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03 February 2007

"Against pre-emptive holocaust in Iran," by Larry Derfner

Updates:

From JewishNews.com (Cleveland).

And here's the article by Benny (aka, "Bat-shit Crazy") Morris on nuking Iran, mentioned in this article.

There is a titanic battle in the American and Israeli Jewish communities over Iran. I actually have (now ex-) friends -- people just under 40 -- who support Morris, an attack on Iran, and so forth. Morris has been drifting far-right for some time. He's even suggested that it was a mistake not to have totally "cleansed" Israel of all Palestinians (the original has been taken down, apparently) to the horror of his Ha'aretz interviewer.

I do not know much about what various European Jewish communities are talking about, but the neocon, hyper-paranoid sector in the US and Israel is riding (and being ridden by) the Bushevik revolution, and, now, has reached the omega point of paranoia:

To wit, we must cause a holocaust to prevent one.

That's called "insanity," and I will have nothing to do with it. Not only that, but as any reader of this blog knows, I'm also doing what I can to fight this lunacy. I encourage you to do the same: call your rep and senators; write letters to the editor; don't be afraid, whether you're Jewish or not, to pound on this insane notion of nuking, or even attacking, Iran.

Do not let lame-ass Holocaust-rhetoric stop you. Take it from a Jew who lost family members in the Holocaust: it's a total load of bullshit, the propagandistic effect of which is completely obvious once one stops responding emotively to "the Holocaust" and starts thinking rationally. And asking questions, such as, "What's the likelihood of Iran -- or anyone -- using nukes against Israel?" Or, "If Iran -- or anyone -- did so, what would be the likely result for that country?" Or, "What kind of assumptions does Morris, et al, have to make in order to make the Nazis-equal-Ahmadinejad/Iran stick?" And, "Are those assumptions warranted, by virute of human nature, Iranian culture, or history?" Or, "Who benefits from a war in Iran -- what specific cohort(s) in what countries, and why?" And, "Who will pay the price?"

No one is about to destroy a country armed to the teeth, with the largest military force the world has ever known right behind it. If anyone, ever, detonates anything even radiological, let alone nuclear, anywhere near Israel, then Iran, rightly or wrongly, will be turned to glass. Think Iran doesn't get that?

If anything, I would say if the Iranians aren't developing a North-Korea-like "insurance program," they're actually being derelict. We and the Israelis have been inviting this kind of response, which isn't even clearly occurring, having started a host of wars around the gulf/middle east region. As was predicted. Not that there isn't plenty of blame to share: India, Pakistan, Russia, and China are all nuclearized. Add to that Israel and the US's apparently permanent presence in Afghanistan and Iraq, and Iran is surrounded. What, pray, is to be expected from Iran, given that situation? Apparently, the US and Israel expect total submission, for a start. This full-spectrum-dominance ideology requires permanent dominance, as you will at minimum exacerbate, if not create, virulent hatred toward yourself by ruling solely through force. It is a self-fulfulling prophecy: soon you will be universally hated. The true believer then says, "See, I told you so! They're all out to get us!" That's known as "insanity."

Meanwhile, in your rush to dominate, internal enemies will become at least as high a priority, if not higher, than external ones. We've all seen this play before, haven't we? Isn't that what we're supposedly fighting against?

One irony (if that's the right term) is that Iran came to the Busheviks in 2003, as has been widely reported (that link is just one example) with a plan to give us basically everything we wanted, including help against the Taliban and al-Qaeda (you remember, the actual folks who took down the Twin Towers?) -- Sunni extremists whom Shia Iranians despise -- as long as we promised to stop supporting Iranian exile groups trying to overthrow the government. Seemed like a fair deal to me. The Busheviks rejected it.

A further irony is that the reformist movement in Iran, an exceedingly young country (age-cohort-wise), will most likely change that regime over time if left alone. Creating outside enemies for people like Ahmadinejad is perfectly counterproductive. The US loves to have permanent enemies, such as Iran and Cuba. It's a sign of weakness...or of a need to have an enemy, at all costs. Cui bono? Maybe, um, arms makers? You do the math.

