Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 4159 (since 2010-05-31 18:07:51)


American university faculty member born in Poland.

Showing comments 4159 - 4101

  • Etgar Keret sometimes worries about what's happening to Palestinians
    • I would not sneer at Israelis that much. For that matter, Americans have their "Palestinians" as well. While there are signs of second thoughts about "war on drugs" and brutal policing of the poor people (disproportionally Black and brown), so far. they did not add to a lot. For example, before Ferguson, there was an incident in Fresno when a sporadically employed man, against the law was sleeping on a sidewalk and police have beaten him to death (the beating started after he was awakened by a police dog and was "uncooperative"). For a short time, NYT was interested in the story because of one "disturbing aspect", namely police confiscated cell phones of people who used them to record the incident. But the rest was "normal", coroner have found the police to be innocent because a person with more robust health would survive the beating, and the story went into oblivion.

      Similarly, one can imagine a self-indulgent witty stories written by a New Yorker who is totally oblivious to the horrors on Rikers Island. (I would bet that one can find them, and if not, there is always Woody Allen.) As a small measure of progress, for a change, NYT reports on them more regularly, but did those stories create a mass moral anxiety among the more fortunate inhabitants of the city?

      That said, it is a mark of a good writer to rise above the predominant myopy of his milieu and notice more than petty incongruities of daily life. By the way, did Fyodor Dostoyevsky ever get a literary prize?

  • Netanyahu Asks GOP Candidates: What kind of contortions will you do for Israel?
    • While funny, I am afraid that the cartoon represents something disturbing, something darker. Like deep-seated hatred for Orange-Americans. While it is true that no one is born with that color, and it is a result of excessive time spend on golf courses or on board of yachts, with insufficient application of sun screen, and while it is true that this is not good for you, as I said, it can signify something darker.

  • 'There is no Jewish terror': Conspiracy theory that Palestinians committed Duma firebombing spreads among Israelis
    • It is important to distinguish a fringe of a society from the ideas spread by the state. Israel has a statist mentality and most people trust the wisdom of the security officials. And various security officials, police and military, for years were telling stories of Palestinians hurting each other and accusing the innocent Israeli state and the Jewish public.

      It is hard to quickly find links, but two examples that I remember are instructive. Several cars were burned down in a West Bank town, and Israeli police made it public that it investigates the theory that it was motivated by insurance fraud (rather than price tag). In second example, a young Palestinian women died of tear gas inhalation during a protest. The only truth presented by IDF spokespeople was that she was "not near to the demonstration" (IDF saturated a huge area with tear gas). The first theory offered by IDF was, you may guess! honor killing. The second was that she died of cancer. Finally they admitted that she died after inhaling tear gas, although a healthier person would not (she had asthma) and they further mitigated the responsibility of IDF by voicing an opinion that she would be saved in an Israeli hospital (she was treated in a Palestinian hospital in the West Bank).

      However, the list of such stories from police and IDF is huge, so this is definitely a state-driven phenomenon.

    • I got interested in the martial arts in IDF after Mavi Marmara massacre. There an elite commando unit landed on board and met some Turkish martial artists and it ended rather ungloriously, so IDF commanders and commandoes got really really mad, landed again with loaded guns and made a number of executions.

      Exhibit two was the video of Lt. Col. Eisner "disciplining" bicyclists with his own hands. On the video we could see him smacking the bicyclists with a machine gun, and then he reported a broken finger. Swinging a heavy metal object can lead to self-injury if you do not know how to do it.

      And I compared it with incidents involving other military forces. Korean military cultivates martial arts and their Coast Guard uses them when intercepted Chinese fishermen resists them. There is a bit of a fishing war there, and fishermen sometimes resists with crowbars and even knives, taking the fish from fishermen tends to irritate them. It seems to be takwaendo vs kungfu in the waters of the Yellow Sea. Obviously, martial arts are important for Korea because they do want to enforce their interpretation of their economic exclusion zone without a major confrontation with China. And since Israel was never interested in fine points of that nature, nobody takes krav maga seriously.

  • Churchill, Iran & 'Duck Dynasty': Mike Huckabee brings his presidential bid to the Israeli settlements
    • On some points Huckabee was obviously wrong, like Russia is not in Soviet Union anymore, and Jordan is not a hostile nation. But on some he was correct. Churchill was a homicidal racist maniac, e.g. using poison gas at unruly Arab tribes in Iraq, so a comparison of Netanyahu to Churchill is not that farfetched. (Although one needs to check if Chamberlain was also a bloodthirsty colonialist.)

  • End of lockstep US Jewish support for Israel is a triumph not a tragedy
    • From Jewish Political News and Updates (JPNU):

      According to the YouGov poll, 49% of Americans say it was appropriate for Schumer to take a position against the foreign policy of a President of his own party, while only 24 percent think it is inappropriate. Among those who support the deal, a plurality – by a 47-35 percentage point margin – say it is inappropriate to defy the president. More Democrats also feel the same way (43-27).

      The poll also shows that while a plurality – by a thin 37-34 percentage point margin – support the deal, almost half of Americans (48%) think a better deal could have been negotiated, while only 35% think this was the best outcome of a diplomatic solution. A plurality (40-28) also want Congress to override Obama’s veto if Congress rejects the deal, including 21% of those who want Congress to support the agreement. 19% of Democrats also want Congress to override the veto.


      The article spins the numbers as showing that the fight against the agreement has hope, but it actually suggests the opposite. Big portion of the public has quite confused views, and for myself, faced with a question "could a better deal be negotiated", I would have to answer "How can I know"? And I know some history, and I followed news. For the sake of the poll I would answer "no", because it is clear that the priorities of all states at the table with the exception of USA were to have a stronger Iran, both as prospering market in the world where there are not many new expanding market, and as a military power in the region where "Sunni axis" is literally going bonkers, wrecking havoc in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, while Israel latches to their war wagon. To consider a better deal, one has to define "good", and keeping Iran destitute and ISIS + al-Qaeda rampant is apparently what some regard as good. Including the writers of JPNU.

