to gird themselves and organize appropriately for what they will be facing.

    • Taking the House really is too much to hope for. See: link to nakedcapitalism.com although gains may well be made. There is also a link there for some more traditional and easier to parse handicapping.

      Should the House fall, it won't be by much, and there would be too many indies to represent a consolidated threat to the GOP agenda. Whatever happens there, they seem to be banking on holding the Senate, especially for the impact judicial appointments will have over generations. Note how young Gorsuch is. However incompetent Trump is on other areas, with appointments he is getting things done.

      It's hard to factor out Trump's personality when gauging his impact. But with the attempt, what you seem to find is how the GOP congress is running wild. What's happening isn't that much different than if someone more couth was in the White House. Not to say bringing about a nuclear war through spite or incompetence is small potatoes, but in terms of policy nothing would change if Pence were brought in.

    • Let's not forget good journalists/guests who appear or have appeared on cable. Richard Engel. And there are many who wish they had listened a little more attentively when Peter Bergen was talking about the man who declared war against the united states. A bit too confident to say Ds will take back Congress. They should, but many things can happen between now and then. Case can go up to Supreme Court fast and end the whole inquiry into dirty works of Trump et al. Possible Rs on court could find fine spun distinctions in Nixon precedent. These people will not go down without a very hard fight.

    • Can you imagine if Rachel Maddow was found to be using the same attorney as Barack Obama? The howls from the right-wing would be deafening. These people are hopelessly lacking in self-awareness or basic concepts of fairness, independence and objectivity.

  • Comey did it to himself & Us, by gutting Privacy, Encryption, & 4th Amendment (15)
  • Syria: would a new foreign military intervention be legal? (2)
    • This extreme right-wing infested Congress will aid and abeit President Donald Trump to express his flagging manhood any way HE sees fit because Syrians are NOT WHITE or primarily Christian!

      HELLO!

  • Reality Show violence in the Age of Trump: Striking Syria (24)
  • Comey did it to himself & Us, by gutting Privacy, Encryption, & 4th Amendment (15)
    • The issue is government access to user data, however strongly encrypted. If Apple and US government have it, that does not mean that Russians will, unless Apple or US government is careless. There may be something to the idea that US government prefers weaker encryption to facilitate its own access to citizen. There is a problem when all of this, (communication between government and private providers) happens in the dark. Congress has a role in this, after all. So too the courts. Ultimately it seems to boil down to when, under what circumstances, should government have access to citizen data. There is some law on this, albeit data collection was happening for a while between telecom providers and executive branch w/o judicial oversight. Congress has made abdication a bad habit of long standing, this when it comes to privacy, and also matters of war and peace (and many other matters, where there is either apathy or stalemate). Within DOJ, DOS, DOD, much is relative. Comey better than Gonzalez, McMaster better than Bolton, for example. Easy to call on people to resign, and I often wonder why more decent of people would want to remain and be associated with bad doings or lot, but, in considering a given official's resignation "on principle," serious consideration must be given to what/who will remain or take that official's place. We live in the world of the possible, and a substantial shift in the balance of power will be needed to achieve the types of "privacy" protection that appears to be needed.

  • The Hannity Case is so Serious it Requires a Consumer Boycott of his Advertisers (12)
    • A corner of the vast right wing conspiracy has been well-documented by Michael Cohen. Mischievous rich folks and naked propagandists will be exposed and hopefully, dealt with appropriately under the law.

    • Most MSM "journalists" are glorified typists.

  • Comey did it to himself & Us, by gutting Privacy, Encryption, & 4th Amendment (15)
    • Because if the US government had pushed for consumer privacy and strong encryption it would have made it more difficult for anyone to hack anything.

    • "Comey doesn’t like Trumpworld. Comey helped create Trumpworld."

      Unfortunately, that's the blunt truth of the matter. And now Comey - and the rest of us - are stuck with the reality he helped midwife.

  • Reality Show violence in the Age of Trump: Striking Syria (24)
    • ".........I don't get your reference to the Steel Seizure Case, so tell me what I'm missing....."

      The Steel Seizure Case contained not only the oft-cited concurring opinion of Justice Jackson but also the concurring opinion of Felix Frankfurter regarding historical Congressional acquiescence as a gloss on executive power.

      One of the reasons President Truman's actions were invalidated by the Court in the Steel Seizure Case was clear Congressional intent in the Taft-Hartley Act that forbade the very conduct Truman undertook.

      In the case at issue, the War Powers Act of 1973 delineates situations in which the chief executive may proceed militarily without initial Congressional approval - and Trump's unilateral bombing of Syria fits none of these. Reagan's authorizing the Libyan attack had a history of four Americans killed in the 1985 Rome and Vienna terror attacks and the immediate killing of a U.S. Army non-commissioned officer at a Berlin dance hall in a second terror attack - the situation was arguably authorized by the War Powers Act due to apparent Libyan complicity in ongoing terror attacks directed at Americans. Here, there was no asserted basis that American lives were being endangered in Syria due to alleged poison gas attacks - hence the third prong of Jackson's concurrence invalidates Trump's conduct.

