Sunday, September 21, 2014

Amazon's $25,000 mouse

The comments are hilarious.
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Advantage chicken

The hip new political metaphor, according to Chuck Todd of NBC News, is Starbucks Nation vs. Chick-Fil-A Country. This is another way of saying that more rural voters than urban voters will go to the polls this election cycle. The scenario favors Republicans.

May this old California/Maryland liberal make a confession?

I never liked Starbucks. Too pricey (especially for the grub), and they don't let you commandeer an entire booth for your books and computer and stuff.

The next sentence contains the most politically incorrect words ever found on this blog. I've become a semi-regular Chick-Fil-A customer. To be specific: About once a month, I take the train out to the Chick-Fil-A in Hunt Valley, a restaurant run by outrageously dorky white people. It's the epicenter of honkiness in the Western hemisphere.

Let's admit it: Part of the reason we go to certain restaurants is to acquaint ourselves with the stereotypical trappings of a foreign culture. You go to a Mexican restaurant expecting to hear the Spanish language (or at least the accent), and you want to see tiled floors and tiled bathrooms and bullfighting posters and, well, lots of other Mexican stuff. You go to a Greek restaurant because you want to be around lively people who say "Opa!" a lot. You go to Buca di Beppo because you want the Pope room, and you want to feel that somewhere nearby there are a couple of guys in dark suits figuring out how to whack the entire Tattaglia family.

As awful as it sounds, I don't enjoy going to the Chick-Fil-A near my home. That one is staffed by a lot of black people who are very competent, very friendly, and very dull. They just don't make me giggle. No, when I wolf down a chicken sandwich and waffle fries, I want to do it while people-watching the hilariously pale. Their antics perpetually challenge me to keep a straight face. The women wear perfume and dresses and sky blue sweaters, and their hair is always the color of safflower oil. The men sport the kind of haircuts men got in the 1950s, and they say God Bless a lot. On my last visit, they were talking Wheel of Fortune. And football. And Intelligent Design. And Ronald Reagan. Yep, good ol' Ronald Reagan: Now there was a real president. He finally got rid of the deficit before that damned Dimmycrat Bill Clinton ran it up sky-high again.

Listen closely: That's polka music playing in the kitchen. Music with yodeling. They dance to it. They stay after hours, crank up Roll Out the Barrel, and they dance.

I keep wondering: What do these people look like when they orgasm? When the eruption nears, do they go into Ned Flanders mode? "Woah! I'm cum-diddly-umming!"

Now, one must be careful. Exposing oneself to such an environment more than once a month might be dangerous. But every so often, one seeks the exotic.

Added note: Response to this post has been amusing. Apparently, I am now black. Although I'm happy to take this is a compliment, one psychotic commenter went so far as to call me a "jigaboo." And I've been removed from the blogroll at The American Patriot (a paleocon site whose existence was previously unknown to me) on the grounds that I am a black racist.

Some ofays just can't take a joke.
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Comments:
You may seek the exotic, but we don't all do so. I stick to nice English food. I did once have some chips from a Chinese, but they weren't very nice, and I have steered clear of any foreign muck ever since. Brown sauce. Steamed potatoes. Wensleydale. A battered sausage. Nothing spicy and of dubious provenance.
 
Best fish and chips I ever had were from a Chinese restaurant. Seriously. This Chinese guy bought a former H. Salt Fish and Chips joint in Woodland Hills, on Ventura Blvd. near Chalk Hill, and he turned it into the best small Chinese place in town. But he thought that some people might still come there expecting fish and chips, so he kept fish and chips on the menu. HIS fish and chips were much better than the fare offered by the previous owners.
 
Apologies to a reader: While deleting a comment by a psycho, I accidentally deleted a comment from a non-psycho. Very sorry, and thanks for the kind words.
 
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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Norman Finkelstein reveals the REAL origin of the Gaza massacre

A couple of posts down, I linked to a video recording of a talk given here in Baltimore by the remarkable Norman Finkelstein. He spoke -- sometimes passionately, sometimes wittily, always intelligently -- about the origins of the recent atrocities in Gaza. Some of you may not have the time to listen to the entire event. I have decided to transcribe what I consider the most important section, in which Finkelstein discusses the context of this massacre.

It's a story that most Americans -- even those who dare to criticize Israel -- do not know. Anyone who reads this post will instantly zoom ahead of everyone else who tries to speak about this issue.

A couple of points:

1. I've lightly edited the transcript to increase readability. If you compare the words published below to the actual video, you'll see that I have snipped a few repeated phrases and smoothed over one or two minor verbal stumbles.

2. This is only the first part of Finkelstein's talk. We'll get to those much-ballyhooed rockets and tunnels next time.

The words below the asterisks are taken from that important speech by Norman Finkelstein.

* * *

Virtually everything that’s being said about the current round of Israel’s massacres in Gaza is simply not true. Saying “it’s not true” is just a euphemism for saying it’s a lie. I think it’s important to have some clarity about what triggered it, what’s happening now on the ground, and where things are headed.

Let me begin with the beginning – with the context. It’s important to get the point of departure right because we have to know what was the cause and what was the effect.

We’re told that the cause was the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers, and that the effect was the harsh reaction in the West Bank. That’s the sequence. Virtually every account begins by saying that it all started with the abduction and the killing of the teenagers.

But that’s flat-out false.

It began in April of 2014, when Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, or Fatah, formed a union government. The Prime Minister of Israel demanded that the United States and the EU break off relations with this new government, because Hamas was a terrorist organization.

Surprisingly, the United States and the EU said: “No; we’re going to continue in our relations.”

At this point, Netanyahu was enraged.

He was being consistently ignored. First on the question of Iran, when he claimed that Iran was on the verge of becoming a nuclear power and was threatening a second Holocaust. The United States and the EU persisted in negotiations with Iran. And now on his home ground, on the question of Israel and Palestine, once again he was being ignored.

Then the gift fell into Netanyahu’s lap -- the abduction and the killing of the three teenagers.

Even after that gift fell into Netanyahu’s lap, the US continued to say: “We are not going to break off relations with the new Unity government.”

Well, now Netanyahu had a pretext. He knew full well from day one that the kids were dead and Hamas had nothing to do with it. But he saw an opportunity to do what Israel always does when Israel wants to break off what Israelis call “a peace offensive.”

Hamas had signed on to the Unity government. Prime Minister Abbas was the spokesperson of the Unity government. He said: “We accept the EU-US terms for negotiations.” The terms were:

1. Renunciation of violence,
2. Recognition of the state of Israel, and
3. Recognition of all past agreements.

Abbas said: “The new Unity government accepts those terms.” Hamas had joined the Unity government. By inference, Hamas has accepted the terms of the EU and the US.

So Netanyahu has a big problem on his hands. It was one of those periodic Palestinian peace offensives.

Israel did what it always does. It’s not peculiar to Prime Minister Netanyahu: It’s typical of the Israeli government. When you have to deflect one of these peace offensives, you start pounding and pounding the presenters of the peace offensive until they react violently.

Netanyahu had his pretext: The abduction and killing of three kids. He then started going after Hamas in the West Bank. He arrested about 700 Palestinians, the majority of them being Hamas, ransacking homes, demolishing two homes. 

Israel carried on as it always does in these moments, like a hooligan state carrying on these rampages until Hamas finally reacts.

And when it finally reacts (as anyone would under those circumstances) what does Netanyahu say?

“Look, you see? I told you. They’re terrorists. You can’t negotiate with them.”

This is a particularly odd situation because it was not a Palestinian peace offensive. Ironically, this was a Palestinian surrender offensive. Prime Minister Abbas of the Palestinian Authority had accepted all of the Secretary of State’s conditions for ending the conflict. It was called the Kerry initiative, or the Kerry process.

Abbas accepted that Israel could annex the major settlement blocs.  

Abbas accepted the nullification of the right of return.

It’s perfectly clear from the record, or from what’s been leaked. He accepted everything. He accepted a defeat.

But Prime Minister Netanyahu, because of coalition politics, wouldn’t even accept a surrender from the Palestinians. And so now he was determined to wreck the Unity government.

After the rampage in the West Bank, things gradually escalated, and at some point it turned into the ground invasion.

I made many predictions along the way about what would happen. Many people will recall that one of my predictions was that I thought it would be impossible for Israel to repeat what it did during Operation Cast Lead in 2008-9. I thought that the international community had drawn a red line.

The red line had a name: It was called the Goldstone report. Even though the report of Richard Goldstone was eventually ignored, it set up a new standard. For Israel, the standard was: “No, you cannot do that sort of stuff anymore. You went too far.”

For a long time, my prediction held up.

In November 2012, Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defense, a lesser massacre in Gaza. That was a very different type of attack from 2008-9. For those of you who recall, during Operation Pillar of Defense in November of 2012, they didn’t target schools, they didn’t target mosques, and the death toll was significantly different: It was about 170 people. In Operation Cast Lead, it was 1400.

So up until that point [2014], what I predicted turned out to be right. However, it’s perfectly obvious now that I was way off base in terms of the new massacre in Gaza. It’s more or less on the same magnitude as 2008-9.

[Finkelstein said these words while the operation was ongoing. We now know that the 2014 attack was a good deal worse than the 2008-9 operation in Gaza.]

It’s the same thing all over again. And now the question is: Why was I so off-base? 

I’m not trying to defend myself; I’m trying to understand the situation. Political analyses can at best be about trajectories, where things are headed. But politics itself is about taking advantage of opportunities, being skillful at exploiting the moment.

I mentioned the original gift that fell into Netanyahu’s lap: The abduction and killing of the three teenagers. Two new gifts now fell into Netanyahu’s lap.

Gift number one was the vampire Tony Blair. Tony Blair is a clever politician and a vampire; the two obviously are not mutually exclusive. He’s also a high-priced call girl, and those three are not mutually exclusive.

Tony Blair dreamt up something clever. He said: “Let’s come up with a cease-fire proposal which Hamas has to reject.” And he comes up with this proposal and hands it to that monstrosity, President Sisi of Egypt. It’s now called “The Egyptian initiative” -- as if Sisi can even spell “initiative.” But it was Tony Blair’s.

 “We’re going to have a ceasefire,” he said. “We’ll lift the blockade.” That sounds reasonable: A ceasefire in exchange for lifting the blockade. That’s what Hamas wants. 

But the language was very clever: “We’ll lift the blockade when the security situation stabilizes in Gaza.”

Well, according to Israel, Hamas is a terrorist organization. So the security situation can’t stabilize until Hamas is disarmed. In effect, Tony Blair’s ceasefire was an ultimatum to Hamas: We’ll lift the blockade if you disarm. If you don’t disarm, then we’re not lifting the blockade.

Of course Hamas had to reject those terms. That was gift number one: Now the whole world can be told that the Prince of Peace, Prime Minister Netanyahu, wanted a ceasefire; it was Hamas that said no.

Gift number two was the downing of the Malaysian airliner. When the Malaysian airliner was downed, Gaza was immediately replaced in the top headlines.

Netanyahu is not a genius, but obviously he’s a competent politician, and it was perfectly obvious what was going to happen then.

In 1989, there was the first intifada. And during the first intifada, which was giving Israel a very hard time, there was the Tiananmen massacre in China. And Netanyahu back then -- he has been around a while, as have I – he gave a famous speech in which he said: “Israel’s big mistake was it didn’t take advantage of the Tiananmen massacre to carry out a mass expulsion in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.” So you know that this guy knows how to connect unpredictable events with political initiatives. That’s politics.

When the Malaysian airliner went down, he saw the opportunity. Between the fake claim that Hamas had rejected a reasonable ceasefire and the Malaysian airliner downing, he now had the pretext to launch the ground invasion. 

[Next: Rocket's red glare!]
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Comments:
regarding the lie "the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers" was the beginning excuse - in fact, some palestinians had been murdered in the west bank prior to this and the kidnapping was their response.. unfortunately these minor details get buried and are hard to pull up.. i remember reading chomsky who pointed this out - however many months back. it is an important point as it is the beginning of the framework supposedly authorizing israels continued actions/theft/murder..
 
Yes, Anonymous, that is true. (Although I would prefer for you to sign with some kind of nick.) But always keep in mind: If Israelis, do a thing like that, it's okay.
 
