Friday, November 21, 2014

Weird times

Bloggers are, I think, a little reluctant to write much now, because we're all waiting for the bad news out of Ferguson. Sure, people are talking about Obama's new actions on immigration, but that issue never excited me. One part that bothers me is this:
And Obama will expand the total number of high-tech visas that are available, as well as loosen restrictions so that more would-be entrepreneurs can travel legally to the United States to launch companies.
Do we need more high-tech competition? Do we need more foreign companies?

I am nevertheless quite amused by the Republican reaction, what with Ted Cruz comparing Obama's actions to the Cataline conspiracy to overthrow the Republic of Rome. I really enjoy it when conservatives brag about how they've gone to skul to get all ejikated and stuff. Cruz' complaint would carry more weight if he did not belong to the party of "We're an empire now."

Although the news remains in a holding pattern, there are still a couple of matters we should talk about.

Prohibited airspace. I happened to have a look at Wikipedia's article on restricted and prohibited airspace, taking a special interest in the section on the United States. There are ten permanent prohibited areas in US listed. Most of them are places you would expect to be on the list: Area 51 and environs (known as "The Box" to military pilots); Camp David, the White House and the Capitol; the Kennedy Space Center; Mount Vernon, facilities having to do with nukes, and so forth.

But one listing seems very strange: The Bush compound near Kennebunkport, Maine.

Why does the Bush family rate this kind of protection? Carter doesn't get prohibited airspace. Neither does Clinton. I don't think that Reagan had a no-fly zone over his home in Bel-Air. (Way too much air traffic in L.A.)

(By the way, roughly half a mile away from Stately Bush Mansion is a place called Bumpkin Island. I think that this would be an excellent location for Dubya to create a compound of his own.)

There's another odd item on the no-fly list: The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota, near Lake Superior. It's a place beloved by hikers, fisher-folk and canoe enthusiasts. But why a no-fly zone here, as opposed to any number of other wilderness areas?

I haven't found even the slightest hint of a secret military base in the area.

Max Blumenthal on Ukraine. First, you should understand that I am not an uncritical Blumenthal fan: He's pretty bad on Syria, believe it or not. We can get into that issue at another time. Right now, I strongly recommend that you read this.
AlterNet has learned that an amendment to the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would have forbidden US assistance, training and weapons to neo-Nazis and other extremists in Ukraine was kept out of the final bill by the Republican-led House Rules Committee.
Basically, this bill would have forbidden any aid to militaristic assholes who wear swastikas and other nazified couture. Guess who made sure that this thing got knocked down?

The Weisenthal center and the ADL!
An ADL lobbyist insisted that “the focus should be on Russia,” while the Wiesenthal Center pointed to meetings between far-right political leaders in Ukraine and the Israeli embassy as evidence that groups like Svoboda and Right Sector had shed their extremism.
No, they have not.

What has happened is that, in very recent times, a large section of the neo-fascist right in Europe has decided that Jews are okay after all. They've shifted targets: They now hate Muslims. And Slavs.

We learned all about this strange development from Anders Brevik, the Norwegian mass murderer who admires Israel and who had a presence on websites run by pro-Israel Islamophobes. Guys like Brevik (and Right Sector) are still extremists, even if they say they're fine with Jews.

Mind you, this shift is pretty recent. As Blumenthal notes, the creeps in Ukraine were singing the old song just a few years ago:
Svobodoa’s leader, Oleh Tyahnybok, once called for the liberation of his country from the “Muscovite-Jewish mafia.” In 2010, following the conviction of the Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk for his supporting role in the death of nearly 30,000 people at the Sobibor camp, Tyahnybok flew to Germany to praise him as a hero who was “fighting for truth.”
But hey -- that was the past. It's all good now:
Since the Euromaidan revolution, however, Svoboda has fought to rehabilitate its image. This has meant meeting with Israeli Ambassador to Ukraine Reuven Din El and appealing to shared national values. “I would like to ask Israelis to also respect our patriotic feelings,” Tyahnybok has remarked. “Probably each party in the [Israeli] Knesset is nationalist. With God’s help, let it be this way for us too.”
Reading this story, I keep flashing on those photos of nationalist thugs in Israel wearing "Good night, left side" t-shirts as they beat up peace protesters. The same t-shirt, bearing the same slogan (in English!) is worn by nationalist thugs in Europe.

Ukraine's ruling People's Front party has some interesting characters skulking about in it. There's a guy named Andriy Biletsky, for example. He leads the Azov militia, which is fighting against the people in eastern Ukraine who want no part of Kiev's current madness.
“The historic mission of our nation in this critical moment is to lead the White Races of the world in a final crusade for their survival,” Biletsky recently wrote. “A crusade against the Semite-led Untermenschen.”

Azov fighters are united by their nostalgia for Nazi Germany and embrace of open fascism. Sporting swastika tattoos, the battalion “flies a neo-Nazi symbol resembling a Swastika as its flag,” the New York Times’ Andrew Kramer recently reported.
To today's ADL, that's not a problem. They're open-minded. Swastika Schmastika.

On the other hand, if you're a low-level blogger who favors a one-state solution in Israel and who thinks that Palestinians should have full citizenship rights in that state -- God help you. These days, I'm considered an extremist. Not Biletsky. Me.
I might be able to explain the Boundary Waters restricted airspace.

In my energetic youth, I went in there for a 2 week canoe trip. One day paddling along the border with Canada we heard a buzzing sound, so faint at first that we all thought it was just our ears reacting to the prolonged silence. But it kept up and proceeded to get louder for almost 45 minutes. Finally as we rounded a bend in the lake we saw a motorized canoe coming from the other direction. We hailed (not politely) the pesky, lazy schmucks and were informed it had a 3.5 HP engine.

