Archive for the 'Politics' Category

Apr 28 2016

Running with the devil…….

If you have been following my sparse postings lately ( and judging by the hit counter, you haven't) you will know that I am no fan of the junior Senator from the less than great state of Texas, Ted Cruz. In my lifetime, I have seldom seem an individual more vile, self serving, selfish bastard in American politics-and that is saying a lot. Especially when consider the long history of vile, self serving bastards we have had in American politics over the last 240 years.

Ted Cruz

myopic self-righteous, power hungry asshole who won't listen to anyone or change his views no matter the circumstances.

That guy you're dating is a total Ted Cruz. Run for the hills before he defunds your abortion savings account.

by wonkette2016 October 01, 2013

If a bus ran him over on the road, I would really have to think hard about running over to help him, or giving the bus driver a 100 dollars for performing a public service. Even the father of the underworld is wondering about this guy:

25hhhg

My Canadian Counterpart, whose writing I dearly miss ( and I wish was commenting on this election) had him sized up pretty well back in 2013:

I've never met Ted Cruz, so I can't say as an absolute certainty that he's a psychopathic retard. But because he's a Republican and a Tea Partier, he can't honestly object to either characterization, since both are such a central part of his political base. 

Republicans and Teapers get awfully pissy when I say things like that, but I'm hardly the one that's been in the trenches finding new and ever more self-defeating ways to turn superstition and stupidity into conservative virtues. 

Even before the advent of the Tea Party, supposedly conservative politicians have equated self-promoting ignorance as folksiness, which explains the non-sexual appeal of Sarah Palin perfectly. Christ, when I try to explain to reasonable, intelligent people why I hold conservative positions, I have to bend over backwards to demonstrate that I'm not a fucking yahoo. And that's exhausting because people like Ted Cruz have made it their life's mission to make it exhausting. ………….

But people with normal cognitive functions – including most rational Republicans – have come to loathe Cruz with the power of a thousand suns.

I don't want to see Cruz turned into Robert Taft, the serious conservative that wasn't given a chance. He needs to be Alf Landon, the guy who got beaten within an inch of his fucking life.

 

 

And those are just the printable sentiments I have for him. Under the influence of Scotch I have a whole different view point.

So imagine my surprise when I read that even people who are supposed to be on his side, truly hate the guy. And he really may be spending his summers in the 7th circle of hell:

Much of the discussion – and laughs – focused on Boehner’s views on the current presidential candidates. Segueing into the topic, Kennedy asked Boehner to be frank given that the event was not being broadcasted, and the former Speaker responded in kind. When specifically asked his opinions on Ted Cruz, Boehner made a face, drawing laughter from the crowd.

“Lucifer in the flesh,” the former speaker said. “I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.”

On which, Mr Boehner and I are in complete agreement. Wow. Vindication from an very unlikely source.

So given that Satan's image picked a running mate, just the day after he was mathematically eliminated from having a realistic shot at enough delegates to win the nomination, what does Mr. Boehner's pronouncement make Carly Fiorina?

'

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Feb 21 2016

Whistling past the graveyard….

After almost 24 hours of travel back from the Whining States of America, I am back in definitely not sunny Germany. A week in Shopping Mall and  then a week out west. The second week was very frustrating from a work standpoint and makes me very, very, uncertain as to whether I have made the right career choices in my post Navy life. My now whacked out sleep cycle has me awake at 5 AM on a Sunday morning when I should be sleeping.

And to add to my apprehension, more than a little bit, was the time I spent back in the USA watching the insane competition for the highest elected office in the land. Regardless of your political affiliation you should be very, very concerned about what it says for the direction of the country.

Let's start with the fact that the construct of our system leaves a whole lot of qualified candidates unable to gain access to the arena in the first place. This is true on both the Republican side and the Democratic side-but for different reasons. On the Democratic side, the lack of victories at state and local levels, coupled with its leadership in Congress hanging on long past its "sell by" date,  has led to a bench that is not very deep and that situation is not likely to improve in the immediate future. On the GOP side, they have a lot of people available, but the ideological purge of the past ten years coupled with the dumbing down of the Republican electorate by its tea party crazed loons,  has made it virtually impossible for a reasonable man (or woman) candidate to gain much electoral traction.

And certainly we saw that in the recent election results, particularly New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Last night, South Carolina Republican voters turned their back on the two "moderate" candidates in the race. ( Lets be clear:Ben Carson is just a lunatic, hanging on only to burnish his credentials for Fox News). I put the term moderate in quotation marks because despite the folksiness of John Kasich or Jeb! Bush- their actual record on being reasonable is questionable.For example, one should never forget that Kasich was the father of REDUX retirement.