      Many constitutional scholars have opined that Truman's authorization of U.S. forces in Korea was unconstitutional as a United Nations Security Council resolution cannot serve as the legal basis to circumvent the constitutional power of Congress to declare war.

  • Comey did it to himself & Us, by gutting Privacy, Encryption, & 4th Amendment (15)
    • Somebody should whisper in Trump's ear that Mueller's investigation is being stalled by encrypted files he can't get into. That'll get him on the right side, albeit for the wrong reason.

    • May be dense, but, in the main, do not see how US attack on computer privacy of US citizens helped the Russians hack. The US government accessing US citizen private data does not seem to equate with facilitating Russian access. I can see the connection only insofar as it involves US pressuring a company like Apple to weaken encryption. That aside, to the extent the US government accesses individual data, the hacking by Russians seems only to be as good as it is able to hack American intelligence (which is not the same as the DNC). If the US government adequately guards its records from foreign governments, there does not seem to be a problem as far as US data collection compromising US security. Not saying I agree necessarily with US access or compromising of US citizen data, but the pressuring of Apple aside (maybe no small matter), I am having a hard time seeing the connection. Seems strained. Also, it seems the main issue with Apple was not so weakening security/encryption, but allowing US government to have access to it, which again does not necessarily equate with access by foreign governments. I am far from pleased with how Comey conducted himself as FBI director, including public announcement about Clinton invest windup, and then Weiner and the reopening. Seems to me he overplayed his role. That he seems still not to get. At the same time, his firing by Trump seemed to be a big event, an indication perhaps that Trump was concerned that he might not have been "corruptible." It also seems to me that in evaluating the actions of these long time public officials in high positions, their commitment to duty aside, it seems people do not appreciate the importance of staying on the job and even rising more. People say they can make millions in private practice and such, but that often is not what they are more interested in. There are issues of legacy, the value/importance of the institution, and trying to do a decent job under trying circumstances. And, whatever one things about McCabe, with him running to White House and such and keeping close friends there, his firing one day before he was due to pension out was an abuse of very high order, designed to intimidate any public official who would stand up. These FBI folks may not be sympathetic figures, but it seems more perspective may be needed in making comparison with Trump and his inner circle.

    • Robert Mueller is not a civil libertarian hero either, no matter how well he may do in bringing justice to Trmp (or not).

    • You need the good liberal education, and more, to accept historical evidence that your biases and blind spots are dangerous and eventually you will pay a price for them. America is all about charging ahead and grabbing everything in sight, and then looking back to see if you've gotten away with it. If you've been trained by the short-term bias in capitalist society to devalue future consequences more and more until they're essentially meaningless, then this is not an illogical way to behave.

  • Iraq on Syria Strikes: We've seen this Movie and it doesn't End Well (13)
    • It is worth keeping in mind that if this had escalated into a broader US/Iran war Iraq would quickly become a major battlefield. The opposition of Iraqi parties to this is likely based les in ideology, though the Syrian rebels are less than popular with Iraqi Shia, as it is on a simple desire not to see their country become a battleground yet again.

  • Will Bolton and MEK pull an Iraq War-like Chalabi-type Scam on Iran? (5)
    • Thousands if not millions of us who petitioned our Reps in person, protested, marched and did everything we could to legally stop the invasion of Iraq were influenced by former head of the IAEA's inspections in Iraq, El Baradei, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, Bill and Kathleen Christison, Brzezinski, Carter and others who were questioning the validity of the Bush administrations so called intelligence. Reporters like Seymour Hersh, Julian Borger, Jason Vest Landay and others were also questioning including Prof Cole.

      We tried like hell to do what we could without any success at all. We could smell another human disaster like Vietnam.

      Then Obama and Clinton's decisions to go into LIbya and arm unknown rebels in Syria added to the human disasters. Still the Iraq war hawks move us closer to some kind of a military intervention in Iran. So called liberal outlets like MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell, Joy Reid, Andrea Mitchell have provided platforms for Bill Kristol, Max Boot, and others to push for stepping away from Iran deal and pushing for using military might.

  • Iraq on Syria Strikes: We've seen this Movie and it doesn't End Well (13)
    • IMHO this is less about Syria and more important to Trump to send a message to Iran and N. Korea. For a long time Bolton has favored military action in Iran and now he appears to have the means to attain this.

    • OK, it appears that Mattis trumped Bolton - this time - and we've avoided a needless military conflict with Russia. But the problem remains and it's only a matter of time before we're again close to a clash. So I have a suggestion. Yes, it's a bit batspit crazy but hear me out.

      One of the motivations behind Putin's unflagging support for Assad dates back to Czarist times: The desire for a warm water port. OK, so what if Netanyahu phoned Putin to offer a port facility where the Russian navy could dock?

