Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 900 (since 2009-07-31 03:28:07)

Donald Johnson

Donald Johnson is a regular commenter on this site, as "Donald."

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  • The iron law of institutions versus Bernie Sanders
    • Nothing to disagree with there. I have seen someone somewhere mention that Sunday voting idea, but it doesn't seem to have caught on. No doubt the Republicans would find some way to say it's unamerican, though I'm not imaginative enough to predict how. But it does seem like an easy way to increase turnout.

  • New York Times's breathless story on landing interview with Netanyahu reads like 'the Onion' on crack
    • You captured this perfectly. I'd like to say you're a comedic genius, but honestly, Jeffrey Gettleman did virtually all the work here. I wasn't laughing out loud, as we denizens of the internet are often found doing, but there was a big smile on my face the whole way through the original article. Who could possibly write this crap and mean it?

      This guy is wasted at the NYT. As you say, the Onion is where this stuff belongs--you'd hardly have to change a word.

  • Hillary Clinton has a decision to make
    • Good idea.

    • So much for silamcuz the alleged hater of Western imperialism, here the defender of Clinton, the friend of Kissinger, defender of Israeli war crimes, supporter of the invasion of Iraq.

      Some of your posts make sense and others, like this one, are incoherent nonsense. I'd wonder if this was intentional except I don't really care that much.

      Yakov's post was great. If anything he's a bit too generous to Clinton, who in my opinion supports Israel because she genuinely thinks the way many Israel defenders think--we should be bombing the Other because we are the good guys, they are the bad guys and if innocents die it's all their fault.

  • Ozick says Obama needs 6-volume history of Jews on his bedside table
    • I'm not a fan of Wiesel, but people are complicated. He was a Holocaust survivor, so, yeah, I think he really did care about antisemitism. You have to imagine him as some sort of demon to think he didn't. It was wrong that he became a tribalist and said horrible racist things about Palestinians and he wasn't a saint or conscience of the world, but " gilded cage" is something I'd use about some jackass born in the US who has never experienced one second of actual oppression, not someone who lived through the Holocaust.

    • Wiesel was a Holocaust survivor and Ozick's family immigrated to America to escape pogroms, so if I want to use understatement I'd say it would be natural for them to be concerned about antisemitism. I can't see how one could blame them for that. ( More understatement). The problem is their bigotry towards Palestinians and their unwillingness to recognize that any oppressed group can become oppressors.

      But the bigger problem is that people like Wiesel and Ozick are held up as moral gurus when they were/ are bigoted against Palestinians.

  • Mainstream obits for Wiesel offer barely an asterisk for his intolerant views of Palestinians
    • My impression, partly confirmed by the lists above, is that Wiesel stuck to the safe targets. So he criticized the Sandinistas for their treatment of the Miskitos, but faced with evidence of Israel's complicity in a vastly greater crime against Mayans in Guatemala, Wiesel spoke for refugees without condemning the people responsible.

      link to books.google.com

      Not sure if that Google book link will work, but Google Wiesel with Guatemala and you should find some interesting things.

      Wiesel isn't the only hypocrite of this sort-- as Chomsky wrote about at endless length, this careful form of convenient universalism is the norm in mainstream US circles. That's why Wiesel was lionized. He never said anything truly uncomfortable that would disturb a NYT editorialist.

  • Israel-splaining
    • I'm late to commenting on my own post (I was out of town), but your comment captures exactly the main points we are trying to make. The anti-Palestinian rights movement is implicitly racist and it's long past time for people to be pointing this out. You said it better than we did.

  • Clinton's 'infatuation with war' and neoconservatism stirs misgivings on the left
    • Yes. It was in emails. All of my pieces here start out as rants emailed to Phil. They start off along the lines of " Can you believe this crap I just read? " and then argue for why I think it sucks.

  • Netanyahu agonistes
    • "Stay tuned..."

      That sounds good. Someone needs to do it.

    • That's what is interesting about this-- even the war criminals are getting worried. Of course that doesn't mean that if the centrist war criminals get back in power things will end happily. Up till now when centrist or " liberal" Israelis were in power it put a kinder gentler face on apartheid, but with the younger liberal generation in the US maybe that will stop working.

      I'm hedging because I don't know.

    • Funny because it's the literal truth.

  • American Jewish identity: Moving beyond 'love for Israel' and the Holocaust
    • "American support for Israel isn't just about Jews..."

      Among Christians it's two things. First a lot of Christians after WWII finally acknowledged the harm done by centuries of Christian antisemitism and atoned for their sins ( or the sins of their ancestors) by throwing the Palestinians under the bus. It's more complicated than that, but that'll do as a summary. Tied in with this is the fear of being called antisemitic if you criticize Israel.

      Second, the believers in an imminent Second Coming usually also think that God wants them to support Israel no matter what, so guess who gets thrown under the bus?

      Actually, I should mention a third-- Islamophobia and/or prejudice against Arabs. But that's implied in the first two.

  • 'Boycott' Israel over J'lem prayer rules, but 'work' against occupation -- Forward's double standard
    • She knows her audience. The commenters ( I think there were one or two exceptions) either rejected option 5 or thought it not worth mentioning.

  • Dennis Ross tells American Jews, 'We need to be advocates for Israel' -- and not for Palestinians
    • I don't know much about Yaalon and maybe he is a cynical jerk or even a war criminal, but if so, it is all the more significant that someone like that is taking this position. It doesn't mean he can be trusted, but it does show that people in the Israeli mainstream are scared of where things are heading. Even if he is a total cynic he realizes that what he is saying now may well resonate with some Israelis.

      If there is going to be change there it's going to involve Israeli equivalents to DeClerk ( I probably misspelled the name).

    • Blaming Clinton first seems fair, but that doesn't mean Ross didn't play a secondary role. Clearly Miller was blaming himself and other American diplomats.

  • Michael Lerner brings down the house at Muhammad Ali funeral by standing up for Palestinians and against Netanyahu
    • I've always liked Lerner-- he's obviously a decent guy who really does want a fair and just solution for everyone. He genuinely hates violence. I can say this without necessarily agreeing with him about everything. If Palestinians are willing to support a 2ss, that's fine with me, but it isn't my choice or Lerner's to make.

  • Please boycott us, Governor Cuomo
    • Hophm, like other people who say BDS is antisemitic, is a bigot without knowing it. He thinks that a standard nonviolent method that people use to fight for basic human rights is bigoted when used to fight for Palestinian rights. Hophmi only sees the Israelis as fully deserving of human rights and not Palestinians. He would probably defend Israel's draconian blockade on Gaza, but not a much less stringent boycott of Israeli companies.

  • PEN director praises Charlie Hebdo's courage, then suggests BDS makes students feel 'isolated, vulnerable, threatened'
    • I think you're right. She was asked about BDS and dodged the question by changing the subject.

  • Huffpo writer expresses bigotry against Palestinians by equating battle for equal rights and anti-Semitism
    • Phil and I both signed the piece.

      The three demands of the BDS movement are for an end to the occupation, equal rights for Palestinians and the right of return. That doesn't sound like some zero sum solution where one side wins and one side loses. Zionists hear a demand for equality as a demand for their subordination and/or expulsion. I don't think it is helpful to say this is correct, because it isn't.

