Friday, November 30, 2012

Majority rule? Nah, better not, says The Nation.


[Extensively re-written 12012012.]

John Nichols displays none of the traditional progressive penchant for democracy.

Well, what the heck.

It’s just too scary for some people.

Something might go wrong.

Whereas if we just go back to the real filibuster we used to see in movies, what could go wrong?

I think it was Matt Yglesias who, a few years back, gave the history lesson showing the old style filibuster was almost always used to protect wealth and privilege and political expressions of racism like segregation.

And about 90% of the uses of the new style filibuster have been made during O's presidency to protect and advance the interests of plutocracy with record-setting, and downright shocking, obstruction of a fairly modest liberal agenda.

All the same, lot's of liberals are far less democratic in their convictions than one might wish.

Booman, for example, more than once has come out in agreement with the proposal of several conservative pundits and office holders that the 17th Amendment be repealed and the choice of senators returned to state governments.

And that despite the fact that, according to those conservatives, the point of repeal would be to disempower progressivism and create a situation in which its past achievements would be undone.

And very few liberals, indeed, would be willing like Dahl and some others to deny the Supreme Court and the federal courts in general the power of constitutional review of actions of the federal executive or legislative branches, confining its role in that regard to regulation of the states.

Generally, liberals and conservatives alike quote Madison on the role of the courts in protecting minority rights, with the former at least citing the era of the civil rights struggles in support of that notion.

Come to that, they talk the same way about the anti-democratic and anti-majoritarian features of the senate.

But Madison was talking about protecting the propertied classes against the rest of us, a fact the conservatives well know and the liberals ignore.

So far as anyone can tell, he could not have cared less for the alleged rights of non-whites, women, or homosexuals.

And I wouldn't take too much for granted regarding his concern for the rights of non-abrahamic religious minorities.

And, anyway, if you consider the achievements of the liberal federal courts during and after the 20th Century nearly everything they did to advance equality and the sexual revolution - and these are the things that liberals value - was a matter of controlling legislation and other actions of the states.

While during that very same period the senate was an absolute bastion of racism, religious bigotry, sexual repression, and every kind of prejudice and discrimination.

By far, the best thing to do with the senate - according to me, of course - would be to abolish it and restore the unicameralism of the Articles of Confederation.

Second best would be to reform representation to make it proportional to population with each state getting a minimum of one member, as in the house, and reform the rules to make the place majoritarian in its actual procedures.

If we go to unicameralism we might stretch terms in the house to 3 years to allow members to get more done between campaigns, but only if we also institute a recall process for house members - which might be a good idea, anyway.

And we should not stagger house elections as senate elections now are staggered.

The whole membership should continue to come up for election at the same time, as now.

Reforms to allow limits on the duration of campaigns and the money spent on related propaganda by private sources would be good things, I think, as well.

Representation in the house is already proportional to population and its voting, rules, and procedures are, and should remain, majoritarian.

And while we are fixing things my way, the power of constitutional review wielded by federal courts should, I say, be expressly confined to legislation and other actions of the states and inferior jurisdictions.

Too, the - ahem - "creativity" in interpreting the constitution, of the liberal courts more recently but also of conservative courts before them, teaches an important lesson.

While judicial independence has its value there can obviously be too much of this good thing; a way to confine the courts to fair interpretation and enforcement of the law really does need to be found.

Sure, during the 20th Century and since then their flights of invention unencumbered by reality were and have been on the side of the angels, mostly.

That is, those inventions generally suit my values pretty well, now and in retrospect, and apart, of course, from such value as I set on democracy and in flat defiance of my disapproval of judicial, or any other, absolutism.

And within the scope of this personal approval I mean to specifically include the invented constitutional right to privacy, the incorporation doctrine, and the courts' vigorous and free construals of the equal protection clause.

All the same, the Supremes in particular and the courts in general most certainly did not, as is sometimes claimed, invent in favor of the values of modern society as a whole, or even of a contemporary majority.

They invented pretty much to suit themselves and their liberal supporters.

The values of others did not concern them, except as needing to be defied and perhaps somehow outlasted or done away with.

In any case, the judicial absolutism embodied in the idea that the Supremes are or ought to be a sort of "constitutional convention in permanent session," as was once said by a happy liberal - perhaps a judge and at least a lawyer - is, to my mind, an offensive and unacceptable defiance not only of democracy but of the rule of law, altogether.

And I leave it to the reader to rehearse within his own mind the many reasons why absolutism is really not a good idea.

Anyway, not on the whole, ordinarily, or in the general run of things.

Not even judicial absolutism, however benevolent in limited respects some despots - judicial or other - may in the past or elsewhere have been.

We are in marked need, here, of adequate checks and balances.

No judge should have life tenure, I think.

And most should be elected by the people or subject to periodic re-appointment, perhaps according to the same process by which they were appointed in the first place.

[Update 12022012.

Well, yes, restoring the old-style filibuster is better than going on as we are, of course.

Sure, it's a weapon in the hands of the plutocrat minority that would be less easy and a lot more costly to use and so, we hope, it would be used much less often than the new filibuster they have in their armory, now.

So, what's that?

Another damned lesser evil we're supposed to pretend we like?]

The future is NOW


We’ve heard this before.

But did we realize it’s not about the far-off future but the immediate future.

Our future?

And I say that as a wheezing geezer.

Our future.

Mine, too.

Not just our great-great-grandchildren's, if any.

Yes, yes.

I haven't the least doubt that the people whose favorite cause this is would lie to us and enormously overstate both the size of the danger and its proximity in time.

Everybody lies.

Not just governments and not just politicians.

But it just doesn't look that way.

I don't think anybody's faking that disappearing ice.

Chasing Ice

Or are they?

Who are the real class warriors?


He gets it.

And he dares to say it.

Trouble coming, pretty fast


From the look of it, we can’t just blow it off and let the generation after the next deal with global warming, not our problem, thanks all the same.

Looks like it is our problem, and I who say that am a boomer on the edge of a nervous breakdown, what with the plutes who control DC working themselves up to slash my retirement income, my health care, and just about anything that makes the so-called “golden years” even tolerable.

“Old age is a shipwreck,” said Charles de Gaulle, and he couldn’t have said it better.

The last thing I need is for those greedy bastards who run the country – and the whole world, actually, truth to tell – to make it even worse.

If the Republicans ever decide this is a problem we positively have to deal with I guarantee they will turn it into another reason to destroy earned benefits programs, shred the safety-net, and drown the government in Grover Norquist's bathtub.

Maybe the final reason, the last one they need, the straw that breaks the camel’s back, here in America, while France, Germany, and all those evil, un-American euro-socialists manage to find ways to deal with global warming without adopting the American conservatives’ ultimate austerity program, “Let ‘em die!”

Spoken, of course, of everybody who isn’t rich.

And I’m feeling quite enough like I’m going to be living under a bridge because of these vicious assholes, and then dying of pneumonia from my first winter cold, as it is.

