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Worry of the Week – 18 October 2015: The Democratic Party

My actual biggest worry this week is what’s going on between the Israelis and Palestinians and their supporters and proxies. However, I just don’t know where to start. I don’t even know how to finish this paragraph with a suitably wise comment about the situation. I guess I’ll just try thinking about it some more, and educating myself some more, and maybe I’ll come up with something for next week – I can’t imagine the situation will be resolved anytime soon. 🙁

So. The Democratic Party. I watched the debate between their candidates to become their nominee for president on Wednesday (NZ time – Tuesday US time) and the number one thing that was obvious was that Hillary Clinton is the only one capable of being president. Her biggest rival, Bernie Sanders, is very good at the rhetoric, but there doesn’t seem to be anything behind it. When you try to pin him down on how he’s going to actually achieve his aims, he’s not much better than Donald Trump. Jim Webb, who’s been coming fourth in the polls spent most of the time whining that he wasn’t getting any speaking time, and 5th ranking Lincoln Chafee didn’t even manage that. With Martin O’Malley I felt like I was getting a doll designed to be a US presidential candidate (which might say more about my prejudices than him).

 

Democratic Debate 13 Oct 2015

Watching Fox News the next day, many of them thought Jim Webb was the star based on the positions he took on the issues. He was the furthest right on the issues of any of the candidates, and the most hawkish. Unlike both O’Malley and Chafee though, he does at least have a well developed policy platform. One of his great comments is:

I think I can safely say that I am still the only person elected to statewide office in Virginia with a union card, two purple hearts, and three tattoos.

The comment the team at The Five seemed to like though was when host Anderson Cooper asked all the candidates which enemy they’d made they were most proud of. In the words of Webb’s son on the candidate’s own website:

If you watched the Democratic presidential debate on Tuesday night, you probably heard the closing comment by my father, Jim Webb. Without hesitation he answered that the enemy he was ‘most proud of’ was the Vietnamese soldier who wounded him with a hand grenade. He then added that “…he isn’t around anymore.”

Webb, Jim patch.com

Jim Webb (Source: patch.com)

There’s no doubt that would’ve been red meat to many GOP audiences, and if he had any chance of becoming the Democratic candidate it would have won him votes from the right in the presidential election. To me though it says that Webb doesn’t have the political smarts to recognize that killing someone, even in battle when that someone is trying to kill you, is not the ideal way to display your strength.

When talking about foreign policy, Webb concentrated almost exclusively on China. He spoke of the need to take a stand against what they’re doing in the South China Sea for example, and he wasn’t talking about making a speech at the United Nations. His tone was quite belligerent throughout the debate. Many will find this attractive in a potential president. I don’t. It also made me wonder if he was still fighting the Vietnam War in his head.

Chaffee, Lincoln www.chaffee2016.com

Lincoln Chafee (Source: www.chafee2016.com)

Lincoln Chafee is a former Republican. He’s also the only Republican that voted against the Iraq war, and for that principled stance at least he can be admired. Though that seems a normal position to those of us outside the United States, it would’ve been extremely difficult in the climate of that country at the time, especially as a Republican. In 2010 he was elected governor of Rhode Island as an Independent, and he was co-chair of Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012. Now he’s running for the Democratic nomination as a Democrat.

There’s not necessarily anything wrong with his constantly changing political colours. Personally I admire people with the courage to change their mind as long as it’s for the right reasons and not self-serving ones, and I’ve no reason to believe Chafee’s evolution is for anything other than the most genuine of reasons.

One thing I do like about the man is that he wants to introduce the metric system to the United States. I’m not sure if that’s a platform that’s going to get him a lot of traction in the race, and it’s an unusual one to focus on, but I do think it’s about time a politician backed the idea again. It’s actually bad for US children that they’re taught an outdated system in school, and have to catch up when they start interacting on an international level. Just a hint guys: the rest of us aren’t going to change back.

O'Malley Martin FB

Martin O’Malley (Source: Facebook)

Martin O’Malley is simply a weak candidate. His greatest claim to fame is that he was mayor of Baltimore. However, many blame policies he introduced for the rise in violence there and when challenged on the issue, he has no answer for his critics. Now there might not be a valid answer to give, but any decent politician, especially one who thinks he has what it takes to run the most powerful country in the world, should have an answer prepared for the situation.

There’s nothing impressive in O’Malley’s biography, and he has no proper policy platform. He’s what we in New Zealand call “all pi** and wind.” I suspect he’s there to make up the numbers to make it look like Clinton’s being given a run for her money. On the surface, he looks like the sort of person who could be a candidate, but there’s nothing underneath.

Sanders-021507-18335- 0004

Bernie Sanders (Source: Wikipedia)

Bernie Sanders has been the surprise of the Democratic nominee campaign. He calls himself a “democratic socialist,” so USians have had to learn what that is. Although many of them don’t realize it, the US is already a socialist country, and it’s part of why they’re successful. Most of the world’s least successful countries are actually the most capitalist. Communism is also clearly a failing option. The trick is finding the right balance on the capitalism/socialism spectrum. Sanders is simply further towards the socialism end of the spectrum than any potential presidential candidate has been before. However, you have to have a successful capitalist economy to make socialism work, and that’s where Sanders hasn’t quite grasped it.

Lots of what Sanders says sounds good, and he’s really good at saying it, which is halfway to convincing people. However, I think he’s as surprised as anyone else at the level of his success. There’s clearly a desire for competition in the run for nominee, and Sanders has been able to provide that. I really don’t think he wants to be president though, much as he’s enjoying the current accolades. He’s forced Clinton to make at least two important concessions that have pulled the Democratic Party to the left, and I’m not sure either is a good thing.

Keystone-pipeline-route

Keystone Pipeline route (Source: Wikipedia)

One is the Keystone pipeline. Sanders opposes the pipeline, and his reasons are principled: he doesn’t want to do anything to support fossil fuels so it’s out. Full stop. (Or “period” as you Americans say.) That’s fair enough as reasons go. But it isn’t practical and has forced Clinton to take a position against it.

Some of the objections were to the pipeline route. An earlier proposed route was damaging to the ecologically sensitive Sand Hills region of Nebraska, but that was changed and the new one has been approved by the state governor.

As for the oil, if it is not transported via pipeline, trucks and trains will be used, which produce considerably more greenhouse gasses, are much more likely to have accidents, and are more vulnerable to attack than a pipeline.

Then there’s the jobs. I suspect the number claimed to be created is nowhere near as many as the Republicans say, but the US needs good blue collar jobs and this will provide them.

Apart from all this, there’s the potential that the Canadians will just say, “F**k you,” and build the pipeline to their west coast instead, where the Chinese will happily pick up the oil and ship it home. There is will be used in ways that, because of lighter regulations, it is likely to produce more greenhouse gases than if it is used in the USA. So literally hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil per day will be lost to the US, and instead of relying on the best of their allies, the Canadians, the US will be relying on others for oil.

tpp

(Source: New York Times)

The other concession Sanders has forced on Clinton is her opposition to the Trans-Pacific partnership. Free Trade is an economically sound principle, and why so many on the left oppose it is something I’ve never understood. There seems to be a bit of a habit amongst US politicians to just go with the popular view rather than try to persuade people of your point of view. However, in such a big country it can be a bit like turning an oil tanker, so I can understand to a certain extent.

With the TPP, there was the possibility that there would be caveats in the deal that would make it a bad thing, but the US seems to be the one that has maintained the most protectionism for their economy to the detriment of others. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders opposing TPP has forced Hillary Clinton to do the same to maintain votes, and that’s a bad thing in my opinion. I assume she’s banking on it all being sorted in such a way that she can’t back out when she becomes president.

There’s not much point talking about Clinton. The problem for the Democratic Party that she’s their only valid candidate, and if any of the investigations currently going on go against her, they’re screwed. They’ve got no one to take up the mantle, even though the principles of all their candidates are better than just about any one of the Republican candidates. Fox News has been attacking her in almost every one of their shows for months now, and before that, since the 2012 election. Even assuming she gets through the current congressional witch hunt and FBI investigation unscathed, the chances of getting any of their regular viewers to vote for her aren’t very high. They’ve gone out of their way to make her appear untrustworthy and get her disliked, and it’s working.

On the Democratic side, no one really cares about the investigation, but people like Chair of the Democratic National Committee Debbie Wasserman Schultz appear to be burying their heads in the sand about the effects on the broader electorate. At the moment all I can see is that the Democratic Party is going to have to hope for the Republicans to nominate someone really bad, which I suppose isn’t all that unlikely.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Joe Biden. I think he was only ever going to get in if Clinton’s campaign collapsed under the pressure. He didn’t want to go through a campaign unless there was a good chance he’d win. Clinton is still standing up under the pressure and obviously won the debate, so he’s still not running. Logistics mean there’s probably only another week or so before he’ll have to make a decision, and he’s indicated himself he’ll decide soon. He’ll try and find out privately if the FBI has a case against Clinton. If they do, he’s in; if they don’t, he’s out.

113 Responses to “Worry of the Week – 18 October 2015: The Democratic Party”

  1. rose says:

    like Martin OMalley heck of cute.If you have to look at someone everyday much better then Donald or Hillary –Go Martin

  2. Ken says:

    Knowing where to start with Israel/Palestine isn’t that hard. Encourage/insist/defund/cajole/boycott (take your choice) Israel to stop the settlements to make progress, otherwise things continue to get worse.

    • Yes, Israel should stop building settlements, but this is also blaming the victim. It is excusing the violence of the Palestinians. Placing all the hard work for moving this forward on the Israelis, and putting pressure on them, is a prejudice of low expectations. It says people don’t think the Palestinians are capable of engaging in the process like a proper partner. And maybe a government that teaches its children to hate Jews isn’t a proper partner: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3277918/Israeli-ambassador-claims-Palestinian-kids-taught-stab-Jews-violence-erupts-near-holy-site-West-Bank.html

      • Ken says:

        I’m sorry Heather, I think you are wrong in almost every way possible. No where have I excused Palestinian violence. It is criminal and stupid and makes their plight harder to solve specifically because it makes Israeli apologetics like yours seem reasonable. The Israelis know they have to give up occupation for peace, have decided they are not going to, and so seek to paint themselves as the victim at every possible turn. It is part of a deliberate strategy and one that the Palestinians play directly into, and which you are too, but we shouldn’t let them.

