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How the left is failing over Syria

Personally, I avoid talking to people who haven’t learned anything from the last mess. But liberals will always bend over backward to be “fair,” thus providing protective cover to the war machine:

There are four pieces of information that all left groups have a duty to report about Syria, but they have either ignored or minimized:

1) Obama presented zero evidence to back up his main justification for war: that the Syrian Government used chemical weapons against civilians.

2) A top UN investigator, Carla Del Ponte, blamed a previous chemical weapons attack on the U.S.-backed rebels.

3) Any attack on Syria, no matter how “limited,” has a high risk of expanding into neighboring countries if Syria exercises its right as a sovereign nation to defend itself.

4) A war against Syria will be a violation of international law, since it is not approved by the UN, and therefore will make President Obama a war criminal.

There has been a broad spectrum of leftist failure to address these issues and condemn Obama’s war, ranging from those who take an overtly pro-war position to those who use anti-war slogans that are stained with pro-war justifications. A consistent “Hands Off Syria” message was hard to find.

The most guilty parties who have aided and assisted Obama’s expected war plans will have blood-stained hands after the bombing begins. Perhaps the best example of this coterie is Van Jones, the former adviser to Obama who founded the Rebuild The Dream organization. On CNN, Jones announced his new appetite for foreign war:

“I think we need to stand behind this president and send a clear message to Assad that this type behavior is not acceptable.”

Many liberals took Jones’ “stand by our president” approach, even if it wasn’t stated as directly as Jones did, and even after “our president” was unable to present any sensible reason for waging another aggressive war in the Middle East.

A notch lower on the leftist spectrum of Syria war guilt is MoveOn.org, which has done everything in their power not to portray President Obama’s actions in their true light. But MoveOn had to take a more creative approach to covering up for Obama in Syria.

MoveOn organized a “teach-in” that was streamed on their website. The panel of speakers — with one exception — presented Obama’s position in a very evenhanded, “objective” way, presenting the president as an entirely reasonable person for wanting to bomb Syria, even if it might not be the best way to deal with the situation.

Instead of pointing out the flagrant similarities between Obama’s Syria war rationale and George Bush’s Iraq War lies, these similarities were papered over, thus legitimizing Obama’s criminal actions.

The worst Obama apologist on the panel was Matt Duss from the Center for American Progress, who explained that, although he was against a war on Syria, he “respects” that “other progressives of good faith may come to a different view.”

Since this was written, Van Jones has come out against bombing Syria. Good.

Syria: Not a ‘slam dunk’

William Polk, former State Department planner, writes in the Atlantic:

Much was made of the belief that the gas had been delivered by rocket. However, as The New York Times correspondent Ben Hubbard reported (April 27, 2013) “”Near the attack sites, activists found spent rockets that appeared to have been homemade and suspected that they delivered the gas.” Would the regular army’s chemical warfare command have used “homemade” rockets? That report seemed to point to some faction within the opposition rather than to the government.

Several days into the crisis, we have been given a different source of information. This is from Israel. For many years, Israel is known to have directed a major communications effort against Syria. Its program, known as Unit 8200 is Mossad’s equivalent of NSA. It chose to share what it claimed was a key intercept with outsiders. First, a former officer told the German news magazine Focus (according to The Guardian,August 28, 2013) that Israel had intercepted a conversation between Syrian officers discussing the attack. The same Information was given to Israeli press (see “American Operation, Israeli Intelligence” in the August 27 Yediot Ahronoth,) It also shared this information with the American government. Three Israeli senior officers were reported to have been sent to Washington to brief NSC Director Susan Rice. What was said was picked up by some observers. Foreign Policy magazine reported (August 28, “Intercepted Calls Prove Syrian Army Used Nerve Gas, U.S. Spies Say”) that “in the hours after a horrific chemical attack east of Damascus, an official at the Syrian Minister of Defense exchanged what Israeli intelligence described as “panicked phone calls” with a leader of a chemical weapons unit, demanding answer for a nerve agent strike that killed more than 1,000 people.”

