Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Protesting The Ethnic Cleansing Of Palestinians In Gaza Frightens Jews In America

NC  | Today’s demonstrations are in opposition to the Biden-Netanyahu genocide in Gaza and the West Bank. The more underlying crisis can be boiled down to the insistence by Benjamin Netanyahu that to criticize Israel is anti-Semitic. That is the “enabling slur” of today’s assault on academic freedom.

By “Israel,” Biden and Netanyahu mean specifically the right-wing Likud Party and its theocratic supporters aiming to create “a land without a [non-Jewish] people.” They assert that Jews owe their loyalty not to their current nationality (or humanity) but to Israel and its policy of driving the Gaza Strip’s millions of Palestinians into the sea by bombing them out of their homes, hospitals and refugee camps.

The implication is that to support the International Court of Justice’s accusations that Israel is plausibly committing genocide is an anti-Semitic act. Supporting the UN resolutions vetoed by the United States is anti-Semitic.

The claim is that Israel is defending itself and that protesting the genocide of the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank frightens Jewish students. But research by students at Columbia’s School of Journalism found that the complaints cited by the New York Times and other pro-Israeli media were made by non-students trying to spread the story that Israel’s violence was in self-defense.

The student violence has been by Israeli nationals. Columbia has a student-exchange program with Israel for students who finish their compulsory training with the Israeli Defense Forces. It was some of these exchange students who attacked pro-Gaza demonstrators, spraying them with Skunk, a foul-smelling indelible Israeli army chemical weapon that marks demonstrators for subsequent arrest, torture or assassination. The only students endangered were the victims of this attack. Columbia under Shafik did nothing to protect or help the victims.

The hearings to which she submitted speak for themselves. Columbia’s president Shafik was able to avoid the first attack on universities not sufficiently pro-Likud by having meetings outside of the country. Yet she showed herself willing to submit to the same brow-beating that had led her two fellow presidents to be fired, hoping that her lawyers had prompted her to submit in a way that would be acceptable to the committee.

I found the most demagogic attack to be that of Republican Congressman Rick Allen from Georgia, asking Dr. Shafik whether she was familiar with the passage in Genesis 12.3. As he explained” “It was a covenant that God made with Abraham. And that covenant was real clear. … ‘If you bless Israel, I will bless you. If you curse Israel, I will curse you.’ … Do you consider that to be a serious issue? I mean, do you want Columbia University to be cursed by God of the Bible?”[1]

Shafik smiled and was friendly all the way through this bible thumping, and replied meekly, “Definitely not.”

She might have warded off this browbeating question by saying, “Your question is bizarre. This is 2024, and America is not a theocracy. And the Israel of the early 1st century BC was not Netanyahu’s Israel of today.” She accepted all the accusations that Allen and his fellow Congressional inquisitors threw at her.

Her main nemesis was Elise Stefanik, Chair of the House Republican Conference, who is on the House Armed Services Committee, and the Committee on Education and the Workforce.

Congresswoman Stefanik:  You were asked were there any anti-Jewish protests and you said ‘No’.

President Shafik: So the protest was not labeled as an anti-Jewish protest. It was labeled as an anti-Israeli government. But antisemitic incidents happened or antisemitic things were said. So I just wanted to finish.

Congresswoman Stefanik: And you are aware that in that bill, that got 377 Members out of 435 Members of Congress, condemns ‘from the river to the sea’ as antisemitic?

Dr. Shafik: Yes, I am aware of that.

Congresswoman Stefanik: But you don’t believe ‘from the river to the sea’ is antisemitic?

Dr. Shafik: We have already issued a statement to our community saying that language is hurtful and we would prefer not to hear it on our campus.[2]

What an Appropriate Response to Stefanik’s Browbeating Might Have Been?

Shafik could have said, “The reason why students are protesting is against the Israeli genocide against the Palestinians, as the International Court of Justice has ruled, and most of the United Nations agree. I’m proud of them for taking a moral stand that most of the world supports but is under attack here in this room.”

Instead, Shafik seemed more willing than the leaders of Harvard or Penn to condemn and potentially discipline students and faculty for using the term “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” She could have said that it is absurd to say that this is a call to eliminate Israel’s Jewish population, but is a call to give Palestinians freedom instead of being treated as Untermenschen.

Asked explicitly whether calls for genocide violate Columbia’s code of conduct, Dr. Shafik answered in the affirmative — “Yes, it does.” So did the other Columbia leaders who accompanied her at the hearing. They did not say that this is not at all what the protests are about. Neither Shafik nor any other of the university officials say, “Our university is proud of our students taking an active political and social role in protesting the idea of ethnic cleansing and outright murder of families simply to grab the land that they live on. Standing up for that moral principle is what education is all about, and what civilization’s all about.”

Monday, April 29, 2024

DEI Is Dumbasses With No Idea That They're Dumb

twitter  |  Tucker Carlson about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Karine Jean-Pierre: "The marriage of ineptitude and high self-esteem is really the marker of our time. I've nothing against dumb people at all. My dogs are dumb and I love my dogs....I'm not attacking her for being dumb but the idea that dumb person has no, and the White House Press Secretary is in the same category, who's no idea she's dumb, she really thinks like she won the prize, she's the most impressive, like: "I'm White House Press Secretary because I'm the best talker in America." It's so crazy and yet the smartest people I know are very often sort of, they have humility."

Sunday, April 28, 2024

The Weaponization Of Safety As A Way To Criminalize Students

 Slate  |  What do you mean by the “weaponization of safety”?