        I haven’t placed any hard work on them, they’ve done it to themselves by ignoring UN resolutions and international law for 48 years. After that long an occupation, we can expect things to be nearly intractable. The prejudice of low expectations is in allowing this situation to go on for any longer. It is in giving Israel continued excuses to avoid the one thing that must be done to have a hope of breaking the stalemate. It is not the only required step for peace and it does not absolve other parties in the conflict of anything, but it is the indispensable first step. It is also the only one we have any power to bring about. Anything else really is just pissing in the wind, as you know because you lament that you have no idea what to do, where to even begin. Like climate change, the longer we deny what we know must be done, the more likely we lock ourselves into further catastrophe. What’s needed here is some balls, not further excuses like your last comment that suggests yet another way for Israel to justify not taking action; that their needing to follow international law is contingent on other factors, like how proper the partner is. It simply is not.

        I’m sorry if I sound harsh, but the stakes are too high and I don’t think you are thinking clearly enough on this matter.

        • j.a.m. says:

          Just a wild hare, but what if the Palestinians and their pals were to give up their fantasies of a Jew-free world? Surely that might be constructive.

          • Ken says:

            Of course it would and I said so in the first paragraph. How do you propose to bring it about? And in the mean time, is it ok that Israel continues to be allowed to build more and more settlements, ensuring eventually if not already that a two-state solution becomes impossible?

        • It’s not a deliberate strategy to paint yourself as the victim when you are a victim. I’ve always said that the Israelis have to stop building settlements. Every time I see they’re doing more it tells me that they don’t really want peace because it’s not going to happen while they keep doing it. It’s why I don’t want Netanyahu in charge.

          I saw a very revealing interview he gave to Fareed Zakaria a couple of weeks ago where he basically admitted the Iran deal slowed down Iran’s path to the bomb and his rhetoric otherwise was bullsh*t: http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/2015/10/04/fareed-zakaria-gps-benjamin-netanyahu-on-russia-iran-u-s/

          But you’re not going to convince me that a lot of the violence against the Jews isn’t religious and will happen whatever the political situation. You can’t expect the Israelis to just put up with it, whatever the political situation. It’s up to the Palestinian leadership to stop it, and they aren’t doing that. In fact, many are not only encouraging it, they’re rewarding it. Whatever you say about the Israelis, you can’t blame them of that. When Israelis indulge in such behaviour, they are sought and punished by the justice system there.

          I’m certainly not saying there are no faults on the Israeli side, because there obviously are, but that’s never an excuse for murder and terrorism.

          • Ken says:

            It’s not a deliberate strategy to paint yourself as the victim when you are a victim.

            It is a deliberate strategy to use the violence against you as justification for everything you do, no matter how vile. You well know that the Israeli lobby allows no criticism at all of any of it’s actions, but immediately accuses any critic of being anti-Semitic. The Israelis play off their terrible past of being oppressed to ensure their own present day oppression of Palestinians is barely questioned by the powers that could do something abut it. It has been a very effective strategy too.

            I’ve always said that the Israelis have to stop building settlements. Every time I see they’re doing more it tells me that they don’t really want peace because it’s not going to happen while they keep doing it. It’s why I don’t want Netanyahu in charge.

            Yes and the point is that clearly merely recognising this isn’t enough on it’s own. If you had a practical alternative solution to discuss, that would be good, but you’ve admitted you don’t know where to start. Ending illegal occupation is where to start.

            But you’re not going to convince me that a lot of the violence against the Jews isn’t religious…

            I haven’t tried to do this at all.

            …and will happen whatever the political situation.

            Israel is surrounded by other Arab countries with similar beliefs who don’t daily try to kill Israelis. Why do you think this might be? Hamas was created in response to the occupation, yet if the occupation ends, you’re positive that Hamas’ situation and influence won’t change a bit. This is Israel’s argument and it is a terrible one, Heather.

            You can’t expect the Israelis to just put up with it, whatever the political situation.

            Not only do they put up with it, I think Netanyahu would hate for the Palestinians to wise up and become non-violent. He knows their violence is useful cover for his plans and that the expansion of illegal settlements would become impossible without it. Yes, I think he is that cynical and the sooner we all recognize it the sooner something can be done.

            It’s up to the Palestinian leadership to stop it, and they aren’t doing that. In fact, many are not only encouraging it, they’re rewarding it. Whatever you say about the Israelis, you can’t blame them of that. When Israelis indulge in such behaviour, they are sought and punished by the justice system there.

            The Israeli govt has never been held criminally responsible for any of their crimes.

            I’m certainly not saying there are no faults on the Israeli side, because there obviously are, but that’s never an excuse for murder and terrorism.

            You know I have never excused murder or terrorism, so not sure why you keep saying it. The question is what practically to do despite murder and terrorism and all the other crimes historical and continuing. I’ve offered a solution. I think it is the only solution in that it has to happen before anything else positive will, because it is the main root of the problem. I’ve heard no real arguments why it wouldn’t work, nor any practical alternatives.

  3. Malgorzata Koraszewska says:

    This blog post, analysing causes given during the last over hundred years of Arab violence aganst the Jews can be illuminating when thinking about the reasons for ongoing wave of attacks on Jews in Israel: http://david-collier.com/?p=1151

    • Yakaru says:

      That video of the knife-wielding cleric is horrifying and revealing.

    • paxton marshall says:

      Interesting that your article only mentions Palestinian attacks on Jews, when in fact throughout the conflict Israel has killed 5 to 10 times as many Palestinians as Palestinians have killed Jews. In 2014 the ratio was 30:1, with a large portion of Palestinian deaths being civilians.

      Can you imagine the reaction of the Poles if a large group of Jews occupied much of their land? Oh, wait. We don’t have to imagine. We saw the reaction from the 16th through the 20th centuries. Brutal. And those Jews didn’t take over the government, expel the Poles and proclaim a Jewish state. As long as Israel holds the Palestinians captive, the resistance will continue.

      • Yakaru says:

        I also noticed that, but I didn’t find it “interesting”, (plus whatever unspoken accusations and assumptions might be included in that term), rather I found it understandable. The article was about attacks on Jews.

        Yes, for my tastes, he could have included some acknowledgement of Jewish/Israeli violence and terrorism, but as he was writing to redress disproportionate coverage, I don’t see any great problem with it. If it was an encyclopedia article or a scholarly survey of the origins of the conflict, it would be different, but as a blogpost, it’s fine.

        I have no idea why you would assume that Malgorzata hasn’t even begun to consider what life is like for Palestinians. That’s really a bit much. And the Palestinians lack political leadership, not sympathy and understanding from outsiders.

        • paxton marshall says:

          The “disproportionate coverage”, in the US at least is mostly biased towards Israel. In the run up to the Iran deal, when Netanyahu dissed our President to spread dire fears of the consequences to the US as well as Israel, how often was it mentioned in press reports that Israel has a very substantial nuclear arsenal, which it will not even acknowledge, much less open for international inspection? How often did you read in the press that Israel has held the Palestinians captive for over 50 years. How often did you read that just the previous year Israel had slaughtered over 2000 Muslims with advanced weapons against which the Gazans were helpless. That’s the disproportionate coverage.

          Yes, bloggers are free to spread their one-sided propaganda whenever they want. It’s up to fair minded observers to present the counter-facts whenever possible. I don’t presume to know what Malgorzata has considered, but when she presents biased accounts of the violence (as she usually does), I consider it not only my right, but my obligation to call her on it.

          • In the US the coverage might be biased towards Israel, but for most of the rest of us it’s biased towards Palestine. New Zealand is one of the few countries that has good diplomatic relations with both, but that’s probably partly because we’re too small to matter.

          • AU says:

            In the US the coverage might be biased towards Israel, but for most of the rest of us it’s biased towards Palestine.

            I hope you’re not including Europe in the “rest of us” – which begs the question, on exactly whose behalf are are you speaking when you talk about the rest of us.

    • I’ve posted this on the Heather’s Homilies Facebook page. Those who think the issue has nothing to do with religion need to read it.

      As I’ve said several times, even if Israel stops building settlements (which they darn well should tout de suite) and a two-state solution is reached, violence against Jews by Islamist terrorists will continue. It’s why I keep urging people to read the Hamas Charter. Israel has valid reasons to fear and distrust the peace process, although that’s not an excuse to carry on with it. In the past there was a lot of anti-Semitism is the West, and it was only really cured when people saw how far it could go when the Nazis took it there. There is now a rise in anti-Semitism in Europe again, and it appears to colour the opinions of some on this issue.

      • paxton marshall says:

        Heather, The Netanyahu government has no intention of stopping the settlements or ever giving the west bank to the Palestinians. Their intention is to make a two-state solution impossible, and they may have succeeded already. Can you imagine any future government of Israel being able to dismantle the settlements? Remember how difficult it was for Sharon to dismantle the few settlements in Gaza?

        And don’t discount the role of religion in Israeli policy either. From the beginning the settlement movement has been led by religious groups who rely on the Biblical mandate of Canaan to the Jews. Religious parties are essential elements of Netanyahus coalition.

        Yes, violence against Jews will continue as long as Israel holds the Palestinians captive. And Israel will continue to expand the Biblical mandate of an eye for an eye by a factor of ten or so.

        Oh Israel, heed the words of your prophets:


        let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

        Amos 5:11-15 “Therefore because you trample on the poor and you exact taxes of grain from him, you have built houses of hewn stone, but you shall not dwell in them; you have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink their wine. For I know how many are your transgressions and how great are your sins— you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe, and turn aside the needy in the gate. Therefore he who is prudent will keep silent in such a time, for it is an evil time. Seek good, and not evil, that you may live; and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you, as you have said. Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.”

        • The reason I want a different PM of Israel is because Netanyahu’s party is propped up by the religious right who, among other things, encourage settlement building. It must stop, and it won’t while he’s in power.

      • Yakaru says:

        Great – for the Jews you cite chapter and verse, but for the Muslims it’s Cheney and Bush.

        Double standards.

        • Paxton marshall says:

          Their is no God, so citing the Hebrew prophets is just offering advice. Bush and Cheney on the other hand are all too real, as hundreds of thousands of Muslims discovered to their dismay.