Oh, shit.

More candid and frank with every day that goes by


Krugman

If the UN General Assembly was the voice of God when it created Israel, why not now?


Of course, that UN back in the day was a bit more of a great power cat’s paw.

And nowadays we should really just give up that "American exceptionalism" crap and stop trying to be the "indispensable nation" all the damned time.

Says the story,

Full membership requires Security Council approval, with no vetoes.

The non-member observer state status only required a majority vote of the General Assembly.

The vote granted the Palestinians the same status at the U.N. as the Vatican, and they will keep their seat next to the Holy See in the General Assembly chamber.

The historic vote came 65 years to the day after the U.N. General Assembly voted in 1947 to divide Palestine into two states, one for Jews and one for Arabs.

Israel became a state but the Palestinians rejected the partition plan, and decades of tension and violence have followed.

The US and Israel, and apparently no one else, say the vote hurts the prospects for peace without a hint as to how that might be.

Just sulking, if you ask me.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Now why hasn’t anyone suggested him for the Democratic nomination for 2016?


What honest leftie doesn’t agree he’s better than O, better than Hillary, better than Joe Biden, and better than anyone suggested so far for 2016?

OK, he’s an old white guy.

But so is Joe B, and Bernie is better on the actual issues.

And Hillary not only has too many enemies, she has repeatedly said she is out.

PS. Sanders has many bitter enemies on the harsher left, some having attacked him in Counterpunch, for example.

It's good to have the right enemies.

What has Zionism to do with socialism? Not one thing.


You would think a set of principles for a political organization would define its chief political commitments.

And you would think a set of principles for a socialist organization would define its commitments as socialists.

As for these guys, the first is doubtless true but the second is not.

Several of their principles have nothing to do with socialism and exactly one represents, I think, an actual defense commitment to just one foreign nation, Israel.

They are flatly committed to the existence of Israel and the two-state solution.

Not a word about NATO or any other US commitments.

Not a word about any other country or people – the Palestinians apart – having a right to existence or their own national state.

They class anti-Zionism with “ideologies of oppression” like anti-Semitism, chauvinism, and racism.

Helen Thomas, I would guess, agreed with them on just about everything else.

But I would guess that one issue, Israel, is for them a deal-breaker.

My own view is that Zionism was a late-blooming form of Eurowhite colonialism, as its opponents nowadays insist.

But I don't actually have a problem with Eurowhite colonialism, per se, preferring to see things case-by-case.

And even so far as all colonies were conceived in sin, like those that eventually became the Jewish state in Palestine, they aquire legitimacy, over time.

Particularly since history, looked at as a affair of peoples rather than individuals, has no innocent victims and nobody guiltier than anyone else in the long, long run.

Absolutely not.

To speak with the vulgar, using this baloney morality lingo that everyone seems so much to love using when the subjects are colonialism, Eurowhites, and post-colonial outlooks like the UN's indigenism.

Get over it, already!


More left wing encouragement of anti-white attitude and racial hostility from Abby Zimet, one of the worst offenders.

And this is NOT class war?


You short the retirement funds and use the loot to (a) pay yourself and your upper management stooges big bonuses and great retirements and (b) pay political pressure groups to push for slashes in Social Security.

Did I mention a leading goal of capitalism is the immiseration of the working class even when what keeps the proles from despair is not actually coming out of the hides of the plutes?

The point being they need dirt cheap labor to keep down the price of Lamborghinis.

Did this come from the White House?


The decision to hold him in absolutely shitty conditions for so very, very long?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hint: raise taxes on the rich


WAPO says there’s no way to balance the budget without cuts in earned benefits like Social Security and Medicare, though neither has anything to do with the general budget and neither is "in trouble."

By "entitlements" it means earned benefits.

By "entitlements reform" it means cuts in the benefits to be paid to people who have earned every penny of what they get now, and more besides.

So did the Moonies buy the Post or did Murdoch?

Bear in mind that neither Social Security nor Medicare is any great shakes so far as actually redistributing from the rich to the rest of us goes.

And they still wouldn't be even if the cap came off and more got collected from the wealthy among us.

So far as "redistribution" goes - and this is not unlike what insurance companies and banks do - these programs use money currently being paid in to finance benefits being paid out and to maintain a fluid fund for rainy days, besides.

So what's the beef?

Programs like these diminish the desperation of the working class.

And whatever does that increases the price of labor.

Hence the plutes actively pursue the immiseration of the working people of the country.

That's an essential aim of the neoliberal project, of free marketeers, of conservatives, of capitalists.

But when we want to get back some of our own by taxing them they call it class war, theft, and mooching.

But not to worry.

Looks like Obama and his White House are planning to sell us out, cutting benefits and pushing up the retirement age, again, just as those meanies, the Republicans, want.

And who will remember when future GOP ads say the Democrats cut benefits and pushed up the retirement age that those wicked Republicans, why, they just made the Democrats do it?

Who will care?


God forbid we follow the example of those crazy French, setting retirement at 60, keeping the work week at 35 hours, and raising taxes on the incomes of the rich to 75%.

That would be so un-American!

Heck, that wouldn't even be liberalism!

Why, it would be socialism!

Tell me again why we voted for Obama?

Oh, right.

Lesser evil.

Gotcha.

But this is not really what I wanted, you know.

Neither I nor, very likely, anyone else, or nearly anyone else, who voted for O earlier this month.

If the chief point of democracy is to enable ordinary people to defend themselves from the rich and powerful - and it is - it sure looks like it's not working out as well, in America, as it is in lots of other countries.

It looks like, for us, it's not working out all that well, at all.

Time to reconsider this whole voting thing, again?

It's not what I do but what millions do that matters, anyway.

And they can certainly just as well do it, or not, without me.

What they do is and has always been and will always be out of my control, no matter what.

I might as well be voting in Cairo, as far as that goes, for all the good it does.

Or Tehran.

And we're almost at the point where paying attention is not only pointless - it was always that - but too depressing to go on.

Much like this blog.

More of that, er, stuff



See below.

From the delightful people who brought you the war on men - er, women.

My bad.

You want patriarchy?

Go to Kabul, Cairo, Benghazi, Damascus, Tripoli, Tehran, Algiers.

Or Riyadh.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

We don’t need no stinking regulation. Capitalism is good for you, all on its own.


No, it wasn’t just the tobacco industry.

And isn’t.

But how stupid did you have to be, really, to trust people who are all about the profit motive?

God forbid we should have majority rule in the senate


Neither side has so much confidence in democracy they want to deny the minority in the body the right and the power to veto anything that displeases them enough to take the trouble.

And anything at all displeases the Republicans enough to take the trouble.

“The Republican leader thinks things are going well here. He’s in a distinct minority because things aren’t going well around here,” Reid said. “Lyndon Johnson: one cloture. Reid: 386. That says it all.”

And maybe Reid gets it, really.

