2:00PM Water Cooler 9/12/14


Our political class has been banging their spoon on the table for war the whole summer, but now that they’ve got one, they’re not sure they like it. Check out the New York Times front page. Syrian moderates — and I know this will surprise you — are thin on the ground in this “very dirty war.” We can’t control what these “rebels” will do with their weapons. We can’t control what they’ll do with their “training.” (One word: blowback) [Times]. The models for Obama’s war are Somalia and Yemen. I’m sure that will turn out well [Al Jazeera]. But Susan Rice says “knock on wood” [NPR]. So that’s alright, then.

However, something new: We have “so-called operations rooms,” supposedly only in Jordan and Turkey, where we’re “vetting” unicorns these rebels and handing out the goodies [Times]. Are there any black sites?

Still perusing the Times front page, the Arab world is “tepid.” Egypt, Jordan and Turkey — who, presumably, should be very worried and glad of our help — are all “finding ways to avoid specific commitments” [Times]. But wait! I thought John Kerry was doing the ask? [CNN] Anyhow, suppose they join, and let’s throw in some Gulf states, because threat. Isn’t that rather a lot of moving parts for an administration that can’t manage to launch their own website after three years of work? [Sic Semper Tyrannis].

And I’m not seeing yellow ribbons round the old oak tree out in the flyover states, either. In another front page story, neither does the [Times]. As long as the bombing doesn’t kill any of our boys and girls, seems to be the general idea (though blowback already has, and will again). Even if (see Page and Gilens) the views of dull normals only matter when they’re congruent with elites, presumably they matter a little when there’s conflict between elite factions. “isis divided” brings up a lot of hits….

Meanwhile, a “senior administration official” briefs that “‘Saudi Arabia has an extensive border with Syria” [NLPC]. Not Susan Rice, I trust, and I hope nobody passed the glad news on to John Kerry, because he’d look pretty dumb if he passed that on to anyone else.

Shaking my head. If your model is that we as an empire are trying for endless churn of pain and blood and fear and wedding parties blown to pink mist, just to keep the self-licking ice cream cone going at the Pentagon, Langeley, and Fort Meade, along with maybe a fillip for Red State Democrats in the mid-terms, I’d be hard-pressed to disagree. And my problem, so often, is that I’m not cynical enough. Maybe they’ll inflate a ginormous ISIS balloon for the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade. That should do the trick.


I still say, don’t wait for the shooter cop’s indictment to come down, or not; the locals can pre-empt and frame the whole issue by setting up a serious, deliberative, evidence-taking people’s court with a judge, a prosecutor, and a defense (Gene Sharp’s tactic 198). Maybe get the forensics department at Wiley College to help.

I hadn’t known Amnesty International was in Ferguson. Margaret Huang: “[D]istinctions between police and military … are starting to get quite fuzzy” [Vice]. An interview with a protester; plenty still happening on the ground [MSNBC]; including highway blocking and a memorial in middle of the road where the cops shot Michael Brown to death [Los Angeles Times]. (It makes sense, in a sprawling suburban metropolis, to occupy roads, and not squares.) The locals “expressed displeasure” at the Council’s review board proposal [LA Times]. And we have a new video, offering yet more support that Brown’s hands were indeed up [WaPo]. 

And oddly, or not, 80% of the Congressional Black Caucus voted against Alan Grayson’s bill to halt transfers of military equipment to the police [Black Agenda Report]. (Obama whipped the CBC to support the bailouts in Fall 2008, too; the CBC has a lot to answer for.)


Should there be “a Palestian exception for the First Amendment”? [Corey Robin] says no. Apparently, the “University” of Illinois trustees believe otherwise [Mondoweiss]. I don’t find myself in whole-hearted agreement with Scott LeMieux very often, but on the UI administration’s shameful and cowardly decision to rescind Steven Salaita’s appointment over some allegedly uncivil (!) tweets on Palestine, LeMieux is spot on [Lawyers, Guns, and Money].

Corey Robin has been all over this, and has a great quote from the UI Chancellor: “People are mixing up this individual personnel issue with the whole question of freedom of speech and academic freedom” [Corey Robin]. “The personnel is the political,” as Robin remarks. Here’s a bio of Salaita [News-Gazette]. And here’s an explainer on Salaita’s legal position on reinstatement [WILL].