The language is about wanting to make Jewish students feel safe. But there isn’t that other side of the conversation, which is: Are Palestinian students feeling safe? Some students are afraid of doxing, and there aren’t conversations about that.

OK, so the school policies have changed. Are there any other ways things have changed in recent years for student activists?

I do think that one of the things that has changed is that there are ways universities are, for example, deactivating access cards, taking students out of dorms, and rapidly creating material consequences—consequences relating to housing, tuition, fees, expulsion, etc.
Those move much faster, in large part because of technology. You can, by a click of a button, deactivate students’ cards. It’s increased the speed at which universities can respond.

And then, for example, with things like Twitter or TikTok now, there’s the difference between a university president making a statement that’s posted online, versus in the past, when that might have just been an email or in a student newspaper.

What does that conversation occurring publicly mean for this whole dynamic?

It allows for more scrutiny. So when colleges and universities, for example, created statements in 2015 and 2016 about anti-Blackness and police brutality, a lot of those statements were about standing against hate, etc. And then in 2020, as colleges and universities were once again creating the statements, there were student groups that brought up the 2015, 2016 statements being like, What have you done since then? Students are able to say, “You posted about this, and we’re trying to hold you accountable to that.”

What do you think drove schools like Columbia to take such a dramatic disciplinary step in these cases? Do you think this situation was specific to the Israel-Palestine conflict, or standard for any kind of protest?

I think colleges and universities feel like this is very complicated. There’s less of a desire to make a stance, and colleges and universities are wary of making statements; often, statements are 500 words or less, and there needs to be, like, a book. So, I think that that’s part of what makes universities nervous.

Looking at Columbia, as an example, this is a PR nightmare for them. To arrest students now, when there’s so much scrutiny, and then to do it in such a cruel way—students have been talking about only having 15 minutes to collect their belongings, that their belongings were thrown in the trash immediately. And to do that on a scale of 100 students, and then to double down on that, and then say that they’re doing it for safety, doesn’t make a lot of sense. So what that tells you is that Columbia is likely facing a lot of pressure from people who do not want students to be protesting. To the point where they’re making what seems like a very irrational decision.



Saturday, April 27, 2024

H.R. 6408 Terminating The Tax Exempt Status Of Organizations We Don't Like

nakedcapitalism  |  This measures is so far under the radar that so far, only Friedman and Matthew Petti at Reason seem to have noticed it. And Petti has pointed out that the Secretary of the Treasury can designate any organization to be “terrorist-supporting organization,” so the does not think, as Friedman seems to, that any other measures are needed to allow an Administration to try to financially cripple not-for-profits engaging in wrong speech.

Note that the messaging depicting Hamas as somehow behind the campus protests has increased:

And Aljazeera has already produced evidence of Zionist groups trying to stoke confrontations at the demonstrations (hat tip Erasmus):

Mind you, not-for-profits are already subject to mission and censorship pressures by large donors, witness the billionaires who loudly said they would halt donations to Ivy League schools if they “tolerated anti-Semitism,” as in did not quash criticism of Israel. But as you will see, this is a whole different level of censorship.

First, we are hoisting Friedman’s entire tweetstorm. She stresses that not only does this bill create a star chamber when existing laws allow for crackwdowns on terrorist supports, but that it could be easily extended to other types of establishment-threatening speech.

Petti at Reason is more pointed. From This Bill Would Give the Treasury Nearly Unlimited Power To Destroy Nonprofits:

A bipartisan bill would give the secretary of the treasury unilateral power to classify any charity as a terrorist-supporting organization, automatically stripping away its nonprofit status….

In theory, the bill is a measure to fight terrorism financing…

Financing terrorism is already very illegal. Anyone who gives money, goods, or services to a U.S.-designated terrorist organization can be charged with a felony under the Antiterrorism Act and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. And those terrorist organizations are already banned from claiming tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3) of the tax code. Nine charities have been shut down since 2001 under the law.

The new bill would allow the feds to shut down a charity without an official terrorism designation. It creates a new label called “terrorist-supporting organization” that the secretary of the treasury could slap onto nonprofits, removing their tax exempt status within 90 days. Only the secretary of the treasury could cancel that designation.

In other words, the bill’s authors believe that some charities are too dangerous to give tax exemptions to, but not dangerous enough to take to court. Although the label is supposed to apply to supporters of designated terrorist groups, nothing in the law prevents the Department of the Treasury from shutting down any 501(c)(3) nonprofit, from the Red Cross to the Reason Foundation.

Petti explains that an initial target appears to be Students for Justice in Palestine, which he says have not had enough of an attack surface to be targeted under current law; in fact, Florida governor DeSantis had to shelve a plan to shut down Students for Justice in Palestine when confronted with a lawsuit.

Petti explains that his concerns are not unwarranted:

Under the proposed bill, murky innuendo could be enough to target pro-Palestinian groups. But it likely wouldn’t stop there. After all, during the Obama administration, the IRS put aggressive extra scrutiny on nonprofit groups with “Tea Party” or “patriot” in their names. And under the Biden administration, the FBI issued a memo on the potential terrorist threat that right-wing Catholics pose.

The Charity and Security Network, a coalition of charities that operate in conflict zones, warned that its own members could be hindered from helping the neediest people in the world.

