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Special Olympics Athletes Compete At Southampton High School

A great day for the athletes and the kids. Thank you Brian Tenety and the staff and school for all their hard work making this a success!" May 18, 15 4:08 PM

Zeldin: Anti-Semitism On The Rise In United States

yes, it is. and yes, I'm still here." Jul 11, 15 9:02 PM

How Israel Used F-16s and High-Tech Soldiers to Devastate Gaza
By Max Blumenthal / Nation Books

The following is an excerpt from Max Blumenthal's new book, The 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza (Nation Books, 2015).

46 days into Operation Protective edge in Gaza, Israel was attacking with renewed ferocity. From my room, with the windows shut tight and the industrial fan cranked up to maximum speed, I could still hear the roar of F-16 jets as they coasted by, and could count the seconds before they struck their target—perhaps a rocket launching site or maybe some innocent family’s home. I managed to drift off for a few hours before being ripped from my sleep by a series of explosions. It was 6 a.m. and the sun was beginning to rise over the Mediterranean.

I checked the Twitter timelines of local Gaza accounts for information on the bombings and found that most were reporting on a strike on a four-story home owned by Abu Hussein Kallab, a businessman in Rafah whose factory had been destroyed in a separate strike. Over a dozen bodies had been extracted from the rubble, including a little girl who had survived with a mouth full of concrete shards. The ferocity of the airstrike was on par with the attack aimed at Deif, a massive concentration of force on a single home that suggested top-level targets were inside.

By late morning, I learned that the dead bodies extracted from the rubble included three top Qassam Brigades commanders who had gathered inside the building to coordinate strategy. They were Raed al-Attar, the Qassam southern commander who oversaw operations in Rafah, his colleague, Mohammed Abu Shamaleh, and Mohammed Barhoum. Having led several operations in the field, including the tunnel ambush codenamed “Shattered Illusion” that brought the Israeli tank gunner Gilad Shalit into captivity, Abu Shamaleh was considered as a possible successor to Ahmad Jaabari when he was assassinated in 2012. Attar, for his part, was among Gaza’s most revered figures for masterminding of the attack that captured Shalit. The deal for Shalit’s release produced wild celebration across Palestine, but particularly in Gaza, as over a thousand prisoners were freed from Israeli jails and reunited with their families. Attar’s hero status had been secured, as had his death sentence.

For his part, Barhoum was a veteran Qassam operative who helped coordinate the transfer of weapons through the tunnel network at Rafah. The three commanders played an arguably more important role than the partially crippled Deif in the dayto-day field operations of the Qassam Brigades. Indeed, Attar had overseen the operation to capture Lt. Hadar Goldin and was rumored to be one of the few people in Gaza who knew the whereabouts of Goldin’s body.

With these assassinations, it seemed that the war would drag on endlessly. I was running low on cash and with the bombs falling again, my freedom of movement was severely compromised. That afternoon, I took a taxi to the Erez crossing and prepared to leave Gaza for a few days.

Inside the cavernous Israeli-run terminal, as I handed my passport to a young female COGAT administrator, she began pounding frantically on the bulletproof glass that separated us, ordering me to take shelter. A few seconds later, I heard something explode in the distance, likely a mortar round or rocket fired from Beit Hanoun. Watching well-protected Israeli soldiers panic was a surreal experience after witnessing the wholesale destruction they wreaked across Gaza.

In the parking lot outside Erez, an Israeli news crew from Channel 1 intercepted me and peppered me with questions about what I had seen inside Gaza. Did I see rockets fired from civilian areas? Was Hamas using human shields? What about the tunnels? Realizing this was more an interrogation session than an interview, I quickly found a taxi and headed straight to Ramallah.

That same afternoon in Rafah, 15,000 mourners marched through the streets of the war-torn southern city with the bodies of the three commanders wrapped in green Hamas burial shrouds. On sidewalks and in squares, men cried openly for the loss of those they saw as guardians of their city while colleagues of the three fallen commanders offered defiant tributes to them in a local mosque.

Attar and Abu Shamaleh had survived an assassination attempt in 2003 with the help of local farmers who hid them in an olive grove while Apache helicopters hunted them down. A year later, when Israeli Special Forces raided Abu Shamaleh’s home, his neighbors helped him escape through the narrow lanes of central Rafah. This time, however, someone in the neighborhood had furnished the men’s location to Israel’s Shin Bet. Someone had been compromised by the intelligence services and induced into becoming a collaborator.

“My dad has spent his life fighting for the liberation of Palestine and today, my dad—they assassinated him,” Abu Shamaleh’s pre-teen daughter, Raba, told a local camera crew at her father’s funeral. With tears streaming down her face, the distraught girl said, “It’s all because of the collaborators and spies! And I tell my dad, God rest his soul, we’ll go after them and we’ll kill them.”

The wartime anger directed at the occupier suddenly turned towards the traitors burrowing from within. The day after Abu Shamaleh, Attar, and Barhoum’s assassination, a group of twenty-five accused collaborators that included two women was brought before a public crowd in al-Katiba Park in Gaza City. They appeared wearing masks, their identities concealed to guard their families from societal castigation. And then they were lined up against a wall and shot to death by members of the Qassam Brigades.

Photos of the execution were promptly disseminated to the media, presumably in hopes that the images would quell the anger overflowing across Gaza, and also as a warning to the collaborators who remained on the loose. Netanyahu’s office seized on the execution scenes to portray Hamas as a gang of medieval fanatics no less barbaric than ISIS. By extension, he cast himself as the leader of the Westernized outpost on the front line against what he later described as “a world-wide network of militant Islamists” that “all share this fanatic ideology; they all have not only unbridled ambitions but also savage methods.”

The image of spies dragged before firing squads is common throughout history, particularly among anti-colonial and revolutionary movements. But its appearance in Gaza exposed a depressing reality that was only discussed in whispers. Those who were executed had likely been among the most desperate of Gaza’s dispossessed population. And before they became spies, they had been spied upon by the Israeli surveillance and cyberwarfare outfit known as Unit 8200.

An intelligence corps embedded within the Israeli military, Unit 8200 consists of several thousand of the army’s most highly educated, technologically sophisticated soldiers. It is, in fact, the army’s largest unit, comparable in its size and function to the US National Security Agency (NSA). Much of Unit 8200’s work entails spying on everyone from Hezbollah and Hamas operatives to American citizens—the NSA handed over thousands of emails and phone communications to Unit 8200 of Arab and Palestinian-Americans, according to journalist James Bamford. In Gaza, Unit 8200 works with the Shin Bet to cultivate spies by compromising residents of the strip who might have fallen into difficult circumstances.

In a bracing September 12, 2014 joint letter declaring their refusal to serve any longer in the military, Unit 8200 veterans detailed how they preyed on innocent Palestinians, exploiting the weakest and blackmailing the most vulnerable. “If you’re homosexual and know someone who knows a wanted person, Israel will make your life miserable,” one of the Unit 8200 whistle-blowers explained to a reporter at the Guardian. “If you need emergency medical treatment in Israel, the West Bank or abroad—we searched for you. The state of Israel will allow you to die before we let you leave for treatment without giving information on your wanted cousin. If you interest Unit 8200 and don’t have anything to do with any hostile activity, you’re [still] an objective.”

“All Palestinians are exposed to non-stop monitoring without any legal protection,” the letter read. “Any Palestinian may be targeted and may suffer from sanctions such as the denial of permits, harassment, extortion, or even direct physical injury.” There was not a shred of sympathy to be found anywhere in Gaza for the poor souls who had fallen into circumstances that led them to collaborate. Though the Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights condemned the executions of the accused spies, a clear consensus in Gaza supported the death sentences. If I heard any dissenting opinions around Gaza, they were from those who believed the collaborators should not only have been executed, but brutalized as well.

Once again, Palestinians were pitted against one another through the machinations of their occupier. Palestinians killed Palestinians who had gotten Palestinians killed while Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas undercut the negotiating position of Hamas. Back in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu heaped praise on Shin Bet Chief Yoram Cohen for orchestrating the assassinations, while Amos Harel, military correspondent for the zealously anti-Netanyahu newspaper, Haaretz, proclaimed: “Assassinations of Hamas commanders could make Netanyahu the hero.”

But Israel was hardly finished. As the war entered its denouement in the final week of August, the military readied a series of dramatic strikes aimed at the heart of Gaza City. The goal this time was to set the stage for the war’s aftermath by provoking Gaza’s middle class against Hamas.

Reprinted with permission from Nation Books -All Rights Reserved. 2015

Max Blumenthal is a senior writer for AlterNet, and the award-winning author of Goliath and Republican Gomorrah. Find him on Twitter at @MaxBlumenthal.
" Jul 11, 15 10:50 PM

Settlements, Iran and Hamas: Hillary Clinton's Israel policy

However, while Clinton is perceived as a long time Israel supporter, there were some controversial moments throughout her career which have cast doubt on the firmness of her position.

One of those instances occurred in 1988, when she joined her husband and then President Bill Clinton for a visit in the Gaza Strip. During their stay, Mrs. Clinton joined Suha Arafat, the widow of Yasser Arafat, for a visit at a kindergarten in the Palestinian territories, where she listened to Arafat openly accuse Israel of fouling the drinking water supply for Palestinians with uranium.

After the remarks, Clinton embraced Arafat and kissed her on the cheeks, a photo that made headlines around the world. Clinton's official condemnation of Arafat's remarks was made only on the subsequent day, prompting the left-wing in Israel to accuse her of support of the Palestinians.

In 1999, when Clinton was running for senator, she told Jewish leaders she considers Jerusalem "the eternal and indivisible capital" of Israel - a statement she later partially backtracked on - adding that she will advocate moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

In a letter she wrote at the time, she said that "If I am chosen by New Yorkers to be their senator, or in whatever position I find myself in the years to come, you can be sure that I will be an active, committed advocate for a strong and secure Israel, able to live in peace with its neighbors, with the United States Embassy located in its capital, Jerusalem."

Clinton visited Israel again in 2005, this time as a senator. During a trip to the West Bank, she voiced her support of Israel's separation barrier, saying: "This is not against the Palestinian people. This is against the terrorists. The Palestinian people have to help to prevent terrorism. They have to change the attitudes about terrorism."

In 2006, Clinton spoke at a pro-Israel rally outside of the United Nations headquarters in New York, and expressed her support for Israel's retaliation efforts in the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict. The senator condemned Hamas and Hezbollah, saying: "We are here to show solidarity and support for Israel. We will stand with Israel, because Israel is standing for American values as well as Israeli ones."

Clinton also condemned Palestinian textbooks, saying they indoctrinate children towards incitement, and fail to provide them with an education.

"I believe that education is one of the keys to lasting peace in the Middle East... there still has not been an adequate repudiation of incitement by the Palestinian Authority. It is even more disturbing that the problem appears to have gotten worse. These textbooks don't give Palestinian children an education, they give them an indoctrination," she said.

After failing to win the Democratic nomination, losing out to now-President Obama, Clinton was appointed secretary of state, during which time she attempted to restart peace talks and embraced the standard American position towards Israel, but taking a hard-line against settlements.

Nonetheless, Clinton made it clear in 2009 that a halt on settlement construction in the West Bank was not a pre-condition for the resumption of talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

"There has never been a pre-condition. It's always been an issue within the negotiations," Clinton said about the settlements.

"I want to see both sides as soon as possible begin in negotiations," said Clinton. "Both president Obama and I are committed to a comprehensive peace agreement."
In 2011, Clinton made comments showing a shift on her stance on Israel's capital when she was senator, warning against American action towards recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, saying that it would jeopardize the peace process.

Also in 2011, Clinton said that the path to a two-state solution creating a Palestinian state beside Israel runs through Jerusalem and Ramallah, not through New York - a refrence to the Palestinian's attempt to attain statehood through the UN.

Speaking at a news conference at the time, Clinton repeated the US view that the Palestinians should not seek full membership in the United Nations and instead should resume direct talks with the Israelis.

"We need an environment that is conducive to direct negotiations," she said. "We all know that no matter what happens or doesn't happen at the UN the next day is not going to result the kind of changes the United States wishes to see that will move us toward the two state solution that we strongly support.
In 2012, the then Secretary of State reiterated her stance that the Palestinian Authority "took a step in wrong direction" with its UN bid, but also called on Israel to make efforts to advance peace talks.

"America supports the goal of a Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel but this week's vote at the UN won't bring the Palestinians any closer to that goal," she said. "President Abbas took a step in the wrong direction this week . We opposed his resolution. But we also need to see that the PA in the west bank still offers the most compelling alternative to rockets and resistance.

"Israel needs to help those committed to peace," she added, referring to Abbas and then-Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad, whom she lauded for their achievements in overhauling institutions in the PA and cooperating with Israel over security.

Speaking at the 2012 Saban Forum, Clinton recalled how late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat rejected then-prime minister Ehud Barak's peace proposal at Camp David, and how Arafat called her husband, Bill Clinton, years later, after the latter was no longer in office, and asked to accept the deal.

"And Bill says, 'well, that's terrific, why don’t you call the white house and tell them that,'" she recounted.
Bill Clinton:
Rabin inspired trust even in Arafat

Former American president talks about the role he played in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and shares stories about his friend Itzhak Rabin.
Read full op-ed by Bill Clinton

In other comments during that speech, she also warned Israel that it could not use the protection of the Iron Dome as a long-term solution.

"A strong Israeli military is always essential, but no defense is perfect. And over the long run, nothing would do more to secure Israel’s future as a Jewish, democratic state than a comprehensive peace," Clinton said, attempting to explain that a two-state solution was the only solution for Israel's future.

Tough love

Alongside heartfelt conclusions of friendly ties with Israel, Clinton spared no criticism of Israeli diplomacy, saying that nothing will ensure the future of Israel than peace: "Without peace, Israel will be forced to build ever more powerful defenses against ever more dangerous rockets.

"And without peace, the inexorable math of demographics will, one day, force Israelis to choose between preserving their democracy and remaining a Jewish homeland.
Also in 2012, Clinton said that "protecting Israel's future is not simply a matter of policy for me, it's personal. I know with all my heart how important it is that our relation goes from strength to strength. I am looking forward to returning to Israel as a private citizen on a commercial plane."

In 2013, the secretary of state delivered a stinging rebuke to Prime Minister Netanyahu for his government's announcement of new Jewish housing in east Jerusalem.

In an interview with CNN, Clinton said the move was "insulting" to the US. "We have to make clear to our Israeli friends and partner that the two-state solution which we support, which the prime minister himself said he supports, requires confidence-building measures on both sides," she said.
Clinton sat down for another interview with CNN in 2014 in which she criticized Israel's settlement activity, saying it is her "biggest complaint with the Israeli government." "I am a strong supporter of Israel, strong supporter of their right to defend themselves. But the continuing settlements which have been denounced by successive American administrations on both sides of the aisle are clearly a terrible signal to send if at the same time you claim you're looking for a two-state solution. "

Later that year, Clinton recapped her years as secretary of state in an informal farewell party by Israeli American businessman Haim Saban, where she spoke with affection of the State of Israel, saying that defending Israel was not only a policy issue but also a personal one.

