“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Friday, January 02, 2009

Time after Time

New Year after New Year, some things never change.

There seems to be a collective or selective amnesia when it comes to the Middle East. Middle East memories are extremely short. No one seems to remember that Israel unilaterally left Gaza in 2005. Forgotten are the 20 Israeli settlements which were taken down and the settlers who were forcibly relocated.

For some reason, the world pays little notice as millions of people die in places like the Congo. It's hardly newsworthy when Israeli settlements are rocketed for months, but when Israel dares to strike back with "disproportionate" force, the cacophony of criticism builds to a crescendo.
Hamas calls for revenge, Israel hits Gaza again
02 Jan 2009 13:58:44 GMT
Source: Reuters
* Strike kills 3 children playing in street

* Hamas vows suicide attacks on "Zionists everywhere"

* Palestinian death toll reaches 424

* Protests turn violent in West Bank, Jordan

By Nidal al-Mughrabi

GAZA, Jan 2 (Reuters) - Palestinian Islamists vowed revenge on Israel on Friday for killing a senior Hamas leader and his family, and said all options including suicide bombs were now open to "strike at Zionist interests everywhere".

There was no sign of a ceasefire on the seventh day of the conflict, in which at least 424 Palestinians have been killed and 2,000 wounded. Four Israelis have been killed by Palestinian rockets.

Israel pressed on relentlessly with more than 30 air strikes, one of which killed three Palestinian children aged between eight and 12 as they played on a street near the town of Khan Yunis in the south of the Strip. One was decapitated.

"These injuries are not survivable injuries," said Madth Gilbert, a Norwegian doctor at Gaza's Shifa hospital who could not save another boy who had both feet blown off. "This is a murder. This is a child," he said.

Islamist fighters fired rockets at Israel's port of Ashkelon one of which blew out windows in an apartment building.

In Gaza City, a lucky few hundred foreign passport holders boarded buses in the pre-dawn murk to quit the Strip, with the help of the International Committee off the Red Cross, their governments and Israeli compliance.

"The situation is very bad. We are afraid for our children," said Ilona Hamdiya, a woman from Moldova married to a Palestinian. "We are very grateful to our embassy."

They left behind 1.5 million Palestinians unable to escape the conflict, a city facing another day of bombs, missiles, flickering electricity, queues for bread, taped-up windows and streets littered with broken glass and debris.

"We will not rest until we destroy the Zionist entity," said Hamas leader Fathi Hammad at the funeral of Nizar Rayyan, who was killed along with four wives and 11 children by an Israeli missile which hit his house on Thursday.

Spokesman Ismail Rudwan said that "following this crime, all options are now open including martyrdom operations to deter the aggression and to strike Zionist interests everywhere".


Bracing for protests and retaliatory violence, Israel sealed off the occupied West Bank to deny entry to most Palestinians and beefed up security at checkpoints.

There were protests by Palestinians in major West Bank cities. In Ramallah, Hamas supporters scuffled with the Fatah faction of Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, taunting them as "collaborators". Elsewhere, protesters stoned soldiers at checkpoints and some were wounded by rubber bullets.

In the Jordanian capital, Amman, riot police fired teargas to disperse hundreds of protesters marching on the Israeli embassy, chanting: "No Jewish embassy on Arab land".

A statement from Gaza by Hamas spokesman Ismail Rudwan said Israel's "terrorism, massacre and holocaust will not break us and will not force us to raise a white flag ... killing begets killing and destruction begets destruction".

The death toll rose to 424 as some badly wounded succumbed to their injuries and a morning strike killed two Palestinians in a house Israel said concealed a tunnel and a weapons dump.

A quarter of the dead are civilians, the U.N. estimates, and some 2,000 Palestinians have been wounded. Gaza rockets have killed four Israelis in the south over the past week.

The bearded cleric Rayyan, who mentored suicide bombers and sent one of his sons on a "martyrdom" mission, was the highest ranking Hamas official to be killed in the current offensive. He had called loudly for bombings in Israeli cities.

Israel's armoured forces remained massed on the Gaza frontier in preparation for a possible ground invasion, despite international calls for a halt to the conflict. An Israeli naval vessel lying offshore fired at a greenhouse in southern Gaza.

Late on Thursday, Israeli war planes bombed the Jabalya mosque. Israeli security officials said it was a meeting place and command post for Hamas militants and the large number of secondary explosions after the strike indicated that rockets, missiles and other weapons had been stored there.

