Commenter Profile

… And Goodbye To All That

April 12, 2016 7:38 pm
walid, I just made a comment specially for you and it disappeared. Something about ebb and flow of forums and all that rubbish. Once before this happened and the comment that I thought was lost forever has reappeared, as mysteriously as it disappeared. So I'll wait before trying to resurrect what little pearls I tried to string together.....
April 12, 2016 7:29 pm
Walid, yes, the great conversations on MW have indeed died down. How and why that happened is of interest to those who care about on-line dynamics but perhaps not enough to change things. I believe this has to do partly with a critical mass of commenters who just are not around any longer and/or pop in rarely. I can name names but won't because there is no need.   partly however it's something else i think. MW stands out there as a chronicler of the descent of israel into the heart of darkness. Pulling with it much of what was good about jews and judaism into the muck. We have now entered, I believe, a point of no return, and maost sensitive souls feel it in their bones. These are times for the few brave activists to condemn and to shake fists at the might of the devil, and for others to rage against the injustice of power. Still others are assigned (not sure by whom) the role of witnesses - the scribes who write down and analyse the evil that lurks in the hearts of men. Phil is of the latter, and many, not as motivated, talented or inclined, may still feel it is their holy assignment to read and remember. Commenting sometimes can feel immaterial - for what is there to say, when all there is to see are the dark storm clouds? As you can see, and as you well know from times past,  I tend to look at the ebb and flow of forums as almost a natural phenomenon. The great times come and we luxuriate when we experience them, producing torrents of words, thoughts and opinions, grateful for an opportunity to interact with others, similarly inclined. But we all live in time and are bound by it. The dynamics of the I/P conflict has changed over the past 15 years as israel moved further and further to the right. The people of israel are captured by some force which seems hell bent on dispossessing the palestinians and crushing the spirit of the land. It is hard right now for those of us outside to just watch it all unfold, with hardly a tool at our disposal to stop the process (alas, I fear that BDS too is entering a time of great turmoil as the other side is just gearing up for combat). It is, in fact so hard, for the less activist among us, that even commenting seems like an almost unbearable task. All I now is that something will change soon, as a red line of sorts will be crossed. When it is, which is not too long now, Phil's greatly anticipated and much predicted schism among the jews of America will widen enough to produce much shaking. So I wait - and sharpen my pen. And visit MW now and then to test the waters. All I know that the "end' times are not too far off, so I won't lament that which hasn't really passed.
April 10, 2016 6:35 pm
Taxi, I, for one, refuse to accept your resignation, though I can easily see why you need a break. A cursory look through the recent article titles paints a bleak picture indeed of the state of affairs in the world. As the clouds are gathering over the Anglo-zionist empire (saker's term, which I kibnda like), the empire is fighting back with all the resources at its disposal. It kills where it ca, injects turmoil where no one is looking, tearing asunder the pockets where resistance dares to lift its head, and generally co-opts the cooptable. We see the huge counterattack on BDS, the increasing oppression of palestinians (cutting off their electrical power for example), and the toxic climate of the US elections where venom splashes daily against independent candidates (Bernie or Donald, no matter). But as CAD above said, it's always darkest before the storm. Somewhere far beyond the gathering clouds, a few piercing rays of light can be glimpsed. A show-down is coming, we just don't know when and what form it'll take. I have taken leaves of absence myself - from commenting and even reading. But continuing to work towards the goal is a must. Each as they can. Perhaps, taxi, you could find another who will lend a hand to refresh the blog periodically, at least until such time you choose to return shining armor and all? just say the word....
April 12, 2016 7:03 pm
To continue with this line of thought and also address the uniqueness of a Phil or a Glenn: Yes, there is indeed a secret ingredient in blogs that make some of them welcoming to dissenters, contenders and hangers-on of all types, and Phil certainly had, and still has, that Je ne sait quoi element. he can write about the flight of a bumblebee in his back-yard, and multitudes shall flock to comment,  drawn as flies to the light, all seemingly buzzing with much opinion on the nature of the bee and its relation to the not-being-a-bee. Phil is like the street philosophers of old. Give him a corner and a cup of cofee and comment he shall, in a way that makes humans stop and take note. Sometimes for a moment, sometimes forever. It doesn't matter even that some are hard-core zionists and some others are just frayed souls who wandered in to partake of a few sun rays or rain