Thursday, July 10, 2014

Around and about...

An Obama administration official gets it (partly) right. Philip Gordon is "a special assistant to US President Barack Obama and the White House coordinator for the Middle East." He gave a major address in which he decried the occupation of the West Bank and the dehumanization of the Palestinians.
“Israel confronts an undeniable reality: It cannot maintain military control of another people indefinitely. Doing so is not only wrong but a recipe for resentment and recurring instability,” Gordon said. “It will embolden extremists on both sides, tear at Israel’s democratic fabric and feed mutual dehumanization.”
There are a couple of things wrong with this statement. First, the use of the future tense in that last sentence is just silly: These things have happened already. Second, Israel is not a democracy, since many of the people who must live under the dictates of that government do not have a vote.

Gordon wants a two-state solution, based on a return to the status quo pre-1967. I might have agreed with this notion not long ago, but sadly, the time has passed. The world must demand regime change. The very concept of a "Jewish state" is racist and must end.

Gordon won't say that, of course. But he is taking a step in the right direction.

(Incidentally, the Middle East Monitor reports that One Palestinian child has been killed by Israel every 3 days for the past 13 years. Kind of puts things in perspective, dunnit?)

Pando prevaricators. I can't believe that some of my readers are still defending the Greenwald-haters over at Pando. Yes, they are at it again.

I've rarely seen a more obvious operation. As I've said before: If you are trying to identify a well-recompensed media ratfucker, one key "tell" is the "any stick to beat a dog" approach. The Pando folk have approvingly linked to stories which criticize Greenwald for divulging America's secrets -- and at the same time, Pando critiques Greenwald not dumping everything he has on the public.

Are the Pando writers are being paid by the national security infrastructure to publish their attacks? C'mon. Grow up.

At least they were honest enough to publish these comments from readers:
how irresponsible from Pando. Really I'm not surprised. They have covered this story horribly. Makes me think they have an agenda with all this. Couldn't it be more obvious?
forgive me but what is the point you are trying to make; I don't honestly understand.
All you need to know about Pando can be found here. You don't need to read between the lines very deeply.

Is Hillary too tainted? Lambert, usually seen over at Corrente, has published a piece in Naked Capitalism which goes over the tale of Hillary's Iraq war vote. Frankly, I'm not sure we need to rehash this business yet again, certainly not on a sub-atomic level of detail. The world of 2002-2003 was a very different place from the world of today.

Lambert is certainly correct when he says "We know that the Bush administration was lying on Iraq WMDs, that there was no “intelligence failure,” but a massive and successful disinformation campaign." The whole point of a disinformation campaign is to mislead people, and senators are a prime target. Seen in that light, Lambert's own recollection of the period is more exculpatory than he intends:
I remember these events vividly, because I started blogging at Eschaton that summer. It was like playing whack-a-mole: The aluminum tubes! The white powder! “British intelligence has learned!” The yellowcake! They were one and all lies, debunked within days, and then — collective #facepalm by the much more united left of that day, which the Democrats had not yet succeeded in wrecking — we got to hear Colin [genuflects] Powell retail what we knew to be lies at the UN! Except it wasn’t like whack-a-mole; it was whack-a-mole; Col. Sam Gardner’s research suggested at least 50 stories[1] were planted in the press. The operation had a $200 million budget, and was run by the White House Iraq Group (WHIG)
Lambert goes on to ask: "Are we really to believe that the famously networked Clinton machine couldn’t have reached out to somebody in official Washington to find out that Bush was selling a crock of shit on Iraq?" I'm not sure that there were any truth-tellers to be found in that town during that period. As I recall, the entire governmental infrastructure spewed the same spew in perfect synch.

I'm more interested in what Hillary Clinton did as Secretary of State. Let's face it: Her record is genuinely troubling.

Lambert notes that her book has nothing to say about the use of a drone to kill American citizen Anwar al Awlaki. Perhaps we should give her a pass there, because she may be hiding the details of a covert operation. I've argued in many previous posts that there's a hidden side to the Awlaki tale. (His death, let us recall, was never verified by the government of Yemen.)

That said, there's a lot more to the drone issue. (See the CNN interview with Alan Grayson embedded a couple of posts down.) The sad truth is that I have never seen Hillary criticize her former boss on this score, and I have no reason to believe that she would be more circumspect in her use of this terrible weapon.