    • One can call Gog and Magog absurd myths, but it can be disputed. What easy to read books can help? It of course depends on your reading level. For example, this is quite popular and available as an eBook (paper copy not available due to high demand?):

      The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Bible, 3rd Edition
      by James Bell Jr., Stan Campbell

      There is also something like "Cretin's guide to Biblical Prophesy". What is also relevant in our context is that Judaism in its form that is popular in Israel and to an extend in USA is chock full of prophesies and commands, so Netanyahu and other officials keep trying explaining the "nations" that Eretz Israel is an ETERNAL gift of G.d to the Jewish people etc., but those are most anodyne parts of their cooky beliefs.

    • I made a mistake by 10 (Senate has fewer seats than Knesset!) so the opponents need 11 more (got 2).

    • Washington Sen. Patty Murray, the fourth-ranking Senate Democrat, has officially endorsed President Barack Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran.
      Though Murray had long been expected to line up behind the agreement, her formal announcement on Tuesday brings the Obama administration closer to the 34 votes needed in the Senate to sustain any veto of the resolution of disapproval on the nuclear deal.

      Read more: link to

      If Politico is correct, Obama needs 5 more senators (and he got 29 so far), and opponents of the agreement, 21 more (and they got 2).

    • "Color revolutions" got a bad name, but this is not a priority of the Jewish/Israeli lobby. If anything, their newest priority not directly related to Israel is the support of "Sunni axis", including the support for taqfiris in Syria and the support of "making a parking lot from Yemen". It would be a huge stretch to call those "color revolutions". Soros is not an angel, but one has to see differences between billionaires.

  • Does Obama have Booker? Boteach desperately plays race card and Jewish donor card
    • I suggest an experiment: take a piece of metal of plastic, spread jam on half of it and check it after a week. Mold will figure out which part has more nutrients. This is roughly the level of intelligence that is required.

    • I agree, Bill Clinton was white and it did not do him much good in that respect.

      "Resolute opposition", conceived (or put in action) by Newt Gingrich is simply a good political strategy. A large segment of voters values resolute politicians, while following details is genuinely hard. If Mr. X says somewhat boringly that doing Y is better than not doing, and Mr. Z says vehemently that doing Y is a disaster, that would sway many toward the position of Z.

      The only limitation to that method is that real life provides some information to the voters as well.

    • Dear Kay24, in American politics, 333,376 is peanuts. Arguably, it is a tip of an iceberg, but a campaign in NJ requires 10-20 millions in my estimate. If there were no business interests supportive of the deal, Obama would not go for it. I can imagine Obama mentoring Booker: with your looks you can be in my seat one day, and it is OK if you whore to business, but you must have some memorable progressive votes. Place your bets wisely.

    • Booker is an old friend of Boteach, back to years when he was a student in Oxford. But he has to think about climbing in Democratic ranks and about his primary, while "Jewish donors" are currently busy propping legal defense fund of Sen. Menendez. Booker clearly benefited from the friendship and donations, but his re-election comes in 2019, and perhaps he does not plan to have major legal problems before that time.

      On the level of crass political calculations, GOP mastered the art of villifying worthy legislation, like Obamacare. However, when a reform works, they simply go after another issue, ACA software was initially disappoining but now the program works and it gains vested constituents etc. The same will probably happen to the deal with Iran which, if nothing else, decreases gas price at the pump by nearly a quarter, more than two bucks on each tank, and there is also a good chance that Israeli will not go to ovens before 2019 (personally, I am ready to offer 1000:1 bet). In other words, tangible benefits are certain, and promised disasters are highly unlikely.

      More on crass political calculations. My theory is that above certain income level people compete with "tchotchkes", who has more impressive one. E.g. this is my very own US senator. In that category, majority ownership of Israeli PM is a tchotchke that causes a lot of admiration, deference, but also envy, and there is a bevy of folks who would gladly wrest that trophy from the hands of Sheldon Adelson. The deal with Iran is a good step in that direction and Booker can count on some fat Jewish contributions.

    • Boteach is not the only person who is afraid for millions of fellow citizens.

      Jul 21, 2015 - Ted Cruz's worst fear about the nuclear deal with Iran? That “millions of Americans will be murdered by radical theocratic zealots.”

      However, the easiest way to kill millions of Americans with a smallish nuclear bomb is not 100% terrifying: bomb Social Security Administration.

      The inspector general did not say how many benefit checks were sent to the 6.5 million Americans whose Social Security accounts should have been closed out years ago.
      But the IG's report, just one page in length confirms only that payments have been 'terminated' for 410,074 of the affected accounts.
      Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton told Daily Mail Online in a telephone interview that he was outraged by the possibility 'that there are dead people getting government checks.'
      'Now we've got 6.5 million walking dead,' he said, 'and frankly – are these Zombie Americans voting? are they working? Are illegal immigrants using their SSNs to get jobs?'

      So one can believe that more than six million Zombies walk around cities, towns and villages and get Social Security payments to boot, with the only consolation that they do not use Medicare. But some of them eat brains, which is another explanation for Rav Shmuley and Sen. Cruz.

  • Danny Danon 'would only make Israel look more extreme' -- former Israeli ambassador
    • My English comprehension problems strike again. "Danny Danon ‘would only make Israel look more extreme’ — former Israeli ambassador". What does it mean "only"? Like in "It is only a mosquito bite, nothing to worry about"? Or like in "It is only a minor change in packaging, inside you have the same good old Chocozilla cereal your children loved for years".

      Perhaps branding gurus decided that what Israel needs is a new fresh image that would appeal to college age demographics while avoiding any offense to the friends among Christian Zionists. link to One could photoshop Danon's visage here: link to
      and Huckabee here (with Masada below): link to

    • A rightist who opposed the two-state solution, Danon would only make Israel look more extreme, I knew, which is perhaps what [NYT editorial page editor Andrew] Rosenthal wanted. “Hold off on Danon,” I urged the editor. “I’ll get you the Peres piece in time to go to press tomorrow.”