drops. It's that all who are assembled feel, momentarily at least, bonded as humans, even as they busily challenge some kink or another. IMO, taxi has some of the same gift, but perhaps, being of a different nature, is less inclined to spend too much time in the valleys of darkness. I understand her well in that regard (or think I do) as many, if not most of us, can tolerate negation only so long. We feel the undertow and the pull of the slimy toads beneath and too much toxicity without recourse to action just gets to us after a while. I can't imagine what kind of inner clarity and internal undimable light it takes to have walked for days among the settlers of the West Bank and not give in to the temptation of fight or flight. But Phil Weiss has managed to do that and returned from his sojourns among the afflicted, with hardly a mark, yet plenty of observations, now laid out in a paper. People like that are needed. Reporters and observers of all kinds who can travel to hell and return with gifts for the rest of us. As for Glenn - OK, that'll be for another day. Now I just want taxi to come back, perhaps with a new story or two.
April 10, 2016 6:50 pm
Agree walid. I had a hard time getting an in depth conversation going - here, kind of like we used to have on MW. Oftentimes only sean Mcbride would respond and he seems to have take a hiatus lately. It is unfortunately not easy to converse or debate at depth, as I'm sure you and others know. ON MW for example, keith and I have gone around the bend so many times that we practically know each other's next sentence. the saker, who I like for his frequent insights 9and no, that of course does not mean i agree with every single word he ever wrote) coined a term that found resonance in me - Submarines in the desert - that's what we, single individuals who prize liberty and free thought, are like. each enconced in their own country/domain/backyard/basement. We can only now shake fists, broadcast our cries of rage and occasionally converse for sustannce. But, for the most part, we are each alone, wherever we are. Yearning for the sea, where submarines can go anywhere they like, as dolphins do. personally i crave the back and forth with others of my ilk. Even to disagree in the margins. I had occasion to do that on haaretz, once upon a time, on the talkbacks, a hang-out where I found many friends, some who became so in real life 9and my eternal gratitude to Bradley burston for providing the platform, no matter his infractions). I found even more like-minded friends on Mondoweiss (and for that too i remain deeply indebted to Phil - Zio-Schmayo, as they say). On friendfeed too I had many good discussions, several with Sean, a few with Jeff when he visited, and some heated arguments, which for me, were never a waste of time. I was hoping that over time, this place too will accommodate us who wish and find the time to chat on things that matter, even if it sounds like we are repeating ourselves, at time. I hopee some will continue to hang out here, a limited hang-out though it may be. You too walid. especially you...  
April 12, 2016 6:44 pm
Sean, First my best wishes for your cat's continuing recovery. I recently lost one of my own cats of similar age to diabetes with complications. This cat was a true prince among cats, the gentlest and most sweet tempered cat I have ever had. He was, to whatever degree it is possible for a feline, simply kind. I am convinced he is now in cat heaven which is where all the not-so-kind people with would-be cat allergies (in which I don't believe) are sent for their personal to atone for too much crankiness and sourness while on earth. Second, I don't totally agree with you about forum discussions. I can have a raging argument with someone who I am 99% in agreement with except for that 1% margin. Such flare-ups can go all the way from intemperate to scholarly. Differing in the margins is a time-honored modus operandi for academic debates as well as in-depth discussions on-line. Here is an example - Shmuel, who I agree with on nearly everything (except how to deal with the likes of Gilad, ie, the less temperate among us) yet, I can converse with him till kingdom come, being always challenged and sometimes inspired in the process. Sometimes, it's not the disagreement that's inspiring, but the new angle, or the personal anecdote, or the sudden new thought that came out of nowhere. There are others, like Shmuel, and there were quite a few of them on MW back in the day. Note how in response to one of Avigail Abarbanel's pieces, so many would come in, interject and converse, even without the slightest need for hophmi's services as a buzzing mosquito. Third, as you recall, you and i had our discussions in the past where we agreed on some and disagreed on others, you being so digital and me being the analog code that I am. I just wish you stopped dividing people into categories of "bright' and "less bright" or "deep" and "shallow" thinkers. We all run the gamut at different times of the day, week, month or season. It's just when you say things this way, it has a very discouraging effect on people, even on those of us designated "bright". Sometimes i am quite happy to engage with the "kind' or the "active", brilliance be damned. Very tiring that - being condemned to bright shining light with no turn-off button.