      The 2 countries have turned the page on their Cold War hostility and their respective militaries work together to keep out of each other's way in Syria. Russia could still project power and go after ISIS - one of its professed goals - without needing to get its hands dirty supporting a regime that deploys chemical weapons. It also would remove the risk of a conflict with the US in the event that the West again retaliates against Assad if he again uses unconventional weapons.

      Yes, I know there are any number of reasons why this is unrealistic. But "realism" of the sort practices by the great powers competing for influence in the region isn't winning special points on my final exam.

  • Reality Show violence in the Age of Trump: Striking Syria (24)
    • If you start with the assumption that Israel more or less drives US policy in the area, things usually become clear. Doing everything they can to entangle the US in their own problems is the overarching motif of Israeli FP strategy, and the opportunity to extent that involvement would be a compelling one for them.

      Then there is the how Israel realistically fears the growing influence of Iran, now looming as close as the Golan Heights. Which all leads to Israel (perhaps willfully) being maneuvering into assuming the role of US military proxy against Russia. Israel would certainly like to have the US bear any burden for them, but in this case various pressures will be on them to do things the US is not in the position to do.

      In Syria there is this also idea of the US appearing dominant over Russia (which would be especially salient to Bolton). Since the apparently decisive presence of Russia in Syria, Russia presents a challenge to the broader assumption of US prerogatives, which would be awfully hard for this or any administration to swallow.

      Any action would not be all totally on Israel, of course, as they'll need US cover for anything involving Russia, but its hard to see them resisting the pressure from several directions to get directly involved in the Syrian mess.

  • Iraq on Syria Strikes: We've seen this Movie and it doesn't End Well (13)
    • @John O'Dwyer:

      I stand corrected.

      It was the 1985 Rome and Vienna airport terror attacks that were aided and abetted by Libya that the Reagan administration used as a partial basis for the 1986 Libya raid

  • Comey did it to himself & Us, by gutting Privacy, Encryption, & 4th Amendment (15)
    • Thank you for truth about Comey and his snake-oil mea culpas.

      Talk about 'the pot calling the kettle black' - and then some

  • Russia, Iran and Syria respond to Trump's Threats (6)
  • Comey did it to himself & Us, by gutting Privacy, Encryption, & 4th Amendment (15)
    • Corporate-controlled media (CCM) is foisting Comey to the heights to take the heat for getting Trump elected from THEM!! CCM is the real culprit.

      Please, get it right!

  • Saudi Arabia's Yemen Campaign escalates into War of Missiles (1)
    • It took Nasser over 25000 dead Egyptians before he put his tail between his legs and ran away from Yemen in the 60s. The Wahhabis need to lose a few thousands and billions $$ of losses before MbS puts his tail between his legs and seeks refuge in Paris.

  • Will Bolton and MEK pull an Iraq War-like Chalabi-type Scam on Iran? (5)
    • The late Chalabi was a close friend of Sayyed Muqtada Al Sadr and many other prominent Iraqis; in addition to being a close friend of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Sayyed Khamenei.

      They and the anti Saddam Iraqi resistance tried to manipulate the US to take out their enemy Saddam and what they did was right from their own point of view.

      I don't think Trump wants a war with Iran. A war with Iran is unlikely unless MBS succeeds in brainwashing Trump.

      The Iraqi civil war began in 1979 (or some would say 1991). This war has continued until today.

      Over 35,000 brave ISF martyrs have died in combat in the cause of freedom. Many more if ISF allied militia killed in action are included. Non Iraqis need to recognize the heroism and greatness of the ISF.

  • Comey did it to himself & Us, by gutting Privacy, Encryption, & 4th Amendment (15)
    • I suppose it's a shame that Trump can't uses today's column to attack Comey. Trump would be on Comey's side on every issue.

      While we are kicking the tall man around, Wasn't he in charge when all those FBI stings were set up to con domestic Muslims into becoming terrorists so they could be easily arrested, and convicted, for trying to carry out an FBI orchestrated and funded "terrorist plots"? e.g. leveling the Sears Tower in Chicago (currently a Jeff Bazos project)

  • Iraq on Syria Strikes: We've seen this Movie and it doesn't End Well (13)
  • Will Bolton and MEK pull an Iraq War-like Chalabi-type Scam on Iran? (5)
  • Comey did it to himself & Us, by gutting Privacy, Encryption, & 4th Amendment (15)
    • "Human beings are very good at forgetting their own misdeeds and building narratives that justify themselves..."

      Very insightful, well-integrated, and important thoughts in this post. The above line frames the core issue. Not to get all Freudian, but defense of the Ego drives pretty much everything else, so being able to control that imperative strikes me as the single thing essential for transcendence, or progress, whatever someone's political orientation.