      ??? Did Oren promise to write "Peres piece" himself overnight? Actually, that very evening, because printed copy of NYT is distributed around midnight. I have no doubt that Oren could do it.

    • Until they use Samson option.

  • Saban says Iran Deal is a done deal, as Netanyahu and Bush play for 2016
    • Israel is paranoid of "Second Saladin", a charismatic popular regime creating a coalition of many Muslim countries that could pressure Israel militarily (e.g. shooting down Israeli planes, retaliatory strikes if Israel bombs something, and even pressure when Israel performs another "lawn mowing").

      To avert that, tyrannical regimes have to be cultivated and propped and in their absence, civil wars have to be fomented. Granted, Israel has limited ability to accomplished all that, but the government tries to contribute as much as it can. Of course, the more successful they are, the more resentment they accumulate and civil wars and tyrannies do not last forever.

      In other words, this is Macbeth strategy. Until a hero not born of a woman appears and the Forest of Birnam moves, there are no security worries. And yet...

    • Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina, and Ben Carson will still be in the 2016 presidential race months from now, former GOP candidate Herman Cain predicted Tuesday.

      "They are proposing bold solutions and they are tapping in to the anger that's on Main Street America," Cain told Fox News' "Fox & Friends." "That's why I believe they are moving up in the polls, so Trump, Fiorina, and Carson are in my 'pick six,' as I call it, who will still be standing."

      link to

      This year, the color in GOP primaries is provided by the lipstick of Fiorina, orange tan of Trump and natural skin color of Carson.

    • Republicans and Democrats do not chat about politics all that much, but there are many women that think like, say, Michelle Bachman. It is hard to believe, but hard facts trump Aristotelian logic.

      That said, at the moment no. 1 GOP candidate is a laud mouth with stupendous negatives, no 2. is a younger brother of G.W. whose best ability is burning incredible amounts of campaign money with modest effects, no. 3. is an eccentric Black surgeon (each GOP campaign seems to have one of those), followed by a circular firing squad of nincompoops. It reminds me a sentence in a history book "Once more, the history showed that while a war needs troops, above all it needs the man" (Athens sent an expedition to Sicily, and Sparta sent one general, and guess who fared better).

    • "Netanyahu has resisted the buyout that the American government has offered him (tons of arms) over the Iran deal so that he can wage a long game, to try and burn down Obama’s Democratic (donor) base and get a Republican in the White House in 2016"

      That would be my dream. Democrats forced to do without the help of super-rich donors. First of all, we know it is possible. There are few millions Americans out there who want politicians representing "grass roots" and relying on those "grassroots" and who can collectively give, say, a billion dollars for campaigns. Reliance on a small rich minority is twisting all aspects of American policy, not just the Israel-Palestine issue.

      And the grass root money does not have to match billionaires dollar for dollar. If that was the case, neither Sanders nor "relatively poor" Trump would not get anywhere as high in the polls as they got. OTOH, people like Saban probably also think that this may happen, but this is not their dream at all.

      By the way, NYT had a positive story on Iran, namely that the way kidney transplant issue is organized there is much more effective that in USA, basically eliminating the need for dialysis that consumes a lot of money and leads to premature death (in the absence of kidneys to transplant). While Iran is a state with obvious problems and less known achievements, to most Westerners it is kind of the land of Gog and Magog, but that will hopefully change.

  • In latest thrust at Obama, Netanyahu names UN ambassador who trashed him and said Palestinians can have 'Facebook state'
    • I do not see how one can see David Horowitz as "centrist". He launched Times of Israel as an alternative to quite extreme Jerusalem Post, but the differences seem purely stylistic. So Yoghurt Ambassador represents a stylistic offense to his sense of aesthetics.

    • Nationalism (more accurate here than racism) does have gradation and it can be combined with progressive platform. I currently follow affairs in Turkey where left Kemalists (CHP) seem to be evolving away from extreme nationalism and are increasingly diverging from right Kemalist (MDP) who are basically fascist. On national issues, the history of Kemalists is quite ugly, so their evolution shows the positive potential of progressive-nationalist combination. Of course, you can evolve by being less and less progressive as well.

      Thus the fusion represented by Beinart and J Street is not a stable construct, so rather than treating them with "structural derision" one should watch carefully, appreciating both positive and negative aspects. The central point of nationalism that you care only for "your people", but you can learn to understand it in a more Epicurean sense, namely that doing good for others makes you more happy. Anti-Epicurean nationalism sees the misery of the "enemies" as a happy outcome by itself.

      Those I my private theories, but they have a lot of explanatory power. For example, "centrist Zionists" like Senator Schumer are resolutely anti-Epicurean, the misery in Gaza and Iran is the outcome to be cherished even if does not help anything "in the short run". The fact that sanctions make Iranians poor is the most happy part of that policy, and letting get more resources is the worst part of the deal with Iran. And the same pertains to Palestinians and "domestic Palestinians", folk on the receiving end of "tough on crime", "broken windows" or those who cannot afford medical insurance due to their sloth in managing personal finances (google "Schumer Obamacare mistake").

    • Israeli diplomacy is still rather subtle, but they are quickly learning from North Korea. The Foreign ministry was alternating with the leadership of Avigdor Lieberman and Bibi himself, now it is under Bibi. Since he is surely very busy (I have seen a lot of news of him visiting hospitals or attempting to visit one, the efforts are sometimes not appreciated), day-to-day management has to be conducted by deputy Foreign Minister, currently Tzipi Hotovely.