    • The problem with her piece is that she is mixing up different things ranging from clear cut examples of antisemitism on the one hand and support for a 1ss on the other. In the latter case she is revealing her own unconscious bigotry. In- between you have college students allegedly being crude and uncivil, which is wrong, but without more detail I don't know if it is antisemitism. It's not unusual for college activists to use overheated rhetoric on all sorts of issues-- a friend of mine was telling me just the other day what some student speakers said about their own college president during a graduation ceremony and it wasn't pretty. ( In that case the administration was allegedly sexist and racist). And if the people being yelled at actually defend Israeli policies then it's not that overheated, though personally I wish people on both sides would stop using Nazi references.

  • Clinton forces dig in against changes to Democratic platform on Israel
  • Top donor to Clinton super PAC is Haim Saban
    • "When an Arab regime kills 300,000 people"

      Look, I know you don't mean it this way, but that's apologetics for Islamic jihadists. The fact is that the regime isn't doing all the killing--the rebels are also killing a massive number of people. It's a civil war with outsiders supplying help and/ or weapons to both sides-- the death toll is extremely high precisely because of the outside help for the rebels. On the rebel side you have the Saudis and others, including the US and evidently Israel's interests are a big factor. No, that doesn't mean it is all Israel's fault, as obviously quite a few outside groups have an interest in this war.

  • 'NYT' blames Hamas for civilian deaths in front-page article that sounds like Hillary Clinton
    • It's possible that people in Gaza don't like Hamas. My impression was they stood behind them during the 2014 slaughter, hoping that the Israelis would lift the blockade. They might be tired of them now-- do you have links to any sort of poll?

      Personally I have no stake in any Palestinian group-- I just want the NYT to stop writing apologetics for the Israelis. And I know one of the reporters used to be an activist. It's irrelevant. The NYT has a fairly consistent bias-- how Hadid reconciles her convictions with her job is her problem.

    • I read the link, but I need to read it again, as there is a lot there. I "approve" of the paragraph you quote. It doesn't matter, though, as I mentioned my personal feelings mainly because many people seem to think that facts should only be reported if they support their views.

      The NYT and others should report what Hamas is doing and what various Palestinians think about it because that's what a newspaper should do. If most Palestinians support the tunnel building they should report this. If some don't they should report that as well. .They should also report what Israel does, but for the most part they don't. They choose to highlight those facts which in their mind justify Israel when it kills civilians. That's what I wrote about.

      You clearly want to have an argument with me about Hamas, resistance and so forth. I don't, but I will write a few lines. Palestinians are the victims here and the Israelis are the aggressors, so Palestinians have the right to use violence to overthrow their oppressors. However, it hasn't worked for them. Frankly, if they could win their freedom with tunnels and rockets then they will do it and criticism would be silly. There's not a people on earth that wouldn't fire rockets and build tunnels if it would enable them to win their freedom. Since they are unlikely to win this way, it seems like a waste of effort and lives. Nonviolent protest hasn't worked either, which is why I don't feel like arguing about this.

    • I am responding in advance to someone who might accuse me of only being angry because I must allegedly support Hamas. The point is that if the NYT wishes to write about the plight of Palestinian civilians in an objective way, they would write about Gazan fishermen being shot, protestors being shot, hundreds of children killed in their homes and yes, if Hamas digs tunnels in densely populated neighborhoods then they should write about that too. They don't do this. The only time I can remember them reporting an Israeli action in harsh unalloyed terms was when the boys were killed on the beach, and that piece was written by a photographer who was there, not one of their usual reporters.

      What they generally do is report some fraction of Israeli brutality when it happens, usually closely accompanied by Israeli rationalizations and then when referring to the war later on they adopt the Israeli viewpoint as a summary of what happened. So the message is that Israeli actions are justified. This piece went on the front page because it had the right message.

  • Clinton campaign is 'nervous' Sanders will push 'divisive' battle over Democratic platform on Israel
    • It's moronic to hold the position that public criticism of Israel is counterproductive. Unless the Israelis are such pathetic narcissists one shouldn't say one word in public that might upset them, a rule we do not follow for other countries. And anyone who is serious about a 2ss should have been criticizing the Israelis for decades now. If, of course, someone only pretends to support a2ss as a kind of fig leaf than that's different. You say you support it, give Israel everything it wants, and settlements continue to grow. it's worked so far.

  • Michael Ratner was dedicated to radical social change, with humor and humility
    • Rather was a great man.

      I am also puzzled by that Syria article yesterday. So far as I can tell, both Assad and the various rebel factions are murderers. The idea as proposed by those writers that if only the US had given more support to the FSA then things would have been over in months is so stupid I can't imagine how anyone could really believe it. Do people just not pay any attention at all to the actual record of these proxy wars? Anyway, the rebels of all factions have received a lot of aid, and the jihadists have successfully killed tens of thousands of Syrian soldiers. So obviously killing that many wasn't enough to win. How many more would need to be killed? How many more civilians would die? What are the jihadis doing when our fantasy super rebels have defeated Assad and now try to usher in a magical world of human rights and puppies for everyone?

  • 'Either Assad or we'll burn the country' - An excerpt from 'Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War'
    • I mostly agree with this, but I was also disturbed by the one sided nature of this article. That is, I accept that the Syrian government is guilty of massive war crimes and so is the opposition. I don't believe in the fairy tale that if only we had intervened more the war would have only lasted months-- in fact, this seems insane. It is the sort of thing Clinton would say.

      It would be good to read a piece which told the truth about the war crimes of all factions, but not another one of these Clinton style pro- intervention pieces. In this case, MW actually sank below the level of the NYT which recently ran an honest piece by Declan Walsh describing the war crimes in Aleppo by all sides.

  • Calling Israel a 'modern day miracle' and 'vibrant bloom in desert,' Clinton says BDS is anti-Semitic
    • Phil, it's not just absurd and wrong-- it's racist. A blanket accusation of racism against BDS is nakedly racist. This has to be said over and over again until people get the point. Currently we have the Orwellian situation where an utterly cynical liberal politician panders to bigots by making a racist charge of antisemitism and we allow them to frame the issue, where BDS advocates have to defend themselves. .

  • A new proposal for confederated states (without any idea of how to get Israel to comply)
    • Without necessarily agreeing with every word, that was a very good comment. Really more the kind of thing that should be a front page article, to stir discussion.

  • Anti-Semitism is considered a serious moral failing. But no one calls out anti-Palestinian bigotry
    • Clinton characterized the entire BDS movement as antisemitic. Which is nonsense, except on the assumption that Palestinians are inferior beings and so the only motivation for boycotts must be antisemitism.

    • Your usual kneejerk response. But if you actually thought about it you'd realize you are being self contradictory. College campuses are hardly representative of what one hears in the mainstream press or from politicians and normally you'd be the first to point this out-- you would claim that what campus activists say is not representative of the larger society.

      And no, Islamophobia isn't the same. Clinton calls out Trump's Islamophobia. Most liberals and the remaining conservatives with some sense of decency do the same-- that is, they do not approve of bigotry against American Muslims. That's true of you too. But Palestinians are a different matter-- Clinton just assumes she can make a blanket antisemitic accusation against pro Palestinian activists and not be condemned as a bigot.