      There have been other posts or comments here lamenting the lack of critical thinking, or a good liberal arts education, seen as essential for a democracy. But I don't think even those things are necessary, past the point of being able to read and write with nominal skill.

      Everything else becomes possible once one develops some insight to their own biases and blindspots. Like the man said, Know Thyself. From that point one can hope to avoid being manipulated by their Ego, or at least to grow and get past it whenever the wool is pulled. Growth becomes possible. They then have the ability, and inevitably will, eventually spot the behavioral patterns that have been recurring since the earliest histories of Greece, and become immune to them. Self governance becomes possible for themselves, and for society in general.

      Sadly, Comey missed the boat, and he still doesn't have a clue. Not to say he's especially lonely in that regard.

  • Will Bolton and MEK pull an Iraq War-like Chalabi-type Scam on Iran? (5)
  • Iraq on Syria Strikes: We've seen this Movie and it doesn't End Well (13)
  • Reality Show violence in the Age of Trump: Striking Syria (24)
    • Correction: Ron, for interest’s sake the US announced that 76 of those missiles were launched at the “Barzah Research and Development Center.” Yet the OPCW conducted a round of inspections in Barzeh as late as November 2017 and found no “activities inconsistent with obligations under the Convention.” link to opcw.org

      Something like $760m wasted to blow away 3 buildings totally unconnected with chemical weapons.

      Your tax dollars at work.

  • Comey did it to himself & Us, by gutting Privacy, Encryption, & 4th Amendment (15)
    • Thanks for printing this Professor Cole. You have provided us with a great public service, with this revealing article. Again, thank you.

    • This is very different from what I see at CNN: Shame on CNN for excluding Professor Cole's very respectable perspective. The MSM's first priority is to block dissent.

  • Iraq on Syria Strikes: We've seen this Movie and it doesn't End Well (13)
    • The CNN video describes the Free Syrian Army as 'moderate'. I'm not sure the Kurds in Afrin, presently enjoying the attentions of the Turkish-backed FSA, would agree.

  • Reality Show violence in the Age of Trump: Striking Syria (24)
    • Ron, for interest's sake the US announced that 7 of those6 missiles were launched at the “Barzah Research and Development Center.” Yet the OPCW conducted a round of inspections in Barzeh as late as November 2017 and found no "activities inconsistent with obligations under the Convention." link to opcw.org

      Something like $76m wasted to blow away 3 buildings totally unconnected with chemical weapons.

  • Iraq on Syria Strikes: We've seen this Movie and it doesn't End Well (13)
  • Will Bolton and MEK pull an Iraq War-like Chalabi-type Scam on Iran? (5)
    • ".....MEK is headed by Maryam Rajavi, who has met with various Washington policymakers. Bolton has spoken at eight MEK rallies...."

      The MEK and Rajavi have been prominent since the 1970s when they opposed the Shah's rule in Iran and were considered to be a Marxist-Islamic cult.

      The U.S. State Department had designated MEK as a foreign terror organization, however they enlisted prominent Americans as paid lobbyists - such as Rudy Giuliani - and got that designation lifted.

      The U.S. intelligence community gave MEK operatives training in signal communications at a U.S. Army base.

      MEK agents within Iran were suspected in involvement with targeting Iranian nuclear scientists.

      MEK has documented close ties to the Israeli government.

      Some links:

      link to alternet.org

      link to guardian.com

      link to unitedwithisrael.org

      link to iran-interlink.org

      wwww.tehrantimes.com/news/422581/Israel-envoy-MBS-Rajavi-meet-in-France-sources

  • Iraq on Syria Strikes: We've seen this Movie and it doesn't End Well (13)
    • It has gone unnoticed that the Syria airstrikes occurred on April 15th, the 32nd anniversary of Pres. Reagan's unilateral decision to bomb Libya - without any type of Congressional approval - from an RAF base in England. Two F-111 pilots died in the Libya raid and 60 Libyans were casualties.

      Libya lodged a protest with the United Nations and the General Assembly condemned the USAF action as in violation of international law. Subsequently, the United States resolved legal claims by the victims of that raid as part of a global settlement between the U.S. government and Libya that included payment of compensation for victims of alleged Libyan complicity in the Lockerbie aircraft bombing. That settlement included the re-establishment of normal diplomatic relations between the governments of the U.S. and Libya.

      Reagan received widespread acclaim for authorizing the Libya air attack - however a key difference with that raid was that it was in response to the Lockerbie terror bombing in which numerous U.S. citizens died and a subsequent bombing at a German discotheque that killed an American U.S. Army sergeant.

      In the instant case, there had been no claim by the Trump administration that U.S. citizens were being endangered by the use of poison gas in Syria. It is a key distinction which places the recent airstrikes on very tenuous legal grounds.

      I really do not see the polling of U.S. or British public as very relevant - rather the inquiry should be whether violations of the U.S. Constitution or British law were committed so as to render the bombings impeachable offenses.