          Yes, double standards is a big part of the problem. Muslims kill one or two and it’s because their religion is deeply corrupt. U.S./UK/Israel kill thousands, it is “collateral damage”.

  4. Yakaru says:

    What scares me the most is the thought of Trump or Carson becoming president. Both have come an absurdly long way with way even less political sense than GWB. Both of them are strongly influenced & limited by their professional background, without understanding that politics works differently. Trump obviously has rarely had to negotiate with anyone who was not desperately dependent on him, and Carson has that horrendous “doctor voice” with the hushed tones and “I know best and you have no choice but to listen patiently to every word and follow my instructions.” And he thinks he could stand up to gun-wielding psychopaths and Vladimir Putin.

    Everyone keeps saying the Dems will win, and odds on they will, but if not, WW III will probably be very short.

    • I agree – there are a lot of scary characters with the potential to win the Republican nomination. As you say, they don’t get that politics is different. The problem is for you and me – because of the power and size of the US our countries are vulnerable too if one of them becomes president. I pretty much dissed all the Dems but Clinton, but I’d still rather have any of them. There are one or two Republicans who would be bearable, but they have no chance of winning the nomination. I still think though the most likely result is Jeb will get it, and he’s preferable to Trump, Carson, or Cruz who lead the polls now.

      • Paxton marshall says:

        Smart money is on Rubio.

        • Yeah, he’s impressive actually. From the point of view of a foreigner, I could live with him as president because his foreign policy smarts are second only to Clinton. I’m not sure if he’ll get there this time, but I can see him being president in the future. If Jeb isn’t the nominee, I think Rubio will be at least VP. But, as you say, he has the potential to make it all the way.

  5. Ken says:

    …the number one thing that was obvious was that Hillary Clinton is the only one capable of being president. Her biggest rival, Bernie Sanders, is very good at the rhetoric, but there doesn’t seem to be anything behind it. When you try to pin him down on how he’s going to actually achieve his aims, he’s not much better than Donald Trump.

    Sanders has said how he would implement his programmes, included numbers, and these have been debated in the press. An example is here: http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/dont_let_the_wall_street_journal_scare_you_away_from_bernie_20150917. He’s been campaigning on his topics for decades and made many policy proposals, so it seems very odd that you find his rhetoric empty, and strange indeed that he could be compared to Trump.

    Re Clinton, what exactly are her aims and how would she would achieve them? What makes her so convincing?

    However, you have to have a successful capitalist economy to make socialism work, and that’s where Sanders hasn’t quite grasped it.

    What did he say that leads you to conclude this? American capitalism is thoroughly broken and being abused by the 1%. Sanders’ is the one who wants to fix it.

    I really don’t think he wants to be president though, much as he’s enjoying the current accolades.

    Again, how could you have come to this conclusion? I think Sanders has watched Democrats like Clinton pander to Wall Street for decades and has decided there is no other way but to take them on directly. That she is probably lying now about not supporting the TPPA, as you point out, shows why he can’t expect a fake campaign to have an effect much past the primaries.

    One is the Keystone pipeline. Sanders opposes the pipeline, and his reasons are principled: he doesn’t want to do anything to support fossil fuels so it’s out. Full stop. (Or “period” as you Americans say.) That’s fair enough as reasons go. But it isn’t practical and has forced Clinton to take a position against it.

    Sanders admits the biggest issue is climate change and understands that most proven reserves have to stay in the ground if we’re to avoid the worst climate catastrophes. Pretending otherwise is what isn’t practical. In Canada, Harper’s attitude towards climate change is far worse even than the National party’s here; it is close to outright denial. And Canadian shale oil is dirtier and more environmentally destructive than standard oil extraction. There is no way the US should aid and abet what is a climate crime if there ever was one. The issue Clinton has is that it is becoming ever harder to ignore this reality.

    The other concession Sanders has forced on Clinton is her opposition to the Trans-Pacific partnership. Free Trade is an economically sound principle, and why so many on the left oppose it is something I’ve never understood.

    The reason is that most of the agreements are not free or fair, they are written largely by multinationals for their own benefit. That’s why we mere voters aren’t allowed to see them until it’s too late, while the business interests are in the room the whole time. These deals, which exclude ILO and robust environmental principles, are a big reason we now talk of a 1% and that something needs to be done about income inequality.

    With the TPP, there was the possibility that there would be caveats in the deal that would make it a bad thing, but the US seems to be the one that has maintained the most protectionism for their economy to the detriment of others.

    As best we can tell, the TPPA is dog, more akin to the MIA of the late ’90’s than a free trade agreement. Only one chapter out of the many it contains is even about trade and the benefit to NZ is at most 1% of GDP in 10 years time. For this we are going to accept higher drug costs, longer patent expiry times and give multinationals the ability to sue our govt for future lost profits should we legislate in the interests of Kiwis. I’ve read where we wouldn’t be able to restrict foreign speculation in our housing market, for instance, so will have little means of discouraging future housing bubbles (and this is probably why the Nats refuse to even collect figures on how much foreign investment there is). Examples are legion. I suggest reading almost anything by Jane Kelsey on the topic.

    I assume she’s banking on it all being sorted in such a way that she can’t back out when she becomes president.

    As I say, that we can’t trust Clinton is not really an endorsement for her becoming president either.

    • I don’t agree with your analysis of the TPP. The government has said categorically that the current price we pay for medication won’t rise. The 1% rise on GDP is an extremely conservative figure – FTAs have always produced much better results than even the best estimates for NZ. Even if it is only 1%, that’s still better than 0. And this is a living document. It gives NZ access to 40% of the world’s economy, and we’re an export driven economy. There’re already indications China wants in, who we already have an FTA with anyway. The Nats aren’t refusing to collect figures – they’ve decided they will do it – cheers to political pressure. I don’t have a problem with patent expiry times because it encourages research into new drugs that aren’t currently economically viable for conditions that aren’t as common as male impotence. The housing bubble was, imo, mostly caused by US financial corruption that spilled over into our market. Unlike us, they haven’t even prosecuted their fraudsters, which pi**es me off no end – they’re still gaily making billions and lining their pockets while the poor in the US have lower neo-natal and maternal survival rates than many places in Africa.

      The National party’s policy on the environment naturally doesn’t meet the approval of the Greens, but to compare it with Harper’s is completely unfair. I’d go so far as to say that it’s better than Labour’s was last time they were in office. Already most of our electricity comes from renewals and they are actively trying to increase that. Although there are deniers in the party, it’s not the position of the party itself, and they are actively working to improve things. The insulation programme that they partnered with the Greens on is an obvious example. It is problematic reducing our (tiny amount of) emissions because of where they come from and the current lack of technology to change that, but it is an area where they are investing in research to find the technology. In fact, as I’m sure you know, they are leading an international research project on the matter.

      I don’t know much about Bernie Sanders, but given his passion on the subject, I don’t doubt he’s been talking about this for years. That doesn’t mean he’s got a way to sort the country out. My judgment about him not really wanting to be president is not based on any facts, it’s just an impression I got from the debate. He was deferring to Clinton. I’m not talking about the e-mails thing, it was more subtle than that and I’m not sure I can put it into words. Maybe it’s just that he knows it’s never going to happen. I admire him, I think he’s trustworthy and honest, and I think he’d be a good president too. If he won the nomination though, there’s no way he’d win – he’s simply too far left for the US electorate.

      Clinton is simply the best bet the Dems have got. In 2008, I supported Clinton. I was enormously impressed by Obama but I didn’t think he should win for two reasons: 1. He wasn’t ready to be President. 2. The Dems needed to keep someone that good in reserve to win two terms in 2016, which was possible given changing demographics and attitudes. Now, Clinton has become damaged goods and there’s no-one else. There’s a danger not only of a Republican president this time around, but one who’s a complete and utter f**kwit.

      • Ken says:

        The government has said categorically that the current price we pay for medication won’t rise.

        Yes, they said that until very recently. Now they admit costs will increase, they just promise to borrow to pay for it, so end user costs don’t increase. Not exactly a win.

        The 1% rise on GDP is an extremely conservative figure – FTAs have always produced much better results than even the best estimates for NZ.

        This isn’t an FTA like that with China. There is a reason a govt desperate to sell this deal is not claiming much benefit.

        Even if it is only 1%, that’s still better than 0.

        At any cost? The cost of legislative sovereignty? By rules written to suit US corporates? Count me out. The revolution will come soon enough without further encouragement.

        The National party’s policy on the environment naturally doesn’t meet the approval of the Greens, but to compare it with Harper’s is completely unfair.

        I did say Harper’s was worse than National’s, but on climate change, there is little positive to say about the Nats.

        I’d go so far as to say that it’s better than Labour’s was last time they were in office.

        The truth is just the opposite. The first thing the Nats did after the election if you remember was hold a two week legislative session under ultra urgency. Included in this was the repeal of just about every piece of environmental legislation passed by Labour and the Greens. It wasn’t just the gutting of the ETS, but of vehicle fuel and emissions standards, removal of the biofuel requirement and an end to energy efficiency standards for TVs and other products. This is what they felt was among the most urgent things for the new govt to do. Of course, one gutting of the ETS wasn’t enough, so they rooted it again a few years later and were only just kept from opening up conservation land to oil drilling because the huge public opposition mobilised against it made them back down. They did open up the possibly of deep sea off-shore drilling of the type that was a disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and are encouraging additional dairy intensification on land that cannot support it by allowing ever more water to be taken from our dying rivers for irrigation. This last trick required that they first remove the local democratic institution that was keeping this degradation from happening. In comparison to these environmental disasters, what they have done that is positive is mainly token and for show, in particular, the “first ever” fresh water standards that are so low that the Yangtze river would meet the standard.

        Labour sucked at environmental protection, but the Nats are an outright lie, which is why people like Gareth Morgan, who think a Blue/Green coalition is possible, are simply dreaming.

        Already most of our electricity comes from renewals and they are actively trying to increase that.

        But have lowered the target that Labour had.

        Although there are deniers in the party, it’s not the position of the party itself, and they are actively working to improve things.

