Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Who are the brainwashers?

In preceding posts, we've established that the reasons given for the current Israeli campaign of ethnic cleansing -- the three kidnapped youths, the tunnels and the rocket attacks -- are all fabrications. Anyone with any sense knows that the long-term Israeli plan is to eradicate the Palestinians, either by forced evacuation or by genocide.

We know this, but we cannot say this. The American media has been engaged in a decades-long conspiracy to brainwash the American public into accepting a pseudo-reality. But the hallucination is starting to crumble. From the Daily Beast:
This narrow strip of land that used to be called “the Gaza Strip,” already one of the more densely populated places on Earth, is growing dramatically smaller. The Israeli military, relentlessly and methodically, is driving people out of the 3-kilometer (1.8 mile) buffer zone it says it needs to protect against Hamas rockets and tunnels. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the buffer zone eats up about 44 percent of Gaza’s territory.

What that means on the ground is scenes of extraordinary devastation in places like the Al Shajaya district approaching Gaza’s eastern frontier, and Beit Hanoun in the north. These were crowded neighborhoods less than three weeks ago. Now they have been literally depopulated, the residents joining more than 160,000 internally displaced people in refuges and makeshift shelters. Apartment blocks are fields of rubble, and as I move through this hostile landscape the phrase that keeps ringing in my head is “scorched earth.”

It’s not like Israel didn’t plan this...
Here is another flagrant example of media manipulation:
Apparently Israel today hit a refugee camp and Shifa hospital nearby killing several more kids, photos have been posted (see left). Israel once again claims not targeting or operating in area and says must have been Hamas rockets--in both cases! NBC says at least 30 dead, mainly at the camp, and blames Israel: "The Israel Defense Forces told Haaretz that a 'preliminary investigation has found the Israeli army did not fire at the Shifa Hospital, and the fire is believed to have been Hamas.' However, a NBC News journalist witnessed the attack on the hospital and said it had been fired by an Israeli drone--this attribution, oddly, removed from a revised NBC story, which now highlights Israel's denials. ("Early reports from the ground said an Israeli drone was responsible for the attack.")
How does this happen? Just what, exactly, is the mechanism controlling the press?

The mechanism is a man -- one of the most audaciously evil men alive today. His name is Frank Luntz, and he's a Republican master of propaganda.
There is a reason for this enhancement of the PR skills of Israeli spokesmen. Going by what they say, the playbook they are using is a professional, well-researched and confidential study on how to influence the media and public opinion in America and Europe. Written by the expert Republican pollster and political strategist Dr Frank Luntz, the study was commissioned five years ago by a group called The Israel Project, with offices in the US and Israel, for use by those "who are on the front lines of fighting the media war for Israel".

Every one of the 112 pages in the booklet is marked "not for distribution or publication" and it is easy to see why. The Luntz report, officially entitled "The Israel project's 2009 Global Language Dictionary, was leaked almost immediately to Newsweek Online, but its true importance has seldom been appreciated. It should be required reading for everybody, especially journalists, interested in any aspect of Israeli policy because of its "dos and don'ts" for Israeli spokesmen.
This important article proves that all Israeli officials are engaged in deception -- and that they are reliant on the Republican party.

Luntz is a fascinating figure, in the sense that malignity is always fascinating. This profile from last January describes his loss of faith in the American people -- in democracy -- because average working folk can't be talked into accepting the glories of Pure Libertarian Utopia.

These Republican propagandists have always had too high an opinion of their abilities. A wily Luntzian might come up with a way to sell a shit sandwich -- "Let's call it a Chocolate Delight! That name has tested well in all of our focus groups..." -- but one bite of the thing is all you'll take.

Look at Luntz' resume:
Frank I. Luntz (born February 23, 1962) is an American political consultant, pollster, and Republican Party strategist[2] associated with Pat Buchanan, Ross Perot, Newt Gingrich, and the administration of George W. Bush, for whom he helped frame the public debate surrounding estate taxation around the infamous "death tax" messaging...
Buchanan is widely reviled. So is Gingrich. Perot didn't become president. Dubya spent the last years of his presidency supported by less than 30 percent of the populace, leaving the Dems with something close to a lock on the next election.

Luntz has some magic, yes, but not enough magic to convince you to finish that shit sandwich. Nobody in the world has that kind of magic.

Josh Marshall (has the old Josh Marshall finally returned?) provides further details:
In one very notable example, Israel's current Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, is a former GOP political operative who once worked for Frank Luntz, and only made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) in 2005. He even reportedly played some role (though I suspect a small one since he was just out of college at the time) in creating the 1994 Contract with America. It's usually good for both countries when a country's ambassador has a deep relationship with the country's head of government. It makes more seamless and reliable communication possible. And all seem to agree that Dermer's relationship with Netanyahu is very, very deep - this article refers to him as "Bibi's Brain."

So Dermer is tight with Netanyahu and he, by definition, has a ready grasp of the the minute intricacies of US politics, particularly Washington politics. But his background makes Democrats and especially this White House suspicious.

I don't know what role Dermer himself plays in the working the general ties with US Republicans, though I suspect it's substantial. But Netanyahu has made the de facto alliance between the Likud or what remains of the faction he owns (that part gets very complicated) and the US Republican party increasingly explicit. And that's dangerous. Dangerous for all concerned but particularly for Israel. I wish Netanyahu and his government had a better sense of the toxic repercussions of mobilizing GOP proxies as cut-outs in this way. It should go without saying that the Israel-US alliance becomes more brittle as it becomes more clearly identified with a single US political party. And perhaps more than that, as it becomes more clearly identified with the ties between Netanyahu and US Republicans.
Obviously, Marshall and I are not on the same page; "dangerous for Israel" is a phrase designed to put a smile on my face. I want to see that racist state replaced by a truly democratic society.

But the larger point here is this: Israel's alliance with the worst of America -- with the Republican media manipulators, with the Christian nutcases -- will prove ruinous in the long run, and maybe even in the medium run. This alliance is having an emetic effect on most Americans, including most Jews.

Frank Luntz -- that sour, unhappy little man -- cannot save Israel. No-one can. A million Luntzes cannot sell decent Americans on this scale of barbarity. Euphemism cannot make genocide and racism palatable.

Those who have supported Israel have no choice but to acknowledge their sin. They must acknowledge that racial supremacism has always been the foundation of the Israeli experiment, and that genocide is inevitable in a nation built on stolen land.

Hard truth is the first requirement of justice.
I read the article on Luntz the other day. Can't tell you how repellent I found it. Bad enough he's run around instructing politicians how to lie to the American public during elections. But to read he'd put together a manual for the Israelis to sell their own version of ethnic cleansing to the world is--we're running out of descriptive adjectives--disgusting, repugnant, evil.

Looking at the map, the buffer zone that Israel has decided it needs to cleanse, you could easily suspect the plan is to push the Gaza population into the sea. Which, of course, Israel controls and has manned with gunboats. As appalling is that 91% of the Israeli population 'reportedly' agrees with the continuing action.

I'm one of those Americans who has always given Israel the benefit of the doubt because of the WWII history and the fact that Israel is a small nation in a sea of enemies.

But this time out? Israel is her own worst enemy--insular, bitter and cruel. And the US supporting what is clearly immoral, even criminal in the current conflict is utterly indefensible. But to even whisper a criticism or the need for negotiation, for a long-term resolution short of killing or crippling every Palestinian in Gaza is met with howls of condemnation, something John Kerry has found out the hard way.

I don't know how this will end but Israel is losing the propaganda war, even with Luntz's Dictionary of Lies.

Gaza has also lost its only electrical generation, and the Israelis are now claiming that Shifa hospital had a secret Hamas bunker under it.
The GOP also has a long-standing relationship with Ukrainian fascists, dating back the end of WW!!. For example, the wife of Orange Revolution era president Yuschenko is former Rea­gan Deputy Direc­tor of Pres­i­den­tial Liai­son Yka­te­rina Chumachenko. Anti-fascist researcher David Emory has established a continuity of OUN-B revisionism in Ukraine: Yuschenko administration advisors are working now with current President Poroschenko, and their lineage stretches back to the first decades of the 20th century. Mainstream media has gone out of its way to downplay the presence of fascists in Ukraine gov't, usually by quoting percentages of popular vote - ignoring actual people in positions of power.
Speaking of Reagan and fascists, there was a scandal in the late eighties or early nineties, reported on by Pete Brewton, when Bush I was being supported by various cabals of former Nazis from Eastern Europe.

Then Clinton came along and broke up the Yugoslavia and an old Ustashe war criminal took over Croatia.

So nothing new regarding the Nazis taking over the asylum in Kiev.

Buchanan critical of GOP stance on Russia. Of course, yes, Buchanan should have stayed out of the GOP once he left it for the Reform. Just as Joe should never consider voting for Hillary
over a third party challenger.
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Monday, July 28, 2014


Sarah Palin has asked the Washington Post to regain its credibility.

Isn't this like Messalina asking Catherine the Great to regain her virginity?

By the way, Sarah Palin has her own teevee channel now, which she says will go "beyond the sound bites." It's for people who consider Fox News too cerebral. Some of the comments here are pretty amusing:
Will it have English subtitles?
Every time someone mentions her TV show I have to say this. Sara was canceled after the first season; Here Come Honey Boo Boo was renewed.
She says "Together, we'll go beyond the sound bites" which is hilarious because her entire vocabulary literally consists of sound bites.
This image appears on the front page of her TV channel site. The phrase should be "Me neither."

The rule is this: One should use the word "either" if the preceding statement contains a negation. Thus, if someone says "I don't recall when that happened" and you wish to express agreement, you would say: "Me either." But if the preceding statement does not contain a negation ("Remember when that happened?"), your response should use "neither," a word which is itself a negation.

Can you think of a way to phrase the preceding paragraph in terms that Sarah Palin would understand? Me neither.
Remember when a colonist went on a killing spree with a magazine-fed fully automatic musket?

Nor do I.

Neither of those are entirely relevant, I suppose. Either way.

I don't believe in grammar, either. Language must be comprehensible, but need not adhere to a set of formal rules engineered to impose the usage of an elite social class and geographical area onto the mass of the people.

John McCain's gift to America that just keeps giving.
Steve, I'm not a stickler for all of the rules of grammar, but I do advise observing those rules which increase comprehensibility and -- dare I ask for it? -- elegance. Grammar is what separates us from Koko the gorilla, who understands words but not grammar.