Stats Watch

Retail sales: “Stronger than indicated by employment data” [Bloomberg]. “Core sales” (no auto, gas, building materials, or food) increased 0.4% in August [Reuters]. Stocks fall on bet Fed will raise rates sooner not later [Business Week].

Consumer sentiment: Climbs to 84.6 vs. final August reading of 82.5, based on expectations component, not current conditions [Bloomberg]. Highest in more than a year [Marketwatch].”Hot” [Business Insider]

Business inventories: Up 0.4% for July, “steady,” “solid positive” [Bloomberg], but stock accumulation could be a drag [Reuters].

News of The Wired

  • The tech elite keep their kids away from screens and make them read books [Times]. Gee. I wonder why?
  • Next up, robot bartenders [Singularity Hub (Furzy Mouse)]. So how come the tech elite is all “Oooh! Robots!” when the disemployment and crap jobs numbers are where they are?
  • A review of Zephyr Teachout’s book, Corruption in America: From Benjamin Franklin’s Snuff Box to Citizens United [NYRB].
  • The awfulness of the Red Delicious apple [Atlantic].
  • Classic: “America’s Peasant Mentality” [Matt Taibbi, True Slant] (I’ve gotta hat tip somebody for this, but can’t find who.)
  • Classic: “Existentialist Firefighter Delays 3 Deaths” [The Onion].

* * *

Readers, feel free to send me (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) images of plants; I now have some of yours to choose from, and I’ll start running them. Vegetables are fine! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Don’t mail Yves! And here’s a plant, from Jill. Autumn is coming….


And more plants, please! Bigger images (say, 1200px or thereabouts) preferred. Thank you!

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Carolinian

    Thanks for the Salaita mention. Seems the trustees aren’t backing down though.

    The lines, as they say, are drawn.

  2. MikeNY

    Re ISIS, Afghanistan, etc. Auden wrote quite plainly,

    “Those to whom evil is done / do evil in return.”

    Yet the US continues to insist that bombs dropped pusillanimously from 30,000 feet will buy peace. I am ashamed of our government.

    1. Banger

      The very last thing the US wants is peace–those a-holes don’t even have the decency to conquer the work properly–instead they have us in this constant minor threat mode.

    2. Doug Terpstra

      The USG is a brutal crime syndicate, worse than la familia or a drug cartel and no more legitimate. Shame is a charitable response.

  3. Johann Sebastian Schminson

    “Stronger than indicated by employment data”
    Retail sales up but wages and incomes flat to declining? That’s the stuff debt slavery is made of.

    “Stocks fall on bet Fed will raise rates sooner not later”
    The very moment the Fed touches the spigot to the endless font of fiat that is QE, this “bull market” will run off a cliff. Some very hungry bears are waiting at the bottom. We seem to have forgotten that we have a very toxic, very large, lot of less-than-worthless securities and derivatives stockpiled in leaky containers. Oh well — out of sight, out of mind. It’s the f’ing Fukashima of finance.

  4. McMike

    I’d prefer Braeburn and Honeycrisp thanks.

    Some folks in my community, which has a lot of century+ old fruit trees decaying around various front yards and disused farms, has started an adoption and gleaning program, to try and preserve the local varieties.

    1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      Good on you.

      A few years back, WaPo had a story on a fellow from WV who worked as a school janitor, for a living, but who had really made a contribution to humanity by pursuing his hobby: taking grafts from the old apple trees that dot the mountains. If memory serves, he had managed to save 80, or so, varieties of apple — some only known from their descriptions and/or illustrations in old books.

      1. McMike

        I have never had a Russet apple. Was going to make a potato crack, until Google saved me the embarrassment in realizing that the apple variety came first.

      2. sufferin' succotash

        Granny Smiths float my boat.
        I never cared much for Golden Delicious, much less the Red version.

      3. ambrit

        Years ago we were experiencing a Thousand mile garage sale that ran from Gadsden Alabama to Ohio. Halfway along the ridge that runs to Chattanooga, we stopped at a farmers market that had local apples, grown on the slopes of the ridge. Yellowish and sweet. The best apples we’ve ever eaten. How many similar foods are there hidden away in the nooks and crannies?