  • Advice to British leftwingers on kicking racism out of their anti-Israel rhetoric
    • I agree with most of this. Point 1 is right-- there are way too many Nazi comparisons in politics and on this issue by both sides. It isn't antisemitic, usually. It's just people in an argument going over the top.

      On point 2, I think people are getting stuck on his " it's both" statement and not reading his explanation. He clearly doesn't think Zionists had the right to expel Palestinians -- I don't think he is just saying that the impulse behind Zionism wasn't racist, but to establish a place where Jews could live in peace. Theoretically this could have been done in some peaceful way without expelling anyone. Maybe. But anyway, given the history of antisemitism I think Cohen is only arguing that Zionism was an understandable reaction, and not defending how it actually ended out working.

      On point 3 he seems to be saying that hard working lobbyists did have an effect in creating an anti- Palestinian bias, but we shouldn't use terms like Zionist conspiracy. Fine with me. I'd rather hear details about how the influence works than use nebulous paranoid sounding terms.

  • Jeffrey Goldberg terrorizes peers into silence over his daily intellectual and moral outrages
  • Norman Finkelstein on Sanders, the first intifada, BDS, and ten years of unemployment
    • I can understand part of what Norman is arguing within an American context. I don't think Palestinians need pay any attention to what Americans will be comfortable with regarding 1ss vs 2ss. But I suspect he is right that many (most?) Americans probably think a 2ss is fair. A friend of mine ,not a close one so I didn't know he was interested in this issue, was angrily denouncing the shooting of the wounded Palestinian--this was in a conversation a few weeks ago. He brought it up. He also despised Hillary's AIPAC speech. But he clearly supported a 2ss, so for people like him Norman might be right.

      OTOH, Norman's claim that we shouldn't emphasize the longer history seems wrong to me. You pretty much have to or it is used against Palestinians. I have repeatedly seen pro Israel types online claim that Palestinian hostility is caused by antisemitism and not by the occupation because the hostility and terrorist attacks occurred before 67. It is hard to believe that the people making these claims are this ignorant, but I think they are. I also know someone who thought herself well-informed who knew about the killings of Jews by Palestinians in the 20's, but clearly knew nothing about any Jewish massacre of Palestinians in the 40's besides Deir Yassin. So if you don't talk about the older history a lot of pro Israel half truths will be believed as whole truths.

    • I'm sure he'd be against corporate control as well-- he is a pal of Chomsky. He wasn't giving his full view on political philosophy, just making his " I'm a pragmatist" pitch by pointing out that his ideal world is very far away from current reality.

      Not disagreeing with what you said here-- I just don't think Finkelstein would disagree either.

      This was a reply to Keith, but I think I stuck it in the wrong spot.

  • When 'Broad City' Went On Birthright, and taught us all a lesson about American Jews and Israel
    • I read the script of the movie we argued about and as I expected its politics were accurately described by the numerous critics-- I was even familiar with many of the incidents in the film. And on the politics, Asad AbuKhalil was right. That's all I cared about. I could explain that ten more times and it wouldn't matter.

      In this case I've said nothing about the show except to point out the inane nature of your criticism of this post. This blog could be about all sorts of other things, but when we wander off the main purpose it is usually to talk about something related--US foreign policy or racism, Syria, etc... There is no reason to see it become a place where the characters in your favorite shows are given a deep analysis, but you seem to think you are scoring a point with this. You are sometimes unfairly attacked here, I think, but you also write some silly churlish comments.

    • He could up the ante by talking about complicated nuance. That would set us all back on our heels.

    • "fact that mw publishes a post that adds zero insight into the characters of abby and ilana and focuses on anti zionism is utterly predictable. "

      The fact that a blog which is about Israeli oppression of the Palestinians and is anti-Zionist would publish a piece about a sitcom episode in terms of its anti-zionism is utterly predictable because it is what the blog is about. This point you're making isn't as devastating as you seem to think. In fact, it's rather a head scratcher as to why you think it's a point at all.

      I'm sure there are other places online where you could read about the characters on your favorite TV shows.

  • Donna Edwards's campaign unsettles the Israel lobby inside the Democratic Party
    • I know people on both sides are using that Tea party comparison, but I'd be careful about accepting it. It's already being used by Clintonites to discredit people to their left as fanatics.

  • Clinton will hold fundraiser in Tel Aviv
  • Obama's November surprise
    • What Hophmi is trying to say is that Clinton won, so the Palestinians can go frack themselves. As far as American politics goes, he's right.

    • I don't pretend to know why so many black and hispanic voters like Clinton, but they've been her chief source of strength. And in general, there may not be that many voters who would vote against her and for Sanders on this issue, or rather, the people who would vote for Sanders on this issue were probably voting for him on others as well.

      In general, American elections don't seem to hinge very much on what terrible things we do to other people. Lots of Democrats claimed to be outraged by the Bush invasion of Iraq. War crime, crime against humanity, worst blunder in US foreign policy history, etc... And who is the likely Democratic nominee? The great foreign policy wonk who supported the Iraq War.

  • 'Forward' columnist and Emily's List leader relate 'gigantic,' 'shocking' role of Jewish Democratic donors
    • Hophmi is usually wrong, but in the last couple of days I've agreed with him on two things, not because of his basic position but because people go too far.

      I've sort of given up on this, but the Nazi/Holocaust analogies are over the top. And the problem is that they aren't the sort of comparisons that will get people to see how bad Israel is. Because they are exaggerated, they are more likely to chase people away. When I talk to friends in real life about Israel, I talk about the bombing of homes in Gaza and the shooting and indiscriminate firepower used and fishermen shot and so on and I know I can back it all up. If I started making Holocaust analogies I think they'd write me off as a lunatic.

    • "rather on the very conscious, deliberate hasbara programs the Israeli government initiated after it found itself subjected to a lot of shockingly negative attention in the American media during the 1982 invasion of Lebanon. I don’t think I was aware of any of that – I didn’t even have a TV at the time – but the clips of John Chancellor and other mainstream reporters and anchors talking about how Israel had become a regional bully, etc., are quite stunning"

      I remember some of this and I am embarrassed to say how much I fell for the hasbara. This was a couple of years before I stumbled across Chomsky's "The Fateful Triangle" in a bookstore, which turned my views around. Anyway, at the time I actually heard a friend of mine, apolitical, talking about how mad she was at "those stupid Israelis" because of their bombing of Lebanon. And I felt superior, because I had read an article in The New Republic explaining that the press had it all wrong.

      A year or two later and I had read Chomsky, but also, a year or two later and the Marine barracks bombing had totally erased any memory of Israeli brutality, along with the hasbara campaign. Sabra and Shatila, oddly enougth, played a role. The Western press is much more horrified by face to face massacres than by technological massacres conducted by bombing, at least if it is a Western country doing the bombing. And the line was that since the massacre was conducted by the Christian Phalangists and not by Israelis and since the Israelis investigated it, that meant the Israelis were civilized. I don't know that I've ever seen a mainstream reference to the bombing after the time period when it actually happened.