But, as more information emerged, doubts began to be expressed. As Matt Apuzzo reported (AP, August 29, “AP sources: Intelligence on weapons no ‘slam dunk.’”), according to a senior US intelligence official, the intercept “discussing the strike was among low level staff, with no direct evidence tying the attack to an Assad insider or even a senior commander.” Reminding his readers of the famous saying by the then head of the CIA, George Tenet, in 2002 that the intelligence against Saddam Husain was “slam dunk,” when in fact it was completely erroneous, the AP correspondent warned that the Syrian attack of last week “could be tied to al-Qaida-backed rebels later.”

Two things should be borne in mind on these reports: the first is that Israel has had a long-standing goal of the break-up or weakening of Syria which is the last remaining firmly anti-Israeli Arab state. (the rationale behind this policy was laid out by Edward Luttwak in the OpEd section of the August 24, 2013 New York Times). It also explains why Israel actively had sought “regime change” in Iraq. The second consideration is that Israeli intelligence has also been known to fabricate intercepts as, for example, it did during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

So, unless or until more conclusive evidence is available, the request by Mr. Ban (“U.N. seeks more time for its inspectors,”International Herald Tribune, August 29, 2013) for more time appears to be prudent. Despite what Messrs Biden and Kerry have said, I believe a court would conclude that the case against the Syrian government was “not proven.”

This is all sounding so painfully familiar, but at least I can say that most people don’t seem to be falling for it. Not that it will stop the war machine, of course, but it’s something. So strange to watch all these administration officials and other noted war hawks on teevee, trying to communicate a sense of urgency to the public. What’s so urgent? Israel’s war fetish? The latest gas pipeline?


When you’ve lied to your own people about so much for so long, it’s downright silly that you expect us to believe you now. You tell us we can’t afford to pay Social Security payments for old people, but we have all the money in the world for defense contracts. We’re not supposed to notice the contradiction?

Banging the war drum

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Notice how hard Alex Witt pushes Grayson. No, it’s not because she’s a good journalist; it’s because they’ve all fallen into line to bang the war drum. In fact, the TV media is pretty unanimous in wanting another war — it’s good for ratings.

What’s killing poor white women?


Everything about Crystal’s life was ordinary, except for her death. She is one of a demographic—white women who don’t graduate from high school—whose life expectancy has declined dramatically over the past 18 years. These women can now expect to die five years earlier than the generation before them. It is an unheard-of drop for a wealthy country in the age of modern medicine. Throughout history, technological and scientific innovation have put death off longer and longer, but the benefits of those advances have not been shared equally, especially across the race and class divides that characterize 21st–century America. Lack of access to education, medical care, good wages, and healthy food isn’t just leaving the worst-off Americans behind. It’s killing them.

The journal Health Affairs reported the five-year drop in August. The article’s lead author, Jay Olshansky, who studies human longevity at the University of Illinois at Chicago, with a team of researchers looked at death rates for different groups from 1990 to 2008. White men without high-school diplomas had lost three years of life expectancy, but it was the decline for women like Crystal that made the study news. Previous studies had shown that the least-educated whites began dying younger in the 2000s, but only by about a year. Olshansky and his colleagues did something the other studies hadn’t: They isolated high-school dropouts and measured their outcomes instead of lumping them in with high-school graduates who did not go to college.

The last time researchers found a change of this magnitude, Russian men had lost seven years after the fall of the Soviet Union, when they began drinking more and taking on other risky behaviors. Although women generally outlive men in the U.S., such a large decline in the average age of death, from almost 79 to a little more than 73, suggests that an increasing number of women are dying in their twenties, thirties, and forties. “We actually don’t know the exact reasons why it’s happened,” Olshansky says. “I wish we did.”

Today’s to do list

PLEASE call Congress and tell them you oppose military action in Syria:


The logical question

MJ Rosenberg:

I’m reading a biography of Bobby Kennedy (another one).

And, like all the recent biographies of JFK’s younger brother, it tells the story (as told by Kennedy to a top aide) that on November 22, 1963, he demanded to see the head of the CIA. He then asked him, point blank, if the CIA killed the president.

The story is longer than that. Kennedy grilled both the CIA director and various deputies before he was satisfied with the answer. However, til the end of his life, Bobby kept trying to figure out if the CIA, FBI or Secret Service was involved.