This comment has been removed by the author.
 
By the way, folks -- behind the scenes, I have been getting some very strange messages. I mean, REALLY strange. I'm not sure if they all come from the same source. The author (presuming that there is but one author) is always anonymous.

These messages accuse me of -- well, it's hard to say, because the text is so bonkers. But apparently I'm part of a Nazi conspiracy, and I've somehow insulted Norman Finkelstein. Or something.

These messages go well beyond the usual knee-jerk accusations of anti-Semitism one receives every time Israel is criticized. This stuff is on a whole new level of weirdness.

The idea suddenly occurred to me: What if this stuff ISN'T coming from some unhinged supporter of Israel? What if my correspondent an old-school anti-Semite PRETENDING to be an outraged Jew? What if he's trying to make all Jews look bad by making them seem unhinged?

Now that I reflect on the situation, the "imposture" scenario doesn't seem the slightest bit unlikely. After all, this is a hot button topic. There are really, really bizarre people on both sides. Or perhaps I should say, on every conceivable side.

Trolls are devious little bastards, are they not? I never really understood the appeal of trolling, but some people seem to be addicted to that sort of thing.

At any rate, I am sorry to be a hard case, but in this instance I really must ask all of you to stick to the "Rules for Comments" posted in the upper left-hand corner. Those five rules are the most effective troll-killers I know.
 
The mention of the Malaysian jet downing is interesting to me. I think its clear from the response of the European governments involved that there is serious debate about what actually happened to it. Think about it for a moment - if they REALLY knew that the Russian backed rebels had shot down a nonaligned passenger killing a number of DUTCH and ASIAN non combatants, is truly believe we would see a NATO peacekeeping force in the Ukraine. There would be no other logical response to such an atrocity.

The apparent reality is - no one has any idea what happened to that plane,it is extremelysimilar to the OTHER unprecedented aviation event of the year, the disappearance of ANOTHER passenger plane from the very same carrier!

Not to go too far afield here, but is it possible the plane wasn't shot down by either side but was the exact same catastrophic mechanical, fuel or depressurization event that brought down the first plane? Or the same terrorist group or psychopath that targeted the first plane? You think?

And to bring it home and keep it reasonably close to topic - was the event seized on to distract public attention away from the current "great game " which is the ongoing, generational effort to replace Islamic culture, nationalistic quasi-republics led by popular strongmen (Iraq,Libya, Iran, Syria, etc) with client state western democracies (like Israel) or pro-west feudal religious dictators (saudi Arabia) because it will be easier and more efficient to develop the dwindling petroleum resources there ... Focus western media audiences attention on a dreary drama involving the twitching dead truck and tail of the failed Soviet experiment, exploiting preexisting perceptions about Russian power and threats to Western Europe WHEN EVERY EXECUTIVE DECISION MAKER SINCE NIXON HAS KNOWN THERE IS NO REAL RUSSIAN THREAT TO WESTERN EUROPE!

sorry for straying off topic and the caps, but woke this morning to CBS radio news warning me with the newest "threat of the week" (KHORASAN!) and then read this post and it just made me shake with anger. No one remembers that damn plane now, it severed its purpose for two weeks while the media message could be adjusted and new terror threats could be identified and marketed to us.

US troops will depose Assad, who will be shown to be the obvious backer if ISIS or KHorasan or Threat X before the 2016 election, and Obama Peacemaker will anoint Regular Joe or Mother Clinton and we will have had 20+ years of rule by neocon elite. They will broker the cold Peace between Israel and the new (friendly) caliphate, and western and Chinese corporations will used Arab slave labor to extract petroleum wealth from the sands in earnest ... When they are gone they will construct feeder reactors to power the world there.
 
hi joseph,
the anonymous post at the top was from me - james..
i think your theory in the 517am post has merit.. what i find about this never ending war on palestine/gaza always packaged in such righteousness is that the end result is always the same - more suffering/murder of the palestine people and more land grab on israels part.. meanwhile, all the warmongering countries of the world led by the usa/britian - condone it and never challenge it..

it is a repetitious cycle where ordinary people outside of the zone look in horror as it continues every few years... if there is any way to boycott or voice opposition to israel, aside from automatically being labelled anti-semite, a person is also in shock at how their own gov't responds to it too.. the world is one messed up place.. our political leaders are the last people to represent truth, peace and justice.. in fact they seem to represent the exact opposite without exception.. james

 
What he is saying is HIS READING of the situation. His interpretation. As Foucault says, "entering into the psychological swamp of interpretation" really leads nowhere. There will always be an alternative interpretation, a counter interpretation,a different point of view because the argument is taking place in the Dominating Discourse of classical Hegelian dialectical Discourse. Finklestein also uses "cause/effect" as his argument. Nietzsche put that one to bed at the end of the 19th century. Joe if you would read Foucault, your thinking would get much clearer and you wouldn't get sucked into something like this.
 
What nonsense, Seymour. You really think that flinging around names like Nietzsche and Foucault will replace the facts that exist with the facts you would prefer?

As it happens, Finkelstein kind of addresses your point. Go to the actual lecture, listen all the way through, and hear out his riff on the use and mis-use of the word "narrative."
 
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The war against war makes for strange bedfellows

David Stockman is worth listening to as long as he's not talking about economics, which is supposed to be his area of expertise. The opening to his piece on ISIS makes him sound more like a Noam Chomskyite than a Reagan Republican:
US imperialism was once a fearsome force—-mainly for ill. Under the latter heading, Washington’s savage destruction of Vietnam four decades ago comes readily to mind.
I wish that Stockman had possessed the courage to say such a thing when his old boss -- the one with the initials R.R. -- was trying to convince the public that Vietnam was a "noble cause." But that's history. Let's talk ISIS:
This is an utterly misbegotten war against an enemy that has more urgent targets than America, but a war which will nonetheless fire-up the already boiling cauldron of Middle Eastern tribal, religious and political conflict like never before. There is no name for what Obama is attempting except utter folly.
Stockman notes that Turkey shares a border with ISIS territory, yet does not feel nearly as threatened by the jihadis as we do. (Stockman does not mention that Turkey has funded ISIS.)
But Turkey didn’t even sign the communique; won’t deploy its military against ISIS—despite its adjacency and capability to demolish the ISIS capital in short order; and won’t even permit US bombers to operate against ISIS out of the Incirlik air base–notwithstanding that 60 years ago it was that very facility which allowed Turkey to avoid Stalin’s clutches.

Instead, it seems that the Islamist Sunni regime in Ankara has more urgent fish to fry than the medievalist Sunni sect encamped on its border: Namely, its far higher priority is deposing the secularist Alawite branch of the Shiite tribe represented by the Assad regime in Damascus...
The Iranians have good reason to take action against ISIS, which has been slaughtering Shiites. Alas, any American alliance with Iran is off the table. [Or is it? See "This just in," at the bottom of this post.] We formed a temporary alliance with Stalin, we supported Pol Pot at the U.N., and we propped up all sorts of dictators from Marcos to Pinochet. But we can't work with Iran against ISIS.
In fact, Iran is the indispensable ally if Washington really means to takes sides in this latest eruption of an age-old Sunni vs. Shiite religious war that has virtually nothing to do with America’s legitimate security interests. But two decades of neocon and Israeli propaganda have deposited a thick vapor of lies throughout the entire beltway—spurious claims that Iran is an aggressive, terrorist nation hell-bent on getting nukes, and that, therefore, it cannot be consorted with under any circumstance.
So the irony of the neocon demonization of Iran is that the one real political and military barrier to the expansionist ambitions of the Islamic State—the so-called “Shiite Crescent” of Iran, the Assad regime in Syria and Hezbollah—is not even admitted onto the battlefield.
The only fighters we can depend upon are -- as always -- the Kurds. Alas, the Turks consider the Kurds to be terrorists.

Even the "moderate" Free Syrian Army doesn't want to fight ISIS. Stockman proves the point with a quote from Representative Rick Nolan, as published a couple of days ago. Nolan's statement is given greater context here...
“Did you hear the latest news?” Nolan asked his colleagues. “Just came out over the wire, I bet you guys haven’t heard it. The founder of the Free Syrian Army, okay? The one we’re going to give five billion dollars to? Riad al-Assad? He just says, ‘We’re not going to use that money to fight ISIS. No, no, we’re fighting Assad!’”

On Wednesday, as the House prepared to vote on aid to the Free Syrian Army, saying that many Members of Congress had asked him about this quote, Nolan wrote to his colleagues: “'The Free Syrian Army has announced that it will not sign up to the U.S.-led coalition to destroy the Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq and Syria,’ the story read. 'The group’s founder, Colonel Riad al-Asaad, stressed that toppling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is their priority, and that they will not join forces with US-led efforts without a guarantee that the US is committed to his overthrow.’"
Back to Stockman: He describes how the war against ISIS is, as I have always said, really a war against Assad. But Stockman takes matters further, claiming that a war against Assad will soon morph into a war against Putin. Translation: World War III.
But fielding a moderate rebel fighting force in Syria depends on eliminating the Assad regime first—-an obviously fraught undertaking. It would result in not simply a two front war—-with the Shiite Crescent and ISIS at the same time–but for all practical purposes a three front war, including Russia.

Perhaps the amateur warriors running the show in the Obama White House have not noticed, but their foolish campaign against Russia over the Ukrainian civil war is a direct threat to the only thing that keeps the Russian economy alive—its gas and oil exports to Europe. At the same time, elimination of the Assad regime would almost surely compound that threat by opening up a new gusher of competition for the European energy market in the form of a pipeline through Syria and Turkey for transport of Qatar’s now stranded but massive deposits of natural gas.

So to the nameless coalition of the willing, add an existentially motivated champion—-Russia—-of the status quo in Damascus. Indeed, were Obama to actually recognize that the route to regime change in Raqqah is through Damascus first, the resulting thunderous confrontation at the UN Security Council would be one for the ages.
Speaking of strange bedfellows: It's Pat! I have never much cared for Pat Buchanan (to put the matter politely) but when it comes to this war, the man is right.
Why the hesitation? Because our strategy in Syria is to rely on a Free Syrian Army that has been the least effective force in that civil war, and untrustworthy to boot. Units of the FSA have handed their U.S. weapons over to ISIS. Yet these “feckless” rebels, says Sen. Bob Corker, constitute “our entire ground game.”

John McCain raises a second issue. The FSA came into being to overthrow Bashar Assad. Now they are to be retrained to fight ISIS. How effective will the FSA be when told to change sides and become de facto allies of the dictator against whom they took up arms?
The FSA won't switch targets, and I don't think that we will actually ask them to do so. As stated before, the war against ISIS masks the war against Assad. To quote the poet: One train may hide another.

An actual war against ISIS would be a truly "noble cause." But because we will not make the necessary alliances with Syria and Iran, our bombing campaign will devolve into pointless destruction, which can only increase Sunni fundamentalism.

Like David Stockman, Pat Buchanan sounds the WWIII klaxons:
Does the Journal have in mind another unconstitutional war?

So it would seem. For the Journal not only wants bombs falling on ISIS, but on Assad as well. ”Defeating the Islamic State will also require attacks on the Assad regime. Sunnis will not support the campaign against Islamic State if they think our air strikes are intended to help the regime in Damascus and its Shiite allies in Beirut and Tehran.”

The Journal wants Obama to bomb Raqqa, ISIS, the Assad regime, and its army and air force, to give the FSA a “psychological boost.” Questions arise: Does the Journal believe Barack Obama needs Congressional authorization before going to war against Syria, which has neither attacked nor threatened us, but instead has expressed a willingness to work with us to destroy ISIS?

Does the Journal believe Hezbollah and Iran, which have expended blood and treasure sustaining their ally Assad in his civil war, will sit still and watch us bomb him? Will Putin do nothing as we bomb his ally?
Before we went back into the Iraq war, we were told ISIS had 15,000 fighters. Now there are estimates of 30,000. Are we again creating more enemies than we are killing?

And if our bombing campaign against Assad breaks him, who comes to power in Damascus, if not ISIS, al-Nusra or the Islamic Front? What then becomes of the Christian and Shia minorities?
This is not an easy post to write. I have just quoted David Stockman and Pat Buchanan -- at length, and approvingly. My younger self would never have predicted this turn of events.