But they do come off as moderate when contrasted to the top three candidates, Trump , Cruz and Rubio-all of whom have spent the past three months arguing who is more able to cut taxes on the rich, carpet bomb the Middle East into a Christian conversion, flood the streets with even more guns,  and make America a corrupt third world plutocracy. All three are very scary and probably the worst thing about them ,  is that none of them projects a viable way to create a sustainable path forward for a country that is increasingly falling behind in both its abilities to take care of its own people,  and compete in a diverse world economy. Trump says nothing specific about what he would do, just repeating,  "Its going to be great". ( Trump will do whatever he wants and really cares little about the views of the average voter-whom he regards as rubes). Cruz and Rubio are both vying to be the next Reagan-without really understanding who Reagan really was. 

On the Democratic side, the outlook is even bleaker. Hillary is trying to position herself as the epic "first woman President" without understanding how much her past really hurts her.  On the other hand, Sanders is whipping up a lot of enthusiasm about fixing some really bad problems with America. He is the only candidate pointing out how much the average American gets screwed by the system. The problem is, for all his great rhetoric, much of what he seeks to achieve is not able to be passed by the current and likely future Congress. So while it sounds good,  and is definitely tapping into a movement of economic apprehension, I can see no way it translates into electoral victory in November. Even if Sanders were to win, the Congress would still be filled with obstructionists and the gridlock of the last eight years will continue. One could say the same thing about Hillary.

Of course, if Trump wins, the same thing could be said on his side. Congress will not be willing to go along with much of his agenda. That said, I am still greatly in doubt as to whether he can win the nomination. If Cruz or Rubio win, however, they will have no problem passing their vindictive agenda will both explode the Federal deficit and crush the average working American.

By the way, I am always amazed at the fact that these two goons get a lot of support from the very people who will be most victimized by the policies they support. I believe this happens because many Americans see themselves as self-reliant and waiting for their millions to come rolling in. They really don't think bad things can happen to them, even though in most cases, when you peel the onion back,  they have been greatly assisted by the government they profess to despise, or they have been the beneficiaries of someone else's money. Self-reliant, my ass. A question needs to be asked, why do working class, low and middle income families, continue to support a party that gives little to no benefit to them?

The Presidential race does not tell the entire story, however, of the peril the United States is in. The real terror comes when you look at the structure that supports the Presidential races, namely state and local contests. When you pull the string on what has happened there, you become genuinely afraid for the future of the United States.

The presidency is extremely important, of course. But there are also thousands of critically important offices all the way down the ballot. And the vast majority — 70 percent of state legislatures, more than 60 percent of governors, 55 percent of attorneys general and secretaries of state — are in Republicans hands. And, of course, Republicans control both chambers of Congress. Indeed, even the House infighting reflects, in some ways, the health of the GOP coalition. Republicans are confident they won't lose power in the House and are hungry for a vigorous argument about how best to use the power they have.

Not only have Republicans won most elections, but they have a perfectly reasonable plan for trying to recapture the White House. But Democrats have nothing at all in the works to redress their crippling weakness down the ballot. Democrats aren't even talking about how to improve on their weak points, because by and large they don't even admit that they exist.

One of the things that I think a lot of the young idealists "Feeling the Bern", have not come to grips with is, the oligarchs who are driving much of conservative ambitions these days, long ago abandoned the idea of getting their agenda in place from the White House. They have worked instead, to marginalize the Presidency and even the Congress- preferring to impose their Hegelian hell on us through the power of State legislatures. If you want a vision of the real future of the United States and your economic well being, you need only look  to the states of Kansas, Wisconsin, or even, South Carolina.

Essentially every state on the map contains overlapping circles of rich people who don't want to pay taxes and business owners who don't want to comply with labor, public health, and environmental regulations. In states like Texas or South Carolina, where this agenda nicely complements a robust social conservatism, the GOP offers that up and wins with it. But in a Maryland or a New Jersey, the party of business manages to throw up candidates who either lack hard-edged socially conservative views or else successfully downplay them as irrelevant in the context of blue-state governance.

One other factor political idealists are forgetting at great peril, is the destructive effect of the apathy of half the electorate that cannot be bothered to vote."The biggest mistake Democrats risk making again is imagining that polls showing voter disgust with Republicans, and a weak stable of Republican presidential candidates, guarantees an easy White House win; except that neither case accounts for the disparate voter turnout in Iowa and New Hampshire."  700,000 people turned out for the South Carolina primary. But remember this is against a total electorate of 2,888,768. South Carolina does not require voters to register by party affiliation-but even assuming a 65%-35% GOP vs Democratic split, that means almost a million people did not vote. That is a scary thought.