Maybe his reform is less than half-assed because he knows there are too many anti-majoritarians in his own party for him to be able to abolish the filibuster even by attempting a rule change with 51 votes.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The last and most perfect political realism.


Vampirism, indifference, stupidity, and insanity play larger roles in politics and history than anything else.

Only sex plays a larger role in everyday life.

So it has always been and so it will remain.

A failure waiting to happen



This is not a problem just waiting for the healing touch of an American president.

The two-state solution is long out of reach and really was never acceptable to enough important players on the Arab or the Israeli side.

As for a one-state solution, well, the Palestinians and Israelis have opposite one-state solutions in mind, and neither one has anything to do with that idea according to post-nationalist, secularist American and European liberals.

There simply is no middle ground on which the two sides can meet and there never has been.

The idea that a slice of Palestine taken from the Arabs against their well-known and well-entrenched public will by an international body cooked up by the great powers and serving as their cat’s-paw could provide the Jews a safe haven in a dangerous world was absolutely idiotic and doomed from the beginning.

As a great many people said.

Truman was not a man to listen.

Do you really think UN recognition of a Palestinian state encompassing the West Bank, the Gaza strip, and East Jerusalem - and how is that even possible against a US veto? - could bring peace?

Sure, just as the UN recognition of Israel in 1948 has brought peace.

Neocons never did get geography and hope you don’t, either.



Bill Kristol begins this editorial,

“There are some facts so obvious that only a liberal could deny them.

“One of them is that, from Benghazi to Be’er Sheva, the West is under attack.”

Actually, the whole space between Benghazi and Be’er Sheva is in the Mahgreb, which is not and has never been part of the West.

And the mythical common struggle of the West, meaning mostly the US, and Israel against “terrorism,” meaning all the Muslim enemies of Israel or friends of its enemies, is nothing but a put up job to get America, with no stake in the matter at all, to fight to the death to make the world of Islam safe for Israel, though it never has been that and most likely never will be.

Neoconservatism is an endless barrage of colossal bullshit aimed at absolutely nothing but keeping the US fighting wars wherever neocons perceive enemies of the Jewish State in order to preserve and safeguard that tiny Middle Eastern anomaly for no earthly reason, at all.

And that at enormous cost in blood and treasure to the US when the conservative movement as a whole and the Republican Party they control claim America cannot afford to educate its own children, feed its own poor, provide medical care for its own sick, or guarantee a decent retirement to its elderly.

We can’t afford to do so much that absolutely needs doing here at home.

But we can squander trillions, literally trillions, on useless wars for Israel.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The most unforgivable crap you’ll ever hear comes out of the mouths of politicians in favor of their asinine and criminal wars



Vice President Henry Wallace, May 8, 1942.

Moonshine, fantasies, and the most absurd lies from a beloved ancestor of the “reality based community,” heavily larded with shameless sucker-bait for liberals.

None so easily deceived as those who desperately want to believe.

Not one of these alleged war aims was even remotely within the realm of possibility.

Might as well prate about a war to end all wars and making the world safe for democracy.

The “century of the common man”?

My, oh my.

Oh, and not one moment of sane appreciation of the realities of Soviet Communism and Stalin’s regime ever passed through this fellow’s mind.

Well, not during this speech and not at any time in the campaign of 1948.

Cowardice? Superstition? Stupidity? Or Loyalty?



Was there ever any significant chance she would come out of it?

That makes all the difference, I think.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Butterfly

La lengua de las mariposas

Saw this – subtitled in English – last night and was reminded of two things.

First, the French film Au revoir les enfants with a similar theme.

But second, the continuing lack of consensus about the Spanish Civil War and, in particular, the collapse of the republic.

Strangely, though the cases are similar, people are far less inclined to disagree all that much about the end of the Weimar republic.

Both republics fell to ideologically anti-democratic, right wing dictatorships justified by anti-communist and nationalist ideologies, in large part for lack of support from large and influential, ideologically anti-democratic sectors of the left: communists in both cases and anarchists in Spain.

This film, set just before the Spanish Civil War, begins by reminding us that the Spanish Second Republic was born in opposition to the monarchy, the aristocracy, the Catholic Church, the great landowners, and the large capitalists.

It neglects any mention that from the start it relied for crucial support on the large and powerful, but also fundamentally disloyal, anarchist and communist movements.

The main characters of the story, which takes place in a small town in Galicia, chiefly bring out the tensions between the republic and its enemies on the right.

One of them, Don Gregorio, is a public schoolteacher who has a class of boys at what appears to be nearly a one-room schoolhouse where he teaches Moncho, a child through whose eyes much of the tale is told.

Don Gregorio is a gentle and polite but outspoken, elderly republican, an anticlericalist and an atheist who is hated by the local priest and mistrusted by the more serious church goers, and not very cordially disliked by a rich man of the town who has a child not doing well in his class.

Moncho's father, a tailor, is of like mind with the teacher, but his mother is a devout Catholic much influenced by the views of her pastor.

The republican constitution of 1931 had proclaimed freedom of religion, something the conservative forces of the country and especially the Catholic church bitterly opposed.

And it had also thoroughly disestablished the church, by then long allied from the 18th to the 20th Centuries with monarchy and nobility against any part of the then liberal agenda in Europe or in Spanish America.

The republic replaced state funded but church controlled schools staffed with teaching clergy with secular public schools staffed with lay teachers.

The church was also forbidden to operate private schools, the clergy being banned from teaching and the Jesuits being expelled from the country.

In the film, news comes to the town that elsewhere in Spain radical anticlericalists have burned down churches and killed priests and nuns.

Matters grew worse as both anarchists and communists became more dissatisfied with and disloyal to the republic, and openly determined to drive the nation toward their own kinds of revolution.

That point is brought out in the film by mention of widespread, violent strikes and by a radio broadcast of a speech by José María Gil-Robles, a leader of the Catholic right, insisting Spain could not go on as it was but would have to choose between fascism and communism.

At the end of the film, the town has fallen into the hands of Nationalists who, under the approving eyes of the priest and the rich man, capture, beat, and march the town’s noted republicans down a street in which the populace, in a show or real of feigned reliability, angrily denounce them as reds and atheists.

Last among them is the teacher.

Bound, they are loaded onto a truck and carried off to their fate.

Blame for the fall of the Spanish republic is located by nearly the entire left on France, England, and the US for failing to come to the rescue or even supply arms and diplomatic support, though the film says not one word about that, taking place before and in the earliest days of the uprising of the generals.

The center-left has historically pointed out that the republic was undermined by the anarchists and communists and ultimately betrayed by the latter.

At least one of the people responsible for the Wikipedia articles on the topic has taken the line that the anticlericalism of the republic was extreme, wrong, and imprudent, and fatally weakened it by making support by republican Catholics impossible.

There is no indication what an acceptable anticlericalism might have been to these republican Catholics.