      4. Oregoncharles

        There are many russet apples. One I can recommend: Ashmead’s Kernel. Tart and extremely flavorful – I can still taste them, and I can’t taste generic apple any more.
        Seem to be sensitive to inadequate calcium, though.
        Better than Yellow Delicious is Grimes Golden, one of the parents. More flavor and fungus resistant, but they’re small and have some russeting (hence not commercial).

    2. GuyFawkesLives

      I am from Washington State, apple country. I remember when the red delicious was, in fact, delicious! I can’t understand why it used to be but no longer is. We used to get huge red delicious apples that the juice would run down your chin at first bite. Now, they resemble a red version of cardboard.

      1. grayslady

        My grandfather was the Paul Stark mentioned in the article, and I grew up eating Red Delicious apples. At one time, all the Red Delicious apples were grown at the Stark Bros. Nurseries headquarters in Louisiana, MO, but once my uncle became involved in the business most of the growing was placed under contract to nurseries in Washington state (I have no idea why). The Red Delicious apples I remember eating as a girl really were excellent–today, not so much.

        As an aside, we used to ride through the apple orchards in Louisiana and just grab an apple off the tree, rub the obvious pesticide spray off on our jeans (probably DDT in those days) and enjoy eating the apple. I’ve always joked that I am living proof that humans can consume copious amounts of DDT and still maintain good health.

        1. ambrit

          DDT is survivable, but for our offspring, not so good.
          Having lived in eastern Louisiana State, I had to laugh imagining the apple orchards being next to Bayou St. John. “Moonlight and Rome Beauties.”

    3. petal

      I know I’m a day late on this, but there’s definitely been a resurgence in heirloom variety apples recently. Up here in NH we are lucky to have Poverty Lane Orchards, and our Coop stocks heirloom varieties. It’s fun to get a few and taste test them at home. My favorite baking apple, though, is the 20 Ounce which used to be easily found where I grew up in western NY up on the big lake. For anyone interested in heirloom apple varieties, I found a neat site called Trees of Antiquity. If I had any land, I’d plant like mad. My fave right off the tree is Jonagold (only 1953, though). Good for eating and also for pies. Sadly it is nearly impossible to find either variety up here.

  5. Now in Yemen

    All this is political game for somebodies interest. Obama didnt care about Syrian people, he was send army weapon to the ISIL, and now he cry when this rebels didnt fight against Bashar Al Asad. Who is Free Syrian Army, what they want, for which interst they fight. Not for the Syrian people.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Correct. The US and its allies created and empowered ISIS, which now proves to be a very useful enemy for stealth regime change, both in Iraq and in Russia’s ally, Syria, to allow construction of the Qatari gas/oil pipeline. This aims to cripple Russia, while serving Israel’s agenda, and ensuring full-spectrum dominance; it is never about the wellbeing of people — not Ukranians, Syrians, Afghanis, Libyans, Iranians … or Americans.

      1. John Jones

        What I don’t understand is why Syria is needed for a Qatari gas/oil pipeline. Like why would it need to pass through there specifically and not any of the other surrounding countries?

  6. Larry

    Obama must do something. The optics are terrible for him. And from what I understand from a few sources, ISIS will be pretty easy to bomb to smithereens. They apparently gather in large formations easily scoped by our drone/satellite bandwith. So a bombing we will go. Then to the voting booths to celebrate another job well done.

    1. sufferin' succotash

      It’s what might be called a Bobblehead War, started because the President’s afraid that if he doesn’t start it unkind things will be said about him on Sunday morning talk shows.

    2. Doug Terpstra

      War always looks easy to neocons … and cheap, quick, low-risk (for them), profitable, and consequence-free. Yes, another Judeo-Christian bombing campaign against the latest terrorist specter, ISIS, in Iraq and Syria without legal permission is just what’s needed … and slam-dunk of course. So, just as soon as Netanyahu gives the order, the US Knesset will issue the necessary authority for Obama to proceed. That’ll certainly show Putin. What could go wrong?

  7. McMike

    Re Salaita. Various takes:

    Libertarian. He can say whatever he wants; and we can hire and fire whoever we want, whenever we want, whyever we want. The students will vote with their attendance (and their loans/parents’ money).

    Liberal. He can say whatever he wants; and you can’t fire him for it (*). * But if it was particularly icky, we think he ought to be censured. ** and if he’s sold out to corporate interests, he really should leave and join a think tank.

    Conservative. Depends on what he said.

    NSA. That’s not all that he’s said.

