Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Former JCS Dempsey went around Obama, shielded Assad, aided Russians to enter Syrian civil war

Twice in two days, I'm speechless.

President Obama’s top military commander secretly orchestrated intelligence sharing with military leaders in Germany, Israel and Russia to thwart the president’s policy to remove Bashar Assad from power in Syria and lay the groundwork for Russia’s military entrance into the Syrian civil war, because he believed Obama’s anti-ISIS strategies were hopelessly misguided.

That is just one of the astounding takeaways from a 6,800-word expose by venerated investigative reporter Seymour M. Hersh that was just published in the London Review of Books. Hersh, whose sources include top senior aides to the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, which commands all U.S. military forces, also described in great detail how Turkey’s president Recep Erdoğan has deceived the White House by siding and arming ISIS and other extremist Islamic militias in Syria, in a gambit for Turkey to emerge as a regional power akin to the Ottoman Empire.

The broad contours of this cloak-and-dagger tale were confirmed by Saturday’s Democratic Party presidential debate. One of the key foreign policy questions was whether the Syrian dictator had to be removed to defeat ISIS. Bernie Sanders said no, voicing the same argument Hersh reported was put forth by recently retired Joint Chiefs chairman Martin Dempsey: removing Assad would create a vacuum that Islamic extremists would fill. Ex-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Assad had to go, but intriguingly noted that Turkey was not helping matters. This separation of Assad’s fate from fighting ISIS is now moving into the presidential race, but if Hersh’s account is correct it mirrors the thinking of the top Pentagon commander who felt he had to act on his own because Obama wouldn’t listen to the military's advice.

This would be the highest magnitude of hubris -- short of a coup -- by the real culprits of American hegemony, the Pentagon and its weapons manufacturers.  Since the killing of JFK there have been few US presidents that were not secretly cowed by what the generals would and would not do.   Dwight Eisenhower, the most significant of many war heroes elected to the nation's highest office, warned us about what was coming.  Now that so many men -- and soon, a woman -- have been elected commander-in-chief without the 'experience' of military service, the War Machine has only gathered more strength.

The eagerness of the various Republican presidential candidates to have your children, not theirs, go into future battles is the latest tell.  Global conflict is going to be the only sustainable American economic engine for the next generation.  (Beyond the mid-century, an unstable climate -- gradually more toxic air and water, with storms, drought, hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes of increasing frequency and strength -- may finish the job "America's enemies" can't.)

It may no longer be possible to end the 21st century doctrine of continuous war.

Even though I put out our Christmas decorations yesterday and took the dogs for an evening drive around the neighborhood to look at all the lights, I'm not so much in the holiday spirit.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Banksy's Christmas card

The card has recently gone viral again because of the holidays, but it is actually a few years old and seems to circulate around this time every year.

The piece first appeared at Santa’s Ghetto exhibit in London in 2005, which followed Banksy’s trip to the Middle East.

Regardless of when the image was created, it sends a powerful message about how divided (Israel and Palestine and the other surrounding Arab states are) on racial and ethnic lines, creating a massive refugee crisis, and widespread ghettos in many parts of the region. This current reality is obviously highlighted by the biblical story of Joseph and Mary, two refugees themselves who were said to travel across those lands thousands of years ago.

When the state of Israel was created, instead of integrating the Arab and Jewish cultures together the ruling class put policies in place that would force the Palestinian people onto unfertile ghettos, separated from water sources and food growing lands by giant walls. The Palestinians were also not given the right to organize, own property, or work, and without these basic freedoms, they remain refugees. These policies would result in a growing hostility between the two groups which eventually flared up in physical violence. This violence has spread all throughout the oil-rich Middle East and has allowed the western establishment to have a permanent involvement in the region’s affairs, just as they planned.

It really is this bad.  In fact it might be even worse than described above.

What Israel's Separation Wall Is Really Doing
Security? Or apartheid? We look at what Israel's separation wall is really doing.
Posted by AJ+ on Thursday, December 17, 2015

I'm at a loss for words.

T'was the week before Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance wishes Ag Commissioner Sid Miller a happy holiday as it brings you this week's roundup.

SocraticGadfly dips into the archives and offers up thoughts on that Christmas chestnut "It's a Wonderful Life," including what a remake might look like, and a follow-up post about all of what's wrong with the original.