Can you imagine if the BWCA were overflown by sightseeing tourists from both sides of the border?
makes sense, Pennelope. But why can't we have restricted airspace over other nature refuges?
"First, you should understand that I am not an uncritical Blumenthal fan: He's pretty bad on Syria, believe it or not."

Max has done really important work on Israel, but his stand on Syria needs to be examined. Starting, perhaps with his blog post about why he resigned from Al Akhbar. He complained Al Akhbar was too pro-Assad, and then gave some reasons that make him sound extremely naive in the light of everything that has happened since.

Hindsight is always 20/20 but a lot of people understood Syria from the beginning.

This Nazi resurgence in Ukraine has been a long time coming. In WWII the northwestern Ukraine Nazi groups were especially rabid. Unlike other countries, after the war Ukraine never underwent de-nazification. Allen Dulles was a Nazi sympathizer. With the start of the Cold War with the Soviet Union, the German intelligence services were incorporated into those of the United States under Nazi spymaster Reinhard Gehlen. Nazi anti-Russian sympathies have been cultivated in Ukraine ever since then by the US intelligence services. And now we have a Nazi government running a country in Europe and a fascist surveillance police state in America. The parallels with the creation of the Taliban are profound.

We always think of antisemitism in association with Nazism, but really the defining factor is fascism with a hatred towards some group of "others". It doesn't have to be Jews, there just needs to be some group to apply the festering hate towards and blame them for everything you think is wrong with your world.

George Eliason quotes Biletsky, a commander of a Ukrainian "Punisher" Battalion, who is now a Ukrainian Senator;

"Unfortunately, among the Ukrainian people today there are a lot of 'Russians' (by their mentality, not their blood), 'kikes,' 'Americans,' 'Europeans' (of the democratic-liberal European Union), 'Arabs,' 'Chinese' and so forth, but there is not much specifically Ukrainian...It's unclear how much time and effort will be needed to eradicate these dangerous viruses from our people."
At least over the John Muir Wilderness in the Sierra Nevada, pilots are supposed to keep their planes at a high enough altitude to not be obnoxious to those down below.
@ CBarr : 11:23 AM
"nazism" is short for "national socialism", which in turn is an oxymoron, a contradictio in adjecto and it came NOT as a lapsus, as it was/is DESIGNED to become propagated through the idiots.
Now it is a meme.
Don't Rumsfeld and Cheney have no-fly zones over their pads in Maryland?

Good to know you're on the same page with Caroline Glick.
Anonymous 10:53
Thank you. My comment definitely traveled through the original meaning of Nazi into meme-dom. With there being an unbroken chain from the World War II Ukrainian SS-Galicia Division to the “Social National Party of Ukraine”, which after Maidan changed its name to the Svoboda Party which sports the swastika-like wolf-trap logo, the true nature of these groups are impossible to deny. But the nature of their thinking is mirrored all over the world. When economic hard times appear there are always nationalist leaning racists who will choose a people of some other ethnic or religious identity, "the others", on whom these fascists will place blame for all their troubles. And unfortunately these people are easily manipulated by the right wing power structure.
Breivik and Right Sector...and the French National Front, and the British National Party, and the English Defence League...

Raving pro-Zionists, the lot of them.

The French National Front came first in the 2014 EU elections.
@CBarr - "after the war Ukraine never underwent de-nazification"

To what extent did Germany? A lot of members of the fascist organisations in the Ukraine were either executed or sent to Soviet labour camps. (As was also true with a lot of people who'd been taken prisoner by German forces and had never substantively 'collaborated'.) The fascist structures continued, though, inside the Ukraine, as readers of this blog are aware, and I'm not saying they weren't resilient and powerful. But as far as I'm aware, they didn't have much of a grip in either the CP or the Ukrainian KGB.

I'm no expert on the Ukraine, but I think that in say 1950 the proportion of Soviet officials in that country who had belonged (or still did) to fascist organisations was much smaller than the proportion of German officials in West Germany who'd been in the Nazi party.

How the Ukraine gets portrayed in official mythology in Israel is weird. The mythology gives a lot of space to a 17th century character called Bohdan Khmelnytsky (Chmelnitsky). Up until recently at least, the Israeli media used to throw the tag "Chmelnitskyist" at Ukrainians it didn't like. Israel Shahak shows how the mythology completely obscures the fact that in the Ukraine in the 17th century the Jews were basically a social class - one of the exploitative ones.

To get a take on the Israeli view on the Ukraine, it may be useful to consider the possibility that when it really comes down to it, many Jewish nationalists hate Christianity more than they hate Islam - often much more.
@CBarr : 11:25 AM
"the true nature of these groups" is that they are LUMPEN.
Lumpen are the fall-out of the social-economic proces that is termed History.
Their true character has long been described in the wider context.
The" right wing power structure" - are the capitalists.
In science we don't use new terms if good ones work fine.
Historians tend to mix their science with the art of literature.
The Boundary Waters were subject to a growing fly-in canoe/lodge fishing industry over the 20th century, and several visionaries saw this coming and got the area preserved as it should be - roadless, motorless true wilderness. No fly means no rich easy-buy fly-in wild fishing. You have to earn it, by portaging a canoe without spoiling the wild

did a trip this summer- one of my most special places on earth. no people, northern lights, wolves howling at night, milky way, fishing like crazy
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