PND Commentary

Christmas comes early for war profiteers

September 19, 2014
posted by

In These Times
by Leonard C. Goodman  

"Today, while the radical warrior cult that now calls itself Islamic State (also known as ISIS) is taking over large swaths of Iraq and Syria, our tax dollars are simultaneously supporting ISIS militants in Syria (who have been siphoning off aid intended for more moderate rebels), bombing ISIS militants in Syria and Iraq, and arming Syrian rebels and the Kurdish peshmerga to fight ISIS. It’s all win/win for the war industry and lose/lose for the American taxpayer. Corporations are amoral by design. While many good and decent people sit on corporate boards, their fiduciary responsibility is to maximize returns for shareholders, not to do right by the American people. This is why alliances between corporations and the state are historically so dangerous. Yet we have allowed corporate interests to capture both major political parties and to drive public policy, with disastrous results, including perpetual war." [editor's note: I don't disagree with Goodman, really ... I'm just surprised that he seems to think that having a state could end up any other way than with greedheads capturing it. Power attracts the power-hungry - TLK] (09/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mhbuo6c  

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Why this will be the unaccountable war

September 19, 2014
posted by

The American Prospect
by Paul Waldman  

"Yesterday the House voted 273-156 to train and equip Syrian rebels, a part of President Obama's plan to combat ISIL, and today the Senate is expected to do the same. While it might look on the surface like Congress taking a stand and accepting responsibility for this new engagement, in fact, this is likely to be a war with no accountability for any political figure other than Barack Obama himself." [editor's note: Great, and since he can't run for re-election now, nobody can be held accountable in the long run for this imperial travesty - SAT] (09/18/14)

http://prospect.org/article/why-will-be-unaccountable-war  

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An all-American ass-whoopin’

September 19, 2014
posted by

San Francisco Chronicle
by Mark Morford  

"America! You know what you need? Besides better bourbon, less Jesus and fewer conservatives? That’s right: A good whoopin’. A serious spanking. Maybe even one of those terrifying, NFL-grade spankings so vicious it raises welts and yelps and not a little blood, all administered with a belt, or a tree branch, or the backhand of wrathful ol’ Almighty himself. But don’t worry! It’s all out of love. Isn’t it always? Besides! Americans love spankings. We relish inducing fear, pain, smacking each other around to impart some sort of life lesson. ... But the creature we love to hit most of all? Those small, defenseless humans, the ones who weigh less than 50 pounds and have barely learned to walk or form complete sentences, much less understand that smacking each other out of some warped concept of 'love' is, you know, just what we do." (09/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/n7rfqqu  

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China has not one property problem, but many

September 18, 2014
posted by

Reuters
by John Foley  

"China’s real estate market is big enough that it can have not one property problem but many. A Breakingviews ranking of the forty biggest cities, according to different kinds of risks, shows there are huge differences between local markets. It’s not much consolation, though. A conflagration of regional problems could be just as bad as one big national one." (09/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/qgsefh6  

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A very British divorce?

September 18, 2014
posted by

The Nation    

"On the train north to Edinburgh, two songs kept running through my head. The first was 'Big Yellow Taxi,' Joni Mitchell’s breakup ballad with its wry warning: 'You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.' In the past two weeks the British have finally, belatedly, realized that when they wake up tomorrow morning the “Great” in the country’s name may have already gone for good. I’ve written about how Margaret Thatcher’s toxic policies, Tony Blair’s malign neglect and the bitter legacy of decades of deindustrialization brought Scotland, the cradle of Britain’s industrial revolution, to this point. But before the votes are counted, I want to acknowledge that whatever happens tomorrow, something has already been lost." (09/18/14)

http://www.thenation.com/blog/181666/very-british-divorce  

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What’s the matter With Kansas education policy?