"Protecting Israel’s future is not simply a question of policy for me, it’s personal. I’ve talked with some of you I’ve know for a while about the first trip Bill and I took to Israel so many years ago, shortly after our daughter was born.

"And I have seen the great accomplishments," Clinton added; "the pride of the desert blooming and the start-ups springing up. I’ve held hands with the victims of terrorism in their hospital rooms, visited a bombed-out pizzeria in Jerusalem, walked along the fence near Gilo. And I know with all my heart how important it is that our relationship go from strength to strength."
In an interview with the Atlantic published in 2014, Clinton offered strong support for Israel and for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, after Israel drew international condemnation for the deaths of Palestinian non-combatants in Gaza and the destruction of thousands of homes during its month of war with the Islamist movement Hamas. "I think Israel did what it had to do to respond to Hamas rockets. Israel has a right to defend itself. The steps Hamas has taken to embed rockets and command and control facilities and tunnel entrances in civilian areas, this makes a response by Israel difficult," Clinton said. Questioned about whether Israel has taken enough steps to prevent the deaths of civilians including children, Clinton said the United States also tries to be careful to avoid civilian casualties in war but sometimes mistakes are made.

Iran and US ties

Regarding the nuclear deal with Iran, Clinton echoed Netanyahu, saying she believes that "no deal" with Iran "is better than a bad deal."

"The onus is on Iran and the bar must be set high," said Clinton, who helped lay the groundwork for the diplomacy with Iran as Obama first secretary of state. "There is much to do and much more to say in the months ahead, but for now diplomacy deserves a chance to succeed."

Clinton's first comments on US-Israel relations since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's reelection were made late March 2015. The secretary of state said that relations between the US and Israel ought to return to "constructive footing" and stressed the importance of getting back to "basic shared concerns and interests, including a two-state solution."

The comments came at a time of strained relations between the US and Israel, with Netanyahu feuding with the White House over an emerging nuclear deal with Iran. Netanyahu has also come under fire for comments he made in the final days of Israel's parliamentary election.

“Secretary Clinton thinks we need to all work together to return the special US-Israel relationship to constructive footing, to get back to basic shared concerns and interests, including a two-state solution pursued through direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. We must ensure that Israel never becomes a partisan issue," San Diego Jewish World quoting Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, as saying.

Clinton has signaled that she intends to run on strengthening economic security for the middle class and expanding opportunities for working families: "Everyday Americans need of a champion. I want to be the champion,I leave the field to win your vote," she said.

"Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times, but the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top," she said in a video released Sunday with the announcement.

Clinton will try again to crack what she calls "the highest and hardest glass ceiling" when she starts a long-awaited second run for the White House as the prohibitive Democratic front runner.

" Jul 13, 15 4:42 PM

Israel Speaks: "We Purposefully Attack Civilians... Because They Deserve It"
By Steve Chovanec
A Palestinian relative carries the body of four-year-old Qassim Elwan

In a video recording dated in 2012, Netanyahu can be seen speaking to what presumably are family members, women and children, completely unawares to the fact that his remarks are being recorded the entire time.

Netanyahu explains that, “The main thing, first of all, is to hit them [the Arabs]. Not just one blow, but blows that are so painful that the price will be too heavy to be borne,” a policy doctrine we are now seeing play out in Israel’s current assault on Gaza in which the ‘price’ that is intended to be ‘too heavy to be borne,’ is measured in the indiscriminate murder of innocent civilian lives- their homes, their playgrounds, their beaches, their schools, their mosques, their hospitals; Israel has shown in Protective Edge that no one and no place in Gaza, not even children’s playgrounds and hospitals in which no militants whatsoever are present, is immune from the all-powerful roar of the highly-tuned, well-oiled and technologically sophisticated multi-billion dollar US-made killing machine that it has now descended upon the mostly defenseless, economically strangled, and poverty-induced population of Gaza (a WikiLeaks cable quoted an Israeli official in 2008 telling the US that they would “keep Gaza’s economy on the brink of collapse,” to ensure that the economy was “functioning at the lowest level possible consistent with avoiding a humanitarian crisis.”)

The UN reports as of 29 July that a total of 1,118 people have been killed in the now 23 day assault on Gaza, 827 (or 74%) of which are innocent civilians. Updated figures for 30 July from the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights put the current death toll at 1324, of which 1130 (or 85%) are innocent civilians, along with 5,924 wounded; Gaza’s Health Ministry has confirmed the death of at least 1,359; a number of 7,677 wounded has been confirmed by emergency service spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra.

These figures clearly tell us that only a very small amount of the targets are actually military targets, Hamas militants or resistance fighters, given that they account for only 20-25% of the deaths. The vast majority of those killed have been innocent civilians, this despite the IDF’s sophisticated US-made and financed military technology capable of precision striking and advanced intelligence capabilities, including joint cooperation between Mossad and the NSA.

These figures make more sense however when you put them in the context of advice given to the IDF from Israeli lawyers and statements by top military and political officials.

Don’t Make Me Shoot You

Nafeez Ahmed reports that,

“White highlights a Ha’aretz report from 2009 which revealed that “IDF officers were receiving legal advice that allowed for large numbers of civilian casualties and the targeting of government buildings.”

“The people who go into a house despite a warning do not have to be taken into account in terms of injury to civilians, because they are voluntary human shields,”

said one senior official of the international law division (ILD) of the Israeli Military Advocate General’s Office.

“From the legal point of view, I do not have to show consideration for them. In the case of people who return to their home in order to protect it, they are taking part in the fighting.” (emphasis added)

This statement presupposes that Israel has the right to order people out of their homes, without having to give a justification, without having to prove that it is a military outpost, just an arbitrary pronouncement by the military and either the civilians must flee or be murdered in cold blood by the IDF, in which case they will be referred to as ‘human shields’ and their extrajudicial slaughter justified in the eyes of the military machine and its legal aides; even if the civilian does flee, Israel presupposes the right to destroy their homes, property, and belongings- in other words, their property (and as well their lives) belong to us, because we say so.

According to U.S. Army Manuals terrorism is defined as, the

“calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear. It is intended to coerce or intimidate governments or societies … [to attain] political, religious, or ideological goals.” [U.S. Army Field Manual No. FM 3-0, Chapter 9, 37 (14 June 2001).]

Israel’s actions are therefore the exact definition of terrorism according to the U.S. army, where even just the threat of violence to obtain political goals is terrorism; Israel is saying to the civilian population “leave your homes, or else,” while then presupposing that if their orders are not heeded they are thus absolved from the responsibility of the murder which they will then go about committing. Even if they were just to threaten the use of violence to get people out of their homes it would be an extreme terroristic crime, let alone when they actually go through with the bombing, indiscriminate of who is inside.

What this amounts to is basically the military/war-time equivalent of holding a gun to someone’s head and saying “don’t make me shoot you,” and then demanding that they give you their wallet… or else. When the person doesn’t comply with your terror demands and use of intimidation, you then shoot them dead and claim that it was their fault for not giving you the money, I wonder how well that defense would hold up in a US court of law? Yet this is exactly what Israel is doing in Gaza, this is exactly what their lawyers and military generals are attempting to justify and codify into law.

Take Away Half the Land; Say the Dead Killed Themselves

Israel has used this terror tactic in order to take away 44% of Gaza’s land, drawing up a 3km buffer zone around the borders and then proceeding to hold the gun to the head of every innocent civilian living within that area and saying “don’t make us shoot you,” instructing them to leave their homes “immediately” or thus end up as ‘human shields,’ in which case, according to the IDF and their lawyers, their deaths will be their own fault.

Pepe Escobar thus points out,

“Translation: Israel, in one stroke, is creating OVER 400,000 REFUGEES. But refugees INSIDE the same cage/concentration camp/gulag – a major CRIME under international law. This huge area is now off-limits. All civilians staying behind will be deemed as “combatants”.”

Just as a 75-80% civilian death rate figure falsifies the claim that only military infrastructure and personnel are being targeted, so too does this 3km buffer zone falsify that claim as well; there is no justifiable military reason to annex almost half of Gaza’s land to military invasion and wholesale destruction, the whole ‘tunnel’ argument the least of which as it is pure nonsense coming from a military perspective, and one that has also been used previously,

“The pretext for the [November 4, 2008] raid was that Israel had detected a tunnel in Gaza that might have been intended for use to capture another Israeli soldier. The pretext is transparently absurd, as a number of commentators have noted. If such a tunnel existed, and reached the border, Israel could easily have barred it right there. But as usual, the ludicrous Israeli pretext was deemed credible.” (Noam Chomsky, Peace News, February 2009)

Murder Civilians; Put Pressure on Hamas

In an exchange between former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and former Isreali UN Ambassador and Isreali Labor Party Foreign Minister Abba Eban, published in the Israeli press in August of 1981, Mr. Eban wrote,

“The picture that emerges is of an Israel wantonly inflicting every possible measure of death and anguish on civilian populations in a mood reminiscent of regimes which neither Mr. Begin nor I would dare to mention by name.”(1) (emphases added)

Prominent and noted scholar Edward Herman analyzes further the exchange,

“Eban is harshly critical of Begin’s letter because of the support it gives to Arab propaganda; he does not contest the facts. He even defends the earlier Israeli attacks on civilians with the exact logic which orthodox analysts of terrorism attribute to-and use to condemn-retail terrorists: namely, that deliberate attacks may properly be made on innocent parties in order to achieve higher ends. Eban writes that, “there was a rational prospect, ultimately fulfilled, that afflicted populations [i.e., innocent civilians deliberately bombed] would exert pressure for the cessation of hostilities.”

“Begin’s list is indeed “partial.” It is supplemented by former Chief of Staff Mordechai Gur, whom stated that “For 30 years, from the War of Independence until today, we have been fighting against a population that lives in villages and cities,” offering as examples the bombardments that cleared the Jordan valley of all inhabitants and that drove a million and a half civilians from the Suez canal area, in 1970, among others. The Israeli military analyst Zeev Schiff summarized General Gur’s comments as follows:

“In South Lebanon we struck the civilian population consciously, because they deserved it … the importance of Gur’s remarks is the admission that the Israeli Army has always struck civilian populations, purposely and consciously … the Army, he said, has never distinguished civilian [from military] targets … [but] purposely attacked civilian targets when Israeli settlements had not been struck.”(2) (emphases added)

This history is particularly important, it gives a clear context to the recent historical findings which echo the exact same sentiments, and thus prove that the strategic military doctrine has not much changed throughout the years, and that these genocidal policies are instead longstanding and rooted in tradition.

An independent investigation into the IDF by the Jerusalem-based Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) in the wake of Operation Cast Lead states that, “The policy of protecting soldiers’ lives, even at the cost of harming uninvolved civilians, cannot by itself explain the large number of casualties,” and so too can this statement be ascribed to the current death toll figures. The report explains this discrepancy however, “in the beginning of October 2008, the Commanding Officer of the IDF’s Northern Command, Maj. General Gadi Eisenkott, gave an interview to Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, in which he unveiled what he called the “Dahiye Doctrine”:

“What happened in the Dahiye Quarter of Beirut in 2006, will happen in every village from which shots are fired on Israel. We will use disproportionate force against it and we will cause immense damage and destruction. From our point of view these are not civilian villages but military bases.

“This is not a recommendation, this is the plan, and it has already been authorized.” (Yedioth Ahronoth (Hebrew), I have incredible power, I’ll have no excuse,, Saturday Supplement, October 3, 2008, by Alex Fishman and Ariela Ringel-Hoffman.)

According to the approach expressed in the Dahiye Doctrine,

“Israel has to employ tremendous force disproportionate to the magnitude of the enemy’s actions. The intent of this… is to harm the civilian population to such an extent that it will bring pressure to bear on the enemy combatants. Furthermore, this policy is intended to create deterrence regarding future attacks against Israel, through the damage and destruction of civilian and military infrastructures which necessitate long and expensive reconstruction actions which would crush the will of those who wish to act against Israel.” (emphasis added)

“…two months before Operation Cast Lead, the Institute for National Security Studies, a think-tank at the Tel Aviv University which reflects the mainstream of Israeli military thinking, published an article by Dr. Gabriel Siboni, a colonel in IDF reserves. In the article Siboni expresses an identical approach to that of Eisenkott, which he relates in greater detail:

“With an outbreak of hostilities, the IDF will need to act immediately, decisively, and with force that is disproportionate to the enemy’s actions and the threat it poses. Such a response aims at inflicting damage and meting out punishment to an extent that will demand long and expensive reconstruction processes. The strike must be carried out as quickly as possible, and must prioritize damaging assets over seeking out each and every launcher. Punishment must be aimed at decision makers and the power elite… attacks should both aim at Hezbollah’s military capabilities and should target economic interests and the centers of civilian power that support the organization.”

After “What happened in the Dahiye Quarter of Beirut in 2006,” Israel’s then Army Chief of Staff Lt-Gen Dan Halutz threatened that his military would “turn back the clock on Lebanon by 20 years.” A troubling statement given the next paragraph of the PCATI’s report, “Siboni makes it clear that: “This approach is applicable to the Gaza Strip as well.”

Dan Halutz also made a previous appearance in a 2002 Hareetz article when he was asked to describe the emotions that are felt by a pilot that drops a bomb that kills civilians, one which perhaps gives more insight into this psychology, Dan replied,

“No. That is not a legitimate question and it is not asked. But if you nevertheless want to know what I feel when I release a bomb, I will tell you: I feel a light bump to the plane as a result of the bomb’s release. A second later it’s gone, and that’s all. That is what I feel.” (emphases added)

In the opening days of Operation Cast Lead of December ’08 – January ’09 the head of the Israeli army command in Gaza, Yoav Galant, echoed Lt-Gen Halutz’s statements when he confirmed that the attack was designed to “send Gaza decades into the past.”

With the recent headlines depicting the carnage and the slaughter currently plaguing Gaza today, one would be hard pressed to doubt the seriousness of these statements.

They Will Say We Are Defending

Understanding the civilian death toll in this context makes much more sense than listening to the Israeli governments pronouncements of using all necessary means to protect civilian life (a claim which is usually followed by some form of ‘under law’ or ‘all necessary lawful means,’ which given the above is equally as troubling.) However all of this is predicated upon the fact that “Israel has a right to defend itself,” since “Hamas struck first,” but as respected scholar Nafeez Ahmed points out, “Then three Israeli boys were kidnapped in early June of this year. As an investigation by the Jewish Daily Forward found, Netanyahu’s government knew almost immediately that the boys had been killed, and who had killed them – but pretended to know neither to justify a brutal crackdown.

“It was clear from the beginning that the kidnappers weren’t acting on orders from Hamas leadership in Gaza or Damascus.”

Thus ensued an 18-day ‘search-and-rescue operation,’ involving soldiers entering “thousands of homes, arresting and interrogating hundreds of individuals.” To justify the operation, Netanyahu “maintained the fiction” that they hoped to find the boys alive “as a pretext to dismantle Hamas’ West Bank operations.”

In the process, the IDF killed more than half a dozen Palestinians – while a Palestinian teenager was burned to death by settlers.”