Hell, even Alex Freakin' Jones, America's Original Crazyman, is starting to say things that make sense.

Worse -- and despite being a life-long Francophile -- I find myself increasingly furious at the socialist President of France, Francois Hollande. He has propagated the lie that Assad gassed his own people and he has spread the "Assad created ISIS" myth. On the question of peace and war, this "socialist" is nearly indistinguishable from Dick Cheney:
While most in the U.S. would consider a left-wing Socialist like Hollande unlikely to use military force, Hollande has proven himself to be quite the hawk, willing to deploy French forces to a number of combat zones. Last year, France volunteered to join any military campaign the U.S. was prepared to launch to punish Syrian president Bashar al-Assad for using chemical weapons against civilians...
Vive Stockman. Vive Buchanan. Au diable avec Hollande. And someone please shoot me for writing this piece.

But what's a librul peacenik to do? The war against war makes for strange bedfellows. And now, if you will excuse me, I have to make breakfast. In honor of Monsieur Hollande, we're serving Freedom Toast.

This just in: Talk about strange bedfellows! John Kerry now says that Iran has a role in the ISIS crisis.
Kerry’s statement marks a shift in tone on the U.S. position toward involvement by Iran, a Shiite-majority state, in a coordinated campaign against the radical Sunni insurgency. The U.S. had excluded Iran from a multinational Sept. 15 conference in Paris on countering the threat posed by Islamic State, which has seized a swath of Iraq and Syria.

Marie Harf, a State Department spokeswoman, said on Sept. 16 that “we’re open to talking to the Iranians about what’s happening in Iraq, but not coordinating with them, not sharing intelligence with them.”
Since Iran and the US are more or less on the same side when it comes to Iraq, the contentious issue -- as always -- is Syria. Iran could provide the ground troops we desperately need in Iraq, were it not for our mad insistence on bringing down Bashar Assad.

Let the implications of that sink in.

Most people understand that (despite Obama's protestations to the contrary) the fight against ISIS will probably require "boots on the ground." Those boots need not be filled by the feet of American and British soldiers. Iranians can do the job. They want to do the job. It's their part of the world; it's their fight. ISIS is making life miserable for a whole bunch of Shiites and Alawites, and the Iranians are their coreligionists. Yet Obama's government would rather sacrifice our boys, place American necks at risk of being sliced open by those ISIS monsters. Why? For one reason and one reason only: The neocons won't give up their mad dream of regime change in Syria.

Still, for Kerry to take even a half-step toward Iran is...well, it's something.
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Comments:
Turkey may take a more active role against ISIL, now that the 46 Turks who had been held captive for the last three months have been freed.
 
Or maybe the other way around: The 46 Turks were freed as a reward for not getting involved in US's war against ISIS.
 
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Friday, September 19, 2014

Vote fraud double standard

A Russian observer says that the vote for Scottish independence was conducted in an irregular fashion.
"Nobody was interested in who was bringing in the voting slips. There were no stamps or signatures as the bulletins were handed over," he said.
Perhaps predictably, the Russians aren't the only ones making this charge. George Galloway tweets:
Allegations of electoral fraud in Glasgow. Ballot papers being taken away by police after reports of double voting on at least 10 occasions
Global Research:
In Glasgow, “Police are investigating ten cases of electoral fraud.”

Voters turned up at polling stations to find that people had already voted using their names.
In Dundee -- a strong "yes" region -- a mysterious fire alarm (sans fire) caused the evacuation of a building in which the votes were being counted. After the count resumed, the final tally showed that Dundee had a turnout of 78.8%, significantly lower than the 85% turnout in all of Scotland.

The Independent has more.

The Daily Dot has attempted to debunk claims of an election fraud conspiracy, although this story does little to counter the concerns voiced above.

And yet no American newspapers will take note of these concerns -- except, perhaps, in the context of deriding the Russians. The mainstream media is reporting only that Scotland rejected independence by a margin somewhat wider than predicted.

Paradoxically, the American media wants you to believe that that the election held last March in Crimea -- in which the Crimeans resoundingly said that they wanted no part of the madness that has overtaken Ukraine -- was hopelessly corrupt.

Indeed, many American and British pseudojournalists write as if no election took place. They speak of Putin's "annexation" of Crimea, as though his troops had simply marched into the place the way Hitler's troops marched into Paris.

For example, here's the BBC speaking last May of the "annexation." You will see no mention of the fact that an election took place until the very end of a very long story. The same story repeatedly quotes Ukrainian officials who denounce the "annexation" as illegal. The BBC does not mention that these officials are either part of or allied with the rather terrifying Svobada movement, which has done more than enough to justify the label "fascist." The BBC does not mention that these people came to power in an illegal coup instigated by the Obama administration.

Nevertheless, that BBC story is an exemplar of fairness compared to the job done by the Washington Post in March, just two days after the referendum. The Post pretended that no vote at all took place. Instead, one of our leading newspapers published the kind of propagandistic guff one might have expected from a Stalin-era edition of Pravda:
Invoking the suffering of the Russian people and a narrative of constant betrayals by the West, President Vladimir Putin declared Tuesday that Russia was within its rights to reclaim Crimea, then signed a treaty that did just that.

Putin, defiant in the face of U.S. and European pressure, dispensed with legal deliberation and announced a swift annexation of Crimea, as if to put Europe’s most serious crisis in decades beyond the point where the results could be turned back.

In a speech to a joint session of the Russian parliament, he compared the move to the independence declaration of Kosovo in 2008 and the reunification of Germany in 1990 — but, in reality, this is the first time that one European nation has seized territory from another since the end of World War II.
Let me repeat: The Post makes no mention of the Crimean referendum -- not even to denounce its validity! -- even though said referendum had taken place a mere two days before this story was published.

To be fair, there have been many complaints that the Crimean referendum was conducted in an irregular fashion. I myself tend to think that there was hugger-mugger designed to insure that the results reflected a turnout of more than fifty percent. Also, there was no independence option on the ballot: Voters could go for either Ukraine or Russia, with no provision for "none of the above."

Stories like this one got a lot of play in those sectors of the U.S. media which bothered to acknowledge that a referendum took place. The afore-linked story speaks of a phantom "real results" page which appeared very briefly on an official Russian website. I suspect that this phantom page was created by an outside hacker. (If memory serves, this same trick has been played more than once.)

That said, I've encountered no serious writer who thinks that the referendum does not ultimately reflect Crimean opinion. This writer crushes the arguments against the validity of the referendum.

The results of that election make perfect sense to me. Why would the Crimeans want to be part of Ukraine, a country that has gone mad with bloodthirsty nationalism? A country which had threatened to impose the Ukrainian language on Russian-speaking regions? A country ruled by thugs who (in a story which our media refused to report) had burnt alive a group of protestors? A country which now seems likely to spend the next winter freezing and uncomfortable? A country that, historically, has not had sovereignty over Crimea?

Have you seen any photos or video of massive anti-Putin protests in Crimea? How many people living there have complained about the referendum results?

Our media pretends that the Crimean vote either never occurred or was hopelessly corrupt.

Yet the results of the rather dubious Scottish vote will be accepted without question.

A double standard? I think so.
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Yep it would have been decult for Russian troops to march to Crimean since they were already there legally. The western so-called free media spreading the lies of their corp. masters. The one thing I did see was the age split on yes and no. Todays young will vote on this again and they will leave next time.
 
Once "they" consolidated the entire corporate media industry and were able to almost completely control the flow of information, it was no longer necessary to report the truth because perception is reality.

I imagine this is why the cable industry and the FCC are working so hard to dismantle the internet as they know it. Once they're able to prevent web sites like Cannonfire from loading it will be that much harder for people to discuss alternative points of view.

Total information control. Total information awareness. Checkmate.
 
I watched Poroshenko's recent speech to the US Congress;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zS9w0pAhtQI

It leaves the sour taste of vomit in one's mouth.

At around 16:50 he asks for military equipment and receives a standing ovation in response. Maybe our representatives were mindful that their weapons manufacturing masters were watching? At least Obama said in response that the US will provide nonlethal aid.
 
I think the "real results" from Ukraine are more believable than the official ones. Large ethnic groups like the Ukrainians and the Crim Tatars not turning out and the fact that Putin is only somewhat better than Kiev would make a reluctant, low turn-out vote for the lesser of two evils perfectly understandable.

As for Scotland, I don't see any evidence of wrong-doing. A few Glaswegians were spotted as voting twice, you ssay, and predictably spotted by the little old ladies who run polling stations. The SNP haven't claimed any wrongdoing, and with their observers and exit pollsters they would know, and they would have every reason to point the finger at Westminster so they could cover their own failings and pretty much guarantee a re-run of the referendum and a victory.
 
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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Holocaust survivors call for the boycott of Israel



In recent days, I've been called an anti-Semite repeatedly because I despise the things Israel has done to the Palestinians. If you have seen the various videos posted to this blog, you've already met a few more "anti-Semites" who feel as I do -- raging, hate-filled monsters like Norman Finkelstein and Max Blumenthal.

Now I'd like to introduce you 327 more vicious, bloodthirsty Jew-haters. These people are all Holocaust survivors and the direct offspring of survivors.
As Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of the Nazi genocide we unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and the ongoing occupation and colonization of historic Palestine. We further condemn the United States for providing Israel with the funding to carry out the attack, and Western states more generally for using their diplomatic muscle to protect Israel from condemnation. Genocide begins with the silence of the world.

We are alarmed by the extreme, racist dehumanization of Palestinians in Israeli society, which has reached a fever-pitch. In Israel, politicians and pundits in The Times of Israel and The Jerusalem Post have called openly for genocide of Palestinians and right-wing Israelis are adopting Neo-Nazi insignia.

Furthermore, we are disgusted and outraged by Elie Wiesel’s abuse of our history in these pages to justify the unjustifiable: Israel’s wholesale effort to destroy Gaza and the murder of more than 2,000 Palestinians, including many hundreds of children. Nothing can justify bombing UN shelters, homes, hospitals and universities. Nothing can justify depriving people of electricity and water.

We must raise our collective voices and use our collective power to bring about an end to all forms of racism, including the ongoing genocide of Palestinian people. We call for an immediate end to the siege against and blockade of Gaza. We call for the full economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel. “Never again” must mean NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE!
Norman Finkelstein also lost family members in the Holocaust. You should hear what he has to say about Israel's most recent attempt to "mow the lawn" (to use the Israeli expression) in Gaza. (A fuller version of the above speech may be found here.)

Oh...and you know those "rockets" we kept hearing about? Norman Finkelstein tells the truth about those in the video below. (He was speaking at a left-wing bookstore here in Baltimore. Wish I had been there. The synchronization may be a bit off in this video; if you want to see and hear the full version of his speech -- with better sync -- go here.)

You gotta hear Finkelstein lay into Obama at the end! "The truth of the matter is, Ronald Reagan showed more heart..."

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Comments:
You are not an anti-Semite because you despise what Israel is doing to the Palestinians. You are an anti-Semite because you so easily toss around terms like "Nazis" and "Jew-haters." Honest political discussion is one thing. Your facile name-calling in the most reprehensible fashion is quite another. Rolls a little too easily off the tongue. Then you say you're proud of the appellation. If the jackboot fits...
 
The only reason I printed this comment is that it is so insane and incomprehensible, it made me guffaw. Thanks for the laugh, nutball!
 
Spoken like an arrogant, dismissive, bitter man. There was a time when writing was vetted by editors and publishers before it was put into print. You have no idea what you're even saying. Look at the hate in your comment, alone. Incomprehensible? No one is so blind as a person who doesn't want to see. I would be chortling, too if I thought arrogance, hate, and virulent anti-Semitism were funny. Instead, I am responding because your brand of puny discourse cannot be left unchecked.
 
That comment is like exhibit A from the Hasbara manual. Accuse anyone who criticizes the insane right-wing government and vile racist policies of Israel of being an anti-Semite. Lather, rinse, repeat.
 
Anon, even though you've broken two of the rules for comment, I've let your inanity go through for a couple of reasons. First, you've managed to be more comprehensible this time, which shows that you are finally putting some thought into your work instead of spewing out a weird word salad. Thoughtfulness deserves a reward.

