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Ukraine bans Russian television & other real Ukraine news

3:20 am in Uncategorized by fairleft

With apologies to the great news video site, The Real News

1. OSCE slams Ukraine ban on all Russian TV channels

“I repeat my call to the authorities not to initiate these repressive measures,” OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović said. “Banning programming without a legal basis is a form of censorship; national security concerns should not be used at the expense of media freedom.” …

More than half of Ukraine’s population speaks Russian regularly and one third say it’s their native tongue. In Crimea over 90 percent of the population uses Russian on an everyday basis.

The New York based Committee to Protect Journalists also attacked the move:

“We call on Ukrainian authorities to allow Russian television channels to broadcast in the country and to ensure that the citizens of Ukraine have a plurality of information sources available,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. “Ukrainian people should be able to choose for themselves what information and opinion to access. Restricting access would escalate, not alleviate, the current tensions.”

For anyone familiar with the language policies of former President Victor Yushenko, none of the anti-Russian-language policies should come as a surprise. All so unnecessary, when the real enemy isn’t a language but the corrupt oligarchs who use cultural and linguistic issues to keep natural allies divided.

2. What Russia wants

Always keep in mind that the following utopia is the ultimate ‘evil’ that your billions of U.S. tax dollars fight against:

We should belatedly begin work towards the common goal of an Alliance of Europe stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok, in which people and trade would flow freely. We should merge the soft power of Europe with hard power and resources of Russia, as prominent Europeans and Mr Putin have often proposed.

The writer, well-known academic Sergei Karaganov, also mentions what I’ve talked about before, the obvious though admittedly somewhat unusual solution to the Ukraine crisis:

The outline of a compromise is clear. A federal structure for Ukrainian institutions – and a switch to a parliamentary system in place of a presidential one – would enable the people of each region to make their own choices over language and cultural allegiance. Ownership and control of the gas transportation system should be shared between Ukraine and its neighbors. The country should be allowed to participate both in Russia’s customs union and the EU association deal.

3. Ukraine’s shadow on Central Asia & US involvement in the coup

An excellent piece on what the U.S.-instigated coup in Ukraine means for Russia in central Asia, but more intriguing are veteran Indian diplomat M K Bhadrakumar‘s comments on the evidence Russia has submitted to the UN Security Council about the coup:

Russia is increasingly left with no choice but to ‘declassify’ the privileged information in its possession regarding the western intelligence operation that forced the power grab in Kiev.

It is extraordinary that Russia has handed over to the UN Security Council the information with the request to hold an impartial international investigation. … it has become imperative to expose the US narrative to be sheer baloney.

Clearly, Poland and Lithuania would not have ventured into the operation to train extremists to overthrow Yanukovich without getting the green signal from Washington. …

This is deadly serious stuff because it casts President Barack Obama in an altogether new light as a ‘cold warrior’ himself, whereas the American official propaganda would have us believe that the president is a helpless statesman largely acting under domestic political compulsions.

What emerges on balance is that there is no way the US-Russia tattered ties can be mended during the remaining period of Obama’s presidency. Equally, there is no way Russia is going to let down its guard about the US intelligence activities in its ‘near abroad’.

4. China’s perspective: The West’s fiasco in Ukraine

The Ukrainian people do not get the democracy or prosperity the West promises. Instead, all they can see in their beloved country now is political confusion and economic depression.

The West itself also becomes a loser as the fiasco in Ukraine will surely erode its credibility.

For the rest of the world, once again, people see another great country torn apart because of a clumsy and selfish West that boasts too many lofty ideals but always comes up short of practical solutions.

But the world does not need to be too pessimistic. The game in Ukraine is far from over. The international community still has the opportunity to salvage the country by working together.

Major powers should set their animosity aside and start working for a compromise. The Ukrainians should abandon their political infighting and work to restore law and order in their country as soon as possible.

5. U.S. ‘media’ decides not to report ‘Maidan snipers hired by opposition’ story

Are they media or propaganda services? David Peterson writes:

Conspicuous by their silence are of course the establishment staples such as the New York Times and Washington Post, the network news channels (ABC, CBS, NBC, and over cable, Fox News, CNN (the one CNN item listed below derives from the website), MSNBC, and Bloomberg), and a litany of others. A stunning example not only of non-coverage of an important revelation (the truth of which requires verification, of course). But of suppression of an important revelation, plain and simple.