And these crimes were then followed by Israel’s unprovoked attacks on Gaza, as the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs recounts,

“On 11 June, the Israeli Air Force targeted an alleged member of an armed group riding on a motorcycle together with a ten-year old child, in the Beit Lahiya area. The man died instantly and the child, who sustained serious injuries, died three days later; two civilian bystanders were also injured.

“Following this incident and through the rest of the week, Palestinian armed groups launched a number of rockets at southern Israel.” (emphasis added)

As I noted here, despite all of these provocations and attacks, Hamas still did not fire any rockets and therefore had abided by the 2012 November ceasefire… until Israel struck them first. After the month long military attack and raid of the West Bank, and the subsequent military aerial bombing raids in Gaza that provoked other Palestinian armed groups to retaliate, on June 29th an Israeli air strike killed 3 Hamas militants, after which Hamas launched its first rocket attack on Israel since 2012, in retaliation to Israel’s attack. Hamas then immediately called for the institution of a ceasefire, their conditions: that the stipulations of the 2012 ceasefire be re-instated, the same one that Israel repeatedly broke. Israel considered the proposal, but later refused, instead deciding to launch another air strike against Hamas on July 6th, Hamas responded the next day, and the day after Operation Protective Edge was launched.

It is within this context that the first round of Hamas rockets were unleashed, and it is through this that we must analyze the claims that Israel is acting defensively.

In the leaked recording of Netanyahu mentioned at the beginning of this report, the Prime Minister further clarifies the ‘pain’ he wished to inflict upon the Arabs, “A broad attack on the Palestinian Authority, to bring them to the point of being afraid that everything is collapsing.” A women can then be heard asking the question, “Wait a moment, but then the world will say ‘how come you’re conquering again?’”

Netanyahu’s reply?

“The world won’t say a thing. The world will say we’re defending.”

Steven Chovanec is an independent geopolitical analyst based in Chicago, IL. He is an undergraduate of International Studies at Roosevelt University and is a regular writer and blogger on geopolitics and important social matters. His writings can be found at undergroundreports.blogspot.com, find him on Twitter @stevechovanec.


1.) Abba Eban, “Morality and warfare,” The Jerusalem Post, August 16, 1981 in cited in Edward Herman, The Real Terror Network, (Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1982), p. 77.

2.) Edward Herman, The Real Terror Network, (Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1982), p. 77-78. For further discussion of what Edward Herman describes as “Israel’s Sacred Terrorism,” see p. 76-79.

[This article was made possible by the contributions and reporting of Eva Bartlett
" Jul 13, 15 4:45 PM

It was the editors choice to let me post, though I am restricted to two posts per day. I won't be responding to posts from those who are full of hate and try to project that hate outwardly, so, so far, one person has already excluded himself from any conversation- not a big loss." Jul 14, 15 3:58 PM

The president will will the Nobel Peace Prize again for this deal with Iran, despite the saber rattling from the cowards who would send other peoples' children into another foolish and ill- conceived war." Jul 14, 15 9:21 PM

The Israelis have been stealing nuclear secrets and concealing the existence of their bomb for years. They won't come clean because it would mean the end of US aid.

The truth about Israel's secret nuclear arsenal

Israel has been stealing nuclear secrets and covertly making bombs since the 1950s. And western governments, including Britain and the US, turn a blind eye. But how can we expect Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions if the Israelis won't come clean?
Israel's nuclear reactor at Dimona.
Israel's nuclear reactor at Dimona. Photograph: Getty Images
eep beneath desert sands, an embattled Middle Eastern state has built a covert nuclear bomb, using technology and materials provided by friendly powers or stolen by a clandestine network of agents. It is the stuff of pulp thrillers and the sort of narrative often used to characterise the worst fears about the Iranian nuclear programme. In reality, though, neither US nor British intelligence believe Tehran has decided to build a bomb, and Iran's atomic projects are under constant international monitoring.

The exotic tale of the bomb hidden in the desert is a true story, though. It's just one that applies to another country. In an extraordinary feat of subterfuge, Israel managed to assemble an entire underground nuclear arsenal – now estimated at 80 warheads, on a par with India and Pakistan – and even tested a bomb nearly half a century ago, with a minimum of international outcry or even much public awareness of what it was doing.

Despite the fact that the Israel's nuclear programme has been an open secret since a disgruntled technician, Mordechai Vanunu, blew the whistle on it in 1986, the official Israeli position is still never to confirm or deny its existence.

When the former speaker of the Knesset, Avraham Burg, broke the taboo last month, declaring Israeli possession of both nuclear and chemical weapons and describing the official non-disclosure policy as "outdated and childish" a rightwing group formally called for a police investigation for treason.

Meanwhile, western governments have played along with the policy of "opacity" by avoiding all mention of the issue. In 2009, when a veteran Washington reporter, Helen Thomas, asked Barack Obama in the first month of his presidency if he knew of any country in the Middle East with nuclear weapons, he dodged the trapdoor by saying only that he did not wish to "speculate".

UK governments have generally followed suit. Asked in the House of Lords in November about Israeli nuclear weapons, Baroness Warsi answered tangentially. "Israel has not declared a nuclear weapons programme. We have regular discussions with the government of Israel on a range of nuclear-related issues," the minister said. "The government of Israel is in no doubt as to our views. We encourage Israel to become a state party to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT]."

But through the cracks in this stone wall, more and more details continue to emerge of how Israel built its nuclear weapons from smuggled parts and pilfered technology.

The tale serves as a historical counterpoint to today's drawn-out struggle over Iran's nuclear ambitions. The parallels are not exact – Israel, unlike Iran, never signed up to the 1968 NPT so could not violate it. But it almost certainly broke a treaty banning nuclear tests, as well as countless national and international laws restricting the traffic in nuclear materials and technology.

The list of nations that secretly sold Israel the material and expertise to make nuclear warheads, or who turned a blind eye to its theft, include today's staunchest campaigners against proliferation: the US, France, Germany, Britain and even Norway.

Whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu.
Whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu. Photograph: AP
Meanwhile, Israeli agents charged with buying fissile material and state-of-the-art technology found their way into some of the most sensitive industrial establishments in the world. This daring and remarkably successful spy ring, known as Lakam, the Hebrew acronym for the innocuous-sounding Science Liaison Bureau, included such colourful figures as Arnon Milchan, a billionaire Hollywood producer behind such hits as Pretty Woman, LA Confidential and 12 Years a Slave, who finally admitted his role last month.

"Do you know what it's like to be a twentysomething-year-old kid [and] his country lets him be James Bond? Wow! The action! That was exciting," he said in an Israeli documentary.

Milchan's life story is colourful, and unlikely enough to be the subject of one of the blockbusters he bankrolls. In the documentary, Robert de Niro recalls discussing Milchan's role in the illicit purchase of nuclear-warhead triggers. "At some point I was asking something about that, being friends, but not in an accusatory way. I just wanted to know," De Niro says. "And he said: yeah I did that. Israel's my country."

Milchan was not shy about using Hollywood connections to help his shadowy second career. At one point, he admits in the documentary, he used the lure of a visit to actor Richard Dreyfuss's home to get a top US nuclear scientist, Arthur Biehl, to join the board of one of his companies.

According to Milchan's biography, by Israeli journalists Meir Doron and Joseph Gelman, he was recruited in 1965 by Israel's current president, Shimon Peres, who he met in a Tel Aviv nightclub (called Mandy's, named after the hostess and owner's wife Mandy Rice-Davies, freshly notorious for her role in the Profumo sex scandal). Milchan, who then ran the family fertiliser company, never looked back, playing a central role in Israel's clandestine acquisition programme.

He was responsible for securing vital uranium-enrichment technology, photographing centrifuge blueprints that a German executive had been bribed into temporarily "mislaying" in his kitchen. The same blueprints, belonging to the European uranium enrichment consortium, Urenco, were stolen a second time by a Pakistani employee, Abdul Qadeer Khan, who used them to found his country's enrichment programme and to set up a global nuclear smuggling business, selling the design to Libya, North Korea and Iran.

For that reason, Israel's centrifuges are near-identical to Iran's, a convergence that allowed Israeli to try out a computer worm, codenamed Stuxnet, on its own centrifuges before unleashing it on Iran in 2010.

Arguably, Lakam's exploits were even more daring than Khan's. In 1968, it organised the disappearance of an entire freighter full of uranium ore in the middle of the Mediterranean. In what became known as the Plumbat affair, the Israelis used a web of front companies to buy a consignment of uranium oxide, known as yellowcake, in Antwerp. The yellowcake was concealed in drums labelled "plumbat", a lead derivative, and loaded onto a freighter leased by a phony Liberian company. The sale was camouflaged as a transaction between German and Italian companies with help from German officials, reportedly in return for an Israeli offer to help the Germans with centrifuge technology.

When the ship, the Scheersberg A, docked in Rotterdam, the entire crew was dismissed on the pretext that the vessel had been sold and an Israeli crew took their place. The ship sailed into the Mediterranean where, under Israeli naval guard, the cargo was transferred to another vessel.

US and British documents declassified last year also revealed a previously unknown Israeli purchase of about 100 tons of yellowcake from Argentina in 1963 or 1964, without the safeguards typically used in nuclear transactions to prevent the material being used in weapons.

Israel had few qualms about proliferating nuclear weapons knowhow and materials, giving South Africa's apartheid regime help in developing its own bomb in the 1970s in return for 600 tons of yellowcake.

Pictures of the secret Dimona nuclear reactor in Israel, showing where the plant has allegedly been
Pictures of the secret Dimona nuclear reactor in Israel, showing where the plant has allegedly been camouflaged. Photograph: space imaging
Israel's nuclear reactor also required deuterium oxide, also known as heavy water, to moderate the fissile reaction. For that, Israel turned to Norway and Britain. In 1959, Israel managed to buy 20 tons of heavy water that Norway had sold to the UK but was surplus to requirements for the British nuclear programme. Both governments were suspicious that the material would be used to make weapons, but decided to look the other way. In documents seen by the BBC in 2005 British officials argued it would be "over-zealous" to impose safeguards. For its part, Norway carried out only one inspection visit, in 1961.

Israel's nuclear-weapons project could never have got off the ground, though, without an enormous contribution from France. The country that took the toughest line on counter-proliferation when it came to Iran helped lay the foundations of Israel's nuclear weapons programme, driven by by a sense of guilt over letting Israel down in the 1956 Suez conflict, sympathy from French-Jewish scientists, intelligence-sharing over Algeria and a drive to sell French expertise and abroad.

"There was a tendency to try to export and there was a general feeling of support for Israel," Andre Finkelstein, a former deputy commissioner at France's Atomic Energy Commissariat and deputy director general at the International Atomic Energy Agency, told Avner Cohen, an Israeli-American nuclear historian.

France's first reactor went critical as early as 1948 but the decision to build nuclear weapons seems to have been taken in 1954, after Pierre Mendès France made his first trip to Washington as president of the council of ministers of the chaotic Fourth Republic. On the way back he told an aide: "It's exactly like a meeting of gangsters. Everyone is putting his gun on the table, if you have no gun you are nobody. So we must have a nuclear programme."

Mendès France gave the order to start building bombs in December 1954. And as it built its arsenal, Paris solds material assistance to other aspiring weapons states, not just Israel.

"[T]his went on for many, many years until we did some stupid exports, including Iraq and the reprocessing plant in Pakistan, which was crazy," Finkelstein recalled in an interview that can now be read in a collection of Cohen's papers at the Wilson Centre thinktank in Washington. "We have been the most irresponsible country on nonproliferation."

In Dimona, French engineers poured in to help build Israel a nuclear reactor and a far more secret reprocessing plant capable of separating plutonium from spent reactor fuel. This was the real giveaway that Israel's nuclear programme was aimed at producing weapons.

By the end of the 50s, there were 2,500 French citizens living in Dimona, transforming it from a village to a cosmopolitan town, complete with French lycées and streets full of Renaults, and yet the whole endeavour was conducted under a thick veil of secrecy. The American investigative journalist Seymour Hersh wrote in his book The Samson Option: "French workers at Dimona were forbidden to write directly to relatives and friends in France and elsewhere, but sent mail to a phony post-office box in Latin America."

The British were kept out of the loop, being told at different times that the huge construction site was a desert grasslands research institute and a manganese processing plant. The Americans, also kept in the dark by both Israel and France, flew U2 spy planes over Dimona in an attempt to find out what they were up to.

The Israelis admitted to having a reactor but insisted it was for entirely peaceful purposes. The spent fuel was sent to France for reprocessing, they claimed, even providing film footage of it being supposedly being loaded onto French freighters. Throughout the 60s it flatly denied the existence of the underground reprocessing plant in Dimona that was churning out plutonium for bombs.

Producer Arnon Milchan with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie at the premiere of Mr and Mrs Smith.
Producer Arnon Milchan with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie at the premiere of Mr and Mrs Smith. Photograph: L Cohen
Israel refused to countenance visits by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), so in the early 1960s President Kennedy demanded they accept American inspectors. US physicists were dispatched to Dimona but were given the run-around from the start. Visits were never twice-yearly as had been agreed with Kennedy and were subject to repeated postponements. The US physicists sent to Dimona were not allowed to bring their own equipment or collect samples. The lead American inspector, Floyd Culler, an expert on plutonium extraction, noted in his reports that there were newly plastered and painted walls in one of the buildings. It turned out that before each American visit, the Israelis had built false walls around the row of lifts that descended six levels to the subterranean reprocessing plant.

As more and more evidence of Israel's weapons programme emerged, the US role progressed from unwitting dupe to reluctant accomplice. In 1968 the CIA director Richard Helms told President Johnson that Israel had indeed managed to build nuclear weapons and that its air force had conducted sorties to practise dropping them.

The timing could not have been worse. The NPT, intended to prevent too many nuclear genies from escaping from their bottles, had just been drawn up and if news broke that one of the supposedly non-nuclear-weapons states had secretly made its own bomb, it would have become a dead letter that many countries, especially Arab states, would refuse to sign.

The Johnson White House decided to say nothing, and the decision was formalised at a 1969 meeting between Richard Nixon and Golda Meir, at which the US president agreed to not to pressure Israel into signing the NPT, while the Israeli prime minister agreed her country would not be the first to "introduce" nuclear weapons into the Middle East and not do anything to make their existence public.

In fact, US involvement went deeper than mere silence. At a meeting in 1976 that has only recently become public knowledge, the CIA deputy director Carl Duckett informed a dozen officials from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission that the agency suspected some of the fissile fuel in Israel's bombs was weapons-grade uranium stolen under America's nose from a processing plant in Pennsylvania.

Not only was an alarming amount of fissile material going missing at the company, Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation (Numec), but it had been visited by a veritable who's-who of Israeli intelligence, including Rafael Eitan, described by the firm as an Israeli defence ministry "chemist", but, in fact, a top Mossad operative who went on to head Lakam.

"It was a shock. Everyody was open-mouthed," recalls Victor Gilinsky, who was one of the American nuclear officials briefed by Duckett. "It was one of the most glaring cases of diverted nuclear material but the consequences appeared so awful for the people involved and for the US than nobody really wanted to find out what was going on."

The investigation was shelved and no charges were made.