Second, I still think it is hilarious for you to take the moral high ground when you are defending land theft and genocide. YOU are the one who is evil, and all the more evil because you are convinced of your own rectitude.

Third, and this is my main reason for talking to you (even though no-one is likely to read these comments at this late stage) -- I don't think you understand yet how it works around here. So let me explain the situation again.

Years ago, when this blog was targeted by Hasbara trolls, I announced my policy: Whenever they accused me of anti-Semitism, I would spend the next WEEK publishing hard-hitting material documenting Israeli racism.

And I did.

You see, the truth is, my interests are wide-ranging, and I would really rather talk about more pleasant matters. Honest. I really mean that.

But thanks to you -- THANKS ENTIRELY TO YOU -- this humble blog will be publishing a whole bunch of transcripts of Max Blumenthal's speeches.

Do you finally, FINALLY see how it works, idiot?
 
Okay, that's all of the "rules for comment" violations I'm going to tolerate from our Anonymous Coward. I see no reason to allow a Zionist a voice on these pages, any more than I would allow a Nazi or a KKK-er to have a voice here.

Coming up: A full week on the topic of Israeli racism! With NO backtalk allowed from the racists among us! And if Mr. Anonymous Coward cares to pipe again, we can make it TWO weeks.

I really did want to talk about something else, but rules are rules.
 
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The Flames of War -- or: Jihad goes Hollywood. (Plus: Did Bill dis Bibi?)

As we noted in our previous post, former CIA man Bob Baer says that there are no moderates among the Syrian rebels -- "none at all." Nevertheless, the House has voted to authorize training of "vetted" rebels.

The substantial opposition to this measure was a strange Democratic/Republican alliance -- which is fitting, since this whole conflict might be considered the War of Strange Bedfellows. Speaking as a liberal, I hate to admit that one of the most intelligent responses came from a Republican:
Representative Duncan D. Hunter, a California Republican who fought with the Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan, joined others in questioning how the military could be sure the rebels of the Free Syrian Army could be trusted with United States arms and how suspect Saudis could host the training.

“We need to crush ISIS and not work on arming more Islamic radicals,” he said.
Interestingly, most of the progressives over on Kos have responded in an ultra-captious fashion.
Let's say our air force "accidentally" or purposefully crosses the Syrian border in pursuit of ISIL targets. The Syrian army or their air force shoot down our planes.

Then what? This will quickly escalate into wider attacks on Syria by our air force, by our warships in the gulf firing missiles at Syrian targets, etc.

There won't be any "review" or vote by congress on the decision making, because Syria attacked/destroyed our military assets/personnel. that is grounds for unilateral action by the POTUS.
This scenario strikes me as likely.
This is the US military's backdoor into Syria

...that the public overwhelmingly opposed last year at about this time.
Damned straight. Our pals in the "moderate" Free Syrian Army are much more focused on Assad than on ISIS, and no amount of "vetting" is going to get them to shift targets. As readers know, I don't think that this administration wants "our" rebels to target anyone other than Bashar Assad.

Moon of Alabama quotes one officer in the FSA who complains that “The leadership of the FSA is American.” The same article reports that "our" rebels have massed in the Golan Heights, preparing for an assault on Damascus. Repeat: Damascus. Not on any ISIS stronghold.

And the FSA is not the only problem. Moon of Alabama draws our attention to this story in The National (a leading newspaper of the UAE):
Bolstered by an increase in fighters and funding, Al Nusra, once considered a bit-player in southern Syria, suddenly seemed poised to become its most influential actor.
Nusra is an outgrowth of Al Qaeda, responsible for the murder of many Syrian Christians. Nevertheless, according to M of A, Israel has been giving them covert aid.

Flames of War. Supposedly, ISIS has produced a "trailer" for this upcoming war, which they envision as a Hollywood-style blockbuster called Flames of War. The production is slick and exciting and (from a jihadi point of view) pretty much pointless.

Why would jihadis go to such lengths to goad Americans into sending in combat forces? How could that possibly help ISIS in any way?

Whoever constructed this pseudo-trailer probably downloaded the Adobe production suite; these days, more sophisticated tools aren't really necessary. I'm guessing that the filmmakers learned After Effects the same way everyone else did: By watching Andrew Kramer's marvelous instructional videos.

Everyone wants to know whether "Flames of War" was made by actual jihadis or by hoaxters who want to heighten war fever. If ISIS didn't create "Flames of War," then maybe someone in Rita Katz's shop cobbled it together. Hell, anyone could have made this thing. (But not Andrew Kramer: His work is of higher quality.) I'm certain only of this: The use of reasonably clever matte shots in this latest production cannot increase our faith in the authenticity of those earlier beheading videos.

On an unrelated note (or is it unrelated?): Bill Clinton has dared to go off script (or did he?)
Speaking to a member of the public at a Democratic fundraiser in Iowa this weekend, the former president agreed with the suggestion that Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu was “not the guy” to strike a lasting peace deal in the region.

Clinton also agreed when it was suggested to him that “If we don’t force him [Netanyahu] to make peace, we won’t have peace”.

The former president replied: “First of all, I agree with that. But in 2000, Ehud Barack, I got him to agree to something I’m not sure I would have gotten Rabin to agree to, and Rabin was murdered for giving land to the Palestinians.”

Though brief and apparently unscripted, the exchange, which was recorded by C-Span and picked up by Israeli newspaper Haaretz, is in stark contrast to recent comments by Hillary Clinton, who has been more supportive of Netanyahu’s handling of the recent conflict in Gaza.
What to make of this?

Possibility 1: Bill's views conflict (at least to some degree) with Hillary's. She's pissed off at him.

Possibility 2: Everything is calculated. Bill knows that Hillary's neoconservative pronouncements alienated the peacenik progs who make up the base, so he tossed a McNugget to the (very sizable) wing of the Democratic party that dislikes both war and Netanyahu. (Remember that episode of The West Wing in which President Bartlett "accidentally" says some rough words within earshot of a hot mic? Like that.)

Possibility 3: Bill's views do not conflict with Hillary's. They both sincerely dislike Netanyahu. (This is easy to believe.) Bill, speaking rashly, gave us a glimpse of what both Clintons feel. Right now, Hillary will say anything she needs to say in order to get elected -- but once in office, all bets are off.

Which scenario do you favor? Do you see any other possibilities?

A final thought. What mad days these are! Nobody could have predicted anything like this situation thirty, twenty, even ten years ago...

Our first black president, having embarked upon a wrong-headed war, eclipses LBJ as the most conservative Democratic president of the past hundred years. The first woman with a good shot at winning the White House sneers at the liberal ideals I once ascribed to her. The Jewish state has become a fascist state -- militaristic, racist, nationalistic and expansionist, with street thugs openly beating up the few remaining leftists. Perhaps as a result, European Nazis like Anders Brevik have decided that Jews are really just peachy-keen. There's a small but growing anti-war contingent within the traditionally bellicose Republican party. And I keep writing pieces advising a temporary alliance with Bashar Assad -- a dictator who, under normal circumstances, would be the sort of person I can't stand.

When will this world make sense again? I feel like I'm trapped in that old Warner Brothers cartoon in which two cheese-hating mice insist on being eaten by the cat, who demands to be killed by the giant bulldog, who goes bounding after the dog-catcher.
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That scenario you think is likely is not only unlikely, but impossible. American jets getting shot down over Syria, chasing ISIS? No.

1) ISIS can't move fast enough to evade supersonic jets, any attack into Syria would have to be intentionally aimed at Syrian targets, not targets that move over the border.

2) The part of Syria near Iraq has no Assad forces at all, ISIS have spent several weaks eliminating them from the East of the country.

3) ISIS have captured a lot of Syrian hardware, but the best surface-to-air weapons they've grabbed are ancient soviet shoulder-launched missiles, which can't reach bomber-altitude. I doubt very much that Assad has anything that can take down a modern fighter-bomber, even in his best defended areas.

4) The Syrian air force, or what's left of it, is tiny, ill-equipped and made up of ancient Soviet MiGs, unmodified for many years, and not very many of them now. The only base they had capable of launching sorties against the Iraqi border, or launching sorties against impinging USAF/USN planes coming in from Iraq was Tabqa, which is now in ISIS hands.

So, no, it can't happen. That doesn't mean it won't happen, it could be like the Gulf of Tonkin, an entirely fictional event, or they could send in some helicopters, nice and low where those MANPADs can reach them. But it would have to be either ridiculously blatant or entirely fictional, there will be no chase from Iraq to Syria, and no victory in aerial combat for the Syrian air force, or Syrian army air defences.
 
Stephen Morgan, the Syrians have been updated lately, if go down near the bottom of this story by b you'll see the updates to the AF. It has been report that the Syrian Army has the latest manpads from Russia and the S-300 surface to air have been updated also and have Russian tech near every one of them. There are over 15,000 Russians in Syria.

No I don't think Syrian pilots could go toe to toe with Amerikan pilots but the Syrian pilots only have to get behind the S-300.

http://www.moonofalabama.org/2014/09/the-dishonest-reporting-of-anne-barnard.html#comments
 
@jo6pac - I was under the impression that the Israelis destroyed the new S300s that Syria had purchased from the Russians upon delivery.

Either way, any pretext for war stemming from any Syrian aggression towards American forces will either be provoked, falsified, or attributed to the Syrians when it's actually the work of the rebels.

Nobody stops the neocons plans for remaking the Middle East...nobody.
 
"Nusra is an outgrowth of Al Qaeda, responsible for the murder of many Syrian Christians. Nevertheless, according to M of A, Israel has been giving them covert aid."


if there's anyone who cares less about the murder of Syrian...or Iraqi Christians than George W. Bush, it would be Israel.
 
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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The myths of war



There are five great myths underlying our new war against ISIS.

Myth number one: There are "moderates" in the anti-Assad coalition whom we can train and equip to fight both Assad and ISIS.

In the interview embedded above, Bob Baer -- formerly of the CIA, now of CNN -- tears this idea to shreds.

"There are no moderates in Syria," he says of the anti-Assad forces. When asked if there are any rebels within Syria that the United States can trust, Baer responds: "None at all. If we were to give arms to the Free Syrian Army, they would sell them to ISIS, sell them to other groups that would be even worse, if that's possible. Again, this is such a chaotic mess, there are no obvious solutions."

Myth number two: Assad created ISIS.

I've long considered this the most insulting of all the disinformation memes out there right now, yet it seems to be the official line. Patrick Cockburn (author of the new book The Jihadis Return) addresses this canard at the end of the very informative interview embedded below. Cockburn may not always be the world's most riveting speaker, but everything he says makes sense, and I'm sure that his book will prove invaluable.

"I think the idea that ISIS is somehow the creation or the secret ally of Assad is the old Middle East conspiracy theory in overdrive," says Cockburn.

"Sure, at certain points there was a certain interest in Assad encouraging the idea that the opposition to him in Syria was run by jihadis who cut the heads off Christians or Alawites or anybody else they disagree with, because this tended to discredit the opposition inside Syria and abroad. But politics is about taking advantage of the mistakes of the other side. So, you know, this is opportunism."

Then he addresses the claim that Assad has not attacked ISIS militarily.

"I think the idea that he never attacked them and they never attacked him -- first of all, it was never true. One of the few opposition clear-cut victories in 2013 was the attack on the big military airbase outside Aleppo, which was led by ISIS. And it's obviously not true now, with the attack on the gas field near Homs. So I think they were in different parts of the country, fighting different enemies. It doesn't mean that they were in cahoots."

Myth number three: ISIS had no state backing from American allies.

In the interview below, Cockburn details the inner dynamics of the Saudi funding for ISIS.

"There is another point, which is that if you look at all American investigations of who is supporting so-called terrorist organizations since 9/11, they all say it is primarily private donors, probably with the state turning a blind eye, in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states."