      This lovely lady (still slim at 36) in 2011 gained useful advise from the Lehava organization (Prevention of Assimilation in the Holy Land) that she invited to a discussion on their tactics in preventing romantic relationships between Jews and Arabs. The advise apparently yielded fruits, two years later she got married and now she has a one year old daughter. Hotevely is a bit of a veteran as a deputy minister, being responsible for Transportation and Road Safety for two years. Her program is to made foreigners aware that Torah gives Jews the ownership of the full extend of the Holy Land.

      By the way, now Lehava is accused by the government of supporting terrorism, so Tzipi should be commended to get their advise while she still could.

      PS. I like how the ambassadorial nominations are balanced, between the gaunt and the chubby.

  • If I Were an Israeli Looking at the Iran Deal (to the tune of 'If I Were a Rich Man')
    • The top worry of the friends of Israel

      If Israel
      Was bigger
      And fatter
      And stronger,
      Or bigger
      Than Iran,
      If Iran was smaller,
      Then Iran's bad habit
      Of bouncing at Israel
      Would matter
      No longer,
      If Israel
      Was taller.

    • Totally wrong, John. This is a major scoop, and it consists of the material that was not included in NYT editorial with the same title due to space limitations. The juicy Friedmanesque advise for world leaders was there, but it is protected by copyright and very good lawyers.

      I cannot claim to fully grasp that advise, but two pieces stood out. One is to give President ETERNAL authorization to attack Iran. It is not the next six month but ETERNAL vigilance that will be all-important. The second is to "contain, amplify and innovate".

      This is what I pasted from by mistake:
      A security official in the West Bank said [Meir] Ettinger quickly rose to dominance. "In one incident, we were watching him while he attacked an Arab shepherd’s flock of sheep. He stoned one sheep, and then slaughtered it right in front of the shepherd. It was terrifying, he was possessed with some sort of madness. That is when we realized that he was very active and very radical."
      "Strangely enough", Ettinger was sentenced to six months for gathering intelligence to be used against IDF, but not for that incident which seems worthy of a few years away from the society. Now he was subjected to "administrative detention" as the suspected leader of a group that committed Duma atrocity, but clearly he could be arrested for destruction of property, cruelty against animals and terrorizing.

  • Front page 'NYT' story is rigged to suggest donors for and against Iran Deal cancel each other out
    • The "money balance" is harder to figure than James and Phillip suggest. Adelson's wing of Israeli lobby is rabidly partisan so they would not contribute to war chests of Democratic candidates in any case. What I would call "ZOA wing or Adelson wing" of the Lobby made a bet that GOP is a natural ally of Israel, and additionally a perfect representation for their other causes, e.g. bashing trade unions, keeping taxes low, preventing any actions to decrease the use of fossil fuels and so on.

      One could also defend NYT that it is natural for journalists to focus on novelty and accentuate the unusual. And the split in the Lobby is a relatively new and important phenomenon.

      That said, expecting NYT to give a "full picture" is naive, and I understand the need to complement that picture (I mean, "add to", not "praise"). The other fact is that the "leftwing Israel Lobby" has a record of collaborating with the nixing of the settlement freeze, fights BDS and so on. They merely recognize that a success of AIPAC/CNFI would by Pyrrhic, or perhaps an outright "own goal".

      By the way, according to Russian Spring, Kerry said that rejection of the deal with Iran would collapse EU support for sanctions on Russia. Their motto used to be "Only verified information" but lately it is "continuation of the project" (they changed the web address), but I am lazy to verify it.

  • Jeffrey Goldberg's melodramatic apology for Chuck Schumer
    • Goldberg claims in passing that he supports the deal, and basically, his position is semi-logical. He claims that opposition is futile, and sketches the strategy for the "day after". E.g.

      Proper implementation does not simply mean the maintenance of a strong inspections regime, as well as zero tolerance for Iranian cheating. Proper implementation requires an eyes-wide-open American commitment to countering Iran’s nefarious terrorist activities across the Middle East, and it means that American leaders must have a properly jaundiced view of their Iranian adversaries, including a properly jaundiced view of their intentions toward Israel. This is why questions concerning the Obama administration’s understanding of the regime’s ideology are so important, and it is why I keep raising the matter with the administration.

      This characteristically verbose paragraph has two repetitions of "properly jaundiced". According to a dictionary, that means "properly affected by bitterness, resentment, or envy". That pretty much sums up his argument. And it sums up his milieu: full of bitterness, resentment and envy, and proud of it.

    • Sorry for slow thinking. "empowering actual anti-Semites at home" focuses on the anxious ones, not Goldberg himself who keeps sang froid. In other words, "America, home of the anxious."

    • I guess I can answer one of JJ Goldberg's questions:
      Why does it seem to a growing number of people (I count Chuck Schumer in this group) that an administration professing—honestly, from what I can tell—to understand Jewish anxieties about the consequences of anti-Semitism in the Middle East does not appear to understand that the way some of its advocates outside government are framing the Iran-deal fight—as one between Jewish special interests, on the one hand, and the entire rest of the world, on the other—may empower actual anti-Semites not only in the Middle East, but at home as well?

      First, copious but deficient education increases the appetite for increasingly convoluted phrasing. A good teacher, of which there are fewer and fewer, would slash this monstrous sentence with a thick red pencil and put a number of emoticons next to it (crying sad face, wilted flower etc.) This monster, both stylistic and logical, can cause severe anxieties in anyone who reads it carefully. Alas, a growing number of people does, thus inducing anxiety, followed by self-medication, thus substance abuse and incidents of near-fatal Ziocaine overdose that induces even more anxiety.

      The reference to the Middle East in the sentence posits a rather old phenomenon, namely that in a number of countries in the region, including KSA, Egypt and Jordan, one can frequently find anti-Semitic utterances, but most of all, deregatory statements about "Zionist entity". However, the current government of israel claims that it goes along famously with the governments of those countries, so anti-Semitism (as defined by Goldberg, it includes hostility to Israel) in the Middle East is not what worries the author of the sentence but "empowering actual anti-Semites at home" (I am loosing track where Goldberg sees his home, but it seems that in USA) by "advocates outside government". In early 20th century masonry was a universal boogie man, now, BDS.