A few years later, on 22 September 1979, a US satellite, Vela 6911, detected the double-flash typical of a nuclear weapon test off the coast of South Africa. Leonard Weiss, a mathematician and an expert on nuclear proliferation, was working as a Senate advisor at the time and after being briefed on the incident by US intelligence agencies and the country's nuclear weapons laboratories, he became convinced a nuclear test, in contravention to the Limited Test Ban Treaty, had taken place.

It was only after both the Carter and then the Reagan administrations attempted to gag him on the incident and tried to whitewash it with an unconvincing panel of enquiry, that it dawned on Weiss that it was the Israelis, rather than the South Africans, who had carried out the detonation.

"I was told it would create a very serious foreign policy issue for the US, if I said it was a test. Someone had let something off that US didn't want anyone to know about," says Weiss.

Israeli sources told Hersh the flash picked up by the Vela satellite was actually the third of a series of Indian Ocean nuclear tests that Israel conducted in cooperation with South Africa.

"It was a fuck-up," one source told him. "There was a storm and we figured it would block Vela, but there was a gap in the weather – a window – and Vela got blinded by the flash."

The US policy of silence continues to this day, even though Israel appears to be continuing to trade on the nuclear black market, albeit at much reduced volumes. In a paper on the illegal trade in nuclear material and technology published in October, the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) noted: "Under US pressure in the 1980s and early 1990s, Israel … decided to largely stop its illicit procurement for its nuclear weapons programme. Today, there is evidence that Israel may still make occasional illicit procurements – US sting operations and legal cases show this."

Avner Cohen, the author of two books on Israel's bomb, said that policy of opacity in both Israel and in Washington is kept in place now largely by inertia. "At the political level, no one wants to deal with it for fear of opening a Pandora's box. It has in many ways become a burden for the US, but people in Washington, all the way up to Obama will not touch it, because of the fear it could compromise the very basis of the Israeli-US understanding."

In the Arab world and beyond, there is growing impatience with the skewed nuclear status quo. Egypt in particular has threatened to walk out of the NPT unless there is progress towards creating a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. The western powers promised to stage a conference on the proposal in 2012 but it was called off, largely at America's behest, to reduce the pressure on Israel to attend and declare its nuclear arsenal.

"Somehow the kabuki goes on," Weiss says. "If it is admitted Israel has nuclear weapons at least you can have an honest discussion. It seems to me it's very difficult to get a resolution of the Iran issue without being honest about that."

" Jul 15, 15 6:01 AM

Wow. We know who some of you are listening to- and it isn't the experts on diplomacy. Quite the opposite.
President Obama and the leaders of Russia, Great Britain, Germany, Russia China and France will all get the Nobel prize. The far right once again caves to the ignorance of their media.

Iran Deal Applauded By Experts Deemed Scary, Start Of "World War III" By Conservative Media
Research 5 hours and 40 minutes ago ››› NICHOLAS ROGERS

While right-wing media pundits are inciting fears that the U.S. deal with Iran to curb the country's nuclear program marks "a day that will live in infamy" and the beginning of "World War III," national security and nonproliferation experts are lauding the international agreement as "wise," "pretty damn good," and "a deal that improves our national security."
U.S., Other World Powers Reach Historic Nuclear Deal With Iran

President Obama Announced Nuclear Deal With Iran Has Been Reached. U.S. and international negotiators announced they'd reached a deal with Iran on July 14 to curb the country's nuclear program, where by "sanctions imposed by the United States, European Union and United Nations will be lifted in return for Iran agreeing long-term curbs on a nuclear program that the West has suspected was aimed at creating a nuclear bomb." From Reuters:

Iran and six major world powers reached a nuclear deal on Tuesday, capping more than a decade of negotiations with an agreement that could transform the Middle East.

U.S. President Barack Obama hailed a step towards a "more hopeful world" and Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said it proved that "constructive engagement works".


Under the deal, sanctions imposed by the United States, European Union and United Nations will be lifted in return for Iran agreeing long-term curbs on a nuclear program that the West has suspected was aimed at creating a nuclear bomb.

Iran will mothball for at least a decade the majority of its centrifuges used to enrich uranium and sharply reduce its low-enriched uranium stockpile. [Reuters, 7/14/15]

Steve Doocy: "The More You Dig Into [The Iran Deal], The Scarier It Is." On the July 15 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, host Steve Doocy fearmongered over the newly announced Iran deal saying, "The more you dig into it, the scarier it is." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/15/15]

Rush Limbaugh: Obama Sold Out America To Iran With Nuclear Deal. On the July 14 edition of Premiere Radio Network's The Rush Limbaugh Show, Limbaugh argued that while it may be unthinkable that Obama would "sell the United States out to the Iranians," that's what had happened:

LIMBAUGH: Now, I know a lot of you are hoping against hope that the things you've heard about this that are bad for America are not true. I know you're hoping that some of the analysis of the deal that you may have seen or heard, that describes how really bad it is, is just maybe a little partisan, really isn't true. Because no matter what else Obama has done, and his party, no matter what else they have done with domestic policy, surely, you're saying to yourself, they would not sell the United States out to the Iranians. You want to hold on to that, I understand it.

You want to grasp that, embrace that, and you really don't want to believe -- some of you -- really don't want to believe that what's happened here has happened. But it has, folks. There isn't a mushy middle on this. It's bad. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 7/14/15]

Lou Dobbs: U.S. Has "Surrendered" Its "Immense Strength" By Making Deal With Iran. On the July 14 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, Fox Business host Lou Dobbs said the Iran deal is a complete "capitulation":

DOBBS: We have immense strength, and we have immense control over our destiny. We have simply surrendered that advantage, in favor of what? A sponsor -- the world's largest sponsor of state terrorism and emerging -- and now, with the assistance of this deal -- a certain to-be nuclear power. It is stunning. [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 7/14/15]

Sean Hannity: Will Announcement Of Iran Deal Be "A Day That Will Live In Infamy?" On the July 14 edition of Fox News' Hannity, Sean Hannity hosted former Vice President Dick Cheney to lambaste the Iran nuclear deal, asking him whether the day of the announcement is "a day that will live in infamy." Hannity later claimed, "I guess you could really put the Obama seal on these nuclear weapons, because I think now it's pretty much inevitable." [Fox News, Hannity, 7/15/15]

Mark Levin: Iran Nuclear Deal "Planted The Seeds Of World War III." On the July 14 edition of Fox New's Hannity, radio host Mark Levin said the Iran nuclear deal "sealed the fate" of the world and "planted the seeds of world war III":

LEVIN: My reaction is that Barack Obama has now planted the seeds of world war III. And one day world war III is going to break out right here because of his actions today. To arm up the Iranian regime, this terrorist regime in Tehran, you know, Obama likes to say that Reagan and Kennedy negotiated with the Soviets. The Soviets had nukes. Iran does not have nukes. But thanks to him and Kerry and the other ideologues and lightweights that surround him, they're going to get nukes. And this is where World War III, in my view, is going to start. He has sealed the fate -- the adults who are listening to this program, your children and grandchildren, he has made this world so much more dangerous as a result of what he has done. These inspections are phony. There are no real sanctions. The Iranians can't be trusted. They have demonstrated that time and time again no less than the United Nations has told us. The Russians and Chinese are thrilled by this because we'll be bogged down for decades. This is a complete disaster. [Fox News, Hannity, 7/15/15]

But Experts Are Lauding The Iran Deal As "Necessary And Wise," "Pretty Damn Good," And Evidence Of U.S. Strength

Nonproliferation Expert Jeffrey Lewis: Iran Deal Is "Pretty Damn Good." Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, explained in Foreign Policy that the Iran nuclear deal is "pretty damn good," containing "substantial" reductions in centrifuges and "clever" mechanisms to re-impose sanctions should Iran backtrack on its end of the bargain:

The real issues in Vienna were how to re-impose sanctions if the deal collapsed, as well whether to lift the United Nations' arms embargo and the sanctions on Iran's missile programs.

The mechanism to re-impose sanctions -- called "snap back" by people who don't wear baseball caps -- is pretty clever. Any of the parties can raise an issue within a Joint Commission created to administer the agreement. If the party is unsatisfied, it then can notify the United Nations Security Council. The Security Council has 30 days to act -- and if it does nothing, the sanctions are automatically re-imposed. That gives the United States and other parties the ability to blow up the deal and return to sanctions regime with no chance for Russia or China to veto.


What's going to be needed to deal with this is a sense of calm, a sense of perspective, and sense of humor. There are going to be lots of people who get red in the face, point out all the terrible things the Iranian government does and generally make accusations quicker than they can be debunked or resolved through negotiations. It will be important to step back every now again, breathe deeply, look at how things have turned out in North Korea and Iraq and remember: this is a pretty damned good deal. [Foreign Policy, 7/14/15]

Lewis: "I Would Give It An A." Lewis, who in addition to directing the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies also runs an arms control blog and podcast, spoke to Vox.com's Max Fisher and told him the negotiating team "did a fantastic job":

FISHER: Why is this a good deal?

LEWIS: It's a good deal because it slows down their nuclear program -- which they say is for civilian purposes but could be used to make a bomb, and which we think was originally intended to make a bomb. And it puts monitoring and verification measures in place that mean if they try to build a bomb, we're very likely to find out, and to do so with enough time that we have options to do something about it.

There's a verifiable gap between their bomb option and an actual bomb. That's why it's a good deal.


FISHER: Now that we're here, what grade would you give it?

LEWIS: I would give it an A.

FISHER: A solid A!

LEWIS: I mean, it's hard. There are two pieces to this.

Compared to the deal we could have gotten 10 years ago, if the Bush administration hadn't had their heads up their butts? Not an A! That would have been a great deal!

I remember when they had 164 centrifuges, in one cascade, and I said, "You know what, we should let them keep it in warm standby. No uranium, just gas." And people were like, "You're givin' away the store!"

FISHER: We would kill for that now! They got cut down to 5,000 centrifuges, and it's a huge deal.

LEWIS: Exactly. And that's been the fundamental experience of this for me. Every six months, the deal we could have gotten six months before looks better. Every time we tried to hold out for a better deal, and every time we got in the position of a worse deal.

So, compared to where they started, and what I thought was feasible to achieve, this team I thought did a fantastic job. If this team had been in place in 2003 or 2004 or 2005, it might have looked even better. But they inherited what they inherited, and they did a pretty decent job with it. How could I give them less than A? [Vox.com, 7/15/15]

National Security Expert: "The Agreement We Have Is About As Good As Any Real World Agreement Could Be." Anthony H. Cordesman, Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy for the Center for Strategic and International Studies and former military advisor to General Stanley McChrystal, wrote that the U.S.' deal with Iran is "as good" as realistically possible:

One can debate the finer details, but in the real world, the agreement we have is about as good as any real world agreement could be. If this agreement is now blocked by internal U.S., politics, Iran is almost certain to react by portraying the United States as dishonest and as blocking arms control and peace, and react with a more active series of nuclear and military efforts -- as well with even more hostile efforts in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and the Gulf.

Moreover, if the deal fails to pass Congress, outside nations will also take advantage of America's divisions. Russia and China will exploit the U.S. "failure" for their different reasons. The EU countries are likely to see this as an example of U.S. internal weakness and inability to lead. Our regional allies will have to confront both a more active Iran and a United States whose leadership and unity has proven to be all too uncertain. [Beyond Partisan Infighting: The Role Congress Should Play in Reacting to the Nuclear Agreement with Iran, 7/15/15]

Harvard Diplomacy Expert: Iran Deal Was "Necessary And Wise." The New York Times quoted R. Nicholas Burns, professor of Diplomacy and International Relations at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, as saying the Iran deal is "necessary and wise":

"The reality is that it is a painful agreement to make, but also necessary and wise," said R. Nicholas Burns, who drafted the first sanctions against Iran, passed in the United Nations Security Council in 2006 and 2007, when he was undersecretary of state for policy. "And we might think of it as just the end of the beginning of a long struggle to contain Iran. There will be other dramas ahead." [The New York Times, 7/14/15]

Executive Director Of Truman National Security Project: Iran Deal "Improves Our National Security," Was Accomplished By "American Leadership." Michael Breen, a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Executive Director of the Truman National Security Project, wrote on CNN.com that the "agreement demonstrates the power of tough, principled diplomacy" and should make Americans safer:

Keeping Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon is of central importance to American security. This agreement demonstrates the power of tough, principled diplomacy -- and will make America and our allies safer and stronger if properly implemented and enforced. American leadership made this agreement possible: rallying the international community to force Iran to the table with multilateral sanctions, maintaining a united front through months of negotiations, and holding firm for a deal that improves our national security.

This agreement is not based on trust. Because we expect Iran to try and cheat, verification is a critical component of the agreement. Its terms close off all of Iran's potential avenues to a nuclear weapon, give us access to their entire nuclear supply chain, and impose the strictest monitoring and verification regime ever negotiated in the history of nonproliferation. If Iran cheats a month, a year, or a decade from now, we will be in a position to know. And because this agreement is backed by the international community, America will be in a position to take decisive action with our allies if Iran violates the terms.

This generation of combat veterans, frontline civilians, and policy leaders knows all too well the sacrifice required when diplomacy fails. Many of us, myself included, have spent our adult lives attempting to redeem the aftermath of a deeply unnecessary war in the Middle East, launched in the name of nonproliferation. This time, through tough American-led diplomacy, we have charted a better, smarter course. [CNN.com, 7/14/15]

Arms Control Expert: If Iran Cheats On The Deal, The Likelihood Of Them Getting Caught Is "Near 100 Percent." Vox.com quoted Aaron Stein, an arms control expert with the Royal United Services Institute, who explained that in the event Iran backtracks on their commitments, their likelihood of getting caught is "near 100 percent":

The nuclear deal actually lays out how all of this is supposed to work if Iran cheats -- the negotiators clearly wanted to account for that -- and it looks pretty good, if not perfect.

Let's say, for instance, that Iran is secretly siphoning off some of its uranium and centrifuges and shipping them to a hidden site under a mountain somewhere, where it secretly processes the uranium into nuclear fuel that could be used for a bomb.

First what would happen, almost inevitably, is that international inspectors would catch Iran. There are any number of points in the process where Iran could get caught. Inspectors at Iran's uranium mines, its uranium processing mills, or certainly its enrichment facilities would find out if Iran were siphoning off even a little bit of material. Or, for example, they would notice that Iran's centrifuge factories -- which they'll monitor -- are missing centrifuges.

"The likelihood of getting caught is near 100 percent," Aaron Stein, an arms control expert with the Royal United Services Institute, told my colleague Max Fisher. [Vox.com, 7/14/15]

" Jul 15, 15 9:49 PM

Painting Of Confederate Battle Flag Evokes Mixed Responses

The confederate flag ( confederate naval flag and the flag of the army of Northern Virginia) has come to be identified with racism because of its association with the KKK and its prominent display during the opposition to the civil rights movement of the late 50's and sixties. The flag is mistakenly called the stars and bars, which in reality is what the official flag of the confederacy was called.
The KKK displays the American flag as much as it does the flag that we have come to know as the rebel flag. Still, because of its link to racist causes, it has been forever tainted as a legitimate symbol.
" Jul 17, 15 12:18 PM

The rise of the confederate flag as a symbol of opposition to segregation-
from CNN

"Slavery was a big part of why the South wanted to secede

In their declarations of secession from the Union, some Southern states expressly mentioned slavery as a reason for their departure.

