Tail Wags Dog

I know I’m going to catch hell for this post because no one is allowed to criticize Israel, but I’m really tired of our foreign policy being driven by Right Wing Israeli politics. Two cases in point this morning. First is Netanyahu lecturing President Obama on how we should go to war against Iran.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel inserted himself into the most contentious foreign policy issue of the American presidential campaign on Tuesday, criticizing the Obama administration for refusing to set clear “red lines” on Iran’s nuclear progress that would prompt the United States to undertake a military strike. As a result, he said, the administration has no “moral right” to restrain Israel from taking military action of its own.

I hate to clue Bibi in, but the American public is sick of fighting wars in the Mideast and we have no desire to start another one. As the Chicago Council Poll shows, two in three Americans believe the Afghanistan war was not worth fighting.

It may be that Mitt Romney is in the minority that wants more war, but as the New York Times shows, Mitt has always been a chickenhawk, way back to Vietnam. I knew people like Mitt Romney at Princeton in 1967. They were really pro war, but they wouldn’t have been caught dead in a uniform.

The second and more troubling aspect of Israeli Right Wing Politics driving events in the Mid East is the killing of the American Ambassador to Libya. As the Wall Street Journal reports this morning, the crude and vicious anti-Muslim film that has been driving Anti-American outrage in Egypt and Libya over the past 48 hours is a product of an Israeli “filmmaker” named Sam Bacile, who is living in California.

Speaking by phone Tuesday from an undisclosed location, writer and director Sam Bacile remained defiant, saying Islam is a cancer and that the 56-year-old intended his film to be a provocative political statement condemning the religion.

Protesters angered over Mr. Bacile’s film opened fire on and burned down the U.S. consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi. Libyan officials said Wednesday that Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed Tuesday night when he and a group of embassy employees went to the consulate to try to evacuate staff as the building came under attack by a mob firing machine guns and rocket propelled grenades.

In Egypt, protesters scaled the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and replaced an American flag with an Islamic banner.

“This is a political movie,” Mr. Bacile said. “The U.S. lost a lot of money and a lot of people in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but we’re fighting with ideas.”

Mr. Bacile, a California real-estate developer who identifies himself as an Israeli Jew, said he believes the movie will help his native land by exposing Islam’s flaws to the world.

The two-hour movie, “Innocence of Muslims,” cost $5 million to make and was financed with the help of more than 100 Jewish donors, said Mr. Bacile, who wrote and directed it.

The film claims Prophet Muhammad was a fraud. The 14-minute trailer of the movie that reportedly set off the protests, posted on the website YouTube in an original English version and another dubbed into Egyptian Arabic, shows an amateur cast performing a wooden dialogue of insults disguised as revelations about Prophet Muhammad, whose obedient followers are presented as a cadre of goons.

It depicts Prophet Muhammad as a feckless philanderer who approved of child sexual abuse, among other overtly insulting claims that have caused outrage

So who are the hundred donors who paid for this piece of shit, which has no other purpose than to stir up trouble for America in Arab lands? Was Sheldon Adelson one of them? Will Romney condemn this film? Will he show he is not a shill for his good friend Bibi Netanyahu?

Don’t bet on it.


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51 Responses to Tail Wags Dog

  1. len says:

    The WikiPedia articles on the career of Adolph Dubs with a link to articles about the career of the US ambassador killed in Libya updated to his death and a detail that two US Marines sent to guard him were also killed were updated before 9AM CST this morning.

    Even for Wikipedia, that’s unusually fast and detailed.

  2. debra says:

    You can’t blame Israel for the film. You can only blame the ones involved in it. Israel is not an innocent standby when it comes to international policies, either. This crap about religious bias needs to stop. I’m Christian and I’m sick of Christians thinking they have dubs on God. I am sick of other religions that do, as well. Christians should go stay in Israel for a year so they can see what Israel thinks of them. Maybe, they wouldn’t be so pro Israel. Yet, the Muslims that act like idiots should pay the price for their ignorance, as well. To purposely make a film to put our embassy in harms way should be considered manslaughter from now on. There comes a time, fxxx freedom of speech. We don’t have it in our news.

  3. len says:

    Stay cool, folks.

    A London think tank says on the ground sources report the attack was a planned revenge for the death of an alQaeda leader. The protest was a pretext. The weapons used do not support a protest; they require planning and positioning.

    As things go, it’s murky although the line that someone wants us and them to keep fighting has it’s own backstory and credibility.

  4. Rick Turner says:

    The Apocalypse Now Christian crowd would love nothing more than to see the entire Middle East be pocked with nuclear bomb craters. The Chosen People are full of shit and are behaving like it. And the Islamists are absolutely insane. Whatcha gonna do?

