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Hometown: Xenia, OH
Member since: Tue Sep 19, 2006, 04:46 PM
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It would indeed be "even nicer" if the sponsors and suppliers of all sides stopped supporting the


When Assad choose continued repression as his response to the public protests of 2011, I imagine he did not envision a civil war resulting. His father had crushed an outbreak of resistance in 1982 with the loss of a 'mere' 40,000 dead. Bashar probably thought the same would happen in 2011.

Please don't reply with anything coming from Juan Cole, don't care if it starts with "the sky is blue". I would disregard anything he says as complete fabrication and western propaganda.

Informed Comment blog

Since 2002, Cole has published the blog Informed Comment, covering "History, Middle East, South Asia, Religious Studies, and the War on Terror". Blog entries include comments on widely reported articles in Western media, summaries of important articles from Arabic and Israeli news sources, and letters and discussions with both critics and supporters.

The blog has won various awards; as of April 2006 the most prominent is the 2005 James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism from Hunter College. It has also received two 2004 Koufax Awards: the "Best Expert Blog" and the "Best Blog Post". It has since dropped off the list, but Informed Comment has been ranked as the 99th most popular blog on the Internet by Technorati on October 21, 2006. Cole was a strong critic of the George W. Bush administration and is one of the most respected foreign policy commentators amongst left-wing bloggers.


Generally speaking, Cole approaches the Middle East and West Asia from the point of view of anti-colonialism. Viewing the USA as a colonialist power, he sees it as defending the post-World War I "Sykes-Picot/Balfour architecture" (described as "a colossal failure") against Arab nationalist or pan-Islamic challengers. These foundered for various reasons, especially "particularism". The U.S., like previous empires, seeks to take advantage of such internal rivalries in order to "divide and rule". Terrorism, he explains (after comparing several countries in the region), is the result of foreign occupation in combination with weak states.

Cole tends to value multinational (and especially UN) initiatives over unilateral military ones. He favors multi-ethnic states over separatist movements. Given his background in the 1960s and 1970s religious counter-culture, he views Islam (along with other religions) as essentially good, but distorted by certain of its political appropriators (and critics).

CIA harassment allegations

In 2011, James Risen reported in The New York Times that, "Glenn L. Carle, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer who was a top counterterrorism official during the administration of President George W. Bush, said the White House at least twice asked intelligence officials to gather sensitive information" on Cole "in order to discredit him". "In an interview, Mr. Carle said his supervisor at the National Intelligence Council told him in 2005 that White House officials wanted 'to get' Professor Cole, and made clear that he wanted Mr. Carle to collect information about him, an effort Mr. Carle rebuffed. Months later, Mr. Carle said, he confronted a C.I.A. official after learning of another attempt to collect information about Professor Cole. Mr. Carle said he contended at the time that such actions would have been unlawful."


You and I are entitled to disagree with "left-wing", "anti-colonialist" bloggers all we want. That does not make them "Western propagandists". And, yes, the sky is blue in Syria; just like it is here.

Newest Immigrants Assimilating as Fast as Previous Ones, Report Says

The newest generations of immigrants are assimilating into American society as fast and broadly as the previous ones, with their integration increasing over time “across all measurable outcomes,” according to a report published on Monday by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

Immigrants’ education levels, the diversity of their jobs, their wages and their mastery of English improved as they lived for more time in the United States, and the gains were even greater for their American-born children, the report concluded.

“The force of integration is strong,” said Mary C. Waters, a sociologist at Harvard who led the panel of 18 immigration scholars who wrote the more than 400-page report. “However we do it, we are good at it,” she said.

Professor Waters said the report should allay fears that recent immigrants committed crimes more frequently than Americans, that they were generally in poor health and burden public health care systems, or that they were failing to learn English.


Another GOP talking point bites the dust. Not that a study will do anything to moderate their "be afraid of immigrants" scare tactic.

The right's display of Schadenfreude towards liberal Europeans in the refugee crisis.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban doesn’t give a hoot about the refugees. He’s using them for his own purposes – to stir nationalist sentiments and historic hatred of Muslims – Hungary was under the Turkish rule for some 150 years until 1699. The Hungarians respond well to Orban’s belligerent nationalist rhetoric. His government has an overwhelming majority in parliament. An even more rabid party, Jobbik – whose platform revolves around a promise to kick the country’s sizable Roma minority out – is also quite popular.

In other countries with right-wing governments, the sentiment is depressingly similar. For instance in Russia, where President Vladimir Putin is enjoying an 86% support rating and seems set to rule for life. Or, more surprisingly, in Israel, where the Likud’s own Benjamin Netanyahu also looks like a lifelong leader.

