173 results for d'Nalgar

Connecting dots

Two days ago, Chris asked the following:  “Any good answers to the Hariri killing and the switch in emphasis to Hezbollah?  Or to what Hillary’s doing in Yemen?”

Re. Hillary Clinton’s trip to Yemen, I’ve seen/read little so far except the usual fluff about Hillary falling down and about this being her “apology tour” for WikiLeaks.  There was a recent article in the right-wing Weekly Standard about discussions with the Yemeni president to establish a “jihad rehab” program similar to what Saudi has (which the neocons at Weekly Standard do not like at all – they make it sound like the Saudi effort is/was nothing but a revolving-door gimmick to get Saudis out of Guantanamo).  Apparently Hillary expressed support for the Yemeni program which, if it becomes a reality, will be funded by American taxpayers, of course.

If true, it might fit with some of the speculation I’ve heard, that Obama has some still-secret administrative trick up his sleeve, to bypass Congress and close Guantanamo without going through any more “You lie!” legislative foot-dragging.  I sure hope so.  It would go a long way towards redeeming his image in the eyes of his liberal/progressive base, and it would deflate one of Al Qaida’s biggest recruitment balloons.  The world would see it as a step toward actually earning that Nobel Prize.  Doing it now would make it a ho-hum issue by the time the next election comes around, not a red-meat, red-hot rallying cry for rabid Republicans.

Speaking of professional right-wingers, i.e. Israel’s apologists (and quite often neocon fronts for advancing Israel’s interests who hide behind the façade of an American think tank), they have been very active of late, defending the necessity of Guantanamo and stridently opposing its closing.  For example, there was an op-ed in yesterday’s San Francisco Examiner, by Thomas Joscelyn, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (and a co-author of the Weekly Standard piece).  “Mugged by the realities of Guantanamo” is all about the failure of Obama to close the prison, and how his order to do so, now two years old, was driven by ideology rather than a realistic knowledge of the nefarious character of its inmates.  At first glance, the article seems reasonably well-reasoned and not overly partisan, but just who/what is the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD)?  According to a Jewish anti-Zionist activist quoted in SourceWatch, “it is one of the most influential and powerful of the Zionist lobbies which changed its name and sprung into action immediately after 9-11.”  It is very busy seeding mainstream media with a variety of articles, all in the noble defense of democracy, I’m sure.

Now, why would a neocon shill for Israel (and that’s at least a three-way tautology) care about an American prison in faraway Cuba?  That’s the question that naturally follows when you discover that neocons want Guantanamo to last forever.  Here are some of the things I can think of (and this is nothing but rank speculation on my part)…  First of all, it’s a smokescreen to distract Americans.  As long as we’re spoon-fed the thin soup of sound-bite news (and sadly, we’ve become conditioned to regard our information starvation diet as completely satisfying), we’re not paying attention to what’s going on with ever-expanding Israel and her occupations and foreign-policy manipulations.  And as long as we’re fixated on our own festering civil rights abuses, we’re not paying attention to anyone else’s, and that includes Israel’s (the only democracy in the Middle East, you know).  The second thing Guantanamo does is validate Israel’s practice of rounding up Palestinians on a whim.  If we can do it, so can they.  If we can torture, so can they.  If we can kill with impunity, so can they.  From Israel’s perspective, what’s not to love about Guantanamo?  The third thing is probably the most important, especially if you think the America is on the verge of becoming a fascist state.  Guantanamo is a stark reminder of all those things we’re told to be very afraid of, a proxy almost, an icon for the terrors of 9-11, which validates all the other crazy, evil things we do and justify in our minds.  By extension, if we’re afraid of anything and everything, we can empathize with those poor, oppressed Israelis who are besieged by our common enemy.  That’s why it is anathema in our public discourse to not refer to resisting Afghanis and Iraqis and Palestinians (and soon, maybe, Iranians and Pakistanis) as “Islamic jihadists” or, better yet, “radical Islamic jihadists.”  We must never forget that Israel’s pain is now ours and their justifications are ours, too.  As long as we’re kept wallowing in the same amoral mire, we can hardly point the finger at anyone else.