"... an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery, has led to a disregard of their obligations ..." South Carolina wrote in its declaration.

The state of Mississippi aligned itself with slavery right off the top of its declaration:

"Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery -- the greatest material interest of the world."

Georgia named slavery in the second sentence of its declaration. The sad list goes on.

"To put it more simply, South Carolina and the rest of the South only seceded to preserve the violent domination and enslavement of black people, and the Confederate flag only exists because of that secession," said CNN political commentator Sally Kohn.

"To call the flag 'heritage' is to gloss over the ugly reality of history."

"The rebel flag's resurgence came long after the Civil War

After the Civil War ended, the battle flag turned up here and there only occasionally -- at events to commemorate fallen soldiers.

So, when did the flag explode into prominence? It was during the struggle for civil rights for black Americans, in the middle of the 20th century.

The first burst may have been in 1948. South Carolina politician Strom Thurmond ran for president under the newly founded States Rights Democratic Party, also known as the Dixiecrats. The party's purpose was clear: "We stand for the segregation of the races," said Article 4 of its platform.

Why the Confederate flag still flies

At campaign stops, fans greeted Thurmond with American flags, state flags -- and Confederate battle flags.

But desegregation progressed.

As it passed milestones like the Supreme Court ruling on Brown vs. Board of Education, which gave black American children access to all schools, the Confederate battle flag popped up more and more."
South Carolina raised the flag in 1962 in opposition to de-segregation.
" Jul 17, 15 5:02 PM

In your own post you cite Virginia's Declaration of Secession which stated that it was " oppression of slave owning states"
The tarriff issue was settled long before when Andrew Jackson faced down South Carolina in the 1840's when they threatened to secede over tarriffs. The main issue was slavery, its expansion into western territories, and its slow elimination as an economic system.

here is a summary of the Declarations of Seccession by the southern states- you will see that most of them talk about Slavery, not tarriffs. The states rights they were citing were the rights of states to allow people to own other people- slavery.

Ordinances of Secession of the 13 Confederate States of America

civil war battle

Many times I’ve heard people say that the civil war was not about slavery. When you ask them what it was about they will either tell you it was “states’ rights” or “secession.” Neither is true.

When the states seceded from the union they issued what they called an ordinance of secession. These ordinances told the federal government what they were doing, and in most cases, why.

Below are excerpts from three of those ordinances. If you want to read them all you can go here.

South Carolina: “We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slave holding States. Those States have assume the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection. “

“For twenty-five years this agitation has been steadily increasing, until it has now secured to its aid the power of the common Government. Observing the forms of the Constitution, a sectional party has found within that Article establishing the Executive Department, the means of subverting the Constitution itself. A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that “Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free,” and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction.”


Mississippi: “It (the Federal Government) has grown until it denies the right of property in slaves, and refuses protection to that right on the high seas, in the Territories, and wherever the government of the United States had jurisdiction. It refuses the admission of new slave States into the Union, and seeks to extinguish it by confining it within its present limits, denying the power of expansion. It tramples the original equality of the South under foot. It has nullified the Fugitive Slave Law in almost every free State in the Union, and has utterly broken the compact, which our fathers pledged their faith to maintain. It advocates negro equality, socially and politically, and promotes insurrection and incendiarism in our midst.”


Georgia: The people of Georgia, after an equally full and fair and deliberate hearing of the case, have declared with equal firmness that they shall not rule over them. A brief history of the rise, progress, and policy of anti-slavery and the political organization into whose hands the administration of the Federal Government has been committed will fully justify the pronounced verdict of the people of Georgia. The party of Lincoln, called the Republican party, under its present name and organization, is of recent origin. It is admitted to be an anti-slavery party. While it attracts to itself by its creed the scattered advocates of exploded political heresies, of condemned theories in political economy, the advocates of commercial restrictions, of protection, of special privileges, of waste and corruption in the administration of Government, anti-slavery is its mission and its purpose.


On another note, I had a commenter on a post say, “Only about 3% of southerners were slave holders. Do you really believe that a handful of people managed to convince thousands of people that going to war over slavery was in the best interest of the south?”

My answer to him was, “I believe that Hitler and his cronies convinced millions that attacking other countries and murdering Jews was in the best interest of Germany. I believe that G.W. Bush and his cronies convinced millions of Americans that attacking Iraq was in the best interest of the U.S. I believe that, even now, the Republican Party has convinced millions that hate and bigotry and transferring wealth from the middle class to the very rich is in the best interest of the U.S. Damn right I believe that a few convinced the masses.”

To be clear, I don’t know if his number of 3% was correct or if it is a number he pulled from his ass. I tend to think it was somewhat higher.

[I am well aware that there were only 11 states in the confederacy and that Kentucky and Missouri were never actually a part od the confederacy. In Kentucky and Missouri there were both pro-Confederate and pro-Union governments and the confederate governments did file an ordinance of secession even though the states never actually seceded. Both states were represented on the confederate flag.]"


Here is an article from the Washington Post that says that tarriffs were not the cause of the civil war. You can further research the causes of the civil war at your local library or online;

Five myths about why the South seceded
By James W. Loewen

One hundred fifty years after the Civil War began, we’re still fighting it — or at least fighting over its history. I’ve polled thousands of high school history teachers and spoken about the war to audiences across the country, and there is little agreement even about why the South seceded. Was it over slavery? States’ rights? Tariffs and taxes?

As the nation begins to commemorate the anniversaries of the war’s various battles — from Fort Sumter to Appomattox — let’s first dispense with some of the more prevalent myths about why it all began.

1. The South seceded over states’ rights.

Confederate states did claim the right to secede, but no state claimed to be seceding for that right. In fact, Confederates opposed states’ rights — that is, the right of Northern states not to support slavery.

On Dec. 24, 1860, delegates at South Carolina’s secession convention adopted a “Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union.” It noted “an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery” and protested that Northern states had failed to “fulfill their constitutional obligations” by interfering with the return of fugitive slaves to bondage. Slavery, not states’ rights, birthed the Civil War.

South Carolina was further upset that New York no longer allowed “slavery transit.” In the past, if Charleston gentry wanted to spend August in the Hamptons, they could bring their cook along. No longer — and South Carolina’s delegates were outraged. In addition, they objected that New England states let black men vote and tolerated abolitionist societies. According to South Carolina, states should not have the right to let their citizens assemble and speak freely when what they said threatened slavery.

A Confederate flag is still flying on the grounds of South Carolina's state capitol, even after a white gunman was accused of killing nine black churchgoers at an AME church in Charleston, S.C. Here's a closer look at why the flag isn't at half-staff or even off the grounds completely. (Jorge Ribas/The Washington Post)

Other seceding states echoed South Carolina. “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery — the greatest material interest of the world,” proclaimed Mississippi in its own secession declaration, passed Jan. 9, 1861. “Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of the commerce of the earth. . . . A blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization.”

[The racist media narrative around mass shootings]

The South’s opposition to states’ rights is not surprising. Until the Civil War, Southern presidents and lawmakers had dominated the federal government. The people in power in Washington always oppose states’ rights. Doing so preserves their own.

2. Secession was about tariffs and taxes.

During the nadir of post-civil-war race relations — the terrible years after 1890 when town after town across the North became all-white “sundown towns” and state after state across the South prevented African Americans from voting — “anything but slavery” explanations of the Civil War gained traction. To this day Confederate sympathizers successfully float this false claim, along with their preferred name for the conflict: the War Between the States. At the infamous Secession Ball in South Carolina, hosted in December by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, “the main reasons for secession were portrayed as high tariffs and Northern states using Southern tax money to build their own infrastructure,” The Washington Post reported.

These explanations are flatly wrong. High tariffs had prompted the Nullification Controversy in 1831-33, when, after South Carolina demanded the right to nullify federal laws or secede in protest, President Andrew Jackson threatened force. No state joined the movement, and South Carolina backed down. Tariffs were not an issue in 1860, and Southern states said nothing about them. Why would they? Southerners had written the tariff of 1857, under which the nation was functioning. Its rates were lower than at any point since 1816.

3. Most white Southerners didn’t own slaves, so they wouldn’t secede for slavery.

Indeed, most white Southern families had no slaves. Less than half of white Mississippi households owned one or more slaves, for example, and that proportion was smaller still in whiter states such as Virginia and Tennessee. It is also true that, in areas with few slaves, most white Southerners did not support secession. West Virginia seceded from Virginia to stay with the Union, and Confederate troops had to occupy parts of eastern Tennessee and northern Alabama to hold them in line.

However, two ideological factors caused most Southern whites, including those who were not slave-owners, to defend slavery. First, Americans are wondrous optimists, looking to the upper class and expecting to join it someday. In 1860, many subsistence farmers aspired to become large slave-owners. So poor white Southerners supported slavery then, just as many low-income people support the extension of George W. Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy now.

[It’s up to white people to save themselves from racism]

Second and more important, belief in white supremacy provided a rationale for slavery. As the French political theorist Montesquieu observed wryly in 1748: “It is impossible for us to suppose these creatures [enslaved Africans] to be men; because allowing them to be men, a suspicion would follow that we ourselves are not Christians.” Given this belief, most white Southerners — and many Northerners, too — could not envision life in black-majority states such as South Carolina and Mississippi unless blacks were in chains. Georgia Supreme Court Justice Henry Benning, trying to persuade the Virginia Legislature to leave the Union, predicted race war if slavery was not protected. “The consequence will be that our men will be all exterminated or expelled to wander as vagabonds over a hostile earth, and as for our women, their fate will be too horrible to contemplate even in fancy.” Thus, secession would maintain not only slavery but the prevailing ideology of white supremacy as well.

4. Abraham Lincoln went to war to end slavery.

Since the Civil War did end slavery, many Americans think abolition was the Union’s goal. But the North initially went to war to hold the nation together. Abolition came later.

On Aug. 22, 1862, President Lincoln wrote a letter to the New York Tribune that included the following passage: “If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that. What I do about slavery and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union.”

[Black America should stop forgiving racists]

However, Lincoln’s own anti-slavery sentiment was widely known at the time. In the same letter, he went on: “I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men every where could be free.” A month later, Lincoln combined official duty and private wish in his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.

White Northerners’ fear of freed slaves moving north then caused Republicans to lose the Midwest in the congressional elections of November 1862.

Gradually, as Union soldiers found help from black civilians in the South and black recruits impressed white units with their bravery, many soldiers — and those they wrote home to — became abolitionists. By 1864, when Maryland voted to end slavery, soldiers’ and sailors’ votes made the difference.

5. The South couldn’t have made it long as a slave society.

Slavery was hardly on its last legs in 1860. That year, the South produced almost 75 percent of all U.S. exports. Slaves were worth more than all the manufacturing companies and railroads in the nation. No elite class in history has ever given up such an immense interest voluntarily. Moreover, Confederates eyed territorial expansion into Mexico and Cuba. Short of war, who would have stopped them — or forced them to abandon slavery?

To claim that slavery would have ended of its own accord by the mid-20th century is impossible to disprove but difficult to accept. In 1860, slavery was growing more entrenched in the South. Unpaid labor makes for big profits, and the Southern elite was growing ever richer. Freeing slaves was becoming more and more difficult for their owners, as was the position of free blacks in the United States, North as well as South. For the foreseeable future, slavery looked secure. Perhaps a civil war was required to end it.

As we commemorate the sesquicentennial of that war, let us take pride this time — as we did not during the centennial — that secession on slavery’s behalf failed.

Sociologist James W. Loewen is the author of “Lies My Teacher Told Me” and co-editor, with Edward Sebesta, of “The Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader.”

Secession was over slavery.
" Jul 18, 15 5:47 AM

Re-enactors are one thing, but the historical record shows that the existence of black combat troops in the confederate army were practically non-existent.(possibly as few as 300, or less than 1/300th of the 900,000 confederate forces.The Union forces had whole units of black soldiers, which accounted for about 10% of their total army). But we expect actual history to be distorted to support the myths set forth by the kind of people described in Mr. Z's post above.

"For the Union side at least, the historical record is fairly definitive and clear: we know that about 9-12% of the Union Army was filled by black troops, depending on if one goes with the figure of 180,000 or 200,000 black Union troops serving. Black Union soldiers participated in at least 41 major battles and roughly 450 smaller actions. 37,000 black Union soldiers died in the Civil War. Though early black troops were not aggressively deployed as bearers of arms, it is the case that by the middle of the war, at least, more and more black Union troops were entrusted to carry arms and to perform in combat action.

CWG has discovered that historians and staff – notably Robert Krick – at Spotsylvania National Battlefield Park have sifted through about 100,000 soldiers’ records to see how many non-whites were represented. Non-whites could be blacks, Native Americans, and mulattoes. They found that only 20-30 non-whites were found out of 100,000 soldiers’ records. That is less than 1/300th of one percent. Taking into account that the following estimate involves more conjecture than a good historian would be comfortable with applying to acceptable methods of reliable historical inquiry, one can still get a fairly solid “finger in the air” estimate that if that same ratio of 1/300th was applied to the figure-range of 750,000 – 900,000 Confederates serving during the war from 1861-1865, then one could only reasonably conclude that, at best, between 250-300 black soldiers may have served in the Confederate Army, and of those an even much smaller percentage would have been entrusted to take up arms."
" Jul 18, 15 12:11 PM

Zeldin: Anti-Semitism On The Rise In United States

Maddow: Why Are We Letting Fox News Choose Our Candidates?
Gabriel Arana

Should a cable network -- rather than voters -- decide which candidates have a shot for president and which ones don’t? Rachel Maddow doesn’t think so.

Maddow tore into Fox News on Wednesday, saying the network has established “flexible, irrelevant and opaque criteria” for hosting the Republican presidential candidates. Fox, which is moderating the first few GOP debates, is limiting the stage to the top 10 candidates according to an average of national polls, but has not disclosed which polls it will use -- or whether it’s rounding. Fox did announce on Wednesday that it would hold a "candidates' forum" before the debate for contenders who didn't make the cut.

“The way Fox News is proposing winnowing down the field this year -- what they’ve disclosed anyway -- is at best an arbitrary basis on which to be deciding something as important as who is allowed to compete for the presidency,” Maddow said. “It is a terrible decision that they have decided to make -- making this decision themselves instead of leaving it to the voters.”

The MSNBC host pointed out that Carly Fiorina, who polled at 1.6 percent among Republican voters in one poll and trails 10th-placing Ohio Gov. John Kasich by .4 percent, could either be excluded or included in the primary debates depending on rounding.

“That’s ridiculous,” Maddow weighed in. “You’re talking about infinitesimal differences here that really will determine whether or not a candidate’s campaign is essentially over, and the gatekeeper is a cable news network?”

It’s not just the liberal news host who’s complaining. Maddow pointed out that the New Hampshire Republican Party had sent an open letter to the Republican National Committee saying early-primary states typically winnow down the presidential field. "It is not in the electorate’s interest to have TV debate criteria supplant this solemn duty,” the letter reads in part. “To do so would undermine the very nature of our process and the valuable service that states like New Hampshire provide to voters across the country.”