  5. len says:

    Walk quietly, big stick, don’t get played.

    Situation awareness is a mental model where experience informs analysis such that there is no perceptible hesitation to act when confronted with a threat or an opportunity. Resilience is when it is so smooth it looks natural and planned when confronted with a novel threat or opportunity. It is the Dead on a good night and Ravi Shankar any day or night.

    It may be the only good thing we can say about the last twelve years: we are well-practiced. We are headed into a tour where for the next six months or more, we’ll be glad for that.

  6. Bill says:

    We clearly have a fundamental chasm between Western expectations of free speech and Islam’s absolute intolerance for criticism or satire, at least as indicated by the response in most Middle Eastern countries. There is little place for propaganda intended purely to incite a religious or ethnic group, but there are plenty of valid issues related to Islam which bear open discussion, and stifling this dialogue for fear of stoking violence is not the answer.

  7. len says:

    Shouting “Fire” in a crowded theatre is not free expression, of course.

    You’re free to have that discussion, Bill, with those who want to have it but be ready to be just as tolerant of a discussion of valid issues related to other religions as well as religion in general. Then be ready if at the end of that discussion the religious folks are turning plowshares into swords to bring about Judgement Day. Oh give me that old time religion; it’s good enough for me.

    Or keep it in the church and try to remember why we separate church and state in the US.

  8. JTMcPhee says:

    “don’t get played.” A little ‘way too late’ for that advice in the parasitism that is AIPAC-Israeli relations with what so many of them refer to as “Uncle Sucker.” This from people for whom being a sucker, or “freier” in Yiddish, is the worst possible thing, and on the other hand, getting over on someone to the extent of rendering them full-on “freier” is the sign of a successful person.

    When dealing with Israelis, it might pay our leaders to keep in mind the following:

    “‘Don’t be a freier’ is practically the 11th commandment of the Israeli,” wrote Haaretz’s Benny Ziffer in 2006. How has such a great fear of being a freier developed in Israel, of all places? Bloch explains that this is due, among other reasons, to a desire to be free of the image of the Jew in exile. She says there are five attributes of Israeli character that come together to create the culture of “just don’t be a freier”: a particularly strong ego and sense of honor, avoidance of law and rules, individualism without responsibility, competition and machismo. There are some people, she adds, who are prepared to kill in order not to come out as freiers. She cites examples of murders for purely negligible reasons, like a fight over dogs or an argument over a lounge chair on the beach.

    Bloch thinks it’s no coincidence that the word “freier” has remained in the realm of slang rather than becoming an official Hebrew word. She believes the term has been pushed to the sidelines, which allows people to “ignore its malignant implications.”


    Ask the survivors of the attack on the USS Liberty about how “Uncle Sucker” responded to a direct “terrorist” strike on a US vessel. Or how the rest of us get to feel, knowing that the “policies” of the Likudniks are pushing us all further and faster down the path to yet another asymmetric losing involvement as the “bodyguard” for Israel’s current ruling group.

    Glad to see Bill trying to sell the notion of All Muslims Are Evil here in this space. Now there’s an exploitable talking point that’s getting a lot of play. Since I kind of like the notion that humans are demonstrably and terminally stupid, if he and the rest of the people peddling those kill-the-other visions on all sides of the planet, for all the reasons people think they are superior to “others” or who are just interested in getting all of us closer to the great End Game in a comfortable assurance that they will be Raptured or introduced to those 72 virgins for bringing the fire, succeed, so much the better. Bring on the bipedal tube worms and the singing cockroaches…

  9. Rick Turner says:

    The sooner we get down to the work of making the US a self-sustaining paradise on earth…which we could do if not so tied up in MICC mishugas and sticking our noses in others’ business…the better off we’ll be. I’m totally fed up with our being the world cops. I’m utterly disgusted with the notion that we can make the world safe for democracy when our own government is plutocracy. Let the Sunnis and Shiites blow each other up to their hearts’ content; tell Israel to help the Palestinians grow gardens or lose foreign aid. Tell the Iranians that if a nuke falls on Israel, a nuke will fall on Teheran. Get the hell out of Egypt, Libya, etc., etc. Close the embassies, cut off the money supply, and spend the money at home.

    Jobs? No problem. FDR figured it out. CCC and WPA. That’s the one and only way that Washington can do jack squat about jobs. You can’t force companies to hire people they don’t need to make products or deliver services that the population doesn’t need.

    Get it right at home before going abroad to pimp the American Way of Life.

    I’m becoming more and more an isolationist.

  10. Alex Bowles says:

    Here’s a touching counter to the notion that the extremists speak for Muslims in general, and the equally misguided idea that the slightest perceived slight is enough to trigger death threats and mayhem.