And that probably helps explain some of the other part of your other question, about why the blame for the assassination of PM Hariri in 2005 is such a “mercuric” thing (to tangentially connect this toxic discussion with another).  The better question, as with all Middle Eastern riddles, is who benefits most by shifting the blame to Hezbollah.  Unfortunately, having lost the lofty perspective that a moral high ground might have provided, at least part of the answer is us (or as Pogo famously said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”) – our CIA has been active in Lebanon for as long as there has been a CIA, but its meddling has been especially overt during the last decade (in my opinion they were behind much of the Nahr al-Bared fiasco).  Others who stand to gain from a tarnished Hezbollah are the usual actors in Lebanon’s political status quo, the old tribal/family/confessional dynasties who refuse to surrender power even though they represent minority segments of the Lebanese population.  Who else?  Palestinian refugees in Lebanon can’t be too happy about the rise of Hezbollah as the most successful resistance fighters in the Muslim/Arab world since Saladin.  And of course Syria is always in the shadowy background – their guilt in the Hariri affair seems to come and go according to the whims of their standing du jour with the international community (whatever that is).

It’s like the old Agatha Christie mystery, “Murder on the Orient Express,” where all the suspects participated in the crime.  It seems that almost everybody, except Hezbollah’s “street” supporters (who are legion, throughout the ME, greatly complicating the chess game, methinks), wants Hezbollah at least taken down a notch or two, if not wiped out entirely.  I think Syria’s come-and-go relationship to the Hariri investigation is the most obvious hint that points to Israel (in collusion with the rest of “The West”) as the biggest regional beneficiary to gain from redirecting the blame for Hariri’s death onto Hezbollah.  There are rumors afoot that Syria and Israel are in secret peace negotiations, so Syria’s absolution of guilt in this matter could be an extended carrot to make it a more willing partner and a less willing “sponsor of state terrorism” (whatever that is).  Interesting, n’est pas, how unbalanced the scales of justice are on this terrestrial plane?  But beyond that, and beyond the internal Lebanese rivalries, Israel is the most obvious enemy of Hezbollah, the most obvious player to want to see it targeted, if not destroyed.  I doubt if there are any completely unilateral actors in the guilt-shift, but Israel is not likely to forget, any time soon, the great damage Hezbollah inflicted in 2006 to the carefully-crafted myth of Israeli invincibility.  Not even the rape of Gaza three years later has erased the sense that Israel can eventually be defeated, given the right well-armed and incredibly motivated opponent.  Especially one that is beloved by the poor and downtrodden (who view themselves as widely suppressed by effete tyrants artificially propped up by oil-addicted Western powers).  Israel had nurtured (and exercised) its Superman image for years as a deterrence to its hostile neighbors, and as an extinguisher of hope and resistance among Palestinians exiled and occupied.  Hope and a thirst for justice in this life are powerful things and Israel will not soon forget how Hezbollah and its benefactor Iran have reawakened, unloosed  those jinn.

Meanwhile, on Friday (January 14), Robert Fisk brought out an aspect of the whole matter I missed completely in my own response above, that the shifting targets of the tribunal are now aimed at Hezbollah’s sponsor Iran (currently the West’s favorite bogeyman, along with North Korea) as much as they are aimed at Hezbollah itself.  Again, it’s not too difficult to connect the dots and arrive in short order back at Lebanon’s southern neighbor…