And let's not bring class into it. Most people speak grammatically correct sentences most of the time.
FWIW, "me either" isn't British English for anything! :-)

In BrE, "Nor I, either" and "me neither" mean the same thing, but the former sounds hypercorrect to many and the latter 'common' to some.

@Stephen - does your 'don't believe in grammar' position leave room for differentiating between hypercorrectness and correctness? Or is insisting on "nor I, either" rather than "me neither" (or "it was I" in place of "it was me") equivalent to insisting on "brought" instead of "brung" or "bringed"?

I am not convinced that Koko doesn't use and understand grammar. I mean syntax of some kind; she might not be too into morphology.
There are some schoolteachers, but few parents, who baulk at correcting a child's "he didn't do nothing" to "he didn't do anything", for fear of interfering with the child's "ethnicity" - an approach I found shocking when I first encountered it. "They genuinely think this is anti-racist and anti-classist?", I wondered.

Which approach smells more like the operation of class power - correcting the child's speech and thereby teaching grammar, or thinking what boils down to 'the poor will always be with us (so let's make sure they are)'?
I love it just an milker of her true believers for everything they have left.

This is not different than the demdogs or repugs.
b, I think you're right. It is classist to presume that one cannot teach the basics of grammar to a poor child. And it is racist to presume that one cannot teach the basics of grammar to a black child. Grammar is inherent. Grammar is wired into our brains. Grammar is our birthright.

As for hyper-correctness: I can live with "It was me." But "He brung the beer" (commonly heard where I live) gives me the heebie-jeebies.
But will Palin's channel go beyond the sounds that bite?
@b: Brung is correct. Sting, stung. Dig, dug. Bring, brung. It is certainly classist to insist on rules of grammar and than intentionally make them inconsistent so that you can take the opportunity for a "gotcha!" moment when the lower classes use the consistent and widely accepted rules with which they are familiar.

Certainly Joe is notoriously disdainful towards his local natives, it's hardly surprising he accepts contrived reasons to disdain their speech.

"It was I"/"It was me" should be "it were me". You know, if we're each going to assert that our own mode of speech is the one true language.

Now if you just want to use good grammar because it sounds better, then all good and well, but then you must abandon such formal rules as serve no aesthetic purpose, such as the ban on split infinitives, and the use of prepositions at the end of sentences, and double negatives, and neither either nor neither should be used as you state in your post, Joe. You should, in fact, cultivate a diversity of speech, rather than the single most bland form favoured by the elite. You are fond of painting and yet here is the equivalent position in language to forbidding all forms of painting other than photo-realism, and some of us are into impressionism.

Sometimes vernacular speech is superior, for instance the creation of the plural pronoun "youse" to distinguish it from the singular "you". Very useful.
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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Bravo, John Kerry

I've criticized John Kerry a lot since he became Secretary of State. But this insane diatribe by David Horowitz reminded me of the Kerry I used to admire.
It seemed inconceivable that the secretary’s initiative would specify the need to address Hamas’s demands for a lifting of the siege of Gaza, as though Hamas were a legitimate injured party acting in the interests of the people of Gaza — rather than the terror group that violently seized control of the Strip in 2007...
Hamas won a democratic election. It was one of those votes that neocons prefer to ignore, like the one recently held in Crimea.

At any rate, Horowitz has become such a disgusting creature (on multiple levels) that I feel obliged to high-five anyone who pisses him off. Indeed, this administration can be said to have done something right only on those occasions when Horowitz' face turns magenta.

(Added note: Well, this is one of the rare occasions when I must publish a correction. The error resulted from a foolish mis-reading of the author's name: It's David Horovitz, not Horowitz, which means that we're dealing with two different creeps. My mistake would sting less if I could cover it with a vitticism, but I can't think of one.)

So what was Kerry's great sin? Check out what David Bernstein has to say...
Secretary of State Kerry recently presented a cease-fire proposal. The Israeli cabinet rejected it unanimously. The cabinet includes individuals from several parties ranging from moderate left to far right, who rarely agree on anything. How incompetent a diplomat can you be to publicly offer a cease-fire proposal to a friendly (and dependent) country when you have no support whatsoever for it, and apparently no leverage to overcome that lack of support?
Y'know, these four sentences reveal more than the author probably intended to convey.
As I understand it, the terms were “Stop fighting now (including stop blowing up Hamas’s tunnels), start talking 48 hours from now.”
So now we are supposed to believe that John Kerry is an anti-Semite because he offered a ceasefire proposal that said, in essence, "stop fighting and start talking"? Seriously? That was his sin? Do Israel's apologists have any concept of just how fucking sick they sound to normal people?

Especially the comments.
"Do Israel's apologists have any concept of just how fucking sick they sound to normal people?"

Yes and no.

The sickness of the leading Zionist strategists may even help them achieve their longer-term aims. That's unless someone can argue that they don't know what's good for them and that they've lost their practical sense.

Does this massacre really harm them?

It's easy to ask whether they remember what happened with Vietnam, that conflict that's been a no-no to mention ever since 911.

But for all the rubbish about how Twitter and Facebook make us free, I don't think any photograph or report of the terrorising, abuse, horror or murder of innocent victims is going to have much impact. This is Game of Thrones-ville, World of Warcraft-ville, At the time of Mohammed Al Durah, I thought "they won't allow this kind of response again".

Will their be further bans on anti-Israeli protests in Europe? At the time of the last-but-one big Gaza massacre, in 2009, out came the 'London Declaration on Combating Anti-Semitism' (more important than it sounds). Shortly after, the rabidly Zionist Daily Telegraph triggered the fall of dozens of MPs in Britain.

This time?

The number of refugees in Gaza - people caused by this ongoing Zionist attack to flee their often demolished homes - is at 173000 and rising; 10% of the population.

b. I have followed your comments previously and they are greatly appreciated and reflect valuable views.

Please (and respectfully) open up a blog or provide a contact mechanism.

Joseph, thanks for the great posts on Gaza and the Western leadership mindset. Much appreciated.

"But this insane diatribe by David Horowitz reminded me of the Kerry I used to admire."

I don't think this is the same David Horowitz. The author you link to is David Horovitz, who has nothing to do with David Horowitz.

In an update to his post, David Bernstein added this (bold emphasis from original):

"The Israeli government has leaked Kerry’s proposal to the media. It’s truly awful; it meets most of Hamas’s demands, and none of Israel’s. Even the left-wing Ha’aretz carries this commentary from its diplomatic correspondent: 'The draft Kerry passed to Israel on Friday shocked the cabinet ministers not only because it was the opposite of what Kerry told them less than 24 hours earlier, but mostly because it might as well have been penned by Khaled Meshal (leader of Hamas). It was everything Hamas could have hoped for.'"

"So now we are supposed to believe that John Kerry is an anti-Semite because he offered a ceasefire proposal that said, in essence, 'stop fighting and start talking'? Seriously?"

Except that isn't what Kerry did, is it? He was already to give Hamas, still listed by Kerry's State Dept. as a terrorist group, everything and Israel, a major U.S. ally, nothing.

There was nothing decent or workable about Kerry's proposal. Except to the terrorists.
One of the questions presented to several Israeli representatives on several networks that remains unanswered [deliberately so I suspect): is who is going to pay for the reconstruction in Gaza once the war/conflict/incursion] ends?

Maybe this all falls into the 'mowing the lawn/grass' theory of warfare--you destroy so much infrastructure that your enemy is left to scramble around trying to put things back together so they can resume living day to day. But an interesting factoid I read over the weekend indicates that even before this ground invasion, water was a huge issue. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 80% of Gaza's water is polluted. It's estimated by 2020 there will be no water fit for human consumption. I wonder if this is just a waiting game on the part of Israel. If they can't bomb the Gazans out, they merely wait until the water supply dries up. Plus there's the disturbing element of natural gas fields off the Gazan shore, something BP and Israel desperately want to get their hands on.

It never ends.

Israeli criticism of Kerry is off the charts. Simply suggesting both sides sit down and talk, that the border between Gaza & Egypt must be opened for trade and goods produced a howl and the label of traitor. The Israelis have made no signs that they're willing to negotiate on anything. It's the GW philosophy: if you're not with us, you're against us. right or wrong.

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Notes on a unsettled world...

The Saudis and the spies. As quite a few writers and investigators have pointed out, the Saudis were instrumental in creating ISIS -- and, before that, Al Qaeda. And yet, as Glenn Greenwald points out in his latest (written with Murtaza Hussain), the NSA has now partnered up with the torture-happy Saudi secret police.
The move is part of the Obama Administration’s increasingly close ties with the Saudi regime; beyond the new cooperation with the MOI, the memo describes “a period of rejuvenation” for the NSA’s relationship with the Saudi Ministry of Defense.
But from the end of the 1991 Gulf War until recently, the memo says, the NSA had a “very limited” relationship with the Saudi kingdom. In December 2012, the U.S. director of national intelligence, James Clapper, authorized the agency to expand its “third party” relationship with Saudi Arabia to include the sharing of signals intelligence, or “SIGINT,” capability with the MOD’s Technical Affairs Directorate (TAD).
MOD = the Saudi Ministry of Defense. And how will our friends use this information?
Over the past year, the Saudi government has escalated its crackdown on activists, dissidents, and critics of the government. Earlier this month, Saudi human rights lawyer and activist Waleed Abu al-Khair was sentenced to 15 years in prison by a so-called “terrorist court” on charges of undermining the state and insulting the judiciary. In May, a liberal blogger, Raif Badawi, was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes; in June, human rights activist Mukhlif Shammari was sentenced to five years in prison for writing about the mistreatment of Saudi women.
Your tax dollars at work, folks.

Bullshit smothered in bullshit sauce, with extra bullshit on the side. The Telegraph reports that Hamas has entered into a secret deal to buy missiles from North Korea. The source: An unnamed "Security official" speaking to the notorious Con Coughlin.

If you don't know about Coughlin, he's a well-known neocon mouthpiece in the press. When the neocons were ginning up a war with Iraq in 2002, Coughlin complied by writing Saddam: King of Terror. A few years later, he wrote American Ally, a sympathetic volume about Tony Blair's partnership with George W. Bush. Coughlin has been linked to MI6, and has even been called "the SIS/FCO man on the Daily Telegraph." (SIS = MI6; FCO = the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.)