  11. len says:

    Too late, Rick. Unless the political leaders on all sides step up very fast to calm this down, I’m not sure anyone will be able to.

    The President of Libya was a professor at my college here in Huntsville. His daughter grew up here. They are good people. There are people in Libya holding up signs trying to tell the Americans “we didn’t do this”. Libyans died trying to defend the embassy. We need to be holding up signs saying “We didn’t make that movie.” Problem is, I think they know that. They don’t care. It’s a zombie apocalypse just like the kids have been saying.

    Too many coverts want a war with Iran and too many overts aren’t satisfied with the 1.5 million dead in Iraq and the rest in Afghanistan. alQaeda wants blood for blood while all of the middle east turns into tehran 1979. The Arab Spring is turning into mobs r’ us.

    This is blood lust. Our wingnuts and their wingnuts are taking over the conversation and turning it into a street knife fight. Like you, I’m ready to say, let’s get the hell out this and let them do their worst to each other if that is all they can do.

    I am doing one thing on Facebook: ANYONE who is calling for blood lust vengeance, I am defriending. No exceptions. It is time to isolate the wingnuts. Let them babble among themselves, but like slasher movies, I’m not going to watch. Not this time.

  12. Alex Bowles says:

    Here’s an antidote to that, Len. It’s our cool, calm, and collected President at his cool, calm, and collected best.

  13. Fentex says:

    Israel wants the U.S to attack Iran because of the U.S’s incompetence in Iraq.

    Israel, on the wrong end of demographics, wants to force a permanent diaspora on the Palestinians but finds it increasingly hard to pursue it’s policies in a world where Irans influence and support, aided by U.S policy incompetence, strengthens.

    They want the U.S to devestate Iranian infrastructure to blunt Iranian spending abroad and reduce it’s influence.

    When some four odd years ago Israel last ventured into Lebanon they were surprised and humiliated by well equipped and informed Hizbollah forces that destroyed, for the first time by enemy action, Merkava tanks and who avoided destruction by winning the signals intelligence battle and not being where Israeli attacks struck.

    That shook Israel considerably. Iranian bought modern Russian anti-tank weapons and sophisticated intelligence aid was being provided in greater quantities and quality to Hizbollah via Syria by an emboldened and increasingly influential Iran.

    And now Israel fears a Syria over-thrown and possibly ruled by Islamists.

    The hawks paranoia is being stoked and they want to draw the U.S into direct confrontation on their side for an indefinite period.

    It is not in the U.S’s interests, it isn’t even in Israels interest. It would be foolish of any U.S authority to pursue such policy.

  14. Fentex says:

    We need to be holding up signs saying “We didn’t make that movie.” Problem is, I think they know that. They don’t care. It’s a zombie apocalypse just like the kids have been saying.

    Don’t over-react. This was one stupid little battle, more people died that day in silly accidents.
    It just isn’t that important in the grand scheme of things.

    Cracked get’s it right (a little satirically) with these observations.

  15. Alex Bowles says:

    Here’s some very intelligent reporting and analysis combined in one take. If the big picture it presents is in line with the administration’s view, they’re likely to proceeded the right way. If they can and do, it’ll be due in no small part to having gotten Egypt and Libya more or less right when their regimes unraveled.

    As the article notes, it’s early and this could all go very wrong. But judging from the support we’ve gotten in Egypt and Libya, the position we’re in seems far stronger that it would have been had a hothead like McCain or a fire-then-aim idiot like Romey (backed by Bolton, for god’s sake) been in charge.

  16. nico_cucaracha says:

    It turns out that everyone here is wrong, only because they were misinformed. From what I just read, the maker of the movie Mr. Bacile doesn’t exist, and they’re not sure who he really is. Things that struck me were the findings that he was almost surely not Israeli, and possibly how he might be affiliated to Coptic Christians in Egypt made me start rethinking this whole backlash. The story in general was spread quickly, and yet it seems that everyone including Jon might have missed the next portion. I checked a few sources and doubts were rising about the authenticity of the director’s identity, but it seems much more was left undetermined including the actual money he spent making this film, the fact that actors were mislead as to the film they were making, and how the obscenities in most or all of the scenes were over-dubbed dialog that the original actors never said. It’s quite a project and I’m not sure as to the purpose of it other than a manipulative way to incite a reaction in the mid-east that was intended to influence people here or there inciting fear on both sides.

  17. len says:

    Which is why it is good idea to isolate the hate mongers. We’re being played.

    We don’t know by whom. The monsters are due on Maple Street.

  18. JTMcPhee says:

    Maybe there are some connections to the people who produced and distributed in 2005 that pack of lies titled Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against The West ? And here’s a too-balanced quick reprise of the provenance and content of that idiot propaganda: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obsession:_Radical_Islam%27s_War_Against_the_West

    I guess a day after, there’s beginning to be a lot more clarity about the who, what, when, where, how and maybe eventually why of this innovative project.