“Charitable organizations, especially those who work in settings where designated terrorist groups operate, already undergo strict internal due diligence and risk mitigation measures and…face extra scrutiny by the U.S. government, the financial sector, and all actors necessary to operate and conduct financial transactions in such complex settings,” the network declared in November. “This legislation presents dangerous potential as a weapon to be used against civil society in the context of Gaza and beyond.”

Recall how the US has fired on Médecins Sans Frontières staff who were according to the US, assisting bad guys in their relief efforts? Financial sanctions are so much tidier.

I urge readers, and particularly donors, to alert the fundraising and executive staff at not-for-profits, particularly the journalistic sort, so they can object to this legislation. It would likely not survive a Supreme Court challenge in its current form, but that’s an awfully heavy load to have to carry, plus the legislation might not be subject to an injunction in the meantime.

Friday, April 26, 2024

Weak People Are Open, Empty, and Easily Occupied By Evil...,

Tucker Carlson: "Here's the illusion we fall for time and again. We imagine that evil comes like fully advertised as such, like evil people look like Anton Lavey...

Evil is an independent force that exists outside of people, that acts upon people...

What vessel do they choose? The weak. It's weak men and women who are instruments of evil. The weaker the leader, the more evil that leader will be...

Unfortunately we reached the time in American history where every leader is either a woman or a weak man pretty much...Mike Johnson...but he's a weak man and that's the man you should be afraid of....

Weak people just become a host for evil, an empty building that evil occupies, possesses even. And that's exactly what's happening to Mike Johnson. That's absolutely crazy what Mike Johnson is doing, but not because he's evil, it's because he's weak and therefore susceptible to evil..."

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Jews Are Scared At Columbia It's As Simple As That

APNews  |  “Jews are scared at Columbia. It’s as simple as that,” he said. “There’s been so much vilification of Zionism, and it has spilled over into the vilification of Judaism.”

The protest encampment sprung up at Columbia on Wednesday, the same day that Shafik faced bruising criticism at a congressional hearing from Republicans who said she hadn’t done enough to fight antisemitism. Two other Ivy League presidents resigned months ago following widely criticized testimony they gave to the same committee.

In her statement Monday, Shafik said the Middle East conflict is terrible and that she understands that many are experiencing deep moral distress.

“But we cannot have one group dictate terms and attempt to disrupt important milestones like graduation to advance their point of view,” Shafik wrote.

Over the coming days, a working group of deans, school administrators and faculty will try to find a resolution to the university crisis, noted Shafik, who didn’t say when in-person classes would resume.

U.S. House Republicans from New York urged Shafik to resign, saying in a letter Monday that she had failed to provide a safe learning environment in recent days as “anarchy has engulfed the campus.”

In Massachusetts, a sign said Harvard Yard was closed to the public Monday. It said structures, including tents and tables, were only allowed into the yard with prior permission. “Students violating these policies are subject to disciplinary action,” the sign said. Security guards were checking people for school IDs.

The same day, the Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee said the university’s administration suspended their group. In the suspension notice provided by the student organization, the university wrote that the group’s April 19 demonstration had violated school policy, and that the organization failed to attend required trainings after they were previously put on probation.

The Palestine Solidarity Committee said in a statement that they were suspended over technicalities and that the university hadn’t provided written clarification on the university’s policies when asked.

“Harvard has shown us time and again that Palestine remains the exception to free speech,” the group wrote in a statement.

Harvard did not respond to an email request for comment.

At Yale, police officers arrested about 45 protesters and charged them with misdemeanor trespassing, said Officer Christian Bruckhart, a New Haven police spokesperson. All were being released on promises to appear in court later, he said.

Protesters set up tents on Beinecke Plaza on Friday and demonstrated over the weekend, calling on Yale to end any investments in defense companies that do business with Israel.

In a statement to the campus community on Sunday, Yale President Peter Salovey said university officials had spoken to the student protesters multiple times about the school’s policies and guidelines, including those regarding speech and allowing access to campus spaces.

School officials said they gave protesters until the end of the weekend to leave Beinecke Plaza. The said they again warned protesters Monday morning and told them that they could face arrest and discipline, including suspension, before police moved in.

A large group of demonstrators regathered after Monday’s arrests at Yale and blocked a street near campus, Bruckhart said. There were no reports of any violence or injuries.

Prahlad Iyengar, an MIT graduate student studying electrical engineering, was among about two dozen students who set up a tent encampment on the school’s Cambridge, Massachusetts, campus Sunday evening. They are calling for a cease-fire and are protesting what they describe as MIT’s “complicity in the ongoing genocide in Gaza,” he said.

“MIT has not even called for a cease-fire, and that’s a demand we have for sure,” Iyengar said. ___


Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Crackdowns On Pro-Palestinian Protest And Gaza Ethnic Cleansing

nakedcapitalism  |  Many US papers are giving front-page, above the fold treatment to university administrators going wild and calling in the cops on peaceful campus protests, first at Columbia, followed by Yale and NYU. Harvard, in a profile in courage, closed its campus to prevent a spectacle. Demonstrations are taking hold at other campuses, including MIT, Emerson, and Tufts.

This is an overly dynamic situation, so I am not sure it makes sense to engage in detailed coverage. However, some things seem noteworthy.