        How can you say they are trying to improve things when they gutted the ETS twice and the Environment Ministry (whose reporting was also gutted) says that our emissions are projected to increase by 50% by 2030, rather than the 40% reduction that is required to stay below a 2 degree increase? The fact is that the Nats political management of such issues is to appear to accept the science and be taking positive action, while actively doing the opposite. This is not exaggeration. They are that cynical. You have been sucked in by their spin and a lazy media who let them get away with it.

        The insulation programme that they partnered with the Greens on is an obvious example.

        Yes, they agreed to do 25% of the number of homes Labour agreed to, and the Greens rightly applauded them for it. They also told the Greens that their interest in the scheme was only that it would create jobs. In other words, it was a marriage of political convenience.

        It is problematic reducing our (tiny amount of) emissions because of where they come from and the current lack of technology to change that, but it is an area where they are investing in research to find the technology. In fact, as I’m sure you know, they are leading an international research project on the matter.

        Yes, research is a good way to delay actually doing anything, so the Nats are keen, as it makes them look good to those not paying enough attention. The truth is that there is plenty that can be done now in agriculture if the Nats wanted to take on the denialist farming lobby. That they don’t is no excuse either, as the other truth is that NZ can reduce it’s emissions by 40% without even touching agriculture.

        My judgment about him not really wanting to be president is not based on any facts, it’s just an impression I got from the debate.

        I think your impression is wrong, but I accept that it came from a single debate. Although Sanders was seen to have won the debate by just about every poll done afterwards, he has been criticised for giving Clinton too much of a pass on too many subjects too.

        The electorate are actually quite left on policy after policy as surveys have shown, but when it comes to personalities, a different pattern emerges, in good part due to the right-wing MSM and also because Democrats have had no spine for so long. Sanders is the first in a very long time to challenge the American cult of individualism, so it is not entirely predictable how much success he will have, though it is true that the Democratic machine is very powerful and 2016 is considered to be Clinton’s turn. If he wins the nomination and then fails, I think it will be because this Dem machine refused to get behind him, deciding that they’d rather lose the White House than challenge the further corruption of capitalism that serves only the current oligarchs. In this they would be much like the Blairites, who prefer Cameron to Corbyn and intend to oust him by hook or crook before the next election.

        Clinton is simply the best bet the Dems have got. … Now, Clinton has become damaged goods and there’s no-one else. There’s a danger not only of a Republican president this time around, but one who’s a complete and utter f**kwit.

        Clinton has been damaged goods for decades. The emails are the least of it.

        • Paxton marshall says:

          Heather, Ken, I’m a Bernie supporter for now, but I don’t get your claim that Hillary is damaged goods. In spite of all the bogus claims and hatred directed at her by Republiicans, and endless investigations, what has she done wrong? The Republicans went off the deep end when they impeached her husband for something that had nothing to do with his conduct as President, and tried to smear Hillary with it also. Hillary made a good faith effort to implement comprehensive national health care in the WJClinton administration and performed admirably asSec of State under Obama. By any measure, both the Clinton and Obama administrations were highly successful compared with the intervening WBush administration. My criticism of them all is that they are too much influenced by Wall Street, which is why I’m for Bernie, but compared with any of the Republicans, she’d make a fine President. And it would be exciting to have the first woman pres .

          • She’s damaged goods because the electorate believes she’s damaged goods. As far as I can see, nothing has been proven against her, and the criticisms are all political. That doesn’t stop people believing them. It wasn’t a personal attack on her, but a statement of the mood of the electorate. Polls say she is not honest and not trustworthy. Whether that is true or not is irrelevant – the problem is people believe it. Hopefully she can change the perception.

          • Ken says:

            She is damaged goods because her history is one of political triangulation. She stands for little and is so thoroughly beholden to Wall Street money, including that of the military industrial complex, that she can only be trusted to do what suits them no matter what she says now, as has been pointed out regarding the TPPA.

        • You’re very cynical! On the other hand, I’m probably too idealistic and naïve.

          We both know we’re not going to agree on politics. You support a party I think is completely impractical, especially economically and would lead the country to disaster in power, although I’m glad they have a strong voice in our parliament. I’m very centrist and pragmatic, which can look both cowardly and irresolute to a negative reviewer. We’re mostly going to have to agree to disagree on most of these issues.

          • Ken says:

            If I’m cynical, blame the Nats. They don’t hide their views in private, making it clear that they see their role as protecting privilege. They do it well.

            I don’t understand your use of the words practical and pragmatic. How is it either to do what the Nats are doing to the environment, particularly climate change? How many billions do we have to lose from the economy on droughts and floods before we agree the only pragmatic approach, the only economically sane approach, is to keep the temperature from going up further? Idealistic and naive I do understand though and sadly have to agree, but you can and definitely should remove your rose coloured glasses with regard to the Nats, Heather.

            I can’t agree to disagree on these issues with hardly an argument. I engage in debate to either change people’s minds, or have mine changed. I’ve put up a number of facts that directly counter your claims. You can’t say the Nats are better than Labour on the environment when their main action has been to repeal environmental legislation. You can’t claim the Nats care about climate change when their own analysis says we’re headed for a 50% increase in emissions. Ignoring me with “agree to disagree” isn’t centrist, it’s putting your head in the sand and I think you’re better than that.

          • The truth is I don’t want to discuss NZ politics with you. It’s not personal – I like and respect you and your intellect. I just don’t want to. I’m not a member of any party, and my vote is always up for grabs for whoever I think provides the best policy mix. That’s never been the party I assume you’re a member of, and never likely to be.

            In many ways I find them as bad as the right wing, although I like their principles much better. However, the Nats have increased benefit levels what is a substantial amount for a beneficiary for the first time in 43 years and still [party X] complains. They’ve raised the minimum wage more than anyone else ever, and acknowledge it still needs to go up more. Other parties have proposed higher levels, but they either don’t have the power to enact them, so they can say anything, or their costing is screwed. They have maintained spending on the poor throughout the GFC – not cut it like every other country. They have acknowledged the recent decision re women’s wages, and it looks like we may lead the world there. Women’s wages are closer to parity with men than almost any other country in the world and we have one of the lowest rates of income inequality. Although I don’t think any of them have said it out loud (it’d probably scare off much of their base if they did) it seems to me they recognize that trickle-down economics is a load of crap.

            Labour had environment policies that sounded OK, and I was worried when the Nats came in. But when it comes to actual things done, the Nats have done better. Whatever the Nats do, [party X] finds something to whine about. They can’t even acknowledge the establishment of the Kermadec Islands marine reserve, an area twice the size of the country and one of the biggest in the world, without making a nasty comment.

            One of the things I like about politics in NZ is that the various parties get together in select committees etc and work on bills to make them the best they can. They cooperate. [Party X], for all their ideals, tend to be “my way or the highway”. I would rather get some of what I want, hopefully to build on that in the future, rather than scuttle the whole process, which is why I consider myself pragmatic. When it comes to process, sometimes I see the [party x] as not much different to the Tea Party caucus in the US where 40 members hold the whole country to ransom. I know that’s an unfair comparison and it’s not even possible in our system, but it’s the way it looks to me sometimes.

            I see Nicky Hager whining about a few a-holes in the Nats, and he’s right, but there are plenty of people in other parties doing exactly the same thing in principle if not in practice. That doesn’t make it right, but it does make the whiners a bunch of hypocrites.

            There is a whole lot more to it, and I acknowledge you know a lot more about this than I do. When I want to argue about NZ politics, I’ll write about it, which I don’t do much. Of course, now I’ve gone on so much here, you have a right of return.

          • Ken says:

            The truth is I don’t want to discuss NZ politics with you. It’s not personal – I like and respect you and your intellect. I just don’t want to. I’m not a member of any party, and my vote is always up for grabs for whoever I think provides the best policy mix. That’s never been the party I assume you’re a member of, and never likely to be.

            Ok, that’s your choice, but I responded to some party policy comparisons you made that I know the facts don’t support. I’m certainty not trying to convert you, but want to b able to debate issues where ever they lead.

            There is a whole lot more to it, and I acknowledge you know a lot more about this than I do. When I want to argue about NZ politics, I’ll write about it, which I don’t do much. Of course, now I’ve gone on so much here, you have a right of return.

            Nah, I’ll leave it for now. All I’ll say is that I think you have heaps factually wrong, but I understand that what gets outside the beltway is often not the real story. Also know that I would never defend [party X]’s way of doing politics. They certainly can be as bad as the Nats, but then I don’t really think you understand just how bad the Nats can be (look me up when you’re in Welly sometime and we’ll discuss over a wine). But that party’s policies are definitely better in several areas and that was the point.

            As for Nicky, he’s targeted the abuses of that other party more than once in the past, so it’s not fair to call him a hypocrite. I just wish he wouldn’t release his books in election year.

          • Be great to meet up sometime. It’s about 15 years since I’ve been to Wellington!

          • Ken says:

            Would be my pleasure. Wine (or whatever) is on me.

          • Sounding better all the time! 🙂

      • Ken says:

        Re TTPA, here’s an informative piece from Jane Kelsey on just one aspect of it, possibly the worst aspect, the investor-state dispute settlement clauses. If you ever decide to expand on why you think the TPPA is a good thing, please also address these non free trade aspects as well.

        http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2015/10/27/exclusive-jane-kelsey-responds-to-catherine-beards-pro-tppa-column/

  6. paxton marshall says:

    Good analysis Heather, but I think you’re selling Bernie short. He may not win, but he’s generating lots of enthusiasm. And he’s the only candidate to speak out clearly on the defining issue of our day: the kleptocracy of the rich against everyone else. Much like Jesus did. Of course Jesus failed.

    If we look at the strife in the middle east and elsewhere, some see it as religious in nature, some see it as ethnic or political, but at root much of it is class war of the international elites against everyone else.

    • j.a.m. says:

      Wait — ISIS,the Taliban,the Iranian theocrats, etc., make up the international elite? Who knew!

      • paxton marshall says:

        Yes, all three were a response to meddling by the western capitalist oligarchy. The US and Saudi Arabia helped create the Taliban and ISIS. The ayatollahs were a response to the Shah and the western coup of 1953 over oil.

        • Yakaru says:

          Yes, it’s simple cause and effect. So predictable these Arabs.