Nine mosques have had been hit since last Saturday.

"I will pray at home. You never know, they may bomb the mosque and destroy it on our heads," said one man buying humus from a street stand. Another was defiant: "What better than to die while kneeling before God?" he said. (Writing by Douglas Hamilton; Editing by Keith Weir)
When Hamas was "democratically" elected in a landslide, they were urged to renounce their charter calling for the elimination of Israel. Hamas refused to do so and the world, led by the United Nations, acquiesed as they have time after time.

Hamas is not a secular organization. It is a fundamentalist Islamic group organized around its mosques. This marks the mosques as legitimate military targets but one thing the Arabs do well is manipulating public opinion when the television cameras and microphones are turned their way. They have mastered the art of appealing to the short memories and kind hearts of an increasingly secular and misguided world.

The news of riots on the West Bank put a damper on what was a glimmer of hope that the Palestinians under Fatah control would remain silent and this time would be different. We can always hope even if it's only a glimmer.


  1. NahnCee has gone from consternation at the absence of a Dresden Option, to expressions of relative satisfaction, which I share with her. But it is a minor superstition of mine, to become somewhat anxious when NahnCee is made happy. Don't jinx it, NahnCee! The stakes are too high.

    Elsewhere, Pat Lang:


    The US armed forces and the Obama Administration to come intend to pursue a counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan based on the successful strategy followed by the Petraeus team in Iraq. Presumably, Petraeus and his current study team favor this approach. Such a strategy of increased use of US conventional troops, civic action in infrastructure improvements and mobilization of local forces against the Taliban may well work. Nevertheless, this may not be the optimal strategy for the US in Afghanistan. The US armed forces are in the business of using troops against threats. Does this institutional bias influence thinking in this matter? Would it not be better to use guile rather that brute force? Is Afghanistan not a case better handled though covert political action? This is an open question. pl

    Lang is a reasonably bright guy. His either/or here (as elsewhere) is disingenuous or willfully blind. Take your pick.

    I'm waiting for the "Your Mother" climax on the other thread. P and E Down, P and E Down! For some it's the approach of first resort. For others, the second to last.

  2. I think Doug should help a colleague who is obviously in trouble.

  3. Just when you've settled in for a little broken-bottle action, hoping to savor an arterial gusher, there's a modified climb-down.

    Now what am I supposed to do until dinner?

    Goddammit, Linear.

  4. It's some kind of feint on Linear's part, designed to get Mat to drop his guard.

  5. New Year after New Year, some things never change.

    I have to hand it to those people that made the Polar Bear Plunge in the Snake River yesterday. A few days ago there was ice beginning to form in the river.

    From the pictures it looked to be 1/2 and 1/2 nale and female, and all ages from young to sixty something.

    All the IQ's looked to be normal range too, remarkably.

  6. Or...his pants.

    Oh, wait. That's a different approach altogether. AKA "inprocessing." Works best when there's a female in attendance. (Disclaimer: Certified professionals on closed circuit. Do not attempt under any circumstances on your own.)

  7. WARNING: Back on topic.

    There is a reason why thousands of kids dying in Africa from wars & preventable malaria is not as interesting to the media as a few West Jordanians getting hurt. Remember that much of the media is European, which the US media apes gleefully.

    The reason is good old-fashioned European anti-Semitism, which goes back further into history than Islam itself. Salted with some modern-day anti-Americanism.

  8. Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

  9. There's still anti-semitism in Poland, though there are no semites there, to speak of, an odd situtation. I don't know about the other countries but they sure seem to sleep walking along about the muzzies in their mix. If Europe, excluding Poland and some other outposts, has turned into a secular society you'd think they'd give up on the anti-semitism, which was mostly religion based, wasn't it. They ought to worry about the folks that want to cut their heads off.

    from my friend Dale--


    If the human life has no value any more!

    Then we should hire a brigade of professional assassins; like the "true" head hunters of today that would be Muslims; they have a proven record of chopping off human heads and they are allowed to get away with it time and time again.

    The politically correct world leaders will do nothing, but shout heavy, but meaningless words to the foolish who except them as "brave" to stand up to those terrible people that have nothing better to do "like making a living" then make "great" speeches while totally covered so that they cannot be indemnified; a world full of fools.