Legitimacy seems to be a finite commodity in the Middle East.  It cannot be allowed to exist outside of Israel without diminishing it inside.  In other words, if Hezbollah and Hamas are legitimate, Israel must be perceived by the rest of the world as less so.  If Turkey’s efforts at breaking the Gaza blockade are seen as legitimate, what does that say about the brutal siege of Gaza?  It’s a sad observation because, if accurate, it is hard to see a way forward as long as Israel exists in its current form.  But that is, at the end of the day, my ultimate hope, that Israel as it now is, a brutal, apartheid, theocratic/racist regime rushing headlong towards fascism, will someday be assimilated into the ancient, eternal Levantine culture that predates it and will eventually outlast it.  Still, at the end of the day, none of this is much more than idle speculation.  Evidence, I’m sure, of rampant anti-Semitism or irredeemable naiveté if one looks at the issue only through the standard, politically-correct American prism of believing  that Israel can do no wrong…

– Monsieur d’Nalgar 

PS – some of the links mentioned:

http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/obama-administration-endorses-jihad-rehab-facility-yemen_533515.html

http://www.sfexaminer.com/opinion/op-eds/2011/01/mugged-realities-guantanamo

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Foundation_for_the_Defense_of_Democracies

http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/?p=8082

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-lebanon-in-limbo-a-nation-haunted-by-the-murder-of-rafiq-hariri-2184281.html

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2011/01/16/connecting-dots/

When dead birds fly

“O all ye exorcizers come and exorcize now, and ye clergymen draw nigh and clerge,
For I wish to be purged of an urge.”

– Ogden Nash, from “So Does Everybody Else, Only Not So Much”

 

Sweet, sweet surrender to a rising, raging reflex against the inanity of these pretentious, portentous times, these zany first days of our newest new year.

It is time again to purge, to gnaw the bitter root of the plentiful American ipecacuanha, that unending parade of peculiarities, that unbroken procession of all that is outrageous and odd.

But take heed, friends, for there is an urgency to this purgency!  The world will end on May 21 for all but the unrighteous, unless the latest cosmological recalibrations of Harold Egbert Camping are as askew now as they were back in 1994…

If ye seeketh after signs, look no further than right here in Arkansas, where there have been strange, word-addled stories about dead birds flying suddenly and violently into the small-but-unforgiving burg of Beebe.  (Quoi?  Peut des oiseaux mort voler?!)  And not too far away, something is mysteriously killing drum fish, by the thousands, along a 20-mile stretch of the Arkansas River.  Coincidence?  Death ray from outer-space jihadists?

Maybe, and maybe not.  There are other oddities even closer to home.  For example, Comrade Clark, ringmaster of Garland County’s grandiose old party, wrote a fascinating letter to swell the ranks of his huddled, muddled masses.

…conservatives are always appreciated under our big tent. Whether you be religious zealots, tea partiers, heartless businessmen, pro-life maniacs, tobacco chewin’ gun totin’ NRAers, Bambi killers, war glorifying military servicemen and retirees, money grubbing professionals, Uncle Toms, “ignorant” blue collar workers, Fox News watchers, (gas guzzling) SUV driving soccer moms, selfish retirees, or just plain ol’ dumb hillbilly Southerners, you are welcome in the Republican Party. The line forms on the right.

Jehoshaphat jumps and scores!  A mangy, yellow-dog Democrat couldn’t have said it any better.  Maybe that hoary maxim about honesty being best policy really is true, because even in the murky circus shadows, by the light of November’s lingering afterglow, oh say can you see Clark’s motley mob of gaggled Republicans?  Bound together not by common purpose, but by a shared horror of all that is outside their tent, bright and beautiful in the clear sunshine of reason.

Then there’s the world-famous Garland County TEA Party.  Sigh.  They are graciously offering free, twice-a-week Constitution classes, using “The 5000 Year Leap” as their textbook.  Isn’t that precious?  The book is a Glenn Beck fave (anyone surprised?) that was written 30 years ago by the late, great Willard Cleon Skousen, a frequent lecturer for the John Birch Society who was convinced President Eisenhower was a communist agent.  Should be an interesting class, n’est pas?

Meanwhile, back in Washington, Das Kapitol, the first few days of government business were as weird as our local political pageantry.  Representatives lined up like schoolchildren to take turns reading sanitized fragments of the Constitution in a first-ever rite that will surely evolve into high-church ritual replete with mumbled secret incantations and genuflection before Boehner’s mighty compensatory gavel.