It is noteworthy that among one candidate’s supporters, 20 percent said if their hero is not the nominee, they will sit out the general election. With Republican voters already outpacing Democrats, and one faction willing to repeat the 2010 disaster that let the Koch brothers put the tea party in control of Congress, Republicans now have two very easy paths to the White House. It is something that Democrats and Republicans alike are aware of and if the left were not so arrogant and dysfunctional they just might know it too.


What we have now in America is a situation where a minority percentage of sometimes deranged, religiously motivated, economic extremists are able to impose their will on the majority of the population. The agenda they support is very dangerous, more dangerous than the external foreign policy threats to the United States,  in my opinion. South Carolinians just voted for a candidates whose expressed desire is cut off health insurance for 22 million people while cutting taxes for people making millions by an additional $500,000 per year. They seek to engage the country in a series of never ending wars in far off lands, with no real path to stability,  much less victory. If their vision for America succeeds, the Middle Class and the poor will be economically euthanized. Make no mistake about that. As an American I find that prospect very, very, disturbing. How can we believe in an America like this?

A basic philosophy of selfishness is being inculcated into our politics. It will render us incapable of reacting when our democratic patrimony is swindled out from under us. There are thieves abroad in the land, making off with the blessings of the political commonwealth, and their most basic alibi is that it never existed in the first place. Once we accept that as our true history, the future is pretty much lost.

 

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Feb 13 2016

As if things were not screwed up enough.

God decided to play a cruel joke on American politics by holding a recall election of His own. The winner was Justice Antonin Scalia.

The loser will be the rest of the United States, that is left behind to watch the Constitutional farce that will be the nomination of his successor. More on that in a bit.

If you search the archives of this blog, you will find that there was a time when I actually defended Antonin Scalia. It was in this post here. For the record, I have not changed my mind, The Citadel should still be all male and Justice Scalia performed a service by eloquently pointing out why the arguments of the plaintiffs were flawed from both a legal and educational standpoint.

But the larger picture, as I have recognized some 8 years later, is that , by and large, the majority of the American people no longer care about the validity of mine and Justice Scalia's viewpoint. The court made that obvious in VMI, when only one justice voted no. Sadly, it did not recognize that in cases that were far more important to the national polity.

Consider his key role in Heller, Citizens United, and Bush vs Gore. Not to mention voting to gut the Voting Rights act. 

And then there is this:

This Court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is "actually" innocent. Quite to the contrary, we have repeatedly left that question unresolved, while expressing considerable doubt that any claim based on alleged "actual innocence" is constitutionally cognizable.

That, is among many of his dissents-a head slapper. How can anyone argue that way-even from a strictly legal standpoint?

Antonin Scalia was a brilliant legal mind and definitely worthy enough to be a Supreme Court Justice. Unfortunately, his brilliance was so often squandered on ideas that were just flat out bad. Charles Pierce sums it up well:

I believe the United States would be a better country if none of these remarks ever were made.

So now we will have the national mourning, and the lying-in-state, and the state funeral, all of which Antonin Scalia deserves. Giving 30 years of your life to public service at the highest level is something worthy of respect, even if it was largely in service of a political philosophy that derides public service at almost every other level of government. And his death on Saturday certainly is a seismic event in our politics. It raises the stakes in the upcoming election to almost unimaginable levels. How do we know this? Because Mitch McConnell, the majority leader of the United States Senate, already has thrown the Constitution out the window for purely political purposes.

That a sitting Senator, much less the Majority Leader of the Senate, could make such a bold statement, in direct opposition to the requirements of the Constitution is really astounding. It is really a sad commentary of  the damage our tea sniffing fellow citizens, aided by the lazy 50% who can't even be bothered to exercise their civic rights to vote; the damage that having really lousy legislators causes.

McConnell and by extension the two children, Cruz and Rubio who echoed it, don't have a leg to stand on.

Of course, this is all my bollocks. In 2012, the "American people" decided that Barack Obama should appoint justices to the Supreme Court to fill any vacancies that occurred between January of 2013 and January of 2017. Period. Just because Mitch McConnell is a complete chickenshit in the face of his caucus doesn't obviate that fact. The 36 percent of eligible voters who showed up for the 2014 midterms, the lowest percentage in 72 years, don't get to cancel out the expressed wishes of the majority of the 57.5 percent of eligible voters who turned out to re-elect the president in 2012. And before this meme really picks up steam, 17 justices have been confirmed during election years, including Roger Taney, which sucks, in 1836, Lewis Powell and William Rehnquist, who were appointed in 1972, and Anthony Kennedy, who was appointed in 1988.