And the reader may judge for himself what sort of republicans these Catholics were who, per this view, betrayed their country into the hands of a right wing dictatorship that would last 40 years to recover what the Wikipedia writer calls their Catholic rights and the rights of the Church.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The correctly roasted turkey


Everybody who cooks knows the problem with turkeys is that the dark meat of the drumsticks and lower wings (not the "hand" which is junk, anyway, and not the "upper arm" but the "forearm") finishes before the white meat of the breast.

So ending up with properly cooked and moist breast but over-cooked, hard, and inedible drumsticks and lower wings is not unusual.

Nor is ending up with properly cooked and moist dark meat but unacceptable, under-done breast.

Yesterday, I lucked out and the turkey, a 13 pounder stuffed front and back and roasted at 325 for just under 4 hours after starting it at 350, came out perfect.

I was amazed and, of course, took as much credit as possible.

Hope yours was as good.

J

Update 11252012 0923 hrs EST.

My barber cooked a 24 pound turkey to feed 17 people on Thanksgiving, his kids bringing all the sides including a stuffing that sounded wonderful along with his grandchildren.

He explained yesterday morning that as turkeys go to or above 14 pounds the ratio of breast weight to dark meat weight goes up, and that this is why on larger turkeys the latter will be done well before the former unless special precautions like tenting in aluminum foil are taken to prevent the drumsticks and upper wings from overcooking and turning hard as leather.

But birds of lesser weight have a sufficiently low ratio of breast meat to dark meat to result in their being done at about the same time.

Hence my easy success with my 13 pound bird.

Of which an amazing amount remains though the wife and I have had turkey every night since Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Yet another holiday for liberals to ruin



And you thought they’d just let it go with ruining Columbus Day?

Or El Dia de la Hispanidad, for the Latinos among us, nowadays at least as contested, I think, in the Latin world as Columbus Day is here.

And on reflection you might think it would actually be more so, no?

Given the larger mestizo and Indian (and African?) populations in Latin America, I mean, and the proclivity of the left for everywhere fomenting racial hatred directed against euro-whites.

[Update 11252012 0936 hrs EST.

Why?

Because it’s easier and a lot safer to foment and exploit politically than frank class hatred?]

Anyway, you can also ruin Thanksgiving with an excess of atheist hatred for religion, but that is so rare it is almost unheard of, in contrast to liberal-endorsed and liberal-encouraged indigenista hatred of euro-whites by both non-whites and whites.

And it doesn’t have the backing of the UN and official political correctness.

Next up, Christmas, with its tiresome – and tireless! – barrage of reminders (lies) – most of them from people of the left – of how it’s really a pagan celebration of the solstice, stolen by those wicked Christians and their department stores and turned into a nationwide obsession with Bing Crosby and shopping, to the endless offense of Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Jains, Hindus, Native American Animists, Voodooists, devotees of Santeria, and (so they say) secularists.

Did I miss anybody?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Turkey at my house has not been pardoned


Way too late for that, as somebody already killed, plucked, and cleaned him and packed him in a plastic bag to await the oven.

Well, her, to be sexually exact, more than likely.

But I am pretty sure that feminists would resent male cooks slapping a turkey on the behind and saying things like, "Ah! She's a fine looking bird. Look at that breast, man. So big and soft!"

And here we have spoilsport vegetarians trying to grab the mike.

Liberals publish these guys at their sites and then go out for steak and fries.

Much as they publish feminist harpies and then go hit the bars to pick up girls - who, of course, are there to get picked up.

I can think of others they should indulge the same way.

A perfectly reasonable question


Oddly, Nader’s article has not a word to say about what is the US national interest in the ongoing Israelo-Palestinian conflict.

The right answer being, “US out of the Middle East!”

Who needs the aggravation?

Or the blowback?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

But we knew this, right?


Impossible to believe CIA and FBI didn’t know better.

Impossible to believe the White House wasn’t behind it.

We got lied to.

Move along.

The protracted conflict


David Atkins thinks we will continue to be a guarantor of Israel’s survival as an independent, Jewish state and I surmise he also believes we should.

As to the former, I agree.

As to the latter I am not so sure and am inclined to think not.

All the same, Netanyahu and others of his expansionist ilk are not all motivated, and not only motivated, by religious ideas.

And we could say just the same for non-Jewish supporters of Israel, whether expansionist or not.

Netanyahu, the neocons, and others who support Israel make the case when challenged that confining Israel to the 1967 borders and accepting a neighboring Palestinian state is a security risk too great to be acceptable when compared to going on as they are now or slowly expanding at least to include both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip within Israel.

Too, given its specific role as a Jewish homeland, neither Netanyahu nor many others are prepared to urge or accept any variant of the one-state solution in which that state is not distinctly and specifically and uniquely Jewish.

Hence the current policy of continuing near stalemate with continuous, low-intensity warfare mitigated only by incremental and slow approaches to a one-state, Jewish state solution.

For the Palestinians, in particular, the only consolation is whatever truth there is in the by no means new or original claim that the Palestinians already have a state, and its name is “Jordan.”

But Atkins and the American supporters of the two-state solution, including I think Barack Obama, suppose the security costs and risks associated with that alternative, to which the US is still publicly committed, are not excessive and the prospects of success sufficient to justify them.

Who is right depends on many things, but especially on whether and how far Israel’s neighbors would be willing to accept and live in peace with Israel as a Jewish state, confined to its 1967 borders, cheek-by-jowl with a Palestinian state comprising the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

If you were an Israeli, what would you think of the odds?

Monday, November 19, 2012

An implied call for a top tax rate of 91%, or somewhere around there


Drudge is positively flipping out, though of course Krugman is right.

The 75% proposed by the French Socialists gave him (Drudge, of course) a hemorrhage, already, a few weeks ago.

No doubt others will scream, too.

Geither is on board to eliminate the debt ceiling.

Who would’ve thunk it?

Treasury Secretary Geithner: Lift Debt Limit to Infinity | CNS News

Maybe the White House has figured out that if they're already calling you a Communist it can't get any worse if you ask for something more like what you really want.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

No pass? Not even once?



The Liu and Miller characters, Watson and Holmes, who live alone in the same house, are young (I am in my sixties; they are young), attractive, and healthy – even athletic.

Neither is dating, though in the pilot we were shown that Holmes has recourse to prostitutes – a practice of which we have seen no sign and heard no mention since then.

So, nothing?

The race card


Jennifer Esposito, who recently played Detective Danny Reagan’s partner on Blue Bloods, is no longer on the show.

The parting was not amicable.

Calling herself the show’s only minority cast member, she says they pushed her out to have an all-white cast like CSI.

Per TV Guide, anyway.

Ms. Esposito is to the naked eye a plain white Italian-American born in Brooklyn.

What am I missing?

What’s in a name?


On American TV people at work – any kind of work – call others and each other in person conversation by the last name, usually without a title like “Mr.” or “Ms.”

Sometimes when talking with someone they’ve just met they call that person by the last name with the title, out of politeness, even if introduced with both the first and last names.

I have worked in various places over many years.