Obviously, the key issue here is nuclear arms and the proliferation thereof (as Chirac had to retract recently), as well as the obvious and predicted effect of the US declaring international law null and void and romping all over the globe since 9/11: states will do whatever they can to deter us. Duh. A child in a sandbox would know that.

The only sane alternative is for the US to return to the international fold; to put serious pressure on Israel to stop destroying the possibility of a Palestinian state; to move toward the global lockdown of fissile material and a reinvigorated global nuclear-arms reduction. Why, exactly, are we still pointing missiles at Russia, and vice versa?

The only alternative to the above, considered "naive," is eventual destruction of at least any shred of representative democracy and civil liberties (what do you think will happen when a nuke does go off somewhere -- nuclear terror is a real risk), if not something far worse.

Oil, as per usual, lies at the center of this insanity. We aren't in the middle east for the olives. We're there so that you, Dear Reader, can continue to drive your Hummer, not use compact fluorescent bulbs, keep your heat at 75 degrees, and generally eat up an unfair and unsustainable amount of the world's energy.

We must shift to renewable energy sources, and away from rapacious and continual "expansion" of population and economies. The globe can't hack it, and will "fight back." No species can expand exponentially, as we have over the past few hundred years, without a very painful "correction." It's automatic, and would be obvious to most Americans if they accepted evolution at the levels at which they accept the existence of angels.

We, as a species, will either hang together or hang separately, to paraphrase Ben Franklin.

02 February 2007

"The Wager," Part 6

Click the title of this post to see previous parts.

Helen stopped short of the door of her boyfriend’s apartment, stunned. Muffled giggles and squeals were seeping through the door. She pounded on the door.

“Carlo!”

The giggles stopped short, quickly followed by rustling and whispers. There was a pattering toward the door, which opened to reveal an embarrassed but defiant Carlo in his bathrobe.

“I forgot you were coming over. Sorry.” A smile flickered across his face. Helen looked past that at a girl with an expensive haircut fixing her outfit as she came out of the bathroom.

“Oh, shit. This totally sucks.” She looked at Helen desperately. “Omigod, I’m, like so sorry. I totally didn’t know that Carlo had a girlfriend.” She was bright red and unable to look at Helen. “We were just, like, talking about my grade, and, you know…”

She ran around the room, collecting her belongings, including a paper with a bright red B−, and shoving them into an undersized leather backpack. She threw the backpack over her shoulder and finally looked at Helen. “I’m really, really sorry.”

“How old are you?”

“Nineteen.”

Helen glared at Carlo, who glared back, ignoring the girl.

“Uh, I think I should leave.” The girl moved fearfully between Helen and Carlo, out the door, and ran out of the building.

Helen began. “Nailing your students? What the hell is your problem? Do you have any idea how pathetic it is to be forty-five and banging sorority chicks who want a better grade?”

Carlo tried to be sophisticated. “Oh, come on, Helen. We never made any promises.”

“Not verbally, no.”

“So you say. Look, this girl came out of my class bothering me about her grade.” He laughed. “She actually said, ‘My parents aren’t paying $40,000 a year for me to get Bs.’”

“You don’t even remember her name, do you?” Carlo was silent. “You knew goddam well I was coming over today. If you’d had any decency, you’d have just broken it off instead of humiliating all three of us.”

Carlo waved it off. “Jesus, Helen, it’s not a big deal. It was nothing.”

“Yeah, well, it’s a big fucking deal for me.” Helen tried to continue, but her rage choked her up. She turned and walked out. Carlo didn’t try to stop her.

Helen retraced her steps back to her apartment in Center City in a daze. She stormed into her brownstone apartment, slammed the door, threw her keys against the wall as hard as she could, and slumped down onto her couch to cry.

