“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."

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

To understand Moscow’s policy toward Syria, it is important to understand that Russia sees Syria as part of its Mediterranean policy and not a part of the Middle East. The Arab Middle East has been a relatively low priority in Russia’s foreign policy. The Mediterranean, however, and especially the Eastern Mediterranean region, is a policy priority for Moscow.

For Russia, Syria is not in the Middle East
By Brenda Shaffer MAY 20, 2013

A string of leaders and senior emissaries, seeking to prevent further escalation of the Syria crisis, has headed to Moscow recently to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. First, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, then British Prime Minister David Cameron, next Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and now, most recently, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon These leaders see Russia as the key to resolving the Syria quandary.
But to get Russia to cooperate on any stabilization plan, the United States and its allies will have to take into account Russia’s significant interests in the Mediterranean region.

Moscow’s refusal thus far to act on Syria seems puzzling. Russia has let other of its Middle East client regimes fall without much action on its part in the past. Why is Syria different to Moscow than those other Russian allies in the Middle East? Because, in Russia’s view, the outcome in Syria affects Moscow’s core strategic interests – including its global naval strategy and energy exports.
To understand Moscow’s policy toward Syria, it is important to understand that Russia sees Syria as part of its Mediterranean policy and not a part of the Middle East. The Arab Middle East has been a relatively low priority in Russia’s foreign policy. The Mediterranean, however, and especially the Eastern Mediterranean region, is a policy priority for Moscow.
During the winter, when most of its ports freeze and are not accessible, Russia’s warm Black Sea port is the country’s lifeline and critical to its oil export business. Thus, Moscow’s ability to keep the Mediterranean open to uninhibited Russian shipping and naval activity is a top policy priority.
Russia’s naval presence in Syria supports and provides an anchor and protection for its activity in the Eastern Mediterranean, especially in the energy sector. In order to get Russia on board in resolving the Syrian crisis, it is important to grasp its vital Eastern Mediterranean interests.

In diplomatic conversations with Moscow, Russia’s concerns should be recognized and discussed. A policy should be designed, for example, that would allow Russia to maintain its naval presence in the region.
Russia’s naval fleet is a dominant presence in the Eastern Mediterranean, and Russia is the major player in oil and gas markets throughout the region, especially in Turkey, Italy and Greece. Russia is now the lead bidder to gain control of Greece’s gas transmission system. It is also attempting to gain a foothold in Israel’s and Cyprus’s newfound natural gas resources. Russian companies have significant investments in the region and possess critical infrastructure. Indeed, Russia offered Cyprus a large loan in 2011 to protect its own investments on the island and to lure Nicosia to orient toward Moscow.
Moscow also has influence in the domestic politics in many of the regions’ states because of its close relationships with local political elites (for example, in Italy and Israel) and through the increasing numbers of Russian nationals and immigrants in countries across the region. There are now, for example, roughly a million Russian immigrants in Israel.
Washington and its allies might consider making a concession to Moscow and also refrain from undermining Assad’s regime in Syria, while getting explicit recognition from Moscow that it would, in turn, abstain from undermining the stability of U.S. allies in other regions, such as the Baltics or Caucasus.
The United States and the European Union may not like it that Russia is a thorn in their side in a number of regions, but when Russia’s interests are not recognized by the West, Moscow shows its displeasure by retaliating against U.S. allies around the globe. When the Bush administration, for example, ignored Moscow’s requests not to recognize Kosovo, Moscow responded by destabilizing neighboring Georgia in 2008.
If its interests are ignored, Moscow will find the outlet for influence against U.S. interests in other arenas, especially those bordering Russia.
Russia might have only relative power in comparison to the United States, but in many regions, it has more “relevant” power. Thus, in certain regions in the world, Russia can both contribute and undermine U.S. policy goals. With that in mind, its interests should be recognized in order get its cooperation on a plan to stabilize Syria.


  1. >>>Moscow also has influence in the domestic politics in many of the regions’ states because of its close relationships with local political elites (for example, in Italy and Israel) and through the increasing numbers of Russian nationals and immigrants in countries across the region. There are now, for example, roughly a million Russian immigrants in Israel.<<<

    Russia is actually run by RIPAC - The Russian Israeli Political Action Committee there.

    It's just that the Russians, like the Americans, are too dumb to figure it out, being snookered into believing they have influence in Israel.


    1. One million immigrants sounds like a Russian colony to me.

    2. Lot of Russian Jewish immigrants, to be sure. When the gates were finally opened up, most wanted the hell out of Russia.