Off the Kuff reviews who filed for what in the Democratic primaries in Texas, and Stace at Dos Centavos added some impressions of the Harris County contested D primary races.

The Green Party of Texas filed almost sixty candidates for state and local offices for the 2016 election, reports PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

Greg Abbott reacts to children coming to America by sending troops. Obama looks at solving problems in Central America. CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is disgusted that the only tools Republicans have are military force, fear, and hate.

Egberto Willies is concerned that America is sitting on a powder keg of hatred.

Neil at All People Have Value said that we would be better off with the values of Christmas rather than with the values of commerce.  APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.


Here's more great Texas blog post roundup...

Grits for Breakfast has the latest prosecutor screwup by the McClennan County DA in the Waco biker shootings case.

ICYMI, Democratic Blog News has both the full video and transcript of Saturday night's debate.

Illustrating the deep divisions fracturing Democrats as a result of the most recent strife in their presidential primary, Ted at jobsanger accuses the Sanders campaign of "stealing" data, and Somervell County Salon says that she won't be voting for Clinton as a result of the DNC's actions.

Mean Rachel wishes Rep. Elliott Naishtat a fond farewell.

Next City believes that urbanists will like Houston Mayor-elect Sylvester Turner, and Kyle Jack lists outgoing Houston Mayor Annise Parker's top ten snarky tweets.

Christopher Hooks analyzes the recent mock mass shooting/farting in Austin.

John Wright proposes five New Year's resolutions for the LGBT movement.

Paradise in Hell tries to distinguish between Ted Cruz's lies.

The Isiah Factor took note of Texas schools following the new fingerprint rule for educators, and Texas Watch is pressing the TEA for more information about school bus safety.

Moni at Transgriot  -- via Strength In Numbers -- seems to be fed up with Caitlyn Jenner, who was in Houston last week and had a prayer session with Pastor Ed Young of Second Baptist Church.

The Lewisville Texan Journal reported on the local press conference declaring the Lewisville Dam -- despite various seeps and a bank slide -- to be in no imminent danger of failing.

Bayou City History shows us those grand penthouse suites from the old Astroworld Hotel, a part of Judge Roy Hofheinz's Astrodomain.

And Fascist Dyke Motors is going to take a sabbatical, so don't keep an eye out for her.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

What difference does it make, really.

The condescension is strong with this one.  Jonathan Tilove at the Austin Statesman with the best overnight analysis:

The dramatic highlight of last night’s third Democratic presidential debate, held at St. Anselm College in Goffstown, N.H., came right after the mid-debate bathroom break.


... there was a candidate-less podium at center stage, between the podiums occupied by Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Baltimore Mayor and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

Apparently, this was just a mundane, fact-of-life, it-takes-a-woman-a-little-longer-than-a-man-to-duck-in-and-out-of -the-restroom moment and, America, get used to it.

The real puzzle was why ABC, which did not seem to be hewing to some kind of crisp schedule,  could not have simply given the former first lady, New York senator, secretary of state and presently at least even money to be the next president, another 90 seconds to get back in her place as the center square before resuming the debate.

It is not like they shouldn’t have seen this coming.

Here from Slate’s coverage of the Democratic debate in October in Las Vegas:

Hillary Clinton has noted, at Tuesday night’s Democratic debate in Las Vegas, that electing a woman as president of the United States would be a historic first. She also, it seems fair to say, just became the first presidential candidate to make reference during a debate to how long it takes women to pee.

The transcript:

Anderson Cooper: And welcome back to this CNN democratic presidential debate. It has been quite a night so far. We are in the final block of this debate. All the candidates are back, which I’m very happy to see.


It’s a long story. Let’s continue. Secretary Clinton, welcome back.

Clinton: Well, thank you. You know, it does take me a little longer. That’s all I can say.

How endearing.  A bonafide 'what difference does it make' moment.

But, with Clinton’s reappearance, any chance of any real drama emerging from last night’s debate was gone. Not that the Democrats seemed very intent on gaining an audience for last night’s event.
The debate schedule for the Democrats does seem intended to minimize any harm that could be done to  Clinton’s front-runner status.