  • 'Anti-Zionism = anti-semitism' is a formal logical fallacy
    • Hophmi is right. If all Jews whose ancestors are not native to Palestine need to leave, then that's just a new form of ethnic cleansing. That's not what a 1ss with equal rights for everyone is supposed to mean.

  • Sanders' unprecedented call for 'justice and peace' marks decline of lobby's power
    • I was disgusted that he caved in to racist buffoons and suspended his outreach person, but he still went on national TV and said Israel killed 1500 civilians and wounded 10, 000. He also condemned Clinton for ignoring Palestinians and said Palestinian rights were important and he did this a few days before a New York primary. Now I could talk about what I didn't like -- in particular, the notion that Israel was defending itself-- but what Sanders did was as historic as you get in presidential politics. Nobody who is running a serious if long shot campaign has ever done it.

      If the discussion in American politics switches over to one where the human rights of both sides are recognized, it's going to make a difference. If it becomes an argument between liberal Zionists like Beinart and anti- Zionists like people here, that's a giant step forwards. That's why noxious people like Eliot Engel are so angry with Sanders. They want a world where all American politicians talk like Hillary.

  • 'NY Times' publishes op-ed writer's blatant falsehood about Palestinians without blinking an eye
    • I third that suggestion. And we should also write polite letters to the public editor on the subject. Let them know people are watching.

  • Sanders slams Clinton for ignoring Palestinian needs and thinking Netanyahu is 'right all the time'
    • All true, but it is also true that Saders went much further than most politicians or for that matter, most pundits. Notice how little fact checking Clinton gets on this issue, yet she regularly recites the line of the Israeli government about Gaza. And you're right about Bernie, since even he accepts the Israeli framing that Israel was defending itself.

    • Bernie does concede way too much, but you are being disingenuous. Everyone agrees Sanders went much further than most politicians in criticizing Israel. It is truly pathetic that they pander and lie so much that the Sanders comments seem so extraordinary, but that's how it is.

      You not only predict Sanders will do nothing-- you seem to gloat over it. There really are liberal Zionists who want to see the occupation ended and would favor pressure on Israel to do it, but you are apparently in the camp that much prefers the status quo to that.

  • Sanders hires a Jewish critic of Israel, as Clinton gets 'Daily News' nod as 'warrior realist'
    • Daniel Larison writes mostly on foreign policy and has said a lot, mostly critical, about the various candidates. Here he is on Clinton--

      link to theamericanconservative.com

      And if you want more detail, you can find it at his blog.

      On Clinton, she is seen as more "serious" because she makes the conventional mistakes that DC experts make on foreign policy. You can never go wrong favoring American intervention-- you only make mistakes in implementing it or by not intervening enough. In that kind of mental environment, of course people think Clinton can be trusted. She favors policies that wreak havoc on the lives of millions, but none of them work in Washington think tanks, so if anything, her mistakes give her more credibility with that crowd.

  • 'NY Times' has double standard for Arab and Jewish reporters
    • Well, you know , that's different. Being part of an organization that shoots Palestinian civilians doesn't raise the sort of red flag that working for their rights does. Not at the NYT or in hophmi's mind anyway.

  • Why Clinton's Iraq decision matters
    • "party built on the votes of unions, African-Americans, other minorities and immigrants cannot seriously be described as “the party for meritocracy, the best and the brightest who did well on their SATs,” except in the sense that it has been where those with high SAT scores, working in non-leadership positions, i.e., followers, have tended to congregate. What is unspoken here is the hidden power-structure that seeks to define both who gets power, and who gets to be the top ten percent. "

      I'm not sure to what extent you are actually disagreeing with Frank. I need to read his book. His ten percent argument made a certain amount of sense to me, but sure, it's far from a full picture. I read Dean Baker too and my impression is that the DLC policies of so called "free trade" benefit the upper middle class and above, but not so much the people whose jobs have been destroyed and replaced by low paying ones. The Democrats have many more voters than those in the top ten percent, but the other voters don't benefit nearly as much as the 10 per centers. Frank thinks the ten percent support Clinton-type Democrats because they believe in the system that has benefited them, which because they are relatively successful within it makes them think it is a meritocracy. Or that's how I understood the argument.

      But I'm not wedded to this analysis. I only encountered it fairly recently and thought it sounded plausible.

  • Shocker: 'NYT' forum on anti-Zionism tilts toward equating Zionism with racism
    • "because the conflict isn’t a racial conflict" Irrelevant because racism isn't necessarily about biological categories that a population geneticist would recognize. All you need are categories of people defined in whatever arbitrary manner and racism can begin. In this case, you have these two categories"Jew" and "Palestinian" and that's enough.

      "anti-Zionists do not condemn racism anywhere in the Middle East " As a group, they condemn it in Israel. By definition. In other places, individual anti-Zionists may or may not be morally consistent, like any other group of people.

      As for the rest, you actually find quite a few people here who get in very heated discussions about Syria. The heat has mainly a disagreement about Assad, because everyone who has posted condemns the genocidal crimes of the jihadists. Most people who are left leaning on the I/P conflict would agree. If you paid attention you could actually make a better accusation of double standards than you do, but you're not paying close enough attention to the arguments people have had.

      You're repeating the same arguments people made to defend apartheid SA---back then it was the claim that people really didn't care about the rights of Africans because they focused on apartheid and not on the killings in Uganda or other places. It didn't mean that apartheid wasn't racist and that the anti-apartheid movement wasn't an anti-racist movement. It just meant that some anti-apartheid activists were single-minded and some were inconsistent. Welcome to the world of politics. None of this gets either apartheid or Israel off the hook.

  • As NY primary approaches, Clinton and Sanders separate, somewhat, on Israel
    • I came back, just to see replies. So one last post after my last post. Hophmi's reply is silly as usual, so will be ignored. Debakr---

      When I mentioned "The Lemon Tree", I was speaking of a book, not a film, unless they somehow made a film about it. I will have to look that up. The book I read was a true story of two families, one Palestinian and one Israeli Jew, which told the history of the I/P conflict from both points of view in a way that made you empathize with both. "Munich" the movie was an intellectual spy thriller which basically stuck to the shooting and crying cliches about liberal Zionism. I probably would enjoy it as a film, if treated as complete fiction, but as a movie supposedly based on reality and intended to spark discussion I saw the discussion it sparked and it was predictably stupid. I read discussions in magazines and the newspaper and even heard one or two in real life. The discussions were about whether it made the Israeli assassins the moral equivalent of the Palestinian terrorists. That was inevitable. The Israelis had a variety of views--the Palestinians were seen one-dimensionally. Worse, as a story based on true events it was of dubious accuracy and I just don't think that's at all helpful. If you want to make a movie of this sort, just invent a country and don't pretend you are making one that is based on true events and then change things for dramatic license.

      Which makes me question why Kushner wrote such a thing. He also seems to have written some bad misleading history with "Lincoln". That's a problem with this kind of film. My biggest point here--films which are put forward as "serious" examinations of historical or political issues are usually not worth the effort, except mainly as pure entertainment. The writer has an agenda and the truth gets bent for dramatic or agenda-pushing purposes. There may be exceptions--"Munich" was not one of them. And yeah, I read the script and it was exactly as the reviews portrayed it.