The New Hampshire Union Leader also announced it would hold its own Republican presidential debate, which will air on C-SPAN, on the day Fox News holds its first forum. “What Fox is attempting to do, and is actually bragging about doing, is a real threat to the first-in-the-nation primary,” the newspaper said in a post on its site.

Maddow said the pushback in New Hampshire “just blew up the Republican primary process for 2016.”

“What is becoming very clear is that Fox News’ plan to just cut off the field at a nice round number based on flexible, irrelevant and opaque criteria it is really not going to stand,” she said. “It’s not going to stand with Republicans, it’s not going to stand in New Hampshire, and it’s really not going to stand for the country.”

Gabriel Arana is senior media editor at The Huffington Post.
" Jul 19, 15 6:57 PM

Painting Of Confederate Battle Flag Evokes Mixed Responses

Yes, we are.

Many in Nation Tired of Explaining Things to Idiots

MINNEAPOLIS (The Borowitz Report)—Many Americans are tired of explaining things to idiots, particularly when the things in question are so painfully obvious, a new poll indicates.

According to the poll, conducted by the University of Minnesota’s Opinion Research Institute, while millions have been vexed for some time by their failure to explain incredibly basic information to dolts, that frustration has now reached a breaking point.

Of the many obvious things that people are sick and tired of trying to get through the skulls of stupid people, the fact that climate change will cause catastrophic habitat destruction and devastating extinctions tops the list, with a majority saying that they will no longer bother trying to explain this to cretins.

Coming in a close second, statistical proof that gun control has reduced gun deaths in countries around the world is something that a significant number of those polled have given up attempting to break down for morons.

Finally, a majority said that trying to make idiots understand why a flag that symbolizes bigotry and hatred has no business flying over a state capitol only makes the person attempting to explain this want to put his or her fist through a wall.

In a result that suggests a dismal future for the practice of explaining things to idiots, an overwhelming number of those polled said that they were considering abandoning such attempts altogether, with a broad majority agreeing with the statement, “This country is exhausting.”

Watch: An episode of Mary Norris’s Comma Queen about the distinction between “who” and "whom"." Jul 20, 15 7:04 AM

if you want to find the roots of racism in the republican party, start with Strom Thurman and the dixiecrats,look up the Southern strategy beginning with Nixon and Reagan. this helped pull inthe racist elements of" Jul 21, 15 9:10 AM

The ideologies haven't changed since the civil war, but the parties did. During the civil war, the democratic party was conservative and the republican party were liberals. The KKK was founded by conservatives,who were at one time democrats but are now republicans. To this day the conservative ideology still opposes civil rights, voting rights, gender equality, LGBT rights, climate science, pay equity and supports big business is anti-union, anti worker, anti education and pro ignorance.

I am sure that Mets Fan doesn't lack the intellectual curiosity or capacity to actually do a little research instead of taking the lazy way out and waiting for a cogent intelligent answer from anyone on the right to come up with.
Go back to sleep.
" Jul 21, 15 4:54 PM

Zeldin Leads Charge Against Iranian Nuclear Deal

The deal is between Iran and six countires. Apparently, that isn't good enough for its critics; they are pining for more sanctions and speeding up Iran's construction of a nuclear bomb.
It's a good thing we don't have to depend on these voices to lead the country.We'd have another Iraq style debacle on our hands.
Why the Iran Deal Makes Obama's Critics So Angry
Peter Beinart

“Mankind faces a crossroads,” declared Woody Allen. “One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.”

The point is simple: In life, what matters most isn’t how a decision compares to your ideal outcome. It’s how it compares to the alternative at hand.

The same is true for the Iran deal, announced Tuesday between Iran and six world powers. As Congress begins debating the agreement, its opponents have three real alternatives. The first is to kill the deal, and the interim agreement that preceded it, and do nothing else, which means few restraints on Iran’s nuclear program. The second is war. But top American and Israeli officials have warned that military action against Iranian nuclear facilities could ignite a catastrophic regional conflict and would be ineffective, if not counterproductive, in delaying Iran’s path to the bomb. Meir Dagan, who oversaw the Iran file as head of Israel’s external spy agency, the Mossad, from 2002 to 2011, has said an attack “would mean regional war, and in that case you would have given Iran the best possible reason to continue the nuclear program.” Michael Hayden, who ran the CIA under George W. Bush from 2006 to 2009, has warned that an attack would “guarantee that which we are trying to prevent: an Iran that will spare nothing to build a nuclear weapon.”
Related Story

‘Look ... It’s My Name on This’: Obama Defends the Iran Nuclear Deal

Implicitly acknowledging this, most critics of the Iran deal propose a third alternative: increase sanctions in hopes of forcing Iran to make further concessions. But in the short term, the third alternative looks a lot like the first. Whatever its deficiencies, the Iran deal places limits on Iran’s nuclear program and enhances oversight of it. Walk away from the agreement in hopes of getting tougher restrictions and you’re guaranteeing, at least for the time being, that there are barely any restrictions on the program at all.

What’s more, even if Congress passes new sanctions, it’s quite likely that the overall economic pressure on Iran will go down, not up. Most major European and Asian countries have closer economic ties to Iran than does the United States, and thus more domestic pressure to resume them. These countries have abided by international sanctions against Iran, to varying degrees, because the Obama administration convinced their leaders that sanctions were a necessary prelude to a diplomatic deal. If U.S. officials reject a deal, Iran’s historic trading partners will not economically injure themselves indefinitely. Sanctions, declared Britain’s ambassador to the United States in May, have already reached “the high-water mark,” noting that “you would probably see more sanctions erosion” if nuclear talks fail. Germany’s ambassador added that, “If diplomacy fails, then the sanctions regime might unravel.”

The actual alternatives to a deal, in other words, are grim. Which is why critics discuss them as little as possible. The deal “falls apart, and then what happens?” CBS’s John Dickerson asked House Majority Leader John Boehner on Sunday. “No deal is better than a bad deal,” Boehner replied. “And from everything that’s leaked from these negotiations, the administration has backed away from almost all of the guidelines that they set out for themselves.”

In other words, Boehner evaded the question. The only way to determine if a “bad deal” is worse than “no deal” is to consider the latter’s consequences. Which is exactly what Boehner refused to do. Instead, he changed the subject: Rather than comparing the agreement to the actual alternatives, he compared it to the objectives that the Obama administration supposedly outlined at the start of the talks.

After a commercial break, Dickerson interviewed Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, who did the same thing. “We have to remember the goal of these negotiations from the beginning,” Cotton said. “It was to stop Iran from enriching uranium and developing nuclear-weapons capability.”

Again, Dickerson tried to steer the conversation away from American desires and toward real-world alternatives. “You have taken the position that if the United States just … walked away from a bad deal, ratcheted up sanctions, that Iran would buckle and come to the table with more favorable terms,” Dickerson said. But “what about an alternative explanation, which a lot of experts believe, which is that they would say, ‘Forget negotiations, we’re going to race towards a breakout on a nuclear bomb?’”

Cotton’s answer: present a “credible threat of military force” and the Iranians will abandon “their nuclear-weapons capabilities.” The senator never explained why threatening war would make Iran capitulate now, given that the United States and Israel have been making such threats for over a decade. Nor did he address the consequences of a military strike, which former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has said could “prove catastrophic, haunting us for generations.”

Instead, Cotton returned to comparing the nuclear deal to America’s ideal preferences. The Obama administration, he said, should “get back to that original goal of stopping Iran from developing any nuclear-weapons capabilities.”

Whether the current deal represents the abandonment of Barack Obama’s “original goal” is less clear than Cotton suggests. In fact, even before talks with Iran began, Obama infuriated Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his GOP allies by refusing to adopt the red lines they wanted. For instance, notes the Rand Corporation’s Alireza Nader, Obama never declared that Iran could not enrich any uranium, something Cotton incorrectly claims was “the goal of these negotiations from the beginning.”

But let’s assume that Obama, or George W. Bush before him, did outline goals that the current deal doesn’t meet. So what? Those goals are irrelevant, unless Cotton and company have a plausible plan for achieving them by scrapping the existing deal, which they don’t.

When critics focus incessantly on the gap between the present deal and a perfect one, what they’re really doing is blaming Obama for the fact that the United States is not omnipotent. This isn’t surprising given that American omnipotence is the guiding assumption behind contemporary Republican foreign policy. Ask any GOP presidential candidate except Rand Paul what they propose doing about any global hotspot and their answer is the same: be tougher. America must take a harder line against Iran’s nuclear program, against ISIS, against Bashar al-Assad, against Russian intervention in Ukraine and against Chinese ambitions in the South China Sea.
The United States cannot bludgeon Iran into total submission, either economically or militarily. The U.S. tried that in Iraq.

If you believe American power is limited, this agenda is absurd. America needs Russian and Chinese support for an Iranian nuclear deal. U.S. officials can’t simultaneously put maximum pressure on both Assad and ISIS, the two main rivals for power in Syria today. They must decide who is the lesser evil. Accepting that American power is limited means prioritizing. It means making concessions to regimes and organizations you don’t like in order to put more pressure on the ones you fear most. That’s what Franklin Roosevelt did when allying with Stalin against Hitler. It’s what Richard Nixon did when he reached out to communist China in order to increase America’s leverage over the U.S.S.R.

And it’s what George W. Bush refused to do after 9/11, when he defined the “war on terror” not merely as a conflict against al-Qaeda but as a license to wage war, or cold war, against every anti-American regime supposedly pursuing weapons of mass destruction. This massive overestimation of American power underlay the war in Iraq, which has taken the lives of a half-million Iraqis and almost 4,500 Americans, and cost the United States over $2 trillion. And it underlay Bush’s refusal to negotiate with Iran, even when Iran made dramatic overtures to the United States. Negotiations, after all, require mutual concessions, which Bush believed were unnecessary; if America just kept flexing its muscles, the logic went, Iran’s regime would collapse.

In 1943, Walter Lippmann wrote that “foreign policy consists in bringing into balance, with a comfortable surplus of power in reserve, the nation’s commitments and the nation’s power.” If your commitments exceed your power, he wrote, your foreign policy is “insolvent.” That aptly describes the situation Obama inherited from Bush.

Obama has certainly made mistakes in the Middle East. But behind his drive for an Iranian nuclear deal is the effort to make American foreign policy “solvent” again by bringing America’s ends into alignment with its means. That means recognizing that the United States cannot bludgeon Iran into total submission, either economically or militarily. The U.S. tried that in Iraq.

It is precisely this recognition that makes the Iran deal so infuriating to Obama’s critics. It codifies the limits of American power. And recognizing the limits of American power also means recognizing the limits of American exceptionalism. It means recognizing that no matter how deeply Americans believe in their country’s unique virtue, the United States is subject to the same restraints that have governed great powers in the past. For the Republican right, that’s a deeply unwelcome realization. For many other Americans, it’s a relief. It’s a sign that, finally, the Bush era in American foreign policy is over.
" Jul 22, 15 4:59 PM

Painting Of Confederate Battle Flag Evokes Mixed Responses

The donald is doing us a great service. He is garnering the support of the true base of the republican party, exposing them for what they are, and dragging the party down and exposing the truth about its support. He is leading in the polls because he echos the hatred inherent in the party. No wonder he has support here." Jul 22, 15 5:03 PM

Black lives matter. The crisis is in the black community due to the institutional racism that is the result of white priveledge and the failure to recognise that whites don't like to be reminded of it and don't like to feel shame about it.
To say "all lives matter" is to diminish what the black community is experiencing (deaths at the handsof authorities, higher rate of incarceration,higher poverty rates, etc.) .
To dismiss it is just another manifestation of the racism that one purports to be against." Jul 23, 15 6:31 AM

Yes, making blatantly racist comments shows that those defending him are as racist as he is. Look at all the support he's getting. Racism appeals to them." Jul 23, 15 6:36 AM

Many on the right are frustrated with the system because their attempts to smear the president and effect change have failed a d they are "flailing their arms wildly" in an attempt to support anyone who is willing to do anything regardless of what it does to the country as a whole.
Anyone who thinks Trump has a chance and supports him for president is a brain dead moron and a racist just like Trump himself ." Jul 24, 15 4:55 AM

From Salon-

The right-wing media’s vicious profiteering: How Donald Trump & Fox News are weaponizing hate
Chauncey DeVega

Right-wing domestic terrorist Dylann Roof killed nine African-Americans in a Charleston church because he felt that “his country” was being “stolen” from him by African-Americans and other people of color. Republican Presidential candidate and reality TV show star Donald Trump believes that “illegal” immigrants from Mexico are predators who are stealing jobs and resources from America while they rape and murder white women. Dylann Roof is an overt and unapologetic white supremacist terrorist. Donald Trump is a “belligerent, loudmouthed racist.” He is also a leading 2016 Republican presidential candidate.

The overt white supremacist websites that taught Dylann Roof his racist beliefs, and the more “polite” and “respectable” right-wing media outlets such as Fox News, are part of the same political communication ecosystem. Both Dylann Roof and Donald Trump are channeling the racist political values and talking points that are generated on a daily basis by Fox News and the right-wing propaganda machine. There, ideas circulate back and forth between the “mainstream” media and its peers within the white supremacist political community. Talking points are refined and developed; the issue or controversy of the day is circulated; trolls (often hired by right-leaning public relations firms) are deployed to online comment sections in an effort to create the illusion of consensus on the part of the “silent majority” and “real Americans” on any given issue — all while silencing dissent and harassing those people they do not agree with.

Experts in political communication and media have described the denseness of ties, shared links, and the alternate reality created in the right-wing media(both traditional and digital) as exhibiting a condition of “epistemic closure.” What that means is this: Because contemporary conservatism has created a bizarre and twisted reality for those who consume its news media and other information sources, a state of extreme political polarization has been created. If citizens cannot come to agreement about basic facts, they are crippled in their ability to solve common problems of shared public concern. This crisis is made even more acute by how recent research has demonstrated that those people who listen to Fox News and other right-wing media outlets are more likely to hold erroneous beliefs about the nature of political and social reality. In essence, Fox News is not “news”—it functions as an organized disinformation campaign that propagandizes its followers into accepting right-wing lies and distortions as empirical fact.

The “conspiranoid” fantasies of your crazy uncle or well-intentioned but profoundly ignorant grandmother — who repeatedly forward you emails claiming that Obama was born in another country; or that the United States’ first black president hates white people; or about how the Democrats will create death panels to kill the elderly; that “White America” is a victim of “racism” by black and brown people; or that the United States military is planning to invade Texas — are not born of the ether. They are a product of an echo chamber, a product that is designed to derail, distract, and delegitimate the government.

In “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” historian Richard Hofstader famously wrote about the dangers posed by such an impenetrable bubble. Hofstadter’s essay was published during the 1950s, at the conclusion of McCarthy’s witch hunt, at the dawn of an ideological revolution that would manifest, in the short term, in movements such as the John Birch Society, and culminate decades later in the presidency of Ronald Reagan. Now, in the age of Obama, this paranoid style has been mainstreamed and amplified by the 24/7 cable news cycle, the power of instantaneous communication offered by digital media, and a weak fourth estate that treats all ideas—however absurd, without empirical merit, or unmoored from reality—as “facts” to be debated and discussed.