First, in typical US hothouse fashion, the press is treating protests as if they were a bigger deal than the ongoing genocide in Gaza. I am not the only one to notice this. From Parapraxis (hat tip  guurst; bear with the author’s leisurely set-up):

I am employed as a non-tenure-track professor in a university department dedicated to teaching and research about Jews, Judaism, and Jewishness. One day, I arrived at work to find security cameras installed in my department’s hallway. I read in an email that these cameras had been installed after an antisemitic poster was discovered affixed to a colleague’s office door. I was never shown this poster. Like the cameras, I learned of it only belatedly. Despite the fact that the poster apparently constituted so great a danger to the members of my department as to warrant increased security, nobody bothered to inform me about it. By the time I was aware that there was a threat in which I was ostensibly implicated, the decision had already been made—by whom, exactly, I don’t know—about which measures were necessary to protect me from it. My knowledge, consent, and perspective were irrelevant to the process…

The prolepsis of the decision did more than protect me—if, indeed, it really did that. It interpellated my coworkers and myself as people in need of protection…. I was unwittingly transformed, literally overnight, into the type of person to whom something might happen.

My employer has a campus—three, actually—meaning that it has a physical plant. I navigate one of these campuses as my workplace, but it almost never figures for me as “the campus.” In fact, the first time since beginning the job when I felt myself caught up in an affective relation, not to the particular institution where I work, but rather to “the campus” was when I looked up into that security camera and felt myself being “watched” by it. Only then did I think, a couple of months into my temporary contract, that I was not just at my workplace. Now I was on “the campus.”

This incident with the poster and the camera occurred, of course, some weeks after the October 7 Hamas attacks on Israel and the onset of Israel’s retaliatory military campaign in Gaza. Against so horrific a backdrop, and relative to the intimidation and retaliation to which those who speak out against the war (including—indeed, especially—in the academy) have been subjected, my story sounds banal. And it is. In its very ordinariness, however, the anecdote is quite representative: first, of how decisions get made at contemporary institutions of higher education (generally speaking, without the input of those whom they impact); and second, of the logic of a peculiarly American phenomenon I call campus panic….

The months since October 7 have aggravated the most extreme campus panic I have witnessed. To judge by the American mass media, the campus is the most urgent scene of political struggle in the world. What is happening “on campus” often seems of greater concern than what is happening in Gaza, where every single university campus has been razed by the IDF. When all the Palestinian dead have been counted, it seems likely that these months will be recorded as having inflamed a campus panic no less intense than the one that accompanied the Vietnam War.

Second, many otherwise fine stories, like Columbia in crisis, again by the Columbia Journalism Review, and Columbia University protests and the lessons of “Gym Crow” by Judd at Popular Information, start off with the 1968 protests at Columbia as a point of departure. And again, consistent with the Parapraxis account and being old enough to remember the Vietnam War, I find the comparison to be overdone. Yes, there are some telling similarities, like the role of right-wing pressure in getting campus administrators to call out the cops, the device of dwelling on the earlier uprising seems to obscure more than it reveals. The Vietnam War, unlike Gaza, tore the US apart. Today’s campus students are, with only the comparatively small contingent of Palestinian students, acting to protest US support of slaughter in Gaza. In 1968, for many, the stake were more personal. The risk of young men having to serve was real.

Similarly, conservatives then supported the military and were typically proud of their or any family member’s service. Draft dodging and demonization of armed forces leaders was close to unconscionable. It took years of the major television networks and the two authoritative magazines, Time and Newsweek, showing what the war looked like, and intimating that the US was not succeeding, that shifted mass opinion.


Tuesday, April 23, 2024

The Senatorial Kayfabe On Mayorkas Changes Nothing - But It Is Entertaining...,

KATV  |  Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., chastised Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas Thursday over his alleged mishandling of the southern border.

Mayorkas has been the subject of intense GOP scrutiny as the migrant crisis continues to overwhelm U.S. sanctuary cities. While the House issued articles of impeachment against the border czar this week, the Senate was quick to shoot them down.

Nonetheless, Mayorkas remains a polarizing figure on Capitol Hill. Sen. Paul criticized Mayorkas while hearing his testimony during a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

“How did the murderer of Laken Riley get into this country?” the senator asked, invoking the name of the 22-year-old allegedly slain by illegal migrant Jose Ibarra. “What is the statute that allowed you to do it? How could you sleep at night having done that?”

Also slamming Mayorkas was Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., who grilled him over repeatedly changing his answers when asked about how Ibarra entered the U.S.

“[Ibarra] was paroled into the United State due to lack of detention capacity,” Sen. Hawley said. “You and I both know you know this.”

You just never wanted to cop to it,” the senator added. “You testified falsely under oath.”

Mayorkas also took heat this week from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., who suggested he “should have deported” Riley, a U.S. citizen, to keep her safe.

"Her parents would have appreciated that," the congresswoman added.

U.S. sanctuary cities are now using significant funding to care for migrants. New York City recently announced a $53 million pilot program to distribute prepaid debit cards to migrant families. Denver Mayor Mike Johnston last week touted his decision to cut back on $45.9 million worth of expenses as the city deals with an ongoing influx of migrants.

Monday, April 22, 2024

MTG Isn't Vulnerable To The Intelligence Communities' Primary Control Vector

Rogan and Carlson also touch upon the effects of technology and social media on personal interactions and societal norms. They discuss the negative impacts of constant connectivity, lamenting the loss of meaningful face-to-face interactions.

"When people lie and when people bullshit and gaslight, it's more offensive now than it's ever been before," Rogan points out.

"The lies aren't sophisticated. It's something incredibly insulting and demeaning to tell me a lie when I know it's a lie."

And then the discussion gets ominously dark as the pair reflect on the re-authorization of the 'spying on Americans' bill (we note that the two gentlemen met before the bill was re-authorized).