      Still, how does it explain Schumer's rejection of a perfectly reasonable agreement by HIS GOVERNMENT? Anxiety caused by BDS folks OUTSIDE GOVERNMENT? Did Schumer became an idiot, perhaps because his parents forced him to spend excessive time on SAT preparation (note to parents: light touch is recommended)? Why is this idiocy reaching an epidemic? I hesitate to put blame on Kaplan.

  • Dear Freshmen Members of the House of Representatives
    • It is really depressing that our representatives always go to the same countries, out of 189 possibilities (and some notable territories like Greenland, check this: link to !!!)

      For example, Slovakia
      link to

      By the way, the photos are most probably from Slovakia, but the description is not. For sure there are many more vegetables in Slovakia than "cabbage, especially sauerkraut". High Tatras are not "dotted with villages", villages are around the mountains. In other words, representatives have many things to check for themselves.

      Or, could they even identify the continent here: link to

  • Israeli Banks flipping out over looming European boycott
    • link to

      I wonder if they will also make a "separated beach" on Seine, and if they do, will it will be open for women or for men (as you can read in the link, the "separated beach" is open three days a week for the religious men, three days for the religious women, and on Saturdays, for the non-religious.)

      Actually, given that there may be a number of religious folks in Paris that could wish for a segregated beach, this should be a permanent feature, say "Jerusalem/al-Quds beach".

    • Indeed, threatening EU is an idea circulated in Congress, but it is a totally futile idea. In a nutshell, EU is good in one thing only: protecting the members in an event of a "trade war". Competent bureaucrats would compile the list of affected EU companies and a list of American companies that can be affected by counter-sanctions, with attention paid to what states and Congressional districts would be affected most, and issue those counter-sanctions. This happened a few times and worked like a charm.

    • "One nation (forget which one) also announce opening an embassy of sorts."

      Perhaps we can narrow the possible candidates by listing countries that already have an embassy in Tehran.

      Australian Embassy in Tehran, Iran
      Embassy of Austria in Tehran, Iran
      Embassy of Belgium in Tehran, Iran
      Embassy of Bulgaria in Tehran, Iran
      Embassy of the Republic of Croatia in Tehran, Iran
      Embassy of the Republic of Cyprus in Tehran, Iran
      Embassy of the Czech Republic in Islamic Republic of Iran
      Royal Danish Embassy in Tehran, Iran
      Embassy of Finland in Tehran, Iran
      Embassy of France in Tehran, Iran
      Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Teheran, Iran
      Embassy of Greece in Tehran, Iran
      Embassy of Hungary in Teheran
      Embassy of Ireland in Tehran, Iran
      The Royal Netherlands Embassy, Tehran
      New Zealand Embassy in Tehran
      Royal Norwegian Embassy in Tehran,Iran
      Embassy of Poland in Iran
      Embassy of Portugal in Tehran, Iran
      Embassy of Romania in Tehran, Iran
      Slovak Republic Embassy , Iran
      Embassy of Slovenia in Iran
      Embassy of Spain in Iran
      Embassy of Sweden in Tehran, Iran
      Embassy of Switzerland in Tehran Iran,
      Embassy of the United Kingdom in Iran

      I skipped Bosnia. I did not see Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Luxemburg, and Malta, so the plans to open an embassy could refer to them. Perhaps they could rent together a smallish building in a less expensive neighborhood.

    • The narrative in Mariv (and elsewhere, Mariv is not the first) is NOT that European regulators are not poodles, but that this dog may learn new tricks from the master. The master already have shown what to do when a bank performs transactions deemed illegal:

      link to

      BNP Paribas is the latest big bank hit with a massive multi-billion dollar penalty...
      [...] 8.9 G$ [...] The penalty comes as regulators found the bank breached U.S. sanctions against Sudan, Iran and other countries transferring billions of dollars there.

      Loans for illegal activity are as much of penalty targets as money transfers if not more. The amount if the penalty does not have to be related to income from the transactions, but the settlement is normally conditional on the promises not to engage in further violations, alternatively, with no such promise (that would probably be illegal in Israel), the penalties may be hefty. Israeli banks could loose their properties in Europe and be barred from performing any transactions there, that would cost a bit.

      EU bank regulators could also go after Israeli banks in other markets as well.

      The price of the stock of Israeli banks will reflect assessment of that risk, and so will be the price of their bonds, in other words, the cost of raising money.

      Part two of the conundrum is why would the poodle do the trick learned from the master. The nightmare of Israelis is that the master can issue a silent command, audible only to the dog (is it called dog's whistle?). There is also a possibility of the dog actually enjoying the new trick and performing it as long as the master does not command otherwise.

  • The enemies list
    • I think this is "unbecoming modesty". "Mondofront" is dreaded in some circles. (But only 2790 google hits for "mondofront"? in part, this is because it is an invective used by trolls in comments, and the search engine does not go through comments).

  • Photos: New Yorkers rally for, and against, Iran Deal outside Schumer office in midtown Manhattan
    • Foreign Policy has a biting piece on Schumer.

      Chuck Schumer’s Disingenuous Iran Deal Argument

      The good senator from New York may be voting his conscience, but he’s got the facts all wrong.

      By Jeffrey Lewis [Jeffrey Lewis is director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies.]
      August 9, 2015

      A veritable gold mine if you are searching for well-phrased arguments. To those who cannot reach beyond the paywall link to I paste some paragraphs.


      “Sharing a media market with Chuck Schumer is like sharing a banana with a monkey,” Corzine was quoted as saying in New York magazine. “Take a little bite of it, and he will throw his own feces at you.”