In both countries, there has been undisguised display of Schadenfreude. Now those liberal Europeans, who have always counseled us so generously to behave better, will be hoisted on their own petards.

In this view, the Europeans will be overwhelmed by the ignorant and vicious Muslim hordes, they’ll suffer from terrorist attacks by jihadists, they’ll knock on Russia’s door begging it to let them move to Siberia, they’ll study Israel’s experience on how to keep those Muslims "in their place", etc.


Europe's right does seem to be benefitting from the refugee crisis and undoubtedly does enjoy watching liberal Europe try to deal with the largest flow of refugees since WWII.

Of course the right seems to benefit anytime there any problems in Europe or here. They thrive on, play up and hope for more economic and social difficulties for their societies so that people will look to them as a viable alternative. And it often works. Economic catastrophe in Greece has increased the popularity of Golden Dawn. The Charlie Hebdo attack plays into the hands of the French National Front.

As with domestic American politics, the question arises as to what liberals should do. Do we work to improve the planning and implementation of liberal policies in a complicated world? Or do we adopt the policies that the right promotes (often easy to express and understand - build a wall or kick/keep them all out) in order to keep the right from winning elections? I know which I prefer.

Juan Cole: Obama as Grandmaster of Grand Strategy: Containing China

Since he took office in 2009, Obama has faced an unremitting chorus of criticism, left and right, domestic and foreign, dismissing him as hapless, even hopeless. “He’s a poor ignoramus; he should read and study a little to understand reality,” said Venezuela’s leftist president Hugo Chavez, just months after Obama’s inauguration. “I think he has projected a position of weakness and… a lack of leadership,” claimed Republican Senator John McCain in 2012. “After six years,” opined a commentator from the conservative Heritage Foundation last April, “he still displays a troubling misunderstanding of power and the leadership role the United States plays in the international system.”

Viewed historically, Obama has set out to correct past foreign policy excesses and disasters, largely the product of imperial overreach, that can be traced to several generations of American leaders bent on the exercise of unilateral power. Within the spectrum of American state power, he has slowly shifted from the coercion of war, occupation, torture, and other forms of unilateral military action toward the more cooperative realm of trade, diplomacy, and mutual security — all in search of a new version of American supremacy.

Moving from repair to revival, from past to future, President Obama has been using America’s status as the planet’s number one consumer nation to create a new version of dollar diplomacy. His strategy is aimed at drawing China’s Eurasian trading partners back into Washington’s orbit. While Beijing has been moving to bring parts of Africa, Asia, and Europe into a unified “world island” with China at its epicenter, Obama has countered with a bold geopolitics that would trisect that vast land mass by redirecting its trade towards the United States.

Once we subject other American leaders to a similar calculus of costs and benefits, we are, surprisingly enough, left with just three grandmasters of geopolitics: Elihu Root, the original architect of America’s rise to global power; Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security adviser to President Carter, who shattered the Soviet Empire, making the U.S. the world’s sole superpower; and Barack Obama, who is defending that status and offering a striking imperial blueprint for how to check China’s rise. In each case, their maneuvers have been supple and subtle enough that they have eluded both contemporary observers and later historians.


Obama's shift "from the coercion of war, occupation, torture, and other forms of unilateral military action toward the more cooperative realm of trade, diplomacy, and mutual security" has been too slow for many and not flashy enough capture the attention of 'contemporary observers'.

I hope the shift to "trade, diplomacy, and mutual security" which Obama has embodied survives the transition to the next president. If the next one is a republican much of that will undoubtedly be reversed. Another Democrat, OTOH, might well continue the trend and improve on it.

Add a step #6 to the "Assad strategy" for dealing with the opposition to dictators.

1: When massive peaceful protests occur, repress them as them as violently as you can get away with - snipers, arrests, torture, etc.
2. This may work to quell the protests. If so, reward your military and security services and go back to being a dictator.
3. If #1 doesn't work right away and massive peaceful protests continue, keep up the repression. (You have to come up with a strategy to keep the international community at bay. A friend on the Security Council is useful for this.) Start talking about the presence of "criminal gangs" or "terrorists" among the protestors. There may not be any yet, but it's good to get the talking point out there for future use.
4. If your military and security forces continue to prove to be ineffective in suppressing dissent, don't worry. Keep up the armed repression. Eventually frustration will build up among factions of the protesters and some will become willing to resort to violence given the apparent futility of peaceful protest. Or outside groups will begin to take advantage of these frustrations.
5. At this point you can unleash your military and security forces to the full extent and hope you don't lose the civil war you have created.
6. If your military seems to be losing the civil war you have created, appeal to appeal to the international community to help you fight the terrorists - who weren't there in step #1 but are now.