      Can anyone blame them?

    3. I have news for you, a lot and I mean a whole lot of the those Russian Jews are not as Jewish as you are. And no, I do not blame them them. One Russian winter would bring out my inner Jew.

    4. Better point, if Arabs have a right to relocate at will and form communities across the world, why should Russians, Jews, Druze, Coptics?

      After all "what is a colony"?



      Who is indigenous?

      If Jews are not, then certainly artificial modern constructs are just that. Is Iraq and Syria "legit"?

      Let's be honest, pre-1948 the "palestinians" were the Jews.

      After the arabs stole the brand?

      another story

    5. No, quot, the pre 19448 Palestinians were Jews, Arabs and Christians.

      Just as post 1948 Palestinians continue to be Jews, Arabs and Christians.

      Every Israeli and every Jordanian are still Palestinians, in 2013.

      You can change the name of the sovereign polities, but not the name of the country.
      Israel will always be a portion of Palestine.

      Just as Mr Truman recognized it to be.

    6. It should have read ...

      No, quot, the pre 1948 Palestinians were Jews, Arabs and Christians.

      If you move to Israel, quot, you become a Palestinian.
      That is where you will be living, Palestine, no matter which sovereign polity is in charge of the ground you walk on.

  2. The US government doesn’t give a crap about how many Syrians die. That is just pious bullshit. It wants regime change. Now that Assad seems to temporarily have the upper hand and could end the war and sniff sniff, stop the killing, Obama and his minders are concerned, very concerned:

    The Syrian army battled Monday alongside Hezbollah militants to reclaim a rebel-held city, amplifying pressure on President Barack Obama to find a way to alter the course of events in the widening civil war.

    The bloody battle over the city of Qusayr, near the Lebanese border, has the potential to transform Syria's conflict, say fighters, diplomats and analysts. A government victory there could give the regime of President Bashar al-Assad a corridor of territory connecting Damascus to Syria's pro-Assad coastline and to Lebanese territory controlled by Iran-backed Hezbollah. This would split rebel forces into fragmented strongholds.

    It is too soon to say whether the battle will shape up as a turning point in the largely stalemated two-year conflict, said U.S. military and intelligence officials. But the fierce fighting and the regime’s use of airstrikes and artillery bombardment ignited new criticism of the Obama administration’s policy of responding to the war with international diplomacy and humanitarian aid.

  3. Lebanon reeled Monday from the twin realizations that Hezbollah, the nation’s most powerful military and political organization, was plunging deeper into a war the country has tried to stay out of, and that the group was taking unaccustomed losses. Mr. Shukor, a former government minister from Lebanon’s Arab Socialist Baath Party, walked a careful line between supporting a declaration by Hezbollah that Syria’s fight is its fight and acknowledging the contradiction of fighting fellow Arab Muslims instead of Israelis.

    “I wish all this blood had been shed in the south, fighting Israel,” Mr. Shukor said, but added that the rebels battling Hezbollah’s ally, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, were “infidels and garbage” serving Israel; the West, he said, should recognize that they are Al Qaeda-linked extremists and help wipe them out.

    He then repeated the charge that extremists among the Sunni Muslim rebels have flung at Hezbollah’s Shiites. “They are not Muslims,” he said.

    Lebanon and the region have been electrified by the fierce fighting in Qusayr and the role of Hezbollah. Fighters on both sides said rebels continued to hold the north of the city against Hezbollah, the Syrian Army and pro-government militias.

    Ali, a Lebanese Shiite with ties to Hezbollah, said that a relative and other fighters, updating him by text message from the battlefield, were struck by the rebels’ tenacity. One Hezbollah fighter, he said, told him that even after being shot, rebels “got up and attacked in a brutal way.”

    The growing stream of funerals suggests that in Qusayr, Hezbollah is asking followers for their deepest sacrifice in Syria yet, one that it has no choice but to embrace and explain. The exact toll is unclear, as Hezbollah does not always announce deaths right away or specify dates and locations.

    1. The US proxy, Israel, bombed Government forces and provided the 'First' foreign intervention.
      So, anti US and Israeli forces have rallied to Assad. Joined the fight and turned the battle.

      As predicted, here.
      By Deuce and myself.

      The FSA spokesman was correct, even if he was wrong.

      The Israeli are supporting Assad.

      The Assad's have no greater ally, than one that will rally the military forces in the region to Assad's cause. Which the US/Israeli Axis has now done.

