Commenter Profile

… And Goodbye To All That

April 12, 2016 4:15 pm
Walid, It's curious: what makes a discussion forum kinetic and take off? My guess is that it requires a critical mass of bright and inquiring minds who are using one another to refine and sharpen their ideas about the world -- and who understand how to do that dialectical dance -- how to productively explore and exploit a wide variety of differing views. Mondoweiss has been successful largely because Phil Weiss has produced original, thoughtful and challenging analyses on current events several times a week -- essays that have provoked thoughtful responses and dialogue. That is a tough performance to pull off -- very few websites and blogs around the world have matched that standard. Glenn Greenwald achieved a similar success during the era when he was running his personal blog. Weiss and Greenwald are not your typical run-of-the-mill political activists with a simple axe to grind -- they are original thinkers who load up their posts with a great deal of substance to chew over. Notice, for instance, that Antiwar.com, Gilad Atzmon and Tikun Olam generate not much in-depth discussion. Beyond this, there is probably some secret sauce in play that we haven't identified -- a mysterious charisma of some kind.  
April 12, 2016 6:23 pm
Walid, The Palestinians are in a perilous and horrific situation -- no one is really looking out for their interests -- not Americans, not Europeans, not anti-Zionist Jews and even not Arab states. They are defenseless and continue to be ground down and pulverized by Israel in full view of the entire world -- pawns on the grand chessboard. Israel has created the conditions in which the only option for Palestinians to survive is to migrate outside the borders of Greater Israel. It's amazing that this can be happening in the 21st century -- and all in the name of an ancient Torah mandate. No one seems to be able to stop the horror show that continues to unfold.  
April 11, 2016 3:34 pm
Following all new posts and comments in any Wordpress blog or combination of Wordpress blogs is a snap with a decent feed reader -- like Inoreader or Feedly. You can be notified of new items across hundreds (or thousands) of feeds in real time -- and sort, filter, search, tag, archive and share those items any way you like.  
April 12, 2016 5:14 pm
Walid, Agreed on both points. Some of the people who have attached themselves to Weiss are indeed run-of-the-mill political activists with a simple (simplistic) axe to grind -- and without much curiosity about the world at large. They are more interested in controlling and limiting discussions than in opening them up. I doubt that they could start successful standalone blogs. To be clear: political activism is very important -- absolutely essential. But some forms of political activism tend to degenerate into smug self-righteous ranting of the type that can be easily simulated by software bots. Interesting minds are in a state of perpetual voyage, discovery and learning -- they don't assume that they've figured it all out.  
April 11, 2016 3:36 pm
Disagreements, debate and dialectic are the engine and energy that drive any robust discussion group. Cheerleading squads quickly peter out -- much too boring. Without differing points of view, there is little to talk about.  
April 10, 2016 7:57 pm
Danaa, I stopped commenting recently because my wife's and my much beloved Ragdoll cat of 15 years suffered a debilitating stroke, which affected me even more than I would have expected. The good news is that with loving care she has undergone a miraculous recovery -- going from near death to 90% of her old self. Also, periodically, I try to clear my mind of *all* political issues entirely -- to get focused on subjects with more substance and sustenance -- literature, music, philosophy, science, nature, etc. Political controversies come and go -- they are important, but there are more important things. I see Internet discussions mainly as an opportunity to engage in mutual intellectual discovery with bright and inquisitive minds who know more about certain topics than I do, and who may educate me -- expand my understanding of the world. Without the lure of learning, I lose interest in political discussions quickly. Most assuredly, I have no interest in converting others to my views -- what holds my attention is watching and analyzing unfolding interactions among diverse views, which leads to greater clarity of mind and understanding. During my hiatus, I have learned two new programming languages -- a very satisfying mental exercise -- as well as taking a crash course in opera. I expect Taxi will resume writing and commenting, sooner than later, if I am any student of human nature. :) I definitely understand her occasional need to get away from politics in general, and Mideast politics in particular, and to recharge her batteries with more life-enhancing and less energy-sucking pursuits. Note on the side: I've noticed that Mondoweiss has approached the subject of the entangled relations between Judaism and Zionism more forcefully in recent months, and with more intellectual honesty and curiosity than it has in the past. I think I was a bit ahead of the curve on that controversy. Eventually the Jewish establishment will need to take that bull by the horns.  
April 12, 2016 7:12 pm
Danaa, Gentle, sweet-tempered, kind -- all the most notable qualities of the cat my wife and I seem to have nursed back to health after a scary two weeks. She is also empathetic, inquisitive and analytical -- rather a scientist in the way she carefully observes the world around her, looking for and filing away patterns. I see disagreements as opportunities to flush out new insights and knowledge about the world, for shaking loose new facts, cites, lines of argument, etc. When that kind of process is in play, discussions can be fruitful. You're right -- I emphasize "brightness" too much -- I'm afraid I'm not nearly as gentle, sweet-tempered and kind as my Ragdoll companion. :) I need to work on that.  

