Chuck Bowden has died

I just read an email that says Chuck Bowden, my mentor, my dear friend, has died.

Words fail.

Good Question, Terrible Answers

Digby asks the question I keep asking:

In all seriousness, I think the mindset of the National Security Elite has changed. First, Exceptional people do not negotiate. Second, every lesson we’ve been told we should have learned from World War II is this: you do not negotiate with aggressors. You fight them. (There is also the Holocaust lesson which wasn’t learned, either.)

So, Americans do not and will not and cannot ever negotiate with aggressors. And since the United States of America is imbued with “Exceptionalism” anyone who opposes the US is wrong. And if you are wrong you will soon be an aggressor. (Samantha Power would love that formulation!) Therefore, we will soon be at war with Russia unless they do everything we ask of them, which basically means roll over and act like a lap dog (basically what the Brits do).

Ponder that for a while. Then ponder how easy a solution could have been.

Ponder where all this bother takes us: the Ukraine. Imagine that it is increasingly looking like we are going to fight a shooting war against Russia, in its neighborhood, for the Ukraine. (For the record, I very well may have been wrong about Western unwillingness to stand up for the Ukraine.)

Ponder that, but this time with nukes.

“Labor Day Musings” : Ian Welsh, 2007

Ian’s long Agonist post here from September 2007 starts:

Given that it’s Labor Day weekend let’s have a chat about labor – organized labor. If you take a look at the map[ here ], something may jump out at you, as it did me. Where Labor is strong – Democrats tend to win. Where Labor is weak, they don’t. In the last election the electorate split fairly evenly, but amongst the groups that stand out as having gone Democratic, one is Labor. The general election was 49/49, but union members went 64/36 Democratic/Republican.

The complete 2007 Ian Welsh blogpost and comments

Israel Claims Nearly 1,000 Acres of West Bank Land Near Bethlehem

New York Times, By Isabel Kershner, August 31

Jerusalem — Israel on Sunday laid claim to nearly 1,000 acres of West Bank land in a Jewish settlement bloc near Bethlehem — a step that could herald significant Israeli construction in the area — defying Palestinian demands for a halt in settlement expansion and challenging world opinion.

Peace Now, an Israeli group that opposes the construction of settlements in the West Bank, said that the action on Sunday might be the largest single appropriation of West Bank land in decades and that it could “dramatically change the reality” in the area.

Palestinians aspire to form a state in the lands that Israel conquered in 1967.

Israeli officials said the political directive to expedite a survey of the status of the land came after three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and killed in June while hitchhiking in that area. In July, the Israeli authorities arrested a Palestinian who was accused of being the prime mover in the kidnapping and killing of the teenagers. The timing of the land appropriation suggested that it was meant as a kind of compensation for the settlers and punishment for the Palestinians.
Continue reading Israel Claims Nearly 1,000 Acres of West Bank Land Near Bethlehem

China rejects open nominations for Hong Kong leadership

China rejects open nominations for Hong Kong leadership

AP, August 31

China’s legislature on Sunday ruled against allowing open nominations in elections for Hong Kong’s leader, a decision that promises to ignite political tensions in the Asian financial hub.

The legislature’s powerful Standing Committee ruled that all candidates for chief executive must receive more than half of the votes from a special nominating body before going before voters. Democracy activists in the Asian financial hub responded by saying that a long-threatened mass occupation of the heart of the city “will definitely happen.”

Activists have also decried the nominating committee held up by Beijing as beholden to Chinese leaders and were mobilizing to stage massive protests against the decision.

Continue reading China rejects open nominations for Hong Kong leadership

Does It Help to Know History?

The New Yorker, By Adam Gopnik, August 28

About a year ago, I wrote about some attempts to explain why anyone would, or ought to, study English in college. The point, I thought, was not that studying English gives anyone some practical advantage on non-English majors, but that it enables us to enter, as equals, into a long existing, ongoing conversation. It isn’t productive in a tangible sense; it’s productive in a human sense. The action, whether rewarded or not, really is its own reward. The activity is the answer.

It might be worth asking similar questions about the value of studying, or at least, reading, history these days, since it is a subject that comes to mind many mornings on the op-ed page. Every writer, of every political flavor, has some neat historical analogy, or mini-lesson, with which to preface an argument for why we ought to bomb these guys or side with those guys against the guys we were bombing before. But the best argument for reading history is not that it will show us the right thing to do in one case or the other, but rather that it will show us why even doing the right thing rarely works out.
Continue reading Does It Help to Know History?

Watch and weep

The covert origins of ISIS.