(And it should not be necessary to point out that any argument made by this Congress on the basis of political tradition or legislative politesse inevitably will cause Irony to shoot itself in the head.)

 

If you weren't thinking about voting before, you have a really good reason to now. I know I will vote the hell out of this election and I will be supporting someone who does not endorse the legacy of cruelty and selfishness that the current GOP has wrapped its loving arms around.

3 responses so far

Feb 13 2016

The prodigal son returns

I'm back in shopping mall this week for a variety of reasons. Had some medical stuff done, did some stuff related to the S.O. Permanent Residence Card, and checked on my house.

I also got to sit through rounds of American political commercials as the clock ticks down to the Alabama primary on March 1st.

Take for example this hum dinger of a commercial, designed to appeal to the most stupid among Alabama citizenry.

 

Yea, I'll bet you approved this message, you bible banging freak. Where were your Christian principles when the governor of Alabama was fucking his own citizens out of health insurance?

Christians persecuted? Not in Shopping Mall I can assure you. Just drive up and down Whitesburg Drive. Count the number of churches and note their size. Nobody is getting persecuted here-unless they are not Christian.

We'll skip the number of invocations of the holy of holies, the 2nd Amendment. My pork loving Senator is running them every hour on the hour.

Take this worthless piece of advertising.

 

 

Fuck you fat boy! If I didn't hate Shelby before-this commercial gave me a good reason to. No one ever said prayer would not help-they said that it also  must be accompanied by actions, like limiting the ability of wackos to get guns they have no business having.

This is, without a doubt, the most debased election in America that I have seen in my adult life. Trump? Cruz? Rubio? Heirs to the mantles of great Presidents? Even the Democratic side lacks stature-to our shame. (But they are at least not near as extreme as the current Republican front runners).

How did we get to this state of affairs?

It did not just happen overnight. It came with preparation. It took a lot of dumbing down of America, facilitated by guys like this asshole and jerks like this man along with not so dearly departed Breitbart, all working in concert with Fox News to foster a feeling of disgruntlement and fear. They orchestrated the conservative reaction to the election of President Obama,doing the bidding of wealthy patrons like the Koch Brothers who feel that God gave them some sort of "right" to debase the country. Over time it became a self reinforcing universe, where facts became irrelevant and discussion became impossible.

“Trump is something that could not happen in a nation that could read. This is the full-flower of post-literate politics. There are still individual Americans who can read, a fact for which writers should say daily prayers of gratitude. There are even communities of sort, and not only ladies’ pinot parties loosely organized around ’50 Shades of Grey. Conservatives are great readers, which is why the overwhelmingly left-leaning world of New York City publishing constantly is looking forward to the next offering from Mark Levin or Bill O’Reilly, whose works produce literary profit sufficient to subsidize the careers of any number of poets and high-minded novelists. But we are not a nation that reads, or a nation that shares a living tradition of serious contemporary literature, fiction or nonfiction.”

Williamson continues, pointing to the devolving literary habits of Americans over time. “The American Founders,” he writes, “could have a conversation among themselves because they had in the main all consumed the same library of Greek and Roman classics, British and Continental literature ranging from fiction to political economy, legal literature, and the like. This did not ensure agreement or like-mindedness…What it ensured was literate and enlightened argument.” Nothing to disagree with there. But that “enlightened” culture died a long time ago, and it was in any case rooted in plunder and oppression.

 

This is the world that Breitbart, worthless slime he, and his ilk created. Now they are angry they cannot control the creatures they created.

 "In politics, an absurdity is not a handicap."-Napoleon Bonaparte.

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Jan 15 2016

Oh about that GOP debate last night

Published by under Assholes,Politics

You know Ted Cruz fucked up when he gives Donald Trump, that Donald Trump,  a chance to be elegant. I'm no big fan of New York City, but Cruz probably wishes he had not broken out the dog whistles:CYvhAZ1WQAAUO6J

Explanation to be found over at Balloon-Juice:

During Thursday night’s debate, Sen. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump acted out a debate almost verbatim that they’ve been having across separate radio interviews the past couple of days regarding Trump’s supposed “New York values.” And, at least on Thursday night, Trump got the better of Cruz.

Moderator Neil Cavuto asked Cruz to elaborate on his statement that Trump “embodies” New York values.

“I think most people know exactly what New York values are,” Cruz responded. Well, Ted, there are a couple of implications there, and he went with both. “Everyone understands that the values in New York City are socially liberal or pro-abortion or pro–gay marriage.” Check. “Focus around money and the media.” Check.

That allowed Trump, as he has in radio interviews this week, to wield the one single time that conservatives have ever shown solidarity with New York City, Sept. 11, against Cruz. He did it well.