More about the story here.

6. Former head of Ukraine security service: Kiev snipers shot from building controlled by Maidan forces

Shots that killed both civilians and police officers were fired from the Philharmonic Hall building in Ukraine’s capital, former head of the Security Service of Ukraine Aleksandr Yakimenko told Russia 1 channel. The building was under full control of the opposition and particularly the so-called Commandant of Maidan self-defense Andrey Parubiy who after the coup was appointed as the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, Yakimenko added.

7. Moscow requests EU probe into Maidan snipers

Russia … at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe meeting held in Stockholm has … suggested investigating the issue of unknown snipers shooting both protesters and the police indiscriminately – … the topic of the recently leaked phone conversation between the EU’s Catherine Ashton and Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet …”


Obama won’t defend jobless benefits

12:11 pm in Uncategorized by fairleft

I first read about this on and thought it might be Trotskyist exaggeration, but alas, President Obama really has told his flunkies that not extending jobless benefits is ‘okay’, which would make millions of workers destitute shortly after Christmas:

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said that he hopes extended jobless benefits will be part of the budget deal, but Democrats are not at this point insisting on it.

“I don’t think we have reached that point where we say ‘this is it, take it or leave it,’ ” Durbin said on “ABC’s This Week.”

Durbin’s soft position echoes that of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) who appeared last week to say no deal would be possible without the extension of jobless benefits expiring Jan. 1, but then walked the ultimatum back.

As WSWS writes, by “the administration’s own figures, allowing the federally-funded extended benefit program to expire will end cash assistance for 1.3 million people immediately after the holidays and impact an additional 3.6 million people in the first half of 2014. … In prior recessions, emergency unemployment benefits, beyond the standard aid offered by the states, have never been terminated when unemployment remained at such high levels as those prevailing today.”

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

We have a long-term economic crisis in the U.S., which began under George Bush Jr. but has never been solved by President Obama. Ignore the official unemployment rate, which disappears the vast numbers who’ve simply given up on finding a job. Long-term unemployment is 2.6 percent, which according to the Council of Economic Advisers is more than twice the percent at “any other time that we have allowed benefits” to expire.

Wsws is right calling this Obama move a “cruel and callous act.” We’ve seen quite a few of them.

And it’s a quick reality check for all of us regarding the guy who, a few days ago, called income inequality the “defining challenge of our time.” Yeah, right.

Is Sergey Lavrov the obvious Nobel Peace Prize choice?

12:28 am in Uncategorized by fairleft

Expanding a comment at David Swanson’s Save the Nobel Peace Prize from Itself

Obviously the Nobel Peace Prize should be given to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. In the quickest thinking diplomatic moment of all time, he literally prevented an imminent war by taking advantage of a U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry bonehead error, where Kerry sneered/joked that aggressive U.S. war on Syria would be called off only if “every single bit” of Syria’s chemical weapons were eliminated in a week. More details are in Syria calls John Kerry’s bluff, agrees to turn over its chemical weapons to UN!, where I quote the Guardian on the purely rhetorical nature of Kerry’s pseudo-demand:

The US state department stressed that Kerry was making a rhetorical argument about the one-week deadline and unlikelihood of Assad turning over Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile. In a statement, the department added: “His point was that this brutal dictator with a history of playing fast and loose with the facts cannot be trusted to turn over chemical weapons, otherwise he would have done so long ago. That’s why the world faces this moment.” …

Kerry said Assad might avoid an attack if he handed every bit of his chemical weapons stock, but added that the Syrian president was not going to do that.

Despite it all, despite hilarious headlines like Kerry tells Russia his Syria comments were not meant as a proposal, Lavrov pushed on, in the end providing the world with a little peace.

If the Peace Prize is not given to Lavrov, possibly in combination with Russian President Vladimir Putin — who was surely in close consultation with his foreign minister during the critical minutes and hours after Kerry’s gaffe — that once more confirms that the Peace Prize committee is just another ‘new cold war’ institution. In other words, it’s a war institution. War being peace these days, in case you haven’t noticed …

And not that we won’t get Obama and Kerry’s war on Syria in 2014 (the U.S. is requiring Syria to prove a WMD negative, the same thing we demanded of Iraq in 2002-3), but let’s focus for now on 2013 and its prize.