In his latest piece, Coughlin cites an unnamed "security" source. This is telling. As noted in an earlier Cannonfire piece, Coughlin was used by MI6 to plant a false story about the late Colonel Gaddafi. On that occasion, the spooks used the "double-bubble" ploy on Coughlin -- showing him documentary "evidence" without letting him copy it (or verify it). That's a common tactic, especially in the U.K.

I suspect that a similar recipe was used to create this latest serving of Bullshit On a Plate.

Ukraine. The propagandists have worked extra diligently to demonize Putin, making it seem as though he personally ordered the destruction of MH17, even though he had nothing to do with that tragedy. (The missile which downed that airliner almost certainly came from Ukrainian stores, and the separatists were perfectly capable of firing the thing on their own.)

Alas, things are coming apart, as we knew would happen. Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the Fearless Leader chosen by Victoria Nuland to rule Nulandistan, has quit, and so has his cabinet. It's an IMF thing. The country desperately needs money, but no credit will be extended until Ukraine plays by the IMF's draconian rules.

When Yats tendered his resignation, he said the following:
"The fact is that today you failed to vote for the laws, and I have nothing (with which) to pay wages of policemen, doctors, teachers; nothing to buy a rifle with, nothing to fuel an armored personnel carrier with. Today you failed to take a decision to fill the gas storages to allow us to live through the winter, to at last free ourselves from dependence on Russian gas."
What to do? It appears that the Ukrainians are pinning their hopes on the United States. Specifically, they hope that we will pass Senate Bill 2277, which will grant Ukraine "informal" membership in NATO. If this passes, America will be officially designated an ally of Ukraine -- which may obligate us to bail out the Ukrainians.

It may also obligate us to go to war with Russia.

And the Pentagon is already preparing for that war.
Hours after the U.S. State Department on Thursday claimed (though failed to describe) new evidence that Russia's military was both increasing the flow of arms to rebel fighters in eastern Ukraine and firing artillery at Ukrainian Army positions across its border, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey elevated the rhetoric against Russian President Vladimir Putin and directly invoked the idea that a new Cold War-like posture is now being taken by the U.S. military.

Speaking from the Aspen Security Forum, a defense industry conference in Colorado, Dempsey said Pentagon planners are now looking at military options “we haven’t had to look at for 20 years" and warned that Putin—whom he characterized as escalating the crisis inside Ukraine—“may actually light a fire” he cannot control. And not just in Ukraine or eastern Europe, Dempsey said, but globally.
Here's the grimly hilarious part:
In a separate caustic charge, Dempsey blamed the "rising tide of nationalism" in parts of Europe on "Russian activities” in Ukraine — a strange accusation given that the key Ukrainian nationalist parties are represented in the new Ukrainian government that is opposed by Moscow, but backed by the U.S. government and many in the European Union.
In fact, neo-Nazi Oleh Tyahnybok seems likely to replace Yats as the new head of Ukraine -- and if Tyahnybok isn't the choice, then he will certainly be one of the lead choosers. Thus, America will be the ally of a fascist state in an attack on Russia.

Boy, this is Pat Buchanan's wet dream come to life, isn't it?
What I've been reading from the Russians is that they are prepared (if necessary) to default on loans by New York and London banks - and start dumping U.S. Treasuries.
With their new $400 billion energy deal with China, it just might work...

NATO wants in there in the worst way, and that would certainly mean war. Holy Shit.
The CIA has weaponized Islam and Prince Bandar already warned Putin that he has the ability to turn up the heat.
Looks pretty grim, when's the next 911?

Pat Buchanan has been pro-Russian since the fall of the Curtain. Come on, Joe, keep pace. Also anti-NATO, saying it should have been disbanded.
On a related subject, check out Robert Gates anti-Putin spiels on Charlie Rose interview this past week.
Yeah, the Zionists dominate policy but as long as they've got WASP collaborators (and Gates was billed as soft, even dovish by some, what a joke)most of whom believe they, the WASPs are still in command and have little problem with Israel (also check Gates) it's an "Anglo-Jewish" Empire all the way (to hopeful collapse.)
Yats and cabinet resigned but it is symbolic since they will remain in power until the elections.

The neo-Nazi didn't pass the racial purity test to replace Yats. The new interim prime minister is Volodymyr Groysman, a member of the same tribe as Yats and Ms. Nuland.
Yes, let's by all means welcome Ukraine, a bankrupt failed state, into NATO. Currently their only means of generating income is by waging war on civilians at the bequest of the European bankers of the IMF. With any luck, we can create Armageddon and make all of George W. Bush's dreams come true.
Misrepresenting Pat Buchanan's position on Russia detracts from your own credibility. Although I suppose smug liberal readers might find amusement in it.
Not a misrepresentation, if you take his book "The Unnecessary War" into account.
The Unnecessary War depicts events
from the WW2 ERA.
Christ, David Duke would have been anti-Russian then, but he's pro-Putin, pro-Russian, anti-NATO now. As are many, perhaps most in the NPD, the so-called "neo-Nazi" German party.
Actually they had a publicized in-fight over whether to support Ukrainian neo-Nazis or Russia.
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Saturday, July 26, 2014

How to gin up a war: A provable conspiracy

The current Gaza crisis arose from the kidnapping of three Jewish teens. A few weeks ago, I discussed this Global Research story which suggests that Israeli intelligence engineered the event as a "false flag" operation. My response:
The kidnapping case does have a couple of hinkey aspects: A strangely tardy official investigation, and an unusual gag order concerning the deaths. But so far, we don't have enough evidence to talk "false flag."
Now we know more. It turns out that the "false flag" scenario was only partially true. Although Israelis did not engineer the kidnapping, they made cynical use of it.

Even New York Magazine (no-one's idea of an anti-Semitic publication) has seen fit to publish a few massive chunks of the truth:
When the bodies of three Israeli teenagers, kidnapped in the West Bank, were found late last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not mince words. "Hamas is responsible, and Hamas will pay," he said, initiating a campaign that eventually escalated into the present conflict in the region.

But now, officials admit the kidnappings were not Hamas's handiwork after all.

BuzzFeed reporter Sheera Frenkel was among the first to suggest that it was unlikely that Hamas was behind the deaths of Gilad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel, and Eyal Yifrach. Citing Palestinian sources and experts the field, Frenkel reported that kidnapping three Israeli teens would be a foolish move for Hamas. International experts told her it was likely the work of a local group, acting without concern for the repercussions...
Repeated inconsistencies in Israeli descriptions of the situation have sparked debate over whether Israel wanted to provoke Hamas into a confrontation. Israeli intelligence is also said to have known that the boys were dead shortly after they disappeared, but to have maintained public optimism about their safe return to beef up support from the Jewish diaspora.
This is excellent research, although it doesn't take us far enough. Moon of Alabama offers what may the best summary of what must now be regarded as a proven conspiracy -- not a theory. (The post you are reading owes much to the M of A piece.)

The key fact: Israeli officials knew from the very start that a small gang of local thugs abducted those three boys. That triple kidnapping/murder was a criminal act, not an act of war -- a matter for policemen, not soldiers. Nevertheless, Netanyahu loudly issued a false claim that the Israeli government could prove that Hamas had kidnapped those young men.

We can prove that Israel engineered a war conspiracy by citing this story published in The Times of Israel on June 22:
Israel has “unequivocal proof that this is Hamas,” Netanyahu said ahead of the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. “We are sharing this proof and information to this effect with several countries. Soon this information will be made public.”
Again: We now know that no such proof ever existed. The Israelis knew the truth at the time this lie was uttered.
Israeli police, intelligence officials and Netanyahu knew within hours of the kidnapping and murder of the three teens that they had been killed. And they knew who the prime suspects were less than a day after the kidnapping was reported.

Rather than reveal these details to the public, Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence agency imposed a gag order on the national media, barring news outlets from reporting that the teens had almost certainly been killed, and forbidding them from revealing the identities of their suspected killers. The Shin Bet even lied to the parents of the kidnapped teens, deceiving them into believing their sons were alive.

Instead of mounting a limited action to capture the suspected perpetrators and retrieve the teens’ bodies, Netanyahu staged an aggressive international public relations campaign, demanding sympathy and outrage from world leaders, who were also given the impression that the missing teens were still alive.

Meanwhile, Israel’s armed forces rampaged throughout the occupied West Bank and bombarded the Gaza Strip in a campaign of collective punishment deceptively marketed to Israelis and the world as a rescue mission.

Critical details that were known all along by Netanyahu and the military-intelligence apparatus were relayed to the Israeli public only after the abduction of more than 560 Palestinians, including at least 200 still held without charges; after the raiding of Palestinian universities and ransacking of countless homes; after six Palestinian civilians were killed by Israeli forces; after American-trained Palestinian Authority police assisted Israeli soldiers attacking Palestinian youths in the center of Ramallah; after the alleged theft by Israeli troops of $3 million in US dollars; and after Israel’s international public relations extravaganza had run its course.

The assault on the West Bank arrived on the heels of the collapse of the US-led framework negotiations, for which the US blamed Netanyahu, and immediately after Hamas’ ratification of a unity deal with the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority. Netanyahu was still smarting from the US recognition of the unity government when news of the kidnapping reached him. Never one to miss an opportunity to undermine the Palestinians, he and his inner circle resolved to milk the kidnapping for maximum propaganda value.
(Emphasis added.) Even the Jewish Daily Forward -- again, not usually considered an anti-Semitic journal -- admits that an "unintended" war in Gaza was triggered by "politics and lies."
The frustration had numerous causes. Once the boys’ disappearance was known, troops began a massive, 18-day search-and-rescue operation, entering thousands of homes, arresting and interrogating hundreds of individuals, racing against the clock. Only on July 1, after the boys’ bodies were found, did the truth come out: The government had known almost from the beginning that the boys were dead. It maintained the fiction that it hoped to find them alive as a pretext to dismantle Hamas’ West Bank operations.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately placed a gag order on the deaths. Journalists who heard rumors were told the Shin Bet wanted the gag order to aid the search. For public consumption, the official word was that Israel was “acting on the assumption that they’re alive.” It was, simply put, a lie.
Since even the Jewish Daily Forward admits that Netanyahu is a damnable liar, why should we ever again believe this Israeli government -- on any topic?