“New York is a great place. It’s got great people. It’s got loving people, wonderful people,” Trump began. “When the World Trade Center came down, I saw something that no place on Earth could have handled more beautifully, more humanely than New York. You had two”—an interruption for applause, including from Cruz—“You had two 110-story buildings come crashing down.”…

Trump managed to win the auditorium and make Cruz look callous…

That’s no small feat, Ted — making Donald Trump look like the compassionate, humane guy.

That pretty well covers it, don't you think?

6 responses so far

Jan 04 2016

The power of how one uses language.

Over at Balloon Juice, Annie Laurie has found this interesting video that analyzes the way Donald Trump uses language and how he organizes his thoughts. Bottom line: Because Trump is a salesman more than a politician, he is focused on closing the deal and creating a sense of urgency to buy his product. This differs from a typical politician in that Trump is less worried about having his words come back to bite him in the ass. It's worth the time to view:

 

As Annie points out, this was also examined in detail by the New York times:

The New York Times analyzed every public utterance by Mr. Trump over the past week from rallies, speeches, interviews and news conferences to explore the leading candidate’s hold on the Republican electorate for the past five months. The transcriptions yielded 95,000 words and several powerful patterns, demonstrating how Mr. Trump has built one of the most surprising political movements in decades and, historians say, echoing the appeals of some demagogues of the past century.

Mr. Trump’s breezy stage presence makes him all the more effective because he is not as off-putting as those raging men of the past, these experts say.

The most striking hallmark was Mr. Trump’s constant repetition of divisive phrases, harsh words and violent imagery that American presidents rarely use, based on a quantitative comparison of his remarks and the news conferences of recent presidents, Democratic and Republican. He has a particular habit of saying “you” and “we” as he inveighs against a dangerous “them” or unnamed other — usually outsiders like illegal immigrants (“they’re pouring in”), Syrian migrants (“young, strong men”) and Mexicans, but also leaders of both political parties…


I'm not sure is what is worse, that Trump is a big a huckster as he is, or that Americans are stupid enough not to be able to see through these techniques. I am leaning towards option 2. After all hucksters have been around since Eve first fucked over Adam. But Americans are supposed to be smarter than this.

It's going to be a hell of a year.

One response so far

Sep 25 2015

Going Nordo.

Published by under Politics,Travel

Walking up the brow this weekend and going haze gray and underway. No wait a minute, the ship is white.

How about , "Bright white and out of sight!"surprise?

Either way posting will be non-existent for a bit. ( again).

But I could not let the good news / bad news of the day pass unnoticed.  Because the Pope has to be a powerful guy.

 

 

 

I admit, I did not see that coming. I mean wow-I never would have thought that would happen.

But here is the problem-there are any numbers of blatantly deranged psychopaths that are waiting in the wings to take his place.

And in news pretty much guaranteed to fuck up my world-I think it pretty much guarantees a government shut down.

Just one more reason to buy that unlimited drinks package , I guess.

See you on the other side!

 

2 responses so far

Sep 13 2015

Recent Reading

Besides the volume of recent work, I have been deeply involved in several books recently. Not really an excuse for my lack of steady posting, but it did provide a different sort of diversion. Below are my reviews of three of the best of the group. ( I have finished 7 in all since mid-July).

The first book was an oldie,  but goody. It is from the 1970's and it is Saul Bellow's, To Jerusalem and Back, A Personal Account. Published in 1976, the book is a fascinating series of anecdotes and stories about all aspects of the experience of Israel during that decade and the decades before. Bellow writes of a discussion with Jean Paul Sartre published many years earlier. He has a brief view of the power ( or lack thereof) of the United States Sixth fleet, back during the time that the US Navy actually put ships in the Mediterranean ( of which I was a part in the late 1970's). The book is a report of the authors personal experiences but it is much, much more than that-it is a series of vignettes that show the complexity of modern Israeli life. What is amazing to me is just how forward looking Bellow was. He was writing in 1976, but his observations still hold true today.  As one critic said, " Forty years later, it's like reading last week's news analysis from the Middle East. If he hadn't been one of the great novelists of the 20th century, Bellow might have been one of its greatest journalists." That's a pretty good summation of the book.

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Along the same lines, and as an adjunct to my job, I try to read a lot of background material on Israel. I had stumbled on Bellow's book in the library and I am glad I did. Interestingly enough, I tried to add it to my Kindle library and Amazon said it is not available to readers in the US, due to copyright restrictions. I found that interesting, if not a trifle disappointing. 

