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Does anyone know Trump’s goal in Syria?

by Eric Ferguson on April 20, 2018 · 1 comment

Do the general dress Trump like this to make him feel more manly when sitting in front of the Big Board?

Do the generals dress Trump like this to make him feel more manly when sitting in front of the Big Board (that’s a Doctor Strangelove reference)?

When I ask if anyone knows Trump’s goal in Syria, that begs the question, does Trump know? Don’t think too hard. The fact Trump hasn’t laid out the goal strongly suggests he has no idea. We might also gather that as most likely because this is Trump. Remember Trump’s Razor: the stupidest explanation is most likely to be right. That causes me to conclude the fake field marshall hasn’t the first clue.

 

Sure, you can make guesses as to the goal in Syria. Feel free. Say whatever you infer the goal to be, but I have my response already: you’re inferring, so you don’t really know (though FWIW, this seems plausible, that #RPOTUS wants to make it look like his tweets mean something, and maybe keep Fox New viewers happy).

 
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This guy wants to be president #47Traitors edition

by Eric Ferguson on March 12, 2015 · 1 comment

clowncarIf you don’t know what #47traitors refers to, it was a top trending hashtag in Twitter recently, refering to the 47 Republican senators who signed a letter to the Iranian government telling them not to work with Obama, because the next Republican president is going to undo the agreement, and executive agreements don’t mean anything anyway. The newly minted senator leading Republican senators by the nose when they should know better, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, responded to the ensuing controversy by asking the Republican presidential candidates to sign on. Four responded positively, so far. With a quadruple hat tip to TPM, Rick Perry and Bobby Jindal said they would sign. Scott Walker and Jeb Bush did a bit of fudging, not signing themselves, but offering excuses for those who did. Looks like those two want it both ways, being able to tell conservatives that sabotaging a president’s negotiations with a foreign government is OK, but being able to deny to swing voters that they signed.
 
That’s on top of the senators who signed and look inclined to run for president: Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio. There are no senators who appear to be running who had the sense to not sign.
 
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Some creeps just can’t abide peace

by Dan Burns on November 25, 2013 · 2 comments

1478953_10151736392071167_1222915950_nThe United States struck a first-step deal with Iran, regarding the latter’s nuclear program.
 

The decade-long Neoconservative plot to take the United States to war against Iran appears to have been foiled…
 
In 2003, the Neocon chickenhawks, most of whom had never worn a uniform or had a parent who did, joked that “everyone wants to go to Baghdad; real men want to go to Tehran.” When people have to talk about being “real men,” it is a pretty good sign that they are 98-pound weaklings.
 
The “everyone” who wanted to go to Baghdad was actually just the Neocons and their fellow travelers. Most of the latter were hoodwinked by the Neocon/Cheney misinformation campaign blaming Saddam Hussein of Iraq for 9/11. A majority of Democratic representatives in the lower house of Congress voted against the idea of going to war. The Iraq War, trumped up on false pretenses and mainly to protect the militant right wing in Israel from having a credible military rival in the region and to put Iraqi petroleum on the market to weaken Saudi Arabia, cost the United States nearly 5000 troops, hundreds more Veterans working as contractors, and probably $3 or $4 trillion – money we do not have since our economy has collapsed and hasn’t recovered except for wealthy stockholders. Perhaps George W. Bush could paint for us some dollars so that we can remember what they used to look like when we had them in our pockets instead of his billionaire friends (many of them war profiteers) having them in theirs.
 
(Israeli Prime Minister) Binyamin Netanyahu was a cheerleader for the Iraq War. He is now deeply wounded that the US is making peace with Iran. He seems to see the US as his personal Doberman pinscher, which he is used to siccing on his rivals in the region whenever they complain about his aggressive land thefts.
(Informed Comment)

The other night, I was watching one of those documentary channels, and for a change it wasn’t a “reality” show about rednecks. They sent one of those robot submersibles to the very bottom of the deepest deep-sea canyon. There was a big old pile of whale poop down there, and when they used the sub’s robot arms to move it aside, they uncovered a bunch of neocons. Indeed, the lowest things in existence.
 