Lambert stands on firm ground when he discusses Hillary Clinton's misleading version (as recounted in her book) of the Ed Snowden story:
As Clinton must know from the Iraq WMDs/WHIG debacle, the media context is completely corrupt, being riddled with disinformation; for example, the NSA has consistently said that Snowden could not have gotten “primary documents” we only now learn he got. How is a debate to be had except on the basis of trustworthy evidence?
“[CLINTON:] When [Snowden] emerged and when he absconded with all that material, I was puzzled because we have all these protections for whistle-blowers.”
First, Clinton ignores that Snowden was a contractor and has no whlstleblower protection. Second, Clinton ignores that Snowden is charged under the Espionage Act, and that means he’ll be gagged in court if he tries to make a whistleblowing case. Third, Clinton ignores the fates of Drake, Kiriakou, and Manning.
Fourth, and again, what Clinton ignores that the executive branch’s disinformation capabilities, as shown in the Iraq WMD campaign, make it very hard for whistleblowers to get the word out; and ignores the proven capabilities of the US government to execute US citizens without trial, as shown by Obama’s “kill list,” which make whistleblowing dangerous (as if an Espionage Act conviction weren’t dangerous). Back to Clinton:
“[CLINTON:] If he were concerned and wanted to be part of the American debate, he could have been.
No, he could not have been; for the four reasons given above. In addition, Clinton ignores that Snowden did contact NSA oversight with his concerns, via email. The only way to spark the debate was to release the documents, as Snowden did[4].
All very true. On the other hand, the sad and infuriating fact is that we can hardly expect any serious presidential candidate to endorse or excuse Snowden's actions. If Hillary were even to hint at such a thing, she would spend the rest of her life talking about nothing but Snowden, Snowden, Snowden -- and she would never have a chance at the White House.

In sum, I find Lambert's passionately-written piece to be important and worthy, but not entirely persuasive.

To me, the most damning argument against Hillary Clinton appeared five days ago in the New York Times. A faction of the neocon movement has decided that Hillary could be good for their cause...
Even as they castigate Mr. Obama, the neocons may be preparing a more brazen feat: aligning themselves with Hillary Rodham Clinton and her nascent presidential campaign, in a bid to return to the driver’s seat of American foreign policy.
Max Boot, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, noted in The New Republic this year that “it is clear that in administration councils she was a principled voice for a strong stand on controversial issues, whether supporting the Afghan surge or the intervention in Libya.”

And the thing is, these neocons have a point. Mrs. Clinton voted for the Iraq war; supported sending arms to Syrian rebels; likened Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, to Adolf Hitler; wholeheartedly backs Israel; and stresses the importance of promoting democracy.

It’s easy to imagine Mrs. Clinton’s making room for the neocons in her administration. No one could charge her with being weak on national security with the likes of Robert Kagan on board.
God help us all.

Can you imagine what would happen to the cause of liberalism if, after eight years of Obama, we had to put up with another Dem administration in which foreign policy is run by guys like Kagan or Boot? Could the Democratic party brand even survive?

If Hillary Clinton does not divorce herself from the neocons, true Dems must divorce themselves from her.
If a Jewish state is racist, is an Islamic state also racist?

Well, that gets us into the "define race" problem, doesn't it? A religion is not a race. On the other hand, neither religion nor race is a fit basis for a state.

As I've said many times, I'm willing to make an exception for Vatican City, since it's not a REAL state, being about one third the size of the Los Angeles Zoo. If Jews and Muslims (and Buddhists and Hindus and whatever) want a similarly tiny pseudostate, I'd have no quarrel.
All right then, here is my defense of Israel as a Jewish state. Every Islamic country in the world defines itself as an Islamic state. Israel is more than a Jewish state, it is a Jewish refugee state. When every other state in the world will not define itself in terms of its religion, culture or ethnicity, and will welcome Jewish refugees, then Israel as a Jewish state will become irrelevant. We're not there yet.396
Saudi Arabia's many (many) sins do not justify Israel's.
My point was that at this point in history, Jews deserve and need a refugee country. And let's be clear, such anti-Arab sentiment in Israel, as there is, is de facto and not de jure. I understand that there are Jewish bigots, though not as many as some would suggest, but the laws do not condone or spur such bigotry. Administrative prejudice I'm sure occurs and that is why there is a court system to balance that prejudice.
The USA is a Jewish refugee state. It has more Jews than Israel does. And they don't have to ghettoise and slaughter the native population to live in America.
Sorry, Joe. The neocons waving their flags for Hillary is just another poison pill the Repugs are throwing into the mix. Anything to disparage the woman and/or convince the public that she is the female version of Atilla the Hun. HRC is far more hawkish than I am. But a neocon lover? I don't think so.