After a while, the tears ceased. She got up and walked into her bedroom/office. Her futon was a mess, blankets and sheets twisted up, pillows half uncovered and strewn haphazardly on the mattress. Clothes lay on the floor of her closet, pushing the door half-open, migrating to the chair next to the futon where they hung sadly. Helen rarely did laundry, preferring instead to wear the same clothes over and over again. She only wore jeans and t-shirts—maybe shorts if it was really hot—augmenting the ensemble with a loose sweater or a sweatshirt if it was cool, and an old army jacket if it was cold. She lived in one pair of sneakers until they fell apart; then she replaced them with a new version of the same brand. She hated shopping for clothes with a passion. Twice a year she’d run into a store, grab six identical t-shirts, three pairs of Levi’s, a bunch of panties and bras, a fistful of white tube socks. She got her hair cut for ten bucks at the local barbershop, wore no makeup, never blew her hair dry, rarely combed it. It was all to no avail: she was easily the most beautiful woman anyone had ever seen.

Helen’s desk lay opposite the futon. It was as neat as a desk that’s used several hours a day can be. Books lined the walls above her desk, surrounding the window that looked out on the street. Ivy followed the shelves, linking the volumes. Drafts of dissertation chapters were piled next to her computer. Low black file cabinets supported a smooth wooden door, now serving as a work table at a right angle to her desk, following the wall. On this table were dictionaries in several languages, a printer, piles of library books, and mementos from her travels. There was an onyx chess set from Turkey, an Eastern Orthodox icon from Greece, and a fist-sized piece of marble she had swiped from Hadrian’s Villa in Italy.

She had sat on the stump several hundred yards from the main complex staring at the lump of marble lying on the ground. She had seen dozens like it strewn all over the site, unmarked and ignored.

Wouldn’t I be a barbarian if I took it? she had asked herself. No more so than the British Museum, she decided. She would cherish it. She had wanted something to take with her to love and treasure, a piece of the classical world to call her own. It’s unknown former role in Hadrian’s plan evidence of humanity’s creativity; it’s unknown, likely enslaved hewer evidence of humanity’s cruelty. Could the two aspects ever be separated? The lump of marble asked her this question whenever her eyes fell upon it.

So, she had smuggled it out, guessing correctly that the Italians would be as lax about security upon departure as they had been upon arrival in those pre-9/11 days.

Helen always smiled when she looked at her workspace. Work comforted her. Thinking, writing, reading—these tasks calmed her. Books, computers, articles—these things kept her company. She was usually shy around people, conscious that she was instantly judged by her beauty. Very few people were unaffected by her stunning beauty: some avoided her, some tried to conquer her only to discard her later. Helen knew what only the extraordinarily beautiful know: such beauty is a handicap. People hate the unusual, even if they covet it—especially if they covet it. Women often hated her for her looks and reveled in her isolation. Helen found it hard to have friendships with men; they always assumed she was interested. Those she was interested in usually never got up the courage to approach her. Always she wondered whether she was sought after as an accoutrement, an adornment, mostly for other males’ envy.

She had thought that an older, accomplished, attractive man like Carlo would not hold her overwhelming attractiveness against her. He knew eight languages; was a leader in his field of archaeology; tenured—i.e., one would think someone secure enough to enjoy Helen’s many gifts. For a couple of weeks, it had seemed as though Carlo had seen past her beauty, and had liked what he saw. But, she admitted to herself forlornly, as soon as she had slept with him, the relationship had started to fizzle out. Helen was not only beautiful but immensely intelligent. Carlo could handle the beauty; he couldn’t handle an intellectual equal. Adornments should be seen, not heard.

Helen sat down at her desk, intending to work on her dissertation. She reached down to turn on the computer, but stopped mid-movement.

No, she thought. And she got up, grabbed her keys off the floor, and walked out of the apartment. She was headed for a local Irish bar.

This is what I need, she thought as she walked into the bar, a few hours of alcohol-lubricated self-pity, just to get it out of my system.

Helen had been too preoccupied to notice the strangely dressed young man who had been following her since she had left Carlo’s apartment. When she went into the bar, he took off in the opposite direction, west, toward the university.

* * *

An excerpt from a work © 1996; 2007 Doug Tarnopol

Scott Ritter on Iran, Again

20 Minutes.

TomPaine.com - How To End The War, Russ Feingold

One of the few senators worth a damn.