I have done a tour in the army.

I have spent years in higher education.

No one talks like that.

Calling each other by first names is the nearly universal rule.

Referring to someone by his untitled last name or calling him that in conversation is considered rude, disparaging, or offensive.

What do you make of that?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

“What took them so long?”



Conservatives have decided the Israelis are the good guys and Hamas are definitely the black hats.

My sympathies tend to run that way, too.

But conservatives want us to support Israel not only with military and economic and diplomatic aid, but even with direct military participation in the Jewish State’s defense.

And in the whole, broad scheme of the neocon wars, of course, against Israel’s enemies.

To be fair, many Democrats and some of them quite liberal take views very close to that, if not exactly that.

Charles Krauthammer, neocon pundit, famously demanded during the 2008 primary season that the US put Israel under our “nuclear umbrella.”

Be advised there is no defense treaty or even executive agreement in force that commits us to doing anything for Israel, at all.

But when K made his demands not only every Republican (sans Ron Paul, I think) candidate still in the running but every Democrat agreed, with Obama using slightly ambiguous and reserved language committing only to defense of the existence of Israel and Hillary enthusiastically promising to turn Iran into an ash tray if that country nuked Israel.

That’s right, the general run of Democrats are almost as completely in the tank for Israel and the neocons as the Republicans.

Without a treaty, without an executive agreement, without a shred of democratic backing, both parties have publicly said the US would in case of need intervene militarily, and even with nukes, to defend or avenge the existence of Israel.

All the same, liberals – and not just “professional liberals” – generally attack Israel and defend the Palestinians, joining the Arab or Muslim line in any specific controversy.

And many of them will say outright they actually hate Israel.

One suspects liberals of that sort have a lot more sympathy with Helen Thomas than with the office-holding Democrats, liberal or not, who are sworn to Israel’s support and defense. 

By the way, the Islamophobe wing of the conservative movement thinks the US is at war, willy-nilly, with militant Islam all over the world, or at any rate ought to be, and so regards Saudi Arabia and other rich Arab supporters of Islamist movements as actual enemies we ought to be fighting.

I think it is worth noting that that is not and has not ever been the dominant neocon view.

Nor do the dominant neocons quite share in the Islamophobe view that not Islamism or fundamentalist Islam or Islamofascism is the enemy, but Islam itself.

A bridge too far, perhaps.

But see the editorial and the comments.

And the daylight does, with the passage of time, grow dimmer between the neocons and the outright Islamophobes.

“All his fault!”



Has Hamas been emboldened by the successes of their sponsors and sympathizers in the Arab Spring?

Of course.

Obama’s fault?

Oh, my.

True enough, the regimes of the dictators were better for Israel, as was the Turkey that still prided itself on the legacy of Ataturk and, for that matter, the Iran of the anti-Islamist Shah.

Indeed, in many ways they were better for the peoples of Egypt, Turkey, and Iran – but leave that aside.

All the same, the neocons who justified the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq as efforts to take down dictatorships in favor of democracy are not in a wonderful position to complain of the nasty effects of democracy not only there but everywhere else in the region where it has at last emerged triumphant.

Much less to pretend there was anything much the American president, or even NATO, could have done to either prevent it or somehow ensure that democracy did not bring about the strengthening of Israel’s, and our, enemies.

Nor, given the costs and futility of their invasions and wars all over the Middle East should they really be in a great position to urge, even tacitly, more of the same.

McCarthy, by the way, comes as close as anyone to fully bridging the gap between the neocons and the Islamophobes.

And he has had a comfortable home at the National Review for quite a while, now.

Where he often comes as close as this, as close as anyone, to calling Obama an outright traitor.

The fantasy of a liberal opposition



Elliot Abrams wants the US to side with the Syrian rebels and adroitly ensure the revolution goes to acceptable, Israel and America-friendly, democratic secularists instead of the Muslim fanatics, enemies of both Israel and America, who actually seem to comprise or dominate nearly all of the opposition.

Westerners seem never to give up this fantasy of somehow handing Muslim revolutions against relatively anti-Islamist governments over to sweet liberals who want and love what we want and love.

The press was full of this stupidity in the days of the Revolution of the Ayatollahs.

People this stupid should not be allowed their own checkbooks, let alone to meddle in politics and wars half way around the world.

How did the relatively secularist, modernist faction defeat the Islamist democratic revolution in Algeria?

By revoking it.

By scuttling democracy and imposing dictatorship at the cost of an incredibly bloody and long civil war.

Why they call it “asymmetrical warfare”


Much as a handful of Indian raiders could tie up a much greater number of US cavalry trying to protect a very large area, it may require a great many regular troops to deal with relatively few Muslim terrorists dispersed over a large area and protected by a large civilian population.

Much as happened in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last decade.

But any stick is good enough to beat a dog with, as Kant bitterly remarked of the efforts of his critics to bury him with an avalanche of fallacy.


And the left really does hate Israel.

It is helpful to recall that when Hamas attacks Israel it is actually trying to kill civilians.

And that Hamas locates its rocket launching sites in densely populated civilian areas, itself a war crime, quite deliberately.

The result is high rates of “collateral damage” in any effort to attack Hamas fighters.

Dead human shields make excellent propaganda.

Read the comments.

Those by someone who calls himself “nonpartisanliberal” are worth special attention.

And "gannonguckert" is clearly hoping the new Muslim Brotherhood governments brought in by the "Arab Spring" will do something on the side of Hamas, their own subsidiary, and the Palestinians.

By the way, Romney was probably right when he said the two-state solution is dead.

The Israelis will not accept it for security reasons and their settlement policy has gone far to make it impossible, exactly as intended.

On the other hand, the Muslims overwhelmingly don't want peace with Israel, anyway.

They want Israel gone.

That is why the fighting has continued since Israel was founded more than fifty years ago.

There are two ways this could end.

1. The Muslims accept the existence of Israel.

2. The Muslims expunge Israel.

Neither is likely, nor is their disjunct.

But 2 is more likely than 1.

And it wouldn't be pretty.

The Israelis know this, of course, and much prefer that the fighting go on rather than end in outcome 2.

Getting out and leaving everything behind does not yet seem a better move to very many.

Not yet.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Getting close to war with Egypt?


Did someone give Hamas the go-ahead for this sudden, massive escalation in their otherwise routine and doubtless highly annoying rocket attacks?

The Israelis appear to be preparing to invade.

Liberal and further left blogs and pundits are already in full blame-Israel mode.

This could get very ugly, very fast.

And I do mean for us Americans as well as for the Israelis, the Palestinians, and others in the region.

Don't know if Fox News is yet demanding we support Israel not only with supplies but by open commitment to military action.

If Hamas, cheered by the success of their parent organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, in Egypt and elsewhere, is trying to provoke an invasion they may get it.

If they do one can only hope there is no wider war and the Israelis clean their clocks, destroying all their military stockpile and killing all of them, or nearly so.