Thus, movement conservatism and racism are unified in the post-civil rights era United States.

White racial resentment, white victimology, white identity politics, and white grievance-mongering are common to overt white supremacists such as the Ku Klux Klan, Neo Nazis, and white nationalists, more broadly. The same values are mobilized by the Republican Party and Fox News media through symbolic racism, the use of coded racial appeals, and the now-infamous “Southern Strategy.” Overt white supremacists largely traffic in “old fashioned” racism; the contemporary Republican Party uses “colorblind” racism and claims about “bad culture” or “cultural pathologies” among blacks to legitimate and protect a system of white privilege and supremacy.

However, the divide between the old-fashioned racism of White Nationalists and the “modern” racism of the contemporary Republican Party is not fixed. White racial animus towards blacks and Latinos (and often other people of color) grows from the same soil: a belief that the United States is naturally a “white” country and that White America has a Herrenvolk birthright to its resources and opportunities before all other groups of people. Whether explicitly invoked or done through coded appeals, these shared beliefs help to make the cross-pollination of ideas within the right-wing echo chamber so efficient.

There are many examples of a convergence between the narratives generated by overt white supremacists and those of the “mainstream” right-wing “news” media. Moreover, many of the talking points that come to dominate the Fox News and its related media were first authored in white supremacist/white nationalist online spaces:

To wit:

The Fox News moral panic about roving groups of feral black young people attacking innocent white people in “knockout games” was a fantasy ginned up by overt white supremacists and mainstreamed by Fox News and its allies.
White supremacists in the United States and Europe have long been worried about changing demographics and “white racial extinction.” The right-wing media machine have repeatedly sounded a public alarm that white people should “make more babies” and that “traditional America” will be bred out of existence by non-whites.
The uprising by black youth in Baltimore and Ferguson against police thuggery was distorted by the right-wing media and overt white supremacists into “anti-white” riots, “black gang activity” and “black nationalists” targeting police and white citizens for reprisals.
White supremacists have developed the phrase “anti-racist is code for anti-white.” Fox News and the other elements of the right-wing echo chamber have used the same logic as personalities such as Bill O’Reilly have repeatedly stated that anti-racism initiatives and discussions of white privilege are somehow hateful acts of “racism” against white Americans.

In the same vein, Donald Trump’s newfound concerns about the tragic case of Kathryn Steinle, a white woman who was killed by Francisco Sanchez, an undocumented Mexican immigrant, is an act of obvious political opportunism. The combustible mix of race, immigration and white victimology was too tempting for Trump, and the white nativist impulses of movement conservatism, to resist.

This world of imperiled white people is a fantasy that is shared by both overt white supremacists and the mainstream right-wing media. It is a fantasy that ignores the following facts: Crime in the United States is at record lows. Most violent crime is intra-racial. Because of that reality, a given person is much more likely to be killed by a member of their own “racial” group than by someone outside of it. Moreover, most people are killed or otherwise assaulted by a person they know or who they are related to. Trump’s particular concerns about crime by undocumented immigrants are also specious—for a variety of reasons, undocumented immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than other groups.

Although a veritable cottage industry has been created by the media with its obsession regarding missing and at-risk middle-class and rich white women (media analysts have described this as “missing white woman syndrome”), white women are in fact among the safest and most protected groups of people in the United States. First Nations, African-American, and Hispanic women are more likely to be victims of violent crime than are white women. Young black and First Nations women are also much more likely to be kidnapped or otherwise go “missing.” And in this present era of white-on-black police thuggery and violence, unarmed black women are much more likely to be killed by America’s police than are white women.

(In all, American white women (and women more generally) are much more likely to be killed, assaulted, or otherwise victimized by their husband or boyfriend than they are by Donald Trump’s nightmare dream of “illegal” Mexican immigrants.)

There is a larger meta-level assumption driving the right-wing hate media and Donald Trump’s false concerns about white people who are victims of crime by non-whites: the White Right believes that crime against white people is underreported by the mainstream news media. As with other matters, the facts are none too kind to the worldview held by American conservatives—in reality, crimes against white people are over reported relative to their actual percentages by the TV news, while crimes against black and brown people are grossly under reported.

The white right and its sealed alternate reality media bubble where white people are victims, and white women preyed upon by dangerous black and brown “outsiders,” is part of an old and very ugly type of white racial paranoia. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, white women were supposedly being lured into interracial sex and white slavery by the Chinese with their opium dens, Eastern and Southern Europeans who grabbed them off the street and sold them into prostitution, or “Mexicans” who waylaid and dragooned them. We can also not forget the particularly American habit of the lynching tree where obsessions with the “black beast rapist” and other false rumors and lies about black men having sex with white women (the vast majority of it willing, wanted, and mutually consensual) resulted in thousands of black men being tortured, vivisected, shot full of holes, and/or burned alive.

In the 19th and 20th century Donald Trump and the right-wing hate media’s obsession with imperiled white women such as Kathryn Steinle, or a crime wave by “illegal” immigrants from Latin and South America, would be generously described as “yellow journalism.” Fox News, the broader Right-wing echo chamber, and overt white supremacist media, are generating racial panics and white victimology screeds via Google, where they put in searches for words such as “white,” “black,” “victim.” and “crime.” From this piss-poor thinking and methodology they can then concoct a fantastical narrative of white people who are victimized en masse by black and brown criminals.

Dylann Roof and other white, right-wing domestic terrorists have been galvanized by Fox News and the broader right-wing media. Donald Trump, and the Right-wing media that are aiding and abetting his nativist lies, are encouraging vigilante violence in defense of white women (and white men who are now emasculated because they are unable to defend “their” mothers, daughters, sisters, kin, and community). And just as the right-wing media has done in the past when their exhortations to violence have born fruit, they will deny having ever encouraged such an outcome.
" Jul 24, 15 10:18 PM

Why the GOP Hates Talking About Hate: Conservatives Can’t Confront Racism in Charleston Shooting
Ana Marie Cox
Why the GOP Hates Talking About Hate

Photo Illustration by Alex Williams/The Daily Beast
Ana Marie Cox

Leading conservatives, desperate to show they’re also victims, are rushing to define a white man’s killing of nine black people as an attack on Christianity.

In the 24 hours after the massacre inside Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church, GOP politicians and members of the conservative commentariat have tried to explain Dylann Storm Roof’s motivations on a spectrum that runs from merely murky to the explicitly anti-religious.

They have taken pains to avoid the abundant evidence that Roof was a sadly familiar figure: a young man motivated by racism to violence.

Louisiana Governor and passive presidential aspirant Bobby Jindal inserted the shruggie icon into the debate, averring that we should defer to the expertise of police detectives in sussing out the connection between Roof’s documented history of racist sympathies and his perhaps coincidental murdering of black people: “Law enforcement will figure out what his so-called motivations were.”

South Carolina Senator and presidential candidate Lindsey Graham pointed out that it’s Christians who are the serial killer flavor of the month: “It’s 2015, there are people out there looking for Christians to kill them.” His fellow campaign traveler Rick Santorum opined that the slaughter was part of a larger “assault on religious liberty.” And Rand Paul blamed the massacre on “people not understanding where salvation comes from.”

GALLERY: Remembering the Victims of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (PHOTOS)

Fox & Friends couldn’t help dumbing down the debate by framing it simply as an “Attack on Faith,” while anchor Steve Doocy wondered aloud how people could “unbelievably” “call it a hate crime.”

This is, of course, nonsense. The massacre was not an attack on faith. According to witnesses, Roof stated his goals and motivations as he committed the crime. He told the victims, “You’re raping our women and taking over the country. You have to go.” By Friday morning, CNN was reporting that he confessed he had wanted to start a race war.

The reliance on culture-war narratives rings even more hollow. Roof wasn’t some unhinged hippie atheist with contempt for conservative values; a high-school classmate told The Daily Beast that “he had that kind of Southern pride, I guess some would say. Strong conservative beliefs.” Roof joined white-supremacy groups, not the American Civil Liberties Union. He didn’t even ask some Christians to bake a cake for a gay wedding; he opened fire on a bunch of black people after watching them at Bible study.

So how can we explain conservatives’ misidentification of Roof’s motives? Could it be an overzealous application of “allegedly” to describe what happened (Perhaps they take so seriously the idea that Roof is innocent until proven guilty, they’re acting as his lawyers.) Then again, conservatives seem to be concerned about due process only in very specific instances. It’s not as if Roof has been accused of campus sexual assault.

No, the problem here is not that GOP politicians blame the victims. It’s that these days they desperately need to believe that they are also victims.

Depicting Roof as just another one of the foot soldiers in the war on Christmas steals unearned legitimacy from black Americans’ struggle on a scale that should give critics of Rachel Dolezal pause. It’s a theft of the Emanuel AME victims’ martyrdom that’s as capricious and as unaccountable as any Iggy Azalea appropriation.

Cynics might see the emphasis on faith as Republicans’ most current version of the “Southern Strategy.” They argue that comments such as Graham’s and Santorum’s are intentional spin, “whitewashing” Roof’s victims—they’re Christians just like us!—in order to opt out of the otherwise unavoidable conversation about race that Roof himself intended to end.

Or, even more deviously, the anti-Christian narrative is designed to gin up fear among base voters already nervous about same-sex marriage and Caitlyn Jenner. First they came for Memories Pizza, now the godless horde may be armed!

You may find that jaded interpretation a gloomy verdict on the state of our politics, but I actually hope it’s the case. Because if these people are refusing to engage in a discussion about the stain of slavery, at least they’re implicitly acknowledging the stain exists.

This was not an attack on faith. According to witnesses, Roof stated his goals and motivations as he committed the crime. He told the victims, “You’re raping our women and taking over the country. You have to go.”

If they are intentionally perverting racial violence into base-stoking paranoia, at least that validates someone’s paranoia. (On Thursday, Marco Rubio posted to Twitter an image stating, “The world has become a more dangerous place,” turning Patriot Act propaganda into an accidental endorsement of what blacks all over America are feeling today.)

But what’s far more troubling is the idea that these GOP politicians truly believe Roof was on a Christian-killing mission. What if they are genuinely ignorant of the historical and cultural context of his actions? What if they earnestly believe themselves to be under equal threat? That would mean they live in a delusion so complete that not even nine dead black bodies can interrupt it. Do we dare ask how many bodies could?

We don’t yet know how much forethought Roof put into his actions. He specifically went to a black church, that we know for sure. As we learn more about the place and its congregants, Roof’s choice of target has taken on a gruesome, otherworldly poetry.

There’s the history of that black church, for instance, and how it intersects with a would-be slave uprising and Martin Luther King’s legacy.

There’s also the role that victim Clementa Pinckney, a church pastor and state senator, played in the aftermath of Walter Scott’s death—or, as Pinckney rightly called it, murder. Pinckney gave a floor speech in favor of police body cameras, which at first glance may seem only very generally related to his own fate. But Pinckney’s argument for the cameras echoes the debate over Roof’s motivations. It is a final and haunting couplet in Emanuel AME saga.

GALLERY: Charleston Church Shooting Aftermath (PHOTOS)

As Pinckney diagnosed it, those who questioned the existence of systematic police brutality were like Thomas the Apostle doubting Christ’s resurrection. Thomas eventually was able to put his hand on Jesus’s side and then believed. Likewise, Pinckney said, skeptics of police brutality “were able to see the video” of Scott’s murder and, “like Thomas…said, ‘I believe.’”

In other words, Pinckney looked at the murder of Walter Scott and saw a miracle. He saw one of the brightest silver linings imaginable. He saw hope reborn. He saw white Americans being given the chance to lay their hands on the metaphorical body of black America and examine its wounds—and he thought that evidence moved them. He thought they came to believe.

By calling Roof’s actions an “attack on faith,” conservatives are recoiling from the evidence before them. To say Roof was anti-religious is like Thomas voicing doubt even as his hand comes away covered in blood. That argument is worse than a lie, it is an insult to Pinckney, to the work he did to heal the nation’s wounds.

That argument is itself an attack on faith—the faith Pinckney had in us.

" Jul 25, 15 6:42 AM

To assert that Trump speaks for for a large group of under- represented group of Americans lends him credibility.
He has not revealed a platform nor shared ideas for solving the problems the nation faces today. He has no experience in public or international policy. His over the top rhetoric is attracting the attention of potential voters who are inclined to believe that he can be trusted with the reins of government when his history of public comments have shown that he has no realistic grasp of the intricacies of political compromise.
As far as his views are concerned, he has alienated most of the immigrant community with his comments about Mexican immigrants calling them rapists. He recently made comments blaming crime on racial minorities which only exasperates the the problem of crime and alienates racial minorities, while he offers no solutions. His favorability comes almost exclusively from republicans, though a small number of liberals and independents are, for the time being, supporting him.
It won't take long for Trump to drop out of the race- I'll predict that he won't make the second debate. He is a sensationalist, seeking attention for his next profitable scheme. Those who support him will hopefully become more informed and realize that he is as shallow a candidate as most think he is.
" Jul 25, 15 7:34 AM

Zeldin Leads Charge Against Iranian Nuclear Deal

Do you mean like the way conservatives lie and try to discredit any and every liberal? All we have to do is scroll through the comments in any political thred here to see it. Look at the way the president is treated on these pages- we know that being a democrat isn't the only reason for it. once again, scroll through some of the comments.
You, especially, are on to talk.
" Jul 26, 15 12:28 PM

Allen West, the war criminal?

Allen West Had To Resign From Army To Avoid Court Martial; He's Equally Unfit to Serve in Congress
by KwikFollow

Retired Army Lt. Col. Allen West--U.S. Congressman and wingnut Tea Party hero many of whom revere as the Anti-Obama--resigned from the Army to avoid being court martialed. But in true Allen West fashion he's using his disgraced Army career as a way to claim he's more honorable than his Democratic opponent, who was arrested as a teen for drunk and disorderly conduct.

West is running against Patrick Murphy to represent Florida's 18th Congressional District. The race is so ugly that Talking Points Memo.Com is running an article about it by Eric Kleefeld titled, Is Allen West In The Dirtiest House Campaign Of 2012? http://2012.talkingpointsmemo.com/...

Here's an excerpt:

On Friday, West launched an ad attacking Murphy, a construction and environmental clean-up executive, for being arrested in a drunken bar-fight in 2003. And West’s campaign made sure to splash Murphy’s mugshot on the screen.

“Feb. 16, 2003, Fort Hood, Texas: Lt. Col. Allen West had just received deployment orders, and prepares his men to go to war,” the announcer says. “That night, South Beach, Miami: Patrick Murphy is thrown out of a club for fighting, covered in alcohol, and unable to stand. Murphy then confronts and verbally assaults a police officer. Patrick Murphy was arrested and taken to jail. Two men, a country in crisis — you decide.”

West would have people believe that his time in the Army makes him more trustworthy and honorable than Murphy. Hold up. Wait a minute. That's not necessarily so.

