Thursday, April 6, 2017

Flying the False Flags since 1898

Update: Former Intelligence Professionals weigh in.

Update: Theodore Postol of MIT denounces the White House Report.

The "bombing" of the USS Maine.

The Gulf of Tonkin "incident."

The vial of "yellow cake."

The Sarin Gas bombing of 2014 (proven not to be Assad, in case you haven't read Seymour Hirsch, and is believed to have been supplied from the cache of weapons the US had stockpiled from Libya, routed through a Turkish rat line, and fired by anti-Assad rebels).

Reading down in the comments, the chlorine gas incidents are almost certainly not from Assad either, but they haven't been significant enough to get enough attention for a full debunking from someone like Hirsch (who simply says we do not know who they were from).  He's a reporter, he has to stick to facts to maintain his reputation.

I'm not a reporter, so I can talk about probabilities.  Basically despite all that you've ever heard, there's no real evidence that Assad has ever used chemical weapons, AND there are also very good reasons why he would not do so (he knows the consequences, he's not suicidal, he's almost always including now having the upper hand, and he has lots of blow up bombs and conventional forces that work better militarily) and also to believe the Islamic (Sunni) rebels of any or all stripes would be very strongly motivated to do a false flag operation with chemical weapons to frame Assad, and would even be willing to be martyrs to do it.  There's no reason not to believe this has been true in every single case.  It doesn't matter that you've heard this on every major news source you hear about, that's the way this kind of thing, the justification for war, always goes.  The claims which much later turn out to be baseless, are everywhere, and the questions are nowhere.

Hardly a year goes by without some claimed provocation that turns out to be flat wrong.  Yet, the wrongness is rarely admitted, and never changes the essential narrative, and never ever points the finger back to where it needs to be pointed.

And there's another question.  Why is the US constantly drawing "red lines" and enforcing them?

Who gave us this authority?  For what reason are we doing it anyway?  Do we really care about "the people" of Syria that much???

Well, one thing I learned recently gives me some pause, because I'd never read it in the mainstream media.

Not just the US and Russia have been bombing in Syria.  Israel too--and not in support of Assad.

It would probably be too simple just to say "because Israel" though I have seen that phrase before.

A more nuanced phrase would be "because Israel and Empire!"

There's been a strong bond ever since 1967.

Obama did the right thing in 2014 by demanding a Congressional vote.  The Deep State has been wanting to correct that omission ever since.  And rebels in Syria might think this was worth another chance.

Now what about some other cases such as Osama bin Laden?  Well there are many funny things about that.  First, the Taliban government of Afghanistan offered to turn over bin Laden if we provided evidence he was involved.  We rebuffed this offer, and simply attacked the country, for what appear to have been more like geopolitical reasons (why, wouldn't it be good to have some say in a country right on the border with Russia, and right where you'd want to run various pipelines that the Taliban, in their poor view of the situation, had just turned down) than anything having to do with justice with regards to 9/11.

By the time we were actually attacking Afghanistan, bin Laden and his closest associates had already fled or were quickly fleeing to Pakistan.  They were largely Saudis and Yemenese, not racially or ethnically related to their current hosts, basically it was a country in chaos which in a previous life, then as a Mujahadeen leader backed by the US, he had attacked the up and coming Afghanistan, that turned the Soviet ally into the stone ages...all essentially provoked by the USA in order to weaken the Soviet regime itself, and pursued by bin Laden because he hated secular liberalism.  The Taliban was a different group that moved in (largely from Pakistan) who had some similar religious ideas, but were totally different people and were more wary than anything about their later re-visitors who had just gotten kicked out of one country after another.  Like most even remotely reasonable people, they had no desire to pick a fight with the USA on top of already fighting the Northern Alliance, which had been backed by the USA.

Anyway, back to 2002 we were attacking the camps (and the stragglers, and unfortunate who happened to be there) after the spiritual leader of the operation and his closest circle--the most guilty if any of them there--had fled, very soon to another country.  And that other country did not deliver bin Laden to us for a long time even though they are still our 'ally'--well, actually they did give us the info, when we finally asked, just before he was captured by the US, in a dramatic scene, which was probably unnecessary.  So by what standard could you say this justified war when a few extraditions would have far better brought the guilty to justice?