      On Thursday evening, right in the middle of the first GOP debate, Schumer reached back, took aim, and heaved a large one. He penned a long piece for Medium that some anonymous hack described as “thoughtful and deliberate.” Uh, ok. Maybe compared to Mike Huckabee’s outrage about “oven doors,” but good grief our standards for political discourse have fallen. Schumer’s missive came across a bit like your crazy uncle who gets his opinions from talk radio and wants to set you straight at Thanksgiving.

      Davis makes short work of Schumer's arguments but concludes optimistically:

      But let’s not be too critical of Schumer’s insincerity. Despite having repeated these and other arguments against the Iran deal, Schumer, although a member of the Democratic leadership, has gone out of his way to signal that other caucus members should vote their conscience. Congress has a long history of members voting against agreements while working to pass them. Sen. Mitch McConnell, when he was minority leader, openly opposed the New START agreement, while paving the way for a small number of Republican senators to cross party lines to secure its ratification. Schumer appears to be doing something similar in this case, stating his personal opposition but not whipping votes against the deal.

      That might be something less than a profile in courage, but it’s how Congress works. And I think it’s a pretty good reason not to let these characters anywhere near foreign policy. But then again, I would have advised the president to veto the Cardin-Corker bill that established this farce of a process. But Obama signed it and here we are.


      Perhaps everything is safe. I get the same feeling as when my family stopped to have a view into the canyon of Little Colorado River. Next to the highway Navajo Indians were selling their crafts. The canyon was a narrow chasm with sheer half mile drops. Navaho children were playing on the edge.

      The very fact that the children were on top and no bloody splats were seen at the bottom argued that they know how to play safely. My wife did not find it reassuring at all.

  • It's not bigoted to call out the Israel lobby over Iran Deal
    • link to

      NYT reports that a number of "generous donors to Democratic Party" got active in lobbying for the deal, many (most?) of them Jewish, while other lobby against. Basically, until now, the extreme right of the "Jewish lobby" accomplished a kind of leveraged takeover with appeals to ethnic solidarity and shared fears, "we need to be together" etc., but the Iran deal can be their undoing.

      It is still the case that the super-rich have disproportional influence, and on the issue of Israel, non-Jewish super-rich do not care much which gives the field to the Jews and their friends. This allowed the Israeli lobby to have oversized influence, and the ugly example was how Obama was forced to fold his initial plan for peace process that entailed forcing settlement freeze upon Israel. The lobby won, the peace lost and many lives were lost.

      But this time there is a huge difference between "Jewish" and "Israeli" lobby.

  • Rightwing Israeli violence on the rise as leader calls for arson attacks on churches
    • Explosion destroys vehicle of Kiryat Yam mayor
      Municipality claims attack motivated by hate after David Even Zur condemns stabbing in Jerusalem, arson that killed Palestinian baby.
      Ahiyah Raved
      Published: 08.02.15, 10:39 / Israel News

      An explosion rocked Moran Street in Kiryat Yam early Sunday morning when Mayor David Even Zur's vehicle went up in flames, allegedly caused by an improvised explosive device placed under the driver's seat of the car.


      There were complains that they do not teach practical subjects in yeshivas, but apparently some engineering skills are learned. I wonder why the reporter used word "alleged": is there also a suspicion that Even Zur's car simply spontaneously exploded, or that the explosive device was not improvised but purchased off-the-shelf?

    • Mooser, The Christians never yielded to the “temptation to impose a belief system on the population”. I can think of few instances. For example, the life of St. Olaf.

    • If I were a women, the fact that I am not allowed to bang my head against some particular wall would grieve me no end. Why would I wish to bang my head against that wall? In the immortal words of George Leigh Mallory, "Because it's there."

  • Shocker: 'NYT' runs front page press release for AIPAC warning Obama to cool his jets
    • Chemi Shalev: ... be that as it may, the fact that these and countless other terrorist incidents- including scores of attacks in which people were maimed and property was destroyed but no one was killed - were carried out by Jewish Israelis who were either settlers, or Orthodox, or right wing, or any combination thereof, doesn’t prove a thing.
      Attaching significance to such a random though admittedly overwhelmingly emphatic list is a time-tested leftist method of casting aspersions on true Israel-loving patriots. The fact that a Likud-led government has been in power throughout most of these years also means nothing: there are many other problems that it hasn’t managed to solve as well.

      I guess sometimes we need to explains how to tell snark from propaganda. Look for phrases that a propagandist would never use. "Casting aspertion" is a lightweight hint, Propagandist or a true believer would write "Slandering". This sentence is almost copied from typical wingnut rants, but using an effeminate turn of phrase, one could almost add "Those bad people made you cry! Come to Mama! Chu. Pain, pain, fly away!"

      "These and COUNTLESS other terrorist incidents..." A propagandist or true believer would not mention any, and at best obliquely refer to isolated, rare incidents, with no examples.

      Defending Likud government that it cannot be blamed, because it was not able to solve any other problems either is more of "twisting the knife" than a defense.


      My own interpretation is that the normative extreme Zionists like Naftali Bennet have zero against the ordinary "price tag", like uprooting trees, burning crops and cars, defacing buildings with grafitti, and even occasional mild arson, but the true murderous violence should be reserved for thr proper organs of the State. They are Statists and the extreme settler fringe is kind of Zio-anarchist. Thus some of the protests that they raise are genuine.

      In the same time, the Statists adore the "free Jewish spirit of bonding with the Land" represented by those Zio-anarchists, an let them develop separate settlements, where all neighbors share the same extreme views and the same hostility to the State. Additionally, as it was explained in +972, the troops detailed to the protection of settlements have to obey security coordinators of those settlements, hence they function to obey they whims and preserve immunity. At some occasions, IDF would protect Palestinians, at other, it either looks away or cooperates with the "unruly settlers", by adding 2+2 I conclude that we have some troops instructed to be subservient to the settlements, and some operating directly under the regional command. Because of the way the settlements of the extremists are formed, normal investigations are hardly possible. Normally, these settlers are more hooligans then terrorists.