  • Top 5 Lessons from the History of America's Defeats (3)
    • Also, while Japan, Germany and for that matter all of Europe, China and Asia, had to completely rebuild after WW2, their industrial infrastructure is from the 1950s and beyond.

      At the same time, USA companies were enjoying boom years supplying the world that couldn't supply itself until the early 1970s. As a result, USA companies refused to invest any of their wealth in replacing old infrastructure.

      As a result, by the 1970s, the world just bypassed the USA in capability and USA companies started losing market share to non-USA companies that could produce better products, for less cost. While the non-USA labor costs were somewhat lower, it was not that much. Non-USA companies were just more efficient and because there was less greed passed the savings on to customers.

  • Iraq on Syria Strikes: We've seen this Movie and it doesn't End Well (13)
    • of course it won't end well, it didn't start well and it has no real meaning. It won't stop the use of chemicals, its just a p.r. stunt put on by Trump and friends. it probably makes the P.M. of G.B. feel important, like they still have some control over the world and I'd suggest ditto for the President of France. Neither of these 3 have any experience in war and have lived fairly privileged lives.

      Some one ought to take these war mongers out into a war and leave them there with civilians for a week or so. They might change their minds. Nothing is achieved by any of this. They just want to ensure their supply of oil continues.

  • Ryan steps down, with Lifetime dream of transferring Trillions from People to Super-Rich Fulfilled (4)
    • What is truly funny about all of this is, that he himself is not one of the oligarchs. it is always interesting to me that people like Paul Ryan go out of their way to protect and provide for the financial elite. he himself may be tossed a few crusts, so he is made to feel he is part of the "circle", but really, he isn't and never will be. Perhaps he thinks this is the way his 'god' would like it to be, the rich getting richer and the poor becoming poorer.

  • Trump can't Actually care much about Syrians if he only let in 11 Refugees this Year (2)
    • Of course Trump doesn't care about Syrians. he doesn't care about Americans either. Just look at the lack of response to the Peurto Rican hurricane. He dismantles health care as fast as he can without thought to children or the growing drug crisis. Trump cares only for himself and second those who can further his business interests and flatter him. None of us should expect him to care about other humans. He is only bombing Syria because he thinks it makes him look better to his base, not because he cares about people being gassed. We have only to look at his dismantling of the American EPA.

  • Reality Show violence in the Age of Trump: Striking Syria (24)
    • Last but not least is the win, win for shareholders at Rayethon , who will need to replace the 100+ cruise missiles fired into syria.

    • Some war crimes are more equal than others.

    • I’m more convinced than ever that we’re on a collision course with Russia. Haley gave one of her reasons for our staying on Syria to keep a ‘vantage on Iran’. Sounds permanent to me. Israel has got to our administration. Surprise! So Russia either has to capitulate and suffer a humiliating defeat or fight back. I think they’ve been humiliated enough with NATO up against their border. I’m just hoping China steps up to the plate and allies themselves with Russia more forcefully. We do need a new MAD like in the Cold War. Unfortunately a balance of terror is the only thing that might provide a modicum of peace. Otherwise we’ll have this insane trio of self-appointed policemen dictating a new world order.

    • Hey, you've had a lot of well-considered posts here, otherwise I'd not have written. In this case, I don't get your reference to the Steel Seizure Case, so tell me what I'm missing.

      Judge Jackson's three boxes distinguished between situations where the President has more or less authorization from congress. Obama asked for the approval of congress in Syria and did not receive it, but he still might've proceeded, accepting the deferral of congress as...well, deferral to his judgement (Jackson's middle box). In this case, there is the same explicit authorization (threadbare, to be charitable) that the AUMF could be tortured to provide that Obama had, but the authorization Trump is really relying on is the deferral of congress. It isn't as though he asked for their approval, but here its a given.

      In lieu of the congress exercising its prerogatives the executive will take and keep taking, indefinitely. The concept is called Adverse Possession, something that a bully like Trump understands and will gravitate toward instinctively. This attack joins a series of precedents set by prior presidents, and it stands to empower Trump for far greater abuses.

  • The Tragedy of American Great Power Moves on the Middle East: Trump Can, so he Will (1)
    • I think it was wise that Russia and Iran were not goaded into kneejerk retaliatory reaction. The strikes were limited and more of show of force nature. The West did not want to attack Russian forces. The retaliation by Russians will come at the time and place of their choosing. I don't think Iranians are able to do much since they are militarily vulnerable as it is pointed out. The West may be in decline in the Middle East but it far supersedes Russia militarily.

  • Iraq on Syria Strikes: We've seen this Movie and it doesn't End Well (13)
    • Polling suggests that between 66% and 80% of the British public opposed the strikes on Syria. It likely could not have gotten through parliament.

    • Juan, thank you for giving us additional perspectives on the recent attacks on Syria. Your ability to read the journals of the region in the original languages and report what you find to us is very valuable.