Lindsey Graham, who has been beating the war drums quite vigorously, nevertheless makes this same point.
Senator Graham, who chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that successive administrations in Washington had turned a blind eye to Saudi support for Sunni extremists. He added: “I believe that the failure to shine a full light on Saudi actions and particularly its involvement in 9/11 has contributed to the Saudi ability to continue to engage in actions that are damaging to the US – and in particular their support for Isis.”
Many of you will recall that Graham tried his damnedest to draw attention to Saudi involvement with Al Qaeda, only to be stymied. The important question is: Why did we turn a blind eye to Saudi Arabian funding of Al Qaeda and, later, of ISIS?

And is the money really coming from wealthy Saudis in the private sector, or are they simply acting as straw men? Everyone knows that Saudi princelings are notoriously self-centered and stingy when it comes to aid for the Palestinians.

Even though he knows more than most people do about what the Saudis have been getting up to, Graham continues to press for war.

Myth Number Four: Obama can destroy both ISIS and Assad.

This thing is shaping up to be one hell of a goatfuck: General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, indicates that ground troops will probably be necessary. He and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel also plan to train 5000 anti-Assad Syrian troops. Remember: Robert Baer thinks that "None at all" are trustworthy.

Dempsey also says that
“Truly there is no military solution to ISIL,” he said, adding that it could be defeated only with a more comprehensive approach that includes diplomacy. “That may be a tough pill to swallow. But there is no military solution.”
This is not true. (Yes, I am lecturing the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on military matters. Prove me wrong.) A military solution that includes a coalition with Assad's government and Iran could prevail. Alas, such an alliance would appear to be politically impossible.

Putting the words "diplomacy" and "ISIS" in the same sentence constitutes an exercise in surrealism. ISIS wants to create a theocratic state, and any "diplomatic" solution will inevitably cede territory to them. Why, then, is Dempsy talking about diplomacy with ISIS? I think that he is trying to prepare us for a planned outcome in which ISIS prevails. It may not get everything it wants, and it may have to change its brand name. But it will come out of this fight with land, power and legitimacy.

And that brings us to...

Myth number five: The war against ISIS is a war against ISIS.

Actually, it's a war against Bashar Assad.


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Comments:
Let's be clear that the alliance against ISIS with Syria and Iran is "politically impossible" because Israel has controlling interest of the United States.
 
Aligning with Syria and Iran would also piss off Saudi Arabia who wants to derail construction of the Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2013/aug/30/syria-chemical-attack-war-intervention-oil-gas-energy-pipelines
 
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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Are you one of the Science People? Be honest...

Once again, let's all laugh at Bobby Jindal. He has accused the Obama administration of being run by "science deniers" because they won't follow his energy policies. At the same time, he won't say that evolution is real.

We've known for a while now that the demons of silliness have taken possession of the Louisiana Governor. But Jindal's hypocrisy points to a rather interesting paradox.

In America, the Dems like to portray themselves as Science People, and they consider the Republican party to be the naural home of those awful Anti-Science People. But in Europe, lefties tend to express greater skepticism toward Big Science. Why? Because in Europe, the advocates of nuclear power are the ones who speak in terms of Reason and Rationality and Hey Look At All Of These Complex Equations On My Whiteboard.

Bobby Jindal calls Obama a "science denier" because Jindal advocates a greater reliance on nuclear power. In other words, the war between the Science People and the Anti-Science People may soon become europeanized.

Liberals, like all other human beings, only pretend to be led by pure reason. In fact, they are as likely as anyone else to rely on emotion -- usually the emotions we call smugness and rage.

Suppose (and this is just a hypothetical) that a scientist at UCLA were to come out with a study suggesting that women are more neurotic than men are. How would your average liberal react? Choose the answer you consider most likely:

Response 1: "Hm. I am skeptical. May I see your data?"

Response 2: "DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE YOU SEXIST MISOGYNISTIC HOMOPHOBIC NAZI BASTARD!"

Be honest. Response 2 is closer to the mark, isn't it? In fact, isn't there someone reading these words -- right here, right now -- who is just itching to go into a "Response 2" tirade, simply because I dared to employ that particular hypothetical in my thought experiment?
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Is contrarianism an emotion? Or is it a logical response to world of echo chambers and unhealthy consensi? Or is it just the thinking man's trolling?

In any case, to me emotions are like shit: every healthy human must experience them, but it's not acceptable to parade yours in public. Unless you are a very young child, of course.

Ultimately all is emotion. Even if you work logically for the betterment of humanity, it is emotion that motivates your work for mankind. Similarly if you work for the good of your bloodline, or if you sacrifice your fellow man to the devil or Mammon or that giant plastic owl at Bohemian Grove to gain yourself power. Ultimately, all motivated by some form of emotion.

I can think of only one exception. Most of my acts are geared towards avoiding homelessness, not because I fear the sky, or the cold (I can't afford heating anyway), or crime, or lack of pirated movies, or lack of storage space for my guitar, but because my one priority in life is having a safe and secure place to have a shit. And so we come full circle.

 
I think the liberal aversion to nuclear power has more to do with our inability to safely and permanently store the spent fuel rods and other concomitant waste byproducts than it does with any sort of denial of science.

If the Fukushima disaster taught us anything, it's that seemingly horrible tragedies can become unimaginable tragedies when a nuclear disaster is thrown into the mix.

Also, Bobby Jindal is an idiot by any measure.
 
Liberal smugness is infuriating. I find eating in a restaurant populated with liberals unpleasant. I prefer fast food or a Chinese restaurant populated by Chinese.

My response to your hypothetical UCLA study would be:

1. How much more neurotic? Is the statistical difference just noise? Is this worth my time?

2. How do you define neurotic?


 
Hence, the NFL problems.
 
How about if the study were by historians and the proposal were: If Israel were not as aggressive as it has been in its past, it would no longer exist today.
 
The main reason Jindahl's, and any rightist, support for nuclear power is surprising to me is that ramping it up will surely require massive government financing, support, and implementation.

In a very narrow sense, however, he is absolutely right - if the humanity wants to sustain present levels of energy consumption beyond the next 50 years, there is absolutely NO alternative to massive expansion of nuclear power.

The liberal support for "renewable energy" surely brands them as the anti-science people, as any attempt to claim that renewables can fill our energy needs betrays incomprehension of 10th grade physics and 2nd grade arithmetic.
 
Morgan, the waste from coal burning is far more harmful and larger in scale than anything from nuclear power. Moreover, current generation nuclear plants can work on a 'closed fuel' cycle, i.e. to reprocess most of the fuel, leaving literally no more than a drawer-full of the most dangerous waste.
There is no rational case to be made that managing an extremely small volume of waste is more dangerous than literally fumigating the whole planet by burning ~2,500 mile-long trains of coal EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

The background radiation in Fukushima now is at about the same level as Denver, CO.

Even Chernobyl does not qualify as a major disaster, in comparison with the dailly damage from coal-burning -> 50 immediate radiation related deaths, estimated 4000-20000 additional deaths due to radiation triggered cancers over the next 30 years after the accident.
 
Re: Anon regarding Israel: How many of them historians would interpret your postulate as a strong indication that, all things considered, an 'Israel' in Palestine was yet another terribly bad idea, right in the middle of a century full of bad ideas?
 
The waste from coal burning is non-existent, unless you mean the CO2. The dust and ash is used as fertiliser and in the production of environmentally friendly concrete.

But only the twenty thousand deaths, you say? Why on earth was I worried? And I'm sure the recent news about how German pigs are still too radioactive to eat is just scaremongering.

As for "closed" fuel cycles, those have been around for decades. In theory. In practice reprocessing waste into fuel is expensive and time consuming, so it doesn't happen. There are closed cycle plants around now, but they never actually operate that way.

The EU has been pushing for new nukes, it's a big boost to French and German industry if they do it, and there's currently one being built in Finland. It was meant to be finished years ago, but as has happened with every nuclear plant I've ever heard of it is years late, billions over budget and doesn't have various features that were vital to selling it to the public. Assuming it ever gets finished it'll be dangerous and ludicrously expensive for the rest of time. And the EDF and company will be wanting to build them everywhere on the continent.

Which reminds me of a joke. A Scottish radio programme, a football call-in show, got a call from someone wondering why Scotland never selected Antti Niemi in goal, and the host says "He's Finnish". And the caller says "finish'? He's only 29!".

Vote No, Scots.

 
The operative phrase in the arguments against renewable energy and in favor of nuclear is "...maintain current levels of energy consumption..."

Clearly we as a species need to address our rampant consumption of ALL resources, not just energy. We're fishing the oceans dry, spoiling the planets fresh water resources, burning all the carbon-based fuel we can get our hands on, and mining the earth of any and all elements we can find. In short, if this planet were an organism we'd be its cancer.

Until we can collectively address the excesses of our behavior, which will happen exactly never, our species will continue on its collision course with extinction.
 
Powerplant pollution kills more than 13,000 people ANNUALLY, in the US ALONE, not counting actual incidents. So, yeah, nuclear comes on top as safer for sure. Not to mention that coal burning releases radiation into the air constantly - the background radiation near a coal plant is literally higher than that next to a nuclear plant

Besides, the risks are not a function of how is the energy is produced, but simply the function of the enormous concentrations of energy. The deadliest form of energy production is hydro-power: the Banquaio Dam failure in chinca alone directly killed 26,000 people, and another 145,000 due to subsequent epidemics and famine.

Even solar is more dangerous than nuclear: the people who die as the result of the highly complex and toxic (and energy intensive) production of solar panels (not to mention installation) result in stillmore deaths per Kw.

All things considered, nuclear is literally THE safest option we have.
 
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This new war is out of SITE

Yesterday, we looked at Rita Katz and SITE, the private intelligence firm (and likely Mossad assset) which presented those ISIS beheading videos to a sickened world.

As it turns out, a number of "alternative" bloggers wrote about Katz yesterday. The same idea seems to have popped into multiple noggins, quite independently: At this time, we have no proof that these videos had any kind of existence before SITE.

As I noted in our previous offering, British experts have pronounced the Foley video "staged." More on that here.

The National Security Council offered a brief and vague confirmation of the Foley video and, later, the Sotloff video. The authentication comes to us in the form of Tweets.

Tweets...!

There was a time when we might have expected an actual report -- even a congressional inquiry. Remember Adlai Stevenson at the U.N., unveiling super-secret photos taken by U2 spy planes over Cuba? Those days are not these days. These days, we go to war based on Tweets.

I think we deserve more.

For example, there's the issue of whether green screen was used in those three videos. Any discussion of that topic would, of necessity, be extremely technical. Yet for some reason, our analysts don't want to talk about such things in public, apparently because outside experts have no right to weigh in.

Incidentally, I finally saw the Sotloff beheading video. There are grounds for suspicion, although some of the commonly-heard objections are answerable.

Some skeptics have alleged that fill light reflectors were used, but I doubt this claim. (The desert floor would be reflective enough on its own.) The two participants, murderer and victim, are both obviously wearing lav mics. That is rather odd, although I can't tell if they are wearing wireless units or if the mics plug into small voice recorders. The wind noise seems authentic, a fact which indicates outdoors filming -- in other words, that could well be a real desert, not a green screen. On the other hand, the use of "locked off" tripod shots would make it easier to do special effects work in post.

What I find very odd is this: Sotloff -- clearly reading from cue cards -- seems eerily cooperative and calm as he recites his script. I can see how threats to other prisoners might buy cooperation, but wouldn't Sotloff shake and sweat? Is this really how a guy about to die behaves? The actual violence -- the part that would be hardest to fake -- does not appear on screen; there is a quick fade out.

At this writing, the question of authenticity remains open; I could go either way. But we also have other mysteries to ponder, other questions to address. Here is my top ten list:

Question 1: How the hell does SITE (ostensibly a small private group) keep finding these videos before the American intelligence community can find them? Before every other intelligence service in the world can find them?

Question 2: Why does SITE re-encode the videos, presenting them under the SITE brand?

Question 3: Why doesn't SITE give a clear answer as to where these videos were originally posted? Why on earth would anyone keep that information secret?

Question 4: The very titles of the videos indicate that these are messages to America -- not just to the President, but to the citizenry. Why, then, would ISIS need SITE to deliver that message? Wouldn't the perpetrators find a way to communicate directly? If they intend to scare the world, why would they upload the things to the most hidden recesses of the internet? Why not put them out where people can see them?