    One wonders if the Butterfly Wing effect is in play here. Anarchists in early 20th century Europe and the Balkans kept throwing bombs and shooting autocrats until they finally accomplished the triggering event, that killing of a little archduke at a place called Sarajevo, that figures in more recent history too…

  19. len says:

    There is some of that JTMc, but let’s chill and let intel do their work. This isn’t a “silly” over reaction. We have a dead ambassador and more to bury. Our embassies are under siege in several countries. It’s a full-on lockdown. Assets are being deployed and more are standing up. You know the drill.

    So it’s time to a) sequester the hate mongers b) get a clear picture of the situation c) stress professional cool response.

    This doesn’t have to set the fields on fire. Much depends on how we act. It appears the Libyans don’t want this, the Eqyptians are still in revolution mode, and in other places our policies are kicking our butts. Yemen is about to explode. Meanwhile some in our political circles are trying to take advantage of this. They are in list member a.subprime. Let them eat their own fecal matter. This isn’t about the election. This is about international security. Stay cool. Unless this is a series of unfortunate coincidences (I doubt that), until we are clear who hit us and who organized the organizers, we have to do the necessary and avoid the dumb.

  20. len says:

    Long term, consider that we are facing a 1.7% spike in wholesale prices because of the drought and energy price spikes. The current events may drive those higher. Economies will take a hit.

    This is tricky but we can act smartly and make some friends depending on how we share resources. We don’t necessarily want to go “all hippie” but we do want to accentuate our own values and show we can live by them. We need a starker contrast to our wingnut philosophers, blood lusters and others who for whatever reasons want to plunge us into deeper conflicts. Food is a great way to make a gathering more pleasant.

    “The hand that spins a grim tornado can also turn the potter’s wheel.” – Bill Danoff

  21. T Bone Burnett says:

    There is a sense of Columbine gone global.

  22. Rick Turner says:

    Len, “let intel do their work”??? WTF??? Where was the intel on these latest two attacks? We don’t have decent intel in the Middle East.

    Get off the oil teat and tell ’em to pound sand. Stop all foreign aid to nations that harbor terrorists. Get out of Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and all the crazy sub-Saharan countries as well. Pull out the diplomatic corps. Shut the embassies. Get the hell out. Why do we need to be where we’re so hated? What’s in it for us? Arms sales? Oil? It’s a bunch of evil shit…

  23. Rick Turner says:

    BTW, there was and is the right wing ex-Batista supporter Cuban population of (mostly) Florida who have also had an extraordinary negative influence on our government and foreign policy. Another case of backing the wrong side for short sighted reasons.

    And T-Bone…the technology for dealing death has become as “of the people” as smart phones and iPads and downloading music for free. It’s really easy to kill a lot of people for very little money these days; it’s really easy to do the wrong thing. Too bad our collective honor, ethics, and spirit has not advanced as fast as the killing machines, but maybe this is a sick form of population control…

    Condoms, not bullets…

  24. len says:

    We’ve been played, Rick. Who, where and when are important because like it or not, there is about to be a stomping. One would rather not but as these things go, that’s inevitable. There is an opportunity here for everyone to see how this sort of set up happens. I hate to use the cliche “a learning opportunity” but it is. If we go at this emotionally, we are likely going to give the people who set this up exactly what they want. Some group was able to use the LA film production community and post-production to set off a firestorm. Think about what we’ve been discussing vis a vis behavioral semiotics. This is that gone global and breaking bad.

    Some good people are dead. Let’s not do 9/11 again because if this is alQaeda we don’t have to wonder why: our drones are killing their members. Anyone who didn’t expect a soft target to get hit didn’t understand the payback for that strategy. What I want to know is who else is involved and where are they and who paid for it? It may be a conflation where our wingnuts or some other wingnuts opened an opportunity and the professionals took advantage of it. Exploitation. Or it may be seamless in which case we have to make some policy decisions about events going on inside the US and simply bugging out of the Middle East won’t mitigate the problems.

    I don’t think so, T-Bone. This is a bit slick, well-funded and well timed. If it were Columbine, every high school in the nation would have rioted the next day. Someone(s) used social media (wikipedia, facebook and youtube) cleverly or instinctively. The issues with open global hypermedia communications are coming to the front of the issues list. I don’t think anyone can hide from the fact that criminal and terrorist organizations are exploiting them and we aren’t doing what we need to do or don’t have policies that make sense in light of what is happening.

    Or it is a situation so buggered up now that ANY move made cascades. We have several problems and some are intent on turning it into a “clobber the Muslims” event. That feels a bit more like Manson.