I think this is a strategy that is workable in many repressive countries when populations get fed up with living with no rights.


This is from a 3/3/12 post.

UK union wants to keep EU's "series of labor rights, including limits on excessive hours, rules on

work-life balance and health and safety protections."

Apparently Prime Minister Cameron wants reduced EU worker protections to be applied to the UK if it is to remain a member of the EU.

Of course, the left - particularly under Corbyn - wants nothing to do with reduced worker protections. Indeed, the EU's social and labor policies are what many on the left, including Corbyn, find best about membership in the EU.

Trade union members could vote for UK to leave European Union
Union leaders at TUC conference say members could vote no in referendum if PM undermines employment safeguards

Millions of trade union members could vote against the UK staying in the EU if the government waters down workers’ rights.

Leading unions at the TUC annual conference in Brighton will say on Tuesday that if David Cameron undermines employment safeguards in his renegotiation of Britain’s EU membership their members could vote no in any referendum.

Steve Turner, the TUC’s international spokesman, will tell delegates: “We hope that Cameron’s efforts to weaken workers’ rights will fail but if they do not, we are issuing a warning to the prime minister: you will lose our members’ votes to stay in the EU, by worsening workers’ rights.”

A statement by the TUC general council, released before the debate due to take place on Tuesday afternoon, said that thanks to EU directives workers enjoyed a series of rights, including limits on excessive hours, rules on work-life balance and health and safety protections.


MJ: Nativists weren't always the kind of people who attended tea party rallies and watched Fox News.

The 5 Times America Elected Donald Trump

If you can't believe that Donald Trump is still the GOP front-runner, then consider this: America has elected the likes of The Donald before. There are, deep in our history, plenty of men who brazenly exploited nativist sentiments to win the White House or strengthen their grip on the office. Here are five US presidents who, if they lived today, might, in Trump's words, "make America great again."

Theodore Roosevelt

Nativists weren't always the kind of people who attended tea party rallies and watched Fox News. In the early 1900s, some of the strongest opposition to immigration came from the labor unions that helped usher Theodore Roosevelt into the White House. In his first Congressional address, Roosevelt called for requiring immigrants to meet a "certain standard of economic fitness" and pass a literacy test—a measure that would effectively exclude many Southern and Eastern Europeans. After meeting stiff congressional resistance, Roosevelt brokered a compromise that established an immigrant head tax of $4 and created the Dillingham Commission, an investigative panel stacked with nativist legislators. Its reports accused Southern and Eastern European immigrants of displacing native workers, living in crowded and unclean housing, and performing poorly in school. Unlike Trump, however, Roosevelt never signed a GOP loyalty pledge. Instead, he left the Republican Party in 1912 and formed his own.

Warren Harding

Before "Make America Great Again," there was "America First!"—the slogan that in 1920 swept Harding and his fellow Republicans to power on a platform of curtailing a tide of immigrants from politically unstable parts of Europe. Harding signed the Emergency Immigration Act of 1921, effectively cutting in half the number of immigrants admitted into the United States. The act also favored immigrant groups from Northern European countries while steeply limiting immigration from other parts of the world. "I don't know much about Americanism," Harding later said, "but it's a damn good word with which to carry an election."

Herbert Hoover

Hoover proved that rich guys with no experience in elected office can become president and that America can be for Americans. At the dawn of the Great Depression, he issued an executive order calling for the "strict enforcement" of a clause of the Immigration Act that barred the admission of immigrants who were "likely to become a public charge." Turning away virtually all working-class immigrants, his administration slashed legal immigration from 242,000 people in 1931 to 36,000 the following year. And Hoover stepped up raids on the homes and workplaces of undocumented immigrants, causing more than 121,000 people, most of them from Mexico, to leave the United States. Hoover touted his record on immigration during the 1932 election, but it ultimately wasn't enough to keep him from getting thrown out of office by a bunch of LOSERS who had been FIRED.


The other two presidents mentioned were John Adams and Woodrow Wilson.

"But presenting people with the best available science doesn’t seem to change many minds."

Viewed from afar, the world seems almost on the brink of conceding that there are no truths, only competing ideologies — narratives fighting narratives. In this epistemological warfare, hthose with the most power are accused of imposing their version of reality — the “dominant paradigm” — on the rest, leaving the weaker to fight back with formulations of their own. Everything becomes a version.

Altruism and compassion toward the feelings of others represent the best of human impulses. And it is good to continually challenge rigid categories and entrenched beliefs. But that comes at a sacrifice when the subjective is elevated over the assumption that lurking out there is some kind of real world.