The excellent work of Noura Erakat offers more details about the rocket fire:
Israel claims that its current and past wars against the Palestinian population in Gaza have been in response to rocket fire. Empirical evidence from 2008, 2012 and 2014 refute that claim. First, according to Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the greatest reduction of rocket fire came through diplomatic rather than military means.
Immediately preceding Israel’s most recent operation, Hamas rocket and mortar attacks did not threaten Israel. Israel deliberately provoked this war with Hamas. Without producing a shred of evidence, it accused the political faction of kidnapping and murdering three settlers near Hebron. Four weeks and almost 700 lives later, Israel has yet to produce any evidence demonstrating Hamas’s involvement. During ten days of Operation Brother’s Keeper in the West Bank, Israel arrested approximately 800 Palestinians without charge or trial, killed nine civilians and raided nearly 1,300 residential, commercial and public buildings. Its military operation targeted Hamas members released during the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange in 2011. It’s these Israeli provocations that precipitated the Hamas rocket fire to which Israel claims left it with no choice but a gruesome military operation.
As M of A, notes, we don't even know with certainty that Hamas was responsible for that rocket fire. Other groups or individuals may have been responsible.
It is obvious that Netanyahoo's war on Gaza, which has so far killed over 1,000 Palestinians, is a war of aggression justified with false claims about a crime which had no connection whatsoever with Hamas or the people of Gaza.

But the United States government, and its various client states (who very likely knew all this since June 12) is still claiming that Israel is only exercising its "right to defend" itself and should be allowed to continue to do so.
I'll be very amused if someone accuses me of being an anti-Semite for relying on material published in The Times of Israel, The Jewish Daily Forward, and New York Magazine.
I've read the same thing, Joe. That this whole disaster was, in fact, provoked by Israel, Netanyahu specifically, because he wanted a way to break the Palestinian's 'unity' government which recognized and included Hamas.

This is the first time I recall our own journalists [not all but some] refuting the Israeli position and taking exception to the reckless language--telegenic dead, for instance. Even Kerry slipped on a hot mic when he criticized the 'pin point strikes' that Israel has insisted it has been using.

This is the first time the world has eyes on the ground through social media. Tweets, videos, Facebook postings and blogging, revealing the true nature of the assault. Even UN safe houses are no longer off-limits. Apparently, nothing is off-limits.

While I watched videos from the West Bank, a peaceful demonstration with Israel soldiers firing from The Wall, I might have easily been watching some Sci-fi movie, a dystopian view of a grim future.

But no, the future is now, the brutish response real. Whatever 'benefit of the doubt' I once gave Israel is gone. Just heard the ceasefire has ended. So, the slaughter will continue.

Shame on us all.

"Israeli police official refutes claim that Hamas kidnapped Israeli teens"...

" “Hamas is responsible, and Hamas will pay,” Netanyahu said in reference to the kidnapping. However, Inspector Rosenfeld’s statements, along with a number of reports concerning the identities of known police suspects, seem to indicate that Hamas leadership was not involved in the vicious crime.

The two more-likely suspects are Amer Abu Aysha and Marwan Kawasme, who have been missing from their homes since the night of the kidnapping. Police found cellphones and prepared food caches in their homes. Both had recently opened bank accounts in their wive's names. Palestinian security forces reported that Abu Aysha and Kawasme were missing to the Israelis the day after the kidnapping occurred, according to Al Monitor.

“That was the first clue in the investigation and the reason why Israel pointed an accusatory finger at the Hamas infrastructure in Hebron,” wrote Shlomi Eldar, a veteran journalist who has covered the Palestinian Authority for the past two decades.

Abu Aysha and Kawasme are known members of the Qawasameh tribe, according to Palestinian security forces. While members of Hebron-based Qawasameh clan identify with Hamas, they have a history of undermining its efforts to end violent conflicts with Israel. In 2003, for instance, the family sent two suicide bombers to blow up a bus in Jerusalem after a tahadiyeh (ceasefire) had been successfully negotiated between Israeli and Palestinian fighters, which was endorsed by Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin."


A motive helps prove a conspiracy;

"Bombing for Oil: Gaza, Israel and the Levant Basin"

"With recent developments between Palestine and Israel we feel its necessary to bring the following facts and potential un-discussed motives into the light. This article will focus on the large natural gas discoveries made in the Levant Basin, off the coast of the Gaza Strip in recent years and the war surrounding who will reap the billions of dollars when those wells become a new major producer in the area. ..."

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Saint Ronnie and airliner conspiracy theories

The Daily Show
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I hope that embedding this Jon Stewart video does not cause any technical problems. If it does, I'll have to delete it.

Stewart's bit is funny, but he doesn't go far enough. Today's conservatives pretend that Ronald Reagan could do no wrong -- but at the time, many on the right were infuriated by his response to the 1983 downing of KAL 007. I distinctly recall one conservative pundit (damn, who was that guy?) who hopped onto Ted Koppel's program and screamed that even Jimmy Carter was tougher on the Soviets.

To protest the invasion of Afghanistan, Carter had instituted the boycott of the 1980 Olympics in the USSR. In response to the Korean airliner shootdown, a number of conservatives wanted Reagan to cancel the 1984 Olympics in California. Reagan, a critic of the 1980 boycott, refused to do this. (Nevertheless, the Soviets decided to sit out the 1984 Olympics to protest America's wave of anti-Soviet hysteria.)

Now we have neo-neocons calling to move the World Cup from Russia. The people who like this idea also revere Ronald Reagan, although their hallucinated version of Ronald Reagan usually bears little resemblance to the actual man. There they go again!

Let's consider other parallels.

Why did KAL 007 deviate from its course? No one knows -- at least, not with absolute certainty -- hence, the many alternative theories of the incident. Remember, this event took place in 1983 -- before Alex Jones, before Bill Cooper, before David Icke, before "conspiracy culture" became so popular and so outlandish. In those days (believe it or not), many writers proffering non-mainstream scenarios felt obliged to produce actual evidence and a reasoned argument. They were also more likely to have noteworthy resumes and reputable publishers.

One such writer was Oxford professor R.W. Johnson, whose 1986 book Shootdown: The Verdict on KAL 007 intrigued me at the time. (Having lost my copy years ago, I'm not sure how I would feel about his work nowadays.) Paul Foote's contemporaneous review, originally published in the London Review of Books, is partially online. In essence, Johnson argued that the airliner deliberately "tickled" the Russian radars to light them up, making them easily locatable by spy agencies. This was (and, I presume, still is) a task normally performed by military aircraft. Johnson argued that special circumstances made it advisable to have a civilian craft do the job.

Some years later, French aviation expert Michel Brun came out with a book titled Incident at Sakhalin, which argues that the airliner was shot down an hour later than generally supposed.
The book does far more, by showing that as KAL 007 approached the Russian Island of Sakhalin, so too did a number of US military and reconnaissance aircraft in an ill-conceived 'black' provocation operation that turned into a two-hour battle in which 30 or more US Air Force and Navy personnel were killed and 10 or more US aircraft were shot down.
Further, the most plausible narrative for KAL 007 going off course—though it never crossed Soviet or Sakhalin airspace— that morning is it was cooperating in the black op, causing a reconnaissance plane to be mistaken for a civilian airliner in the mix of military aircraft, thus making the Soviets think twice about risking attacks on the jets that had invaded its airspace.
A long time ago, I went through Brun's book. As I recall, his evidence for a different location and time seemed genuinely interesting; alas, the rest of his work kind of fell apart.

Wikipedia has a page devoted to alternative theories of the KAL 007 incident. If you hit the link, you'll see that the scenarios have ranged from the more-or-less reasonable to the absurd. In fact, some are so absurd as to be infuriating -- for example, I think we can safely dismiss the notion that the passengers landed safely and were sent to prison camps, and I definitely am not inclined to accept the report that the bodies were all eaten by giant crabs. (Yes. Giant crabs.) Nevertheless, among the handful of people still paying attention to KAL 007, the "safe landing" and "giant crab" theories are probably better-known than is Johnson's hypothesis.

Well, that's how it always is with conspiracy theories, isn't it? Goofball ideas discredit legitimate investigations. During World War II, it was said that the truth was so precious it must be protected by a bodyguard of lies. Today, every inquiry into a politically-resonant conundrum must be surrounded by a bodyguard of silliness. In the year 2030, the few people still talking about MH17 will be debating whether the craft was destroyed by winged creatures from the Inner Earth.

Or maybe they'll be talking about this guy's scenario. He thinks that MH17 is (or was) MH370!
There are no winged creatures from the Inner Earth. True, in Sir Edward Bullwer-Lytton's class "Vril: The Power of the Coming Race" the beings seem to be winged, but those wings are actually mechanical contrivances and serve no aerodynamic purpose. I'm not aware of any other reports of Inner Earth denizens of a winged nature. Not enough room to flap, one imagines.

Now dragons, those are a different matter, and are sometimes referred to as having wings, but they live in barrows and abandoned churches rather than the Inner Earth. Actually, maybe I've heard accounts of feathered Nagas in the Lesser Shambhala, but feathered isn't necessarily winged.
My belief is that 007 was being shadowed by military planes to trigger response from Soviet radar etc.
While it's true Congressman Larry McDonald - head of the John Birch Society - was on the plane, another claim is that Richard Nixon got off the plane in Anchorage knowing the flight was at risk.
Stephen, you've obviously never watched the movie, "Rodan".
One hot summer afternoon in suburban Philadelphia a large shadow interrupted a pickup game of baseball on a green suburban lawn. The shadow broke the concentration of a group of young boys engaged their favorite pastime, and they looked up to up to see a giant white four-engined airliner with large, clear, red letters on the wings that read CCCP.

I was one of those boys, and later that evening I sat in front of a black and white television set as a deep baritone voice announced that a Soviet airliner on its maiden voyage to the Philadelphia Airport had diverged from the normal route to overfly a local Nike missile base and parts of the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard.

All of the major powers have used, and continue to use civilian aircraft as pawns in their spy games. They have since the dawn of aviation, and they will continue as long as their citizens continue to accept the plausible deniability built into these operations.
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Friday, July 25, 2014

That's rich

Slate has an article up about the phenomenon many are talking about: Republicans have decided to attack Dem candidates for having, and making, money. Here's the bit that stood out for me:
In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker has been attacking the business record of his opponent, former Trek bicycle executive, Mary Burke. The Walker campaign ran an ad claiming that Burke made millions by shipping jobs overseas to countries where the minimum wage was as low as $2 an hour. Walker says it’s hypocritical since Burke is pushing for a minimum wage hike in Wisconsin.
So minimum wage workers are supposed to feel better with Walker? Are they really supposed to vote for a libertarian Republican who opposes a minimum wage hike -- and probably the very notion of a minimum wage? Are working people really supposed to support a governor who curtailed collective bargaining rights? (Worth noting: Walker increased his state's deficit. Compare to Jerry Brown.)