      I actually do not know a proper English world, Polish "bojówkarz" (a deregatory variation of bojownik = "figher", in dictionary translated "raider" , but it actual usage restricted to "unruly young people" attacking ethnic and political opponents for the purposes of "good cheer" and intimidation, and they can be affiliated with a fascist party or other extremist movement. And from time to time they get lethal. Some of them become (not-so-)lone wolves.

      I would guess that the murderers in Duma were of "bojówkarz" variety, but they got a "bit overenthusiastic" and spilled to much gasoline, and in a dangerous manner. They were expected to splash lightly the houses fro outside rather than throwing a bundle of Molotov cocktails through the windows or whatever their arson method was.

    • link to

      I do not know how it is in the print version, but in on-line NYT a commentary chiding Schumer for being wrong appeared on Op-Ed page immediately after his position against the Iran deal became public. And the front page frames the issue as follows:

      Fears of Lasting Rift as Obama Battles Pro-Israel Group

      The president accuses the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or Aipac, of spending millions on advertising to try to defeat the Iran accord, as well as spreading misinformation.

      Schumer’s Vote Won’t Doom Iran Deal, Democrats Say

      For Obama, Golf, Then a Busy September


      A dub for AIPAC and Sen. Schumer? Bunker shot?

  • University of Illinois Chancellor steps down as judge upholds Salaita lawsuit against school on 1st amendment grounds
    • A comment on pragmatic usefulness of anthropology etc. Engineering departments can contribute to the design of marvelous gismos that can be used for the national defense and offensive projects. Lack of understanding of the culture in various regions can lead to trillion dollar waste, partially spent on those gismos.

      Just an example pertinent to today's announcement of Senator Schumer, that seems deficient on "anthropology". Iran cut the funding for Hamas, which has to rely on Qatar, which is a part of Sunni axis that Israel strives to join. Moreover, Israel may need to rely on Hamas to keep most fanatical Islamists in check (those that are attracted to Islamic State and set bombs near Hamas offices and may do the same in Israel). Note to the Senator: Hamas angle makes no sense. Yes, the deal will not modify Qatar's behavior, but so what? A few anthropological mistakes and can get another trillion dollar war.

  • Iran Deal Latest: AIPAC lies and, in a first, Schumer runs from the cameras
    • Wikipedia: Charles Ellis "Chuck" Schumer (/ˈʃuːmər/; born November 23, 1950) is the senior United States Senator from New York ...

      Political style[edit]
      Schumer's propensity for publicity is the subject of a running joke among many commentators. He has been described as an "incorrigible publicity hound".[25] Bob Dole once quipped that "the most dangerous place in Washington is between Charles Schumer and a television camera",[26] while Barack Obama joked that Schumer brought along the press to a banquet as his "loved ones".[27][28][29][30]


      To see the day when Charles E. "Chuck" Schumer runs AWAY from cameras is astounding. What next? All nations of the Middle East joining their hands together and sing of harmony and peace? Is there ANYTHING impossible?

  • Defying Obama on Iran deal, Schumer cites Hamas
    • link to

      Bad Decision by Senator Schumer
      By CAROL GIACOMO AUGUST 7, 2015 12:27 PM August 7, 2015 12:27 pm 558 Comments

      A paragraph: Any opponent of the deal bears a responsibility to propose a credible alternative but Mr. Schumer has repeated the same fanciful talking points that Mr. Netanyahu and the Republicans have espoused. “Better to keep U.S. sanctions in place, strengthen them, enforce secondary sanctions on other nations, and pursue the hard-trodden path of diplomacy once more, difficult as it may be,” Mr. Schumer said. Such suggestions ignore the fact that the major powers are more likely to abandon the sanctions altogether if the United States reneges on the deal and to refuse, along with Iran, to reopen negotiations.

      Toto, we are not in a unipolar universe anymore.

  • Obama ushers in the crisis of the Israel lobby
    • Just a thought: Debbie Wasserman Schultz is still "undecided". I e-mailed to DNC that as a donor, I expect DNC leaders to "stand with the Presidents". After all, they have those "Team Obama" graphics on their main page.

      Of course, I am a minor donor, but Democratic campaigns need people like us, because they cannot win "billionaire primary", so a few thousands e-mails can make a difference.

      PS. That in the past Schumer supporting Bolton for anything, even a township dogcatcher (I think it is called Animal Control Officer, I had to contact one when a cow roamed on my bike path) decreased my opinion.

    • "Was surprised by Gillibrand’s decision. She generally falls into line when it comes to all things having to do with Israel." Basically, AIPAC no longer defines what the line is.

      In the larger picture, Washington no longer defines what the line is. "The deal" is between Iran and the combo: EU (three largest economies represented), USA, China and Russia. If a minor state can change the course of USA, USA ceases to have a credibility as a power that can negotiate anything. And even the "war option" is not there if Russia and China choose to be seriously against it.

      In somewhat smaller picture, Democrats need good issues to stand on, and healthcare + peace for everyone is a decent combination. "Schumer alternative" is pleasing a selected group of special interests while carping that "Obamacare was a mistake" and so on, for all his intelligence (1600 SAT as a kid) he is a machine politician with no imagination whatsoever. Not to mention that even investment bankers are for the deal, the opposition is a pet cause of a fringe (and some few minor countries, Bahrain and ... now I do not remember all countries in that region).

    • It reminds me when I lived in Germany and I wished to have an account with interest, and young lady in my savings bank branch could not understand why I think that my account was too boring. What does it mean "interest", and "same interests"? Clearly, Israelis are interested in soccer, Americans -- when their daughters play the game (and fathers watch something else).

      Americans want their politicians to bring pork back to their districts, Israeli do not have districts, and I have no idea what do politicians bring there, falafels? Polish politicians are a bit closer to American, because they are promising "electoral kielbasa", but this is actually different, that kielbasa is supposed to grow on trees, like increasing the benefits and cutting deficit in the same time, also, kielbasa can be thrown to both dogs and humans to their satisfaction, which is much more hygienic than raw meat -- but again, what can be done with kosher folks? Let them eat latkes? Sadly, I do not know.