For the reason I listed above, I also completed reading a newer book that does the same thing as Bellows book-provide unique insights into the complex puzzle that is Israel.  The book is by Ari Shavit, who is a writer for Haaretz newspaper, and it is called, My Promised Land. The book is a series of interviews and retelling of specific pieces of Israel's history staring with the first waves of Aliyah ( emigration to Israel) that began in the 1890's and moving up to present day ( 2012).

We meet Shavit’s great-grandfather, a British Zionist who in 1897 visited the Holy Land on a Thomas Cook tour and understood that it was the way of the future for his people; the idealist young farmer who bought land from his Arab neighbor in the 1920s to grow the Jaffa oranges that would create Palestine’s booming economy; the visionary youth group leader who, in the 1940s, transformed Masada from the neglected ruins of an extremist sect into a powerful symbol for Zionism; the Palestinian who as a young man in 1948 was driven with his family from his home during the expulsion from Lydda; the immigrant orphans of Europe’s Holocaust, who took on menial work and focused on raising their children to become the leaders of the new state; the pragmatic engineer who was instrumental in developing Israel’s nuclear program in the 1960s, in the only interview he ever gave; the zealous religious Zionists who started the settler movement in the 1970s; the dot-com entrepreneurs and young men and women behind Tel-Aviv’s booming club scene; and today’s architects of Israel’s foreign policy with Iran, whose nuclear threat looms ominously over the tiny country.

As it examines the complexities and contradictions of the Israeli condition, My Promised Land asks difficult but important questions: Why did Israel come to be? How did it come to be? Can Israel survive? Culminating with an analysis of the issues and threats that Israel is currently facing, My Promised Land uses the defining events of the past to shed new light on the present. The result is a landmark portrait of a small, vibrant country living on the edge, whose identity and presence play a crucial role in today’s global political landscape.

 

In reading the book I was struck by two of the main points that he raised. First, he points out that both the Israeli right and the Israeli left have yet to come to grips with a central fact that lies at the heart of Zionism-namely that whether they realized it or not, the movement was built on the foundational idea of dispossessing the current occupants of Palestine, in favor of a group of people who had no modern historical ties to that particular chunk of real estate. They only have a thousands year old religious mystery to cling on to that underpinned the reason why Palestine and only Palestine could be the Jewish State. Shavit very skillfully points out that one cannot duck that particular fact, and it is at odds with the narrative of Israel as a benign civilizing force in the region.

The second issue, and its one I had not given much thought to before, is the idea that the Holocaust changed the demographics of the Zionist movement dramatically. It is important to remember that Herzl's vision of Zionism was essentially a European one. The Jewish State he envisioned was to be a a modern, sophisticated and technologically advanced and Europeanized society. Herzl was aware of the Sephardic Jews ( Oriental or non-European Jews) but he tended to discount that.
 

Herzl completely rejected the race theories of Israel Zangwill. He became increasingly aware of the existence of Sephardic Jewry, but he envisioned the Jewish State as a state of Europeans, who might speak German. In his diaries he wrote:

"I believe German will be our principal language…I draw this conclusion from our most widespread jargon, 'Judeo-German.' But over there we shall wean ourselves from this ghetto language, too, which used to be the stealthy tongue of prisoners. Our teachers will see to that." (June 15, 1895, Diaries, 1: 171)

In The Jewish State, Herzl envisioned the government of the new state to be an "Aristocratic Republic," apparently modeled on contemporary Austria or Germany. In 1902, Herzl published a utopian novel about the Jewish state,  Altneuland (old-new land) a vision complete with monorails and modern industry.  Altneuland envisioned a multipluralistic democracy in which Arabs and Jews had equal rights. The novel concludes, "If you will, it is no legend."

Der Judenstaat and  Altneuland were visions of a Jewish state to be populated by European Jewry, who in 1900 were far more numerous than the tiny remnant of oriental and Sephardic Jews in Muslim lands and the Balkans. Herzl himself was no doubt aware of Zionist yearnings among Sephardic Jews. His grandfather was a friend of RabbiYehudah Alkalai, a Zionist precursor. But Herzl addressed his vision to the Jews of Europe.

Shavit points out that the Holocaust destroyed that vision and changed the planned demographics of the new state of Israel. A lot of the initial immigration to Israel came from the Sephradi population, especially as the Arabs turned away from toleration to outright hostility. Those population numbers had a distinct impact on Israel's politics and societal views and Shavit points out that those effects are still present.

Shavit is a great writer and the book is very readable and fascinating to immerse yourself into. For non-Israelis, and Americans in particular I would recommend this book as a must read. It shatters a lot of myths-and that is a good thing. Americans need to understand Israel as it really is, not as they think it it is.

