Saturday, August 30, 2014

The ISIS Panic Dynamo (Gunter Grass Was Right) Militarist Lunatics In Charge At Price of Decent Civilization?

Does the link below sound familiar?

It should.

Seems we all live in our cars now.

They had nice plans for our country back in the good ole days (of the amiable Reagunites), didn't they?

And it took 30 years to go into full effect.

Progress - our most important product.


Woman Dies in Her Car While Taking a Nap Between Working Four Jobs

Various people were quite upset when probably the most famous living German novelist, poet, playwright, illustrator, graphic artist, sculptor,  Günter Grass (Die Blechtrommel (The Tin Drum), The Danzig Trilogy and Die Rättin (The Rat)), the recipient of the 1999 Nobel Prize in Literature, condemned the Israelis in 2012 in a pithy poem "What Must Be Said" (where he also outed the Germans for selling them submarines with nuclear warhead capability).

Israel banned Grass from Israel (actually declared him persona non grata).

For telling the truth.

How's that for a Truther*?

Gunter Grass Was Right

With his controversial poem on Israel and Iran, Günter Grass has irritated, provoked and outraged people everywhere. As Germany’s greatest living writer and a Nobel laureate in literature, he has also raised a question both inconvenient and impolite. How can decent people support a preemptive war against Iran for moving ever closer to a limited nuclear capability and, at the same time, turn a blind eye to Israel’s extensive arsenal of existing atomic bombs?
Especially in a country with so much Jewish blood on its hands, this is – or was – a question that no Good German should ask in public. It was even more verboten when asked by someone who had belatedly admitted that as a teenager he had served, however briefly, in the Nazi paramilitary unit, the Waffen SS. But the 84-year-old Grass dared to break the taboo. He spoke out and said “What Must Be Said.”

Yet why do I hesitate to name
that other land in which
for years — although kept secret —
a growing nuclear power has existed
beyond supervision or verification,
subject to no inspection of any kind?
Predicting he would be branded an anti-Semite, as he has been in full measure, Grass named Israel and called its atomic power a threat to “an already fragile world peace.” Nor did he stop there. He berated his own country for complicity by selling the Israelis “yet another submarine equipped to transport nuclear warheads.”
Germany had already given Israel two Dolphin-class submarines, and subsidized one-third of the $540 million cost of another. The Germans are planning to similarly subsidize the sale of the latest submarine.
Nuclear arms and submarines are enough to drag down any poem, and “What Must Be Said” lacks elegance and grace, at least in the English translation by Breon Mitchell. But as a poet, Grass risks even more in suggesting a political solution.
Our leaders should renounce the use of force, he writes, directly countering Obama’s insistence on keeping a military option on the table. And they should “insist that the governments of both Iran and Israel allow an international authority free and open inspection of the nuclear potential and capability of both.”

No other course offers help
to Israelis and Palestinians alike,
to all those living side by side in enmity
in this region occupied by illusions,
and ultimately, to all of us.
Will any significant world leader take up the challenge and publicly support such an even-handed and common-sense approach? Not if the Israeli government of Bibi Netanyahu and his defenders in Europe and the United States have their way. Their purpose in reviling Grass as a Nazi and anti-Semite is precisely to silence anyone who might even consider following his lead.
Odds are that their campaign of vilification will succeed, at least in the short term. But they may be overplaying their hand. In Germany, most of the great and good came down against Grass and his breaking of the old taboo against attacking Israel. But once Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai banned Grass from entering the country, German politicians of all stripes have criticized Israel for its “absurd overreaction.” Even more encouraging, few leaders in the rest of Europe have picked up the cudgels against Grass, while several prominent Israelis have publicly rejected any suggestion that he is an anti-Semite.
One might see in all this evidence that growing numbers of people, Jews as well as non-Jews, are growing sick and tired of the old smear. Europe, the United States and several Muslim countries have enough instances of real Jew-hating that crying wolf just to stifle debate has become reckless and counter-productive. One might also see in the current furor signs that both Israel and Germany are becoming “normal countries,” though Grass would be the first to insist that he and his fellow Germans are “tarnished by a stain that can never be removed.”
But, “What Must Be Said” has little time to act as a brake on a dangerous military catastrophe, as Grass still hopes it will.

For all the Obama administration’s diplomatic efforts through Turkey and others, the Israeli-American war on Iran kicked off covertly years ago with the training of dissident Mujahideen-e-Khalq terrorists and their targeted killings of Iranian scientists and engineers, as well as with the Struxnet cyberattacks on the Iranian centrifuges.