  25. Jon Taplin says:

    Obviously the origins of the video are more complicated than the Wall Street Journal reported. It is still an act of provocation not filmmaking.

  26. len says:

    In the relationship Triumph of the Will has to It’s A Good Life, yes. Both in their own way are propaganda of a sort; only one is a season regular. Intent matters and so does the seasonal affections. OTW, I’m not sure how that distinction works, Jon. I’m not trying to be insulting or dismissive of your craft. Tornado and potter’s wheel…

    Yet we are confronted with a time in which there is a powder keg of emotion waiting to be lit and the means of getting the match to the fuse all too easily accessed. I don’t know what makes the most sense here. The Great Firewall of China is there for that. The Afghan president asked YouTube to be turned off in his country for the time being. Does anyone want Google to clear all YouTube releases considering the rates at which videos are submitted means they’ll respond with “clever” algorithms we know don’t work well for other problems? Unlike the problems of piracy, this really would be censorship. Should they change the alley alley in come free policy? Somewhere along the way that original footage went into a post-lab of some sort?

    Is it worth talking about Islam? Are some too easily insulted and think too shallowly about the impact they are having on perceptions of themselves and their faith? Seems we are willing to talk about the Christians and the Jews. Is it because they don’t usually kill for that and did we just see a change in that policy for a few who now are even if by indirection? All sides have extremes and just as they are dominating our political structures, they are also dominating the conversation. I’m defriending the haters on FB because that is the only way I now to stop it in my bit of the bandwidth. Should we all be shuttering the bridges as the plague comes down the information highway?

    There is nothing easy or silly about the situation but it’s worth discussing.

  27. len says:

    Does anyone want Google to clear all YouTube releases considering the rates at which videos are submitted means they’ll respond with “clever” algorithms we know don’t work well for other problems?

    Turns out the answer is yes says YouTube. They use algorithms to create a queue that begins with flesh colored pixel hunts for obvious reasons. They assign those to humans who watch and flag as a full-time job. My own experience is they aren’t very good at this when it comes to photos but that is the process they say they are using.

    They’ve taken the trailer for the film off of Egypt and other Islamic countries. They plan to leave it up overall because it “meets their guidelines”. Of course, like a pet python, once out in the wild it lays eggs. Copies of it are now available elsewhere according to CNN which is the source for the information above.

    While nothing is sure, it begins to look like this is a situation where people with an agenda (Christian Copts) made a film that was picked up by people with an agenda (the Egyptian Rush Limbaugh, for example) and spread quickly by people who spread such things quickly and this created a situation that people with an agenda and munitions took advantage of. Is there more to it than that? Dunno. CNN says intel groups are pretty quickly isolating the folks who hit the embassy in Libya and Libyans are arresting them. Meanwhile protests are roughening elsewhere.

    One hopes it subsides. I do think holding up signs saying “We didn’t make this film!” are still worth the effort.

  28. T Bone Burnett says:


    I was referring to the Right Wing christian piece of this, the people who incited this riot, who want to pull the temple down on the rest of us.

  29. Rick Turner says:

    Well, it seems to me that the Right Wing Christians are Apocalyptophiles and want a hard rain to fall on us all. What is it with suicidal religious fervor? The Christians have it, the Muslims have it, and the Jews have it in all their most right wing sects. I’d be happy if they all just went to the middle of the desert somewhere and had it out hand to hand with one another. Leave us alone…

    And I’m sorry, my Jewish friends, I cannot accept you as the Chosen People if what your political arm in Israel does is to oppress the Palestinians. Israel is going to have to decide whether it is a true democracy (meaning the every increasing percentage of the population that is NOT Jewish will crowd out the Jews) or a religious community where only Jews can vote. And a two state solution with Israeli aid to the Palestinians would be the right thing to do. The Palestinians are mere pawns in the game of the Saudis who have all the money needed to help their Muslim brothers and sisters build gardens in the desert. But the Wahabi agenda is served better by conflict than by peace…

  30. Alex Bowles says:

    @Rick Theirs isn’t the only one. American Neoconservatives have an uncomfortably similar profile. Putting them together with extremists from any other part of the world produces a match made in hell, which is exactly what the Bush years had us living through.

    Thanks to the intelligence and decency of a majority of American voters, the American half of this equation has lost a lot of power, but that hasn’t stopped its desire for war.

    Obama’s detachment and distance may be a liability on the domestic stage (he’s no Bill Clinton) but on the international stage, I can hardly imagine a better President. Cooler heads prevailing is absolutely what’s called for.