Yet, they continue to get the lion’s share of regular space/face time in corporate media (including, I noticed, this morning‘s top headline in the print edition of the Minneapolis Star Tribune). Cowardice and stupidity remain powerful.
 

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Is there really a neocon decline?

by Dan Burns on October 11, 2013 · 1 comment

Vickers_IWWThis, from a couple of weeks ago, is about how an odious faction with far too much influence may be running out of cards to play.
 

The significance of (the Sept. 27) phone call is that Iran may be removed from the war queue. Current president Hassan Rouhani is harder to demonize than his quirky, populist predecessor. Twenty years of breathless allegations that Iran is 6 months from having an atomic bomb have raised questions about why the Israelis and the American hawks keep being wrong (not to mention, why the kettle is calling the oven black – Israel and the US are nuclear powers but Iran is not).
 
The Israeli hawks have been promoting Iran as among the top challenges to the West since the early 1990s, aware that the loss of the Soviet Union and then Iraq left them nothing with which to frighten the American public. The Israel lobbies are horrified that they might now lose the Iran bogeyman. Likewise, the US war industries that back right wing senators and congressional representatives are putting their sock puppets such as Lindsey Graham up to seeking authorization for a war on Iran…
 
Without a demonized enemy number 1, how will hawks win election campaigns? How will they scare the public into letting them suspend the constitution and our civil liberties? How will they convince the public to let Congress spend billions on their industrial cronies? Maybe they won’t be able to.
(Informed Comment)

I certainly hope that that “maybe” becomes reality, too. But by any rational standard, the neocowards should have been driven out of the political process, long ago. The distressing reality is that they’re tenacious, and well-funded, and utterly without shame or common decency of any kind, and that is unfortunately an effective combination in our political process. Always has been.
 
Efforts at diplomacy are great, but we need much more. Cowardly, despicable warmongers, here in the U.S., must be held fully accountable, in every way.
 

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Syria isn’t Iraq and Obama isn’t Bush

by Eric Ferguson on August 28, 2013 · 32 comments

Update 2:50 PM: Here’s a map showing the parts of Syria under control by different sides. It comes from this Daily Kos diary which provides good background and which I recommend.


 
UPDATED
 
To be sure, President Obama will explain whatever decision he makes regarding Syria with a credibility problem, partly of his own making and partly inherited. The self-inflicted part can be summed up in a sentence: leakers of classified information to the press are in prison or hiding while war criminals are going unprosecuted. The general public might not care, but Obama’s base does, and he’s going to need our support for a potentially unpopular intervention.

 

The other problem Obama inherited from Bush Jr. Essentially, the attitude is Bush lied to trick the country into going to war, so Obama is lying too. It would betray a gross ignorance of history to think Bush was the first president to lie about a war, but not all presidents are guilty and not every use of force is based on a lie. Decisions might be arguable or even terribly wrong, but they’re not all lies. To believe Obama is no different from Bush and whatever decision is made about Syria is the same as invading Iraq isn’t skepticism. That’s cynicism — and I do see some of us engaging in cynicism.

 

The alternative to believing just anything isn’t insisting on believing nothing. Skepticism means demanding proof before accepting a claim. Why did most of us on the left oppose invading Iraq? If it was because we knew we were being lied to, then I suggest some faulty memories are at work. We suspected deception, but all we had to go on was what was presented to the public, and we didn’t know Iraq had no WMDs or ties to Al Qaida. We just knew the Bush administration’s case wasn’t holding up to scrutiny, and if you’re asking us to inflict the horrors of war on another country, you better have awfully strong proof — which they didn’t, even before we knew they cherrypicked the evidence to reveal only the supportive parts and withheld contradictory evidence.