Imagine: the president’s #2 man who knew more about the workings of our government than anyone (he was the Attorney General and the president’s brother) considered the possibility that our own government bumped off the president.

The implications are horrifying. Kennedy putting that question to the head of the CIA is like Colin Powell asking Dick Cheney if he was behind 9/11. Having to ask the question suggests that Kennedy knew that the US government is not run by the people we think are running it. He intended to investigate JFK’s assassination after he became president but, no surprise here, was murdered when it appeared he would win the 1968 election.

What this all means is this: anyone who trust the things “our” government puts out is naive. The same government that lied about Iran, Vietnam, Guatemala, and Iraq cannot be trusted on Syria, or much of anything else. Obama is no JFK. He challenges nothing the CIA, Pentagon, Wall Street or any part of the establishment wants.

But after what happened to the Kennedys, who can blame him?

Really interesting interview, check it out:

Fifty years ago this week, Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis, A Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin and other civil rights leaders spoke at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. But where were the female civil rights activists? At the historic march, only one woman spoke for just more than a minute: Daisy Bates of the NAACP. Today we are joined by civil rights pioneer Gloria Richardson, the co-founder of the Cambridge Nonviolent Action Committee in Maryland, which fought to desegregate public institutions like schools and hospitals. While Richardson was on the program for the March on Washington, when she stood to speak she only had a chance to say hello before the microphone was seized. Richardson is the subject of a pending biography by Joseph R. Fitzgerald, “The Struggle is Eternal: Gloria Richardson and Black Liberation.” Richardson, 91, joins us to discuss the 1963 March on Washington and the censorship of women speakers; the Cambridge Movement to desegregate Maryland; her friendship with Malcolm X; and her assessment of President Obama and the civil rights struggle today.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
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Lesson learned in Texas?

Don’t be silly, this is Texas! Where men are men and business goes unregulated, no matter what:

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Five facilities in Texas with large quantities of the same fertilizer chemical that fueled the deadly plant explosion in West have turned away state fire marshal inspectors since the blast, investigators said Monday.

A railway operator that hauls hazardous materials across Texas was also said to have rebuffed a state request to share data since the April explosion at West Fertilizer Co. that killed 15 people and injured 200 others.

Regulators and state lawmakers at a hearing about the still-unsolved explosion were intrigued by the lack of cooperation. State Fire Marshal Chris Connealy said “well, sure” when asked whether those facilities refusing to admit inspectors raised concern.

“In their defense, they may have a very good reason,” Connealy said.

There is no state fire code in Texas. The state fire marshal’s office lacks the power to make unannounced inspections of local businesses, nor does the office have the authority to compel local facilities to open its doors.
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‘As addictive as cocaine’

This is something I think a lot of us knew instinctively:

A growing body of medical research at leading universities and government laboratories suggests that processed foods and sugary drinks made by the likes of PepsiCo Inc. and Kraft Foods Inc. aren’t simply unhealthy. They can hijack the brain in ways that resemble addictions to cocaine, nicotine and other drugs.

“The data is so overwhelming the field has to accept it,” said Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “We are finding tremendous overlap between drugs in the brain and food in the brain.”

The idea that food may be addictive was barely on scientists’ radar a decade ago. Now the field is heating up. Lab studies have found sugary drinks and fatty foods can produce addictive behavior in animals. Brain scans of obese people and compulsive eaters, meanwhile, reveal disturbances in brain reward circuits similar to those experienced by drug abusers.

Twenty-eight scientific studies and papers on food addiction have been published this year, according to a National Library of Medicine database. As the evidence expands, the science of addiction could become a game changer for the $1 trillion food and beverage industries.

If fatty foods and snacks and drinks sweetened with sugar and high fructose corn syrup are proven to be addictive, food companies may face the most drawn-out consumer safety battle since the anti-smoking movement took on the tobacco industry a generation ago.

“This could change the legal landscape,” said Kelly Brownell, director of Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity and a proponent of anti-obesity regulation. “People knew for a long time cigarettes were killing people, but it was only later they learned about nicotine and the intentional manipulation of it.”

Yes, but now we have a Supreme Court which has decided to throttle most class-action suits in the cradle, so I wouldn’t be too worried about the legal angle anytime soon.

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