'Kiddie Porn' blackmail fear...

Stunningly, Carlson tells Rogan that congressmen were "terrified" that intelligence agencies will frame them with "kiddie porn" if they openly opposed the "warrantless spying" bill.

Specifically, he says US lawmakers "told" him that they are "worried" about being punished by intel agencies if they oppose reauthorizing Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

"People don't say that because they're worried about being punished. They’re worried about someone putting kiddie porn on their computer. Members of Congress are terrified of the intel agencies. I'm not guessing at that. They've told me that — including people on the intel committee, including people who run the intel committee," Carlson said.

"The people whose job it is to oversee and keep in line these enormous, secretive agencies whose budgets we can't even know - their 'black budgets'," Carlson continued, raising his hands into air-quotes.

That it is "tyranny", not democracy, for "unelected people who are not accountable to anyone making the biggest decisions", Carlson raged, to force congressmen to support reauthorizing "warrantless spying" of American citizens because "they're threatened."

"They're the parents, the agencies are the children. They're afraid of the agencies. That's not compatible with democracy."

“It’s playing out in front of everyone, and no one cares and no one does anything about it,” Carlson said.

"I think the reason is because they’re threatened. And if you look at the committee chairman who allowed this shit to happen year after year, they’re all - and I don’t know, people say, ‘Oh, they’re compromised or being blackmailed,’ whatever. I don’t have evidence of that. But I know them. And they have all the things to hide. I know that for a fact."

“It’s not a stretch of imagination to imagine that, you know, some committee chairman who’s allowing warrantless spying on Americans to continue, or whatever abuse they’re allowing... It’s not impossible to imagine that some guy with a drinking problem or a weird sex life — and that’s very common, very common up there — that’s why they’re doing it. Because they don’t want to be exposed,” Carlson added.

“I said to somebody, a very powerful person, the other day, in a conversation in my kitchen, an elected official - holds a really senior position...

But I was like, ‘All these people are controlled. They’ve all got weird s*x lives, and all these things they’re hiding, and they’re being blackmailed by the intel agencies.’

And he said, and I’m quoting, ‘I know.’ I was like, okay, so at this point, we’re just sort of admitting that’s real? Like, why do we allow that to continue?”

Saturday, April 20, 2024

CIA Showed The House Speaker Its Pictures Of His Little Johnson.....,

davidstockman  |  What Johnson’s impending Waterloo means, therefore, is not merely the prospect of another wild and wooly succession battle, but actually that there is no point at all in the preservation of a Republican majority and GOP House Speaker. After all, the Washington GOP has become so infected with neocon warmongers and careerist pols who spend a lifetime basking in the imperial projects and pretensions of the world’s War Capital that apparently the best the House GOP caucus could do when it ejected the previous careerist deep stater from the Speaker’s chair was to tap the dim-witted nincompoop who currently occupies it.

The Republican party is thus truly beyond redemption. As JFK once said about the CIA, its needs to be splintered into a thousand pieces and swept into the dustbin of history.

Indeed, when you look at the calamitous fiscal trajectory embedded in the CBO’s latest 30-year fiscal outlook, you truly have to wonder about what miniature minds like Congressman Johnson’s are actually thinking. That is to say, the latest CBO report published in March presumes that there will never be another recession and no inflation flare-up, interest rate spike, global energy dislocation, prolonged Forever War or any other imaginable crisis ever again—just smooth economic sailing for the next 30 years.

And yet, and then. Even by the math of this Rosy Scenario on steroids the public debt will reach $140 trillion at minimum by 2054. In turn, that would cause interest payments on the public debt with rates no higher than those which prevailed between 1986 and 1997 to reach $10 trillion per year.

You simply don’t need paragraphs, pages and whole monographs worth of analysis and amplification to understand where that is going. The nation’s fisc is now on the cusp of descending into the maws of a doomsday machine. So how in the world do these elements of Johnson’s offering make even the remotest sense?

Speaker Johnson's Foreign Aid Boondoggle:

  • Indo-Pacific aid: $8.1 billion.
  • Israel: $26.4 billion.
  • Ukraine: $60.8 billion.
  • Total: $95.3 billion.

Apparently, it’s because Johnson and a good share of the Washington GOP have succumbed wholesale to neocon paranoia, stupidity, lies and hollow excuses for warmongering. For crying out loud, Putin has no interest in molesting the Poles, to say nothing of storming the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. He is certainly no Ghandi, but well more than smart enough to recognize that with Russia’s GDP of $2.2 trillion and war budget of $80 billion there would be no point in going to war with NATO’s $45 trillion of GDP and combined war budgets in excess of $1.2 trillion.

Likewise, China’s $50 trillion debt-ridden Ponzi would collapse in months if its $3.5 trillion flow of export earnings were disrupted after attempting to land its single modern aircraft carrier on the California coast. And Iran has no nukes, no intercontinental range missiles and a GDP equal to 130 hours of US annual output.

So, some Axis of evil!

Yet that’s exactly what the Speaker said this morning after going to too many Deep State briefings and apparently having his own johnson yanked once too often. The Swamp creatures surely see the lad’s naivete and blithering ignorance as a gift that doesn’t stop giving. That is to say, a “mark” who knows nothing at all about the world from sources not stamped, “Top Secret (lies)”.