    The "great" Muslim leaders who give praise to Allah, but stand back while the brain washed "little" people do their bidding like blowing themselves up and the killing of the innocent people on busses or while shopping in the towns markets.

    The brain washed people after that terrible 911 terrorist attack on the twin towers who danced in the streets over that horrific incident are a "sick" people who place no value on the innocent people, but they make a statement to the world that they are indeed sick; sick of many things like their own worthless life living like slaves. Those slaves live on hand outs given to them by the very people that they want to destroy.

    I think that in due time a "heavy" statement by the one true "GOD" will set all things right again
    and not allow those kinds of mental midgets to swarm the world over with killing on their minds.


  10. I remember the George Bush comment when Hamas won the election--which seemed like a more or less honest election, more or less---

    "Well, the turnout was real good."

    Krauthammer Has Weighed In, Via American Thinker

    This stuff is enough to turn an American thinker into an American drinker.

    One reason the press and people in general don't pay the attention due to situations in Africa as over against the Middle East may be Africa simply doesn't have the Biblical and historical connections with the west that the Middle East has. Colonialism is long gone, but everybody's still got a Bible around, and needs gas.

  11. Tura Santana, my all time favorite!

    What style, what grace!

    "You mean I gotta get wet cause Lady Godiva wants to sweem.?"

    "Sponge it up, I'm gonn love squeeeezzzzing it outta you!"

    What dialogue!

    "Faster Pussycat - Kill, Kill"

    won 'First Place' at the Weippe, North Idaho Winter Film Festival.

  12. Trish needed some entertainment, being a gentlemen (of sorts) I obliged.

  13. I've come to the conclusion that Ed Hale is full of shit, even though I kind of like the guy.

  14. Biblical and historical connections

    I don't buy it. You don't hear about Jordan or Egypt or Syria, you hear about Israel. And I doubt it has anything to do with ratings either. I'm bored out of my skull with this story, and I'm personally connected to it. So there's something else going on here.

  15. There's a deliberate effort to magnify coverage relating to Israel, just as there's a deliberate effort to downplay global Jihadi imperialism. My suspicion is that petro dollars are lining media's pockets in regard to this. Of course, what the media don't realize, is that the longer they go along with this, the deeper the grave they are digging for themselves.

  16. I was just listening to the BBC or CBC, anyway they were doing their very best to come up with something, anything, to stick on Israel. They latched on to some complaint or other of Arabs in the west bank, and ran with that. Then, how the industry and commerce of Gaza is being 'strangled'. One wonders, what industry and commerce. They razed the greenhouses, and the big industry seems making homemade missiles, some of which are getting improved to the point to be something to worry about. Smuggling explosives, another industry.

    I think our local editorial writer here must get his ideas from some crib sheet, like the old preachers used to do, that's been handed out to him. Talking points. He hasn't been so bad on this issue, but mostly he's just echoing the dem line.

  17. Bob, you might disapprove, but I think there's a strong case to be made for targeting these editors and media personalities. I think Putin was right in targeting Litvinenko and other jihadis masquerading as reporters, etc.

  18. Happily, the newspapers are melting like snow in spring. The NYTimes is on its knees. Our little rag here laid off one editorial writer, and no one missed him. I think they only have one maybe two left.

    You can get so much more on the internet now, I really think newspapers are a thing of the past. Same for the 6 o'clock news, too.

    "Freedom From The Press"

  19. You can get so much more on the internet now,..

    You think the internet will escape their claws? I hope so. But I have a bad feeling it wont.

  20. It'd torque a lot of people off.

    Besides, we have the mighty Supreme Court to protect us.

    Freedom of speech, old concepts like that. Equal protection before the law. No taking of private property without compensation and only for legitimate purposes. The natural born citizen clause. What's not specifically given to the Feds is reserved to the states, or the people.

    They always do their job.


  21. It'd torque a lot of people off.

    And they'd do what exactly?

  22. Vote 'em out, finally. But, we won't have to, we've got the Supreme Court and the Constitution.
    When a company runs out of money with which to pay its bills, involuntary bankruptcy usually follows. But the State of California, which is expected run out of money at the end of February, plans to pay at least some bills with what amount to IOU's (call them "registered warrants" if you accept the sham).

    The group likely to get them are taxpayers owed refunds on their state tax payments, also known as "voters."

    Ah jeez, I love this. Get your tax refund in the form of an "IOU"--from the state of California.