    AIPAC. He should be sent to a work camp for reeducation.

    Fox News. He should be sent to Guantanamo for interrogation.

    Obama. The response should be measured; the kind of thing that would resonate with folks in their living room.

  8. Phil

    The Matt Taibbi piece (“America’s Peasant Mentality”) is unavailable – does anyone have a working link?

    1. Frances

      When you click on the link and it opens, keep scrolling down the page until you reach Taibbi’s piece. It takes your breath away. Written in April 2009. He and Gretchen Morgenson — the only word for both of them is prescient.

  9. chris

    Can anyone please explain to me how one can measure “Consumer Confidence” given that confidence is illusory at best? Or perhaps the question I mean to ask is does such a measurement, where 60% is based on “expectations” for the future, look back on itself and correct after the expected future becomes the verifiable past? Who actually relies on “Consumer Confidence” and what are the decisions that emerge from it? Is it just another “lagging indicator” for the stock market or does it figure into marketing, production and inventory considerations?

    Most important – do these questions reveal a tiny-mindedness that I am loathe to confront in myself?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I am not sure the answer to your question, but I believe if you can teach a man to whistle, then, as he goes past the graveyard in total darkness, he’d be more confident…or at least, less scared.

    2. McMike

      Rather than absolute, confidence is usually measured as a trend against a baseline, looking forward to expectations for the future.

      It is supposed to be a leading indicator, but of course has become, ahem, no longer remotely correlated to market performance.

      I don’t think anyone actually relies on it, it’s just a makework project for university grad students and the financial press.

      As for self-loathed tiny mindedness, I’d suggest we should seasonally adjust the results.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I think if one is made to think that many people are feeling confident, one feels the peer pressure to be confident as well.

        It’s very subtle, but the 0.01% sleep better knowing we are happy and confident.

        1. abynormal

          it also makes for a great ‘blame’ trend…’its your own fault if your not in our American Dream’

    3. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      According to a professional peer, who has advanced degrees in Economics and Phrenology, the indicator for tiny-mindedness is a small protrusion just behind the ocular orbit, and slightly above the temple. The dude can’t be wrong — he’s got college degrees.

  10. Banger

    The Sic Semper Tyrannis take on the IS tragi-comedy is very good. My impression is that Obama is kicking the can down the road with is absurd “plan” until after the election. He’ll kick up dust pretending to do “something” mainly using a ton of ordinance. When the dust settles after November then it will be a new game.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      A lively pre-selection shock-and-awe aerial circus might prove a very useful and timely diversion. October surprises and selections can be quite complementary.

    2. Paul Niemi

      It’s time to just partition Iraq — separate out the Kurds, give the Shia their own territory and defend the new borders. Oh wait, we can’t do that because that would justify partitioning Ukraine.

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    My take from today’s stock market being down ‘as Fed fears set tone.’

    First of all, reality is all about Main Street. That’s reality, where we reside.

    Now, when you have no connection to reality, but react only to the Fed, you are living in a world detached from reality.

    That’s insanity, basically.

    So, perhaps instead of prisons, they should be treated in an asylum.


      1. hunkerdown

        Nah, the available less-lethal options ought to be quite sufficient, the slippy water cannons and incapacitating foam and all that.

        I suggest that what’s missing are the asylums, what with Reagan closing them all.

        1. ambrit

          I occasionally invoke His Satanic Majesty and ask that He give Ronnie some nice cushy mid level managerial position down there. So far, only puddles of black candle wax.

        1. Ulysses

          Here’s a great line from the classic Taibbi piece:

          “After all, the reason the winger crowd can’t find a way to be coherently angry right now is because this country has no healthy avenues for genuine populist outrage. It never has. The setup always goes the other way: when the excesses of business interests and their political proteges in Washington leave the regular guy broke and screwed, the response is always for the lower and middle classes to split down the middle and find reasons to get pissed off not at their greedy bosses but at each other. That’s why even people like Beck’s audience, who I’d wager are mostly lower-income people, can’t imagine themselves protesting against the Wall Street barons who in actuality are the ones who f#@ked them over. “

  12. GuyFawkesLives

    Dave Dayen just wrote about Dave Trott, Foreclosure King running for Congress, but here’s the fucking kicker:



      1. GuyFawkesLives

        I am so distraught I cannot contain my rage.
        Senator Carl Levin better come out with a statement of outrage.
        Michigan homeowners better be at AG Schuette’s office EN-MASSE on Monday or I will be extremely rageful at them too.