      In that spirit, I offer this link to a post by former UK diplomat Craig Murray, in which he addresses the legal arguments the British Government has made supporting their participation in the bombing of Syria:

      link to craigmurray.org.uk

  • European Union: Turkey further than ever on Human Rights, Rule of Law (1)
    • This news is important to a project I'm working on.
      I wouldn't have heard about it until Tuesday if I hadn't seen it here.
      Thnx.

  • Reality Show violence in the Age of Trump: Striking Syria (24)
  • Iraq on Syria Strikes: We've seen this Movie and it doesn't End Well (13)
    • I have now spent several hours with international, mainly European, journals, reading their accounts of these strikes. While most of the articles are supportive or sympathetic to the strikes the comment sections are almost uniformly opposed to the pre-empting of the OPCW investigation and the absence of any authorisation from the US, UK, or French legislative institutions. Many contain forensic unpicking of the 'evidence'. More significantly, the strikes are broadly seen as a dangerous attack on both Democracy and International Law. I find this salutary and encouraging. NB. I don't know if the same applies to social media since I use none.

  • Reality Show violence in the Age of Trump: Striking Syria (24)
  • Russia, Iran and Syria respond to Trump's Threats (6)
    • In the end, it was nothing with nothing.

      The US and its allies blasted a few chemical sites but hardly inflicted enough damage to undermine Assad or weaken the grip of his Ba'athist bullies. The regime can still drop barrel bombs full of chemicals on rebel forces and the US won't be able to do a damned thing about it.

      The Russians turned out to be paper tigers. Putin and his henchmen talk a good game but they aren't a match militarily or economically for the West. The attacks against Syria were calibrated and minor.

  • Bombed and gassed into oblivion: The lost oasis of Damascus (1)
    • Very depressing, esp. since all this has been going on a long time. BTW, the photo is a stereogram. For easier viewing, try reducing scale until image separation equals that of your own eyes, then using reading lenses (or special viewers) and letting the images "slide together" in your vision. Easier for some (like me) than others.

  • Why Trump can't reverse Syrian regime dirty win in Ghouta & why Iran is Gloating (21)
    • Violence by all sides is deplorable: be it Assad's use of chlorine gas or the U.S.'s use of white phosphorous in Raqqa, Mosul, etc.

      By the way, I wonder about the following idea: "Chemical weapons are used by desperate regimes that are either outnumbered by the enemy or are reluctant to take casualties in their militaries."

      The American use of white phosphorous in Raqqa/Mosul/etc., napalm in Vietnam, atomic weapons in Japan, or Saddam's gassing of the Kurds suggests that "desperation" is not needed to explain things. Disregard for human life is a sufficient explanation.

      Behnam S.

  • Reality Show violence in the Age of Trump: Striking Syria (24)
    • "It was not authorized by Congress.........."

      This has not gone unnoticed by U.S. House members.

      Young GOP Congressman Justin Amash of Michigan, who is libertarian in political orientation and an Arab-American, opined:

      "These offensive strikes against Syria are unconstitutional, illegal and reckless. the next speaker of the House must reclaim congressional war powers as prescribed in Article I of the Constitution. Speaker Ryan has abdicated his most important responsibilities."

      If one examines the Steel Seizure Case in which the U.S . Supreme Court limited the presidential power of Harry Truman without Congressional approval, it is clear that there is a reasonable argument that Trump has overstepped the range of his independent authority in authorizing the recent missile strikes in Syria - he could be impeached for this and a number of Republican Congressional leaders would agree with Rep. Amash on this point.

    • Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.

      Sun Tzu (Q. Soleimani!!!!)

    • The OPCW is carrying on the inspection today despite the attack:
      link to afp.com
      Can they decide "on the spot" to ask to also visit the bombed "chemical facilities", and inspect them if Syria allows?

  • Our burning of Fossil Fuels slowing down Atlantic Currents and Spelling TROUBLE (1)
  • How the CIA's secret torture program sparked a citizen-led public reckoning in North Carolina (1)
    • Good work by those NC patriots . .
      But it should be pointed out that it was NOT just the CIA that was involved in torture (don't know why people keep doing that). Please do not give the US Army a pass: their torture was both more brutal and more widespread than the CIA's. All the branches of the military were involved, as were many private contractors.

  • Reality Show violence in the Age of Trump: Striking Syria (24)
    • There are interesting side notes on the three allies that participated in this bombing. The evidence that is presented is a video, but the reality is that US president is facing all sort of scandals, British prime minister is having issues with Brexit, and the French president is having a huge backlash to its economic policies (e.g daily strikes that bring public transportation coming to halt).

      Furthermore, is it a coincidence that his royal highness, Prince MBS of Saudi Arabia just visited only three countries in his foreign visit: England, US, and France where he made big weapon purchases.