 

Yet here is where we get to a huge difference between invading Iraq and whatever Obama decides about Syria. There was no war in Iraq until Bush started it, and his administration conducted a long sales campaign to gain public and congressional support. There is already war in Syria. Obama isn’t starting it, and he quite clearly doesn’t want to get involved. If he did, he’s already had plenty of pretext. He knows how to run a public relations campaign. He could have intervened a couple years ago if he wanted. He could have used Syria to distract from the 2011 debt ceiling crisis. He could have ginned up a war in time for  his reelection, given how the country rallies around the president in wartime. Obviously he chose not to. In terms of domestic politics, Obama has nothing to gain by involvement in another conflict. The public clearly doesn’t want to get involved, and explaining the reasons for getting involved will be difficult, which is a headache Obama certainly won’t want. We can also figure a president who reads and personally signs all condolence letters to families of dead servicemembers is fully aware of what risks he’ll be ordering for real people.

 

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On December 2, US Congressmember Michele Bachmann was the keynote speaker at a dinner sponsored by Bet El Institutions in New York City. Bachmann stated that “every president since Harry Truman has unequivocally submitted and affirmed…support for Israel”, but United States commitment to Israel is now “anything but certain.” Bachmann blamed President Barack Obama directly for the change in policy:    

BACHMANN: Four years ago, beginning with his speech in Cairo, June 9th, 2009, the president sent numerous signals that the United States commitment for Israel is anything but certain.

(I can’t help it, I’m a little distracted by this whole “Sen. Jim DeMint resigns, just two years into his six year term” thing. DeMint was a key Teavangelical ally of Bachmann, and US senators just don’t resign from the Senate two years into their terms, unless someone threatens to leak photos of them in bed with a dead–

–Anyway, back to Bachmann claiming Obama’s selling out Israel. Here’s a list of what Bachmann says President Obama must do now, to restore the US’ broken commitment to Israel. I count five demands on her list:)

Number one:

BACHMANN: I call on President Obama to share a true solidarity with Israel, to declare Jerusalem the undivided eternal capital city of Israel.
And when he makes that announcement, we should already have the final brick in place of the building that will be the United States Embassy, so there’s no question–the building will be built, the boxes will be in, the personnel will be inside, and then we’ll make the announcement that we’re in business.

(“The boxes will be in?” WTF is she talking about? I understand the part about demanding that the President declare Jerusalem the undivided eternal capital of the nation of Israel. The push-the-envelope Zionists at the Bet El dinner love that idea.)

(But why is it important to her that a US embassy already be in place there, at the time the announcement is made? Why does she insist that embassy personnel already be “inside” at the time? She expects trouble on the streets, I guess–and she’s right. But what’s this stuff about “the boxes” being inside, too? Boxes of what? Ammunition? Stuff from Ikea? Anyway, back to her list of demands:)

Number two:
(CONTINUED)  

BACHMANN: After Thursday’s (UN vote to elevate the status of Palestine to a non-member observer state,) the United Nations motto might as well be: “The only anti-Israel pro-terrorists need apply” (sic.) Our only option at the UN now is to vote with our feet. And with our wallets.  Exit this house of mirrors. Stop sending this organization United States money that we borrow from China.

(“Vote with our feet,” and get the United States out of the United Nations; an old John Birch Society position of record. But…

That DeMint thing. I don’t care how much money DeMint can make, ditching his Senate seat to take a position at the conservative Heritage Foundation. Politicians just don’t give up a seat in the US Senate before their terms are up. Even McCarthy didn’t do that, after the Senate censured him.

It’s just too much power. A US congressman once asked President Lyndon Johnson if he ought to risk his seat in the House to run for a Senate seat. LBJ told him that the difference between being a US senator and a US congressman was the difference between “chicken salad and chicken s**t.” Ambitious politicians like DeMint just don’t throw that away, to–

Sorry. Back to Bachmann’s list of demands:)

Number three:

BACHMANN: The PLO’s unilateral actions must have consequences. But sadly, if you read the papers this morning, President Obama said he will not initiate consequences for the PLO. Only that he may not veto congressional actions. Well, my my, what a profile in courage that is. That’s a profile certainly not in having Israel’s back, with all due respect (sic.)