Open war appears almost certain (to) follow, and the only thing likely to stop it would be for hundreds of thousands of voices to call on world leaders to heed Grass’ warning.


Gunther Grass was writing about the policies of the State of Israel. A "state" is a political artifact; Judaism is a religion; the Jewish people are a "nation," or more accurately, several nations. These are three separate entities.
Israel is a multi-national state composed of immigrant Ashkenazim from Europe and Sephardim from North Africa and the Middle East, Beta Israel from Africa and Temanim from Yemen, apostates from Russia, expatriates from America and autochthonous Palestinians: Jews, Samaritans, Druze, and Arabs, both Christian and Muslim.
Managing a muli-national state is difficult. Ask the Romans, Ottomans and Hapsburgs who had to do it for centuries.
Nazi is short for NSDAP, Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterspartei, National Socialist German Workers Party. It is a political party, which for a time formed the government in Germany. Calling every German soldier a Nazi is like calling every American soldier who served in Iraq a Republican, or Repug for short, because that war was initiated by a Republican administration.
If Israel, the state, cannot be criticized because to do so would instantly call into question the charge of racism, then that response becomes a non-falsifiable proposition and there would be no point in having any discussions whatsoever. However, Israel is a "state," which has policies with international ramifications, and like all political states, those policies can and must be under review by the world community with which it shares physical space.

*On 26 April 2012, Grass wrote a poem criticizing European policy for the treatment of Greece in the European sovereign-debt crisis. In the poem, called "Europe's Disgrace," Grass accuses Europe of condemning Greece into poverty, a country "whose mind conceived, Europe."[19][20]

Essentially, this (an economy based on the constant funding of war and greedy domestic manipulators) is the ongoing price the citizens of the U.S. pay for not having a managed economy that ensures the creation of good jobs, which enhance the lives of all citizens (and supplies stable government support for those who need it), instead of just allowing certain designated wealthy people to control the economy (outside of the military budget) in order to enhance only their (and their friends' and representatives') lives. (Thank you, Raygunistas!)

From never-ending terrification media blitzes about babies pulled from isolettes and killed before the Iraq Invasion to beheadings of USAID-CIA-funded journalists before the next round of middle-eastern mayhem . . .

From my buddy, Chuck Dupree at Bad Attitudes:

August 26, 2014
Our Economy Needs Global Conflict

I understand why some folks think it’s cynical to impute motive to action, especially when doing so reflects poorly on them or those they admire. But explain to me if you would the problems with this formulation:  we sell weapons to countries who shouldn’t have them because (1) it keeps our economy humming (along the lines of what Chomsky calls the Pentagon system), and (2) Congress consistently manages to find a way around its own laws prohibiting the sale of arms to human rights violators because (1).
Once these high-powered weapons are in such questionable hands it’s only a matter of time before they’re used. No, I’m not talking about Ferguson, Missouri, but about the United Arab Emirates (UAE), currently bombing Libya using weapons we built and sold to them. They did not, in the event, feel it necessary to notify the US, let alone seek support, possibly indicating how much they fear America’s wrath.

The first air strikes took place a week ago, focusing on targets in Tripoli held by the militias, including a small weapons depot, according to the [New York] Times. Six people were killed in the bombing. A second round was conducted south of the city early on Saturday targeting rocket launchers, military vehicles and a warehouse, according to the newspaper.

Those strikes may have represented a bid to prevent the capture of the Tripoli airport, but the militia forces eventually prevailed and seized control of it despite the air attacks.

The UAE — which has spent billions on US-manufactured warplanes and other advanced weaponry — provided the military aircraft, aerial refuelling planes and aviation crews to bomb Libya, while Egypt offered access to its airbases, the paper said.
Somehow that feels weird to me. A country the size of South Carolina with a population less than that of North Carolina has aerial refuelling planes and the expertise to pull off a combat mission using them, though admittedly there were probably few air defenses to contend with.
In light of such disarray, some will argue, we can’t afford to pull out of the Middle East conflict. Just as the weapons dealers wanted, we’ve sold too many weapons there to walk away now; it’d be a bloodbath. But it’s politically impossible to do the only useful thing, which is pressure the Israeli government until it begins to attend to the popular will. That, however, would set a bad precedent that might be recognized here at home.