      End of the day the message is that with all investigative organization and legal means on their side, US, England, and France believe even based on a video evidence, they have right to take military action without any backing of international law. This is the same legal and moral standing that the terrorist organization stand on when they carry their operations. They believe their perceived injustice justifies them being the judge, the jury, and the executioner.

    • A principled military response by the U.S. against the alleged use of chemical weapons rings a bit hollow considering our massive use of napalm and Agent Orange in Vietnam.

    • May and Macron (like Trump) are both in trouble at home over massive discontent with their domestic policies and seriously need a distraction. Merkel, who apparently has survived, even if just barely, didn't need it and refused to join. Wagging the dog in Syria in support of the illegal action of the idiot ,Trump was perfect and perfectly timed for them as well as for Trump. Everyone look at the shiny object.

    • This does answer your question about whether Trump will lash out as a way of distracting people from Mueller et al. Incompetently, as usual, would be word, but it doesn't appear to even have that degree of intention behind it.

      It's not as though this will have any effect after the holes are filled and the debris swept up; there clearly was no strategic intent or impact. The carrier group set to arrive shortly will be in a position to blow up yet another $100M in missiles, so there is that. But the war is already over, as you noted, and this is just acting out.

    • Preempting the OPCW inspectors reminds me of our expulsion of the UN weapons inspectors prior to the Iraq invasion. That very well might have been done because the inspectors were systematically debunking every bit of evidence the US had for the existence of Iraqi WMD, our rationale for the invasion.

      Given Trump's visceral hate of proven facts, he might have feared the OPCW inspectors could factually negate or mute the rationale for the airstrikes.

      And if Trump wanted to convince Assad that large scale maiming and killing using ONLY conventional weapons was quite feasible, he could point to the Saudis' Yemen bombing, where we lent a little help to our friend.

  • America's Forever Wars as Spectator Sport (2)
    • I would add number 8.

      8. A complicit media is required to maintain U.S. military might around the world. A complicit media is required to keep the death and destruction caused by U.S. interventions hidden away. To maintain the "cheering is painless" status of what war has become in the U.S. a spectator sport in some ways but really wars take place in the shadows now due to a complicit media.

      We have outlets that like being referred to as "liberal" for instance MSNBC's Rachel Maddow etc that completely avoid bringing the deadly reality of what our military is involved in elsewhere into the living rooms of Americans across the country. Fox, CNN of course follow suit but do not hide behind the idea of being "liberal"

      They also hide the consequences for those who decide to join the military who you know are often in situations of economic distress and the military seems one of their best options. Do you ever hear Maddow, Reid, Chris Matthews, Lawrence O'Donnell you know the alleged liberals addressing the issue of 21 Vets committing suicide everyday? Ok they bring it up about once a year and that is that. So again they are complicit in hiding the consequences of endless wars.

      As an individual who along with many protested the Vietnam war I joined the monumental efforts before the invasion of Iraq to stop that invasion. Many of us heard the questions of experts like former head of the IAEA's inspections in Iraq Scott Ritter, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, Bryzinski, Zinni and others who questioned the validity of the Bush administrations so called intelligence. Millions of us cumulatively across the nation marched, protested, walked the halls of congress, petitioned our Reps to do what they could to stop the Wolfowitz, Cheney Iraq wr train. Again the majority of the media was complicit by not having Ritter, El Baradei and others on to expose the vast majority of the American public know there were experts questioning. So again the media played a role in not informing as they have continued to do in so many ways.

      I would add number 8 to complete the package of how we have ended up embedded in this "endless war" cycle.

      As well as a complicit international community that never seems to unite in any way shape or form to even pretend to call us out.

      So terribly sad

      One has to wonder if chaos in the middle east is the objective as some believe about the neocons agenda. Keep the less than's scrambling as Israel's territory and military grows. Along with the growth of Saudi Arabia's military.

  • Reality Show violence in the Age of Trump: Striking Syria (24)
    • Just as the appointed OPCW inspectors approach Douma to conduct their independent examination of the facts, Trump decides to punish a presumed contravention of one international law by deliberately breaking another. Welcome to the post rational world where we discard not only reason but order and international law. It's like stripping naked and rushing headlong into a tumultuous sea to relish the exhilaration of being free from all constraint. Dust down Bryon, turn on Beethoven's 3rd ! When will we ever learn. Seriously, I can understand Trump, he's like a 3 year-old with a box of matches. But Macron and May should have known better, and that's what I find really frightening. Is it that they too are peeved by Assad's successes? What away to conduct foreign policy!

    • It is a difficult transformation when it is finally beaten into your thick head that your side, supposedly the good guys, are actually war criminals on a scale that dwarfs the Syrian regime.

      It's against international law, not to mention basic morality, to:
      - arm terrorists to attack another nation and prolong their civil war;
      - inavde and occupy another nation that presents zero threat to yours;
      - bomb another nation on an as yet unproven pretext.