    • Last comment in this thread--you didn't pick up on the other Kushner film I didn't watch, which was Lincoln. You can google and find that Kushner wrote that film in part to push forward his view of politics and how passing the ACA was like passing the 13th Amendment, because it was messy and involved compromise. One problem is tha according to the link I provided way upthread, Kushner largely invented the details,showing once again how little trust one should place in films as modes of discussing serious issues.

      So that's a theme with Kushner-- he really is a far lefty who in practice identifies with politicians who are far more conservative though in Lincoln's case it is utterly silly to make analogies between the aftermath of the Civil War and now. And Kushner seems to be using a discredited view of Reconstructuon, which blames the rise of the KKK on Northern thuggishness and not on southern racism.

      link to npr.org

    • What I think about Kushner more generally is that he reminds me of people who imagined in 2008 that Obama would be far more progressive than he actually was. In fact Obama was clearly a very moderates center- leftist. Clinton is roughly the same, except significantly more hawkish. So yes, Kushner sees himself on the far left and no doubt takes far left views, but there is a type of far lefty who seems to daydream about politicians being on their side when there is little or no evidence that this is the case. Clinton gets wild cheers from AIPAC, consistent with what she has been saying for years, and Kushner thinks this is just campaign rhetoric. It is a bad sign when public intellectuals defend their favorite candidate by assuming that they are pandering and saying disgusting things to win.

    • link to dailyscript.com

      I just read the script, or one version of it. What I expected, of course, because the reviews portrayed it accurately. A movie about soulful Israeli assassins, Israeli determination, agonizing over their mission, just exactly what all the reviews said. A handful of token moments given to the Palestinian viewpoint, as expressed by PLO members. There is nothing here outside the comfort zone of the NYT editorial page, as I said before. I suppose, Yonah, at this stage you will have to say that reading the script is not seeing the movie, so all that ineffable stuff still won't make it into my consciousness until I do. This, btw, shows why I get disgusted with myself if I go online too much--I learned not a freaking thing in this discussion and read a stupid script for no good reason at all. I argued with someone who had nothing to say on substance, because I was right about the substance. An utterly stupid waste of time.

      Tree, I've read some of that before and it was mentioned on the Hayes show. The problem is that as a writer, "Munich" is what he has produced on this subject, and then when he defends Clinton's AIPAC performance and says she will bring about a diplomatic solution it makes it sound like he is living in some dream world. I know you were angry at the Clinton bashing here, but there really is a big difference between Clinton and Sanders in their AIPAC speeches and I would have expected any reasonable non-Zionist to admit Sanders was better than Clinton on this issue, whatever one might think about who is more electable or who would be more effective or better on other issues. Kushner didn't do this-- he sided with Clinton on one of the rare occasions where some even people in the mainstream press admitted that Clinton disgraced herself. He just assumes that her abject pandering to Netanyahu and her near total adoption of the Israeli view will translate into a determination to bring about a solution Palestinians would be happy to accept.

    • Again a response with no content from you Yonah. Because you have nothing to say about the political slant of Munich, which is what I've been talking about. I've never seen a movie whose political slant I didn't know before I saw it. The reason is obvious. Take Gone With the Wind as an example, I read it when I was a child with pneumonia and I have seen it a few times. And you could summarize its racist perspective in a paragraph. You could illustrate its perspective citing examples in a few paragraphs. You won't know why people have loved the story for better or worse without seeing it but you will know what its politics are, because that is easy to convey without being filmmaker or a novelist.

      I have explained this several times now and you have said precisely nothing in response so far as the content of the film is concerned. So far as I can tell, in your view the political content of a movie is some ineffable thing that can't be conveyed by mere propositions--it exists on a plane of reality that transcends mundane concepts that could be conveyed in a summary. It's like describing color to a person blind from birth. That would explain why you have had nothing factual to say about Munich's pov. All the reviews I've read--I might as well try to experience a symphony by reading a review.

      Needless to say, I think this is horse***t.

    • " you are not interested in the content of the movie"

      And yes, I typed that fully aware of the irony, but you aren't interested in the political content of the movie or you would tell me why I was wrong.

      The political slant of a movie can be conveyed by an accurate review in exactly the same way the scientific content of a paper can be summarized by another author. Nobody needs to read Newton's Principia to learn Newtonian physics and if you want to know what Darwin said, there are quite a few books about Darwin which accurately convey the contents of the Origin of Species. You won't learn Darwin's writing style and you won't get Newton's no longer fashionable geometric proofs, but you can get the content secondhand. I can't have an opinion about whether the movie would personally move me or hold my interest without seeing it, but if numerous people all give the same outline of a movie's content, you can have an accurate opinion of its political meaning without being able to rate its quality purely as a movie.

    • Eljay--

      I might enjoy the movie if I ever see it-- a movie could be well done and I can separate its politics from its other qualities. To take an extreme example, Birth of a Nation is supposed to be a masterpiece, and also deeply racist. I'm not saying Munich is on that level in either category, but just that someone can separate the quality of a movie from its politics.

      But every single review on Munich is consistent in how they talk about its content, both pro and con. And there are actually three categories there, because people disliked it from opposite viewpoints. Every reviewer talks about how the lead character agonizes about his mission, some talk about the little girl in one scene, they tak about Golda and her talk about defending the country while compromising, and about the discussion with the Palestinian terrorist and his views. And in the end, the discussion all revolves around the Israelis and whether they are civilized and about the terrible decisions they have to make and their personal agony and so forth. The Palestinian viewpoint comes through the mouth of a terrorist. Gee, how original. The choice of subject matter here guaranteed that this is how the discussion would go. Someone who wanted to make an interesting movie about the I/P conflict which humanized both sides could have chosen any number of specific incidents to fictionalize. Spielberg and Kushner chose to do one which would fall exactly in the comfort zone of, say, the NYT editorial page. It guaranteed liberal acclaim and conservative condemnation without moving the level of the conversation in the US one millimeter off its usual pro-Israel bias.

      Yonah, , it might be interesting if you explained how all the reviews of the movie I've seen were a total misrepresentation of what the movie was actually about, but you are obviously not interested in the content of the movie, so I am not interested in what you have said except to the extent that it annoys me to be insulted. I do not have to have seen Birth of a Nation to have an opinion of it. To repeat, I am not saying Munich is on that level. I have seen Gone With the Wind, but reading a few reviews of that movie would also have told me all I needed to know about the politics of that film and where it fits in the discussion of Southern history. Actually seeing it added nothing on that score, because by and large, reviewers usually do give a fairly accurate summary of what a movie was like. So again, if you have something specific to tell me about Munich which shows that what I have read is wildly inaccurate about the content of the movie, then tell me. I don't think you can or you would have. You simply don't care about that-- in fact, if I am right about the content then it undermines your argument, so if you want to insult me and defend Kushner then avoiding the content seems like the smart move here.

      One final point. In general I am suspicious of movies about moral and political issues precisely because they fictionalize and cherrypick and if the filmmaker is good at his craft, he or she will persuade the average viewer without having to back anything up with hard facts. This apparently happened with Lincoln, it apparently happened with Zero Dark Thirty, and with Birth of a Nation. And Munich.