  31. Bill says:

    Rick Turner :
    Well, it seems to me that the Right Wing Christians are Apocalyptophiles and want a hard rain to fall on us all. What is it with suicidal religious fervor? The Christians have it, the Muslims have it, and the Jews have it in all their most right wing sects. I’d be happy if they all just went to the middle of the desert somewhere and had it out hand to hand with one another. Leave us alone…

    Rick, and at what point do you hold the Palestinians accountable for their role in coming to a two-state solution? Do you really think the Israeli government can be expected to negotiate in good faith with Hamas, given Hamas’ stated intent of Israel’s destruction?

  32. len says:

    T Bone Burnett :@len
    I was referring to the Right Wing christian piece of this, the people who incited this riot, who want to pull the temple down on the rest of us.

    Aha! Yes. Choir rehearsal was a little grim. I mentioned the fact that the Libyan people are holding up signs of apology and regret. Two people got irate and told me we shouldn’t even discuss it.

    Yeah, the blood lust is palpable. We need an antidote.

    So… I blame it on the bossa nova.

  33. Rick Turner says:

    Hamas has to get off of that position, but someone has to be the first with the olive branch. I still think that Hamas is a front for Wahabi Saudi interests.

    Who is financing Hamas? Follow the money…it flows from us to Saudi Arabia to Palestinian terrorists. And Bush the Shrub was an absolute lapdog of his friends, the Saudi royals who screwed him after he got the Bin Laden family out of the US post 9/11. Bush later went to Saudi Arabia hat in hand to beg for cheap oil and got his ass kicked while the royals were a-falconing and laughing up their sleeves…err…robes…at him.

    The best thing that could possibly happen in the Middle East is for us not to need the oil or for it to all be sucked up and gone. Or maybe if the area were to be so radioactive as to be unusable that would work, too…though it would be so cataclysmic as to be the death of many millions.

  34. len says:

    Money isn’t local anymore, Rick. I’d be figuring out who owns the fracking rights to the American gas lands. Romney claims we can be on North American energy soon. I think he believes it and he isn’t that uninformed given American gas and Canadian oil sands. Now that may not be believable or desirable. Fracking isn’t clean even if the gas is moreorless. Combined with alternatives and more close to consumption production as well as investments in the grid and you may see something near that without all the glassed over sand.

    Then water becomes the resource we fight over.

    One naive optimistic note: in those videos and pictures coming out of Libya, the people holding the signs and crying while apologizing are women holding children by the hand. Libya may have just had its Birmingham church bombing moment.

    Let’s see if the Obama White House is savvy enough to move fast and help bring the bad guys to justice instead of giving a desert camp a cruise cut. It would give the Libyans some internal sense of justice to contrast with years of despotism if their own forces brought their own criminals to justice, tried them and put their heads where the world can see them. You see, you are right about that, Rick, my friend. They MUST start taking care of their own problems. Whereas some Middle Eastern countries are still under the thumbs of the royals, Libya is not and Libya is rich.

    I’ll trade blues for allah for the bossa nova. I get 9ths and 13ths and 1 back and line dancers. It’s the dance of love. :)

  35. Rick Turner says:

    The North American motor car fleet can’t just switch to LNG overnight. Natural gas can take care of a lot of energy needs currently fed by oil…home heating, electricity production, etc., but my own fear is that the energy wallahs will not use natural gas as a bridge to renewables, but will squander the resource as they have with oil.

    And I don’t see the kind of moral compass in Libya that the civil rights movement had going on here, but I do see tens of thousands of armed pissed off people whose religion has been insulted (and yeah, I say get over it, but they don’t) and who are willing to die to get to those 73 virgins. And what’s with that shit anyway? That’s like Thetans and L. Ron Hubbard or golden tablets in a plowed field or something. And why so many virgins? It’s a horrible power trip. Sorry, but the science fictional nature of so much religious mythology is just beyond me…as is the de-humanizing element so present in believers who demonize non-believers. It’s mass hysteria or infectious insanity and it seems to cut across sectarian lines and utterly blind adherents to the basic principles of their supposed religions. And maybe there are fundamental flaws in each major religion; flaws that we dare not examine for fear of retribution. As a confirmed agnostic, I can tell you that I see no ethical grounding in the extremes of any of these major religions. All I see is rampant power trips, oppression, and death dealing. “With God on their side”…

  36. JTMcPhee says:

    Bill needs to go back over to Juan Cole’s site and places like that, and keep pushing the Great Game Narrative/Neocon Version there, though it seems some have seen through his play.

    Gee, how can Hamas, an organization that’s doing a better job of becoming a legitimate political entity than Likud with its antecedents and present blow-up-the-whole-world players, who have done their damndest to enserf and starve the various groups of Palestinians, negotiate in any kind of faith with “the Israelis” with their 400 nuclear weapons more or less, and all the stuff that involves bulldozers and “settlers” and completion of the debasement of that defunct Israeli notion of “purity of arms”?