Posted by Charles D on August 27, 2014:

Quite true, Chuck. This works here at home too. We declare a phony war on drugs making a product people desperately want illegal, then we refuse to take any rational steps toward gun control, then we of course have to militarize our police because the crazed druggies have access to heavy duty firearms.
One of the great Pentagon spending critics referred to this phenomenon as the "self-licking ice cream cone". He was referring to the fact that big "defense" contracts are split up among subcontractors who just happen to be in key Congressional districts around the country. Even if the generals decide that a weapons system is unnecessary, the people's alleged representatives in Congress fund the damn thing anyway because otherwise they would lose jobs in their district.
The military/industrial/national-security complex has this nation by the short hairs.

And speaking of "threat inflation," we learn minutely why it's seen by some as time to induce ISIS panic (including nightmare reporting and suspicious beheading photos/videos (which have been utilized very successfully for this same purpose in the past)).

For a supposedly civilized country you'd think beheadings wouldn't be leading our now mostly tabloid newscasts.

And you'd think "they'd" think more of our memory and our reasoning ability, wouldn't you?

But, wait.

August 27, 2014

The Latest Round of Threat Inflation

The ISIS Panic

by Michael Brenner

The grotesque beheading of James Foley is stirring passions in Washington policy circles.  From the highest levels of the Obama administration to the media pundits, emotions are flaring over what the United States should/could do. The act in itself has changed nothing insofar as ISIS’ threat to the United States and its significance for Middle East politics are concerned. It is the mood that has been transformed. Irresistible impulse is displacing cool deliberation.
The flood of commentary, as usual, reveals little in the way of rigorous logic but much in the way of disjointed thinking and unchecked emotion. Also as usual, tactics eclipse strategy. Secretary Hagel pronounces IS the gravest threat from Islamist militancy “beyond anything we have seen….an imminent threat to everything we have….a 9/11 level threat.” 
General Dempsey asserts that IS poses an “immediate” threat and cannot be “defeated without addressing that part of the organization that resides in Syria and use all means at our disposal. General John Allen who commanded American forces in Afghanistan, calls on President Obama to wipe out ISIS – whatever it takes. That is to say, a feat neither he nor his nine fellow commanders never came close to achieving in Afghanistan
Rick Perry, as headlined in the NYT, warns that the immediate danger is not on the Euphrates or Tigris but the Rio Grande where IS infiltrators already have entered the United States (presumably disguised as Honduran teenagers).
Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, the self-appointed joint chiefs  of “bomber command,” vociferously demand that we hammer IS – although it is not clear where IS stands on the priority list of the many bad guys the hawkish duo insist we must bomb.
These bits of fragmentary diagnosis and prescription – even the sober ones – are not very helpful.
Let’s get down to basics:  national interests, threat assessment; measures of a successful policy. We cannot interpret what it means to “defeat” IS until we specify exactly what it is we are worrying about. Is it terrorism launched against the United States (a la 9/11) from the territories they control? Is it toppling the Baghdad government? Toppling the Kurdish government? Invading Jordan or Saudi Arabia? Presenting a long-term terrorist threat in the region that will destabilize governments we want to be stable?
These variations of the threat present very different kinds of challenges. They affect American interests in different ways in different magnitudes. They are susceptible to different types of action – by the U.S. or by others.
Airstrikes are only pertinent to threats 2, 3 and 4, with the likelihood and degree of their effectiveness still highly uncertain. “Boots on the ground?” Well, we had a very large force in Iraq for eight years and that did not prevent the emergence of IS from the wounded body of al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia. This enemy is even more formidable.
Nor could a new invasion protect the United States from direct terrorist acts.
Complete elimination of IS from the territories they occupy is a near impossibility; moreover, to eliminate it permanently as General Allen demands is even more improbable. That is the dilemma we’ve faced with the Taliban in Afghanistan and which for more than a decade we have refused to recognize much less try seriously to solve.  Moreover, territorial control for training bases, indoctrination centers, planning cells, etc. is greatly over-rated.  Al-Qaeda did not need very much to set in motion the 9/11 attacks. The operational planning and coordination was done in Hamburg and the tactical execution managed from New Jersey.
There is a more general lesson to be learned from this latest exercise in ad hoc policy-making by press conferenceThe insistence of senior officials to speak at length in public on these complex, sensitive matters when there is no set policy is inimical to serious planning and diplomacy
If they feel compelled to react to events to satisfy the media and an agitated populace, they should just say a few well chosen words and then declare themselves on the way to an important meeting – preferably not in Martha’s Vineyard.
Silence, though, is taken to be tantamount to death in the egocentric media age where image is all – confusing random motion with focused action.  The ensuing storm of static in our public space is invasive.  It destroys the ability to reflect, to assess, to ponder, to imagine.  We have come to ‘think’ in sound bites as well as to talk in sound bites. 
This is the ultimate endpoint of a political culture where we spend more time trying to sort ourselves out than actually doing anything.
To put it bluntly, there is a persuasive argument to be made that the country would be well served if our leaders observed a moratorium on public statements for several days – ignoring the vain media, the not very knowledgeable or insightful pundits, and the blow-hard politicians – and devoted themselves to some concentrated hard thinking.  Serious governments, especially that of a super power, do not conduct their foreign relations in a state of histrionics.
We should be able to do (a) better job of policy analysis than what we have seen to date re: IS – and what we have seen during the entire GWOT era. The failure to meet a reasonable standard of sound deliberation and skillful execution has produced a national tragedy. That is an embarrassing commentary on the state of the American government.