So that about as free of justification as any of the wars the US has fought since, maybe 1941...but there are some preetty biig issues with that one too.  At minimum, the US was not at all a neutral party, and was in many ways provoking the Japanese to attack.  That's pretty typical in many cases.

Gore Vidal wrote that Charles Beard was our greatest historian.  Charles Beard, an independent historian and co-founder of the The New School, a left social democrat but harsh critic of the Soviet Union after a personal visit, he was a big fan of The New Deal and Franklin Roosevelt too, until Roosevelt began, according to Beard, lying the public into war.  (And I thought the phrase was invented for George W Bush.)  Then he was strongly critical of the war and the national security state which began after the war (and continues to this day).  That cost him his esteemed reputation in many quarters--and he was far less successful selling history books.  It wasn't just paleoconservatives and Nazis who opposed US participation in WWII.  And see you could be a good leftist before the war, but then with the national security state we became anti-communist, so leftists and unions and things like that had to go.

The best left pro WWII I have is from Oliver Stone, in his made-for-cable history of the USA.  Honestly I'd have to see that again to be sure whether I think it was good or bad we participated in World War II.  I remember Stone made a pretty good leftist case for the war.  But that looks to be the only example of a military action by the USA during the 20th century, and 21st century so far, that I might think was necessary.  The rest were just stupid and thuggish imperialism.  Far more stupid and thuggish even than organized crime--which at least takes some care not to make new enemies.

We can only imagine what Charles Beard would say about the bombing of Syria today.

Actually, we'd never stopped bombing Syria, but this is the first time we've bombed a Syrian base, this time the base defending Palmyra, which ISIS once held, and may be open to either ISIS or Al Qaeda now.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Apartheid exists Now

A great discussion of the UN report shelved last week.  

In the comments I learned about Rabbi Elmer Berger, an early American anti-Zionist.  (I have previously written about the many early 20th century anti-Zionist rabbis in Europe and their dire forecasts for the future of a premature* Jewish State, forecasts that seem to following course as to now.  The tragedy of Israel subjugating Palestine is as likely as anything to foster even greater anti-Semitism in the future.)

(*Zionism as per Herzog is a secular nationalist doctrine.  Religious Judaism prior to the Holocaust had tough conditions intended to ultimately lead to a proper Jewish national return to Israel; it would happen when the conditions were met--sometime in the perhaps distant future--without requiring compromising 'deals' with secular powers, not to mention terrorist acts or state terrorism.  Zionism was more lets just do it now--the end justifies the means--and Herzog was especially denounced by European rabbis.)

There is some filling in about the anti-Zionist arguments against JVP, who ultimately couldn't decide what to do about the word Zionism and ultimately shut down a discussion about it.  And against Chomsky, who does not accept the arguments of BDS promoters (he hopes for an ultimate 2 state solution, for one thing, and retains respect for the fundamental idea of Zionism, a Jewish State, if achieved through means respecting the rights of all).  Though it was not mentioned in defense of Chomsky that Chomsky has long called the practices of Israel to be Apartheid (or--worse), the initial topic of this thread.

I think I've supported JVP in the past, but no more.  Chomsky is still as worth reading as ever, with the caveat that he does have a somewhat romantic view in at least one area (despite co-authoring book with Pappe and so on).

From time to time in the past I've had membership in Rabbi Michael Lerner's Tikkun.  I have never seen Lerner as anti-Zionist, in that regards he might well be further from that than Chomsky.  And with an even more romantic view, which I have sometimes enjoyed reading.

And the disgrace of Princeton, under pressure from JVP (and others--of course--as commenter fails to mention) turning away Miko Peled (he came to a university near me and I bought his book).

More than just a few bad apples

Judging by the account in the New York Times, Donald Trump fired the very best of federal attorneys when he fired Bharara Preet.

But according to well informed Professor Bill Black, however good Preet may have been relatively speaking, on an absolute scale he was simply not prosecuting many big crimes that insider whistleblowers presented to him.

Professor Black presents two well documented cases that Preet didn't touch.  In general, we know that the US Government did very little to prosecute banks and bankers in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse.  Preet was part of that overall dearth of prosecution, despite what has been said by the Times.