          • paxton marshall says:

            Nothing is simple cause and effect. There are many causes and many effects. But certainly things would have been different had the west let the region work out its own political future following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Instead, the western nations have interfered continuously on behalf of the international corporate military-industrial complex. From the League of Nations mandates to the current drone bombing, we (US/UK/France and allies)have propped up dictators, overthrown elected governments, established the nation of Israel as a western outpost in the region, armed Israel and our totalitarian “allies” (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and when it suited us Iraq and Iran) to the teeth, and in general continued the tradition of 19th century western imperialism into the 21st century.

            Perhaps the biggest obfuscations of the New Atheist (or at least Jerry Coyne’s), focus on Islamic terrorism, is their contemptuous dismissal of western imperialism as the major cause of the violent Muslim reaction. From the Dutch and British East India companies, to Haliburton, BP, Lockheed Martin etc. western imperialism has been primarily a quest for corporate profits. Western democracies are largely controlled by corporate interests. Religion and nationalism are how imperialism is sold to the “little people”, but corporate profit is the name of the game.

            When Cheney left Haliburton to run for VP he received a $34 million “gold watch”. Does anyone think Haliburton expected no quid pro quo for its generosity? Haliburton made $39 billion on the Iraq invasion, a thousand to one payback.

            If you’re interested in the motivations of the operatives who strap a bomb on their chests and blow up a market, religion may be the place to start. But if you want to understand why the middle east is in chaos, follow the money.

          • Yakaru says:

            @Paxton:
            “Jerry Coyne’s), focus on Islamic terrorism, is their contemptuous dismissal of western imperialism as the major cause of the violent Muslim reaction”

            No, they contest the dismissal of the role of religion. You write as if you really don’t read these people.

          • paxton marshall says:

            Jerry Coyne, WEIT “We’re used to leftist apologists blaming everything done by Islamic terrorists as the fault of the West and not the result of religious beliefs. This is of course a form of apologetics that simultaneously exculpates religion, satisfies the masochistic West-hating of many leftists, and patronizes Muslims”

            If the NA focus is the role of religion in middle eastern violence, why is it they never focus on the role of Christianity in western violence against Muslims, or the role of Judaism in Israel’s violence, It cannot be repeated too often, because Islamophobes refuse to hear it, but western (US/UK/Israel and allies) violence against Muslims has far exceeded Muslim violence against the west. Clearly religion is a factor in both, although I would argue it’s the major factor in neither. But if religion is your focus, then look at both sides. Criticizing Christians for praying before council meetings, and Jews for refusing to sit beside women, but not recognizing their role in the slaughter of thousands of muslims is hardly unbiased treatment.

    • He is generating a lot of enthusiasm, and that’s a good thing. And he is making people aware of just how much control the ultra-wealthy have, which I think most people don’t know, and that’s good too. He does have a lot of good ideas as well, but they’re all top level – he hasn’t developed any policy to back them up and that’s where I have a problem. Part of that may be because I’m used to a different political system of course. Those of us from parliamentary rather than presidential democracies have different expectations of our candidates.

  7. Yakaru says:

    Here’s an excellent article by Naajid Nawaz — his inner dialogue about Israel/Palestine
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/10/18/inside-the-head-of-israel-palestine.html

    And a good cartoon.

    • That cartoon is exactly how I feel whenever I mention the issue!

      • Ken says:

        The only person I’ve seen comment here like that cartoon is Malgorzata. The rest of us all agree that both sides do great wrong and both sides have valid complaints. Our debates have been about causes and what to do next.

        • I’m not criticizing commenters – sorry if that’s the way it seems. It’s just that when I wrote this post I had a bet to myself: Two sentences about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and about 1500 on the Democratic Party – I bet we talk about Israel/Palestine more.

          I don’t want to betray anyone’s secrets here, but there’re very good reasons Malgorzata feels the way she does. If you’d been through what she has, you might have a different opinion too.

    • Thanks Yakaru. Great article. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything by Maajid Nawaz that I didn’t like.

    • paxton marshall says:

      Yes, very good article, looking at both sides. Much better than the sensationalized propaganda piece of Malgorzata’s.

      • Yakaru says:

        I found his book (Radical) very illuminating. I could really understand how as a young man he got mixed up with Islamism.

        I also appreciate his definitions, along the lines of–

        Islam is simply a religion (neither of peace nor war), and of must be interpreted (i.e. there is no right or worng version).
        Islamism wishes to use the apparatus of state to implement Sharia, (regardless of which version).
        Jihadism is the use of violence to achieve that aim.

        It makes it easier to make it clear who exactly one is criticizing or opposing. And I think NA’s would benefit from making these distinctions too (as Sam Harris has already accepted).

  8. paxton marshall says:

    New Rules for New Atheists:
    1. If you are going to focus on violence, focus on the violence of both sides.
    2. If you are going to focus on the causes of violence consider non-religious (economic, geopolitical, revenge) factors as well as religious.
    3. If you are going to focus on the religious causes of violence, consider your own religious traditions (Judaism and Christianity) as well as Islam.

    • Yakaru says:

      In other words, continue as you were.

    • 1. I already do.
      2. I already do.
      3. I am an atheist. I look at what I see. The big difference between Islam and the other religions is the belief in killing for Allah leading to paradise. Check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqr-jJiLRJY

      • paxton marshall says:

        Do you really think that guy is representative of Islam, Heather? You are an atheist, but you are a western, more specifically, British atheist, as am I, and you are biased in favor of that culture. You are not inclined to challenge your own tradition as you challenge other traditions. Our people were burning witches as late as 1700. Not your, but my people were lynching blacks until 1960. Our people brutalized virtually all the peoples of the world for our own profit from 1600 to the present. We did it all along by emphasizing outrageous examples of the behaviours of other cultures. If this deranged man’s lunacy is what you see as Islam you are demonizing the “other” to justify our continued imperialism.

        • I agree that the religious traditions of my ancestors were used to justify some appalling behaviours that simply cannot be justified without religion. When it came to non-white cultures, after the Enlightenment the British basically believed they were better and what they were doing was better more because of their culture. Some thought being white made them better too. Others added Christianity to that also. Catholic cultures used religion much, much more in their domination.

          I am not demonizing the “other”. I am pointing out a difference in one particular religion that is causing a problem in today’s world. There are terrorists for all sorts of reasons. There is only one, as far as I know, that has this glorification of martyrdom. Most Muslims do not accept this interpretation of the Qur’an and Ahadith, but enough do that it’s a problem. There are imams that are teaching this message, and this is an example of one, because if I don’t provide an example, people will say, “the NAs are making it up, there aren’t really any imams saying stuff like this to encourage suicide.”

          I accept I am biased towards my own culture, but I do not deny imperialism or its negative effects. I do get annoyed that some people criticize everything the West does as bad, but don’t look at any of the other contributing factors. Much of it was done with the best of intentions. That doesn’t excuse it, but I think a lot of the people who took part wouldn’t have if they had the same understanding of the world as we do today. Other cultures do bad stuff too, but for some reason it’s not de rigueur to criticize them. I will call out bad stuff whenever I choose. DAESH are a bunch of murderous, psychopathic, bullying, raping, genocidal a**holes. I refuse to be silent about that just because a big part of the reason they exist is an illegal war lead by the US/UK. It might explain their behaviour, but it sure as hell doesn’t justify it.

          • paxton marshall says:

            If I’m not mistaken, all the participants in this conversation are nonreligious and subscribe to enlightenment principles of evidence and reason as the basis for establishing truth. There is a saying in scientific circles “the plural of anecdote is not data”. We cannot justify our case in a rational manner by presenting the most egregious example of wrongdoing on the other side, as heather’s video does, or even by accumulating numerous examples presented in the most emotionally charged fashion, as Malgorzata’s article does.

            If we are seeking, as Ken alleges, to understand “causes and what to do next”, and I agree that most of us are, we must seek to look at the evidence in an unbiased manner. Heather, I think you have it exactly backward when you say “Other cultures do bad stuff too, but for some reason it’s not de rigueur to criticize them.” We are programmed by evolution to see the faults in others and deny them in ourselves. As with our sex drive and other selfish inclinations, civilized society and rational discussion require that we control our natural inclinations. Yes, we can call out bad stuff on the other side whenever we choose, but if we ignore the bad stuff on our side we are not contributing to a rational resolution of the problem. We are exacerbating the enmity. I don’t doubt that many in “DAESH are a bunch of murderous, psychopathic, bullying, raping, genocidal a**holes.” But how many of them lost their homes and loved ones in the US/UK invasion. If we indulge our biases, rather than pursuing rationality when we have so little at stake, think of the inclination to do so by those who have lost everything.

          • I agree Paxton, but I don’t think I ignore our role in what’s happening. I freely acknowledge it. There are multiple ways someone could react to what we did, and most of them are far more productive than terrorism. Further, there are some that have used an interpretation of their religion to inspire others to murder. Because we did wrong, I don’t think that should stop is from noting when they do wrong.

        • Yakaru says:

          Paxton, you write the most extraordinary meanings into the most straight-forward statements, and continually assume you know people’s unconscious motives and biases at the deepest psychological levels.

          At the same time you depersonalize Muslims to such a degree that even a cleric wielding a knife and instructing people to go out into the street right now and stab Jews must be interpreted in the light of 500 years of colonialism.

          How odd.

  9. paxton marshall says:

    Here’s a piece from the Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)about the bias in New York Times reporting:

    “Our analysis of over 30 New York Times stories over the last few weeks shows clearly that the New York Times still values Israeli lives more than Palestinian ones.

    Even though the vast majority of those killed and injured are Palestinian, and Palestinians are facing extreme collective punishment, Israeli violence against Palestinians doesn’t make the news:

    Over 50% of headlines depicted Palestinians as the instigators of violence, while no headlines depicted Israelis as aggressors.
    No headlines referenced racist mobs that have roamed the streets of Jerusalem shouting “Death to Arabs.”
    Palestinians were referred to as terrorists 41 times, while the term was used four times (including quotes from Palestinians) to refer to violent Israeli actions intended to terrorize Palestinians.
    The terms “violent” or “violence” were used 36 times to refer to Palestinians, and 2 times to refer to Israelis.
    The terms “attack(s)” or “attackers” were used 110 times to describe Palestinian actions and people, and 17 times to describe Israelis.
    Here’s some of what the New York Times didn’t say:

    The root causes of the current uprising are Israel’s ongoing policies of occupation, displacement and oppression.
    Over the last year, from the Negev to East Jerusalem, Israel has demolished an average of 1.7 homes each day and allowed increasing numbers of Jewish settlers to take over homes in Palestinian neighborhoods.
    Settlers, the police, and racist mobs attacking Palestinians are a frequent occurrence in Palestinian neighborhoods.”