Excusez-moi, but when did our Constitution become sacred writ?  Have two centuries of willful, accreted amnesia transfigured our founding documents into religious relics that rival the very stone tablets Moses brought down from Sinai?  We seem to have forgotten the Constitution was crafted, not by the hand of God, but by bickering and compromising politicians who fought to keep their favorite naughty bits.  Such as the lofty notion that a slave was to be counted as only three-fifths of a lily-white “We the People.”

We seem to forget, perhaps because it doesn’t fit well with our fair-and-balanced, spoon-fed concepts of history, that the Constitution has been changing ever since it was established.  As has America and the world it is part of…

Shift happens.  Get over it.  And please stop pretending our founding documents magically exude the sweet fragrance of America’s “Judaeo-Christian” heritage.  The superstars of your imaginary “Judaeo-Christianity” – Abraham, Moses, and Jesus Christ – don’t even make a cameo appearance in the Constitution.  And the other gods in your pantheon of nationalism?  Palin, Beck, Limbaugh, and a host of Fox News darlings like David Barton?  Well, they aren’t mentioned either.  Sorry.

Facts are awkward little things, n’est pas?  When the term “Judaeo-Christian” was first used, it was not to rally angry teabaggers or conflate church-state separation issues, but to write about Jewish converts to Christianity during the first centuries of the so-called Christian Era.  Your beloved, hyphenated hybrid was not used in its current sense until 1939, more than 150 years after the Constitution was ratified.  Jewish theologians rightly criticize it as an invention of right-wing politics.

But in this silly season, facts are airy, unimportant things.  “We the People” have anchored all manner of cherished beliefs on flimsy whimsies masqueraded as absolute truths.  If “We the People” desperately want to believe in Barton’s footnoted fabrication about our now-sacrosanct founders, why should facts matter?  So what if that treasured belief hangs on an improbable blending of two very exclusive religions, and endless cherry-picking from obscure historical documents?  Why let a few inconvenient facts get in the way?

And while we’re at it, why cling to quaint ideals like justice and equality?  Like discomforting facts, they are gauzy, obsolete things, easily abandoned for a morsel, for the bedtime stories that we’re still number one, that we’re always right, that we really can be protected from every terror, real or imagined.  Ideals are easy to discard, easy to discredit as elitist, impractical fantasies when “We the People” would rather wallow in fear and loathing of every infidel, every bogeyman and buggerer du jour.

The truth is supposed to set us free, but it’s a lot more fun to cower before an unseen horde of swarthy Muslims arrayed just beyond reality’s horizon.  It’s a lot more fun believing in the romance of perpetual war when you’re convinced a “Judaeo-Christian” God is on your side.  Even while you also believe that equal rights for all will somehow emasculate the world’s biggest, baddest military.  How ever will Americans fight forever, in faraway forgotten quagmires, when women-loving men and men-loving women have all fled from the front lines of American Empire?

Maybe truth is expendable, and maybe freedom’s just another word (for nothing left to lose), because outlandish conspiracy theories are always so much more fun, especially when they appeal to racist impulses and celebrate manifest ignorance.  Who knew our President was born in an African hut, and was suckled by wild hyenas, and is now a secret Black Muslim hell-bent on unplugging grandma?

Who knew an amateur “Judaeo-Christian” historian like David Barton could single-handedly unravel the original intent of our founding fathers?  Clearly, that funky fraternity of rabble-rousing deists wanted nothing less than an unholy return to Old Testament theocracy, a hunkered-down America waiting impatiently for the end of days, for its angry, make-my-day, New Testament Jesus to come back and smite the evil-doers who are left behind.

We may not have long to wait, if that wacky, perennial prognosticator really has cracked the code this time.  But just in case, please make a note to check on your Fundamentalist neighbors.  May 22 is the day after their scheduled rapture.  If they’re still here, be kind, rewind, because they got left behind, too.