Killing the US Republic — and Empire – Chas W. Freeman/ConsortiumNews

April 5, 2016 8:03 pm
Superb article. Thanks for bringing to my attention  - just as I was getting ready to write something that relates to the Empire-and -its-discontents (my angle relates more specifically to Sanders - who may or may not know he is part of the Empire, no matter his personal preferences).

A Tango with Trump

March 18, 2016 8:18 am
Rudy M - please don't be too surprised. The vast majority of the people are completely and totally ignorant about what's going on in Israel/Palestine, just as much as they know next to nothing about the Ukraine or Syria. That's what we are up against - a vast, unmitigated ignorance by most people, including the most intelligent and sometimes even the most well-read.   In almost any political discussion I am having with anybody, including super-educated people, some with PhDs and what not, I find myself lecturing. About 'the situation". Whatever it is. People here may find the day in day out propaganda in the West hilarious. But for most people, that is all they know. Would be nice if we could direct more people to MoA, or Plato's Guns, or Mondoweiss, or The Saker, or even Alternet, Truthdig, etc. But let's face it - they'll get discouraged. because people who work for a living while perhaps also dealing with family, simply don't have the bandwidth. Sad but true. That's why it's mostly the retired, semi-retired and/or the students who are, or seem to be, more up to date. These are the only two groups who have the needed bandwidth - the young - and the older. Funny, that, isn't it? For myself, I try not to place blame for ignorance because I know all too well that these days, work sucks the life out of you, especially if work involves something professional and/or creative. That's how it is for us humans these days. So these days i am working on perfecting my "elevator speech". I can now sum up the I/P situation in 5 sentences. Well chosen ones of course, for maximum effect. I can vary it too - depending on the target audience. Does it help? do i convince anyone? I don't know. Sowing the seeds of doubt is more than enough though.

A totalitarian democracy – Howard Cohen/Mondoweiss

March 8, 2016 8:59 pm
I beg to differ, American. I thought this was a rather evocative description of a process of brain washing that has all but captured the Israeli psyche. Of course there is a navel gazing element in it, because the writer documents their escape from the group think (the religious brand) and hints just how arduous the process is in an Israeli context. People have their souls captured by false ideologies every day around the world. Not just in Israeli yeshivas, but also in madrasas and certain churches and by any number of ultra-ideological groups around the world. To become a captive of a cult is an interesting process of shutting down big chunks of one's soul. Trying to escape the hold of a cult is a contrasting process of trying to reclaim those parts of one's soul that have been whitewashed to a bland shine that can only reflect outward, generating the requisite echo chamber. The reclamation process involves an "de-shining" through continuous roughening of the surface in an attempt to find a way back in. Sometimes, the de-shining results in such deep pits that  pieces of one's very identity actually evaporate before they can be re-found, leaving behind only ghostly apparitions. I don't think it's an easy process under any circumstances, and a measure of empathy may be called for for those who feel compelled to undertake it. For myself, I try to remember that there is no escaping without some damage. I suffer from a degree of hardening myself, so I know. OTOH, your impatience with too much inward gazing is sometimes how I feel about people who escaped for example one of those polygamous Mormon sects. It's hard not to feel somewhat disconnected from the experience of insiders, especially if one feels they personally would have never fallen under the spell in the first place.