While West was allowed to retire from the Army, he did so under very questionable circumstances in 2003. In fact, an article from CNN.Com tells why West had to get out of the Army. Here's a part of that story:

U.S. officer fined for harsh interrogation tactics
Saturday, December 13, 2003 Posted: 6:16 AM EST (1116 GMT)

TIKRIT, Iraq (CNN) -- The commanding general of the 4th Infantry Division on Friday accepted a U.S. military investigator's recommendation and ordered administrative action against Lt. Col. Allen West, who was accused of using improper methods to force information out of an Iraqi detainee.

Following a military hearing, West was fined $5,000 over two months, according to West's civillian attorney, Neal Puckett.

The punishment does not affect West's eligibility for retirement and pension, Puckett said in a statement.

West, 42, will be assigned to the rear detachment of the 4th Infantry Division awaiting the processing of his retirement request, the statement said.

Maj. Gen. Raymond Odierno, the 4th Infantry's top general in Tikrit, could have rejected the recommendation and ordered a court martial. If he were to be found guilty at a court martial of the two articles against him, West could have faced 11 years in prison, a military prosecutor told CNN.

The case stems from an incident August 20 at a military base in Taji, just north of Baghdad, when West was interrogating an Iraqi policeman, who was believed to have information about a plot to assassinate West with an ambush on a U.S. convoy.

In testimony at an Article 32 hearing -- the military's version of a grand jury or preliminary hearing -- West said the policeman, Yahya Jhrodi Hamoody, was not cooperating with interrogators, so he watched four of his soldiers from the 220th Field Artillery Battalion beat the detainee on the head and body.

West said he also threatened to kill Hamoody. Military prosecutors say West followed up on that threat by taking the suspect outside, put him on the ground near a weapons clearing barrel and fired his 9 mm pistol into the barrel.

Plainly speaking, West's actions amounted to torture. I can't see how anybody (even West) can compare torturing another human being with being drunk and disorderly with a straight face. West participated in the TORTURE

of another human being. Is the type of extremist who deserves a seat in Congress? I certainly don't think so and hopefully the citizens in Florida's 18th District won't think so either.

George Zornick, of The Nation.Com, recently wrote a revealing piece about West's misconduct in the Army titled, So Allen West Wants to Talk About His Military Record...http://www.thenation.com/...

Check out this excerpt:

The voters of Florida’s 18th District will have to decide if they want to hold Murphy’s run-in with the law against him. But it’s odd that West trumpets “duty, honor and service” in comparison to the transgression, while touting his military career—because his record there is, by almost any measure, more ignominious than an arrest for drunk and disorderly conduct.

West resigned from the military in 2004, following an incident involving his unit’s treatment of an Iraqi man. West himself was charged with two violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, including one against assault, and agreed to retire after an Article 15 hearing in order to avoid a court martial.

According to a 2004 account in The New York Times, West let the soldiers under his command beat the Iraqi man, whom West believed was involved in an attempt on his life. (No evidence was ever found implicating the man).

Allen West's repugnant misconduct while serving in the U.S. Army is even more reprehensible than his embarrassing misconduct as a first-term U.S. Congressman. His failures on both of these jobs revealed him as an extremist opportunist, who doesn't deserve the privilege or prestige of serving a second term in the U.S. House of Representatives.

It's bad enough that someone who helped torture somebody was allowed to retire from the Army with a lifetime pension. West is as equally unfit to serve in Congress as he was unfit to serve in the U.S. Army.


" Jul 26, 15 2:31 PM

Hillary Clinton To Hold At Least Two Fundraisers In Hamptons In August

She'll still beat anyone in the republican clown bus" Jul 27, 15 10:51 AM

The right is focusing on Hillary because their own candidates are impotent. Look at Huckabee's comments about Israel. why isn't Zeldin and the condemning him? Is what he said okay, or is it just unacceptable if the left says something like that?" Jul 28, 15 12:31 PM

As usual, the usual trolls try to silence anyone that disagrees with them.
Here are some facts for you- read them and weep.

And by the way, I'm back. Deal with it.
CNN/ORC Poll: Hillary Clinton Maintains Double-Digit Lead Over All Republican Hopefuls Surveyed

Email-gate may have dominated the headlines over the past few weeks, but evidently the scandal hasn’t trickled down to the grassroots level—at least not yet. And perhaps it never will. To wit, a newish CNN/ORC poll, which conducted head-to-head hypothetical matchups between Hillary Clinton and all the leading presumptive Republican hopefuls, is anything but positive news for the GOP. Though Jeb Bush (16 percent) leads the pack of Republicans, no candidate even comes close to defeating Hillary Clinton one-on-one (via Bill Kristol):

…none of the top candidates in this field gets within 10 points of Hillary Clinton in a series of hypothetical general election matchups.
Rand Paul comes closest, with 43% saying they'd be more likely to back him while 54% choose Clinton. The two candidates who currently top the GOP field, Bush and Walker, match up equally against Clinton, with each carrying 40% to her 55%. Huckabee gets 41% to Clinton's 55% and Carson has 40% to Clinton's 56%.

Fortunately for Hillary, her approval/disapproval numbers are also above water (53/44)—although they’ve fallen markedly since last November (59/38). Nevertheless, a majority of Democratic voters (with leaners included) support her candidacy (62 percent) over rivals such as Joe Biden (15 percent), Elizabeth Warren (10 percent), and Bernie Sanders (3 percent). These figures are consistent with previous polls.

There is, however, one major caveat: it is only 2015. Just because she’s dominating the field right now doesn’t mean she will be when Democratic primary-goers head to the polls in 2016. By the same token, just because Republican candidates aren’t competitive against her yet doesn’t mean she’s unbeatable and her election to the American presidency is a fait accompli. Much can change before the primary season begins in earnest.

And yet, it is fairly remarkable that, despite all the bad press she's received over the past year, she's still favored to win the 2016 general election by a landslide, according to this poll.
" Jul 28, 15 3:56 PM

As long as he continues to expose the ignorance of the republican party and its supporters by rising in the polls, let him go. At least all the stupid will be in one place." Jul 29, 15 5:53 AM

We know you don't care about black babies, you just saw a chance to play the race card.

" Jul 29, 15 4:56 PM

How's that outreach to minorities and women going for you guys?
10 Ways Republicans Have Blown Their Own Minority Outreach Strategy

RNC Chairman Priebus Discusses Republican Party Strategy In WashingtonThe Republican National Committee had what seemed like easy advice for the rest of the GOP after the 2012 election: Stop inflaming racism and expand the voter base beyond male, white America. After a disastrous few months since the RNC autopsy report, they tried again Thursday, with an event celebrating the “rising stars” in the Republican Party.

But Republican leaders worry its already too late, as Politico reported on Friday, “influential Republicans told us the party is actually in a worse place than it was Nov. 7, the day after the disastrous election.” Republicans have repeatedly gotten in their own way of appealing to Hispanic, black, Asian, and gay Americans. Here are just a few examples:

1. Voted to deport DREAMers: With DREAMers standing in the room and booing, 221 House Republicans voted to defund the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which would effectively resume deportations. Meanwhile, comprehensive immigration reform has come to a grinding halt in the House, which has split on whether to include a path to citizenship.

2. Suppressed minority votes: Immediately after the Supreme Court struck down part of the Voting Rights Act, Texas moved to enact a voter ID law and North Carolina rolled out a series of voter suppression bills. Texas has now joined a case to permanently undo Voting Rights Act protections. It doesn’t help matters that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia called the Voting Rights Act a perpetuation of “racial entitlement.”

3. Dismissive and racist language: Republicans haven’t figured out a way to keep Rep. Steve King (R-IA) quiet, since the congressman refuses to apologize for calling immigrants drug mules. But it’s not just Steve King. In private King insists his colleagues agree with him, while Rep. Don Young (R-AK) used the word “wetbacks” to describe Hispanics. Meanwhile, Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) has made a case against multiculturalism, saying, “there’s only one race here, it’s the American race.”

4. Boycotting Spanish-language TV: Due to its invented controversy involving networks broadcasting Hillary Clinton documentaries, the RNC said it will boycott Spanish-language networks Telemundo and CNN Espanol for 2016 debates, too.

5. Insensitivity on Trayvon Martin: Texas Governor Rick Perry reacted to George Zimmerman’s not guilty verdict for the death of a black teen by insisting the justice system is “color blind.” Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) told African-Americans to “get over it.” King blamed Obama for Zimmerman even having to stand trial for Martin’s death. And Florida Governor Rick Scott has refused to even open debate on the state’s controversial Stand Your Ground law.

6. Tea Party condescendingly talks race: Even as he attempted to broaden the Republican party’s appeal to black voters, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) condescendingly discussed the history of civil rights and discrimination during his April speech at Howard University. Paul, who once admitted he opposes the Civil Rights Act of 1964, recently explained he doesn’t “think there is any particular evidence” of black voters being prevented from voting.

7. Relied on racist author’s Heritage study to fight immigration reform That former Heritage author Jason Richwine earned his Ph.D for a racist dissertation linking race and IQ has not stopped Republicans from heralding Heritage’s discredited findings on immigration.

8. Pursued rabidly anti-LGBT agenda: Gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli has stood by his position of viewing LGBT people as “soulless” and “self-destructive.” The RNC also unanimously passed anti-LGBT resolutions without any debate in April. Neither shows Republicans are serious about showing LGBT Americans “we care about them too,” like the RNC stated.

9. Ignored uninsured voters: Latinos have among the lowest rates of health coverage in the U.S., and also back Obamacare 2 to 1. The GOP has ignored this issue, and haven’t offered any alternatives for the uninsured, even as many of them threaten to shut down the government to block Obamacare.

10. Still arguing for self-deportation: Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, invited by Republicans to testify on immigration, is still arguing for self-deportation. Even RNC chairman Reince Priebus slammed this approach as “horrific.”


The problem isn't entirely the republican candidates, it's the base of the republican party. When the frontrunner calls Mexicans rapists and criminals, and describes a breast feeding mother as a disgusting person, and draws a large following, it indicates that it isn't a perception of bigotry that is the problem; its the reality. " Jul 31, 15 6:43 PM

Gullible idiots are beleiving the lies being spread.
Even some republicans know it.

GOP Gov. Pence’s Investigation: Planned Parenthood Not Guilty Of ANY Wrong
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Republicans and religious groups have been howling for blood after the heavily edited and deliberately misleading videos about Planned Parenthood were released last week, in one of the dirtiest smear campaigns ever conducted by activist organizations.

Investigations into Planned Parenthood have been called for and Republicans in Congress chose to use this opportunity to try to defund Planned Parenthood entirely, which, for the record, does NOT sell aborted fetuses and does not use any federal money for abortion purposes. Five of the nonprofit’s affiliates do donate cells and tissues for medical research purposes, with the mother’s consent.

But the fanatical zealots on the far right were dealt a blow on Thursday as the state of Indiana cleared Planned Parenthood of all wrongdoing following Gov. Mike Pence’s investigation into the nonprofit. The state’s health inspectors announced that in letter to the media that the agency was “unable to find any non-compliance with state regulations. Therefore, no deficiencies were cited.” The case is now closed, and Planned Parenthood may now return to providing women with vital healthcare services and allowing women to exercise agency over her own body.

The entire crusade against Planned Parenthood is falling apart as a judge in California issued an order barring any more of these videos from being released, as they were recorded illegally: California law prohibits recording “confidential communication” without all parties’ consent.

This is not the first and will not be the last time that such shameful and underhanded tactics will be used to try to take out one of the most important bastions of women’s rights in our country. The Republican Party, wounded by their defeats on the same-sex marriage front, has shifted gears to attack a woman’s right to choose and women’s role in society in general. They have even threatened to shut down the government in order to defund Planned Parenthood. If they want to play brinkmanship games over the culture wars, so let them. Sooner or later they’ll realize they’ve already lost." Jul 31, 15 9:23 PM

Zeldin Leads Charge Against Iranian Nuclear Deal

Torture is immoral and inneffective. It is practiced and supported by ignorant sadists who get off on the pain of others and have no moral compass and no concience. Now go pull the wings off some flies.

" Aug 1, 15 6:44 AM

Hillary Clinton To Hold At Least Two Fundraisers In Hamptons In August

we already had a war criminal for president.
" Aug 2, 15 9:29 AM

George W. Bush, Dick Cheney Convicted Of War Crimes
Justin Rosario

In the first verdict of its kind since former President George W. Bush left office, he and several members of his administration have been successfully convicted in absentia of war crimes in Malaysia.

Yes, this is a BFD.

This past Friday, a five panel tribunal delivered a unanimous guilty verdict after a week long trial that, unsurprisingly, was not covered by American media. The witnesses included several ex-Guantanamo detainees that gave testimony on the conditions and human rights violations that were systematically carried out under orders of the Bush administration.

Former President Bush, Former Vice-President Dick Cheney, Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and the legal advisers Alberto Gonzales, David Addington, William Haynes, Jay Bybee and John Yoo that crafted the legal ‘justification’ for torture that basically said, ‘we can if we want to even if it’s illegal’ were the defendants. None were present, of course, but international war crime trials do not require the presence of the accused. The trial was run according to the standards set by the Nuremberg Trials to convict war criminals after World War II.

Professor Gurdial Singh Nijar, who headed the prosecution said, “The tribunal was very careful to adhere scrupulously to the regulations drawn up by the Nuremberg courts and the International Criminal Courts”.

The United States is subject to international law which makes this trial significant beyond the borders of Malaysia. Foreign Policy Journal reports:

President Lamin told a packed courtroom: “As a tribunal of conscience, the tribunal is fully aware that its verdict is merely declaratory in nature. The tribunal has no power of enforcement, no power to impose any custodial sentence on any one or more of the 8 convicted persons. What we can do, under Article 31 of Chapter VI of Part 2 of the Charter is to recommend to the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission to submit this finding of conviction by the tribunal, together with a record of these proceedings, to the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, as well as the United Nations and the Security Council.

“The Tribunal also recommends to the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission that the names of all the 8 convicted persons be entered and included in the Commission’s Register of War Criminals and be publicized accordingly.

“The Tribunal recommends to the War Crimes Commission to give the widest international publicity to this conviction and grant of reparations, as these are universal crimes for which there is a responsibility upon nations to institute prosecutions if any of these Accused persons may enter their jurisdictions.”

The hope is that other countries will hold trials of their own and the guilty verdicts will mount up. This is not that outlandish an idea as Bush and Cheney have not only brazenly admitted they authorized torture in direct contravention of the Geneva Convention, but bragged about it. Nothing more helpful than having a criminal do all the heavy lifting for the prosecution. If enough of these verdicts are passed on to the international courts, they will have no choice but to hold a trial of their own. While Bush won’t be arrested on American soil, he’ll have a very difficult time leaving the country. Already he’s canceled a trip to Switzerland, due to possible charges of war crimes.

The best possible outcome is that the world court delivers a guilty verdict that sends a clear message to President Obama and his successors that the United States is not above the law, American Exceptional-ism be damned. It’s a lesson we’ve forgotten and need to relearn.

" Aug 2, 15 1:34 PM

Foolish hater is gonna hate. Carry on." Aug 3, 15 7:18 PM

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