The elite media including the Times are bristling at the thought of Hillary Clinton running for the WH. And the GOP is throwing everything they have to dissuade her from even trying. Why? Because they don't have anyone beyond the Clown Car Brigade to run against her.

Think of the lineup: the Big Guy from Jersey still fending off charges from Bridgegate and recently embarrassing himself by snubbing the parents of Sandy Hook; Marco Rubio with train tracks on his back from his foray into immigration reform; Rick Perry, the guy who forgot what he was against; Rick Santorum [no description necessary]; Ted Cruz from crazy town who helped shut down the Government; Paul Ryan, the faux economic wizard; Rand Paul, the Libertarian and smartest politician among them, even though whacked on most issues; Jeb Bush who provoked minor strokes with his comment: immigration = an Act of Love.

And then Mitt Romney. Because people think they love a phoenix rising from the ashes. Only this bird don't fly.

Hillary Clinton is going to run through a continuing gauntlet if she truly wants the WH. She'll be bombarded with a million questions and she'll have to have the answers to satisfy voters: her purpose for running, her vision for the country.

Her answers. Not Obama's or Bill Clinton's. Not the army of pundits or corporate media types. And certainly not the Neocon's--their infamy would be enough to make Nero gag.

Her answers. Her answers only. I'm waiting to listen, as are millions upon millions of others.

Steven Morgan,

Actually there are more Jews in Israel. It is important to remember that the United States is NOT a refugee state for the Jewish people. Go to the Holocaust Museum in DC and find the section called "America's Response." And if you say that things are different now, well, Jewish refugees from Latin America are not welcomed here, but they are in Israel. Of course the noxious anti-immigrant views of many xenophobes in America is another story.

Okay, I was not going to respond further to these comments, but I have to point out that the DC Holocaust Museum has been scored for giving a very misleading view of that very issue. My ladyfriend wrote a paper on the topic during her college years, and I looked at the research materials. The museum has been criticized (by Jews and others) for skewing history.
By the way -- in the end, that's all you've got, isn't it, small j? The Holocaust. Well, the Holocaust does not justify stealing other people's land. The Holocaust does not justify the erection of a racist state. The Holocaust does not justify the Nakba.

And if I am homeless, I do not have a right to drive you out of your home.

The Rogers-Wagner bill passed? As many visas as were authorized in 1933 were in fact issued? And no, the Holocaust is not all we got, though it is pretty significant for most Jews. Rather, the Holocaust was not an historical anomaly. Rather it is the Holocaust was the culmination of historic anti-semitism. Even now, Jews feel persecuted in France and Sweden, with many expressing a desire to emigrate. As far as land stealing goes, at least acknowledge that there is scholarly debate as to who owned what land. And Jews were thrown out of Arab countries after Israel's independence in at least roughly equal numbers to the Arabs who left Israel. I haven't seen any cries for reparations for them outside of Israel.
There are 5.81 million Jews in America.

There are 4.78 million Jews in Israel.

Some Jews may feel persecuted in Swden or France, in the same way that some Christians feel oppressed in America. It's not actually true, though. Such persecution does not objectively exist.

As for the Nazi's doing, they also created the Kosovo problem by massacring the population of Serbs there are replacing them with Albanians. We in the west then bombed the Serbs when they tried to stop the KLA finishing the job.

There may have been some Jews driven out of Arabic countries at the time of the Naqba, as there were Germans driven out of East Prussia in the wake of the second world war. That's also no justification to found a nation based on bloodshed and theft.

The only real debate about land stealing is from "scholars" of Judaism who think the land was given to them by God, so fuck the dirty Arabs. The global warming, the "debate" is the ranting of crazed fanatics.

Jewish refugees from south America don't get let into America because they are latins. They want to escape poverty and they can get to Israel because they are Jewish, while there equally situated conationalists can't, because they aren't. Just Jewish special pleading. You want to leave your country you can go through the immigration process like a human being, not go somewhere where you can kill a brown man and steal his land like a psychopath.

Mr. Morgan,

Bigotry is forming a conclusion in the absence of facts. You "reasoning" is so devoid of factual background that it is not worthy of a response. And I acknowledge a bias in favor of Israel. However, when provided with specific problems, I am willing to criticize it. Saying that Israel is illegitimate is not a specific criticism and in fact plain stupid. Israel is just not going to pack up and leave.
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