How a Generation Lost Its Common Culture – Patrick Deneen/MindingTheCampus.org

February 25, 2016 9:10 am
Superb article and too true. I see the same hollowing of the educational substance in my own environment. It's actually even worse in a technocratic field, where students often don't even know what culture means. And that,ladies and gentlemen, is why robots inspired by AI, infused with nanotechnology, mobilized through 3D printed parts, may indeed take over, and the loss of the human capital be not so lamentable. After all, what is really being lost in the age of twitter, facebook, instagram, snapchat, match.com and linkedIn? nothing much, perhaps.

Plato’s Winter Pow Wow

February 2, 2016 11:40 pm
Taxi, my two cents worth:   I have been struggling with the same dilemma you have. I have been compiling a "secret" little blog of my own that I am thinking of unveiling. But under what name? Danaa is fine for all things Middle east, but my interests range well beyond the ME (who would have thunk) and sometimes I like to comment on other topics altogether, some of which are not even political (is there anything that isn't/ well, that's one of my mini-essays). In the end the decision was clear - must split into two or even three, kind of mirroring my personality. The ME is really a limited hang-out for those who are interested. Lots of people aren't and one can't make people be interested if they don't want to be. Splitting into two or even three blogs has one down-side - the extra work (if not expense). The upside is that one blog can be an "open" trail, including items that are cross-published elsewhere, much as lots of other people do (including eg, the Saker who is now published also in The Unz review and Russia Insider). But then keep Plato's Guns as is, under taxi. Can choose to cross-reference the two or even cross-publish but that's an option. Plato's guns can remain the unrestricted free medium you like, and a newstand. The other blog can be just your own original musings (which can then be also imported into Plato's Guns, for those of us who want to engage in a more freewheeling discussion with the taxi we always knew and loved. You may choose whether to have the taxi association open or not (so for example, just us "insiders" will know that the new amazing blogger out there is none other than our one and only Taxi, but others - your new legion of followers will not necessarily know the connection). The downside of too much work is not that bad really. The new blog can use even one of the free templates until it catches fire. having said that, obviously it takes enough time that I haven't finished my own little undertaking along these lines. The other down-side is that if you choose the new name to be divorced from Taxi for various reasons, then indeed, at some point must be prepared to be "outed". Again I doubt that'd be a big concern unless you see physical threat somewhere.   The main upside IMO is that you get to be as schizophrenic on-line as you (or really any of us) are in real life. On-line existence means we can be [almost] all that we are - and then some. So what could possibly go wrong?   PS sorry I haven't been much around lately. So very busy again.....        
February 6, 2016 8:42 pm
Taxi, I did not mean to imply total agreement with everything described in The Saker article (thanks for the link). He often builds a very wide arc and as a result, key details that can be very significant are buried in the margin. What I did like about the article is that he went through lots of elements that together make the Russia/Israel situation "complex". However, it is in through the relative importance attached to those elements that prognosis can be made, and there, I tend to agree more with you than with Sean. Assuming I understand your disputation correctly. In my own analysis I tend to try and look beyond the mere facts or speculations of the day to the large picture, which can include elements now hidden from view. Needless to say this kind of exercise involves both intuition and speculation. And so I'll plead fallibility, as a mere human, but, barring indications to the contrary, continue to believe in my own prgnostications. And on that front, I think you, taxi are closer to the reality - as it is shaping up, even as Sean ably points out the reality as it currently is. So, to me the difference is in the timeline, rather than any facts. This is, BTW, similar to the line I take when discussing sanders' "hidden zionism" or lack thereof (put up a comment just recently on MW about that). Upshot is, the way I see things transpiring in the ME, with Russia now firmly entrenched in a "bridge-head" in Syria, is that things will irrevocably change in the coming future. There is no doubt that Russia played a good game in Syria, using its own sovereign interests as rationale. Putin correctly read that Russia cannot simply sink into some kind of post-Soviet isolationism and live happily ever after. Not when there is a hegemon run amok around, trying to rearrange an Empire according to its own global/neoliberal tastes (which, IMO are bound to doom its expansion in the long run). In Russia, if one follows closely such translations as are available, there are people already thinking about how to deal with israel when the time comes. because deal with it is something they'll have to do eventually. I happen to believe (and I think taxi will agree) that the alliance with hezbollah and Iran, even if it is not touted from the every hill top, is part and parcel of the shift in the power game that will come, as sure as day follows night. That being said (and I don't want to belabor the point too much here) I still think that for now, Russia will concentrate on liberating Syria from the clutches of the crazy "idiots-de-jour of the Empire" (yes, I mean, Erdogan and KSA among others). Putting them in their place is absolutely essential before undertaking any geopolitical dealings with israel. So fro now, keeping the israeli dog from barking too much (though they can snarl, and now and then must get a little "bone") is the thing to do. There'll be world enough and time to deal with the jewish state, but to ultimately succeed, racking up some military victories is a good starting point. Ultimately, israel does understand that language all too well.   IOW, were I to advise Putin, I'd say "carry on!".  
February 5, 2016 10:10 am
Chas, I know you flock with the geese and the ganders. Up above, Taxi and Sean have been wondering about American, which got me concerned (I get easily concerned. I want all of us to live forever whether in fight, flight or kumbaya). Have you guys (I know you are all guys. just a hunch) seen him around by any chance? Taxi says his e mail is bouncing back, and that's concerning. Seen no evidence of him for quite a while on MW either (not that I follow the comment section religiously but I do check in and do post now and then, if only to let people know I'm around, even if busy). IF you know anything please share - me, I am just hoping he is in good health and that his cat(s) are well taken care of.    
February 5, 2016 7:51 pm
There was a very good analysis by The Saker on the complex nature of the Russia-Israel relationship, which laid out the reasons russia cannot and will not act willy-nilly to overly antagonize Israel. But Russia's Putin, as we know plays a long game. Right now, it is important to keep israel more or less on the sidelines of the Syrian conflict. What will transpire later, if and when most of Syria is secured, is another story altogether.   AS usual, I don't have the link ready but I know Taxi knows all about this article because it was posted on PG.