Therefore, the PLO should now lose all of United States aid, because of their misguided UN initiatives.

(I mean: Michele Bachmann would kill, to get a seat in the Senate in a safe Republican constituency like DeMint’s. What’s he thinking? Yesterday I suggest that DeMint’s doing it because he’s a rat leaving a sinking conservative ship, running away from tough votes he’d have to cast in losing Republican budget battle with the President. He doesn’t want “a cave to Obama” on his conservative resume. But–)

Number four:

BACHMANN: I also believe the United States must demand that this week’s UN vote will not now, nor will it ever lead to elevating the status of the PLO in any other international body or agency of the United Nations.

(–But DeMint could survive “a cave to Obama,” as a Teavangelical with four years to go before election time. Why would he–)

Number five:

BACHMANN: President Obama should also recognize Israel’s 1980 annexation of the Golan Heights, and any settlements which Israel as a sovereign state chooses to annex.

(In the video of her speech (link below) Bachmann says that last part very quickly, almost as if she’s hoping no one will notice she said it: “President Obama should also recognize the legitimacy of Israel’s annexation of “any settlements which Israel as a sovereign state chooses to annex.”)

(Benjamin Netanyahu–licensed to conquer. That’s a biggie. Anyone who says you can’t be considered a supporter of Israel unless you recognize their right to “annex”: has given up on the hope of peace in the Middle East. And that is exactly Bachmann’s position.)

(Another thing about the DeMint resignation–)

BACHMANN: And as a believer in God’s promise to Abraham and Isaac in Genesis, I strongly believe that God truly blesses those, and those nations who bless Israel.

(This is another reference to the “God’s promise to curse those who curse Israel” promise in Genesis. The passage in Genesis has God promising Abraham that He will bless those who bless Israel, and curse those who curse Israel.)

(Bachmann and millions of other American conservative evangelicals firmly believe that this is the case. (Bachmann’s said so, publicly.) And in their interpretation, America doesn’t have to actually curse Israel (or formally abandon it) to trigger God’s curse on America. According to them, failing to back Israeli policy towards Palestinians to the hilt–can trigger God’s curse on America.)

(This “supernatural factor” is (and has been_ the basis of conservative evangelical thinking about US policy in the Middle East.)

(Hey–maybe the real reason Senator DeMint resigned was God’s curse…)

LINK: to Bachmann’s speech…
http://www.israelnationalnews….

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Don’t Forget to Remember: Amnesia about War Costs is Costly

by Professor Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer on September 11, 2012 · 0 comments

Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer Blog
September 10, 2012

Don’t Forget to Remember:  Amnesia about War Costs is Costly

Americans like to think of the United States as a uniquely blessed and noble nation.  Chants of “USA, USA” or “We’re # 1” are commonplace at international sporting events, party conventions, or impromptu celebrations following the killing of arch-villains like Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.  And yet when we measure and compare important social welfare indicators of the United States to that of other developed countries it turns out we aren’t number 1.  In fact our nation does very poorly relative to others.

The United States has higher incidences of mental illness, drug and alcohol addiction, and gender inequality; greater anxiety, fear, and stress; lower life expectancy; higher rates of infant mortality, child poverty, and incidences of obesity; greater social stratification and concentrations of poverty; poorer educational performance and lower literacy rates; more teenage births, violent crime, and homicides; poorer health outcomes and higher costs; higher imprisonment rates, prison population, and more punitive prison practices; less generosity, including fewer funds for foreign aid; and, lower social mobility.