The widening gyre of beliefs is accelerated by the otherwise liberating Internet. At the same time it expands the reach of every mind, it channels debate into clashing memes, often no longer than 140 characters, that force people to extremes and trap them in self-reinforcing bubbles of thought.

UN: Assad, ISIL, al-Qaeda committing Mass Atrocities, Endangering Int’l Security

Mass atrocities by Government forces and non-State armed groups continue to take place in Syria, causing immeasurable suffering to civilians and contributing to a spillover of violence affecting international peace and stability, a United Nations-appointed panel said today.

The Commission reported that “members of ISIS have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in Aleppo and Ar-Raqqah governorates including acts of torture, murder, enforced disappearances and forcible displacement.”

Other non-State armed groups continue to commit violations, including summary executions and shelling deliberately targeting civilians. For instance, Homs city has been rocked by over a dozen car bombs since this April. The armed group Jabhat Al-Nusra has claimed responsibility for some of these attacks. Meanwhile, armed groups continue to shell Government-controlled areas of Aleppo and Damascus, causing civilian deaths and injuries.

The report stated that the Government also commits violations, including war crimes and crimes against humanity, with impunity. Between January and July, hundreds of men, women and children were killed every week by the Government’s indiscriminate firing of missiles and barrel bombs into civilian-inhabited areas. In some instances, there is clear evidence that civilian gatherings were deliberately targeted, constituting massacres, as detailed in the report. Hospitals in restive areas continue to be targeted and Government forces refused to allow aid deliveries of essential medicines and surgical supplies. Humanitarian aid continued to be obstructed as a weapon of war. Meanwhile, in Government prisons, detainees were subjected to horrific torture and sexual assault. The methods employed and conditions of detention support the Commission’s long-standing findings of systematic torture and mass deaths of detainees.

Several States continue to deliver mass shipments of arms, artillery and aircraft to the Syrian Government, or contribute with logistical and strategic assistance. Meanwhile, other States, organizations and individuals support armed groups with weapons and financial support. The weapons they transfer to the warring parties in Syria are used in the perpetration of war crimes. The Commission is recommending the imposition of an arms embargo and called on the international community to curb the proliferation and supply of weapons.


Be happy to. There is plenty more where these came from just don't tell the GOP.

They have a meme to stick to.

Cracking down harder on illegal immigrants (auditing "illegal employers")


Nobody has been fired from ROC Commercial Cleaning in Oakdale -- at least not yet. Since they got word that federal immigration officials are poring over the company's employment records, some janitors have simply quit.

His company is one of at least nine businesses across the Twin Cities undergoing a so-called immigration audit, part of the Obama administration's national crackdown on employers using undocumented workers. At least 2,000 people in the Twin Cities have lost their jobs in the last 18 months as a result of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) finding that they couldn't prove their eligibility to work in the United States.

The results of ICE's audits offer a warning to businesses, especially those using low-skill workers:

•The number of audits jumped more than 50 percent last year to about 2,200 from 1,444 in 2009.

Criminal arrests of employers have jumped 45 percent since 2008. Of the 196 employers arrested last year, 42 have been sent to prison so far, with sentences ranging from time served to 3 1/2 years. Many cases are pending.

A local union is calling the firings an attack on the immigrant community. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 26 in St. Paul, which represents about 5,000 local janitors and maintenance staff, is holding a vigil Sunday at Incarnation Church in south Minneapolis.


Obama holds record for cracking down on employers who hire undocumented workers

Under Bush, workplace raids on factories and meatpacking plants received much attention. But after Obama took office, the Department of Homeland Security unveiled a new strategy and ditched the workplace raids, which also tended to punish employees, in favor of "paper raids" -- I-9 paperwork audits of employers to determine if they complied with employment eligibility verification laws.

The change was dramatic: the number of I-9 audits soared from 503 in 2008 to more than 8,000 in 2009.

Under Obama, ICE announced sanctions against major employers. That included a $1 million fine against Abercrombie and Fitch that grew out of an I-9 inspection and the termination of hundreds of workers at Chipotle restaurants.

In 2007, ICE arrested 92 employers, while in 2012 it arrested 240, according to ICE. Final orders -- rulings at the end of the case which show employers violated hiring rules -- also increased under Obama. In 2007, there were two final orders, while in 2012 there were 495.

Obama shifted away from Bush’s strategy of workplace raids and turned the focus on employers. Between 2008 and 2009, immigration audits soared from 503 to more than 8,000.


Last but not least here is the White House's own page on "Cracking Down on Employers Hiring Undocumented Workers"


U.S. deportations of immigrants reach record high in 2013

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