IPCC Summary Report: 2006 (PDF)

The ultimate Groundhog Day, I should think.

This is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's first statement of this magnitude since 2001.

The press conference. (Embedded Windows Media; audio; ActiveX required.)

Keep an eye on the IPCC site for more as the year progresses. This is just the summary.

Some related news, from Democracy Now!, 2/2/07:

Human-Caused Global Warming Could be Insurmountable
The world’s leading body of climate scientists has concluded global warming is “very likely” caused by human activity and may be impossible to stop. In its strongest language to date, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Environmental Climate Change is predicting melting glaciers, rising temperatures and higher sea levels.

    IPCC Chair Rajendra Pachauri: "I only want to draw your attention to the fact that we are, and if you look at the language of the summary for policy makers you'll be able to read this, we are in a sense doing things, that perhaps have not happened in 650,000 years."
For the first time, the panel also said global warming has been the likely cause of increased hurricane and cyclone activity over the last thirty years. IPCC working group co-chair Susan Solomon warned of more unexpected changes if current trends continue.
    Susan Solomon: "If we were to keep emitting green house gases at or above the current rate, that would cause further warming and induce many changes in the global system, the global climate system, that would very likely be larger in the 21st century than they were in the 20th century."

Under Pressure, Panel Downgrades Probability of Human Causation
Although the climate change report is the gloomiest on record, it’s already being criticized for not going far enough. The panel was said to have initially reached a consensus of ninety-nine percent certainty on human activity’s link to global warming. But it reduced the assessment to ninety-percent under reported pressure from China. Several scientists have also warned the IPCC’s warnings on sea levels could be outdated and too optimistic.

Scientists Offered $10,000 to Challenge Climate Report
Opponents of global warming science had their own response. The American Enterprise Institute is now offering scientists and economists $10,000 to write articles undermining the UN climate change report.

Exxon-Mobil Posts Record $39.5 Billion Profit
The American Enterprise Institute’s offer came as one of its funders -- the oil giant Exxon -- announced another record year for its bottom line. On Thursday, Exxon posted an annual profit of $39.5 five billion dollars for 2006. That’s the most ever by a US company, beating Exxon’s own record from 2005.

RFK, Jr. on Exxon-Mobil's War on Science.

01 February 2007

"Progressive" Jewish Thought and the New Anti-Semitism, American Jewish Committee (PDF)

This will be a Rorshach test for most, I think. Can't see how it will convince anyone, but I'll say this: I'm progressive, I'm a Jew, I criticize Israel harshly, and I'm neither anti-Semitic nor self-hating.

I think the reason this paper exists is because if a majority of American Jews (especially elite ones) start critiquing Israel's government, policies in the Occupied Territories, foreign policy, etc., then Israel is in serious trouble. Elite American Jewish organizations -- like the AJC, AIPAC, the ADL, et al -- do form a very powerful set of lobbies that have browbeaten elected officials into supporting a frankly self-destructive path for Israel and for the US.

After Walt and Mearsheimer, Tony Judt, Finkelstein, years and years of Chomsky, and now a former President with impeccable moral credentials (or seen as such; certainly his lapses had nothing to do with Israel!) and relevant experience...well, the elites are getting nervous.

Good!

[Later...]

Having just finished working on an LSAT project, my logical reasoning skills are honed, so I think I'll take a stab at this. In addition to the pseudo-Soviet iconography on the cover, here are some other things I noted in the piece:

  1. The quotes in the preface are unattributed. That's not a good thing. Who said this? What was the full context? And so forth. I'm referring to the stuff on page vi -- which leftist critic "challenge[d] not just Israel's policies, but 'it's legitimacy and right to an ongoing future.'"? Maybe later on I'll find the answer. As for the three folks mentioned on that page, I for one would like a full context for the quotes.
  2. The conflation of Jews and Israel's government and the State of Israel and Israeli society and culture -- all very different things -- is typical of, frankly, a racist, totalitarian outlook. America isn't Bush or Clinton or the government or Christians. (see bottom vi)
  3. Page 1: Sources: in the first four notes, we get the National Review, the Wall Street Journal, the chief rabbi of the UK on the BBC, and a book and an article that clearly support the author's thesis. Hmmm...
  4. The whole "wipe off the map" thing is a controversy I'd like to solve, but I don't read Persian. I've seen people claim that the usual translation is wrong, such as Juan Cole. Anyway, what does Ahmadinejad have to do with the real target of this paper: leftwing Jews? I mean, aside from guilt-by-association?
  5. I own a copy of Mein Kampf. Read it in my Cornell political theory course junior year. The professor was Isaac Kramnick. Is he an anti-Semite/self-hater? Am I? One can't assume why one buys a book. Some figures for sales would be nice; perhaps the Review provides it. Doubt it. I mean, why bother to do a survey, anyway?
  6. Again, what do anti-Semitic TV programs have to do with American and European leftwing Jews? (I'm assuming this information is accurate.)
  7. Page 3: It's not outside the realm of possibility that a nation that openly practices extrajudicial assassination could have had Arafat poisoned. Doesn't mean it happened, but considering the possibility is not beyond the pale, I should think. Ditto killing Hariri. The rest of the stuff, if true -- and I'll grant it, is just wacky. What does that have to do with leftwing EuroAmerican Jews?
  8. Ah, page 4: "A Conflation of Interests." In your opinion, bub. Note the qualifier: "While formal alliances among these otherwise disparate groups ["far right," "segments of the intellectual left," and "radical Islam"] are not readily apparent, they share one thing in common: a suspicion of Jews and, especially, an emphatic dislike of the Jewish state." Well, the second is not the same as the first -- some Israeli Jews have an emphatic dislike of the Israeli state. I have an emphatic dislike of our current American state and government. But the author would probably find that unpatriotic. Love it or leave it. Anyway, the first is as yet unsupported. Note the care that went into that modifier that hangs in front of "they" -- no formal alliances (informal, though?); not readily apparent (but with a little digging or the right goggles?). Nice work.
  9. Page 5: How is "anti-Semitic incident" defined? Let's take the number of physical assaults as read: 83 in 2004. Since the April, 2001 decennial government census in the UK reported 267,000 Jews in the UK, that means that if the population held at that number, then 0.03% of the population was assaulted, and only for being Jewish. I wonder how many assaults on Jews for, say, car keys or ATM cards occurred in that time? That number was essentially the same the next year (82). According to the National Safety Council, the chance of dying in 2003 from any cause was 0.06%. Assuming the NSC isn't anti-Semitic, and that life in the UK is roughly as safe, well...you do the math. Context helps here.
  10. Note that this horrific statistic of a 0.03% chance of being physically assaulted solely for being Jewish (thought Jewish? -- forget it; we'll go with these numbers) leads to a massively disproportionate fear (no doubt related to massively disproportionate news reports -- much like the fear of violent crime in the US has risen with media coverage, while actual rates of violent crime have fallen): it's now apparently "uncomfortable" to be a Jew in Britain. At times.
  11. If you actually go into the stats on anti-Semitism and assaults, you find a different, less hysteria-inducing picture.
  12. Following hard on the heels of this faux epidemic of violence, on page 6, comes sins of word, such as the wholly reasonable labelling of Israel's actions in the OTs as ethnic cleansing. This is par for the course in Israeli historical work and current journalism, and the only word for it. Furthermore, Sharon actually is a war criminal, as anyone familiar with not only the '82/'83 Lebanon war but also his previous military career would know.
  13. What do boycotts have to do with animosity against Jews, even Israeli Jews? Did everyone who supported boycotts against South Africa do so out of animosity toward the white ruling minority? Or just the awful social system of apartheid?
More later...

[Later...]

Ya know what? Given that the IPCC report is out, I see little need for amusing myself further with this yahoo propaganda. I think I've made my point; the rest of the paper pretty much repeats these "errors" throughout.