    Interesting how things turn out, how creatures like Yasser Arafat have such nice cozy business connections with certain Israelis and French and German and British and other players, by which they all get very rich at the expense of their “people.” http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2005/09/in-a-ruined-country/304167/ There ain’t no “righteous” involved in this at all — just the usual tribal nonsense, and our US “leaders” despite all the “democracy-Freedom” pretense and pretext, are just part of the Game, a little dumber and less sensitive and more dishonorable than a lot of the others.

  37. len says:

    I had 73 virgins. Waaaay overrated. It’s like being in a band with Mel Bay Lesson Book one players. All fear; no chops. A lot of imprecise rhythm. I don’t get that either. Give me someone who knows why we’re sweating and aching and wanting and …. getting it. Who wants to teach sol feg when you can be singing an aria?

    As I said, Monsters on Maple Street: too easily frightened and then too easily turned into bullies by clicks and whirrs and flashing lights. They fear God as a way to hide the fact they love themselves too much and too often. Perversely, they think that’s enough. What they need is the love of a good experienced woman… all night long and most of the next day. Then they’ll be too tired to kill.

    Line dancing and the bossa nova… keeps them on their toes and off our cases. I think I’ll try \ my hand at a motet using fat jazz chords to see if I can do it. Keeps me from dwelling on the monsters.

    No, we can’t switch to LNG that fast. But we have to keep pushing or get ready to swim the NYC subways.

  38. Rick Turner says:

    Swimming the subways, as you put it, is going to happen on one level or another. We’re past the tipping point on polar ice melting and the seas rising. Bangladesh…Pacific island nations…US seacoast towns without cliffs and hills…goners. Holland? Venice? WaterWorld, folks. Better get ready to grow some gills.

    It would be amusing to fast forward 100 years to see how the blame game will be played…

  39. len says:

    Lake Titicaca is falling to record low levels as well.

  40. Rick Turner says:

    I think that the Republican response to that would be “Can’t see it from my house…”

  41. Alex Bowles says:

    Drought has pushed the Mississippi river to unnavigable lows and that’s in the GOP’s backyard, so I’m afraid that clear lines of sight aren’t the problem. What we’re really dealing with are people too blind to see.

  42. Alex Bowles says:

    Oliver Burkeman, writing for the Guardian, has a theory about this. Like me, he think’s Harry Frankfurt’s “On Bullshit” is an important and illuminating document.

    But I wonder. Through “excessive indulgence” in bullshitting, Frankfurt writes, “a person’s normal habit of attending to the ways things are may become attenuated or lost”. Bullshitting breeds bullshitting. And ultimately, that’s worse than lying, Frankfurt argues: at least liars remain in some kind of relationship with the truth.

    And so the politicians with integrity keep telling the truth, the liars keep lying, the fact-checking operations keep adjudicating between them, and the pundits keep worrying about lies. But none of this troubles the bullshitter, who exists in another dimension entirely, bullshitting happily away. You think he cares about adhering to the truth, or carefully concealing his divergence from it?

    The short answer is no. And a dangerous feedback loop has developed by those detached from reality here, and their (even more?) detached counterparts in Likud. Actually, I suspect the greater detachment is on our side, and because of that we’re getting badly played. Support for Israel should be exactly that – support, not the enablement of their downward spiral.

  43. len says:

    Habits come first. Belief follows.

    I sat at Barnes and Nobles and read On Bullshit when you mentioned it last, Alex, and thanks. I concur and recommend it be required reading by anyone who can require reading. It is a brilliant logical takedown of a bad habit that becomes a way of not thinking and habituating others to do the same. OTOH, a too serious conversation can become a pure drag and will shut down thought just as surely. Don’t play Bach if they came to boogie.

  44. Alex Bowles says:


    Don’t play Bach if they came to boogie.

    While the particulars of what’s expected and what’s on offer may differ, that error encapsulates the GOP’s problem perfectly.


    The larger issue is that they’ve reduced their repertoire to a single tune.

  45. len says:

    A narrow topic has fewer rabbit trails. Stick to the script and don’t make mistakes. That seems to be their damage control leading up to the debates.

    World events are wild cards. I’m beginning to look past the election. Very big decisions ahead and we need to think hard about our willingness to commit when uncertainty about what and to whom we are committing is at an all time high.

    There comes a time for less speculation and more focus on what is actually happening. One can sense numbers of people actively getting quieter and sphincters tightening.

  46. len says:

    the banner of conservatism were only held by pure hands

    Do you remember the piece Rachel Maddow did on the Family, the boys of C Street? That kind of arrogance, Roman imperialistic white frat boy bullshit, eventually seeps into the American consciousness and it stinks. They let them go to the front of the line and it turns out to be a cattle slaughter. As I said, you may be seeing American values asserting themselves, the willingness to become what we say we are and accept responsibility. Played well, not going after the Muslims or the Mexicans, but recognizing real criminals no matter what emblems they franchise by, this is a sign.