September 18, 2014
posted by

Our Future
by Jeff Bryant  

"Since The Wizard of Oz, the term 'we’re not in Kansas anymore' has been shorthand for saying we’ve changed the usual surroundings for a new, disorienting terrain. For school children who actually live in Kansas, that would likely be a relief. Since the nation’s Great Recession, public education in Kansas has seen state funding cut repeatedly since 2009. This has left students and teachers in that state bereft of what would normally be viewed as 'the basics' by anyone who has a modicum of understanding of how to run an effective school system, with swelling class sizes and elimination of basic programs like art, music and athletics. Unfortunately, Kansas is not the only place in America where public school conditions are causing students to wish they could be transported to the yellow brick road." (09/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mcsa24c  

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Peace cannot be achieved when the state executes innocent men

September 18, 2014
posted by

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Laura Finley  

"Almost three years ago, the state of Georgia likely executed an innocent man. Despite no physical evidence connecting Troy Davis to the August 19, 1989 murder of police officer Mark MacPhail in Savannah, Georgia, despite the fact that numerous witnesses implicated Sylvester 'Redd' Coles, who was the individual to accuse Davis of the murder, despite the fact that police never seriously investigated Coles as a suspect, and despite the fact that seven of nine state trial witnesses later recanted or changed their stories, the state of Georgia went ahead with the execution of Troy Davis on September 21, 2011 ... the International Day of Peace, no less." (09/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/o2vzoov  

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The ISIS conspiracies

September 18, 2014
posted by

Reason Reason
by Jesse Walker  

"How a century's worth of anxieties about America's southern border are affecting the latest foreign-policy crisis." (09/17/14)

http://reason.com/archives/2014/09/17/the-isis-conspiracies  

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How to make ISIS fall on its own sword

September 18, 2014
posted by

The Guardian [UK]
by Chelsea E. Manning  

"Attacking Isis directly, by air strikes or special operations forces, is a very tempting option available to policymakers, with immediate (but not always good) results. Unfortunately, when the west fights fire with fire, we feed into a cycle of outrage, recruitment, organizing and even more fighting that goes back decades. This is exactly what happened in Iraq during the height of a civil war in 2006 and 2007, and it can only be expected to occur again." (09/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/leurmbt  

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Avoid classic blunder: Stay out of religious wars in Middle East

September 18, 2014
posted by

Reuters
by Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman  

"Muslims in the Middle East are fighting wars of religion. Like the carnage between Protestants and Catholics that haunted Northern Ireland during the last third of the 20th century, there is little anyone can do until local peoples crave peace so intensely they are willing to cultivate it. History shows that outside meddling only intensifies sectarian fury. Stopping internecine war begins at home. President Barack Obama imperils Americans by trying to excise an abscess that can be cured only from the inside out. The decision to re-engage in Iraq, and the wider Middle East, also contradicts the president’s other, bigger objective: to exit the nanny business." (09/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/lqwokkb  

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On Constitution Day, a reminder that political & economic chaos a good thing

September 18, 2014
posted by

Fox News Forum
by Lawson Bader  

"I am tired of pundits blaming our political and economic ills on politicians’ inability to get along. If lawmakers would only 'get together and work things out,' their line of thinking goes, the economy would improve, unemployment would evaporate, and Americans could move on with their more prosperous, more fulfilled lives. Progressives have a point when they argue that refusal to compromise on principle helped to end slavery, gain women the right to vote, and extend civil rights protections to all Americans. How, they ask, can you compromise on moral questions? And the question posed to that infamous gathering in 1789 was decidedly a moral one. Our Founders did not pledge to each other their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor simply to read Shakespeare while sipping low-tax East India Company tea." (09/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/l64sx6p  

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Stockholm syndrome, Syrian ransom

September 18, 2014
posted by

Debra J. Saunders San Francisco Chronicle
by Debra J. Saunders  

"The video of a Syrian captor beheading American freelance journalist James Foley 'has done more damage than any ransom ever could,' former Iranian hostage Sarah Shourd warned on CNN recently. Foley’s parents have been vocal about their frustration in knowing that their son remained a hostage as European countries like France paid a reported average of $3 million-plus to free their citizens. The family wants to establish an organization to provide information to other families, presumably to get around a no-ransom policy." (09/17/14)

 

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Challenging the motives behind war