    • I thought about why I didn't see the movie when it came out (had t do something while folding laundry) and it was this--almost every review I saw in the MSM focused on Israel's ethical dilemma--how can a civilized country fight terrorism without losing its own soul. And given the choice of topic for a movie about the I-P conflict, that was utterly predictable. Conservatives thought the movie was too critical, while liberals all gushed over it. Of course the Palestinians are at best simply a challenge for the Israeli conscience and there is no hint at all that maybe American movie goers as citizens of a country that supports Israel might have some blood on our hands.

      So no, I wasn't about to pay money to Spielberg for this tripe. Maybe all the reviewers completely missed everything that was good about the movie, but I doubt it.

    • Thanks for the advice Yonah, but I read quite a few reviews of Munich, and from critics on both sides and they all give a consistent view of what the movie was about. I also read Kushner's defense. It all sounds like the standard liberal Zionist approach, where you focus on the inner turmoil of Israelis who kill Palestinian terrorists. ( ( Nevermind that, btw, there is no evidence the actual Israelis involved felt those emotions.). The Zionist right hated it for showing ambivalence about the killing of terrorists. The liberals liked it because it showed ambivalence about the conflict. The reviewer I linked hated it because it was shooting and crying and really wasn't about Palestinians at all, but about the beautiful souls of Israeli Mossad members.

      So if the movie was anything at all like what I have read from all sides-- fans and critics from left and right-- it doesn't sound like it is worth a couple hours of my time, though if I ever see it pop up on cable I might watch.

      I would love to watch a movie that humanized both sides, believe it or not. That's why I liked Sandy Tolan's The Lemon Tree. ( a book, not a movie). But Munich sounded like crap.

    • Kushner also wrote the script for "Munich", which I gather was a sort of ahistorical shooting and crying look at what the Israelis did after the PLO attack at Munich.

      link to angryarab.blogspot.com

      He also wrote the screenplay for "Lincoln", which is another based on a true story but largely made-up account of what happened when the 13th amendment was passed. I think I read somewhere that it was really Kushner defending Obama's record when the left was starting to criticize him, which I can well believe.

      link to housedivided.dickinson.edu

      Exactly the sort of person I would imagine who sees himself on the far left and then campaigns for Clinton.

    • I happened to catch that Kushner quote on the Hayes show--he sounded like an idiot. Anyone who says he is a socialist and supports Clinton is living in a sort of dreamworld, but that seems to happen a lot with celebrities and politics. The idea that Clinton will pursue a diplomatic solution to the conflict is probably true, in a completely meaningless sort of way. She probably will urge peace talks. But she has already praised Netanyahu and Israel to the skies, so she can't put any real pressure on him without flatly going against everything she has said so far. Kushner probably imagines she is just playing a very clever game, but I don't think so. A diplomatic solution is just more "peace process"--it's just a fig leaf for the occupation.

  • Refugee in Gaza thought life was terrific until Facebook incited him
    • My first reaction when I clicked here and saw the Onion- esque April Fools stories was to groan. But I read a couple and changed my mind. This one especially was brilliant. Makes the point perfectly. Maybe the others are even better-- gotta read them.

  • Obama said in Cuba what he couldn't say in Palestine
    • That's stupid, rugalb. Krauss made a reasonable point about Phil-- he is overly optimistic, especially when it comes to Obama. Your post was garbage.

    • Obama never said anything worth listening to on Palestine. He supported Israel in the 2006 Lebanon War. The Sanders speech on this subject wasn't perfect, but it was vastly more honest than anything Obama has ever said or could say, given his own record supporting Israel in Gaza, the Saudis in Yemen, or his drone strikes.

    • There is zero evidence Obama is playing a long game. He is temperamentally a centrist and there was never any serious reason to think he was the great progressive hero that many people ( including Phil) wanted to believe in back in 2008 and for years after.

      You could read his speeches and tell he wasn't anything more than a centrist- liberal and that by American standards, where the definition of liberalism has been drifting right wards for decades until the Occupy WallStreet movement brought inequality to the forefront.

      And anyway, who cares? What possible good does it do children in Gaza or Yemen if they are blown up by American made weapons by our noble allies the Israelis and the Saudis? It must be a great comfort knowing Obama is their imaginary secret friend.

  • A 'longtime activist for social justice,' Booker worries his anti-BDS stance will 'rankle' and 'upset' people
    • "BDS activists continue to do locally what Arab dictatorships do on the world stage – obsessively and selfishly push the Palestinian issue in every forum, forcing people to prioritize it above everything else, including civil rights issues in the United States."

      Activists who push an issue are known for pushing their issues. That's kind of the definition of what it means to be an activist, you know. I've even heard that there are people who pressure politicians in the US to support Israel, to the point where those politicians deny its war crimes and give them weapons to commit war crimes. It's hard to believe that such sociopaths could actually exist, but they do.

      There are bigots on both sides of the I/P debate. The difference between the two sides is that someone who is in favor of equal rights for all has to support the human rights of both Israeli Jews and Palestinians. There are people who don't in fact do this, and they are contradicting their own position if they claim to be motivated by human rights concerns. On the other side most people who identify as Israel supporters end up supporting and rationalizing its worst behavior, because the logic of their position pushes them in that direction. You really can't be the sort of person who cheered Hillary's AIPAC speech without being a bigot, whether you are conscious of the fact or not. You can't defend Israel's behavior for its entire existence without defending the Nakba that created it and all the crimes against Palestinians it has committed since. Yet we have self-proclaimed activists like Booker who willingly look the other way. On this issue Booker is a bigot.

  • Zionism is finally in the news, as officials seek to conflate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism
    • Eljay answered for me, but being something of a blabbermouth I'll add to it. Sure, I can construct a positive case for Israel myself--as a refuge for Jews when persecuted (though these days I would suggest that the US or various other places will do as well) and there are many positive things one could say besides that. But none of it justifies what was done nd is being done to the Palestinians. It doesn't mean the positive things aren't there--it just means that you can't justify crimes by doing good things.

      Anyway, you used the standard diversionary tactic to defend Israel. I agree that Syria is a much larger humanitarian problem, but that is like saying that under Idi Amin the death toll was much higher than it was under apartheid South Africa. True, but no reason at all to ignore apartheid, especially when we Americans are helping to prop it up.

    • I thought you were going to say that most defenses of Israel involve racism against Palestinians, either directly stated or implied. That's what needs to be pointed out. On this subject, the pro Israel types have been allowed to act like they are the non bigoted types who stand in judgment over everyone else on the subject of racism, but mixing my metaphors a bit, the emperor has no clothes. Or the Judge forgot his robe or something.

      Mixed metaphors aside, there are antisemites around, but I think the anti- Palestinian racism on the pro Israel side is much more prevalent, and shows up in unconscious ways even among people who think they are liberal.

    • Hophmi is echoing a venerable tradition among white racists. They used to defend apartheid South Africa by pointing to Idi Amin or other African dictators with a massive bodycount. They'd also do it to justify white racism in the US.