    • Yakaru says:

      This is the kind of atrocious use of use language that irritates me.

      “Our analysis of over 30 New York Times stories over the last few weeks shows clearly that the New York Times still values Israeli lives more than Palestinian ones.”

      Utter bullshit. They start talking about their analysis and suddenly jump to making assertions about the character and motivations of the journalists and editors. And they even assert that it is “still” so as if they have already established these “facts” about their motives already.

      This is what drives these discussions around in circles. For some reason, it’s suddenly acceptable to use hints and innuendo instead of evidence and reasoning.

      And because they are Jewish, and criticizing Israel, that adds an appeal to authority into the mix. Jews are just as prone to crappy logic as anyone else.

    • Sounds interesting, but unable to verify – the link was to your university server, so I’ve deleted the link.

  10. I feel like I should apologize to you all. I’ve been crook (strep. throat) for about ten days now, and looking at some of my comments, it’s seems to be making me pretty grumpy and stopping my brain from working at full strength. I’m sorry if I’ve let any of you down in any way.

    • Ken says:

      I’m really sorry to hear you’ve been ill, Heather. You certainly haven’t let us down. I did find one or two recent responses uncharacteristic, but apologies for any unreasonable frustration I have shown. I will respond to your latest and leave it at that. Get well soon.

    • paxton marshall says:

      No need to apologize Heather. You have stimulated another interesting discussion, though as you anticipated, straying from the subject of the original post. Please get over your “crook” (first time I’ve heard the word used as “sick”). We need you.

      Here’s an interesting article on the complex mix of motives driving ISIL fighters. Religious yes, but with widely differing interpretations of Islam. More economic; jobs are scarce. But mostly resentment that the US destroyed their lives and country.

      http://www.thenation.com/article/what-i-discovered-from-interviewing-isis-prisoners/

      • Ken says:

        Thanks, Paxton, good piece. What gets me about so many people who reject this psychology is their complete inability to put themselves into the shoes of these people. Particularly those in the States, with its knee-jerk revenge reflex (huge military invasions were the *only* acceptable response to 9/11 and you were either “with us or against us”), you’d think might understand the desire others also have to strike back at those they believe have hurt them.

        And of course, there are the Sam Harris’s, who want us to take deadly seriously what these people say are their motives if religious, but largely ignore any other motives they express.

        And speaking of Harris, I haven’t had time to listen yet, but this is sure to be very interesting.
        http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/welcome-to-the-end-of-my-patience

        • Ken says:

          Yup, it’s interesting, though nothing terribly new. Sam is right that he gets unfairly maligned as I’ve said before, but he also displays here in spades his blind faith in American exceptionalism that makes him such an apologist for American foreign policy.

        • I watched half of it yesterday, and haven’t got around to finishing it yet. He certainly pulls no punches!

      • It’s a very interesting article. I expect there are a lot of men like this who live in the regions occupied by DAESH, and always have. I’ve written about them before, but I’m not sure where so I can’t direct you to what I said then. Anyway, it’s always been my belief that in the Sunni areas of Iraq there were men who joined DAESH because of the political situation in the country created by the combination of the war and the appalling governance of Nouri al-Maliki. Also DAESH not only pays its soldiers, it pays more than any other terrorist group. Joining is a matter of survival for many on that area. Similar in northern Syria, where there are reports of men going to fight for DAESH from other groups because they paid more – it was a matter of survival for them and their families there too.

        This is all part of what I’ll be saying when I eventually write about this properly. There’s a lot more to it than these situations though, and it’s different for those who are attracted from the West than those already living there imo.

        For example, there’s no doubt that the situation of the people in Syria is enough to get anyone worked up, and for some that means joining a group that is pledged to bring down al-Assad. Part of the propaganda (in the broadest sense of the word) is focused on what an Alawite is doing to Sunnis, and that is used to encourage people’s ire. That DAESH has a goal of establishing a fundamentalist form of Sharia is also beyond question, and that is a purely religious goal. It can’t, imo, be framed any other way.

      • Yeah, “Crook,” as you’ve pretty much worked out is Kiwi (and Aussie) slang for sick.

  11. Ken says:

    I think I’m starting to understand why you weren’t impressed with the Democratic debate.

  12. Yakaru says:

    I assume this is the link Paxton was quoting above.
    https://www.pressenza.com/2015/10/tell-the-new-york-times-we-need-accurate-reporting-on-israel-and-palestine/

    the message from Palestinians is clear: they want freedom, justice, and dignity
    Unsubstantiated assertion/implication that the Palestinians are motivated purely by freedom, justice & dignity. *Ignores* all other possible and likely causes, including those repeatedly stated by many Palestinian leaders, and further asserts that this is “clear”. It isn’t.

    completely misrepresenting an uprising which is a response to decades of displacement, occupation and repression
    –Unsupported assertion repeated.

    Over the past week I’ve asked a number of our Palestinian and Israeli colleagues what JVP can do during this difficult time and I’ve heard over and over again, “You need to change the media narrative, they’re not telling the whole story.”
    –Appeal to popularity

    Our analysis of over 30 New York Times stories over the last few weeks shows clearly that the New York Times still values Israeli lives more than Palestinian ones.
    –Unsubstantiated assertion as to the motives of the journalists and editors, with implicit accusation of racism, made in a context of widespread conspiracy theoiries about the “Zionist controlled press”.

    Over 50% of headlines depicted Palestinians as the instigators of violence, while no headlines depicted Israelis as aggressors
    –Unsubstantiated assertion made without evidence, criteria for judgment or even a single example.

    No headlines referenced racist mobs that have roamed the streets of Jerusalem shouting “Death to Arabs.”
    –What an odd statement. Try “Aggressive or provocative acts by Isralei citizens have not been mentioned in any headlines.” That would at least remove the emotive language which does not belong in an objective survey.

    Palestinians were referred to as terrorists 41 times, while the term was used four times (including quotes from Palestinians) to refer to violent Israeli actions intended to terrorize Palestinians
    –The first credible stat so far, but made with the implied assertion that this is an unfair representation of reality. (It might indeed be unfair, but they have not even attempted to address the issue.)

    The terms “violent” or “violence” were used 36 times to refer to Palestinians, and 2 times to refer to Israelis.
    –See above, but at least they have managed to avoid needless emotive terms and hidden assertions.

    The terms “attack(s)” or “attackers” were used 110 times to describe Palestinian actions and people, and 17 times to describe Israelis.
    –Again, this is meaningless unless they provide stats for Israeli attacks on Palestinians showing that this is an unfair representation. As so often in these kinds of survey, they merely imply argument they need to be making.

    Heading: Here’s some of what the New York Times didn’t say:

    The root causes of the current uprising are Israel’s ongoing policies of occupation, displacement and oppression.
    –The assertion ignores and excludes all other possible root causes. As if this is a simple black and white issue.

    Over the last year, from the Negev to East Jerusalem, Israel has demolished an average of 1.7 homes each day and allowed increasing numbers of Jewish settlers to take over homes in Palestinian neighborhoods.
    –Assertion made without evidence (again, not saying it’s wrong, but why don’t they share their sources? They demand total trust from the reader.) And without eviednce, why should the NYT cover it?
    –Plus they ignore the more important issue of the the NYT coverage of demolition of houses. They don’t explore that at all, but focus instead on a demand that the NYT should publish that particular stat. What is this?

    Settlers, the police, and racist mobs attacking Palestinians are a frequent occurrence in Palestinian neighborhoods.
    –The NYT didn’t say *that*????? Really???? Again, what is this? Why not look at NYT coverage of incidents of such attacks in comparison with real statistics.

    The piece goes on to repeat the earlier assertion that the causes of the problem “are clear”.

    This a dreadful piece of faux analysis that asserts the arguments it needed to establish, ignores and dismisses all counter-arguments without even attempting to deal with them, and leaps straight into “TAKE ACTION NOW!!!” mode.

    This is an extraordinary complex issue, and this does not even begin to attempt to understand it. It simply asserts that it would get better if the NYT stopped being so racist (dog whistle pro-Zionist) and “started” reporting “the facts” (which are asserted without evidence and with no attempot to even begin to analyse them), but these “facts” are supposedly so clear that they would speak for themselves.

    No wonder these people leap straight into calls for action. Because their case falls apart instantly as soon as anyone examines it more closely. No wonder they scream blue murder if the instant anyone suggests taking another look.

    • Paxton marshall says:

      Thanks for posting the correct link Yakaru. I can’t fault your analysis. As you can see this was not a published article but a fund-raising email. I probably shouldn’t have posted it but it rang true to my impressions from this uprising and also from the Israel attack on Gaza in 2014. Hopefully there will be some more legitimate studies of the press coverage.

  13. Ken says:

    In an attempt to get back on topic, here’s a piece on what Democrats in the US might learn from the Canadians.
    http://www.thenation.com/article/what-american-democrats-can-learn-from-justin-trudeau/

    • Good article.

      There are lots of people in the US who would be good presidents, but the idea of the scrutiny of a presidential campaign would put just about anyone off. I’m not saying anything controversial when I comment that the electoral system in the US is a load of sh*t and needs to be completely overhauled. It was designed for the powerful to keep control, and has been made worse with the super pac decision.

  14. paxton marshall says:

    I know some of you have read Jerry Coyne’s post in WEIT on the recent violence between Palestinians and Israelis. https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2015/10/21/palestinians-kill-and-terrorize-israelis-world-studiously-ignores-it/ Here is my analysis of his post, modelled on Yakaru’s excellent analysis of my recent link to a piece by Jewish Voice for Peace. Yakaru, please correct me when I err.