September 18, 2014
posted by

C4SS Center for a Stateless Society
by Chad Nelson  

"War is hell, they say. War is a dirty business. You have to break a few eggs to make an omelet. The countless despicable metaphors used to describe war are intended to distract people from what war really is: Non-punishable mass murder. Unfortunately, no matter how reckless, depraved, ill-informed or misconceived American war-making becomess, the war-makers are never held to the same standards as run-of-the-mill murderers." (09/17/14)

http://c4ss.org/content/31804  

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Scotland’s referendum on austerity

September 18, 2014
posted by

The Nation
by John Nichols  

"Thursday’s Scottish referendum vote is often framed in terms of the politics of nationalism –- and the desire of a people for self-determination. And of course there have always been, and there still are, impassioned Scottish nationalists. But the reality that becomes overwhelmingly clear in the last hours before the referendum vote (which polls suggest will see an exceptionally high turnout and a close finish) is that this process is being shaped by the politics of austerity. This is highlighted by the campaigning of supporters of a 'yes' vote and, increasingly, this is being acknowledged in the last-minute promises being made by British Prime Minister David Cameron and the most fervent foes of a Scottish break with the United Kingdom." (09/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/l7xwjud  

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Just what America needs, more Senators who can handle themselves in a firefight

September 18, 2014
posted by

The American Prospect
by Paul Waldman  

"Let's be honest: the job of a United States senator does not involve much in the way of gunplay. There's a lot of speechifying, a lot of talking, a lot of trying to stay awake in hearings, and a whole lot of fundraising. But shooting in the course of your duties? Very little, if any at all. I suppose it's possible that we might one day see something like a scene out of a G.I. Joe movie, where terrorist commandos take over the Capitol building and the only thing standing between them and the fall of the United States of America is Barbara Mikulski and her .50-cal Desert Eagle, putting down bad guys like poison-pill amendments at a subcommittee markup...but probably not. Which is part of the reason why I love ads with candidates shooting stuff so much." (09/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mn8968e  

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Capping carbon costs nothing

September 18, 2014
posted by

Our Future Blog
by Bill Scher  

"The big climate news in advance of next week’s U.N. climate summit is a new global commission report that finds the investments needed to avert a climate crisis would likely not result in any net cost. According to the New York Times, 'an ambitious series of measures to limit emissions would cost $4 trillion or so over the next 15 years” but that’s only “an increase of roughly 5 percent over the amount that would likely be spent anyway on new power plants, transit systems and other infrastructure. ... When the secondary benefits of greener policies (like lower fuel costs, fewer premature deaths from air pollution and reduced medical bills) are taken into account, the changes might wind up saving money.'” (09/16/14)

http://ourfuture.org/20140916/capping-carbon-costs-nothing  

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Obama and peace

September 17, 2014
posted by

The Cagle Post
by Dry Bones  

Cartoon. (09/17/14)

http://www.cagle.com/2014/09/obama-and-peace/  

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No, Snowden’s leaks didn’t help the terrorists

September 17, 2014
posted by

The Intercept
by Murtaza Hussain  

"Did Edward Snowden’s revelations on NSA surveillance compromise the ability of intelligence agencies to monitor terrorist groups? Contrary to lurid claims made by U.S. officials, a new independent analysis of the subject says no. ... These findings are notable both for empirical rigor through which they ascertained, as well as their contradiction of apparently baseless statements made by high-ranking U.S. officials regarding the impact of the leaks on U.S. national security. This is particularly important as it pertains to the ongoing public debate over the alleged threat of ISIS." (09/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/q3gpuj3  

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The second Cold War is here

September 17, 2014
posted by

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Alexander Reid Ross  

"In October 2013, David Patraeus came out with an amazingly imaginative work called 'How We Won in Iraq.' Detailing the ways that US counterinsurgency rebuilt Iraq out of the rubble of a failed State, in pursuit of truth, unity, and the democratic way. Somewhat prophetically, Patraeus looks to the transfer of power with an ominous analysis of long-term strategy in Iraq. With the rise of ISIS, one thing is for certain; the US absolutely did not win in Iraq -- at least not in the manner that Patraeus claims to have won." (09/17/14)