A final and second thought, if the committee has a sense of humor I’d love to see them give the peace prize to Lavrov AND Kerry. Who knows, could happen, the committee showing a nice comic sense by awarding Barack the Obomber the prize a few years ago.

P.S. — In a rational world I wouldn’t have to say the following, but here goes anyway: None of the above should be taken as a defense of Russia’s government or any of its policies, including its treatment of gays and Pussy Riot. Read the rest of this entry →

Syria calls John Kerry’s bluff, agrees to turn over its chemical weapons to UN!

1:59 pm in Uncategorized by fairleft

John Kerry smirking and in his best George Bush Jr. voice: John Kerry gives Syria week to hand over chemical weapons or face attack. And then Syria says yes! This is getting interesting, and maybe just a bit hopeful: Syria positive about giving up chemical weapons. Wow, fantastic, what an “elegant solution,” in the words of Los Angeles Times columnist Doyle McManus. Here’s more detail, and then afterwards I have to discuss the potential peace party poopers (I’ve edited the terrible grammar in the following, and removed the italics):

Syria welcomes Russia’s offer to put its chemical weapons under international control

Damascus welcomes Russia’s call to hand over control of its chemical weapons to the international community, the Syrian Foreign Minister has said, responding to Sergey Lavrov’s statement after the two met in the Russian capital.

“The Syrian Arab Republic welcomes Russia’s initiative, because the Syrian government cares about the lives of our people and the security of our country,” Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said …

“We are calling on the Syrian authorities not only to agree on putting chemical weapons stores under international control, but also for their further destruction, and then joining the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons,” Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had said earlier.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has called for measures to provide for the safe storage and destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons arsenal.

“I am sure that the international community will take quick measures to make sure that these chemical weapons reserves are stored in a safe place and are destroyed,” Ban said.

The rebels seem none to happy about this possible outbreak of peace  (same source as above):

In response to the news, Syria’s top rebel commander has accused President Bashar Assad’s regime and Moscow of deceit. “We call for strikes and we warn the international community that this [Assad] regime tells lies, and the liar [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is its teacher. Putin is the biggest liar,” Free Syrian Army chief Selim Idriss told Al Jazeera.

And note, with concern, that Kerry’s offer was apparently “rhetorical,” since he can mind read Syrian President Assad:

The US state department stressed that Kerry was making a rhetorical argument about the one-week deadline and unlikelihood of Assad turning over Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile. In a statement, the department added: “His point was that this brutal dictator with a history of playing fast and loose with the facts cannot be trusted to turn over chemical weapons, otherwise he would have done so long ago. That’s why the world faces this moment.” …

Kerry said Assad might avoid an attack if he handed every bit of his chemical weapons stock, but added that the Syrian president was not going to do that.

Oh, okay, so it wasn’t a real offer, just a bluff, bull doo doo? Note also, by the way, the “every bit of” phrase, which takes me back to good old 2003. It’s the traditional ‘prove a negative’ challenge the U.S. always presents its next victim: in Iraq it was called “prove you’re not hiding even one little bit of WMD.”

Still, the ground has shifted, and the War Party may not get its war … and credit is due to Kerry’s spectacular gaffe, if that’s what it was. (He may be the best/worst Secretary of State in many a decade, depending on your perspective.)

Nonetheless, President Obama has to soldier on, trying to push skepticism and staying the cruise missiles course, but I also sense he doesn’t have his heart into pushing through all this surprisingly rough weather for warmongering:

The White House said it would take a “hard look” at the proposal from the Russian government to get Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to turn over his chemical-weapons stockpiles, but said it didn’t have confidence that Mr. Assad would do so.

“We would welcome a decision and action for Syria to give up its weapons,” said Tony Blinken, President Barack Obama’s deputy national security adviser. But Mr. Blinken said he had little hope that Mr. Assad would give his chemical weapons to the international community as he refused for years to even acknowledge he held such stockpiles.

Notwithstanding reports that Russia has asked Syria to surrender an arsenal of chemical warheads to avoid a likely military strike from the United States, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Monday that lawmakers in Washington should continue to consider President Barack Obama’s request to launch an attack against the regime of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad.

Speaking during a White House press conference Monday afternoon, Carney told reporters that he hopes the members of the House of Representatives and Senate agree to authorize a strike against Assad in retaliation of the August 21 gassing of civilians outside of Damascus. …

Carney’s remarks came only hours after officials in both Russia and Syria said they were working towards relinquishing that stockpile of weapons. Despite a potential negotiation, however, Carney urged lawmakers to move quickly towards approving an attack.