The United States does rank high in two categories that explain its poor showing above:  It is among the most unequal of all developed countries in terms of distribution of income and wealth (equity is closely associated with positive social outcomes and inequality with poor outcomes); and, it spends almost as much money on militarism and war (“national security”) as the rest of the world combined.

Consider the following:
•In 2012, Congress devoted 59 cents of every dollar of federal discretionary spending to military purposes.

•The cumulative budget shortfalls of 48 states in 2011 totaled $130 billion, $40 billion less than the U.S. spent that same year on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

•The United States will spend more on the war in Afghanistan in 2013 than the entire U.S. budget for food stamps.

•Many small towns, cities and rural communities in Minnesota and elsewhere have laid off police, firefighters, and teachers, and slashed essential services in response to cuts in state aid and/or federal cuts to Community Development Block Grants.  

•Minnesota taxpayer spending for war far exceeds the state’s budget deficits with Minnesotans having spent nearly $5 billion to fund the Iraq and Afghan wars in 2011 alone, bringing total Minnesota taxpayer spending for these wars to nearly $40 billion.

•In addition to these costly wars Minnesota tax payers are spending more than $16 billion in 2012 for our share of the base Pentagon budget, a budget that increased from $290.5 billion to $526 billion between 2000 and 2011.  

We would do well to remember Martin Luther King’s prophetic warning that “a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death;” and President Eisenhower’s insights that “every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone.  It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children…”  

Election years are dominated by competing claims about which political party or candidate is most responsible for the nation’s economic problems and competing promises about solutions.  Claims and counterclaims are echoed by the mainstream media and through an endless stream of misleading ads.  These ads are financed by millions of dollars from “Super PACs” and from nonprofit “social welfare” organizations that can spend unlimited funds without disclosing the identities of donors.  This corporate-driven, money-constricted system means our democracy is sick.  It has infected both major parties with illnesses that are crippling.  In fact, if U.S. democracy were a patient then it would be fair to say it is in critical condition, on life-support, with no guarantees of return to health.  

The fact that we have a money-driven political system doesn’t mean that there are no meaningful differences between the two major parties.  What is surprising, however, is how little attention is being directed at the bipartisan support for the militarization of federal budget priorities and war spending that hurts the economy and undermines the social fabric of our nation.

As we arrive at the 11th anniversary of the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, it is clear that our nation desperately needs to better balance its approach to national security to include the economic, social, and environmental needs of our communities, state, and nation.  If we are to do so we will need to see connections between federal spending priorities that privilege war and unmet needs in our local communities.

In October the Minnesota Arms Spending Alternatives Project (http://www.mnasap.org) is partnering with other groups throughout the country to call attention to the high costs of militarization.  We are encouraging individuals and local groups to bring a simple resolution before local city councils (or to start a resolutions process).  In Minnesota what we are asking is simple:  

Therefore be it resolved that we, (insert name of city council here) call on Senators Klobuchar and Franken, and Representatives Walz, Kline, Paulsen, McCollum, Ellison, Bachmann, Peterson and Cravaack as well as President Barack Obama, to shift federal funding priorities from war and the interests of the few, to meeting the essential needs of us all.

For information on how you can be part of this city council resolutions campaign visit http://www.mnasap.org or http://newprioritiesnetwork.or…  

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A Real Electoral Wild Card

by Dan Burns on August 23, 2012 · 1 comment

OK, for the time being, things are looking about as good as I dared hope, for President Obama’s reelection.  But I’m not as sanguine as many;  it just doesn’t feel right, to be that way.  The bottom could still fall out of the labor market, though that looks unlikely.  Gas prices could continue to rise, even after Labor Day, though most analysts seem to be anticipating a drop.  When it comes to politics, I’m a die-hard worry-wart.  But regarding this possibility, I think that I’m entirely justified in tossing and turning:

The former ambassador added that there is a sense within the US government that Washington is once again being misled by Israeli declarations and leaks…

(About a week and a half ago), the Yediot Aharonot daily carried a front-cover story saying that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak were seeking to launch a strike against Iran this coming fall. The report claimed that the prime minister and the defense minister were encountering stiff resistance to the idea of ordering the strike now from military and intelligence chiefs.