Question 5 (and this may be the most important query of all): Even a child could have foreseen that these videos would have but one outcome: The justification of American intervention in the region -- airstrikes, Special Forces, and eventually combat troops. Why would ISIS want all that? What could they possibly hope to gain by transforming a war-weary American public into a bellicose American public?

Question 6: Is it true that SITE has a history of trafficking in fake videos? 
it is common knowledge that SITE uncannily secures terrorist statements and videos well before the US’s wide array of lavishly-funded intelligence services.

For example, as the Washington Post reported in 2007,
{a] small private intelligence company that monitors Islamic terrorist groups obtained a new Osama bin Laden video ahead of its official release last month, and around 10 a.m. on Sept. 7 … It gave two senior officials access on the condition that the officials not reveal they had it until the al-Qaeda release. Within 20 minutes, a range of intelligence agencies had begun downloading it from the company’s Web site. By midafternoon that day, the video and a transcript of its audio track had been leaked from within the Bush administration to cable television news and broadcast worldwide.[6]
The video later proved to be fraudulent.
Is it truly bogus? The actual September 7, 2007 video is here. CNET aired this argument favoring the theory of fraudulence; the piece quotes Neal Krawetz, an expert in digital imaging. (Krawetz has not said anything similar about the more recent beheading videos, although he did express anger at some 4chan idiots who claimed that the Foley video was buncombe based on concocted "proof.") Booman also argued that the Bin Laden video was a fake -- or, rather, a semi-fake: It appears that a video from 2004 was "reconfigured" to appear to be a later production. 

Question 7: As noted in our previous post, SITE once shared an IP address with MEMRI, the Mossad-linked propaganda firm with direct ties to many of the same people who ginned up the Iraq war. Given this dubious history, shouldn't we demand detailed and conclusive proof that the videos are authentic?

Question 8: Even if we accept the authenticity of all three videos, doesn't the fact that ISIS received so much aid, training and weaponry from the United States (or at least from its allies) require us to view these hideous productions in a very different way?

Question 9: Is it unfair to assess these videos as part of a larger environment of rampant disinformation?

* Consider, for example, our media's frequent reliance on the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, exposed more than a year ago as a fake.

* Consider the insane "Assad create ISIS" meme which so many in the media have blindly repeated. Hell, even the President of France endorsed it!

* Consider the disinfo story that ISIS supports itself via bank robbery. That's right: Bank robbery. Never mind all of those news stories about the group being funded by Saudi Arabia or Qatar and  our other friends: No, ISIS supposedly grew wealthy by imitating Bonnie and Clyde. Our media still loves to repeat this fib, even though the banks named in these stories have denied being robbed, and even though the entire meme was concocted by none other than ueber-conman Ahmed Chalabi.

* Consider, finally, last year's false accusation that Bashar Assad launched a sarin attack on his own people. Tellingly, Obama never made reference to this claim in his address to the nation, not even in that instantly-infamous paragraph in which he argued for Assad's removal.

Folks, we are swimming in an ocean of deceit. As we go to war, we have a right to demand better evidence than a couple of Tweets from the NSC. 

Question 10: Shouldn't we take into consideration the fact that Rita Katz obviously works on behalf of Israel? (Any protestations to the contrary she might make are laughable.) Israel clearly would love to see Syria subdivided into three or more nations, divided along sectarian/ethnic lines and set at perpetual loggerheads with each other. I'm also pretty sure that Israel would love to see much of the Syrian population bereft of access to ports.

Keep in mind: Israeli officials told former French foreign minister Roland Dumas that Israel was pursuing plans to get rid of Assad.

The Phony War. I am not the only one arguing that the war against ISIS is really a cover for a war to bring down Assad.
The U.S. military in the joint Arab-American operations room for the Syrian insurgency in Amman Jordan may well plan to use the murky new "war on ISIS" as pretext for attacks on the Syrian army divisions protecting Damascus from the south. Coordinated with a ground attack by Jabhat al-Nusra and others from Quneitra such air attacks would seriously degrade the Syrian forces and enable a destructive push into Damascus.

(update) Obama already announced the escalation path for such air attacks:
He made clear the intricacy of the situation, though, as he contemplated the possibility that Mr. Assad might order his forces to fire at American planes entering Syrian airspace. If he dared to do that, Mr. Obama said he would order American forces to wipe out Syria’s air defense system, which he noted would be easier than striking ISIS because its locations are better known. He went on to say that such an action by Mr. Assad would lead to his overthrow, according to one account.
The stampede to attack ISIS may have been pure maskirovka to hide this violent regime change attack plan against Syria under some "anti-terrorism" label. This at the same time as the plan is coordinated with and actively supported by Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, and made possible through truce agreements with ISIS.
I would support a war against ISIS if, in fact, this really were a war against ISIS. But it's not. ISIS will probably be rebranded, and it will probably be herded out of Iraq and driven back into Syria. But ISIS, under whatever new name, will not go away -- because the real target is Bashar Assad.
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This is so so much like the lead up to the war in Iraq (version 2002). The lies and propaganda are publicly disproven but nobody seems to care. The news media just keeps repeating the lies, and the American public who gets all their news from television just go along with the charade. And people who watch alternative television don't get much better. Al Jazeera is based out of Qatar which funds ISIL. Al Jazeera has to toe the party line. Democracy now? I think Amy Goodman has been compromised. Last I checked there were no exposes on the Ukrainian crisis telling us that Russia seeks peace with it's neighbors on Democracy Now.

"Who are the Terrorists?"

Speaking of beheadings... In Ukraine the fascist Western Ukrainian forces out of Kiev are severing the heads of prisoners of war and then shipping them to the victim's mothers. Just do a web search on Ukraine, mothers, beheading, wooden box. I doubt that this is on western televisions.

Putin may have lost the war for the Eastern Ukraine Novorussian separatists. They had the Kiev forces encircled and trapped, utterly defeated. Novorussian commanders wanted to take the initiative and move on to Kiev, but Putin, hoping to show the European Union that he wants peace, pushed for a ceasefire and safe exit for trapped Kiev forces. Now western Ukraine is using this pause to regroup and acquire new weapons from NATO in order to begin a new assault. And the EU is still slapping Russia with new sanctions. They've drawn up a list of Russian journalists who are to be banned from entering the EU. Maybe the Kiev forces are so morally defeated that they will not fight? 65 years of age is now the cut off point for conscription.
 
Look out! He's got a pun!

A sensible view of a complex issue. A SITE for sore eyes.

I have no experience with videos, but still there's no way to tell if the video is real, as far as I can tell. Certainly no examination of the video is likely to be productive, you might know but I don't know enough to know if the analysis is correct, and to everyone else it will be about as relevant as which wounds were entry wounds on JFK's corpse.

Regardless, it's probably irrelevant whether it's real or not. More relevant is whether SITE is working for the CIA, the Mossad, or possibly, I suppose, the putative producers of the video, ISIS. Assuming that isn't a distinction without a difference.
 
Joseph I did not see the Sotloff video but did see the Foley video. It sounds extremely similar.

In the Sotloff video do the filmmakers ( As they do in the Foley vide) fade out on the "throat cutting" and then fade in on the head laying on the body?

If so, do you believe something like that could be faked? A colleague of mine is convinced the Foley "headshot" is a fake- a latex prop. Another contact of mine thinks it might be a perspective trick and makeup.

I just don't know. Also, there is no physical evidence correct ? No one has found remains.

Almost 20 years ago I saw video footage of a UFO shooting a death ray into the White House and blowing it up. It was at night and happened pretty fast. It looked real, I guess- I had never see a UFO blowing up the White House before so not sure what it is supposed to look like.
 
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Monday, September 15, 2014

The SITE behind those beheading videos -- Or: Lovely Rita looks a little like a military man

The latest beheading video, like the ones before, comes to us by way of the SITE intelligence group. There is much to say about this group and its founder, Rita Katz. I won't be able to say it all here.

Of Katz, let us begin with her insistence that she is not anti-Muslim, simply anti-terrorism.

Of course, we are all anti-terror. Some of us are even concerned enough to note the fact that ISIS was funded by allies of the United States -- Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey -- undoubtedly with US knowledge and probably at US behest. (That link goes to an interview with a personal friend of beheading victim James Foley.) Strangely, Rita Katz -- despite her fierce determination to root out terrorists -- has never, to my knowledge, made public mention of this origin story.

What, then, of the beheading videos? They are the main reason for the turnaround in public opinion on the question of intervention in Syria and Iraq. They are the reason why we will probably soon see American boots on the ground in Syria -- which is precisely what Lindsey Graham is calling for and Michael Hayden is predicting.

(Incidentally, both Graham and Hayden are predicting an ISIS strike on the American "homeland" -- even though such a strike would be of zero tactical advantage to ISIS. In fact, such an attack could only do harm to what they claim is their cause. The confidence with which Graham and Hayden make this forecast is pretty damned unnerving -- not to mention suspicious.)

In short: Those videos are of supreme political importance. Those videos are the casus belli. Those videos will lead to thousands -- perhaps millions -- of deaths.

And as far as I can tell, the only organization to vouch for their authenticity is SITE.

The CIA has not confirmed that they are real, although we are continually assured that the Agency is working on the issue. I'm pretty sure that American intelligence can answer an important question like this one within a day or two -- perhaps an hour or two. Therefore, any delay in the Agency's assessment probably has something to do with politics.

The question before us is simple: Can anyone prove -- prove -- that the beheading videos had any existence before Rita Katz's organization delivered them to the world?

Katz says that she "finds" these things on YouTube (because only she knows where to look), but does not favor us with a citation of the actual channel, although I can't see why anyone would play coy about such a detail. Then, instead of merely linking to the video, she re-encodes and re-uploads them, plastering her SITE logo all over the results.

We don't know the identities of the uploaders. They could be anyone.

I am not saying that these videos are (or are not) fakes. I don't know. In fact (as discussed in a previous post), I have not fully watched any of them, due to the grisly subject matter. At this time, however, I feel that the arguments against their authenticity rise above the usual twaddle reflexively offered by conspiracy aficionados. For example, an expert consulted by the Times of London has said that the Foley video was "staged."

So who is Rita Katz? What is SITE?

SITE, I believe, is Mossad.

I am not engaging in conspiracy theory. I am not automatically shouting "Israel! Israel!" every time something happens in the news.

Here's the evidence (and please note that these words, written in 2008, are rhetorically addressed to Rita Katz herself):
One more suggestion: It might make your latest incarnation of SITE more believable if the IP address wasn't the same as another MOSSAD asset, MEMRI. See, you both have the same 67.19.162.130 IP address.

Checking with Whois one can easily find IP addresses, so having the same IP number as another MOSSAD asset, well, let's say that some might find that a bit more convenient than necessary.
MEMRI was established by "former" Mossad members to provide intelligence and translation services directed against...well, anyone who might have a grudge against Israel, and anyone from the Islamic world. Some background:
The Middle East Media Research Institute, or MEMRI for short, is a Middle Eastern press monitoring organization. Its headquarters is located in Washington, DC, with branch offices in Jerusalem, Berlin, London, Rome, Shanghai, Baghdad, and Tokyo. MEMRI was co-founded in 1998 by Yigal Carmon, a former colonel in Israeli military intelligence, and another Israeli Meyrav Wurmser. It provides a free source of English language translations of material published in Arabic and Persian script, and publishes its analyses and in-depth reports on its website.

The organization's translations are regularly quoted by major international newspapers, and its work has generated strong criticism and praise. Critics have accused MEMRI of selectivity choosing for translation and dissemination the most extreme views from Arabic and Persian media, which portray the Arab and Muslim world in a negative light, while ignoring moderate views that are often found in the same media outlets.
Norman Finkelstein has had at least one unhappy run-in with MEMRI...
MEMRI is a main arm of Israeli propaganda. Although widely used in the mainstream media as a source of information on the Arab world, it is as trustworthy as Julius Streicher’s Der Sturmer was on the Jewish world.
MEMRI outrageously misquoted Finkelstein (a staunch critic of Israel) to make him appear to be a Holocaust denier. He is, of course, no such thing -- in fact, close members of his families died in the concentration camps.

More on MEMRI in this excellent article by Lawrence Swaim (by way of the Wayback Machine):
MEMRI’s obsessive interest in protecting Israel derives from the people and interests that founded, fund and manage the institute’s international operations.