That could create an interval of relative calm during which there would be a diminished danger of wider war.


Then again, we could get the hell out of there, as we should have long ago.

But that won't happen.

Not now, anyway.

One of many reasons why global equality is a really bad idea


Liberals think global equality is a moral imperative.

Too, they think the end of the nation state is a moral imperative.

Conservatives think making big bucks in a global, post-national world is a wonderful idea.

Even if it means running America into the ground, which is pretty much what they are committed to doing.

But morality is balderdash, equality with your enemies is way too dangerous, and the conservatives are lying when they claim to love America.



Just the tip of the iceberg.

Don’t get on their bad side


Liberals do hate Israel, and even say so.

Read the comments.

Read the articles at Common Dreams or at Democracy Now.

And the comments.

That's the thing about the sort of a priori commitment so many people have to a global interventionist perspective.

They always want to take sides.

Pick the good guys and the bad guys and then intervene on behalf of the good guys.

Can't we just shrug it off and say to ourselves, "None of our business"?

And move on to something that is our business?

Are we still at war?


Shortly after September 11, 2001, the right wing noise machine began years of blaring in all our ears that we are engaged in a global war on terror that is a generational conflict equivalent to the world wars and the Cold War, but apt to go on for a much longer time.

9/11, again and again, was equated with the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Congressional resolutions actually put us into a state of war – only fringy purists think anything so old hat as a declaration of war is or should be required for that – against al-Qaeda and its affiliates and any nation or others providing them aid or support.

Relying on that, two presidents have conducted extensive military operations including the invasions and then a decade-long occupation of each of Afghanistan and Iraq, incursions and attacks into Pakistan, and drone warfare there, in Yemen, and in other places.

In addition, intelligence and security services were thoroughly reorganized and exceptional, terrorism related procedures and operations have been on-going both in the US and elsewhere ever since “everything changed on 9/11.”

And federal and state laws were heavily modified to create new crimes, specifically addressing terrorism and allied activities.

As the Republican leaders most closely associated with all this know quite well, in war one is sometimes successfully attacked and the loss of a diplomat – even a CIA employee – in wartime, here and there, ordinarily strikes no one as more than a minor, even routine blow.

And it is also completely routine not only that much to do with a war effort be secret but that the efforts in question be protected with “a bodyguard of lies” told shamelessly by the government and even the US president in person to the entire world, most definitely including the American public.

Too, those same leaders know that in wartime American politicians are expected to loyally support the administration and the war effort, and not publicly attack the president with a buzz saw over successful but minor, and even routine, enemy actions.

Certainly not for weeks at a time and certainly not for partisan gain.

And certainly not the politicians and party that actually started the war in the first place.

Why, anything of the sort would be universally regarded among the classe politique, in the media, and among the people at large as the most stupid, vicious, and unforgivably treasonous recklessness.

Hence the spectacle of the continuing Republican attacks on President Obama and his administration over the events in Benghazi makes one wonder.

Is the war over?

Back to politics as usual, are we?

That is, “usual” as understood since the Republicans utterly paralyzed the presidency of Bill Clinton with ludicrous investigations and even an absurd impeachment process, for no purpose but partisan political warfare.

Back to that?

Game on?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Secrecy, democracy, and lies


“All governments lie,” said I. F. Stone, who may have lied to the public, including his readers, more than a little, himself, about his own relationship with the KGB.

All the same, the matter is a conundrum, surely.

Any sensible person would agree that even democratic governments have to be able to protect secrets and this may well require telling lies.

And sometimes those lies will have to be told in public, to that government's own people as well as anyone else listening in.

Any US president who says to the American public “I will never lie to you” is a fool or a liar, and in the latter case thinks we are fools.

So much for Jimmy Carter, whom I loathed for that remark no less than for his abandonment of the Iranian hostages after an understaffed rescue effort that failed on that account, in contrast to Obama’s effort to kill Osama bin Laden.

But secrecy takes government action out of the scope of public oversight and in some cases also out of the scope of congressional oversight.

And then lying compounds the problem, since in such a case instead of having no idea what’s going on the public or the congress has a false idea what’s going on.

All the same, we understand the need.

So few of us really object to government efforts at secrecy, per se.

And most of us understand that lies are part of the package.

Just another small frustration to add to others that are so many and in some cases so much larger.

Update, 11172012, 0721 EST.

Anyway, there's something really disgusting about partisan propaganda outlets of any stripe getting all Quaker and virtuous, whining about government lying to the American people.

Agenda 21, is it?


I have no idea about Obama or those close to him, but a whole lot of liberals do want some of the things, and some of the sorts of things, these crazy conservatives are going on about.

Global redistribution of investment and economic opportunity is and was a good part of the point of the Kyoto deal, for example, and will no doubt play a role in any future international deal ostensibly about controlling global warming sponsored by liberals.

It is certainly a factor in Democratic support for free trade and broader liberal support for “fair trade” – that is, free trade with some protections built in for the foreigners who get our jobs because of it.

Obama’s constant refusal to accept, much less defend, the Kyoto deal or the viewpoint of its defenders argues that he, anyway, is less open to objection in that regard than many others.

All the same, some Democrats and many liberals, though maybe not most, have proudly abandoned nationalism for what they call "cosmopolitanism," and boldly say so when arguing against protectionism in America but for it in poor countries, for example.

And for relatively open immigration here but relatively closed immigration there.

Which does not make these conservatives any less a bunch of crackpots and phonies.

Mind control and black helicopters?

Communist dictatorship?

Really?

Nor does it mean that conservatives are not here exploiting what is, in its kernel, a valid concern to advantage the plutocracy against us ordinary folk in matters of US domestic policy.

Much as they exploit concerns about Islam and free speech and an accurate view of the inherent violence of Islam to support foreign policy commitments much in the interest of the military-industrial complex and in service to the Zionists but quite against the interests of the American people.

Oh, I, too, oppose any sort of global tax and would prefer the US leave the UN rather than give up a single jot of sovereignty to it, or tolerate what liberals usually think of as reform of it.

In a world of crazies and out of control, desperate, poor populations, I and others of my class – the American working class – do and will find relative safety in national independence and sovereignty.

To upper-class liberals, global governance is in fact a good way to try to “level the global playing field” at our, not their, expense, much as they have already done by refusing trade protection to the American people despite what everyone can see our current trade policies are doing.

And lower class liberals who support them are just dangerous fools.

Thanks, but I prefer not to be personally leveled into the likes of the worst Brazilian slums by the people who claim to be friends of the American working man, liberals and Democrats.

It’s bad enough when the Republicans, who make no claim to be my friends and in fact are openly my enemies, try to do it.

P.S. Bike lanes on city streets are stupid.

P. S. 2. So the Delphi technique is sort of like what happens when a US city government asks the voters to support a stadium, gets turned down, and builds it anyway?

Or when the EU loses a vote on another step in European integration and takes the step, anyway?

Is it sort of like that?