      The OPCW started work in Syria today to confirm whether chemical weapons were in fact used. It shouldn't be difficult to determine especially when video has emerged of 2 of the hospital doctors shown in the White Helmets video denying that a chemical attack took place. Would it have been too much to wait 24 hours for the OPCW to announce preliminary finding?

      Supposedly 40,000 civilians were killed in the western-backed liberation of Mosul, many of those by US bombs. Does it really matter whether a child is gassed to death or burned to death in an explosion or dies from having their entrails blown from their body by a 500lb bomb?

      One child dying in this manner is one too many.

      This bloody war needs to end _now_ yet all the West's attack has done is prolong it even further.

      My own side disgusts me.

    • Once again, many thanks for a clear and balanced account of the illegal attacks launched against Syria. There is always a danger that in our enthusiasm to condemn illegal activities by the West, we overlook the criminal activities of the Syrian regime. At what time the “peaceful protests” changed into a violent and vicious invasion by thousands of jihadists often supported by some regional and Western powers is a matter of debate, but what is clear is that Assad’s regime made use of excessive force to crush the opposition and in the process intensified support for insurgents/terrorists.
      You are absolutely right to point out that the attack on Syrian targets was not a piece of military strategy designed to win any war aims. However, in addition to that and what you also point out about the lack of Security Council and Congressional and parliamentary authority, I believe that this action will have a number of other negative consequences:

      1- There is little doubt that without Iranian and subsequently Russian support there was every chance that ISIS would have marched on to Damascus, Irbil and Baghdad. Kurdish and Iraqi officials have already said as much. It was when even Iran’s support failed to tip the balance in favor of the Syrian government due to the lack of air power that General Qassem Soleimani met with President Putin and persuaded him to get involved. The combination of Russian air power and Iran’s and Hezbollah’s support on the ground finally defeated the rebels/ISIS. The defeat of the rebels has so enraged the Saudis, the Israelis and the neocons in the United States that they have continued agitating for military action against the Syrian government. The danger of the latest attack and the talk of more to follow is that it will encourage the rebels to continue their anti-regime activities, and this will only prolong the agony of the Syrian people, at a time when the regime seemed to have won the battle.

      2- Taking this action on the day that OPCW inspectors were due to visit Douma and to report about whether chemical weapons had been used or not weakens such international organizations and also provides some ammunition to those who say that the whole episode had been faked by the “White Helmets”, a shady group set up and funded by a former British army officer and probably by the British government. If Syria had really stockpiles of chemical weapons in the targets that have been hit, as claimed, there should have been some evidence of the scattering of such material, presumably with some harmful effects on those living in the neighborhood.

      3- As the rebels see the effect of an “alleged” chemical attack to have resulted in Western attacks on Syria, this would encourage them to stage fake incidents in the future, even if the incident in Douma was genuine.

      4- Some 400,000 people have been killed with conventional weapons in Syria. Although the use of chemical weapons is abhorrent, I do not see why the killing of tens of thousands of people in Syria and during the liberation of Mosul in Iraq with conventional weapons is OK.

      5- Many people had hoped that after the fiasco of the “dodgy dossier” and all the lies about Saddam Hussein’s nuclear weapons, the age of unilateral wars on the say-so of some intelligence operatives would be over. The latest attacks bring us back again to the age of rogue rulers waging illegal wars on the basis of some trumped up charges.

      6- These illegal attacks may only increase President Trump’s popularity among his base and encourage him to take more such illegal actions, and probably even winning a second term.

      7- Above all, I believe that these attacks have not helped the cause of peace or finding a long-term solution to the Syrian tragedy. Furthermore, there is still the danger that they might continue and lead to a confrontation with Russia, with the risk of a global war.

    • Three paragraphs stand out for superb writing in another smashingly superb article.

      "In our age of politics as reality show, where we have hired the star of NBC’s “Apprentice” to play president (apparently in large part because he is both consistently awful and highly entertaining at once), even geopolitics is done for show."

      "No lesson of history is ever learned in Washington, D.C."

      "Those who argue that they were necessary to show resistance to the use of chemical weapons are missing some things. The West backed Saddam Hussein’s use of chem in the Iraq-Iran War. It is hard to see why killing children with chlorine differs from the point of view of the children from killing them with bombs. Military action should be taken in accordance with international law. And, deploying missile strikes ineffectually renders them less effective politically down the road. "

      Thank you, thank you and thank you again, Juan.

  • ‘Son of a Whore’: Video Shows Israeli Troops Cheering After Shooting Unarmed Palestinian (3)
    • I can certainly understand your disappointment. But Professor Cole's web site is frequented by people who are trying to understand the forces that are at work in the Middle East. We KNOW already that Israel's occupation of the West Bank and "ghettoization" of Gaza is brutal and disgusting. The outrage is more a seething disgust. We have come to expect this of Israel, and we don't think there are any minds to be changed. But the quotes from Arab parties in Israel are illuminating, and not something we will find on WAPO or NYT.