Are there any Republicans these days who would support using tarrifs/duties/import restrictions to combat the outsourcing of American jobs? The dismantling of American industry has pretty much killed Baltimore, although Republicans prefer to blame Democratic governance.

Our political system has come to a strange place. Either you vote for the hypocritical Dem, or you vote for a Republican who is candid and consistent in his heartlessness.

Added note: Directly after writing the above, I came across the following in Naked Capitalism...
The Administration has released a proposal to change the classification of American firms that send production offshore as “factoryless goods” producers, which would also make them manufacturers.
Is Obama a hypocrite on this score? You betcha. He never would have won the nomination if he had not pretended to be against the outsourcing of American jobs, yet he has promoted unbridled free trade throughout his presidency.

On the other hand, the primary opponents of this proposal are Representatives Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut and George Miller of California -- both Democrats. So far, no Republican has criticized this scheme. Will Scott Walker complain about it?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Crisis of Palestine

I have seen only part of this video, but that segment was enough to convince me to share this with you.

Amazingly cogent speech and an amazing person.
I’m familiar with the many speeches of George Galloway.

At about 1:24:00 of the youtube clip, he suggests that a solution to the middle-east problem could be resolved by creating a single state, named either Israel-PLO or PLO-Israel. In my opinion, such a state would require a benevolent-dictator at the very least, or in the view of the PLO, a benevolent caliph.

The concept of a benevolent-caliph-dictator is described in religious texts, including those found within the Jewish, Islamic and Christian doctrines. The question is: From which religious persuasion should such a leader arise? Or could we entertain the possibility that such a leader will actually be created with a neutral religious proclivity, such as one using a combination of man and computer; i.e., trans-human-computer hybrid? Does this sound ridiculous? A hundred years ago, yes: A hundred years hence, no.

On a lighter note, I noticed a subliminal suggestion possibly rumbling through the mind of Galloway found in the same youtube clip at 35:24, at which point he says: “ Yes, sister at the back.” He takes his hand out of his pocket and then starts to stroke the shaft of his microphone in a manner that suggests he is having certain thoughts about the “sister” who is speaking. Perhaps Galloway’s subliminal and subtle suggestion was indicative of his true feelings about the PLO in general, and the PLO women in particular. ;) j
I speak to the one-state solution in the post preceding this one.

In the longer term, we need true democracy, not a dictatorship, benevolent or otherwise. In a novel I'm writing, a character says this about Napoleon III:

"Nobody likes an 'enlightened despot.' The right will hate him because he's enlightened, and everyone else will hate him because he's a despot."
Considering the advances and successes in applying Madison Avenue's psychology of persuasion to the art of politics, is it possible for a functional democracy to exist anymore? There are masters at gaming the system, but now they can game the human brain.
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How to end the genocide

With each new atrocity, Israel loses the ability to control the media war. Too many people are hearing too much truth. Here's an example from Haaretz:
“The only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped.” This assertion was made by Middle East scholar Dr. Mordechai Kedar of Bar-Ilan University about three weeks ago on an Israel Radio program.
Israelis have become so insular that they've lost sight of the impact that such words have on the outside world.

Even the Washington Post had to publish a piece denouncing a recent Wall Street Journal editorial which denounced all residents of Gaza as subhumans deserving of death.

The Lancet, not normally a political journal, has published the following:
On the basis of our ethics and practice, we are denouncing what we witness in the aggression of Gaza by Israel.

We ask our colleagues, old and young professionals, to denounce this Israeli aggression. We challenge the perversity of a propaganda that justifies the creation of an emergency to masquerade a massacre, a so-called "defensive aggression". In reality it is a ruthless assault of unlimited duration, extent, and intensity. We wish to report the facts as we see them and their implications on the lives of the people.

We are appalled by the military onslaught on civilians in Gaza under the guise of punishing terrorists. This is the third large scale military assault on Gaza since 2008. Each time the death toll is borne mainly by innocent people in Gaza, especially women and children under the unacceptable pretext of Israel eradicating political parties and resistance to the occupation and siege they impose.
Even though a (shrinking) majority of Americans still support Israel, that nation's blinkered defenders are losing the propaganda wars.

 Salon outlines the official Israeli guidebook on how to game the media. What you're about to read will seem very familiar:
This framework, developed in 2009, can be found in The Israel Project’s 2009 Global Language Dictionary. The Orwellian manual provides a detailed outline on how to “communicate effectively in support of Israel.”

One of its first instructions is that pro-Israeli propagandists need to show empathy. The manual insists that they should “show empathy for BOTH sides” (caps in original) as a way of gaining credibility and trust. To make sure that the point is understood, the manual repeats again (in bold, and underlined this time) the instruction “use Empathy”—the suggestion being that empathy is an important tool to be used in the propaganda war.

When innocent Palestinian children and women are killed, the first response should be to show empathy; the next is to reframe the issue stating that Israel is not to blame and that it is only defending itself and further that it only wants peace. Even when it is raining death and destruction on Palestinians, the manual is clear: “Remind people—again and again—that Israel wants peace.”
I'm reminded of a scene toward the end of Mars Attacks! Remember? The Martians would broadcast the words "We are friends!" even as they tried to atomize all the inhabitants of Las Vegas.

The pro-forma phrase "Israel wants peace" now evokes a similar response. Nobody can take it seriously.

Salon argues that the Ayman Moyheldin case has helped to break down the engines of propaganda:
Following Glenn Greenwald’s article on this at the Intercept, large numbers of people, primarily through social media, held NBC’s feet to the fire. In contrast to standard patterns where the only pressure comes from well-funded pro-Israeli groups, this time ordinary people who were reeling from the Palestinian death toll organized their dissent.

The result was that Moyheldin was reinstated.
The dynamic at work is as follows: First, independent media have played a crucial role in countering Israeli propaganda and offering alternative accounts. Second, social media have provided a forum from which independent journalism, as well as first-hand reports from Palestinian people in Gaza, are circulated. Third, in these spaces Israel is losing the propaganda war, despite its vast resources of misinformation experts. Fourth, grassroots activists using social media have been able to bring pressure to bear on the establishment media. Fifth, this climate has enabled establishment journalists on the ground to be more forthcoming about the horrors of what is happening in Gaza.
Translation: Blogs like the one you are reading have an impact.

Of course, this particular blog plays a vanishingly tiny role. And that's as it should be: We need to see hundreds -- thousands -- of little-known writers take a bold stand against Israeli racism and tyranny. We need to say the things that mainstream writers have been taught never to say, never to think.

Any one person who speaks up against Israeli racism can be targeted and smeared. But smears don't work against an army.

We need more people who are brave enough to decry Israel's institutional racism and its policies of genocide. We need people who are willing to tell the truth about Gaza -- that it is an open-air concentration camp, designed to make life unendurable for the rightful inhabitants of the land.

We need to admit out loud a simple fact which we all know to be true: The Jews who stole the land of Israel want the indigenous population to leave or die.

The Israelis who count on America's good graces tend to see matters in religious terms. They think: As long as we have support from John Hagee and his merry band of fundamentalist nutcases, what's to worry about? America is in the bag. What many Israelis don't understand is that an increasing number of Americans have had it up to here with the Christian right. Those freaks don't even believe in evolution. Why should normal people care about anything they say?

As the fundamentalists lose influence over the greater American dialogue, Israel's apologists will start to lost the propaganda wars. More and more people will find the courage to state the obvious: We need fundamental changes in the Middle East.

Israel, as presently constituted, must end.

From the start, Israel was a state founded on the racist principle of Jewish supremacy. That Israel must die.

The two-state solution may have been a useful idea at one time, but the dream was killed by religious zealots and their vision of Greater Israel. Now, there is only the one-state solution: All Palestinians must be granted full voting rights, full freedoms -- and a full right of return.

Many Palestinian refugees have gone to Syria, where they are now refugees twice over. Before its civil war broke out, Syria was the second biggest refugee host; now it is the second largest creator of refugees. These members of the Palestinian diaspora must be allowed to return to their ancient homeland.

If this expanded right of return means an end to the Jewish rule -- good.  Decades of Jewish supremacist ideology has created a form of fascism within Israel -- within the Israeli heart.

Fascism has no rights.

The fascist states of of Germany, of Italy, and of the Confederacy deservedly lost their sovereignty when those evil governments were destroyed by their moral betters.

I long for the day when the civilized world stands up to Israel and says: "Look, we're not arguing with you any longer. We are telling you. This is how it is going to be. For an indeterminate period of time, you will be ruled directly by us, just as Germany was directly ruled by outsiders. We will control the educational system and the media. Eventually, all of the fascism and racism will have been wrung out of your system. When that day comes, you and the Palestinians will be granted self-rule, and you will live together under a truly democratic government. You may not have any voice in how you are governed until you give up your delusions of superiority."

That's what we said to the Germans; that's what we said to the Italians. That's what we must say to the fascists of Israel.

That day can and will come. To make it come sooner, the writers working within the small and unfettered regions of the internet must exercise greater influence over the mainstream media.

That process has already started.

For those you still under the delusion that Hamas initiated the present attacks, here are two counterarguments: This piece tells the all-important, yet seldom-heard, story of what took place before the rockets were fired. And Norman Finkelstein counters the legal arguments we've heard, as well as a horrendously short-sided report by Human Rights Watch.
It was a terrible idea to begin with. Creating a cauldron of pain and hatred guaranteed to foment strife and destabilize the Mideast for generations, does not account for the holocaust. It is answering one crime with another. It's only foreseeable future is mass murder.

The public relations discussion leaves out the strategy of distraction. Any account of the atrocities against Palestinians is met with comparisons to other times and places... "it's just like the European conquest of the Americas, who are you to complain?" ... or "there are struggles constantly going on all over the world, why should you single out Israel?" Always make reference to "the other" to take the focus off the infection from this thorn in the side of humanity which will be the end of us all if it is not dealt with.
Beautifully said Joe. I gave up blogging a while ago as you well know but I have never stopped reading your writings! I only wish your "small" voice had a greater audience.