So when do the liberals/Democrats get it?


It’s not the race of the candidate that matters to Republican/conservative voters.

It’s the race of presumed policy beneficiaries.

If even that.

How to kill the filibuster and take the senate closer to democracy


Reid still couldn’t do it without virtually unanimous support from his own party.

He won’t get it if he tries.

He won’t try, anyway.

Reminder.

The senate is inherently undemocratic and even anti-democratic since it gives such radically superior power to the people of tiny states over those of populous states and since those tiny states tend to be red states in the pocket of the plutocracy.

Even if votes within the senate were by majority rule that body would never have the democratic legitimacy of the house.

That is an argument for abolition of the senate or at least for representation in it to be proportioned to population.

But majority rule within the senate would be an enormous improvement even without such a reform since the filibuster historically has far more often been successfully used in bad causes against the people than good ones on their behalf.

Not one word about a moratorium on legal immigration


Watch the Republicans de-fuse the issue, important to Latino voters, of the status of illegals now here by completely abandoning the position of their populist wing, surrendering to the Democrats, and accepting a path not merely to legal status but to actual citizenship for non-criminal illegals.

So to speak.

Watch the Republicans and the Democrats continue to do absolutely nothing about the issue, important to the entire American working class, of the continuing flood of immigrants competing for a shriveled and stagnant supply of jobs and thus contributing powerfully to wage stagnation, the shocking enrichment of the American rich, and the skyrocketing growth of inequality in the USA.

Allowing continued legal immigration and subverting the efficacy of restrictions by so amply rewarding millions of people who have personally ignored them utterly is a fairly transparent and total betrayal of the American worker.

Well, as we all know, both parties belong to the plutocracy, after all.

But the Democrats defend the interests of everybody else so far as necessary to differentiate themselves and get lower-order votes while the Republican riposte for more than thirty years has been composed of clericalism and the culture war.

And both parties exploit race and racism for electoral advantage with unknown success though with known and entirely evil effects on the health and well-being of the republic and the American people.

Democracy in America is a wonderful thing.

Benghazi affair goes on, President continues cover-up


It’s interesting that the conservatives want to arm the Syrian rebels even as the Islamophobe media point out repeatedly, and the administration seems to agree, how Islamist they are and how connected to terrorist organizations or governments inimical to us or to Israel.

As the saying goes, I guess, “the function of the opposition is to oppose.”

As to the rest, the conservatives have a case.

Ms. Rice was lying or she was mistaken long past the deadline for “initial confusion” and for use of the “fog of war” excuse.

In which case she was lied to and hung out to dry by the White House, much like Colin Powell insisting to the UN that the Bush administration had proof Saddam Hussein was making weapons of mass destruction.

The contents of this National Journal article make the latter the most plausible explanation.

The report says,

Obama was clearly most incensed, however, by recent pledges from Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., to block any nomination of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice as secretary of State because of her comments after an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead.

McCain has zeroed in on Rice’s contention five days after the attack that the violence resulted from a “spontaneous demonstration” over an anti-Muslim film, as opposed to a premeditated terrorist attack.

He has called that characterization either a Watergate-style cover-up or “the worst kind of incompetence.”

Obama was having none of it.

“If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after someone, they should go after me.

"And I’m happy to have that discussion with them,” Obama told reporters on Wednesday in his first news conference since the election.

"But for them to go after the U.N. ambassador who had nothing to do with Benghazi, and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received, and to besmirch her reputation, is outrageous."

The report goes on.

Obama’s anger may reflect the frustration of his team that the Benghazi story had such legs in the run-up to the election, with conservative pundits painting it as a wide-ranging conspiracy to protect Obama’s counterterrorism bonafides and deny the American public the truth.

And that seems pretty much on the money, to me, though mostly, as I recall, the initial reaction of the Obama administration, seconded by a lot of Democratic heavy hitters and a chorus of the "professional left," to the events of this past 9/11 was panic, disgraceful blame-shifting, and craven efforts to placate the bullies.

But here Obama seems quite right.

And it's as good as a confession to White House sponsored - and that would be Obama-sponsored - deception, in my book.

Though it's admirable he's not letting Ms. Rice take the fall.

After Rice’s comments caused such a furor, senior intelligence sources revealed to reporters that Rice was essentially reading from intelligence “talking points” that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence had supplied to her the night before.

And yet criticism from the right continues to focus on Rice and not Lt. General James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, or Petraeus.

Who imagines that briefing was not controlled by the current Decider, himself?

In the immortal words of I. F. Stone, "All governments lie."

Monday, November 12, 2012

Or you could change the song


Here is a neocon chef de guerre going all wobbly on taxes.

The neocons, it is said, were mostly in the past men of the left who migrated right over foreign policy issues, anyway.

Specifically, issues related to Israel and the Middle East.

Hmm.

Well, it was part of the song, anyway.



Well, maybe it’s not a surprise, or shouldn’t be.

But these folks are the only faction of the conservative movement to lament that it wasn’t just the singer – Romney – but it was their own particular part of the national, movement conservative song – specifically, their Christian clericalism – that got flat rejected by majorities of the voters.

But even they aren’t admitting majorities also rejected the Ayn Rand political economy of the entire conservative movement, including them.

And it’s not like they’re going to give up trying.

So it looks like the feminists have won solidly and the churches, as employers, will have to include contraceptive coverage in their group health plans.

Now if the girls would just stop lying that it’s already included and help pressure the Democrats to make employers include coverage for Viagra a lot of Olde White Men would be a lot happier with this result.

Afterthought.

Without specific evidence like polling to back it up I would not be quick to assume mass Latino support for Obama was a matter of immigration policy trumping their own supposed religious conservatism, as is done in this article.

Latino immigrants need not to be deported, sure.

But there is no chance the Republicans will actually do that.

Latinos also need the benefits of the progressive welfare and labor-protective state, both legals and illegals.

Like non-whites and the many millions of lower-class whites who vote massively for Democrats, perhaps they know where their bread is buttered.

Anyway, Democrats better hope so, because it looks like the Republican Party is about to pull the rug out from under them, on this one, and finally do a deal that regularizes the status of illegals currently in the country.


Even though doing so will cost them some votes – who can say how many? – among working class whites.

Once immigration is “fixed” and the issue goes away, what will Latinos do?

Many conservatives are apparently expecting many of them will swing right.

We’ll see.

Oh, says the article,

In exit polls on Tuesday, 77 percent of Hispanic voters said immigrants here illegally should have a chance to apply for legal status, while 18 percent said they should be deported.

In the polls, 65 percent of all voters favored legal status for those immigrants, while 28 percent said they should be deported.

This is not an indication of support for a continuing policy of high legal immigration.

But that is a distinction no one wants to make, and the deal to regularize the position of illegals, given Wall Street conservatives, agribusiness, the construction industry, and libertarians are players, will be pushing for more, not less, low-wage immigration.

Another little sellout of the American working class by both liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans.