Jukebox: Labor Day Weekend

Plenty of places to go. Post away!

I’ll start with:
1. The Beatles: Penny Lane
Not usually thought of a work song, but it is one for me.

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Continue reading Jukebox: Labor Day Weekend

Friday Catblogging: Fantasies of the cat-averse !


Continue reading Friday Catblogging: Fantasies of the cat-averse !

Russian troops have entered Ukraine, Ukraine president says

AP, August 28

Ukraine’s president called an emergency meeting of the nation’s security council and cancelled a foreign trip Thursday, declaring that “Russian troops were actually brought into Ukraine,” as concerns grew about the opening of a new front in the conflict.

President Petro Poroshenko summoned the council as the strategic southeastern Ukraine town of Novoazovsk appeared firmly under the control of Russia-backed separatists.

“The president must stay in Kyiv today​,” Poroshenko said.

On Thursday morning, an Associated Press journalist saw rebel checkpoints at the outskirts of Novoazovsk and was told he could not enter. One of the rebels said there was no fighting in the town.
Continue reading Russian troops have entered Ukraine, Ukraine president says

It’s Always Nice . . .

. . . when another state steps up to the plate and makes Texas look less stupid. In this case it’s Ohio:

Science educators have recognized that teaching science as a large compendium of facts, without reference to the scientific process and theories that bind them together, simply leads to uninterested and uninformed students. So it’s a bit mind-boggling to discover that an Ohio state legislator is attempting to block educators from teaching anything about the scientific process. And for good measure, the bill’s sponsor threw politics and creationism into the mix.

Take the process out of it and you take the critical thinking out of it and then you have students learning rote facts by memory. That doesn’t produce a very dynamic culture.

Strategery

wishes to engage in a bit of “I FUCKING TOLD YOU SO.”

It was a bad idea to bomb Assad and I said so last year.

Read today’s headlines and fucking weep: 

US giving Syria intelligence on jihadists, sources say

The key to successful   strategy is to always have more options than your enemy, always preserve room for maneuver, rarely, if ever, burn a bridge and never, ever use force for anything less than vital strategic national interests.

When it comes to foreign policy the entire US establishment needs to take a remedial course on “strategery.”

Right and left: idiots all.

And Stephen Walt has their measure right here:

They’d all jump at their own shadow.

A Green Desert

Crazy Rain, Fort Davis, TexasI’ve never seen Trans-Pecos Texas so green. I’m 43 years old and admittedly I’ve been coming out to the Big Bend area since my late twenties so that’s not a very good statistical sample.

Be that as it may: I’m glad that the West of Texas isn’t in hardcore drought like it has been in years passed. I’m also glad to see just about every creek and river on my route for Fort Davis in good health.

All except the Pedernales. That river is just dead. Good job Austin!

Here is a link to the Drought Monitor. It’s current for Texas. Look at the area worst hit in Central Texas.

That’s pretty much most of San Antonio’s watershed. Except we get most of our water from an underground aquifer and so we won’t see the effect of this drought for a year and we won’t see the recharge, when it comes, for a year.

The rest can be read here, complete with photos of West Texas.

The Surveillance Engine: How the NSA Built Its Own Secret Google

The Intercept, By Ryan Gallagher, August 25

The National Security Agency is secretly providing data to nearly two dozen U.S. government agencies with a “Google-like” search engine built to share more than 850 billion records about phone calls, emails, cellphone locations, and internet chats, according to classified documents obtained by The Intercept.

The documents provide the first definitive evidence that the NSA has for years made massive amounts of surveillance data directly accessible to domestic law enforcement agencies. Planning documents for ICREACH, as the search engine is called, cite the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration as key participants.
Continue reading The Surveillance Engine: How the NSA Built Its Own Secret Google

Obama Despair

It seems like so very long ago, many of us here at The Agonist gave up on Barack Obama.  It was long ago – six years now – which is a long time considering the progress the United States could have made had Obama been the leader he promised to be.  My disillusionment was almost instantaneous, the minute he announced that the nation must look “forward and not backward” when it came to the criminal behavior of those in government who committed torture.  That was quickly followed by the surprise and disgust I felt when he appointed Timothy Geithner as Treasury Secretary.  Wasn’t Obama serious about reforming the banking industry and Wall Street?  He had said all the right things on the campaign trail, so why was he putting in power people who had been instrumental in causing the problem?  Sean Paul and others at The Agonist came to the same, quick, disappointment in Obama, and we all announced our sense of betrayal publicly, which was not a safe thing to do in liberal land. Continue reading Obama Despair

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