    And it may be just in time. The next six monthns into spring look like a wild ride with Casey Jones at the throttle. Say Africa. It is critical we start hearing straight talk and figuring out whom we can trust to tell us.

  47. Alex Bowles says:

    Well I, for one, feel vastly better having the guy profiled in this exceptional piece in the White House.


    I say ‘exceptional’ because it’s one of the most well-structured bits of writing I’ve come across in a long time. Lewis had plenty of time to get this right, and he did. I cannot, for the life of me, imagine Mitt Romney inspiring a bit of writing like this. Or really, any Republican anywhere near the national stage.

  48. len says:

    I caught his interview on CNN. Laudable. I don’t think we have to destroy the Republicans. They are doing a much better job of that than we can. We should be putting a positive message out there reassuring them we will get through what’s up ahead. Carefully but surely.

    I’ve been working on reducing the cortisol levels of myself and those in reach. I can write polemics or compose complex bits of sound and lyric, or put four chords and a story from the human storybook, play something uptempo where the standup bass player never uses his left hand and watch the redhaired little girl in the second row of pews bobble head with a big smile and the rest of the parishioners smile and laugh. Right now… I opt for happy. They need to be and we can make that happen. Americana isn’t always about done lost my woman and my dog and my pickup truck. How Blue I Am. Some of it is there to make them feel good about belonging to each other. And those are the tunes the whistle on the way home from church. Sing a song of joy on Sunday.

    Monday comes soon enough.

  49. len says:


    JTMc, the Haaretz article described one use of “freier” as someone who pays for something they can get for free. Here is an interesting article about a performer who used a site to get donations of over one million dollars for an album that would be recorded with one mic and an iPad. Now she wants volunteers to play on her tour. Who is the “freier”?


    My comment is I don’t know who she is or what she recorded and now I don’t want to. As I said to Lowery’s comment box: it isn’t only about being known. It is also about being reputable. I don’t mind playing with someone; I detest being played.

  50. JTMcPhee says:

    Happy is good, happy is wonderful, happy is boring to way too many people who are “happy” only when they are fucking over other people, “freier”ing them near to death. The Republicans may in some sense be “destroying themselves,” but like a lot of revanchist, jingoist, reactionary bunches over a lot of years, they stand a pretty good chance of leaving an enormous field of gore where they passed.

    And is it just me, or are the “funnies” in, say, Readers’ digest, just not very funny any more? I mean, really, if you go and dig up some RDs from the ’60s, the “Life in these United States” and “Humor in Uniform” and the rest actually had humorous little jokes and stories in them. Uplifting, even, when the atmosphere was maybe a little more buoyant than it is now.

    Now “humor” is some kid falling off a skateboard and accomplishing a compound fracture of his tibia and fibula, to a chorus of “DUDE!”s, or a guy running an obstacle course and doing the groaning splits on a 4 x 10, or somebody’s grandmother tripping, falling and fracturing a hip at some ethnic wedding celebration — all the shit you see on “America’s Funniest Videos” and those various “Stupidest” shows, on whatever that network is.

    ‘Tis a gift to be simple,
    ‘Tis a gift to be free–
    ‘Tis a gift to come down
    Where you ought to be…

    Even Obama, and the American Colossus, have feet of clay. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feet_of_clay

  51. len says:


    Dark dark, JTMc. Here is someone who used the very system set up to free artists from exploitation taking a very large donation, then pivoting, making a cheap album (don’t know about the songwriting or performance quality), putting the donations in the bank and asking the classically trained musicians (a lifetime of work, that) to work for free while she and her promoters take the gate for will likely be at least a B-list concert tour. That’s a rip-off as we used to say back in the day. If that isn’t exploitation, I don’t know what is. Is she promising the backup players “this exposure will be good for your careers”?

    In my world, if a friend plays on a demo, it may be for fun and beers, but if I have a budget and a real studio, I am expected to pay by the session. If I play a live gig and have a backup band, I am expected to shred the natch pretty much even all around. This is the non-union stuff. I can’t imagine how she will get union players or work union halls. The freehadists will say that is exactly the world they want to change but into what?

    I agree with Lowery that an artist should be able to monetize by any means that works, but exploiting the other artists, well, this feels an awful lot like Mitt The Turnaround Man come to give us free t-shirts and coffee cups if we agree to choke the business chicken. The Incans had the ethic right: “Don’t lie. Don’t steal. Don’t be lazy.” to which one has to add, “Don’t be a sucker.”

    “The best things in life are free.
    You can keep them for the birds and bees.
    Gimme money, that’s what I want.”

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