Israel, Oil, & Military-Industrial Complex Drive Syria Regime Change

11:31 pm in Uncategorized by fairleft

Anyone with any sense of who and what drives U.S. foreign policy has been blackly pessimistic as the Congressional ‘bomb Syria’ vote approaches. But the charade of a debate goes forward in our campaign-contributions-driven Congress, Secretary of State Kerry giving them assertions not evidence (If the evidence underlying the assertions were real don’t you think Kerry would’ve shown it to us immediately?), but ‘our’ representatives magically in a buying mood for that b.s. I could pause and point out that even the assertions indicate a catastrophic accident occurred, where Syrian conventional bombardment hit rebel sarin gas stores, and that this matches what on-the-ground Ghouta residents say happened (in the year’s most important ignored news story — thanks

But hell, discussing evidence and assertions … what does it matter when three of America’s main determiners of foreign policy all are bent on destroying Syria? By my count the U.S. has four main foreign policy power constellations: (in no particular order) the Israel lobby, the oil and gas lobby, the military-industrial complex, and the finance industry. Finance is sitting this one out but the other three are gung ho for regime change or Syria destroyed (transformed into squabbling, unstable mini-states).

ISRAEL LOBBY: While I agree with Ohio Barbarian (in The Pro-Israel Argument Against American Military Intervention in Syria) that chaos or regime change in Syria doesn’t help the people of Israel, it is nonetheless what Israeli neocons have long wanted. And they are employing the full force of their Israel Lobby in order to get what they want

This goes back at least to 1996 and “A Clean Break,” the neoconservative game plan that they’ve with great success gotten the U.S. to implement. Syria is mentioned with great deja vu:

“Syria challenges Israel on Lebanese soil. An effective approach, and one with which Americans can sympathize, would be if Israel seized the strategic initiative along its northern borders by engaging Hizballah, Syria, and Iran, as the principal agents of aggression in Lebanon, including … by establishing the precedent that Syrian territory is not immune to attacks emanating from Lebanon by Israeli proxy forces…”

Back to the present, we of course have plenty to choose from, beginning with this news yesterday on the pinnacle of the Israel Lobby, AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee):

AIPAC comes out for strike on Syria– and mentions Iran more often than Syria:

As NJ Senator Robert Menendez said at the Kerry hearing today in the Senate, Syria is about Iran. And it is for AIPAC too. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee broke its silence today, urging a vote for the Syrian strike.

… why does Obama need AIPAC? Could it be because AIPAC can get 70 Senators’ signatures on a napkin in 24 hours?

But, as I said, there’s much to choose from. Read the following from July, 2006, when Israel was slaughtering Lebanese villagers and razing ‘Shia’ apartment blocks:

Seeing a major opportunity to regain influence lost as a result of setbacks in Iraq, prominent neoconservatives are calling for unconditional U.S. support for Israel’s military offensives in Gaza and Lebanon and “regime change” in Syria and Iran, as well as possible U.S. attacks on Tehran’s nuclear facilities in retaliation for its support of Hezbollah.

And just cuz I like the word ‘stoopid’ in a headline: Syria is About Iran & Israel, Stoopid

OIL & GAS LOBBY: The stakes are high and this lobby surely will do its best to get the U.S. to bomb and kill Syrians for its interests.

Iran, Iraq, Syria sign major gas pipeline deal

July 25, 2011: “Iran, Iraq, and Syria have signed a deal for the construction of the Middle East’s largest gas pipeline, which would transit Iranian gas from Iran’s South Pars gas field to Europe via Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea.”

War against Iran, Iraq AND Syria?

On July 23, 2011, Pepe Escobar writes: “Against the interests of Washington, for whom integrating Iran is anathema, the pipeline bypasses two crucial foreign actors in Syria – prime “rebel” weaponizer Qatar (as a gas producer) and logistical “rebel” supporter Turkey (as the self-described privileged energy crossroads between East and West).” …

“Europeans – who endlessly carp about being hostages of Gazprom – should be rejoicing. But instead,” …

“It’s not far-fetched to imagine the EU totally forgetting about a pipeline that will ultimately benefit its citizens and issuing – under US pressure – a directive branding Iran-Iraq-Syria as a terrorist axis; lobbying for a no-fly zone applying to all; and recruiting jihadis all over for a Holy War against the axis, supported by a fatwa issued by Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi.”