    Title: “Palestinians kill and terrorize Israelis, world studiously ignores it”

    Deliberately inflammatory, biased and inaccurate. As always, many more Palestinians have been killed in the incidents than Israelis. Two examples given hardly demonstrate that the world ignores it, or that reporting is unbalanced. Several commenters on the article, from a variety of countries, confirm that the media have not ignored the violence. As Yakaru says: This is “emotive language which does not belong in an objective survey.”

    “ People are, for instance, bemoaning the death of Palestinian youths (and adults) killed by Israelis. What they fail to note is that these killings occurred after the Palestinians (often teenaged boys) were trying to kill Israeli soldiers or civilians using knives, rocks, or cleavers.”

    Who “fails to note”? All news accounts I have seen have described the initial attack as well as the lethal response from the IDF.

    “the Western media, as well as some atheist bloggers, have adopted a narrative in which any atrocity committed by a Palestinian is to be ignored or whitewashed (or even blamed on Israel), while vilifying Israeli soldiers and civilians for daring to defend themselves.” “Make that two things that are certain: the other is that the Western media will continue to ignore or downplay the Palestinian terrorism.”

    Unsubstantiated. More emotive language. Even the link to “some atheist bloggers” seems to contradict his point.

    “the latest wave of “violence” against Palestinians seems to involve mostly self-defense against Palestinian terror attacks.”

    This seems to be true, but provides no context for the situation. No mention that the Palestinians have been held captive by Israel for almost 50 years of occupation. No mention of the incessant appropriation of the West Bank for Israeli settlements. No mention of the destruction and seizure of Palestinian homes and property. No mention of the 2014 attacks on Palestinians, not with stones and knives, but with jet planes and guided missiles, that killed over 2000, many of them civilians, women and children. I wonder how many of the knife-wielding attackers of Israelis lost friends and family in that slaughter? Does anyone ask? Does anyone care? Where in the western media have you heard Israel’s Gaza attack described as terrorism?

    “But one thing is certain: these knife, car, and cleaver attacks are terrorism, and their victims had every right to defend themselves.”

    When have you ever heard Jerry Coyne describe the slaughter of 2000 Gazans as terrorism? Coyne has abandoned all pretense to be objective or even-handed.

    The most egregious distortion of the situation comes from the Harvard Crimson editorial that Coyne cites approvingly:
    “Imagine that terrorists were stabbing to death Americans who were on their daily walks to the supermarket. Imagine that terrorists were driving their cars into crowds of New York commuters waiting for the train.”

    Imagine if the United States were holding all of its Muslims, or all of its Jews, captive. Assigning where they could live, when and where they could travel, subjecting them to arbitrary search and seizure, brutally suppressing any uprising against their occupation and imprisonment. Wouldn’t we, shouldn’t we, expect some resistance? To equate the desperate acts of conquered people against a brutal 50 year captivity, with some arbitrary terrorists killing people randomly is a grotesque distortion of the situation. This seems to be the view that Jerry Coyne holds.

    • Yakaru says:

      A couple of points —

      Actually Coyne did say in the post: “I’ve repeatedly called for Israel to withdraw from the West Bank and for a two-state solution…” so I would say that does acknowledge the 50+ years oppression.

      You said:
      “When have you ever heard Jerry Coyne describe the slaughter of 2000 Gazans as terrorism?”

      I would say that you are making too many jumps here. You frame that as if it’s indisputable that the deaths in Gaza in last years bombings were both terrorism and “slaughter”.

      I would strongly dispute that, as would Coyne. (In essence, that conflict would have ended instantly if Hamas had stopped firing rockets into Israel. Israel even tried a unilateral cease fire, which was ignored.) I don’t want to argue that point here necessarily, just to point out that you write as if your point that it was terrorism is already clear, and have already moved on to condemning Coyne for not having already agreed with it.

      I’m not saying you should concede that it wasn’t terrorism; but rather, just acknowledge that there is a case to be made for the opposite view — and that you haven’t actually established your case yet on that point.

      I’d also note that Coyne (unlike the petition you linked to) is merely writing a personal blog post, not calling for specific action against anyone; plus his comment section is open and discussion encouraged.

      • paxton marshall says:

        Yakaru: “Actually Coyne did say in the post: “I’ve repeatedly called for Israel to withdraw from the West Bank and for a two-state solution…” so I would say that does acknowledge the 50+ years oppression.”

        Well, that’s about the most insipid acknowledgement ever. I see that from Coyne and others all the time, and it’s just code for saying “I’m for love and cooperation, but it ain’t going to happen, so I’ll just side with Israel.”

        Can anyone explain why Coyne, a scholar with a focus on the falsity and damage done by religion, never mentions the role of religious Israelis in expanding the settlements and blocking the two-state solution? He chooses to focus on religious motives for Muslim violence. By ignoring (or only giving lip service to) other reasons for Muslim violence he is also able to ignore the religious motives of Israelis in creating these conditions. This is rank partisanship and undermines any credibility he may have on religious topics.

        If Coyne is really seeking to understand the religious components of Israeli-Palestinian violence, he might start with this study: http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/regions/middle-east-north-africa/israel-palestine/089-israels-religious-right-and-the-question-of-settlements.aspx

        From the executive summary: “The effort to settle in the occupied territories once was led by secular Zionists. No more. Today, the settlement issue is being quickly transformed by the shifting dynamics of the religious right. Tens of thousands of national-religious Jews populate the settlements; they enjoy political, logistical and other forms of support from hundreds of thousands inside Israel proper. In addition, an equal if not larger number of ultra-orthodox who initially shared little of the national-religious outlook, gradually have been gravitating toward their view; many among them are now settlers. Together, the national-religious and ultra-orthodox carry weight far in excess of their numbers. They occupy key positions in the military, the government and the education and legal sectors, as well as various layers of the bureaucracy. They help shape decision-making and provide a support base for religious militants, thereby strengthening the struggle against future territorial withdrawals from both within and without state institutions.”

    • When I read this post of Jerry’s, I did think he sounded a bit biased, which is not how he usually sounds to me on this subject, but because of not being well and not having kept up with the news as much as usual I didn’t feel able to comment, so I didn’t. I didn’t know whether my impression was fair or not, so it would have been wrong of me to weigh in.

      Paxton – your comment about the 2014 missile attacks on Palestinians makes it sound as if the attack came out of the blue. I think it’s pretty unlikely they would have occurred if the Palestinians hadn’t started shooting missiles at the Israelis first. And the reason there are a lot less deaths from Palestinian missiles than Israeli ones is because the Israelis have invested so much in defence. Every school in Israel has concrete bunkers, warning sirens, and the kids do drills on what to do. Concrete given to the Palestinians by the Israelis to build schools is diverted to build tunnels for suicide bombers. That said, at the time the political climate was such in Israel that they were looking for an excuse to attack Palestine (in order to clear all the tunnels they had located) and I suspect they would have found one.

      This time, the violence started because of a false rumour about the al-Aqsa mosque and young men being encouraged to carry out knife attacks. The attitude towards dying for your religion being celebrated in much Islam is a problem. Palestinian leadership should be countering this message, but they never have.

      There are hard-liners in Israel. There are people who foment dissent. There are people who teach their children to hate non-Jews. They are not celebrated by the population at large. Israeli terrorists do not have landmarks named after them – they are made to answer in a court of law.

      “… desperate acts of conquered people …” blames the victims imo. There is no justification for terrorism. Having said that, Israel needs to stop settlement building. It shows a blatant disregard for international law that they only get away with because of US veto support on the UN Security Council. As long as they keep building, no one can take seriously their claims that they want a peaceful two-state solution.

  15. paxton marshall says:

    A new book debunks claims that Israeli youth are not being taught to hate Palestinians:
    http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.611822

    quote ““For me, personally, Arabs are something I can’t look at and can’t stand,” a 10th-grade girl from a high school in the central part of the country says in abominable Hebrew. “I am tremendously racist. I come from a racist home. If I get the chance in the army to shoot one of them, I won’t think twice. I’m ready to kill someone with my hands, and it’s an Arab. In my education I learned that … their education is to be terrorists, and there is no belief in them. I live in an area of Arabs, and every day I see these Ishmaelites, who pass by the [bus] station and whistle. I wish them death.”

    • paxton marshall says:

      The occupation is destroying Israel and the Jewish people. Here’s an interesting article by a prominent Israeli writer:

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/10/23/confessions-of-an-israeli-traitor/?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_wemost

      “The internal discussion in Israel is more militant, threatening and intolerant than it has ever been. Talk has trended toward fundamentalism ever since the Israeli operation in Gaza in late 2008, but it has recently gone from bad to worse. There seems to be only one acceptable voice, orchestrated by the government and its spokespeople, and beamed to all corners of the country by a clan of loyal media outlets drowning out all the others. Those few dissenters who attempt to contradict it — to ask questions, to protest, to represent a different color from this artificial consensus — are ridiculed and patronized at best, threatened, vilified and physically attacked at worst. Israelis not “supporting our troops” are seen as traitors, and newspapers asking questions about the government’s policies and actions are seen as demoralizing.”

      • paxton marshall says:

        Another powerful denunciation of the occupation and the status quo by two lifelong Zionists:

        https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-zionist-case-for-boycotting-israel/2015/10/23/ac4dab80-735c-11e5-9cbb-790369643cf9_story.html?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_wemost

        “But we must face reality: The occupation has become permanent. Nearly half a century after the Six-Day War, Israel is settling into the apartheid-like regime against which many of its former leaders warned. The settler population in the West Bank has grown 30-fold, from about 12,000 in 1980 to 389,000 today. The West Bank is increasingly treated as part of Israel, with the green line demarcating the occupied territories erased from many maps. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin declared recently that control over the West Bank is “not a matter of political debate. It is a basic fact of modern Zionism.”

        This “basic fact” poses an ethical dilemma for American Jews: Can we continue to embrace a state that permanently denies basic rights to another people? Yet it also poses a problem from a Zionist perspective: Israel has embarked on a path that threatens its very existence.”