      So in Israel the popular belief has it that sanctions on Iran combined with the "military option" are beneficial. Similarly, in Poland many (well, not THAT many) believe that you can get more money by purchasing an oil painting of a Jew counting money and hanging it near the entrance, and in a case of financial setback, hanging it upside down. Perplexed Israeli reporters try to figure out if this is anti-Semitic. It is very complicated to assess if such strategies are effective. There is a strong placebo effect: with sanctions or an oil paining in place you gain confidence that can translate to genuine or at least perceived success. In fact, the decline in confidence was one of the demerits of the deal with Iran that was discussed.

  • Following fatal settler attack, Israeli army raids Dawabshe family homes in the West Bank village of Duma
    • Mind you, it is easier to notice the unusual than the quotidian. Looking from across the ocean, it is unusual to see a ranking officer beating up folks with his own hands while he is surrounded by regular troops who should do the manual work. link to But perhaps this "hands on" approach is indeed the usual procedure, so the behavior of the officers could be remarkable.

  • Obama tells Americans it is 'abrogation of my constitutional duty' to defer to Israel on Iran Deal
    • Israel surely know how to deal with Hezbollah threats. Quite recently, Israel killed some senior officers of Hezbollah and Iran. Two weeks later, Hezbollah killed two Israeli soldiers and wounded several more in Shebaa Farms (Israel views them as a part of Golan, Lebanon views them as a part of Lebanon), so Israel decided to (a) have the last shot and (b) avoid dangerous escalation. Thus they killed a Spanish UN peacekeeper. Spain announced that they are miffed, and thus the situation was de facto resolved.

    • Abierno: "positioning the U.S. for the upcoming fall of the current Likkud government" ????

      It is not easy to make a coalition without Likud, given the abhorrence that center-left has for relying on Palestinian votes. In any case, Zionist Union and Yesh Atid differ a little on that, most probably they would oppose the deal with Iran less histrionically, but who knows if they would be more effective (and what should we care).

      The only changes that I could see is an anti-haredi coalition, but it is not easy (and what should we care). And on "cottage cheese" issues it is hard to tell if the center-left has any edge.

      For Palestinian issue, there will be no immediate changes, but the habit of automatic deference to Israel will most probably be gone. I expect that pretty soon the media establishment will discover that this pinnacle of deference to our "most important ally" was not all that long, definitely less than 20 years. It is the nature of the Lobby to always claim a crisis and always fight for more, and if the fight (and donation) would stop, the sky would most assuredly fall. The effective intelligence level of Iran strategy of the Lobby was about the same as among micro-organism moving toward a higher concentration of nutrients. Those that do not move in such a way loose Darwinian competition.

  • Reps Deutch, Lowey, and Israel choose Netanyahu over Obama-- and who will bring down the hammer for the Iran Deal?
    • link to

      I am not sure if "taking orders from Israel" is a good description. It is just sticking with your friends who will stick with you in the time of need. Menendez defense fund is allegedly almost all pro-AIPAC (he is not such a good investment for regular lobbyists).

      By the way, Menendez is not commenting on the deal with Iran right now but "reviewing in depth". Will he wait until his defense fund reach five million?

  • Why is Wasserman Schultz, Obama's surrogate, holding out on Iran deal?
    • link to

      There are other songs about conflicted feelings. In this song the lyrical narrator describes how she shares love and interests with "zhulik" (I guess that means minor gangster) but also spends time with "fraier" who attends to her needs (especially when "zhulik" is incarcerated).

      Debbie has to delay declaring her intentions as much as possible, to avoid premature alienation of potential donors to DNCC.

    • Actually, there are some instant economic effects of the deal. A Chinese car factory in Iran will be closing down due to low quality and thus inability to compete with companies from West Europe that are about to enter the market. The national car company is also in danger.

      Longer term effects seem all benign. Opinion polls in Iran predicted that moderates will gain popularity. The efforts to combat ISIL in Iraq seem to be picking up and forces trained by USA and by Iran cooperate better. One can hope that Gulf countries will modify the most obnoxious policies, and perhaps Israel too. Placing Saudis and Israel in the position of automatic "moral high ground" is simply a moral hazard, and that results in humanitarian catastrophes and waves of refugees that reach Europe (and to some extend, Canada and USA).

  • Cruz says Iran could set off Electro Magnetic Pulse over east coast, killing 10s of millions
    • Upon careful reading, Cruz should be decried as anti-Semite, or one of those gentiles who try to spread Hasbara but have terrible time understanding the message that they try to spread.

      Here you have the Senator belittling the (potential) suffering of Israel that is about to be brusquely loaded by Obama into the Iranian oven, [so far so good, I mean, he delivers correct lines], and then adding that American suffering would be even greater (a suffering larger than Jewish suffering?!?? I dare you to show me what is it exactly, you almost anti-Semitic moron!!!) because ... because ... because they could have a power blackout!

      Excuse me, Senator. As a Canadian import you may be excused to be ignorant, but your constituents survived quite a bit of worse in Alamo. As a denizen of the Eastern Seaboard I have experienced a blackout that covered a major part of NY state. My family was on vacation trip, and luck had it that we had full camping gear, so we could make tea, cook dinner and wait until gas stations would become operational. But do you think that less prepared citizenry was dying in droves? Nothing of the kind.

      Finally, consider the worst case scenario, some people actually dying on the Eastern Seaboard because of long blackout, ineptitude, lack of guns (hungry? why not shooting some squirrels?), in general, being effete liberals, recent studies revealed that those are not REAL AMERICANS (some are even Jews), unlike honest folk in the South, Midwest and so on. Again, something not known to a Canadian carpetbagger.

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