        1. alex morfesis

          and why are you distraught?
          when the B of A former chief attorney is made head of fannie did that not bother you that the guy who helped crash fannie in sept 2008 with the prime brokerage margin call fraud against fannie would get to sit on the throne…

          the waskally wabbyts are having fun…fun…fun…

          but one day someone in a foreclosure case will depose Eric Sirri and ask some questions about how he got his job at the SEC when he did…and that Paulson letter of May 14 from Harvey Pitt and his band of merry men…

          oh…and did anyone ever notice that the letter Pitt sent to the ISDA in April was for the organization that someone had forgotten to incorporate in Delaware but fixed it on May 14…at least they waited till the debit card cleared at the Secty of State in Delaware before they sent the letter to good old Mr. Sirri…

          we wuz accidented…

          these folks were not investing in derivatives and making money on the tail risk…the letter that no one has ever provided for the public to see…

          specifically was to deny homeowners the opportunity to get a loan modification…

          oh…and just like the nice guy from B of A who ends up on the throne after the turkey shoot of Aug 7 2007 that rolled over into the spectacle of Sept 2008…Mr Paulson got to get the keys to Countrywide Bank…which had a seat at the treasury auction star chamber that most people did not realize…yup…mr super tan mozilo had one of those rare seats at the treasury auctions…and Mr Paulson, who only caused a few trillion dollars in losses for american homeowners, got to sit on the thrown of the elephant he took down…

          track sirri and specific dates and actions he took and had his fingers all over at the SEC…he doesn’t even hide it…it seems like he is gloating in his “papers” and slips in key information and dates of what he did as he has happily served the mammonite beasts…

          so sit back relax and let the world just be as it must be….or not…

          1. Banger

            Beatiful rant–this is what we go to the internet to read Gonzo style. You know the only healthy reaction is to slam it hard.

            And this is how it works–these heavy hitters who pull little strings and levers and cool little viruses in the system that accidentally on purpose keep them on top. The playas know the hustle and play it right without having to fight–just falls into their laps. So cool!

            I don’t really have a drastic problem with that–it’s bad and we’ll have to sort of deal with it at some point but far worse is the toxic denial of the citizenry in general and the American intellectual class in particular. We got to shake it up, I think.

            1. GuyFawkesLives

              You hit the nail on the head: “toxic denial of the citizenry in general…”
              I can’t tell you how many “friends” who have abandoned me because I have decided that I cannot sit idol while America burns.

    1. abynormal

      uh who keeps his books? “Trott, who specializes in foreclosures, has built a diversified business empire and is worth between $60 million and $200 million, according to financial disclosure forms.”

      “This information movement, left to its own devices, will increase the GAP between rich and poor people and rich and poor nations.”
      Michael L. Dertouzos

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      The Preamble starts out good, but it sounds like some kinda committee got at it and started adding stuff:

      We STILL hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Throughout the world, people dare to dream of freedom and opportunity. The Republican Party of Texas unequivocally defends that dream. We strive to preserve the freedom given to us by God, implemented by our Founding Fathers, and embodied in the Constitution. We recognize that the traditional family is the strength of our nation. It is our solemn duty to protect life and develop responsible citizens. We understand that our economic success depends upon free market principles. If we fail to maintain our sovereignty, we risk losing the freedom to live these ideals.

      “STILL” in all caps. Fancy that! And I didn’t know that one could “live” “an ideal.” Live and learn, I guess. Or not!

      But then you come to this:

      We urge the repeal of the USA Patriot Act and spying on law abiding Americans must stop immediately. We support court ordered warrants on an individual basis in cases directly involving national security

      So life is a little more complicated.

      1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

        Well I’ll give this insane bunch of apparently tripping-balls (and balls-tripping, for that matter), whack jobs a +1, for that. Always look on the bright side of life (I guess).

        We wuz fer it, fer we wuz again’ it.

        The document is repugnant.

        Check this:

        “American Identity, Patriotism and Loyalty- We favor strengthening our common American identity and loyalty, which includes the contribution and assimilation of different racial and ethnic groups. Students should pledge allegiance to the United States and Texas flags daily to instill patriotism. Students have the right to display patriotic items on school property. Students should have the right to read the Bible on public school property.”