RD, I don't need a larger audience. All I ever wanted was to be one of many making the same plea for peace and justice.

So now that you're here -- where ARE you? Where did you go?

Amen Joe. You have given a voice to the unspeakable truth. It was more than a gust of fresh air, and may it turn into a hurricane!
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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

"Send leftists to the gas chambers & please take them there in garbage trucks"

Let's end all of this talk about Israel being a democracy. That society has worked very diligently to earn the title fascist. A nation does not become a true democracy simply by holding elections (in which only certain people may vote). Democracy and fascism are psychological states -- ways of looking at the world. They are part of the soul.

What has happened to the Israeli soul? What kind of person has been shaped by the Israeli indoctrination program -- which is comparable to, and obviously modeled on, the Hitlerjugend movement? This report by Bekah Wolf demonstrates what modern Israel has devolved into...
Yossi* wants to make it very clear from the beginning of our discussion that I cannot use his real name. Rotem, his friend who is also translating, explains, “He is afraid. We’re all afraid. The fascists are searching for our Facebook profiles, for any information about us on the internet. They are hunting us.”

What first may seem like hyperbole is in fact exactly what pro-Palestinian, anti-occupation Jewish-Israeli activists have been describing for the last week: mobs of right-wing fascists chasing peaceful protesters and violently attacking them in the centers of West Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
“The police were just cowards,” Rotem said. “They left us to face a group of fascists who wanted to kill us. They actually told us that.” The demonstrators there to support the people of Gaza tried to leave the area. Yossi explained what happened next. “We ran down the street and the fascists followed us. We ran into a cafe and about 20 of the fascists came inside after us. They completely destroyed the cafe.”
Yossi said, “this is nothing compared to the violence used against Palestinians every day.” Even during periods of relative calm, he says, “Palestinians are attacked every day. Every day.” What’s different, Rotem said, is that it is now being visited on other Jews, “in the heart of Tel Aviv.”

I asked what they saw as the cause of the surge of violence and fascist rhetoric in Israeli society. Yossi explained it this way: “The differen[ce] between the pilots bombing Gaza every day and the hooligans in the street is that the hooligans aren’t killing people.” In other words, the mentality required to massacre Gazans and that which leads to assaulting those who you don’t agree with are one in the same. Rotem lays the blame at the increasingly right-wing government and their direct incitement. “[Naftali] Bennett and others like him are encouraging this kind of violence. They are calling Palestinians animals and us traitors.” He believes it’s part of a coordinated campaign to incite violence. “It used to not be politically correct to talk like this. You used to only say these things behind closed doors. Now it’s out in the open.” The people on the streets attacking Palestinians and left-wing Israelis, he said, “are just the soldiers.” This is the result of “twenty years of denying democracy, of working against the Supreme Court, against minorities” he said.
Typical Israeli Twitter message:
Send leftists to the gas chambers & please take them there in garbage trucks
The Israel of America's imagination bears no relationship to the actual state. From a recent Haaretz piece (behind a paywall, but excerpted in a comment here):
The new State of Israel will no longer tolerate any opinion that is different, any alternative idea. Subversive ideas are out of the question; even asking questions that few people ask will be utterly prohibited. The people will speak in unison, like in a chorus, as uniform as the Red Army Choir. The media, too, will speak in one voice, declaimed right out of the statements dictated to it by government and army spokesmen.

None of this is a dream. The nightmare is already here.
We may criticize the army and the defense establishment, but only from one direction: Why didn’t they let the army win? Let it “do its job,” beat the hell out of them, bombard them, crush them even more, conquer even more, cut off the electricity, tighten the siege and ramp up the killing, pain and devastation as much as possible; to exalt the might of the troops, to praise the daring of the pilots. To bring the Arabs back to the Stone Age and Gaza to the Middle Ages. That is allowed. The most moral thing on earth — as much as possible; doubting it is forbidden. One may also cry victim without limit. Ignorance will be crowned as a national goal.
Yes, Israel holds what it is pleased to call elections. But fascism is not a system of governance; it's a mentality. As long as that mentality holds sway, even a nation which calls itself a democracy (and which stages a vote at regular periods) may fairly be identified as fascist.

I would argue that America has had dangerously fascistic periods: The McCarthy era gives us one example, as does the year-long run-up to the Iraq War. A number of people have argued that the Confederacy was the first experiment in fascism. Would it have been less fascist if it had survived long enough to hold an election?

Perhaps we should look even further back if we want to locate the origin of the fascist impulse. The murderous relocation of the Cherokee and other native tribes began during the Jackson administration. Jackson was elected democratically; he was both popular and populist. Does this fact make the "Trail of Tears" any less atrocious? The Indian Relocation Act becomes more vile -- not less -- when we note that it was created by elected representatives of the American people.

If Germany had held a perfectly fair election in (say) 1938, who would have won? You know damned well.

I'll say it again: Fascism is not a system of governance; it's a mentality.
You do realize that most countries right now are fascist, including our own? Russia: fascist. China: Fascist. US-Very fascist. To single out Israel seems some what anti-Semitic when we are all guilty of being fascist. Israel is defending themselves from a people who want them dead. If anything I think the Israelis are going too nice on Gaza which should be razed to the ground if Israel ever wants this nonsense to stop. The reason the US hasn't won a war in decades is this adverse reaction to killing people, civilians included. Had we done this during WW2, Hitler would have won. Israel is fighting for their survival, and yes, if I was there, I would be cheering on a hillside too. Hamas has had ample time to stop the bloodshed and has chosen not too. Why should Israel get all the scorn, when it is the Palestinians prolonging this?
For all those who keep saying vs like imagine it was throwing rocks into NY or LA what to do but defend yourself I have a different scenarios for you. Imagine that you are with yr family in your home or your car then an armed gang came and kicked of you out and took all your belongings. The people who are around were cheering them and even giving them more arms. Will u just go on with your life as if nothing happened

I certainly agree, the US committed war crimes on the proportionate scale
that Israel is committing in Gaza
during the Iraq War. Of course since Israel owns Congress and was key in driving the Iraq War,(based on WMD lies) it isn't that much of a distinction.
The genocidal removal of the Native Americans is probably the best analogy, because the same motive was operative then in the USA as now in Israel: the lust for other people's land and resources.
interesting comment section today.. it seems the fanatics are out in strong force here as well.. james
1warmonger0, thanks for your candor. Would you care to share with us any of your Rachel Corrie jokes?
Israel proves again and again that they have no interest in peace. Can we stop pretending that the, admittedly vile, actions of Hamas justify the collective punishment of ALL Palestinians? That somehow the Palestinians actions are equivalent to those of Israel? No, of course not, because ignorant Americans will continue to support the "only Democracy in the middle east (cough, cough)", as if that statement were even true (it's not). Frankly, if 1700 rockets were fired into California from Mexico and did no damage, I would like to believe that Californians would want something done, but not a collective massacre of Mexicans who had nothing to do with firing the rockets. Of course, I'd likely be disappointed, as blood thirst seems to be the order of the day Israel and it's American lap dogs.
The turning point for me was the carnage on the beach where 4 little boys playing soccer were blown to Kingdom Come. War is ugly and children are frequently killed but we rarely have it caught on video. And what was the reaction? The journalist and his crew were called back to the States until a public uproar had him reinstated. The Israeli response? We do not target the civilian population [in other words, don't trust your lying eyes]. And from an Israeli spokesman: We don't target civilian targets. This was 'an operational error.' Really?

Netanyahu disgraced himself talking about Hamas' talent of featuring the 'telegenic dead.' I suppose that applies to all the dead children to date. Or, 'a man's got to do what a man's got to do.' If slaughter is what he's talking about, I guess that makes a grotesque sort of sense. Another term I found with a little reading was 'mowing the grass,' which presumably explains these periodic acts of mass murder--mowing down current strongholds, capabilities, collateral damage be damned [another term I love--collateral damage--one borrowed straight from the US).

Today we learn that the UN buildings, hospitals and the like are being targeted because we cannot leave any safe houses for people to run to. And that's the point. There is no place to run. This is a turkey shoot with all exits controlled by the Israeli military: air, sea, land.

Perhaps the most egregious argument I've read is rationalizing the carnage--that the Palestinians are not really civilians, they all share a common guilt/responsibility for Hamas. Not really civilians; not really human.

Not even those little boys playing soccer on the beach?

This is wrong, inhumane and frankly disgusting. If there's any common guilt it rests with the world at large, the US in particular--watching, defending the indefensible.

I could not have said it better
If you steal my house and hold me hostage, I will do whatever I can to kill you. And no, I do not care about your right of survival. I care about my right of survival.
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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

"We wage war so this will be our land without any Arabs"

Some pictures speak volumes. Others speak libraries.

Jews in Israel -- the same ones who allegedly fear rocket fire (which took no casualties) -- are gathering on hillsides to cheer the bombing of innocent civilians in Gaza. It's a spectator sport, for these Israelis. They bring drinks and snacks.

The thud of shellfire, flash of an explosion and pall of smoke are greeted with exclamations of approval. "What a beauty," says one appreciative spectator.

Shimrit Peretz, 19, has come with her off-duty soldier boyfriend, Raz Sason, whose army-issue assault rifle is slung across his shoulders.

"We come to look at the bombing," Peretz says, adding that this is their fourth visit to the hilltop. They plan to stay several hours: "It's interesting." The pair have brought a backpack filled with bottles of water and bags of crisps.

Peretz says that she doesn't worry about the Palestinian civilians caught in the bombing...
On Facebook, writing in Hebrew, the Israelis have segued into full-blown psychosis:
Many Israeli Facebook users have posted violent and disturbing content on their personal accounts. Talya Shilok Edry, who has more than one thousand followers, posted the following “status”: “What an orgasm to see the Israeli Defense Forces bomb buildings in Gaza with children and families at the same time. Boom boom.”
Writing about the murdered sixteen-year-old Muhammad Abu Khudair, who was kidnapped and burned alive by Israeli youth, she stated: “Sweet settlers, next time you kidnap an Arab boy, call me and let me torture him!! Why do you get to have all the fun?”
That, my friends, is how Israeli Jews talk when they think gentiles aren't watching. David Sheen has found that the most overtly genocidal sentiments have come from young Jewish women.
"From the bottom of my heart, I wish for Arabs to be torched"
"In the end there will be no more Arabs, God willing"
"I spit on you, you stinking Arabs"
"We wage war so this will be our land without any Arabs"
"Arabs may you be paralyzed & die with great suffering!"
That's what Israeli Jews really want. Dismiss everything they say to placate Americans. We uncover their true character when we learn what they say to each other.