 

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The final book I have been reading off and on is a return to one of my favorite writers and historians, Arthur Schlesinger. A while back I read his collection of letters and posted a review.  Subsequently his journals have been published. They are much more candid than his letters and his insights into many of today's political figures when they were younger are amazing to read.Schelsinger is a great writer and I particularly got some great satisfaction out of his description of Charles Krauthammer. It is simply priceless as it points out what a slug Krauthammer really is, long before the rest of us really knew about him:

Last night I appeared on ABC's Nightline (Ted Koppel), leaving an entertaining dinner party given by Ahmed and Mica Ertegun for Irving Lazar. My combatant on the show was a fellow named Charles Krauthammer who writes particularly obnoxious neo-conservative trash for the New Republic and other right wing journals. His special line is that a mature power must understand the vital need for an imperial policy and for unfettered executive secrecy in the conduct of foreign affairs. He argues this line with boundless self-righteousness and sublime ignorance of American history. He is also, alas, a paraplegic, having dived into a waterless swimming pool. The joy of dealing with Krauthammer perhaps tempted me into undue vehemence. I have been trying to establish a new and more benign television personality. His performance was surprisingly feeble, and I was unnecessarily testy. Still, it gave me much satisfaction. [Political cartoonist] Jules Feiffer called this morning and said, "If Krauthammer were not already in a wheelchair, he certainly would be now after the pounding you gave him last night.

The puzzle is that there are people who take Krauthammer seriously as a deep thinker.

Those lines were written in 1986, long before Krauthammer sold his soul to the devil that is Fox News.  They remain as true today as they were then. Schlesinger saw his mediocrity long before the rest of us. 

Its a fantastic insight into a half century of history and well worth the time to read. The best part is, that because it is a journal, you can leave it and come back to it. That is what I have done for the last month. Whenever I have extra time, my old friend Arthur Schlesinger is there-thanks to the modern innovation that is Kindle.

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Jul 18 2015

The wrong people are winning

Well, now that really bad things are going on, its probably time for me to get back to work. I have a lot to say about a lot of things-but just can't seem to either find the time or the volition to address them. But I just wanted to point out a fact that most educated readers of the remaining sane blogs on the internet already knew:

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My 10 years of blogging have proven that point back to me time and time again. Its been especially disheartening to watch the decline of so called "front running" milblogs become the kind of conservative cesspool that the Breitbart enterprise is known for. Ellen Pao is right to be jumping ship over at Reddit:

The Internet started as a bastion for free expression. It encouraged broad engagement and a diversity of ideas. Over time, however, that openness has enabled the harassment of people for their views, experiences, appearances or demographic backgrounds. Balancing free expression with privacy and the protection of participants has always been a challenge for open-content platforms on the Internet. But that balancing act is getting harder. The trolls are winning.

My own experience validates that , I can assure you. I like to think its been reasonably ok over here at my little place but we have had our run ins with moron set. It's been nothing to compare with some of the displays of lunacy that we have seen elsewhere though.

Take the tragic events of this weekend. Charles Pierce over at Esquire magazine, a real magazine with real editors and management, (something Tom Johnson has probably never had to deal with-more on that later), published a pretty reasoned piece on the shootings in Chattanooga. Pierce pointed out quite correctly that whatever the motive of the shooter, the insanely easy effort required to get guns in the United States did not help matters much.

Because he wrote eloquently and did not immediately jump in the cesspool of hatred, all the demons came swarming out of hell. 

As a regular reader at his place, I can assure you that the comments you see-especially in the last day are not typical of the kind of discussion that normally goes on at his place. There is a reason for that. In the general atmosphere of insanity that is prevailing in America after the horrific events in Chattanooga, it seems a certain percentage of our citizenry takes offense if you say anything but, "Kill Muslims! Kill more Muslims! Arms for every citizen"

And that is where a stellar specimen of humanity such as Tom Johnson comes in. 

Don't stay too long over there-just reading the comments will make you despair of humanity, or the fact that so many of my fellow citizens of the land of my birth are really tha f*cking stupid. 

He did accomplish his goal though. If you follow the link over to the Esquire piece you will see the hoards of really useless and stupid people commenting in a variety of useless and stupid ways. As Charles Pierce would say, "These people really are mole people".  For a minute there, I thought I had clicked the wrong link and had actually stumbled onto the useless idiots who write at The Federalist.

(When it comes to an overall level of douchbaggery, the folks at The Federalist are hard to beat. They take the conservative culture of victimhood to a whole new level. They, support Scott Walker after all-which is essentially the same as supporting Satan himself).