        How can one pledge allegiance to two different things (especially at the same time)? I think someone they claim to know said that serving two masters was impossible.

        Then, there’s the following (a little history, and if I’m not mistaken — the Texas GOP can only revise their platform every 2 years. Last time, they said they were against “knowledge-based education,” the had to wait until now to unstep in that crap. The following claptrap is what replaces that):

        “Knowledge Based Education- We oppose the teaching of values clarification and similar programs that focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority. Rather, we encourage the teaching of critical thinking skills, including logic, rhetoric and analytical sciences”

        Okay. Firstly, they didn’t end their goddamned sentence with a period (everything elses has a period. They have to wait 2 years to fix it. Ha! Ha!). Epic fail. Secondly, a student’s “fixed” beliefs and their parents’ authority won’t be undermined by teaching them critical thinking skills?

        The whole thing makes the Democrats look like superior beings from an alien planet. And the Democrats suck.

      2. Johann Sebastian Schminson

        If I’m not mistaken, Texas is the only state that has anything approaching a right to secede from the Union (having been an independent Republic for a decade before gettin’ hitched to the US). I wish their Republican leadership would quit threatinin’ and commence to secedin’. I’m sure we have a couple of hundred underemployed lawyers who could help work the deal from our end.

        1. Vatch

          Hawai’i was a separate country, and I suppose the 13 original states, plus their offshoots Vermont, Maine, and West Virginia, could be considered to have been separate countries.

          1. Vatch

            Vermont really did secede, except not from the United States. The “seceded” by declaring themselves not part of New York or New Hampshire.

          2. Johann Sebastian Schminson

            The original 13 agreed to a federal government — in the form of a Constitutional Republic. The Constitution offers no legitimate process for secession (the Civil War ended any argument to the contrary). All of the rest, except TX, got their statehood directly from the Federal Government, after having been territories claimed by the Federal Government.

            Might be wrong, but that’s how I understand it.

        2. amateur socialist

          Well okay but is there going to be a west Berlin style airlift into Austin? They never liked us anyway outside the UT athletics dept.

      3. Doug Terpstra

        Ha! Now there’s a muddled and befuddled manifesto, worthy of The Onion, from propaganda-addled minds.

      4. Eclair

        I believe that “STILL” is a veiled reference to our god-given right to distill our own whiskey without the pesky Feds trying to tax it out of existence.

        Onerous liquor laws aside, the preamble is a shrill defense of Patriarchy. References to “God” (the Big Guy with the Beard ), the Founding Fathers (how about a shout out to the Founding Mothers who were washing out their small clothes and propping up their egos every night in bed?), the “traditional family,” headed by a male-who-must-be-obeyed, and the “solemn duty to protect life” (code for ‘any woman we implant with our seed WILL bear our child’), reveal the their intent.

        I can support the freedom to make one’s own moonshine in large quantities but they’ll have to go back to the drawing board on the rest.

  13. hemeantwell

    I think the ISIS policy critics are focusing too much on questions surrounding the possibility of defeating ISIS. There’s a larger political issue. Obama’s policy might be a form of pre-emptive intervention. O knows that some kind of coalition will emerge to at least contain ISIS, there are too many significant powers threatened by it. If the US doesn’t crowd its way to the role of organizer, you’ll instead have a coalition, say Syria/Iran/Russia/(Saudi Arabia? they are not happy)/Egypt? having to take the initiative, developing forces and a working relationship, perhaps also regional “authority” that will leave the US less influential. The US has to intervene, even if it fails in a narrow political-military sense, in order to influence the overall balance of forces.

    1. hemeantwell

      Another thought: Aside from the matter of trying to grasp reality, does anyone know what the Rapture crazies are making of all this? It must look to them like one of the later episodes from their story book.

          1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

            “No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. For it is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins.”

            Whah? Guess I’m out. Funny, I don’t FEEL defiled (HT: D.L. Roth).

    2. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      Why don’t we just airdrop ISIS money, directly? It keeps the Saudis in line (well, unless you count 9/11, or Al-Queada, generally).

      ISIS (or whatever), has done some horrendous and nefarious shit to people. So have we. We might as well fund them, as we did the South American Death Squads (SADS?). That way, when they get on top of our oil, we can let them ransom it to us, instead of some other kleptocracy.