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/09/17/the-second-cold-war-is-here/  

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In Scotland, “aye” means no to England

September 17, 2014
posted by

Debra J. Saunders San Francisco Chronicle
by Debra J. Saunders  

"'Should Scotland be an independent country?' reads the referendum on which Scotland will vote Thursday. Voters have two choices: yes or no. Queen Elizabeth II went so far as to tell Scots on Sunday, 'I hope people will think very carefully about the future.' The queen was savvy to urge Scots to look ahead, not behind." (09/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/ovob7be  

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Rail workers rebel against single-person crews

September 17, 2014
posted by

In These Times
by Kari Lydersen  

"Railroad workers scored a victory last week in a years-long battle over the introduction of single-person crews on freight trains, a move that railroad workers say is a recipe for disaster. On September 10, a unit of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air and Rail Transportation Workers (SMART) union announced that members had voted down a proposed contract which would have allowed the railroad company BNSF to run more than half its trains with just one worker on board. BNSF and other railroad companies assert that automation and modern controls on tracks mean freight trains can be safely and efficiently operated by only one engineer, a change that would essentially eliminate the position of the conductor." [editor's note: Just curious, but what does the "conductor" do on a freight train? No tickets to collect, no stops to announce ... - SAT] [additional editor's note: You might be surprised, Steve -- look it up! - TLK] (09/15/14)

http://tinyurl.com/ncpxznl  

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Republicans (sort of) support Obama on ISIL

September 17, 2014
posted by

The American Prospect
by Paul Waldman  

"For months, when you asked Republicans what they wanted to do about ISIL, they would be quick to assure everyone that they didn't want to deploy large numbers of ground troops. Trainers, intelligence folks, coordinators, sure -- but they're very clear that they aren't advocating a re-invasion of Iraq. Whether their reticence about ground troops has its roots in the politics of renewing a desperately unpopular war, or it's because they genuinely believe it would be a bad idea, they were unambiguous on that point. What they did advocate was arming and training Syrian rebels." (09/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/noxhso6  

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Young, black & guilty until proven innocent

September 16, 2014
posted by

Our Future Blog
by Terrance Heath  

"The New York Times informed us that Michael Brown was 'no angel.' When being young and black is to be guilty until proven innocent, black children must be 'angelic' just to be worthy ofliving. The Times initially defended its “no angel” assessment of Michael Brown’s young life, which ran on the day of Brown’s funeral. National Editor Allison Mitchell said the description connected to the lead paragraph about a moment when Brown thought he saw an angel, and that the article would have been written the same way if it had been about a young white man in the same situation. The Times eventually apologized, but the article is typical of a media pattern of treating white suspects and killers better than black victims." (09/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mhtkobv  

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Scotland: Canary in the independence coal mine?

September 16, 2014
posted by

Reuters [UK]
by Mark Leonard  

"Scotland’s drive to independence has been interpreted by many as a throwback to ancient identity politics, but many of the trends on display in the Scottish referendum have more to do with the politics of the future than those of the past. The polls show that this week’s vote is too close to call. There is still a chance that the 'No' campaign will ultimately prevail -- something that I dearly hope will happen both for the sake of the Scots and the rest of the Britain. But whatever the result of the vote, I think we must recognize that the 'Yes' campaign has done more to shape the agenda of Scottish politics. And it is the forces it tapped into that will also change politics around the world." (09/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/pnenvw6  

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Can the US defeat ISIS without bombs?

September 16, 2014
posted by

The Nation
by Katrina vanden Heuvel  

"What’s the best US response to ISIS? That’s the question that Katrina vanden Heuvel and Rich Lowry of National Review tackle on this episode of the radio program Both Sides Now. Vanden Heuvel explains that 'when there are no military solutions the alternative is not nothing.' For vanden Heuvel, patience and diplomacy have fallen out of favor -- yet she affirms the fact that there are voices of dissent going against the current jingoistic, hawk-like calls for increased militarism." (09/15/14)

http://tinyurl.com/l5gt3pn  

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