It was founded in 1998 by Yigal Carmon, a former colonel in the Israel Defense Forces (Intelligence Branch) from 1968 until 1988, acting head of civil administration in the West Bank from 1977 to 1982; and Israeli-born Meyrav Wurmser, an extreme rightwing neoconservative now affiliated with the Hudson Institute.

Meyrav is married to David Wurmser, at one time an American Enterprise Institute "scholar" and then a State Department apparatchik under John Bolton.

Both participated in the collective writing of "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm," a seminal 1996 neocon document that advocated an end to negotiations with the Palestinians and permanent war against the Arab world.

They also worked with Douglas Feith, Elliot Abrams, Richard Perle and other rightwing ideologues who promoted and embellished the fiction that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11.

MEMRI has offices in Jerusalem, Berlin, London, Washington and Tokyo, and in a 2006 Jerusalem Post interview, Carmon claimed to have one in Iraq.

It translates film and print into English, German, Hebrew, Italian, French, Spanish and Japanese.

Tax returns for 2004 indicate American funding of between two to three million dollars, much of it from conservative donors and foundations - but those who have followed its far-flung operations suspect much higher expenditures.

Besides Carmon, several MEMRI staffers are former Israeli intelligence specialists. Especially troubling are suspected links between MEMRI and the current Israeli intelligence establishment.

According to a 2005 article in Israel’s Ha’aretz, the Israeli Defense Forces plants fake stories in the Arab media, which it then translates and tries to retail to Israeli journalists. How much of MEMRI is simply an extension of such IDF operations?

The questions raised by the Ha’aretz story caused Proffesor Juan Cole to write, "How much of what we ‘know’ from ‘Arab sources’ about ‘Hizbullah terrorism’ was simply made up by this fantasy factory in Tel Aviv?"

British journalist Brian Whitaker, Middle East editor of the Guardian, dismisses MEMRI as "basically a propaganda machine."

Ken Livingstone, mayor of London, accuses them of "outright distortion," and former CIA case officer Vince Cannistraro has written that "they (MEMRI) are selective and act as propagandists for their political point of view, which is the extreme-right of Likud."
Sorry for inflicting upon you a quotation so lengthy as to border on republication, but this article is not so well-known as it ought to be.

MEMRI's list of advisers reads like neo-con central. From the RightWeb profile:
MEMRI's directors and advisory boards are top-heavy with neoconservatives and other supporters of hawkish U.S. and Israeli policies. Current and former board members include Elliott Abrams, Steve Emerson, Bernard Lewis, Elie Wiesel, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, Jose Maria Aznar, Donald Rumsfeld, James Woolsey, John Bolton, John Ashcroft, Ehud Barak, Mort Zuckerman, Michael Mukasey, Norman Podhoretz, William Bennett, Christopher DeMuth (former president of the American Enterprise Institute), Paul Bremer, Herb London (president of the Hudson Institute), Natan Sharanksy, James Q. Wilson, Alan Dershowitz, Richard Holbrooke, Jack Kemp, Jeane Kirkpatrick, and Irving Kristol. (As of October 2011, information about MEMRI staff and directors was available online. However, previously, the organization was criticized for not providing access to this information online and for attempting to disguise its political ties.
Did you like the Iraq War? The same people who gave you that war are behind MEMRI -- and SITE. One of the co-founders of the organizations was Meyrav Wurmser...
Wurmser, who has taught at Johns Hopkins University and the U.S. Naval Academy, has played a role in several neoconservative and Likud-aligned policy initiatives. For example, she was participant in the study group that led to the publication of the 1996 report, "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm," which was published by the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, a Jerusalem- and DC-based think tank. The report, which urged Israel to break off then-ongoing peace initiatives, contained six pages of recommendations for Likud Party leader and then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "to work closely with Turkey and Jordan to contain, destabilize, and roll back" regional threats, help overthrow Saddam Hussein, and to strike "Syrian military targets in Lebanon" and possibly in Syria. Other study participants included Richard Perle, David Wurmser, and Douglas Feith.
Given this background, one must ask: Are these beheading videos simply the latest version of the "yellowcake from Niger" story?

We are Americans. We have our own history, our own issues, our own traditions. We have our own problems to attend to, our own wrongs to right, our own people to help, our own future to build. Must we continually be dragged into war after war by these sick games?
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Dozens of Christians 'including women and children' are arrested in Saudi Arabia after tip-off to state's Islamist police force

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2756134/Dozens-Christians-including-women-children-arrested-Saudi-Arabia-tip-state-s-Islamist-police-force.html#ixzz3DQKR5yDW

Outside of Israel, America's closest ally in the Middle East. Happy now?
 
The government of Saudi Arabia promotes Wahhabism ... radical Islam, funds ISIL, probably funded the 9/11 attack (redacted 28 pages in 9/11 report), is intolerant of religious rights, is intolerant of woman's rights, and is run by a hopelessly corrupt royal family. "Outside of Israel, America's closest ally in the Middle East..."

As allies they both are playing the United States for their own purposes. And the bought and payed for politicians of the United States are afraid to go against either of them. America will pay dearly for these relationships.

But why should Joseph be happy that Saudi Arabia is persecuting Christians? "Happy now?" I've said dumb things here but that takes the cake.

Are we to assume that you're pointing out some moral contradiction in criticizing Israel and not Saudi Arabia? It's hard to tell where you're coming from since you go by "Anonymous". But if this is what you're getting at, it is just an example of a common Zionist tactic of distraction; "Look over there, the Saudis are repressive too!" Sorry but it doesn't make the treatment of Palestinians any less shameful.
 
CBarr, I thought that this comment was bizarre. But this stuff (some of which I have not published) is coming from people who normally don't read this site and who seem to have all sorts of inane presumptions about where I stand.

It's obvious to anyone who looks at the situation objectively that the intolerant regimes of Saudi Arabia and Israel are -- well, not precisely partners. But they seem to have made a accommodation, at least in certain areas of mutual interest. The Saudis have an historic animosity toward the Shiite regimes, while Israel (for reasons of its own) wants to bring down both Assad's Syria and Iran.
 
Incidentally, both Graham and Hayden are predicting an ISIS strike on the American "homeland"

They meant to say the motherland.

Yep another false flag has been ordered to scare the sheeple to give up any rights we have left. How sad.

Thanks for more info this subject. On another site somewhere they pointed out the background looks just like those old Italian western.
 
This is a very powerful post you've put together Joseph. Through SITE, Rita Katz is working with MEMRI-MOSSAD (Israeli Intelligence) to get the American public scared to death so that we will support going to war with Syria, oops, I mean ISIL. So beheadings are scarier than WMDs. Remember the quote regarding the push for war with Iraq twelve years ago? "You don't introduce a new product in August." Well it's now the middle of September and they want to get their war on with Syria. Lies upon lies and no one seems to care.

Global Research article on SITE;

http://www.globalresearch.ca/who-is-behind-the-islamic-state-is-beheadings-probing-the-site-intelligence-group/5402082

Speaking of False Flags...

"Professor Graeme MacQueen has written a must-read book on the anthrax attacks on America: The 2001 Anthrax Deception."

"There was a set of 3 letters sent around the same time as the initial anthrax mailings, which attempted to frame the Russians for the anthrax attacks, and which warned of further attacks. These letters could not have been sent by Dr. Bruce Ivins (the scientist the FBI blamed for the attacks), nor could they have been “copycat” letters."

"Less than 3 months before the anthrax attack, the government carried out a simulated exercise called “Dark Winter”, where: a lethal germ had been aerosolized then released; anonymous letters threatened anthrax attacks; Iraq and Al Qaeda are blamed for the attacks; and preparations are made for the drastic reduction of civil liberties in the United States, including martial law. ..."

http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-smoking-guns-of-the-2001-anthrax-attacks/5401882
 
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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Unforgivable


Drone footage reveals the devastating destruction to Shuja'iyya (Shejaia), a neighbourhood district in Gaza caused by the recent conflict with Israeli that lasted 50 days. Between 8 July and 27 August 2014, Israel's Operation Protective Edge צוּק אֵיתָן Tzuk Eitan, literally meaning "Strong Cliff", killed at least 2,200 Palestinians (mostly civilians) along with 66 Israeli soldiers and 7 civilians in Israel. And According to the United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA), more than 300,000 Gazans had been sheltering in its schools on Tuesday and up to 500,000 people have been displaced by the conflict. The extensive destruction caused means that many Palestinians will have no home to return to. Many will face a harsh winter in emergency shelters.
History will neither forgive nor forget what Israel has done. Israel is the most evil, most fascistic, most insane, most irredeemable nation in the world today. Israel must be attacked, militarily conquered, and occupied -- and its leaders should be tried.

You want to accuse me of anti-Semitism? Fuck you. I am of Italian heritage (on my mother's side). In the 1940s, Italy was attacked, militarily conquered and occupied -- and for good reason. Does the fact that I added the words "and for good reason" make me an anti-Italian bigot? Am I a self-hating Italian?

The usual cynical, manipulative bullshit accusations we hear from Israel's supporters just won't fly anymore. People know fascism when they see it. People know racism when they see it. People know arrogance when they see it. People know evil when they see it.
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@Joseph,

Even though you don't you like me, we are often both very similar in our mode of being as sentimentalists and rationalists. Anyway, I am writing to let you know, this blog entry of yours, is absolutely correct and beyond reproach. I agree with you 100% about Israel. It is a deplorable nation-state, built upon racist ideals and a dogma that Hebrews/Israelites/Jews own land, specifically that area, by way of divine right.

They base that 'divine' right on their own Bronze Age tribal deity, unique or not. That being of course, the tetragrammaton (YHWH). It's pronunciation lost as the vowels were deleted in the manuscript tradition and its verbalisation forbidden by way of superstition and legality.

The sad reality is that any criticism of Israel the nation, which has a theocratic background, and any criticism of Hebræo-Christianism (more colloquially called Judaism and it's offspring Christianity) is regarded as anti-Semetic. Thus anti-Judaism is considered the same as anti-Jewish. Even though criticisms and critiques of a religion, philosophy or tradition is the farthest thing from believing that an ethnic group should be excluded from equal standing before the law. As well, any criticisms of Israel today is also considered anti-Semetic. It is an ideology so rigid, that if you lack total commitment, total devotion to the policies of Israel, in a fashion that is more than 100% agreement, if you even have a lingering doubt about one clause or one word, you are called anti-Semetic. It really is sad and silly and sanity dissolving. Like Alka-Seltzer dissolving in a cup or glass of water, the sanity and mind and conscience are stripped completely and worn off.

The definition of anti-Semitism and the understanding of it is completely out of control and out of bounds. It is the most special sub-set of racism, so much so that it is hailed above and beyond racism, so much so that racism becomes a sub-set of anti-Semitism rather than the reverse. Yet orthodox, ultra-orthodox and fundamentalist Jews (that is, folks who are Jewish by religion, not necessarily ethnicity or ancestrally) buy into a false dichotomy of a racism that is rooted in the very basis of their religion, 'Jew versus gentile (everyone else)'. Using theocracy as a basis for land ownership is such an absolute form of landlordry, it is a more extreme and fundamentalist form of land ownership than that provided by totalitarianism or plutocracy.

The world truly is in the saddest, most painful and most fraught with despair state of affairs.


 
Syrian Girl had a very appropriate thing to say along these lines: "God is not a real estate agent." (If the quote is not exact, it's very close.)

She wasn't talking about Israel, actually. She was talking about the Islamic diaspora in the UK and other countries. But I think that the sentiment is applicable all over the map -- for example, here in the US. What is "manifest destiny" but the proposition that God is a real estate agent?
 
The worship of real estate... it is a form of idolatry which is pervasive within the Abrahamic faiths.
 
The fact that people are starting to criticize Israel without fear is a sign of change. Positive one. I always considered it to be a moral rather than political issue.
 
I totally, totally agree with this post, and I am absolutely nauseated that every member of the US Senate either heartily approves of this hideous crime, or is afraid to say that they don't.

PhilK
 
I completely agree with you that Israel in it's present condition, must be brought down. However, how can we do this? Even most of my hero's on the left seem to be solidly behind Israeli genocide.
 