(Michael Brenner is a Professor of International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh.)

Are the people in control of this country (no matter the nuance) just bomb-bomb-bomb militarist lunatics?

Funded deeply by greedy interests who will make another pile of money as the world is blown into bits?

What became of the American thinkers/scholars/philosophers?

Have they been anesthetized?

Or banned in the USA USA USA?

From my buddy at :

Why I Follow the Right

Every couple of years I try to explain why I take such an interest in a seemingly small group of right wing lunatics. Motivated by a request from Sammy, here's what I have to say now:

I first began to take an interest in deviant political, religious and scientific beliefs in the late 1960's. I was a university student at the time, and in the course of studying medieval manuscripts I found myself spending a good deal of time in the university's rare book collection.  One day I discovered that someone had left them what was believed to be the world's largest collection of fringe literature.

I started to read this material, and found myself fascinated. I made a discovery there:  in the course of my studies I had taken quite a few philosophy courses, and eventually found that, when a person believes something for a rational reason, it tells you very little about the person, except that he is rational.  But when a person believes things for irrational reasons, that reveals all sorts of things about not only that person, but about human nature in general, and not the good side of human nature.

As an adjunct to that reading, I discovered that I could receive at night the signal from radio station KXEL in Waterloo, Iowa, a 50,000-watt clear channel station which had been entirely religious in its content, but was in the process of developing right wing political broadcasting, with such early figures as the Reverend Carl McIntyre, Reverend Stuart Mc Burney, and the overtly political and very right wing Voice of Americanism with Melvin Munn, a show financed by the Hunt Brothers, oil men who were the sixties equivalent of today's Koch Brothers.

At the same time, I began to become involved in left-wing politics.  I participated in and helped to organize many marches, and was present for a couple of the big Washington protests.  I saw a real movement, which could mobilize tens or hundreds of thousands of people in cities all across the country in days, with hardly any sort of backing.  I felt what it was like to be a part of a real political phenomenon like that, to feel the power in the air.

Well, the days of Vietnam and civil rights protests died away, but the crazy people on the right never did.  Though they represented, during the seventies, the eighties and the nineties, a laughably small group of lunatic haters, they still survived in some way. It was in the nineties that one of our political parties, seeing perfectly well what our nation's demographics held in store for them, made a devil's pact with these people, and began fun(n)elling money and professional organizational skill into their movements, in the very mistaken belief that they could control the creature they created, and bend it to their wills.

But the craziness and fanaticism proved so much stronger than the wills of the Republican political elite, and step by step, the Republican party was forced to act as though views that were in fact an abhorrent aberration were perfectly legitimate; and in far too many cases the Republicans themselves adopted these attitudes.

One of the worst of these views is not explicitly political at all.  It comes from the false religion which is Evangelical Christianity, and consists in the belief that, because they are following the will of God, any tactic, no matter how disgusting to outsiders, is justified. This is hardly a view unique to evangelicals, as we can see in the Middle East today, but it is no more acceptable on this side of the Atlantic than it is there.  Through this licensing of bad behavior, which the right granted itself, the malign tactics of the far right worked their way into the mainstream along with their malign views.