And here's what's happening to the innocent victims. Warning: These photos are not easy to see.

Each of those bags contains the body of a child. The doctor is weeping.

When I ran photos of this sort on a previous occasion, a Jewish reader sneeringly left a comment about "atrocity porn." I sincerely hope that this reader, or someone of a similar mentality, offers that kind of observation in response to this post.

The fiends who applaud what Israel is doing are so caught up in their own depravity and pride that they've lost sight of how their vile words will affect normal people. By all means, let us give platforms and bullhorns to these monsters. Let them speak. Their own callous words will awaken the world's conscience and bring a much-deserved end to a racist state built on stolen land.

That's why I'm glad that Benjamin Netanyahu isn't censoring himself. He has gone so far around the bend as to allow himself to say these words on CNN:
They want to pile up as many civilian dead as they can. They use telegenically dead Palestinians for their cause. They want the more dead, the better.
Please go on, Mr. Netanyahu!

Glenn Greenwald (who found an exactly similar Nazi statement claiming that Jews were deliberately exploiting their own victimhood) notes that the very point of this assault on Gaza is to create as many "telegenically dead" civilians as possible.
Even stalwart Israel supporter Thomas Friedman has previously acknowledged that Israeli assaults on Lebanon, and possibly in Gaza, are intended ”to inflict substantial property damage and collateral casualties” because “the only long-term source of deterrence was to exact enough pain on the civilians” (which, to the extent it exists, is the classic definition of “terrorism”).
In other words: Netanyahu deliberately murders babies, then he claims that the dead babies are a Palestinian ploy.

Nothing you or I can say will bring an end to Israel nearly so effectively as letting Israel's scorn-riddled, self-righteous defenders speak for themselves. These people have lost both their humanity and their reason, and they no longer know or care when their own words hurt their cause. Decades of religious brainwashing has created a generation of insane haters who can no longer hide their madness, even when doing so would give them a tactical advantage. At this point, they can offer no more than the curled lip, the flared nostrils, the furled brow, the muttered I don't give a fuck what you think.

The arrogance of these genocidal racists has segued into psychosis.

Let the racists have their say. Let them alienate and repel everyone else in the world. Let them bring about their own destruction. Study history: The arrogant always fall -- and the cause of that fall is always, always their own arrogance.
I'm not sure that anyone who voted for a President who makes jokes like this:


has much moral authority in this matter. Perhaps we should clean up our own act first.

As for the Israeli fear of rocket attacks, based on published reports I count in excess of 1700 rocket attacks against Israel in July alone. I think that if someone launched 1700 missile strikes from Tijuana against San Diego (even if they didn't hit anything), you'd hear more than a few Californians calling for some sort of military action against Mexico. Even an inept attack is a genuine threat.

None of that excuses the thuggish racism of the Israeli comments you've cited here, nor does it excuse the IDF's failure to take every precaution to avoid harming civilians (just as 9/11 doesn't excuse us indiscriminately blowing Afghan wedding parties into red mist). Implying that this reprehensible attitude is typical of "Israeli Jews" or "the Israelis", as you have done here, is pretty offensive in its own right (and far less justified than imputing similar opinions to "Americans", given the overwhelming support of the drone war among Americans. See: http://www.gallup.com/poll/161474/support-drone-attacks-terrorists-abroad.aspx ).
AIPAC better think of something fast to avert an avalanche of complete disgust over Israel, it's leaders, and it's nakedly inhuman policy of Arab genocide. Airing more holocaust movies just wont shame most of us into silence anymore.
There should be a 24-7 channel showing the dead bodies in all the conflicts around the world. That and only that. Constant, and nothing but carnage and the reality of what war really is. Instead of "carnage porn" it will be called "The Real World."
Cheering for the death of our enemies, even when they are deserving, is contrary to Jewish law. While a very few Israelis have seemed to enjoy the misery of the Gazans, that view is uncommon. I am quite certain that you are not a bigot, so I am thus certain that you have likewise written blogs critical of the Muslim Arabs who give out candy when children are murdered, that you have written posts criticizing the Palestinians when they have named streets after a woman who murdered children on a school bus, that you have criticized pro-Palestinians who have attacked Jewish houses of worship. I just happen to have missed those posts, could you kindly point them out to me?

You're obviously an Israeli troll. You're reading from the Israeli script, beginning as you have with that "imagine rockets falling on (insert name of Western city)" crap. It's very tiresome. That's followed up by a little anti-semitism song and dance. Buddy, you're full of shit for 2 reasons.

1. The author of this blog does not support Obama's drone attacks. If he was on record as supporting them, then your accusations against Joseph would would have *some* validity. As he does not, you should apologize to him for calling him an hypocritical anti-semite, you smeary bastard.

2. Israel is a small country. It means little if the scale of their atrocities does not match that of the US. On one hand, a country of 330 million has killed 3,000-4,000 people with missiles fired from drones, on the other, a country of only 7 million has murdered 600 Gaza residents with missiles and bombs in the past week. The little country is killing MANY times above its weight.

Also consider that recent US wars have been fought with Israeli interests in mind. Take the 170K dead in Syria. Or the 1 M dead in Iraq. Both neocon wars. Arguably, much of the killing the US does is outsourced killing on behalf of Israel.
"Cheering for the death of our enemies, even when they are deserving, is contrary to Jewish law."

So is moo shu pork, but I've seen lots of Jews eat it. These days, most people care about religion primarily as a means to justify hatred.

That's across the board, incidentally.
The Nazis would be SO envious! They never had an elevated, ringside seat to cheer for the cannon-firing of Polish villages. If they could be dragged up from the pits of (non-existent, but I wish it was) Hell, those Good Germans would say "Sie sehen, dass Sie gerade wie wir sind!" (You see, you're just like us!) to their imitative acolytes the Jewzis.
I just saw a Russian movie called "House of Fools". The movie is about the Chechnian war.
It shows "war" for what it is without taking sides.
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So the American people, laudably and understandably, want peace -- but they think a Republican congress is more likely to keep us out of war? (From here.)

Has 2003 become a distant memory? Have Americans gone insane?

The poll question is a simple sounding question that contains many interpretations.

Americans probably believe that republicans will keep the flow of oil coming more reliably than Barack Obama and the democrats.

Since there seems to be no sense of urgency to get energy alternatives up and running, the republicans gain an edge.

Most libertarians are Republican and some have been passionate and vocal about non-intervention abroad. It follows that from the view of a person in a particular congressional district, the GOP candidate may be a superior peace candidate than the Democrat, even if they Republican party as a whole is worse.
I think the telling stat is 28% are 'unsure' though I agree that citing Republicans [a party the Politico deems 'modestly' more hawkish than Dems] is a sign of utter confusion.

Have the respondents forgotten so easily? Are they insane?

Yes & yes. The psychosis that appears to be spreading.

Given that the margin of error is plus or minus 4.1 points, I think it's fair to state that Americans think both legacy parties are incompetent, and that the incumbent party (whoever that may be at the moment) might be slightlymore incompetent. A perfectly reasonable attitude in my book. After all, a system that selects political leaders on the basis of their skill in contribution fundraising is pretty much guaranteed to annoy niggling little details like competence in foreign policy.
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Monday, July 21, 2014

Koched up

Jim DiEugenio, a brilliant historian and a friend to this blog, has written a superb piece about the Koch brothers and their malign influence on our current politics. The essay derives from the suppression of the documentary Citizen Koch, which PBS refused to air for fear that that David Koch would withdraw support from the network.

Even if you think you already know the story, I urge you to give DiEugenio's work your attention.
Perhaps as a reaction to his experience with Stalin, Fred Koch became one of the original members of the far-right John Birch Society. In fact, he was on the Executive Committee which met monthly to plan Birch Society strategy. In 1961, Fred Koch sponsored a major Birch Society event in Wichita, introducing the founder of that group, Robert Welch, to a town hall meeting of 2,000 people.

To understand today’s Koch brothers – and why they now say President Barack Obama is a socialist – it’s necessary to recall just how reactionary the John Birch Society was. Some Birchers thought that Republican President Dwight Eisenhower was a communist agent.

Echoing this nonsense, Koch self-published a pamphlet which said, “Communists have infiltrated both the Democrat and Republican parties.” Koch also wrote about the nascent civil rights movement: “The colored man looms large in the Communist plan to take over America.”
The current mania for libertarianism owes much to the Koch family's predatory influence:
By the late 1960s, Charles Koch was among a group of high-level Birch members infatuated with Robert LeFevre, who created the Freedom School which touted the mystique of the Austrian School of Economics. From his fondness for LeFevre, Charles went on to become the sugar daddy of the Libertarian movement.
Seeking to build a movement that challenges government regulations, Charles and David Koch became major benefactors of the Libertarians, spending millions to fund the libertarian Cato Institute.

In 1980, David Koch also ran for Vice President on a Libertarian ticket headed by attorney Ed Clark. Some reports state that the Kochs spent about $2 million on the 1980 campaign, boosting the Clark/Koch partnership to the highest percentage for a Libertarian ticket ever received.

The platform was considerably outside the mainstream, even to the right of Republican candidate Ronald Reagan, whom they attacked for representing “no change whatsoever from Jimmy Carter and the Democrats.” (CNN.com, June 2, 2014, “The Truth about the Koch Agenda”.)
This last point is important. Modern Republicans revere Reagan, yet the conservative movement is largely controlled by a family that despised his alleged "moderation."
After 1980, the Kochs decided they personally would not seek political office. Instead, they would advance Libertarian ideas from behind the curtains. According to Doherty, the Kochs came to look at politicians as “actors playing out a script.” The Kochs would concentrate on writing the script’s themes and the words for these actor/politicians to speak.
There's much, much more at the other end of the link.

I've also been reading Bob Woodward's The Price of Power, which tells the story of Barack Obama's struggles on the economic front. Much of the book won't be news to you. Indeed, the big revelation here is that the story you've been told is, more or less, what actually happened.