  14. Zane Zodrow

    RE: Amnesty International in Ferguson-
    1st time they have dispatched a team within U.S.
    Police ordered them (Amnesty team) to leave protest area
    One Amnesty person said Ferguson police actions were the worst they had seen.

  15. grayslady

    Lambert, thanks for calling attention to the University of Illinois-Steven Salaita catastrophe. As an alum, I am outraged by what one writer has called “Zionist McCarthyism” and Salaita, himself, has called the Palestinian exception to the first amendment, as evidenced by pressure on the Chancellor and the Board of Trustees. It should be noted that this incident follows upon another disgrace for U of I, just two years ago, when it was found out (I believe by Chicago Tribune investigative reporting) that children of wealthy donors and state politicians were receiving preferential admissions decisions. Governor Quinn demanded that the whole Board of Trustees resign. Pity he couldn’t have selected a better group of replacements that this crew.

  16. afisher

    Global Post is reporting that there has been an agreement of sorts between factions of the Syrian Rebels:

    The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the ceasefire deal was agreed between IS and moderate and Islamist rebels in Hajar al-Aswad, south of the capital.

    Under the deal, “the two parties will respect a truce until a final solution is found and they promise not to attack each other because they consider the principal enemy to be the Nussayri regime.”

    Nussayri is a pejorative term for the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam to which President Bashar al-Assad belongs.

    Syria’s armed opposition initially welcomed jihadists including Islamic State members in their fight against Assad.

    If that is true – then doesn’t it follow that sending US troops, I mean special forces, to train these “moderate” rebels makes zero sense and that it blows a huge hole in the gambit? If so, anyone have the phone number so that I can call and tell BHO the news.

    1. abynormal

      3 Grenade Launchers …to subdued or kill 1 or 2 armed and dangerous students?

      “The world is full of people who will help you manufacture tornadoes in order to blow out a match.”
      Shaun Hick

  17. Roland

    I vehmently disagree with the whole “Syria pipeline” argument.

    Bashar’s government in Syria would have been very happy to help Qatar build a pipeline to the Mediterranean. It was not in the least necessary to overthrow Bashar to build a pipeline.

    Bashar’s policy was to mostly adhere to the Washington Consensus. Under Bashar, Syria was opening and deregulating its economy. I was in Syria for a short time in 2005, early in the process, and I followed Syrian economic news with interest in the years following.

    Examples of things actually under way before the civil war erupted:

    1. Free trade agreement with Turkey.
    2. Opening of a Syrian stock exchange.
    3. Opening of privately-owned banks in Syria.
    4. Relaxation of currency exchange rules, towards eventual full convertibility.
    5. Establishment of “free zones” for foreign investors.
    6. Relaxation of joint venture rules for foreign investors.
    7. Plans to privatize state-owned companies.
    8. Elimination of fuel and food subsidies for the Syrian public.

    During the first decade of this century, billions of USD worth of foreign investment came into Syria. Damascus sprouted a fresh crop of Western-owned hotels. It became common to see nouveau riches talking on cellphones while driving expensive foreign cars. Food, housing, and utility prices soared. “Inefficient” state-owned firms closed and laid off thousands, while drought-stricken peasants competed with Iraqi refugees for accomodation in Syria’s cities and towns. Landlords and profiteers were raking it in, while the Syrian government courted Qatari and Saudi sovereign wealth funds for more investment.

    Under Bashar, Syria was turning into the sort of country usually touted as a “success story” story by the Western bourgeois media.

    In fact, it was Bashar’s eagerness to meet the demands of foreign investors that did more than anything else to trigger the revolution. The reduction of food and fuel subsidies (insisted upon as a condition for the removal of Western-imposed sanctions), when combined with the drought problem and the refugee problem, caused a political explosion.

    The only policy areas in which Bashar wouldn’t bend were those which concerned Syria’s relations with Iran, Hezbollah, and Russia. Most of all, Bashar would not sell out Nasrallah. The Syrian Ba’ath may have completely abandoned whatever vestiges of old-line Arab socialism it had once espoused, but Bashar nevertheless remained an unrepentent old-line Arab nationalist.

    If there was any reason for the USA-backed “half-men” of the Gulf aristocracies to want Bashar gone, it was over Lebanon and Iran, not over a pipeline. Looking back:


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