  • Why is AIPAC legitimating Donald Trump's bigotry?
    • The fact that Central American girls are raped along the way doesn't justify Trump's statement about immigrants--it means that women in vulnerable circumstances are likely to be victimized.

      But go ahead and defend the bigot. Somehow I doubt the directors of migrant shelters would agree with your Trump favorable perversion of their words.

  • Rubio's defeat means the downfall of neoconservatives
    • If you look at my link up thread, there've been several articles at MW that are very critical of Trump. To the extent that any candidate gets mostly sympathetic coverage with some criticism, it would be Sanders.

    • That was funny. ( Referring to Yonah's toilet paper joke. This post should appear directly below it, but I never know where my posts are going to end up.)

    • There've been a lot of criticism of Trump on the front pages here. Even on the I/P issue, Trump was a racist buffoon who accepted the pro- Israel framing of the conflict while saying he was going to be evenhanded.

      I looked-- here is a list of MW pieces on Trump.

      link to mondoweiss.net

      Obviously Phil can hold more than one thought in his head simultaneously. Try it for yourself. In this case, Trump broke a taboo on Israel by saying he would be evenhanded, but he is also a dangerous bigot.

    • Except he's not promoting Trump--he's correctly reporting that the neocons and the rest of the establishment in the Republican Party have lost control and so now some neocons are going over to Hillary.

      I will say, though, that it is a shame it takes a proto-fascist like Trump to point ou that the invasion of Iraq was sold by the telling of lies, and that someone like Trump is the only candidate saying we should be evenhanded on Israel, even though in the very next sentence he repeats some standard hasbara. It shows how utterly dishonest our political establishment is and this dishonesty about many issues has given a demagogue like Trump an opening.

  • 'What certainly influenced me' to support Iraq war, Clinton says, was Bush's billions of aid to NYC
    • Tangential point, but that 100,000 figure is much too low. Even Iraq Body Count says the civilian death toll is over 150,000 and now that they've started including combatants, they say the total is currently 240,000. And the attempts at measuring excess deaths via surveys by various groups give totals which were much higher than IBC''s for the times covered.

      Plus ISIS is in part a product of the Iraq War.

      https://www.iraqbodycount.org

  • Milbank sponsored pro-Israel events and 'CIA torture' event-- but only raised objection to 'Palestine' event
  • And the winner of the Sheldon Adelson primary is... Hillary Clinton
    • She does have a problem, but unfortunately so does Sanders, I suspect. I don't mean it's the same problem. With Sanders, if he gets criticized from the left a lot of his supporters will admit the problem with some of his positions.

      With Clinton supporters, not so much, at least not in my experience. They either deny the problems and claim it is all Republican propaganda or they minimize it or they actually support the behavior. Krugman does the first two and maybe the third. I know I've seen people simply brush off their speaking fees as the way things work, not seeming to realize that this is the whole frigging point.

      With the Clintons and neoliberal Democrats in general, it's not just that the themselves are sleazy. Among their enthusastic supporters they make sleaze acceptable. To defend the Clintons and the Democratic Party establishment you have to overlook or defend sleaze and you also have to pretend there is no such thing as a corrupt establishment. To admit there is is to concede Sanders might be right.

      Anyway, I see a backlash against Sanders and his supporters among Clinton fans, because they take the criticism of Clinton personally. They are bitter about it. I'd say the truth hurts, but politics is as much about tribalism as it is about issues.

  • Did dodging foreign policy doom Bernie Sanders?
    • You're missing the point-- people don't even think about American war crimes or the crimes of our allies like Israel unless it is brought up. It isn't brought up, which just makes the issues that much more unimportant. This is Sanders's great failing.

      Though I also think he felt he couldn't take on the militarists-- he is already being chewed up on domestic issues by people who side with Clinton. Krugman spent years saying that we needed a much bigger stimulus for a much longer time to pull us out of the hole, but now that Sanders proposes this, he pretends that an overly optimistic economic analysis by someoone who isn't even a Sanders supporter proves Sanders isn't ready. So much for policy.

  • Videos: Proof of Sanders's lifelong anti-racist activism breaks on eve of Nevada Caucus
    • I agree with much of what bornajoo said-- you are one of the best commenters here. You ought to be doing front page posts, certainly much more so than me.

      But I don't quite agree with you here. I never understood the Obama thing. I was enthusiastic about him for about two weeks, when Jeremiah Wright was interviewed by Moyers. I was impressed that Obama listened to this radical every Sunday. But his two speeches distancing himself from Wright made it crystal clear that he was just another centrist liberal, along with his careful parsing of his opposition to the Iraq War. It infuriated me that so much of the left willfully fooled themselves about him.

      I don't get this same sense about Sanders. He's not my hero, he's marginally less bad than Clinton on foreign policy and I honestly think if he wins he will be a one term President, because the people in both parties who benefit from the system as it is will do their best to make sure he either sells out or fails on everything. But on domestic policy he is right-- the system is corrupt and people like the Clintons represent how it is corrupt. She might get more done, but the Clintons are like the Schumers or the bulk of our politicians or like Obama, who was willing to sell out on Social Security. Given a choice between an honest imperfect man like Sanders and a fairly run of the mill cynical opportunist, I'll vote for Sanders, but without any illusions about what he can actually do.

  • Chomsky and his critics
    • I agree with that, MHughes. But there are few people who think Chomsky gets it right every time. As I think you pointed out some months back, Martin Luther King didn't get it right on Israel/Palestine, and I'd consider MLK one of the few people deserving of a title like moral hero.

    • I just read the debate he had with Monbiot. Neither comes out well. Monbiot wants Chomsky to take a firm stand on exactly what happened in Rwanda and Srebrenica and Chomsky points out, quite correctly, that nobody is harangued this way in mainstream circles about Western crimes. I think Chomsky should have left it at that, but Monbiot insists on an answer and Chomsky finally says he doesn't know and no one could. Which is dumb. He should have said nothing if he hasn't examined the evidence.

    • I'm not sure what you are saying, but I don't think Chomsky denied Serb atrocities-- he said there were other atrocities committed by the West or by the sides it favored that gor much less attention. He probably did express skepticism about some of the numbers in the press, but others have done that. I've seen revised estimates of the death toll in the Balkan wars that were much lower than some used at the time. I never followed it that closely though.

      Herman is a bit more extreme, but my memory is fuzzy, so I won't say more.

    • Chomsky is imperfect like everyone. He is way better than Sanders on the Palestinian issue and foreign policy in general. You like Sanders, so do call yourself a fanboy, or do you praise him where he deserves it and criticize him where he falls short?

      Okay, rhetorical questions aside, you aren't consistent. If you want moral perfection you're not going to find it in anyone. Evidently MLK really did say dumb things in praise of Israel-- people had that discussion here months ago. It was disappointing. And King should have known better. Do I still think he was a moral giant? Yeah, I do, and the idea of either you or me setting ourselves above King is laughable.

      Chomsky and Sanders aren't King either, but there is no reason why people can't admire them within reason, without being silly about them or attributing moral perfection to them. The whole " fanboy" term is basically a cheap shot. I know you are unhappy with Krugman's trash talk of Sanders supporters. Do you appreciate being called a " Bernie bro" ?