I continued, as the years went by, to pay what attention I could to this phenomenon, which accelerated massively when the internet came into being. Here, the most vicious racism, hatred and greed could be given a cheap veneer of rationality, so that websites proliferated that catered to the worst in human nature, very often funded by wealthy groups and individuals who would never admit their role, and who did not realize what a monster they were creating.

I took an interest in the Tea Party in particular, and began attending their rallies from the very beginning.  Here is what I found:   I felt not one shred of the immense power that was palpable at the great Vietnam and Civil Rights marches; instead, I saw a small, pathetic group of people who had been conned into participating in activities they did not understand, and who were serving as pawns for the financiers of their activities.

I have spent my working life in film and television production, and because of that, here is something else I saw:   I saw these rallies systematically packaged to appear to be mass events, exactly the way we create illusions on the screen.  I saw the result of huge sums of money spent to create the false impression that these small events were manifestations of a national movement that spoke for a large segment of the American people, when of course they really spoke for little more than the will of the rich, with nothing they said or did being more important than lower taxes and deregulation.

I saw something else, too.  I saw the mainstream press, which had, through Reagan administration deregulation, come to be owned almost entirely by huge corporations, collaborate in this spectacle.

Activities like the last Washington anti-war march, which attracted somewhere around 350,000 people, were entirely shut out of the news, while, for example, the pathetic spectacle surrounding the fate of Terry Schiavo, which, as far as I have ever been able to tell, never attracted more than a few dozen protesters at any one time, were for years portrayed as  proof of the existence of a mass national movement, dedicated, as always, to the issues of tax cuts for the rich and deregulation for their companies - the only real goal this movement has.

The Tea Party remains, at this point, the apex of this representation of a virtually nonexistent movement as a great political force, whose desires must be honored. Yet, over and over again, as I have documented for years now, when given the opportunity to demonstrate their presence and their power, the events they hold have been miserable failures, culminating in three highly publicized mass marches on Washington in the last year to force Obama from office, none of which managed to draw more than a few hundred people.

Yet Republicans in Congress continue to cite this imaginary mass movement as an excuse to destroy our government unless it caters to the interests of the super-rich, which the movement, they claim, exists to support.  And in recent years, a new phenomenon has emerged - many Republican leaders and spokesmen openly inciting violence against the government.  
This has come close to a mass gun battle at the Bundy Ranch, and as long as these malicious officials continue their promotion of right wing hatred, the day cannot be far off when a really apocalyptic scene will take place, which has the potential to make the Branch Dividians look like small timers.  At that point, who knows what Ted Cruz, Louie Gohmert and Sarah Palin will deliberately do to damage our country, but it certainly has the likelihood of being the worst thing to happen to us since the Southern treason of the Civil War.

Well, enough.  That's why I take this phenomenon seriously, although I continue to demonstrate that it is not a mass movement.  It is a potential rebellion financed by a few ultra-rich would be dictators, and it needs to be revealed for what it is.
Magpie said...
I really enjoyed this post. I just want to add that while all these things may have their American particularities (and I am reminded of the quite hysterical fear US conservatives have of statism) - and that’s where the focus of your concern is... the malevolent Right or its analogues are found all over the world. In groups large and frightening to redneck thugs pathetic and small, from individuals stupid and ignorant to individuals cunning but corrupt, there is always someone who has decided that someone else must suffer so that they might feel powerful, or someone else who must be kept poor so that their own undeserved privileges might never end. The reason I am wary of the Right is that even their less lunatic stalwarts will climb into bed with the most vile forces in society if it suits them. By and large, the Left is self-aware and self-policing. Doesn’t matter how liberal I am… none of you will forgive me for being a racist, or a war criminal, or a religious nut or even not paying my taxes. The Right will excuse or justify all if it’s useful to their own aims, and then rewrite history to say they were nice ones. August 28, 2014 at 2:49 AM
Anonymous Anonymous said...
"Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice." BS, look how the extremists are ruining the country. August 28, 2014 at 3:23 AM

Today's laugh RIOT (as if this shouldn't become a permanent blog fixture):

A Panda Pretended To Be Pregnant To Get More Food

For two months Ai Hin, a panda living in a Chinese zoo, managed to trick her caretakers into thinking she was pregnant — startling behavior that suggests the bear knew she would be getting extra food and an air-conditioned room all to herself. She accomplished this all by just eating more, moving less, and raising her hormone levels. You might say that this panda (that) *puts on sunglasses* is smarter than your average bear.

China! Panda!

Now there"s a truther.

Oh, to be here.


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