Speaker Mike Johnson: “We’re going to stand for freedom and make sure that Putin doesn’t march through Europe… we’re the greatest Nation on the planet, and we have to act like it”,

This is a critical time right now, a critical time on the world stage. I can make a selfish decision and do something that’s different but I’m doing here what I believe to be the right thing. “I think providing lethal aid to Ukraine right now is critically important. I really do. I really do believe the intel and the briefings that we've gotten.

I believe Xi, Vladimir Putin and Iran really are an axis of evil. I think they’re in coordination on it. “So I think that Vladimir Putin would continue to march through Europe if he were allowed. I think he might go to the Balkans next. I think he might have a showdown with Poland or one of our NATO allies.

To put it bluntly, I would rather send bullets to Ukraine than American boys. My son is going to begin in the Naval Academy this fall. This is a live-fire exercise for me as it is so many American families. This is not a game, this is not a joke.

Needless to say, our dufus Speaker doesn’t know the “Baltics” from the “Balkans” where Serbia and other Russian friendlies are definitely not quaking in their boots about Putin.

In point of fact, however, it is not hard to see that the civil war and territorial dispute between Kiev and Moscow over the Donbas and rim of the Black Sea from Mariupol to Odessa is a one-off of Russian and regional history and Washington’s mindless push of NATO eastward to Russia’s very doorstep.

The light-yellow area of this 1897 map gave an unmistakable message: To wit, in the late Russian Empire there was no doubt as to the paternity of the Donbas and the lands adjacent to the Azov Sea and the Black Sea. Already then, they were part of the 125 years-old New Russia, which had been assembled by purchase and conquest during the reign of Catherine the Great.

Indeed, it was only in 1922 that the yellow area—essentially demarcating the four provinces of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson, which recently voted to rejoin Russia—was appended to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic by the great humanitarian and map-maker, V. Lenin.

And yet Speaker Johnson now wants to crash the Republican Party on enforcing a map drawn by one of history’s bloodiest monsters. It’s come down to that.

Friday, April 19, 2024

Permanently Neutered - Israel Disavows An Attempt At Escalation Dominance

MoA  |   Last night Israel attempted a minor attack on Iran to 'retaliate' for the Iranian penetration of its security screen.

The current exchange happened after Israel, in clear violation of international law, bombed the Iranian consulate in Damascus.

The aim and success of last night's attack is yet unknown:

Israel carried out retaliatory strikes against Iran early Friday morning local time, reportedly targeting locations in the west of the country. Explosions were heard in the city of Isfahan, prompting commercial flights to divert from their routes.

Senior US officials speaking to ABC, CBS and NPR confirmed the strikes.
Iran's semi-official Fars news agency reported at around 5:30 a.m. local time (10:00 p.m. EST Thursday) that explosions were heard in Qahjaverestan, northeast of Isfahan.

A senior Iranian military official in Isfahan told the Islamic Republic News Agency that the explosions were caused by Iran's air defenses that fired at a suspicious object east of Isfahan. Isfahan's international airport is located just northeast of Qahjaverestan.

Two discarded first stages of Israeli ROCKS aero-ballistic missiles have been found in Iraq. ROCKS, a derivative of Sparrows ballistic target rocket, are air-launched, stand-off, air-to-ground missiles.

They may have hit something near Isfahan or they may have been taken down by Iranian air defense.

No Iranian or Israeli officials have commented the attack. The IAEA said that no Iranian nuclear facility has been hit.

As both sides are currently silent, and as there are no signs of further escalation, the strike will likely conclude the current exchange.

As a consequence of its strike in Damascus Israel has lost its escalation dominance. Iran managed to penetrate its external security screen just like Hamas had penetrated Israel's internal security screen on October 7 2023 when it broke out of Gaza to collect hostages.

Those who moved to Israel because they thought that it could provide them with security should reevaluate their decision.

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Israel Cannot Lie About Or Escape Its Conspicuous Kinetic Vulnerability

nakedcapitalism |  Israel has vowed to respond to Iran’s missile attack over the last weekend, despite many reports of US and its allies urging Israel to declare their defense against a very large-scale Iran missile barrage to be a victory. The US and Iran both appear united in wanting to stop further escalation. But Israel has a mind of its own, as demonstrated by its stunning attack on Iran’s embassy grounds in Damascus which initiated this crisis.

It’s possible that Israel could use a cyber attack to retaliate. But that seems unlikely given Israel’s long established policy of making hard hits back in response to assaults. It also seems unlikely given what Alastair Crooke has described as the implicit premise of Israel, that Jews in its borders would be assured of safety. That sense of security took a body blow on October 7. Israelis seem almost driven to re-establish their appearance of military potency.

The next question is whether Israel can be herded or coerced into what would amount to a negotiated attack on Iran, as in hitting targets conveyed to Tehran in advance so it could bolster defenses and get personnel and high-value equipment out of the way. There is still a possibility that Israel could engage in deception, as in communicate it would strike certain locations, then hit different ones.

Another possibility is Israel blowing up Al Aqsa mosque. That would be disproportionate and would set the entire Muslim world on fire. From a recent post at NC by Kevin Kirk:

So the Temple Institute Organization, based in Jerusalem (and supported by Henry Swieca, a wealthy New York financier), who are committed to building the 3rd Temple and restoring animal sacrifice, have swung into action and submitted an application to the Israeli police to use knives to slaughter 5 perfect red heifers as part of a purification ritual elucidated in Numbers Chapter 19 of the Bible. This ceremony, which is taking place on a specially built altar situated on the Mount of Olives opposite the Temple Mount, is set to take place in April 22nd, which is during Passover. Once the purification ceremony has been undertaken then the stage is set for the building of the Temple, leading to the coming of the Messiah and the final battle between good and evil on a hill just outside Haifa called Tel Megiddo, or, as it is called in the Bible: Armageddon.