How Muslim Governments Impose Ignorance – Mustafa Akyol/The New York Times

March 16, 2016 8:58 pm
Great article -- and noted: BEGIN QUOTE This willful closed-mindedness is not an inherent feature of Islam. A thousand years ago, Muslim societies were open and curious, while Christian Europe was insular and fearful of “blasphemy.” Aristotle’s books were translated and studied in Baghdad and Córdoba, and banned in Paris and Rome. No wonder the Muslim world was then the home to groundbreaking discoveries in science, medicine and mathematics. In theology, too, Muslim thinkers like Ibn Rushd, also known as Averroës, developed sophisticated arguments that would inspire Christian thinkers like Thomas Aquinas — thanks to the Muslim engagement with Greek philosophy. END QUOTE  

The Blessed Bigotry of Mr Trump – Israel Shamir/The Unz Review

March 16, 2016 6:58 pm
Taxi, Merrick Garland seems to be much more preoccupied with his Jewish identity than his Protestant identity. In fact, he seems to be very much into Jewish identity politics -- certainly not white identity politics. 20160316 [Times of Israel] Obama’s Supreme Court nominee emotionally recalls Jewish roots (In acceptance speech, Merrick Garland credits grandparents, who fled anti-Semitism in early 20th century, ‘hoping to make a better life for their children in America’) http://www.timesofisrael.com/obamas-supreme-court-nominee-emotionally-recalls-jewish-roots/
March 17, 2016 8:52 pm
Everything you need to know about the essential nature of Abrahamism can be found in the first five books of the Old Testament -- Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. All the key Abrahamic attitudes, behavioral patterns, mental habits, psychological traits and values stand out in bold relief. Everything that follows these five books in the grand tradition is a collection of themes and variations on these core ideas. You will find people plunging into the discussion about political Abrahamism who are completely unfamiliar with the cornerstone of Abrahamist ideology -- the Pentateuch. It's amazing -- they wrongly think that Western monotheism is a pure and airy "spiritual" religion that is ungrounded in material politics. They have some vague idea in their heads of what monotheistic religion is supposed to be -- not what it really is. Contemporary Zionism vibrates to the same ideological energies, myths and symbols as ancient Judaism -- and that is why so many contemporary Zionists rely on the Torah as their real estate deed and for irrefutable claims of chosenness. It is impossible to engage in a rational argument with them -- they are true believers.  
March 16, 2016 9:01 pm
American, Michelle Obama's political/cultural agenda should be obvious -- she is up to her neck in racial identity politics. A growing buzz on the American scene, one which is largely driving the Donald Trump surge: Traditional white Christian groups in America see their power slipping away and their quality of life declining. And they see non-white Christian groups engaging in increasingly aggressive political activism on behalf of their own narrow group interests -- while often savagely deriding and attacking white Christians. (The tone of "progressive" media outlets these days towards traditional white Christians is a perpetual sneer -- utter contempt. See, for instance, Salon.com.) This situation could blow sky-high, with traditional white Christians attempting to undo and reverse the last half century of demographic and cultural change in America. That is a plausible scenario. Pushback and clawback with maximum force. The last group that would be in a position to oppose a development like this: liberal Zionists. They have been ferociously promoting Jewish ethnic nationalism for decades -- ethnocentrism-first politics. If Israel can be a Jewish state, white Christians could argue, the United States and European nations can be white Christian states. That is a difficult argument to counter without babbling like a brook. My own position on these matters: do away with ethnic and religious identity politics. Focus on individualism and meritocracy. But this is not the direction in which contemporary American political culture is moving. Democrats in particular have been guilty of fanning the flames of ethnic and religious resentment and division in American life. Eventually the bill will come due. The situation could even devolve into outright war, on the scale of the Civil War or larger. It could happen.  