How Neocons Banished Realism – James Carden/Consortiumnews

January 21, 2016 7:55 am
But, but, there's an elephant in the room - -   And the elephant walks straight into the breach where Jewish zionist exceptionalism meets the American brand of  neoconservative Imperialism of which Camden speaks. Walt begs but does not and cannot answer his own question, for obvious reasons. Through many conversations with Keith on MW I have stead-fastedly maintained that the capture of American foreign policy by the jewish political elite, in the interest of helping israel (whether such intent is acknowledged or not) had the impact of dumbing down American policy institutions, as well as the papers of record. Since realists would, by definition, question the nature, depth and usefulness of the indispensable ally, they could not be permitted to rise to the top, be it at the state department, the think tanks or the media. AS a result, America has lost an entire cadre of smart people who were capable of analyzing situations objectively and make sound recommendations.   So it is not as simple as which comes first - the Empire or Zionism. Rather the two have become inextricably intertwined to the point that they can be near impossible to separate. And since Zionism - is - again, by definition - an extremely selfish and self-serving interest grouping - American imperialism has come to look totally schizophrenic, with no better examples currently than the policies on Syria and Yemen.   I have been contemplating setting out on writing my thoughts on a highly speculative question - could America have become, hypothetically - the "benevolent" Empire it aspired to be, if zionism and the so-called jewish state have not hijacked the fabric of rationality in policy making? I am happy to grant that said "benevolence" was dubious proposition from the start, what with the Philippines, Vietnam and all the other imperial shenanigans. Yet, somewhere along the way, as sensibilities changed and evolved, could American have become a more benevolent force in the world, say at the end of the cold war, given what we know now about the various developments in other regions of the world?   It's a question I am turning over in my head, with no definitive answer, as of yet at least. may be that makes me a bit of a Chomskite, but it forces me to re-examine many events of the past and ask some deeper questions about the meaning and life-cycles of empires in general, something our species has been apparently plagued by from times immemorial.