Says the article,

The emerging coalition [on the right, for "immigration reform"] includes technology companies seeking more visas for high-skilled immigrants, growers seeking legal farm workers, evangelical pastors responding to huge growth in their churches from Latino immigrants and young undocumented immigrants whose protests pushed the White House to offer the deportation reprieves.

Last month Grover Norquist, the fiscal hawk who is president of Americans for Tax Reform, said in a speech in Indianapolis that more immigration, including legal status for those here illegally, was vital to economic revival.

As we all know, the Republican Party lives in the World According to Grover.

As for liberals and Democrats in general, they are committed to denouncing opposition to significant immigration, even if only of low-wage immigrants, as racist.

Yes, it's baloney.

But what can you do?

As has often been pointed out, low-wage immigration hurts the entire American working class by putting downward pressure on wages and specifically hurts Americans competing for low-wage jobs, most especially American blacks.

Those who have said so have, of course, been denounced by liberals as racists.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

How their enemies see them



This works for feminists and liberals a lot better than calling the Republicans an alliance of plutocrats and Christian clericalists with a dose of racists of unknown significance.

Liberals are perfectly OK with raging and sneering at a party of old white men but not so anxious to attack a party of bishops, clergymen of all stripes, lay but believing Christians, and un-rich folks so stupid as to ally themselves with a vicious plutocracy that would strip them naked and let them starve in the snow.

Racist and sexist attacks on the opposition seem to them far preferable and more likely successful than frank attacks on the evils of capitalism and the vicious greed of the ruling class.

Class war?

Us?

Hey, not us.

No way.

Islam is the problem, according to Infidel753


On the whole, I think he’s got things right, with some caveats.

For instance,

The ferocious belligerence of Islamic belief is widely thought to make it an immutable trait, almost like race; once a Muslim, always a Muslim, with only freakishly-rare exceptions.

This leads many Westerners to cling to the hopeful myth of "moderate Islam" -- the myth that Islam is, or can be re-interpreted as, a "religion of peace" which has been hijacked by "extremists" such as al-Qâ'idah and the Taliban.

As I explain here, this is a delusion.

In contrast to Christianity or Judaism, there can be no moderate, tolerant Islam; non-fundamentalist Islam is a contradiction in terms.

Such a concept will always fail because it is inherently dishonest.

The nature of Islam and its sacred texts explicitly rule it out.

But of course the same could be said for liberal Christianity’s flagrant defiance of actual texts and the historic Christian faith.

Liberal and moderate Christianity – “non-fundamentalist” Christianity in the relevant though not exact sense – are also fringe elements existing in defiance of history and logic.

The difference between East and West, between Christendom and the Land of Islam, is not that the Muslims are old-fashioned supernaturalists sticking to the stories of their sacred texts and the Christians post-Enlightenment skeptics completely incredulous, say, of the virgin birth of Jesus or his resurrection.

It is that the Christians gave up on their own intolerance and violence out of sheer exhaustion and anemia from all the bloodshed of the wars of religion of the 16th and 17th Centuries.

And a few among them such as the Baptists and the Quakers even turned their eyes from the traditions and history of Christianity since Constantine and looked back at the actual texts of the gospels, the Acts, and the Epistles along with the theological texts from earlier times and found no license there for Christian domination of the state, Christian theocracy, intolerance, or religious war.

The Muslims, of course, have no such pacific past to look back upon for new lessons to encourage them to change their 8th Century ways, just as the Infidel says.

And this is right, too.

It would be nice if Islam could someday evolve into something moderate and humane.

But its founder and primary sources rule out that possibility just as flatly as the reality of Hitler and Mein Kampf rule out the possibility of a moderate and humane Nazism.

The Infidel illustrates an important point.

It’s entirely possible to share much of the diagnosis of the Islamophobic right of Europe and America without accepting their war-mongering assessment of the political situation or their political prescriptions for foreign or domestic policy.

And it is certainly possible to do so without going nuts over Obama and the Democrats.

On the other hand, the implication is that the “solution” is not replacement of bad Islam by good Islam but conversion away from Islam, altogether, to Christianity, to Buddhism, to Hinduism, to Sikhism, or to outright atheism.

That is, so far as there is a “solution” at all, it’s just what Ann Coulter said and was fired for saying, back in 2001.

Mass conversion.

Nothing else.

And I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for that, if I were you.

Nor, of course, would I join her in urging we try to force it on them.

Friday, November 9, 2012

What part of the math is missing?


“Do the math,” they say.

Oh?

So where’s the part of the math that says how far not using those fossil fuels will impoverish the world in and of our time?

How is it they see no need to ask whether or why we ought to be willing to do that?

Huge burdens of sacrifice will fall, more on the advanced nations - the ones actually burning those fossil fuels - than on others.

And more on the ordinary folk, the working people, and the poor than on anyone else.

More on anybody than on the rich, really.

What for?

For the sake of future generations?

For the sake of crowded, vanishing species?

For the sake of Gaia?

For the sake of The Goddess?

What, already?

Total silence.

Is it the singer or the song?


Liberals are of course suggesting that what lost the election for the GOP was conservatism, so for the Republicans to have any hope for the future they will have to move to the left.

The conservatives of different stripes will have different diagnoses.

Wall Street will urge a party more welcoming to non-whites in general and Hispanics in particular, urging official sponsorship of a more friendly immigration policy, though that would betray the conservative populists.

Libertarians will urge abandonment of Christian clericalism and social conservatism in flat defiance of the entire Christian right.

Paleocons will urge backing away from globo-interventionism to the inextinguishable ire of the neocons, the Islamophobes, and Zionists of all types and religions.

A cross-section of the more educated will urge dropping rejection of actual science and acceptance of both evolution and global warming, to the outrage of Young Earth Creationists and plutocrats with huge amounts of money tied up in fossil fuel reserves.

None of it will fly.

The Republican Party and conservative movement we have will continue to be the Republican Party and conservative movement we have, for some time into the future.

In the end, they’ll wager on it being the singer and not the song.

It was all Romney's fault.

They have no choice.

Oh.

No one but outsiders will urge that the Republican Party make its peace with the economic side of 20th Century progressivism.

Opposition to that work of 20th Century liberalism is the one big thing that no faction of the conservatives can suggest abandoning since that, and that alone, defines their core identity as conservatives and has done so since the early days of Bozell, Buckley, and Goldwater.

Not only liberalism's Big Government creations but very definitely also its progressive tax schedules.

And that is how you know, by the way, what a Republican moderate is.

He or she is a Republican who is soft on Big Government, regulatory, and welfare state issues, not so terribly opposed to higher tax rates on the rich, and more concerned to limit future progressive accomplishments than to undo the past.

No doubt a little additional softness on immigration, race, war, and the culture wars is to be expected, too.

But the central thing, the defining thing, is - pardon the vulgarity - "the economy, stupid."

Kind words for Obamacare are a hint, for example.

Don't hold you breath.