Saturday night is better known as a date night, not a debate night. And the Saturday before Christmas leans heavily toward family not politics.

Also, (television) viewers had choices. There was the Jets-Cowboys game, which I suppose might serve as a surrogate preview of a Clinton-Cruz general election race. (Sorry Ted.)

#SorryNotSorry.  As Mrs. Clinton said when she finally reappeared.

Apart from its ratings-proof scheduling, the Democratic race simply lacks the drama of the Republican race, which is among the most interesting and uncertain of my lifetime with a bona fide reality TV star center stage.

With the Iowa caucuses barely more than a month way, the clear front-runner for the Republican nomination – Donald Trump – is a larger-than-life figure who has proved doubters wrong, again and again, and yet still seems unlikely to ultimately make it to the White House.

The Republican contest, with its rich ensemble cast, has intricate plots and subplots. It’s gripping and entertaining, if often dumbfounding.

Particularly, coming at this time of year, there is something familiarly festive about the recent Republican debate – another raucous affair, crowded with jostling personalities. And, they even continue to have, in the spirit of the holidays, a kid’s table debate.

The Democratic debate, on the other hand, has a kind of sad, empty-nester air to it. There’s Sanders, 74, and Clinton, 68, and the young upstart, O’Malley, a mere 52 – but still eight years older than the GOP kids – 44-year-olds Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

And it will be very exciting if the Democratic race doesn’t go the way we think it’s going to go. Very exciting, and really, very unlikely.

Tilove seems to sense the same danger signals about a Trump/Cruz/Rubio-Clinton general election showdown that I do.  The debate was held on Sanders' home turf, New Hampshire, where he currently holds a small lead, but focused on the same topic as the GOP debate earlier in the week, on national security and terrorism concerns.  Not exactly in his wheelhouse, but then nobody -- and I mean nobody -- measures up to Clinton's experience in that regard.  The problem is that she still hasn't learned anything from all that experience.  Being shot at on the Bosnian tarmac just isn't that big a deal, I suppose.

One could, of course, argue that, as a former secretary of state, Clinton’s fingerprints are all over the sorry situation the world is in. But, at time of great uncertainty, Clinton at least is no stranger to the world stage.


And from Clinton, the most stinging rebuke of Trump – praising George W. Bush, by contrast, and leveling a new and specific charge that I’m sure will be much talked about beginning on this morning’s Sunday shows.

CLINTON: You know, I was a senator from New York after 9/11, and we spent countless hours trying to figure out how to protect the city and the state from perhaps additional attacks. One of the best things that was done, and George W. Bush did this and I give him credit, was to reach out to Muslim Americans and say, we’re in this together. You are not our adversary, you are our partner.

And we also need to make sure that the really discriminatory messages that Trump is sending around the world don’t fall on receptive ears. He is becoming ISIS’s best recruiter. They are going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists. So I want to explain why this is not in America’s interest to react with this kind of fear and respond to this sort of bigotry.

Perhaps she was making the point that ISIS could use videos of Trump video to recruit jihadists. But, if there is no evidence they actually are, then her statement may prove reminiscent of the elusive video that Trump said he was certain he saw of  “thousands and thousands of people” cheering in Jersey City, N.J., as the World Trade Center collapsed.

There's more of the least obnoxious "inevitability" meme I've read in this cycle at the link.  Clinton, for her part, decided she was going to be debating Trump last night, and she surely won that.  Sanders did nothing I took note of, in contrast to the previous link,  to forcefully present himself as a better alternative, save his retort to Clinton's "everybody should!" like her, not just corporate America, with "Well, they won't like me."  Point awarded to Bern for the burn.

Martin O'Maddy's Ted Cruz interpretation -- feigned outrage, talking over others, disregarding the timing rules; not the lying and demagoguery -- fell a little flat also.

If you still don't understand why Democrats aren't voting, and why 2016 will demonstrate IMHO another record low turnout for Team Blue, then neither Tilove nor I may be able to help you get it.

Apathy is Hillary Clinton's biggest election opponent.  Hers, and ours.

A more extensive analysis of the debate from Raw Story, and a very pointed reminder from Salon that Trump and the deep Republican dysfunction does not equate to a Clinton roll to the White House, SNL's quite funny skits last night notwithstanding.