Some Israelis are already planning their Temple Mount project. Echoes of Israel developers promoting their plans for Gaza post-Palestinians, but with vastly higher stakes:

For now, we will limit ourselves to the focus of Western concern, that of a kinetic attack on Iran. A remarkable story at the Financial Times, prominently places as a “Big Read”, Ukraine’s air defence struggle shows risks to Israel, departs radically from Anglosphere practice of heavily propagandized coverage about both the Ukraine and Gaza (and now Iran) conflict. It’s quite the twofer. It not only admits what until recently has been verboten, that Russia has seriously weakened Ukraine’s air defenses and the West can’t do much to shore them back up. It also provides a detailed description of Iran’s barrage and discusses how despite claims of success, they showed Israel vulnerability, particularly to a sustained campaign by Iran. This is not all that different from what you see in the independent media.

So why is the Financial Times making so many admissions against Western interest? It’s not as if these facts are not well known among insiders, particularly the military. My guess is this is an effort to influence Israel loyalists in political circles, particularly the US, as well as private Israel influencers, that escalating with Iran has very high odds of turning out badly for Israel. Nevertheless, it’s surprising to see so much candor while events are still in play.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

The Show Must Go On....,

antiwar  |  President Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the US wouldn’t join Israel in any offensive action against Iran, multiple media outlets have reported.

US officials are touting Israel’s defense of Iran’s attack as a victory, and that’s the message Biden conveyed to Netanyahu, a sign the US doesn’t want the situation to escalate. Iran fired over 300 missiles and drones at Israel, which was a response to Israel’s bombing of Iran’s consulate in Damascus on April 1.

“Israel really came out far ahead in this exchange. It took out the IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp] leadership in the Levant, Iran tried to respond, and Israel clearly demonstrated its military superiority, defeating this attack, particularly in coordination with its partners,” a senior Biden administration official told reporters, according to The Times of Israel.

In a statement on the attack released by the White House, Biden said he would convene with other G7 leaders to “coordinate a united diplomatic response to Iran’s brazen attack.”

Israeli officials claimed 99% of the Iranian missiles and drones were intercepted by Israeli air defense systems and with assistance from the US, Britain, and Jordan. Some missiles got through and damaged the Nevatim Airbase in southern Israel. Only one person was injured in the attack, a seven-year-old Bedouin girl in the Negev, and nobody was killed.

Iran gave Israel plenty of time to respond to the attack by announcing it fired the drones hours before they reached Israeli territory, and Tehran said it gave other regional countries a 72-hour notice. Iranian officials said the attack was “limited” and made clear they do not seek an escalation with Israel.

But Tehran is also warning it will launch an even bigger attack if Israel responds. “If the Zionist regime or its supporters demonstrate reckless behavior, they will receive a decisive and much stronger response,” Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said in a statement on Sunday.

While the US is signaling it seeks de-escalation and won’t support a potential Israeli attack on Iran, it’s unclear what Israel will do next. The Israeli war cabinet convened to discuss the situation on Sunday, and Israeli media reports said they agreed a response would come but didn’t decide on where or when.

Israeli War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz vowed Israel would respond but signaled it wouldn’t be imminent. Gantz said the “event is not over” and that Israel should “build a regional coalition and exact a price from Iran, in a way and at a time that suits us.”

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that Biden also told Netanyahu “that the United States is going to continue to help Israel defend itself,” signaling the US would intervene again to help Israel if it does choose to escalate the situation and comes under another attack.

Israel’s bombing of the Iranian consulate in Syria killed 13 people, including seven members of the IRGC. Israel has a history of conducting covert attacks inside Iran and killing Iranians in Syria, but the bombing of the diplomatic facility marked a huge escalation.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Iran Breached And Spec'd The Complete Iron Dome While Hitting Its Targets With Hypersonic Missiles

simplicius  |  Now, let’s get down to the nuts and bolts.

This strike was unprecedented for several important reasons. Firstly, it was of course the first Iranian strike on Israeli soil directly from Iranian soil itself, rather than utilizing proxies from Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, etc. This alone was a big watershed milestone that has opened up all sorts of potentials for escalation.

Secondly, it was one of the most advanced and longest range peer-to-peer style exchanges in history. Even in Russia, where I have noted we’ve seen the first ever truly modern near-peer conflict, with unprecedented scenes never before witnessed like when highly advanced NATO Storm Shadow missiles flew to Crimea while literally in the same moments, advanced Russian Kalibrs flew past them in the opposite direction—such an exchange has never been witnessed before, as we’ve become accustomed to watching NATO pound on weaker, unarmed opponents over the last few decades. But no, last night Iran upped the ante even more. Because even in Russia, such exchanges at least happen directly over the Russian border onto its neighbor, where logistics and ISR is for obvious reasons much simpler.

But Iran did something unprecedented. They conducted the first ever modern, potentially hypersonic, assault on an enemy with SRBMs and MRBMs across a vast multi-domain space covering several countries and timezones, and potentially as much as 1200-2000km.

Additionally, Iran did all this with potentially hypersonic weapons, which peeled back another layer of sophistication that included such things as possible endoatmospheric interception attempts with Israeli Arrow-3 ABM missiles.

