Commenter Profile

… And Goodbye To All That

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 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 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 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 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.  

A Tango with Trump

March 11, 2016 6:35 pm
Check it out: 20160311 [CounterPunch/William Blum] American exceptionalism and the election made in hell (or why I’d vote for Trump Over Hillary) http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/03/11/american-exceptionalism-and-the-election-made-in-hell-or-why-id-vote-for-trump-over-hillary/ BEGIN QUOTE If the American presidential election winds up with Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump, and my passport is confiscated, and I’m somehow FORCED to choose one or the other, or I’m PAID to do so, paid well … I would vote for Trump. My main concern is foreign policy. American foreign policy is the greatest threat to world peace, prosperity, and the environment. And when it comes to foreign policy, Hillary Clinton is an unholy disaster. From Iraq and Syria to Libya and Honduras the world is a much worse place because of her; so much so that I’d call her a war criminal who should be prosecuted. And not much better can be expected on domestic issues from this woman who was paid $675,000 by Goldman Sachs – one of the most reactionary, anti-social corporations in this sad world – for four speeches and even more than that in political donations in recent years. Add to that Hillary’s willingness to serve for six years on the board of Walmart while her husband was governor of Arkansas. Can we expect to change corporate behavior by taking their money? ... And Mr. Trump? Much more a critic of US foreign policy than Hillary or Bernie. He speaks of Russia and Vladimir Putin as positive forces and allies, and would be much less likely to go to war against Moscow than Clinton would. He declares that he would be “evenhanded” when it comes to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (as opposed to Clinton’s boundless support of Israel). He’s opposed to calling Senator John McCain a “hero”, because he was captured. (What other politician would dare say a thing like that?) He calls Iraq “a complete disaster”, condemning not only George W. Bush but the neocons who surrounded him. “They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction and there were none. And they knew there were none. There were no weapons of mass destruction.” He even questions the idea that “Bush kept us safe”, and adds that “Whether you like Saddam or not, he used to kill terrorists.” Yes, he’s personally obnoxious. I’d have a very hard time being his friend. Who cares? END QUOTE My sentiments exactly. If Trump and Clinton are the nominees, a huge number of Independents and Democrats are going to choose Trump over Clinton -- you can feel the wave already beginning to build. We live in weird times.  
March 11, 2016 2:37 pm
--datastreams to track: neocon attacks on Donald Trump by 1. Commentary Magazine 2. Fox News 3. National Review 4. Wall Street Journal 5. Washington Post 6. Weekly Standard 7. William Kristol The question is, how far will pro-Israel activists and militants go to stop the latest incarnation of Amalek? In the meantime, many progressives are expending much more energy attacking Trump than in attacking Cruz, Rubio and Clinton, which is odd, since Trump is more progressive on many issues, including foreign policy and Mideast policy, than Cruz, Rubio and Clinton. What accounts for the behavior of these progressives? Perhaps they are not quite as progressive as they claim to be and are being driven by another agenda entirely. Let's call them neoprogs -- secret soulmates of neocons and neolibs.  
March 13, 2016 5:18 pm
Anonymous, Wouldn't it be fair to say that pro-Israel activists have forced their Israeli obsession to the front and center of American and European politics? Without the activities of the Israel lobby in the West, we would be discussing Israeli politics at the same level we discuss, say, Swedish or French politics -- which is to say, barely at all.  
March 13, 2016 5:47 pm
Taxi, What I've learned about online debating is that one can effectively push forward one's agenda by teeing off on even the most dimwitted and obnoxious of trolls. Propaganda 101. Use even nonsensical comments as an opportunity to make substantive points -- the substantive points stick. The trick is always to keep one's cool -- to remain unmoved by the provocations. Stay on track -- like an inexorable tank. Honestly -- I laugh out loud when I see this style of debate. They make it so easy.  
March 11, 2016 3:57 pm
Increasingly, many Americans, Europeans, Arabs, Christians, Democrats, Republicans, etc. want to free themselves of Zionist domination. They are not anti-Semites -- they simply dislike so much of the oxygen in the room being sucked up by Israel and the Israel lobby. They have other concerns -- not the least of which is their *own self-interest*. They don't believe that the universe revolves around the endless navel-gazing travails of Israelis and Jewish nationalism. In part, this is what the Donald Trump phenomenon is all about. Trump's politics, unlike Cruz, Rubio and Clinton, are not Ziocentric -- they are Americentric. Many Europeans are increasingly Eurocentric. In other words, they are behaving like normal and sane human beings, not the slaves of a messianic foreign cult whose demands for special attention and favors keep escalating without end.  
March 13, 2016 5:54 pm
Debating really is very much like chess: for every move there is a best countermove. The more data you collect from interactions in debates in any domain, the more you can refine your set of best countermoves. After a time, the best countermoves become automatic. You can see the most effective lines of play to the endgame and checkmate from the earliest moves. (And, yes, this is an important field in contemporary AI research.)  

Plato’s Midweek Pow Wow

March 3, 2016 3:53 pm
MPFB/Recent news of note #61 (March 3, 2016) (63 items) https://www.facebook.com/groups/1450010648623152/permalink/1577156399241909/ --top items of note 1. [Algemeiner] Israel’s ‘ghost warriors’ stealthily combating terror, says US Expert on confronting Palestinian uprisings (INTERVIEW) (“Israelis have been masquerading as the indigenous Arab population since the turn of the twentieth century in order to infiltrate areas that otherwise would have been denied to them,” US-based author Samuel M. Katz told The Algemeiner, to describe a key method of combating terrorism that is still being used today.) 2. [Algemeiner] Saudi-Led Gulf State group classifies Hezbollah ‘terrorist organization’ 3. [Antiwar/Daniel McAdams] Neocon armchair warhawks panic over Trump foreign policy 4. [Arutz Sheva] Cruz campaign appeals to Jews: 'high stakes for Israel' 5. [Business Insider] The 10 most influential people in history, according to Wikipedia 6. [Commentary Magazine/Noah Rothman] How the press will destroy Trump 7. [Forward] Mark Zuckerberg is world's richest Jew 8. [Global Research] ’Israel’ confirms delegation visit to Riyadh: Saudi princes say we “don’t care” about the Palestinians 9. [Haaretz] NASA: Drought in Middle East is the worst in 900 years 10. [Intercept] Huge numbers of GOP voters favor Trump’s proposal to ban Muslim entry to U.S. 11. [Jewish Press/Daniel Greenfield] Collaborators in the War against the Jews: Judith Butler (Professor Butler is a leader in the attempt to impose a WORLD boycott against Israeli universities.) 12. [Middle East Eye] Engineers fear Mosul dam collapse could kill 'more than a million' 13. [MintPress News] How the mainstream media became a neo-Stalinist propaganda regime for wealthy neocons 14. [Mondoweiss/Philip Weiss] As Trump smashes the neocons, Kristol likens him to Hitler 15. [National Review] Krauthammer's take: time for Cruz, Rubio 'to open the bomb bay doors' and carpet bomb Trump 16. [Reddit/conspiracy] You can tell just how much power Israel holds by the number of countries and jurisdictions that are quickly passing laws to prevent people from publicly advocating for a boycott of Israeli exports. 17. [Washington Post] In new letter, Republican foreign policy experts declare war on Trump  

Netanyahu, King Salman and the Devil’s Valentine

February 15, 2016 7:05 pm
Taxi, I loved it -- and hope to see more.