March 17, 2016 8:27 pm
Rudy, Regarding the Saudi angle on 9/11, try Googling: 1. 9/11 saudi 28 pages 2. 9/11 saudi russ baker and similar expressions and browse around. There is enough smoke there to wonder if there is fire. Some informed analysts have suggested that Saudi Arabia has been heavily involved in CIA/Mossad ops for decades now. Regarding false flag ops: each terrorist incident should be treated individually and all the best evidence evaluated as objectively as possible. Don't jump to conclusions on the basis of previous incidents. (This is my opinion, of course.) Not every terrorist event is a false flag op -- but some of them are. Don't get sucked into supporting theories that are not well-supported by the evidence -- those theories may themselves be clever ops designed to confuse, mislead and discredit. I was at ground zero at the hatching of the No Planes theory by Web Fairy and her associates on that list I mentioned -- mostly I have stayed out of that debate because it seems like a weak starting point to try to open a discussion about 9/11 open questions. There are more effective lines of attack that don't instantly alienate many average citizens out there. WTC7 is an issue that most people can readily grasp. Regarding religion and politics in the history of Western monotheism (Abrahamism) within Judaism, Christianity and Islam: they have been intensely intertwined from the very origins of the Torah and the Jewish tradition. Ancient Judaism was an ethnic nationalist movement -- a political as well as a religious phenomenon -- and Christianity and Islam have always exhibited an aggressive political dimension -- including the prosecution of holy wars against unbelievers. There is no such thing as pure religion in Abrahamism that is separate from politics. Abrahamism at the core is a messianic imperialist ideology that seeks to impose its view on the entire world through propaganda and political action -- including, often, military action. The history of Islam is an open book on these matters -- and we see what is currently going in the Mideast in the violent battles between Shia and Sunni Muslims. Abrahamism as usual -- nothing new there -- competing Abrahamic sects claiming to speak for God and egging one another on to more and more bloodshed.  
March 16, 2016 7:21 pm
I wouldn't call Obama an anti-white racist. I would characterize him as someone who has complex and conflicted views about white and black identities and interests. Might he be driven by a witting hidden agenda? -- it's possible. He's smart enough to pull it off. If he were running in this upcoming election for a third term, I would probably vote for him. He's the only candidate whose style of communication I don't find insufferable. But I get a sense of what's pissing off American -- and I don't dismiss it.  
March 17, 2016 11:09 pm
RudyM, Some of the No Planes arguments are pretty persuasive -- I think all lines of investigation into 9/11 should be pursued energetically and exhaustively in quest of the truth and in an effort to answer all the unanswered questions in a satisfactory way. How the political and cultural establishment has decided to deal with all the unresolved controversies about 9/11 -- simply ignore them completely -- don't debate them, don't discuss them, don't acknowledge their existence, pay them no mind whatever. Any discussion about these issues raises enormous problems for defenders of the official story -- they've decided that the best course is silence -- move on to other topics.  
March 16, 2016 4:30 pm
Cloak and Dagger, You don't seem to be able to hold up your end of this discussion. What: no thoughts about Turkey's totalitarian crackdown on the free press -- and on its leading newspaper? And that's just one news item among literally thousands over the last few years that raise serious questions about the disturbing role of Islamism in contemporary Mideast and global politics. It's not all about Israel. Turkey and Saudi Arabia rank among the most important and powerful Muslim nations on the planet. They also exert significant influence on American foreign policy.