– Monsieur d’Nalgar

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2011/01/09/when-dead-birds-fly/

The Mooslims are coming!!

Another letter to the editor, titled “Force creeping into America,”  in today’s Sentinel Record, from a reliably regular hater of all things Muslim…

Monsieur d’Nalgar

Dear editor:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

That is the full text of the First Amendment to our Constitution of the United States of America. It reflects the complete abhorrence our Founders had for a state church. They, or their forebears, had come from a country that had a state church and they did not, under any circumstances, wish to permit it to occur in this new country. It permits to the citizens the right to choose their religion or not to choose. It guaranteed freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. There was no need to spell out the phrase “separation of church and state.”

In light of this, I cannot find myself understanding how a football team can become Congress just by praying prior to a game. Also, how a student wishing to make a statement as to his religious beliefs and feelings can be a substitute for Congress. Our Christian heritage and beliefs are carried on in our country as a result of our Founding Fathers coming to this continent to escape religious persecution by a state church.

For pundits who are so pepped up on the idea this is not a Christian nation, I challenge you to read a book which was printed originally in 1864. That was long before the ACLU and others who do not wish to acknowledge that our country is a Christian nation. The book is “The Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States,” by Benjamin F. Morris. You can obtain it from http://americanvision.org. This book will answer the question about our nation being a Christian one.

Being born Thanksgiving morning in 1925, I have been blessed with observing 85 anniversaries of the birth of Jesus Christ. As I read various books and news reports, I am filled with apprehension for the future. There is a force in the world that has plans for world domination and it is creeping into our country with ever increasing results. It has as methods of use: “kithman,” hiding the truth, deliberately conceal one’s beliefs; “taqiya,” foundation for deception, may deny their faith to protect themselves, use deception to gain wealth, deception justified to murder the enemies of their belief. This is in the Quran and Hadiths of Islam. If you do not know anything about Islam, I would suggest you investigate.

Prepare yourself for what is coming.

[name deleted]
Hot Springs

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2011/01/07/the-mooslims-are-coming/

You can’t make this stuff up

Arkansas is nicknamed “The Natural State.”  We have deer and fox (and possums, raccoons, eagles, buzzards, etc.) who walk or fly by our home nearly every day.  But the state of our state is most unnatural on this, the second day of 2011, especially after reading today’s local newspaper.  Consider, for example, these two AP stories which appeared in the “State briefs” section on page 2 of the Sentinel Record:

Dead fish cover 20-mile section of Arkansas River

OZARK — An Arkansas Game and Fish Commission spokesman says dead drum fish now cover a 20-mile section of the Arkansas River near Ozark.

Seven teams from the state agency visited the affected portion of the river Friday. Commission spokesman Keith Stephens says an official estimate of how many fish have died is expected on Monday, but he tells the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that the number is likely in the hundreds of thousands.

The commission determined the fish died in the river from a dam near Ozark to a bridge along State Highway 109 near Clarksville.

Stephens says some of the live drum fish were sick and will be sent to a lab at the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff for testing.

Drum fish are bottom feeders that eat other fish and insects.

More than 1,000 dead birds fall from sky

BEEBE — The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission said Saturday more than 1,000 dead black birds fell from the sky in Beebe.

The agency said its enforcement officers began receiving reports about the dead birds about 11:30 p.m. Friday. The birds fell over a one-mile area of the city, and an aerial survey indicated that no other dead birds were found outside of that area, officials said.

Robby King, a wildlife officer for the agency, collected about 65 dead birds, which will be sent for testing to the state Livestock and Poultry Commission lab and the National Wildlife Health Center lab in Madison, Wis.

Commission ornithologist Karen Rowe said that similar events have occurred elsewhere and that test results “usually were inconclusive.”

The birds showed physical trauma, said Rowe, who surmised that “the flock could have been hit by lightning or high-altitude hail.”

The agency also said another possibility is that New Year’s Eve revelers shooting off fireworks in the area could have startled the birds from their roost and caused them to die from stress.