Syria intervention plan fueled by oil interests, not chemical weapon concern

This is a recent article in the Guardian by Nafeez Ahmed, subtitled “Massacres of civilians are being exploited for narrow geopolitical competition to control Mideast oil, gas pipelines.” It also provides the story going back more than a decade of neocon plans to undermine Syria in order to get at Israel nemesis Hezbollah. Ahmed is executive director of the UK’s Institute for Policy Research & Development.

MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: Hell, I don’t have much that is immediate on these folks other than Rep Alan Grayson: “Nobody Wants This Except the Military-Industrial Complex”. And note that the Israel Lobby’s neoconservative “search for enemies” serves the Pentagon’s most pressing need, and neoconservatives have close ties to the Pentagon.

In an essentially all-capitalist world, one that is (unfortunately) increasingly united on the policies of generating profits for millionaires and squeezing the poor, the best policy for every economic sector except for oil and gas and arms is peace. So the real ‘need’ for massively bloated military power is minimal, and the last couple decades’ conflict of the ages — the Islam fanatics thing — has been mostly hype and false flag b.s. brought to us by the U.S., Saudi Arabia (Al Qaeda’s homies), and Israel (which has its own military-industrial complex that needs to NOT solve the Israel-Palestine conflict).

A little more Grayson: “I did notice, for what it’s worth, that the manufacturer of the missiles that would be used has had an incredible run in their stock value in the last 60 days. Raytheon stock is up 20 percent in the past 60 days as the likelihood of the use of their missiles against Syria becomes more likely. So I understand that there is a certain element of our society that does benefit from this, but they’re not the people who vote for me, or by the way the people who contribute to my campaign. Nobody wants this except the military-industrial complex.”

Thanks Mr. Grayson for at least mentioning one of the three elephants in the room.

Why Aren’t We Bombing the Rebels, Mr. President?

3:52 am in Uncategorized by fairleft

Carla Del Ponte said it best, there are “strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof” that the rebels have used chemical weapons during the Syrian civil war. The evidence against the government is much weaker. Why aren’t we bombing the rebels, Mr. President, in particular the Al Nusra Front, against whom the evidence is strongest?

1. Turkey finds sarin gas in homes of suspected Syrian Islamists – reports

Note that the U.S. has just announced that indications of sarin gas are exactly what it claims to have found at the Ghouta chemical attack (or accident) site.

2. UN’s Del Ponte says evidence Syria rebels ‘used sarin’

Again, the newest U.S. claim is that indications of sarin gas were found in Ghouta.

3. Syrians in Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack

… from numerous interviews with doctors, Ghouta residents, rebel fighters and their families, a different picture emerges. Many believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the dealing gas attack.

“My son came to me two weeks ago asking what I thought the weapons were that he had been asked to carry,” said Abu Abdel-Moneim, the father of a rebel fighting to unseat Assad, who lives in Ghouta.

Abdel-Moneim said his son and 12 other rebels were killed inside of a tunnel used to store weapons provided by a Saudi militant, known as Abu Ayesha, who was leading a fighting battalion.

The above indicates that the ‘attack’ was really an accidental release of sarin. In that case maybe we shouldn’t bomb Al Nusra Front. ;->

Earlier in the year there were reports like this:

4. US-backed Terrorists Renew Threat to Use Chemical Arms against Syrians and Damascus Gov’t

Clearly an anti-rebel source, but the article is largely direct quotations of rebel leaders and their threats.

“We either bomb Syria or do nothing”

11:48 am in Uncategorized by fairleft

What an odd way of looking at how the U.S. can act in the world. Can President Obama do anything else other than bomb Syria? Two options, do nothing or bomb, that’s it? Bombing after all seems one of the least likely ways of improving the humanitarian crisis going on there. Oh let’s go further, it’s most likely to create chaos, help the Al Qaeda guys, and kill a lot of civilians. So let’s see, maybe there’s some other options . . .

Parachute in massive supplies of food? Nope, Assad would eat it all.

How ’bout smother Syrians with nice clothes? Nope, Assad’s family would sell ‘em all and buy guns.

Ship in lots of construction supplies and building equipment? Nope, Assad would build tanks and bomb shelters with ‘em.