    This is something new. I can see a future's market springing up here.

    What da you do?

    I'm a Caliou futures trader.


    Lee says--

    Should California start using these IOUs, everyone in California should start PAYING taxes with IOUs. This includes state taxes on gas, food, purchases, etc. After all, if it's good enough for the state, why can't it be good enough for the taxpayers.

    Gat all the details Here

    and remember, UOme for making it available 2 u.

  23. The US supreme court favored "corporate free speech rights" over democratic rights and campaign finance reforms, and the public did what exactly? Corporations with free speech rights. Fancy that. So why not be asking these corporations for their birth certificate and proof of citizenship, rather than going after Obama?

  24. Corporations and Free Speech

    Multinational Monitor magazine , May 1998

    It is time to rethink the notion of free speech for corporations.

    Free speech guarantees are supposed to ensure vibrant civic debate, but it is corporations that dominate the public debate which should be the province of an engaged citizenry. Corporations take advantage of the speech rights which the Supreme Court says the Constitution provides to them, to dominate the campaign funding process, drown out citizen speech, contest advertising restrictions and block citizen organizing.

    Corporations also now pose an increasingly serious, direct threat to citizens' speech. Corporations intimidate citizens from exercising their constitutionally guaranteed speech rights with SLAPP suits (strategic lawsuits against public participation), which threaten activists with massive liability for speaking out against corporate wrongdoing. In SLAPPs, corporations charge activists with libel or slander or similar claims for criticizing the company. Corporations know they will lose the vast majority of SLAPPs, but they also know that time and expense involved in defending against a suit will distract the defendants and deter others from exercising their speech rights.

    Now a new set of speech deterring "veggie-libel" laws- drafted by and shepherded through state legislatures by agribusiness interests-is exacerbating the problem by providing a statutory cause of action for corporations to employ against people who publicly criticize the safety of the food supply.

    At the same time, corporations have evolved a new set of tools to shield from public scrutiny critical information stored in corporate records rooms. Environmental audit laws permit companies to conceal internal documents that show how the companies are damaging the environment [see "The Corporate Right to Cover Up"]. And corporations are increasingly relying on secrecy agreements in lawsuit settlements to prevent information discovered in consumer suits about dangerous products from being made public.

    In sum, citizens' effective free speech protections are being squeezed by big corporations, while big corporations arc gaining and exercising an ever-expanding panoply of speech rights, as well as the right to conceal of information of critical public interest.

    Through a sort of "rights creep," corporations over the last two decades have steadily expanded their legal entitlements. Corporations are increasingly treated in the law as if they were people, or deserving of even greater rights than people.

    Corporations, however, have resources far beyond those available to real persons, and giving corporations the right to contribute to issue advertising campaigns, for example, ensures the corporate point of view will be able to overwhelm citizen perspectives. Corporations also benefit from a host of characteristics - limited liability, perpetual life, inability to be imprisoned-that advantage them over people in economic and political contests and that immunize them from many of society's sanctions.

    But the most important point is the most obvious: corporations are not, in fact, people. They are socially created institutions which were designed to, and should be made to, serve society's interests.

    Since democracy is supposed to be rule by the people, not by corporations, corporations should only receive democracy's bedrock rights to the extent it furthers, or at least does not interfere with, civic power. They should not have a "right" to make political contributions or participate in the political process. They should not have "rights" to advertise. Their "right" to remain silent should never trump citizen interests in conveying information.

    Since corporations are not people, they should never be able to bring defamation, slander or libel claims against real people, and certainly not against those who speak from non-economic motives. Injuries to a person's reputation touch on person's standing in the community and dignity; harms to ~ company's goodwill are matters of economics. The idea that a corporation could sue a person for "disparaging" a food product should be laughed out of state and court houses across the United States.

    And since corporations are not people, their "privacy rights" or similar privileges should, in general, be subordinate to the public's right to know. Legal maneuvers such as secrecy agreements and environmental audit privileges should be banned. Corporations should not have the "right" to conceal information that could prevent the infliction of injury or disease.

    "Rights" are the expression of a people's or a constituency's hard-won political gains, etched into democracy's tablet of fundamental rules. Simultaneously, rolling back rights diminishes a constituency's power. For the last two-and-a-half decades, corporations have won most of the important political conflicts in the United States, as well as around the world. It is time for citizens to organize and mobilize to reverse the corporate winning streak ...