More below the fold.
Netanyahu, a sick-minded malignant narcissist along the lines of Dick Cheney, would love to see Mitt Romney win the election, as that would almost guarantee a U.S. land war with Iran.  Part of the rationale for an Israeli air strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities (which are not being used to develop nuclear weapons) would be to try to make that happen.

In fact, the electoral outcome in the U.S. wouldn’t necessarily be so certain.  A massive spike in oil prices would hurt, but it would mostly be speculator-driven – Iranian oil production wouldn’t be substantially affected, by an air strike on nuclear labs – and could be countered by a release from the U.S. strategic reserve.  And people tend to rally around their political leaders in times of military crisis.  Finally, a whole lot of people here are sick and tired of the Israeli hawks and their crap.  I know that I am.

One of the very few high-profile analysts that I take seriously, because events have generally proved him right, seems less concerned.

But the stridency of Netanyahu’s and Barak’s rhetoric alarmed Israeli president Shimon Peres, 89, who intervened with a major policy statement. He said he trusted President Obama on the Iran issue (definitely not a Netanyahu talking point; Netanyahu is more or less an honorary member of the right wing of the US Republican Party). Peres, who is closer to the traditional American Jewish Democratic mainstream, may also have feared that the clumsy attempt to blackmail Obama and intervene in the election campaign might do lasting damage to Israeli interests.

Since Israel’s presidency is symbolic, Barak and Netanyahu felt stung, and condemned him for publicly differing with them on policy.

Nevertheless, the Israeli press appears to believe that Peres’s intervention was decisive- despite his lack of power, he has influence with the military and intelligence professionals who also oppose Netanyahu’s rash threats against Iran. One Israeli commentator called him a ‘tie-breaker.’

I still think that the chances are probably at least one in three, that Israel will attack.  And that that would turn an election that is currently “leans Obama,” into a nail-biter.  It would be totally f**ked-up, but we’re all used to that, by now.

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Continued Romney Drive to War with Iran

by Dan Burns on June 21, 2012 · 0 comments

Every voter need to be aware, of what’s going on with Willard Mitt Romney and his apparently obsessive determination to start a war with Iran.

Romney was asked about the Fly/Kristol article on Face the Nation on Sunday. He responded:
I can assure you if I’m President, the Iranians will have no question but that I would be willing to take military action, if necessary, to prevent them from becoming a nuclear threat to the world. I don’t believe at this stage, therefore, if I’m President, that we need to have war powers approval or a special authorization for military force. The President has that capacity now.

It’s worth pausing a moment to consider the magnitude of this statement. Romney is saying that he doesn’t need Congressional approval for a US attack on Iran. Notes Andrew Sullivan: “Remember that this was Cheney’s position vis-a-vis Iraq. Bush over-ruled him. Romney is to the neocon right of George W. Bush in foreign affairs.” He’s also to the right of Bill Kristol, which is no small feat.

The article also notes that many neocowards think that John Bolton would make a just dandy Secretary of State in a Romney administration.

Even Mossad, the Israeli version of the CIA, admits that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons.

Many contemporary U.S. conservatives want war.  They live in craven, whimpering fear, see war as politically beneficial to them, and as a boon for their allies in war-profiteering industries, who can then continue to generously fund the right wingnut welfare propaganda mills that keep them employed. Many also believe – and this is literally insane – that if they’re just allowed to do a U.S. “military intervention” in the Middle East the “right” way, it will all work out wonderfully, this time;  the Islamic hordes will be brought to heel, the world will be made safe for American corporatism, and, most important of all, everybody will have to admit that they were right all along, and bow to their greatness.  These demented sickos really are that f**ked up.

This has to be stopped.

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