Free internet? Nope, Assad would, uh, block all the good American stuff.

Oh I know, have a peace conference!! Nope, sorry, tried that, the good guys didn’t wanna come.

Okay, so hey, apologies America. I tried but it looks like we’re the “bombs or nothing” country again. Load up them sexy cruise missile bays and let’s get it on! Go USA!


The stupidest way to argue against bombing Syria

12:27 pm in Uncategorized by fairleft

The loser way to debate is to cede the main argument to the other side, which in the case of Syria is, “Who killed all those babies?” By doing just that, Giles Fraser of the Guardian and Bob Dreyfuss of The Nation become the worst ‘friends’ anti-bombing folks could have. (And the Obombers are far from ‘winning’ this debate: even after the chemical horror and the intense media push to bomb, only 9% of Americans want to intervene.) Fraser starts his argument:

But if the logic is simply that Assad is a 24-carat wrong-un, that his use of chemical weapons against his own people is a moral outrage, therefore we need to act – then we are doing little more than satisfying our own sense of retributive morality, and one that has become blurred with a large dollop of action-hero crap.

I responded in the Guardian comments like this:

Your ‘no attack’ argument accepts the premise that Assad is guilty, presupposing this before the UN inspection team is given a chance to look into the incident. How is that supposed to persuade anyone? We of course don’t know who was responsible for the horrific poison gas incident, but we do know who benefits, and we do know that earlier UN inspectors said that the evidence pointed to the rebels being perpetrators rather than the government.

Dreyfuss is an even blunter fail:

Here’s the core question now, in regard to Syria: If it’s true that President Bashar al-Assad’s government used poison gas in an incident that killed hundreds of people, at least, in the suburbs of Damascus, can the United States avoid military action in response?

No, that’s not the core question, it’s the core assumption that must be all-out attacked. Anyway, I wrote in the comments (borrowing a bit from my other comment):

So your ‘no war’ argument starts with accepting the premise that Assad is guilty? An ‘F’ in persuasive writing for you. And you presuppose — like the US and its fellow invaders — before the UN inspection team has been allowed to look into the incident. We of course don’t know who was responsible for the horrific poison gas incident, but we do know who benefits, and we do know that earlier UN inspectors said that the evidence pointed to the rebels being perpetrators rather than the government.

In sum, the only way to respond to this rush to bomb is to shout, “Wait, let the UN inspectors do their job!”Why the rush?”

Well, we can make a very good guess as to why the bombers are rushing, because Obama’s advisers guess that the UN inspections will either be inconclusive or point at the rebels. Why the rush? We saw the same thing in Iraq: while Saddam was opening up the country to UN inspectors, the U.S. was threatening them with bombardment unless they left immediately.

Britain’s tell-it-like-it-is George Galloway offers the common sense way to argue against bombing and killing Syrians:

It is entirely implausible that the Syrian regime chose the moment of the arrival of a UN chemical weapons inspection team to launch a chemical attack on an insurgency already suffering reverse after reverse on the battlefield and steadily losing international support with each new video showing them eating the hearts of slain soldiery and sawing of the heads of Christian priests with bread knives.In the absence of conclusive evidence one would have to believe that the Assad regime was mad as well as bad to have launched such a chemical attack at a time when it is in less danger than it has been for almost a year. I do not believe that Bashar is mad.

The exceptional implausibility if not absurdity of Assad creating such an incident on the very day the UN inspectors arrived, even though he was doing great waging conventional warfare on the rebels… And yet we have ‘anti-intervention’ mainstream opinionists like Dreyfuss and Glaser conceding instead of defending that rock-solid first line of argument. The conspiracy-minded might ask whose side they’re really on. Me, I just think that they’re absorbed in the Western imperial media’s black and white portrayal of the complicated Syrian reality. And/or stupid.

Finally, and cringeworthily, Fraser wailed that nothing could be done:

For there is obviously no wider plan as to how the west might enable Syria to transition to a more stable and peaceful state. Perhaps no such plan is possible.

Besides sticking his jaw out for the obvious hysterical interventionist response (“But we have to do something!”), what a willfully ignorant statement. I answered:

There obviously could be such a plan, since the armed opposition would largely disappear without massive Western and Saudi support. That would make for a much more peaceful and stable Syria.

Denial of reality: a specialty of the mainstream media, sad rags of common-sense destroying, Western-imperialism-ignoring propaganda.