But let’s step back for a moment to state that Iran’s operation in general was modeled after the sophisticated paradigm set by Russia in Ukraine: it began with the launch of various types of drones, which included some Shahed-136s (Geran-2 in Russia) as well as others. We can see that from the Israeli-released footage of some of the drone interceptions:

Monday, April 15, 2024

The Deep State Overplayed Its Hand And Has Completely Lost Control Of The Global Situation

nakedcapitalism  |  I recently came across this piece from the Century Foundation titled “A Bolder American Foreign Policy Means More Values and Less War.” Its central argument is that the US must “recenter values” like “multilateralism and human rights that are core to its identity.”

The Century Foundation calls itself a “a progressive, independent think tank,” and this particular piece appears to mean well but is just as disconnected from reality than all the neocon think tanks’ war mongering policy papers saying Washington will prevail as it takes on Russia, China, Iran, and whoever else it feels like.

The Century Foundation authors possess a Hollywoodized idea of America that isn’t a land filled with brutal class struggle but virtue, which flow out into its foreign policy that stands for international humanitarian or human rights law. I think anyone with a basic understanding of current events or recent history knows how ridiculous this is, and yet it is repeated ad nauseam by every purported think tank. I suppose this is a classic example of Upton Sinclair’s saying that “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it,” but I think the Century Foundation is onto something with its focus on values. It’s just that it has it backwards. The problem is that values are what has the US  on the brink of starting World War III in multiple locations.

So what are the core values that do have it such a position – and whose are they?

I think the story of former US President Herbert Hoover is instructive. He had interests in mines in Russia until they were seized by the Bolsheviks. [1] Hoover never forgot about it and remained terrified of Communists for the rest of his life – and for good reason considering how much he stood to lose.

Though Hoover got booted out of office in 1932, he played a central role in organizing capitalists to counter worker organization both in the US and abroad. His legacy lives on at Stanford’s neocon Hoover Institution. Throughout his life, he remained a major admirer of pre-Soviet Russia: “At the top was a Russian noble family and at the bottom 100,000 peasants and workers with nobody much in between but the priesthood and the overseers.”

That pretty much sums up the capitalist class’ enduring vision not just for Russia, but everywhere. Ownership of Russian mines or Opium Wars in China might not factor much into my or your everyday life, but you can bet it’s an important part of American ruling class ideology. Whose values? The dominant value at play there is a belief that as Western capitalists they have a right and a duty to exploit and profit off of every corner of the globe. Just like capital must dominate labor, it must expand and find new sources of revenue. If governments in Russia and China impede that progress, they must be destroyed.

Rather than bromides like more American “values,” the following are some questions or thought exercises for think tanks to consider – whether they want to win another war or maybe even quit starting so many of them.

Can You Practice Realpolitik with Gangsters? 

The US is a market state that is dominated by and run for transnational capital. Its foreign policy and the military are a tool of the American oligarchy. Therefore, any serious policy discussion needs to deal with the fact that national interests as they’re expressed today are not in any real sense national but representative of the interests of a small cohort of the super wealthy.

When US officials go on about spreading “freedom,” they’re not lying. It’s just their idea of freedom is a state devoted to high profits – free from the political whims of local populations that could degrade an investment’s expected return.

Let’s remember there likely wouldn’t be any problem with Russia had Putin not put an end to the 1990s shock therapy administered by the Western finance capitalists who were making a killing by pillaging Russian resources. Like Bert Hoover, they’re haunted by that opportunity snatched away from them, and they’ve been trying to get it back for a quarter century now.

The question is will American capital ever voluntarily give up? Will it ever say “okay, we’re satisfied with what we’ve got here, you do your thing in your sphere of influence”?

It’s not like Moscow and Beijing haven’t tried. Russia for example floated the idea of joining NATO or working out some other security arrangement. For decades after the end of the USSR, Russia tried to be accepted into the West’s club to no avail.

China, too, constantly repeats the refrain that the world is big enough for both Beijing and Washington. It invited the US to join it in its Belt and Road Initiative. The US could have helped steer projects that would have benefited both countries. While such cooperation between the two big powers wouldn’t be a panacea for all the world’s problems, it would likely mean a lot better spot than current one.  Instead the US wanted the whole pie and instead we got the TPP, sanctions, export bans, a new Cold War, a spy balloon scandal, the disastrous effort to weaken Russia before taking on China, the successful effort to sever Europe from Eurasia to disastrous effect for Europe, and the desire to see a Ukraine sequel in Taiwan and/or the South China Sea.

There is a lot of confusion over why the West keeps escalating in a losing effort. Why, for example, are Western governments going around begging for shells to send Ukraine rather than accepting the L? The desperation seems to stem from the creeping realization that their system is coming undone. The entire post-WWII elite American mindset is built on the foundation of worldwide profit expansion via silicon and fire, and if they throw everything at Russia and lose, well a whole new domino theory could come into play – one where parasitic Western finance capital is driven back. (Granted it might in most cases be replaced by a more local form, but it’s nonetheless frightening for the Western honchos.)  Just look at what’s happening to France in Françafrique! And the US in the Middle East!

The fact that the West can no longer even manufacture enough weapons to supply its proxy wars almost certainly means that the dominoes will keep falling.


Israel Became A Gangster State When Its Lawbreakers Became Its Lawmakers

NYTimes  |   For decades, most Israelis have considered Palestinian terrorism the country’s biggest security concern. But there is another ...