As the last commenter says:

Not for nothing, but Preet came out of Schumer’s office who has parlayed being Wall Street’s senator into dejure leadership of the Senate Dems and defacto control of the Democratic party.
Picking off egregious individuals like Madoff, who can be described as “bad apples” while ignoring systemic fraud is the playbook.

Indeed, picking off a few bad apples only is always the approach of a corrupt system.

Near the end of World War II, spymaster Allen Dulles, who was stationed in Switzerland, attempted to negtotiate an end of the war with Himmler, a deal which would essentially leave the Third Reich in place but remove Hitler as the Bad Apple.  Roosevelt understood this temptation years earlier, and had already established a firm position of accepting unconditional surrender only.  Now we know how bad such a deal as Dulles and Himmler were attempting would have been.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Fillibuster Neil Gorsuch

Democrats should refuse to grant cloture for a vote on Neil Gorsuch until...after the next Presidential election.  After all, that's what Republicans did last time.  The Constitution sets no mandatory number of Supreme Court Justices, nor timetables on the Senate.

There's no need to tie this to any investigations.  Just until the people do see a nominee who is actually concerned about the People and not so fond of using technicalities to dismiss established rights.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Athiests have many different political orientations

Over at Crooked Timber, a good post about Trumpism and Religion was followed by mind provoking comments as usual, but this time including one commenter who kept railing that American Athiests "are Libertarians" meaning they are not concerned about economic inequality or positive rights.  There has also been much demonization of Democrats and Liberals (as compared with Leftists) wrt their insufficient concern about economic inequality.  I wrote 3 replies as follows:

  Self-appointed Atheist spokespeople such as Sam Harris can more freely engage in anti-theist rhetoric (and therefore sell more books) precisely if they don’t need to care about working with them in electoral coalitions like the Democratic Party.
If you live in the USA and hope to keep things from getting disastrously worse in the short term with regards to inequality, bigotry, or worse, you pretty much need to be involved with the Democratic Party, despite it having always been a (now somewhat lesser) part of the ruling plutocracy. 
And that describes fairly well my friends here in the red state of Texas, almost all of whom could be described as Atheists, Leftists, Liberals, and Democrats. We’re people who marched with the local Occupy, and yet still voted for Hillary Clinton in the general election (after having vigorously supported Sanders until after the Convention). The Democratic Party is the only big tent that most of us could find remotely tolerable, and 3rd party politics is one step above or below worthless in the modified Madisonian system (there’s a very long shot one of the two parties could be replaced…but it’s a very long shot, and “disciplining” the party has been very difficult under the circumstances of the past 37 years, and not looking like it’s getting better). 
I’ve grown more and more suspicious of people who can only demonize Atheists, Liberals, and Democrats, though many of my friends frequently do demonize liberals and Democrats (but not always). We all need to work together (not that we need to be fully “united”). 
I’ve listened briefly to some of the speeches of Madalyn Murray O’Hair, and at first pass she sounds more like a New Dealer than a Libertarian. She had notable concerns about the environment and voted for Democrats. Her organization was called American Atheists (fwiw) though I’m not sure of that organizations left/right orientation on economic policy and the like now. 
But most activists attempt to draw as many as possible into the fold based on the area(s) of their greatest concerns, without trying to filter them out based on other issues. 
For me, the economic policy issues have always been at the top (by which I mean better jobs and less inequality), however I’m beginning to think some kind of greater rationalism would be useful also. In the past, I hadn’t really cared about people’s other beliefs. But taking this broader view looks even more hopeless.
(Second comment)

Atheism or at least anti-clericalism has been the general tendency of the left since the French Revolution. Marx was Atheist and declared Socialism and Communism must be. And so it seems that in most times and places far more leftists were and are Atheist than otherwise. Why should it be different in America?
Now at the same time, Ayn Rand was an atheist, and there has been an Atheist streak in the American Objectivist and Libertarian camps from the beginning. And there has been an Atheist streak among other groups for self-selection reasons, people who believe in Civil Rights for example.
So if you are going to generalize about American Atheists and say they are almost entirely Libertarian, you are also saying something about the relative sizes of these communities.
But why should you be making such generalizations about American Atheists? It would seem to go along with being critical of American Atheists, for one thing, and unfairly so, because there are obviously American Atheists of many stripes.

(Third comment, really just a correction of the first.)

 Humanism (not Rationalism) is what’s needed in facing down a fascist impulse.