But the simple truth is that it gets worse. One cannot have a dissenting viewpoint anymore-and you can be certain that no one , even if they disagree with you will talk about the specifics of an issue. If there is one legacy of Fox News and its tenure during the 21st Century, that is it.  You are not even allowed to get angry at them any more-although the President did try:

 

 

 

The President had the correct response to Major Garrett. "That's nonsense and you should know better!"

One reason I have not been writing as much as I used to, is my overall level of disgust at my fellow citizens who should know better, but throw themselves willy nilly into the lanes of stupidity. It's barely been 48 hours since the horrific events in Chattanooga, and the swill that passes for commentary on the internet is , to put it honestly, appalling. I lalready showed you some from the Town Hall Harlot, but actually if you peruse either Facebook or Twitter, its even worse. The level of ignorance and stupidity in the land of my birth is appalling. Digby provides some really bad examples for all the rest of us to see.

 

 

 

As Digby points out, "Sadly, that thinking represents a majority of the Republican Party."

And indeed it does. She then goes on to point out an annoying little fact that bears repeating just like Pierce did:

If we were to compare our most recent mass murders (we have so many) and the reactions to them, ask yourself whether or not anyone was clamoring to punish Dylan Roof's family. Or round up all the white supremacists and put them in jail. No, there was a clamoring among some Americans to pull down the confederate flag from official buildings. And it's astonishing, when you think about it, that such a flag was even flying or that people were defending it — the same people, no doubt, who are clamoring for this family to be deported (or worse.) 





I noticed that while we don't know at this point the motives of the Chattanooga shooter, it's crystal clear what Dylan Roof's were — to start a race war. And yet the media is having no trouble calling Chattanooga suspected terrorism. The head of the FBI says he's just not sure about Dylan Roof. It seems too obvious now, if it didn't before, that the term is only applied to Muslims. 





Charlie Pierce has it right — this is about America and our love affair with violence.   I had been under the impression that the right had made its peace with that as the price we pay for the freedom to be armed to the teeth at all times.  But that's not true.  They are very philosophical about the consequence of violence when it's perpetrated by white people, to be sure. It's just a fact of life like summer storms and earthquakes.  But they get very, very angry when a racial or ethnic minority does it. There's some sick white privilege for you.

 

 

This is your democracy America. Enjoy it while you still can.

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Jun 19 2015

With clockwork precision

A mass shooting happens in America every three to four months or so. Charleston, home of my beloved alma-mater, took its turn in the barrel yesterday.

CHARLESTON, S.C. — A white gunman opened fire Wednesday night at a historic black church in downtown Charleston, S.C., killing nine people before fleeing and setting off an overnight manhunt, the police said.

At a news conference with Charleston’s mayor early Thursday, the police chief, Greg Mullen, called the shooting a hate crime.

“It is unfathomable that somebody in today’s society would walk into a church while they are having a prayer meeting and take their lives,” he said.

The police said the gunman walked into the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church around 9 p.m. and began shooting.

Eight people died at the scene, Chief Mullen said. Two people were taken to the Medical University of South Carolina, and one of them died on the way.

“Obviously, this is the worst night of my career,” Chief Mullen said. “This is clearly a tragedy in the city of Charleston.”

And with equal predictability will be the cycle of excuses, recriminations and most disturbingly the Fox News deflection of the real blame for these events. Tired old shibboleths about the intent of the Founding Fathers in writing the 2nd Amendment will be trotted out out for the 989th time. Real change however? Just     NOT    GOING   TO   HAPPEN. This is the mediocrity America accepts as the cost of "freedom".

Freedom? Really?  How about the freedom for the rest of us to be able to conduct the daily transactions of society without fear of being shot by some lunatic?

The ammosexual defense of their kink is predictable and almost certainly incorrigible. Driven (and heavily armed) that’s a view that’s managed to hold political sway over the mushy majority for whom the notion the the liberty of the gun-sniffing few outweighs the freedom of the rest of us to assemble, travel, speak without fear of suppressing fire. What drives that is, at least in part, the normalization of gun fetishization. Which is what you see above. And is what must be shamed out of the public square.

Nope, No, No sirree Bob. Because, "Murica!". Second Amendment. Protect against tyranny in government. Pick you own sick and twisted metaphor.

Nothing ever changes.

The truth is made worse by the reality that no one–really no one–anywhere on the political spectrum has the courage to speak out about the madness of unleashed guns and what they do to American life….

The reality is simple: every country struggles with madmen and ideologues with guns, and every country–Canada, Norway, Britain–has had a gun massacre once, or twice. Then people act to stop them, and they do–as over the past few years has happened in Australia. Only in America are gun massacres of this kind routine, expectable, and certain to continue.

 

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