It’s doubtful the birds were poisoned, Rowe said, “since it only involved a flock of black birds and only involved them falling out of the sky.” She said a necropsy is the only way to determine if the birds were poisoned.

The city of Beebe hired U.S. Environmental Services to clean up and dispose of the dead birds.

Then there was the following, from the conclusion of a letter in today’s paper by Alan Clark, chairman of the Republican Party of Garland County:

…conservatives are always appreciated under our big tent. Whether you be religious zealots, tea partiers, heartless businessmen, pro-life maniacs, tobacco chewin’ gun totin’ NRAers, Bambi killers, war glorifying military servicemen and retirees, money grubbing professionals, Uncle Toms, “ignorant” blue collar workers, Fox News watchers, (gas guzzling) SUV driving soccer moms, selfish retirees, or just plain ol’ dumb hillbilly Southerners, you are welcome in the Republican Party. The line forms on the right.

From a letter to the editor in today’s Sentinel Record, page 20.

And that, in a nutshell, is your local grandiose old party, still basking in the afterglow of having routed the long-established opposition.  Not sure why their ringmaster felt it was necessary to provide details of who’s under his circus tent; it’s common knowledge for all who have stepped out of tent-shadows into the sunlight of reason.  Anyway, following that bit of silliness, there was this letter by Dan Lewin (one of the regular circus ranters), apparently demanding to know why America is not yet a theocracy:

Find for me the phrase “separation of church and state.”  Or if that fails, find the individual word “separation,” “church” or “state” in any of the founding documents.  Anyone with as much education as you all have should have no problem finding that for me.

From a letter to the editor in today’s Sentinel Record, page 20.

Three pages later, finally, there was this small glimmer, an article about President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who broke barriers by becoming Brazil’s first working-class president.  He has just left office as the nation’s most popular president, with an approval rating that hit 87% in his last week:

His social programs and wealth redistribution helped pull 20 million people out of poverty.  Once on the brink of a sovereign default in 2002, the nation now lends money to the International Monetary Fund.  Unemployment is at a record low, and the currency has more than doubled against the U.S. dollar.  Brazil will host the 2014 World Cup and is expected to be the world’s fifth-largest economy by the time the 2016 Olympics come to the nation.

From an AP article by Bradley Brooks in today’s Sentinel Record, page 23.

Social programs and wealth redistribution?  And in the (soon to be) fifth-largest economy?  What manner of witchcraft is this?  Hmmm…  196 million people (in 2008) with an active military of 287 thousand.  That same year, the population of the United States was almost 304 million (1.6 times larger) and its active military was 1.4 million “strong” (4.9 times larger).  America’s defense budget is more than 20 times larger than Brazil’s (these statistics come from http://www.globalfirepower.com).  But then, as far as I know, Brazil’s military isn’t deployed in more than 100 countries around the planet.  Maybe Brazil hasn’t discovered perpetual gold in the hills of “fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here.”

Still fighting over here,

Monsieur d’Nalgar

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2011/01/02/you-cant-make-this-stuff-up/

A theory of everything

Introductory note:  This explanation of the current political scene in Israel can easily be adapted to help explain our own emerging fascism, and the rise of our own American Hezbollah, which will hereafter be referred to as “The Tea Party of God” on this blog.  The emphases in the article are mine, not Mr. Strenger’s.

Here’s hoping a wee bit of sanity prevails in the coming year (we’re sure going to need it).  Happy New Year, everyone!

— Monsieur d’Nalgar

Paranoid vicious circles

By Carlo Strenger
Published 01:44 31.12.10, latest update 01:44 31.12.10

The rise of racism and xenophobia in Israel has been a favorite topic among pundits over the last few weeks, and for good reason, because the phenomenon is worrying. The causes have been well-analyzed: the fragmentation of Israeli society, the lack of a common culture and ethos, and of course Israel’s growing international isolation.