Democracy Now! | Molly Ivins, 1944-2007: Legendary Texas Journalist Dies After Long Bout With Breast Cancer

RIP. A fine journalist and political thinker we really couldn't afford to lose.

31 January 2007

Hysteria at Herzliya - by Pat Buchanan

When Pat Buchanan starts making sense, well, you know that things have become painfully obvious.

Justin Raimondo at Antiwar.com on the Return of the Old Right -- and, more accurately, the potential realignment around a sane foreign policy, fair trade, and civil liberties that might actually bust up the two parties.

Norman Finkelstein at Stanford, 1/25/07

If you've never read his books or articles or seen his speak, check this out. I highly recommend his books. Here's his site. His site, even more than his books and articles, drips with mordant irony and acidic satire. You might not like that, but to purposely misread irony as straight declaration, and to quote it out of context, is another well-worn propaganda tactic.

I have met him and discussed these issues in depth; he is a real scholar. You may disagree with his interpretation of fact (I don't), as one can with any historian or political scientist, but the accusations of anti-Semitism/self-hatred are ridiculous; of shoddy scholarship, almost laughably off (he is almost obssessive about matters of fact); and of Nazi holocaust denial, not only factually incorrect but morally repulsive. His parents survived Auschwitz.

Part 1:


Part 2:

Monthly Review January 2007 William K. Tabb: "Resource Wars"

Yes, I know: wars are only fought for "democracy" and "freedom." How "cynical" of me to think otherwise. Much more likely that the US is the one exception to human warmaking in the past 40,000 years.

Some Recent Articles on the Dying Republic...

By Robert Parry:

If you like consortiumnews.com, support it!

FBI turns to broad new wiretap method | CNET News.com

[Blogger wouldn't let me link to this story: please check out the URL below. Must have been the ".com.com" that confused Blogger. But this is too important not to reference, and CNET News is top-of-the-line for this kind of stuff. Props to Democracy Now! for bringing this to my attention.]

FBI turns to broad new wiretap method

By Declan McCullagh
http://news.com.com/FBI+turns+to+broad+new+wiretap+method/2100-7348_3-6154457.html

Bill Quigley: The Corporate Looting of the Gulf Coast: Robin Hood in Reverse

This is what class war looks like:

Bill Quigley
is a human rights lawyer and professor at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law. Bill and Dan Gregor assisted the defendants in this matter. You can reach Bill at Quigley@loyno.edu

If you want to know more, check out www.justiceforneworleans.org and look at the CorpWatch report, "Big, Easy Money: Disaster Profiteering on the American Gulf Coast."

Truthdig - Reports - Christianists on the March

Chris Hedges on the main engine of our nascent fascism.

30 January 2007

Howard Zinn on His Latest Book...

About an hour: RealPlayer.

29 January 2007

Liberty Bound

Chris Floyd - Empire Burlesque - High Crimes and Low Comedy in the Bush Imperium - Death and Dishonor: Bush's New Assassination Order

Note, parenthetically, that the CIA (at the very least) has had a green light to assassinate any American citizen since soon after 9/11.

How many people know that, do you think?

Scott Ritter on Iran: The War's Already On

Post-State of the Union, 2007. A man who knows what's going on.

John Pilger, Truth Game

On the ongoing nuclear arms race...looks to be from the 1980s.

Around 16 minutes in, there's a problem with the video. Stick it out; it fixes itself at 17:30-ish.

"Silence Is No Longer An Option": Jane Fonda, Sean Penn, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins Speak Out

Democracy Now! | "Silence Is No Longer An Option": Jane Fonda, Sean Penn, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins Speak Out

Rep. Maxine Waters, Rep. John Conyers, Rep. Lynn Woolsey, Navy Seaman Jonathan Hutto, Bob Watada & Others Call for End to Iraq War at Anti-War Rally

Democracy Now! | Rep. Maxine Waters, Rep. John Conyers, Rep. Lynn Woolsey, Navy Seaman Jonathan Hutto, Bob Watada & Others Call for End to Iraq War at Anti-War Rally in Washington