Obama, for all of his many faults, really did try to stand up to a far right machine that was ready to destroy the economy in order to further the goals of eviscerating Social Security and reducing the tax rates for the wealthy. For that, he deserves praise.

I feel a bit astonished to admit that, at this stage in this presidency, my main problems with Obama concern foreign policy. If Obama failed, he did so by accepting the construction that deficit reduction had to be the goal that trumped all others -- a view which, as Paul Krugman points out, was always based on a delusion.

Yet can we blame Obama? Nearly everyone around the globe -- right and left -- had fallen prey to that same hallucination. Our ill-educated citizenry stupidly thinks that lower taxes equal higher revenue. They also think that Reagan achieved an economic recovery through belt-tightening, even though the exact opposite occurred: He ran up a deficit exceeding all previous deficits combined. Since 2009, there has been enormous populist pressure on Obama to "do something about the debt," because our populace has been brainwashed into thinking that debt reduction equals prosperity.

Boehner, his opposite number, may have grumbled about the president's "arrogant" style and his allegedly shortsighted negotiating methods, but those complaints don't address the real problem. The real problem has always been the far right, funded by the Kochs and fueled by a messianic vision. These people insist on imposing strict libertarianism on a country that does not want it. Even Boehner, I think, despises the insanity within his party, yet he knows that the modern GOP is a party in which one either goes mad or goes away.

In a recent Salon piece, writer Thomas Frank argues that the main failure in these economic standoffs/negotiations was Obama's. Frank says "right-wing obstructionism could have been fought." He structures his argument around a forecast of how Obama's presidential museum will frame this period in history.
Well, duh, his museum will answer: he couldn’t do any of those things because of the crazy right-wingers running wild in the land. He couldn’t reason with them—their brains don’t work like ours! He couldn’t defeat them at the polls—they’d gerrymandered so many states that they couldn’t be dislodged! What can a high-minded man of principle do when confronted with such a vast span of bigotry and close-mindedness? The answer toward which the Obama museum will steer the visitor is: Nothing.

In point of fact, there were plenty of things Obama’s Democrats could have done that might have put the right out of business once and for all—for example, by responding more aggressively to the Great Recession or by pounding relentlessly on the theme of middle-class economic distress. Acknowledging this possibility, however, has always been difficult for consensus-minded Democrats, and I suspect that in the official recounting of the Obama era, this troublesome possibility will disappear entirely. Instead, the terrifying Right-Wing Other will be cast in bronze at twice life-size, and made the excuse for the Administration’s every last failure of nerve, imagination and foresight.
As much as I dislike Obama, I cannot agree with this assessment, at least not fully.

The forces of irrationality are too powerful; The Crazy is too well-funded. Had Obama been a much more passionate president, had he spoken with a tongue of divine fire, he still could not have talked down this foe.

To prove the point, consider the role of Eric Cantor, the leader of the Crazy Faction throughout the period Woodward chronicles. He seemed willing to take this country into default -- to drive the locomotive right over the half-completed trestle, laughing maniacally while the train plummeted toward the rocks. Yet in the end, Cantor wasn't crazy enough to please the conservative movement.

Something unnerving is abroad in this land. It's an evil force which no Democratic president can successfully confront.

The people say that they want bipartisanship, but the Kochs want nothing of the kind. They want libertarianism or apocalypse.
Who was it who put together the so-called "Catfood Commission" dedicated to wanting to destroy Social Security? Who was it who kept trying to put Social Security on the table to "negotiate" with the Republicans? Who was it who took his marching orders from billionaire Social Security hater Peter J. Peterson? Hint: It wasn't the Kochs or their machine.

Obama is just as bad if not worse because he still hides behind the "D" when he is nothing of the kind. For all your criticism of Obama, you still think he is "better" than the batshit crazy fascists on "the other side."

You still believe this even though they have identical goals in destroying the public sector for private gain. It's just that the fake Democrats like Obama "sound reasonable." In that sense they are MORE dangerous because they seem more benign.

It's disgusting the two parties are shells of what they were 40 or 50 years ago, when there were meaningful differences between the two and they operated in a spirit of cooperation.
Good article, and I generally agree.

However, I would still argue that Obama could have been stronger, and gotten more done, in the first 9-12 months of his presidency. But he and his advisers clung to their fantasy self-image of him as the all-wise Great Conciliator. He didn't want to be the leader of the Democratic Party. He preferred to be above the fray, even selling out the Democrats to achieve some mythical Grand Bargain.

Spike Lee had him pegged early on. Remember? The Magic Negro.

I say that if he had been tough and deliberate, he could have won more battles before he reached the end of the leash the RW eventually put on him.
Breaking this into two parts due to the undocumented 4096 character limit for comments.

Blaming the right wing for Obama's apparent fecklessness is just naive, Joseph. Obama hasn't accomplished anything "progressive" because he never wanted to in the first place, not because he was somehow overwhelmed by the forces of reaction. He's been a corporate tool for his entire political career - anybody who took the time to examine his backers in Illinois already knew that.

I find this sentence to particularly disingenuous:

"Obama, for all of his many faults, really did try to stand up to a far right machine that was ready to destroy the economy in order to further the goals of eviscerating Social Security and reducing the tax rates for the wealthy."

Let's not forget that Obama, on his own initiative (to the extent that the words "Obama" and "initiative" can be used correctly in the same sentence), organized the infamous Peterson "Catfood Commission" and proposed chained CPI. Have you really forgotten this little gem from the 2010 State of the Union:

" But families across the country are tightening their belts and making tough decisions. The federal government should do the same. (Applause.) So tonight, I'm proposing specific steps to pay for the trillion dollars that it took to rescue the economy last year.

Starting in 2011, we are prepared to freeze government spending for three years. "

Continuation of the previous comment:

That was followed very shortly by:

" More importantly, the cost of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will continue to skyrocket. That's why I've called for a bipartisan fiscal commission, modeled on a proposal by Republican Judd Gregg and Democrat Kent Conrad. (Applause.) This can't be one of those Washington gimmicks that lets us pretend we solved a problem. The commission will have to provide a specific set of solutions by a certain deadline.

Now, yesterday, the Senate blocked a bill that would have created this commission. So I'll issue an executive order that will allow us to go forward, because I refuse to pass this problem on to another generation of Americans. (Applause.) And when the vote comes tomorrow, the Senate should restore the pay-as-you-go law that was a big reason for why we had record surpluses in the 1990s."

That's not the voice of the people's advocate. It's not even the voice of a weak, dithering incompetent (which is probably the nicest thing I could say about the President). When it comes to Social Security, "pay as you go" translates to:

1) maintain the regressive cap on FICA taxation (speaking as someone who personally benefits from that cap),
2) reduce the benefits that workers have paid for over decades, either through outright cuts or through rigging the CPI, and
3) essentially defaulting on the trillions of dollars of debt obligations the Federal government has already incurred by borrowing against the FICA trust over the last few decades.

That's not the voice of passive bipartisanship - that's the voice of a man aggressively seeking to strip retirement security from millions of American workers, probably to set the stage for eventual privatization.

As for the Koch brothers, yes they're attempting to pervert public policy to their own economic advantage at the expense of hundreds of millions of ordinary citizens (many of whom are already in dire economic straits). Yes, they want to eviscerate what few economic and political protections ordinary citizens have.

This does not make them a unique force of evil in American politics. It makes them typical of their class. They're not particularly worse than the Silicon Valley whiz kids who seek to legalize age discrimination, who collude illegally to depress wages, who push for increased H1B visas as millions of US STEM workers are unemployed or underemployed, and who conduct mass surveillance and psychological experimentation on millions of unconsenting Americans. They're certainly not worse than the Obama-backing investment houses who tanked the real economy and have continued to push the agenda of wage reduction, offshoring, and disemployment throughout this recession.

The rhetoric is all haka. Trust me, the Kochs (and our other kleptocratic overlords) couldn't be happier with Obama in the White House. That "socialist" BS is just for the rubes.
The present state of inertia is very satisfying to politicos of both mainstream parties, who can swim in comfortable seas of campaign funds.

Both parties can engage in fundraising campaigns indulging in hysterical fear-mongering of what the other side will do if you don't dig deep, and neither side is expected to actually accomplish anything. The Republicans can claim that their heroic efforts have narrowly preserved us from the spectre of a red flag flying over the White House; the Democrats can claim that we'd live in a middle class paradise if not for those obstructionistic Republicans, and the citizens sigh and turn just a little bit more cynical day by day.
a Kucinich would have taken the battle to the Kochs.
and fought for single payer and to
imprison the banksters.
and broken up the big banks.
and not exonerated the Cheney crime team.
and not surged in Afghanistan, for nothing as it turns out.
or drone bombed across the Mideast and beyond, killing thousands of innocents.
that is, if he could have got Pelosi out of the way.
and worked with Ron (not the sellout Rand) Paul to get her and Boehner out of the way.
the public on both sides is afraid of the ultimate confrontation and the Gazans and Syrians must pay, that we not be polarized to war in the streets and final settlement of the issues here.
The final settlement is but delayed, the blood will flow the more because of that.
What does "all other deficits combined" mean? Annual ones, in 2014 dollars?
b: The phrase was commonly used during Reagan's second term, so I will presume that the calculation was made in the dollars of that time.

Others: I think you should read Woodward's book before giving yet another version of The Recitation. It was clear that both the Republicans and Obama White House were fighting viciously over what they considered matters of principle. A lot of people lost a lot of sleep. Both Obama and Boehner reached points where they will willing to sacrifice their positions (as President, as Speaker) in order to insist on non-negotiable items.

And yet many citizens who didn't follow the details of those battles presume that they were simply going through the motions.
Woodward. Is. A. Tool.
I should add that Michael has it right. Obama's Grand Bargain included things that most Dems would consider unthinkable. Yet he was still a damnable socialists to his Republican opponents. I can't see any way past this problem.

Some years back, I would have said "Maybe we should let the libertarians have their way. Maybe the only way to discredit their philosophy is to let it run its course." But if even Dubya could not kill conservatism...
Michael, in part you are right. But his Obama-era books have been valuable.
The other day there was a birthday party outside my window, for some child. Very noisy. Leaving the flat I looked through a window on the opposite side of the building, and in through the window of the building next door, wherein was a large piece of cloth hanging on the wall decorated with an inverted pentagram. Red on black, very rock and roll.

Sound or Satan? Noise or necromancy? Who is the better neighbour?
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