This is the type of situation in which right-wing movements flourish: They take the confusion engendered by complex factors, and they resolve the problem by creating a conspiracy theory that explains everything.

When faced with an intractable problem, right-wing politicians single out an easily identifiable group to be the scapegoat. This is the essence of what psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion called paranoid leadership.

This has been true for all societies, and we Jews should know this well. Anti-Semitism rose steeply in the 13th century because of the bubonic plague. At the time, people didn’t understand the real reason behind the deaths: a rise in urbanization. So they developed conspiracy theories, for example that Jews had poisoned water wells.

Similarly, in the 1920s Germans felt humiliated by the Versailles treaty, and their already weak economy could not withstand the onslaught of the Great Depression. As a result, the theory that a Jewish conspiracy had brought down Germany became ever more popular.

In Israel, there are currently two main variations on the theme of conspiracy. Netanyahu’s main story line is that Israel is being delegitimized and that its very existence is called into question. He keeps repeating that the global criticism of Israel has nothing to do with the settlements, nor with the stalled peace process. Since the world doesn’t accept Israel’s existence, it doesn’t matter what Israel does: it will be isolated and under criticism.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Interior Minister Eli Yishai are focusing on Arabs as a fifth column. Each in his own way keeps arguing that Israel is under threat from the inside and from the outside. Since the outside threat cannot be addressed directly, they focus on Israel’s Arabs, arguing that they are threatening Israel’s existence.

For our purposes it is irrelevant whether Netanyahu, Lieberman and Yishai believe their own stories, and what their precise interests are in propagating them. We are interested in the effect of right-wing tactics. The mechanism of explaining everything through conspiracy has one immediate psychological effect: It channels a vague anxiety into hatred focused on a real or imagined enemy.

It creates the temporary semblance of more unity through its mythology: “Our society is in danger, there is an external enemy, and we now need to stick together and fight that enemy.”

In the long run, this type of myth exacerbates the real problems: Netanyahu’s line that the Palestinians and Iranians are the obstacles to peace convinces very few outside Israel. It also doesn’t help that Netanyahu keeps a foreign minister whom most commentators and diplomats (of course never officially ) see as an Israeli Milosevic.

The result is that the international community no longer sees Israel as a partner for peace talks, whereas it does see the Palestinians as constructive; hence the notion that Israel needs to be pressured into a peace agreement is gathering momentum.

This, in turn, is used in Netanyahu’s story line that the world is delegitimizing Israel’s existence. Internally the situation is exacerbated as well. Israel’s Arabs feel more and more alienated by the hatred propagated by seculars like Lieberman and the anti-Arab rabbis.

This closes the vicious circle of paranoia: Anxiety is translated into hatred and suspicion, which disrupts communication with the outside world and internal groups designated as enemies. This leads to further isolation, which in turn raises anxiety even further.

The right of course has no incentive to stop this vicious circle. The higher the anxiety, the more votes it will reap.

Where this will vicious circle end? At this point it is very difficult to see what forces inside Israel could change the paranoid, isolationist state of mind. Politicians are pressured into conforming to right wing demands to fall in line in the face of impending doom, and are desperately afraid to be seen as traitors if they point out that there might be more cooperative modes of action.

Historically, escalation from the right leads to implosion before sanity is regained. This was true for Italy and Germany as it was for Serbia. In these cases, the wakeup call to sanity was triggered by a lost war. In the case of South Africa the international community generated ever higher pressure, until the regime understood that it was no longer tenable.

Not long ago it seemed that a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict imposed from the outside would be a catastrophe. Given the alternative, it is sadly ironic that international pressure toward change is now the lesser of two evils.