      • Interesting article. The right in Israel does seem to be much more dominant since the last election. Netanyahu looked to be losing that election, then he made an anti-Arab speech and suddenly gained strong support that saw him and the far-right parties get strong support and win. That appears to have emboldened them, and it’s had a horrible result. This Vox article outlines the election results: http://www.vox.com/2015/3/18/8244003/israel-election-results

        • paxton marshall says:

          Twenty one of Netanyahu’s 61 seat coalition are held by explicitly religious parties. That’s not counting the religious members of Likud and Kulanu. The government is absolutely dependent on the religious parties. How is it people keep asserting that the Jewish state is secular and the religious zealotry is all on the other side? The US is regrettably religious, but even we don’t have specifically religious parties, and the religious groups, while getting a lot of attention, have been notably ineffective in shaping policy. In Israel, the key element blocking a two state solution, the settlements movement, is driven by religious extremists. Where is the New Atheist outrage? As with the Christian influence on the Iraq invasion, the New Atheists (and please Heather, this is not an attack on you) focus on ephemera and individuals and seem to ignore the more insidious religious influence on state policies. The revived influence of the Russian orthodox church on Russian policy is another religious intrusion that bears examination. I agree that creationism is ignorant and religionists who withhold medicine from their sick children are sick themselves. But these fringe loonies are not the place to look for the continuing destructive religious influences on human society. Look at religious influences on government policies. Exorcisms are absurd superstitions and are rightly subject to criticism, even ridicule. but the harm done by exorcisms is insignificant compared to the harm done By Roman Catholic bans on contraception.

  16. This is an excellent interview. It’s 24 minutes long, but worth the effort. It was first broadcast yesterday, but I’ve only just got around to watching it. BBC’s Stephen Sackur (Hardtalk) vs Yair Lapid, leader of Israel’s Yesh Atid party, who called on Israelis to shoot to kill at the first sign of danger: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SydiNPg4TSQ

    • Yakaru says:

      Interesting interview. I thought Lapid made a lot of good points. (I always find the “Hardtalk” format infuriatingly polarizing and incoherent – simply jumping about randomly through a list of confronting and aggressive questions rather than developing a theme.)

      Lapid made some fair points – that these stabbings are the result of religious fanaticism, (“It’s not Islam – these are religious fanatics, just mad people”).

      He also made it clear that he would support resettling Jews to allow a Palestinian state.

      Anyone who argues that the current spate of random stabbings is not due to religious fanaticism, I would suggest they start raising money to buy the Palestinian leaders a few books on political activism. If the oppression-stoked rage is so strong among the youth that they are prepared to murder random Jews until they are shot, then their leaders have failed atrociously to channel that will into constructive political action. Failed so atrociously that they don’t deserve support. They need a lesson is basic political activism.

      However, seeing footage of gangs of youths marching about chanting “Hamas, you are the canon, we are the bullets” makes me think that Lapid is right to believe what these Palestinians themselves say – that it’s anti-Jewish religious fanaticism. Again, anyone who thinks the Palestinians don’t know their own motives, should start raising money for an awareness-raising program for Palestinians, teaching them what their own motives are.

      • paxton marshall says:

        Yakaru: “Anyone who argues that the current spate of random stabbings is not due to religious fanaticism, I would suggest they start raising money to buy the Palestinian leaders a few books on political activism.”

        Maybe your advice on more constructive approaches the Palestinians could take is good. But here are some reasons for Palestinian anger given by Mr. Lapid himself:

        In a May 19, 2013 interview with New York Times correspondent Jodi Rudoren,[27] Lapid said that:
        1.”.. Israel should not change its policy on Israeli settlements in the West Bank in order to revive the stalemated peace process”
        2.”..Jerusalem should not serve as the capital of a future Palestinian state”
        3.”..he would not stop the so-called “natural expansion” of settlements in the West Bank, nor curtail the financial incentives offered Israelis to move there”
        4.”..the large swaths of land known as East Jerusalem that Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 war and later annexed must stay Israeli because “we didn’t come here for nothing.””

        Now Lapid wants armed to the teeth soldiers to shoot to kill teenagers with knives. Of course he didn’t mention the settlements, the checkpoints, the 2000 killed in Gaza, the 48 years of captivity, the Gaza embargo, the seizures of property and destruction of houses as possible reasons for the violence. It all boils down to “these stabbings are the result of religious fanaticism.

        I would say that anyone who argues that the current spate of random stabbings is due solely to religious fanaticism should get a few books on the history and context of the situation. I suggest My Promised Land by Ari Shavit, a loyal Israeli, would be a good start.

        • Yakaru says:

          Is that a quote, with the bullet points? Is the original anywhere?

          He did say in the interview he would accept that some settlements would have to close, though didn’t give a number.

          Incidentally, I would also question the number of dead from the bombing of Gaza last year — the only source I’ve ever seen for it is from Hamas, and they wouldn’t let journalists into the hospitals and strictly controlled their movements elsewhere. (And as I say, no bombs would have been dropped had Hamas not been firing rockets.)

          For the record, I thought Lapid’s instructions to Jews to arm themselves was borderline incitement.
          And, obviously, I condemn the killing of disarmed people by the police, regardless of what they did beforehand.
          But I do think those killed by police while wielding a knife should not be included in statistics of those killed while disarmed and defenseless.

          • Yakaru says:

            (Incidentally, I don’t disregard the oppression and clearly intolerable conditions that Israel is forcing the Palestinians to live under. But I do include religious fanaticism in the mix as well — because that’s what it looks like and the Palestinians themselves could not possibly say it more clearly than they do, that it is also a motivation.)

          • Paxton marshall says:

            Sorry. It’s from Lapid’s Wikipedia entry. There are over 700,000 Israelis in settlements in the WB and East Jerusalem. Sharon’s removal of 9,000 settlers from Gaza created huge turmoil in Israel. Do you really think any Israeli government can remove a significant portion of the 700,000? Israeli settlement has killed any possibility of a two state solution. What’s left? A one state solution or the status quo.

          • Paxton marshall says:

            The Wikipefia article on the Israel-Gaza conflict of 2014 gives casualty estimates from a variety of sources. 2000 Gazans killed with half being civilians seems to be a conservative average.

          • Yakaru says:

            If this is the wiki article you are referring to-
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Israel–Gaza_conflict

            -it only mentions two sources (that I could find) which gave complete statistics. One is in Arabic and the link doesn’t open; and the other is this-
            http://www.mezan.org/en/post/19396/IOF+Declare+Intentions+to+Commit+further+Violations+of+International+Law+in+Gaza+under+International+Silence%3Cbr%3EAl+Mezan%3A+2%2C142+Killed%3B+516+Children+and+295+Women+since+7+July

            -which although exhaustive does not not say how they gathered their stats. They also have decided to rename the IDF the IOF, the Israeli Occupation Forces (Israel was not occupying Gaza last I looked), and anyway this simply reveals a mindset that is not serious about reporting the truth. I don’t mind people using propaganda, but I won’t trust statistics given on a propaganda website without attribution.

            They also asserted the following:
            “The IOF announced its intention to target civilian objects in Gaza in response to any attacks emanating from near them.”
            Unsurprisingly, no source given for that either.

            I’m not especially doubting the statistic – it sounds quite plausible. But I would highlight the difficulty of getting reliable information from any source. The only group in any position to collect data is Hamas, and they obviously have an interest. They are also unlikely to report civilian deaths caused by misfiring rockets, or deaths caused by “misdirected” rockets.

            But the main point is that the conflict wouldnever have even started had Hamas not continued to fire rockets into Israel. And again, that tactic made no military sense whatsoever, had no discernible political goal, turned their own citizens into targets (a deliberate ploy – they were ordered people to stay in their buildings and risk death). At least it makes no sense unless considered part of an insane long term on Jews — which is what they repeatedly declare.

          • Paxton marshall says:

            That’s the one. About the fifth heading down is “Casualties and Losses. There are five sources given, one Gazans, one UN, and three Israeli.

  17. Paxton marshall says:

    I think Hillary took a big step towards the Presidency with her performance before the Ben Ghazi committee yesterday. And the contrasting performance of the Republicans on the committee. She has established herself as the adult in the room. Why would the Republicans want to give her such a platform, when they knew they had nothing new, or really nothing on her performance at all. They seem intent on self destructing. And why did she have to go through all this interrogation over an incident in which four people were killed? Bush testified for one hour in PRIVATE, over 9/11 which killed 3000, and about which he had as good or better intelligence as Hillary had. Of course, that was just a warmup for him, as he went on to be implicated in the deaths of hundreds of thousands.

    • Ken says:

      That they would give George a pass, while going after Hillary endlessly isn’t surprising, though I agree that this was an own goal as was expected. I expect they did it anyway as red meat for the base, who can’t seem to get enough of Hillary scandals, real or imagined. The other reason is that the Reps are indeed on a downward slope. There appears to be no real leadership any longer, though how that lot could be led by anyone is beyond me. That they can’t find anyone to be House Speaker is simply amazing and the best example of this, as traditionally people fight for this powerful role (it’s not like the Speaker in Parliamentary systems, but the true House leader).

      They really need a Reagan they can rally behind, though as has been oft pointed out, Reagan would be far too liberal to succeed in today’s Rep party. I never say never in US politics, but on paper, the Dems should be a shoo in for the Presidency for the foreseeable future due to demographic changes and their continued extremism from the tea party. I’ve never thought Hillary electable, but almost anyone the Dems put up should win. And they are really already a minority in the House, having received less than 50% of the national vote, and only stay in power through severe electorate boundary gerrymandering.

      I can’t find it now, but read an interesting article about how the 1968 Nixon southern strategy which flipped the Democratic segregationist South to the Republican party is now unravelling. It posits that the extreme social conservatives who make up the tea party are realising that not only is the Eastern Republican establishment not fighting for their issues, they are trying to gut the federal social programmes like Medicare that tea partiers love. Because the tea party is now an organised enough movement to wield some power (ironically because rich Eastern Reps funded it to begin with), the possibility for a real rift in the GOP is greater than it has been for decades.

    • It was smart of her to insist on testifying in public. Congressional hearings, especially in public, tend to be platforms for reps to grandstand and make speeches rather than actually investigate, and she had to know she could handle anything they threw at her. Also, this way, there can be no dispute about what she said – it’s all on tape and no one can lie or infer stuff.

      I agree with Ken too – the Dems should be winning every election now, and that would have been happening since Gore if it wasn’t for gerrymandering. The GOP looks ready to implode. They’re running around like a headless chicken. Paul Ryan has the ability to bring them together, but I’m not sure his heart is really in it, and who can blame him?

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