    • I think he read a lot more than the NYT--he had sources from many places. He used the NYT as a foil, an example of what respectable liberal opinion was in the US.

      I mostly agree with your second criticism though.

    • Good post, though nowadays I think Chomsky is less relevant. I don't mean that in a derogatory way--I learned a tremendous amount from him. Reading him makes it clear that you don't have to commit oneself to some decade long study of Marx or some other person with a grand theory to understand something very simple--the dominant elites in any society always portray their activities as good and noble and most of the time they are only trying to grab more power or hang on to what power they have. And only an idiot would think that somehow, miraculously, the US is different.

      But I mean he's less relevant in the present because of the internet and this is a good thing. When I was first reading about the I/P conflict, my first indication that the standard US view was full of crap was finding three of Chomsky's books in a pile at a used book sale. One was "The Fateful Triangle." It was a revelation. A bit of the pro-Israel propaganda had seemed fishy to me--the part about how the Palestinians all fled when the Israeli Jews begged them to stay seemed just a bit too cute to be true as stated. (I gather there was one mayor who did this, while some of his Zionist cohorts were busy shooting people, presumably without him knowing it.) But I had no knowledge of an alternative view or even any knowledge of how to find an alternative view except by accidentally stumbling on Chomsky. (Local libraries and the old small bookstores in those days rarely had many dissident writers.) Chomsky was, on the subject of US atrocities, a one man internet before there was an internet. He read everything and then summarized the evidence. You could use his footnotes to track down some of it for yourself if you had the time. I did this in some cases., but I wouldn't have even known about the various HRW and Amnesty International reports without reading about them in his books first. On Israel, I found a David Hirst book "The Gun and the Olive Branch" in a used bookstore. Later (the late 80's) the Israeli revisionist historians started to appear.

      Now we have websites and easy access to various human rights reports directly online and the Oliver Kamms of the world can't do a damn thing about it. They can still do the character assassination game, but the cat is out of the bag. The mainstream press still tries to act as gatekeeper, but that only works if people let it. It was much harder to find up to date alternative sources of info 20 or 30 years ago, and that's when Chomsky was indispensable.

      The character assassination game, though, works in a very limited way. People still do it. Try quoting a Glenn Greenwald article (GG is in some ways the closest thing to a new Chomsky, but not as important) and if you are at a liberal blog you will probably find some Glenn haters. They will do their best to change the issue from drone strikes to Glenn's alleged character flaws. That was always the case with Chomsky. Cite him on El Salvador or East Timor or Israel and invariably the discussion would be turned into his real or alleged character flaws, or what he did or didn't say about Faurisson or Pol Pot. But this stuff doesn't work anywhere near as well anymore, because it's not about what one particular dissident individual says.

  • 'Frontline' founder says assertions about his role in development of 'Valentino's Ghost' are wrong and unfair
    • No comment on who said what in 1998, but I'd be interested in whether there have been any Frontline pieces about, say, the expulsions in 1948 as a root cause of the conflict or if they cover the violence, is the emphasis mainly on Palestinian terror as opposed to Israeli. I read the transcript of their recent Netanyahu piece and there were only a few token Palestinian voices. And when you read a transcript it is amazing how little information content there is-- lots of jumping from one talking head to the next.

      The opening and closing music is pretty dramatic though-- it lets you know That This Is A Very Important Piece Of Journalism.

  • 'Let the one-state era begin'-- Tom Friedman explains there will never be a Palestinian state
    • No time to check, but I thought the two paragraphs you snipped actually put quite a bit of blame on the Palestinians--in particular, he blamed Hamas for not turning the Gaza Strip into Singapore, which was a way of taking away blame for Israel's blockade (which was supported by the US government and tacitly by the NYT, which doesn't give a damn about Palestinian suffering if it is a weapon to pressure Hamas.) And he left out the civil war supported and encouraged by the US and Israel so that there would be no unity government between Hamas and the PA after the 2006 elections. Basically Friedman makes the liberal Zionists the victims here--the poor dears lost faith because of Hamas violence.

      So I don't think Friedman deserves any credit here, though the fact that he is admitting as much as he did is a sign of how things are changing.

  • Video: Sanders's campaign fact-checks Clinton's 'smear' defense with Elizabeth Warren charges
    • Good point. I love the way politicians like Clinton can put on an aura of outrage at the notion that her vote could be influenced by mere money.

  • Cultural Zionism good, political Zionism bad
  • In his war on Sanders supporters, Krugman forgets about Iraq
    • I think you're being such a purist on this one issue you won't acknowledge degrees of difference. Probably no politician is good on all issues and sometimes none of them are good on one particular issue, but we can still make distinctions. It seems clear to me that Sanders isn't great on the I-P issue. Obviously his main interest is domestic policy and for him foreign policy is a distraction. Frankly, I'll take that-- he isn't nearly the warmonger Clinton is, even if he isn't a hero. And your dismissal of Larison lacked content.

      I think Sanders is to Obama's left-- I fell for Obama for about two weeks, when I heard his pastor Jeremiah Wright on Moyers's show. But Obama soon made it very clear he wanted to be seen as mainstream and not at all like Wright. I couldn't understand where the progressive illusions about him came from. Sanders isn't my hero either-- the whole concept of a political hero is silly. But I think you go too far the other way. If I rated every candidate on all important issues the way you rate politicians on this one particular issue, I'd never vote for anyone.

    • I'm old enough to remember what he was like in the late 90's, when people were protesting the conditions in sweatshops. Krugman was extremely condescending towards the protestors and always argued against the straw man caricature of their position. Bush's campaign in 2000 radicalized him to some degree and he became the liberal/left champion--he also agreed that the 90's Washington Consensus on so-called free trade and global economics and the glories of the free market (the stuff Tom Friedman was always pushing) was wrong. I think Joseph Stiglitz might have convinced him there, but I'm speculating. But he seems to be partly returning to his 90's persona.

    • I forgot to say that your post actually makes me think better of Sanders. I've seen a little of the good stuff and some of the bad and I think the Larison column I linked is a short balanced account, but your post has more positive information about him that I wasn't aware of.

    • This was supposed to be a reply to Kris, but I must not have hit the reply button.

      Thanks. I think the biggest difference between Sanders and Clinton on Israel and other Mideast issues would be in their supporters. Sanders supporters are more likely to try and pressure their candidate to move to the left on his foreign policy stance. I haven't seen much of this with Hillary-- her spiel on foreign affairs is about how tough and smart and experienced she is, so if you support her then you are tacitly buying into the notion that she knows best.

    • This site criticized the Iraq War too. I have no interest in trying to convince you that there is a small difference between Sanders and Clinton while agreeing that Sanders is also bad on Mideast issues--you could read the Larison link or Pat Lang's blog or Kris's post below, but it wasn't the topic I chose to write about. I wrote about how Krugman essentially trivialized the greatest foreign policy disaster in the past few decades because he is shilling for Clinton. As for domestic policy, I brought that up because Krugman is using it to portray Hillary as a progressive pragmatic champion while again ignoring her foreign policy record. Krugman is widely respected by American liberals, so when he does this he should be criticized for it.

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