Progressives & FDL & Greg Walden (R) versus Obama & Boehnerists & Club for Growth?

12:58 pm in Uncategorized by fairleft

Because Greg Walden said this about Pres. Obama’s Social Security cuts proposal — that it “really lays out kind of a shocking attack on seniors” — he finds himself reviled by Republican leaders and targeted for defeat in 2014 by the Club for Growth, an anti-economic-growth group that works single-mindedly to redistribute wealth from the rest of us to the rich.

Walden added later, in a conference call with Oregon media, that he was especially worried by the impact of the Obama proposal “on low-income seniors who rely on Social Security.” Now, doesn’t that needed rhetoric need defending against the right (Obama) and the far right (most Republicans and definitely the Club for Growth). I mean (cue random comment on, “Imagine that, a Republican not marching in lockstep with his leadership, but instead standing up for his constituents. Go Greg!”

So how about it Firedoggers??! Firebaggers? Collection for Greg Walden’s primary campaign? … ‘kay, never mind.

Here’s more on the Club for Growth attack, but I changed a few words to truthy up the LA Times mind-reading:

“You’re trying to balance this budget on the backs of seniors and I just think it’s not the right way to go,” Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon told CNN.

That potentially off-message comment provoked swift rebuke from the powerful Club for Growth, the redistributionist advocacy group that supports the measure as a starting point for redistributing more wealth away from social welfare and up to the rich.

The club quickly assigned Walden a place on its “Primary My Congressman” list of Republicans who deserve a GOP primary opponent because they are insufficiently true to redistributionist ideals.

“We always knew Greg Walden had a liberal record, but he really cemented it with his public opposition to even modest redistribution of wealth to the rich,” said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola.

Finally, a bit more of Walden’s CNN interview with Social Security cuts defender Wolf Blitzer:

Blitzer: What’s so shocking about changing that CPI, that consumer price index the way that you would determine how much inflation would go ahead with increases for Social Security recipients, for example?

Walden: Well, once again, you’re trying to balance this budget on the backs of seniors and I just think it’s not the right way to go.

Blitzer: But doesn’t the — doesn’t Paul Ryan’s budget have major changes as far as Social Security and Medicare concerned, as well?

Walden: Look, it doesn’t — yes, but it doesn’t do that.

Yeah, Obama’s proposal out-right-wings Paul Ryan … Kind of makes you barf, doesn’t it?

Censorship, Mercy & A Shortage of Resistance at Huffpost

11:18 pm in Uncategorized by fairleft

Are Huffpost columnists required to make a crack by paragraph two that alienates anyone except hard-core MSNBC Democrats? Actually, after its second paragraph, Robert Koehler’s “A Shortage of Mercy” is a good Huffpost column.The problem is paragraph two, in particular the highlighted (by me) section:

As the economy twists downward for most of us — as the politics of money tightens like a noose around everything we love — I think about the disintegration of human values, which insane logic and the Republicans tells us we can no longer afford.

So I respond in (something like) the following comment, which is then censored:

Mr. Koehler, nothing you write has anything to do with “the Republicans” and everything with the bipartisan neoliberal pro-austerity, anti-social-safety-net consensus. Your argument is completely voided when you make it clear in paragraph two that your ‘solution’ is to elect more of one of neoliberal austerity parties.

Koehler’s next paragraph goes like this:

A few days ago, Paul Buchheit wrote on Common Dreams about the poisonous nature of the ongoing privatization process: the inexorable corporate takeover of the human commons. As markets expand, the public domain — physical, social, spiritual — shrinks. It’s not simply that public land is auctioned off or that water rights are taken away from us, but that our right to care for others, to organize society around a modicum of compassion, is being confiscated in the name of “sorry, can’t afford it.”

What the hell does that have to do with making this a fake partisan issue? The corporate Democratic party led by President Obama can’t be any more pro-privatization. And by letting him and his corrupted cabal off the hook you let him cut cut cut away at all the good programs you supposedly are writing the column to defend. But of course you’ll whine, he can’t be as bad as “the Republicans,” who are in favor of “the disintegration of human values.” Maybe not, but both parties are fighting for shortages in mercy and everything else that costs the rich money.

In America’s feeble post-democratic and heavily censored discussion space, Huffpost is not worth the time. I’ll stick to commenting under Yahoo! articles. No censorship there and a lot more readers.