Maybe this death cult shouldn't have attacked Israel to begin with. Maybe the populace should had elected leadership more interested in building an infrastructure than terrorist tunnels. Maybe we shouldn't have dropped the bomb on Hiroshima and saw the additional slaughter of American soldiers. Maybe a reasonable blogger wouldn't say Fuck you to readers who he disagrees with. Fuck me? No, fuck you.

I read you because I learn something by reading those I disagree with. But you, Sir, are an asshole.
 
You want to know why Israel feels it must do everything it can in order to survive? Read your hate-filled blog. Why was Italy occupied, to use your words, "for good reason"? Exactly why Israel did what it did. Because of people who wish to see its destruction, just like you wish.
 
Really, there would have been nothing wrong with encouraging Zionist separation from the hosts of their previous countries--had not the land already been occupied.
Which fact of course the Zionists lied about and were called on that lie by, among others, the Catholic Pope in the late 1800s to whom they first went for
approval and cooperation.
 
You can either call for the destruction of the murderous and fanatical ISIS. Or you can support the murderous and fanatical Hamas. But you can't do both. I wonder why you're so hung up on being accused of anti-Semitism; way over half your piece is pure defensiveness. Hmmm. If I had to hazard a guess, The lady doth protest too much, methinks.
 
I love it when an Israel apologist accuses me of being a hater. That's like being called ruthless by Doctor Doom.
 
I won't print your later Anonymous comment, Anonymous. The rules are posted, and you've broken two of them.

But you DO know that I have a policy concerning hasbara trolls, don't you? Whenever they pop up here, I double down -- even triple down -- on my criticisms of Israel. I force myself to do this even when I would much rather write about something else.

So keep it up, laughing boy. You are doing your part to INCREASE the amount of anti-Israel commentary in the blogosphere! Aren't you proud of what you have accomplished, you murderous fuck?
 
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Was David Haines kidnapped by the same people Obama wants to fund and train?

As we have established in previous posts, journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff were kidnapped by members of the "Free Syrian Army." This army is the home of those anti-Assad rebels whom our journalists and pundits (displaying their usual penchant for whimsy) refer to as "moderates." The FSA sold their two captives to ISIS, who are credited with beheading the journalists.

Like the FSA, ISIS hopes to bring down the government of Bashar Assad. Unlike the FSA, ISIS is considered "moderate" by exactly nobody.

Despite this very sordid (and very recent) history, Obama has announced that he intends to "vet" and train FSA fighters in Saudi Arabia. They have already received a great deal of money and lots of weaponry. According to one credible report, FSA soldiers are paid $150 a month.

Of course, the White House has been saying all along that our aid has gone only to the "vetted." Despite this claim, at least half a billion dollars worth of arms intended for the FSA ended up in the hands of ISIS.

So who kidnapped the latest beheading victim, David Haines (a British aid worker)? Tellingly, the media won't tell  you. Note the use of the passive voice in the afore-linked story (with emphasis added by me)...
He was abducted in March 2013 near a refugee camp in Atmeh, Syria, where he was working to arrange for the delivery of humanitarian aid to people staying at the camp...
Who abducted him? And why do our newspapers treat one of the key journalistic questions as though it were unimportant?

We get more passive voice from the BBC (and again, the emphasis has been added):
He was taken hostage alongside an Italian aid worker in Syria last March...
From the Independent:
Mr Haines, 44, had been in Syria just 10 days when he was kidnapped alongside fellow aid worker Federico Motka in March 2013.
From the International Business Times:
He had been working for the French aid agency for just ten days when he was taken alongside Federico Motka, an Italian-Swiss aid worker freed four months ago after a ransom was paid.
This is getting ridiculous!

These alleged journalists can't bring themselves to admit that they don't know who the perpetrators were. Instead, they inform us that Haines "was kidnapped." The passive voice tends to fool passive readers, most of whom will blithely presume that ISIS did the kidnapping.

A later Independent story claims in its headline that the culprits were, in fact, ISIS -- but the body of the piece indicates that this identification is pure presumption. The cited witness, a Syrian translator for Haines' charity, says only that Haines and Motka were taken by "professional" gunmen. Another version of the same story -- citing the same witness -- does not identify the gunmen as ISIS. (It's not as though the gunmen wore ISIS t-shirts.)

So. Do we have any way of determining who kidnapped Haines and Motka? I think we have one good clue.

Motka, as you will recall, was ransomed. The Daily Mail has looked into that part of the story.
He was kidnapped by an Islamist gang with Federico Motka, an Italian-Swiss aid worker freed four months ago after a ransom was paid.

A Syrian intermediary said $4 million (£2.5 million) was handed over by Italian officials after lengthy negotiations involving intelligence agencies.

The country’s foreign minister admitted there had been ‘complex and delicate’ work to get Motka freed.

Exactly the same sum was paid by the Italian authorities last September to free a journalist held by a rogue brigade of the Free Syrian Army (FSA).
The article goes on to note that -- unknown to the public -- Western governments have paid out roughly $52 million to free the victims of these kidnap-for-ransom schemes. Britain says that it has not paid any ransom money. Italy is haggling to free two female aid workers.

If you are now itching to discuss the morality and wisdom of paying ransom, you're missing the key point.

Motka was kidnapped alongside Haines. When the Italians paid for a previous hostage, the exact same amount of money went to a faction within the Free Syrian Army. In other words: We know the going rate, and we can identify the people who charge that rate. Although we cannot as yet prove that Haines was kidnapped by the FSA -- the "moderates" favored by our president -- that's the way I would bet.

The pact. Incidentally, the "moderate" FSA has recently entered into a formal pact with ISIS
Moreover, the leader of the Free Syrian Army said Saturday that the group would not take part in U.S. plans for destroying the Islamic State until it got assurances on toppling Assad.
This buttresses the point I've made all along: Obama's "war on ISIS" is a cover for a war on Assad.

I tend to agree with those who argue that the FSA is, in some ways, a fiction. Those initials refer to a fairly loose amalgamation of Islamic brigands and warlords. On any given day, one of those warlords may claim that he is part of the "moderate" Free Syrian Army; the next day, the same warlord may align himself with ISIS or Nusra.

McCain! Nevertheless, John McCain -- the man who never met a war he didn't like -- says that he has personally vetted the FSA rebels.
McCain touted that he’s “vetted a number of them because I know them.” It was at that point Fox aired the infamous photo from last year of McCain and a few Syrian rebels, two of which turned out to be suspected kidnappers.
That photo appears here. A Lebanese newspaper says that the two guys flanking McCain are guilty of kidnapping 11 Shiites.

I'm sure that McCain "vetted" his beloved FSA rebels every bit as thoroughly as he "vetted" his choice for Vice President.

This next bit is hilarious...
And for people not swayed by that argument, McCain threw this out: you got anything better?
“Obviously, there are some risks, but what’s our other option here? If someone who says they can’t––they don’t want to do it because we can’t trust the Free Syrian Army, then what is your option, sir and ma’am, in how we are going to attack ISIS in an effective fashion?”
Glad you asked that, John! I have an excellent idea: Back Assad.

Yes, I know that Assad is a bad guy. Stalin was an even worse guy. Let's work with Bashar Assad for the same reason we worked with Joe Stalin: To defeat a mutual threat. Hitler then; Al Qaeda and its offshoots now.

If we work with Assad instead of trying to overthrow him, ISIS, Nusra, and (most of) the FSA will crumble rapidly. Afterwards, the rest of the world can pressure Assad into allowing Syria to segue into democracy.

If those pressures do not work, then...what? What's the worst that could happen?

Syria returns to its pre-war status quo.

A far from ideal situation, that. Still, the status quo ante would be better than the hell Syria is going through right now. A functional nation ruled by a secular dictator would be preferable to the bloody, failed anti-state that Syria will surely turn into if our "moderate" jihadis win this war. There's good reason to predict that those guys will carve the place up into any number of bloody fiefdoms. Syria as Somalia.

Never forget that this war was instigated by the neocons, with the aid of our allies -- Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and Israel. The Syrians did not bring this madness upon themselves.
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Comments:
http://m.strategic-culture.org/news/2014/09/14/getting-it-right-in-fighting-isil.html

should work with Iran and Hezbollah too, but the Zionists would never allow it.
 
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Saturday, September 13, 2014

A message from Death City


For the past year or so, I've been working on a film about the mysteries of Baltimore. The image above -- a frame capture from the opening shot -- may not seem terribly impressive at first, but it encodes a great deal of information about this city. Perhaps about the country.

Although you can't see Fort McHenry in this shot (it's off to the left), this image relates to the night "The Star Spangled Banner" was born. The bridge in the background is the magnificent Francis Scott Key Bridge, named after the famed lawyer who wrote our national anthem. Although no-one knows the exact location of the ship on which he stood as he watched those bombs bursting in air, the vessel probably rested in the waters just below the bridge.

Many people don't know that "The Star Spangled Banner" was not Key's sole literary production. He also wrote defenses of slavery.  Paradoxically, he opposed the slave trade and decried the conditions which most slaves had to endure. When Key was District Attorney of Baltimore, the city was considered a prime destination for freed black people, seven of whom had once belonged to Key himself, who nevertheless remained a staunch opponent of the abolitionist movement.

In 1814, an escaped slave named William Williams made his way to Fort McHenry and enrolled as a soldier. During the battle of Baltimore, a cannonball blew off Williams' leg; he died not long afterward. His owner sued to collect the acreage promised as a reward to all who signed up to fight in that war. The owner lost on the grounds that a slave cannot sign a valid contract -- which means that Williams himself probably would not have received any property, had he survived.

In the image above, the Francis Scott Key Bridge is seen from the Mount Olivet Cemetery, location of Francis Scott Key's grave. (His actual grave is not pictured here.)

Although Baltimore contains many remarkable (and allegedly haunted) cemeteries, Mount Olivet may be the eeriest. Many headstones have dates going back to the 18th century, and many of those grave markers are partially or wholly toppled. Vandalism, we're told. I'm not so sure about that.

Many inhabitants of this city learn graveyard connoisseurship. Greenmount cemetery -- once the city's most fashionable boneyard -- is the final resting place for former CIA chief Allen Dulles (and his wife Clover, driven nearly mad by his serial infidelities). A little more than a hundred yards away from Dulles, one may find a small, unmarked headstone, beneath which lies whatever may be left of John Wilkes Booth. The few JFK assassination researchers who know about this juxtaposition consider it quite appropos.

Although civic boosters refer to Baltimore as Charm City, I think of it as Death City. This town's laws against homicide, like its laws against fireworks, are regarded as mere suggestions. The industrial base has melted away, the neighborhoods decompose right before your eyes, the local sports franchise faces a terrible scandal, and even the crabs are now imported. Death is the one thing this city still does well.

Look again at that opening shot. Behind the bridge, you'll see Sparrow's Point, once the proud home to this country's largest steel mill -- the "Beast of the East," owned by Bethlehem Steel. During World War II, many Liberty ships were built at Sparrow's Point. People were proud to work there, even though the conditions were harsh and dangerous. For a brief period, the mill was owned by controversial Indian steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, who seems to have run the place into the ground.

The mill is silent now. So are most of the other factories in this town. Nature is reclaiming them. Even the land beneath those buildings goes unused. To me, the sight is bizarre: In California, many businesses close, but someone will always find a new purpose for the real estate. Things are different here.

The image at the top of this page also affords a glimpse of the Dundalk Marine Terminal, one of the largest cargo ports in the world. If you live on the east coast, the Chinese crap you buy at Wally World probably came through here.

So that's what my opening shot represents: A city that proudly made things has become a city that imports things. A city with a rich past has become a city with no real future.

Happy Defenders Day from Death City.
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Comments:
There's nothing wrong with importing. Trade, peace, Haseatic-style. Of course it's nice to have something to export or re-export as well.
 
Stephen, indeed it is nice to export. Back in the mid-1980s when I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area the container ships were busily coming and going. The problem with the picture is that we were importing automobiles and sophisticated electronic gear--and we were exporting canned vegetables, scrap steel, and recycled newspapers to make those cheesy Chinese cardboard boxes.
 
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