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/paranoid-vicious-circles-1.334417 or http://bit.ly/fRKGrz or http://tinyurl.com/387d5hq

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2010/12/31/a-theory-of-everything/

Fascism disguised

DISGUISED FASCISM SEEN AS A MENACE

Prof. Luccock Warns That It Will Bear the Misleading Label ‘Americanism’

The New York Times, 12 September 1938, page 15, re. a sermon preached the day before (9/11 — ironic, n’est pas?)…

When and if fascism comes to America it will not be labeled “made in Germany”; it will not be marked with a swastika; it will not even be called fascism; it will be called, of course, “Americanism,” Professor Halford E. Luccock of the Divinity School of Yale University said yesterday morning in a sermon at the Riverside Church, Riverside Drive and 122d Street.

“The high-sounding phrase ‘the American way’ will be used by interested groups, intent on profit, to cover a multitude of sings against the American and Christian tradition, such sins as lawless violence, tear gas and shotguns, denial of civil liberties,” he said.  “There is an obligation resting on us all to dedicate our minds to the hard task of thinking in terms of Christian objectives and values, so that we may be saved from moral confusion.”

“For never, probably, has there been a time when there was a more vigorous effort to surround social and international questions with such a fog of distortion and prejudice and hysterical appeal to fear.  We have touched a new low in Congressional investigation this Summer, used by some participating in it to whip up fear and prejudice against many causes of human welfare, such as a concern for peace and the rights of labor to bargain collectively.”

Professor Luccock, who preached on the theme “Keeping Life Out of Confusion,” continued:

“The old prayer in the Psalms, ‘Let me never be put to confusion,’ seems a strange one in a day when there seems to be little else but confusion in a puzzled world.  We ought to recognize that uncertainty of mind is not all a bad thing.  It is a sign that your mind is still alive, still sensitive.  If you are not at all confused in this day you are dead mentally and spiritually.

“There is, of course, the peace of the cemetery.  If you want that you can have it.  But you will pay for such complacent serenity with blind eyes which do not see the world’s fear and agony; with deaf ears, into which the sad music of humanity never comes; with deadened nerves and unsensitized conscience.

“We will never be brought to confusion, even in such a baffling and muddled world as ours, if we have a faith in a God of love as the ultimate power in the universe.  The words ‘God is love’ have this deep meaning:  that everything that is against love is ultimately doomed and damned.”

So little has changed in 70+ years…  I stumbled across this article today, after a letter in today’s local paper (see comments following) repeated a famous quote often misattributed to Sinclair Lewis:

“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.”

Its origins are at best obscure, but this link does a decent job of unraveling the mystery.

Monsieur d’Nalgar

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2010/12/22/fascism-disguised/

2010 was a very good year!

This was emailed by Roger on 12/15/2010 at 12:38PM.  Roger got it from Nancy who got it from Bill who got it from Ed who got it from Phillip.  Alas, I cannot claim authorship.  Roger that?

Monsieur d’Nalgar

It was a tough year, but I made it!!!

But not everyone is as lucky as I am……

The economy is so bad that I got a pre-declined credit card in the mail.

I ordered a burger at McDonald’s, and the kid behind the counter asked,  “Can you afford fries with that?”

CEO’s are now playing miniature golf.

If the bank returns your check marked  “Insufficient Funds,” you have to call them and ask if they mean you or them.

Hot Wheels and Matchbox stocks are trading higher than GM.

McDonald’s is selling the 1/4  ‘ouncer.’

Parents in  Beverly Hills and Malibu are firing their nannies and learning their children’s names.

A truckload of Americans was caught sneaking into Mexico.

Dick Cheney took his stockbroker hunting.

Motel Six won’t leave the light on anymore.

The Mafia is laying off judges.

BP Oil laid off 25 Congressmen.

Congress says they are looking into the Bernard Madoff scandal.  Oh Great!!   The guy who made $50 Billion disappear is being investigated by the people who made $1.5 Trillion disappear!

And, finally…

I was so depressed last night thinking about the economy, wars, jobs, my savings, Social Security, retirement funds, and our bleak future, that I called the Suicide Lifeline and was connected to a call center in Pakistan.   When I told them I was suicidal, they got all excited, and asked if I could drive a truck.

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2010/12/15/2010-was-a-very-good-year/