  4. Barky is in a tough spot. He'd like to see the rebs win, I imagine, but nobody much supports going in and gun running isn't doing it. If he does something he will be attacked for trying to deflect attention from The Three Scandals, perhaps creating a Fourth Scandal. This should make things worse for the Democrats. How many scandals before one has struck out? Some site I was reading actually had the scandal count up to seven, counting Fast and Furious, and a bunch of others.

    1. The Tea Patiers and the GOP shills avoided their own Tax Scam Scandal, by striking first.

      If common folk understood the lies the Tea Partiers were trying to perpetrate, in getting the tax exempt status, it still would make little difference.

      It only will help the GOP if they campaign for tax reform, which they will not do.

    2. .

      Blame the victim? To blame the Tea Partiers for the corruption in the Obama administration is ludicrous.

      In requesting the tax-exempt status, did the TP or any of the other groups targeted do anything illegal or for that matter unusual?

      You have truly drunk the Kool-aid, rat.


    3. It is not the corruption in the Obama administration that bothers me, Q.
      That is to be expected and it was exposed.

      All is well on the Check and Balance front.

      But it is the corruption of the TAX CODE that is bothersome.
      That is swept under the MSM rug.

      That you continue to focus on the personalities and not the process and power projection systems, is typical of an 'involved' sheeple.

      Focused on the personalities, not the power process.

    4. The Tax Code is so ambiguous as to the level of political activity a social welfare organization can engage in, legality is an amorphous concept to postulate upon.

      But at least 50% of the income of a social welfare organization has to be dedicated to social welfare, they think, or so I have read.
      There were no soup kitchens, or perhaps there were.
      Each application separate and distinct.

      Were there abuses, seem to have been.

      But the problem is greater than the IRS abusing their power.
      The problem is the IRS has the power to abuse.

    5. Now, I do understand that the SCOTUS has ruoled that corporations can engage in politics.

      And I do understand that social welfare corporations do good work. The Salvation Army exemplifies these good people doing good work.

      And I do understand that social welfare corporations have long used tax exemptions to help finance their good works, but in the pst they could not engage in political action.

      Now, with the SCOTUS decision, the Congress cannot stop social welfare organizations from engaging in political activity. The Congress can strip the tax exempt status from any social welfare corporation that does engage in politics.

      The SCOTUS decision was not that the US has to subsidize the social welfare organizations political activities, only that the social welfare corporations could engage in them.

    6. If there are unintended consequence to the SCOTUS decision, well, would not be the first time, aye.

      But there is little doubt that the Tea Partiers were trying to "Push the Envelope"

      If the Black Panther Party has such an exemption, I'd protest that, too.
      Move, should not be tax exempt.

      None of the political action corporations should be able to gain tax exempt status, by claiming to be something they are not.

      Which is why reform of the Tax Code is of paramount importance..

  5. Al Arabiya -

    At least 40 Hezbollah fighters have been reportedly killed in the Syrian town of Qusayr late on Sunday, sources told Al Arabiya, following clashes between Syrian rebels and regime forces who attempted to enter the town earlier in the day.

    If Hezbollah lost that many KIA and is winning, that would imply at least one thousand of them fighting.

  6. President Bashar al-Assad’s troops in Syria are gaining ground. British Middle East reporter Robert Fisk met some of them when he visited the front lines earlier this month, and told DW about what he saw.

    DW: Mr. Fisk, you've just returned from Syria. What were your impressions?

    Robert Fisk: What you find is that there are large areas which have been destroyed, large areas which are largely depopulated, and large areas which are not only undamaged, but in which life more or less continues. This applies not only to the center of Damascus, it applies mostly to the city of Latakia, where there's a large Alawite community, and the same applies to Tartus. So you do find certain areas of Syria where the government is still firmly in control and where some semblance of life goes on. You can go out to lunch; you can shop; you can go to your office.

    How freely can you travel around Syria as a western reporter?

    I drove from Beirut to Damascus. During the day there are Syrian Army checkpoints, and the road is pretty clear. When you get into Damascus, you hear shellfire from the suburb of Daraya, which is less than a mile away from the main highway leading between Beirut and Damascus. When I came in, there was an aircraft literally dropping a bomb in the suburb of Daraya, which is held by rebels. At one point I flew to Latakia, on the coast, and from Latakia I drove north right up to the Syrian government army's front line. The Syrian government army allowed me to go into their frontline positions.
    The suburb of Daraya is still controlled by rebels

    What impression did you get from the Syrian government soldiers?

    I found them a very ruthless, tough, but apparently pretty determined army. They clearly took no prisoners. They talked at one point about killing up to 700 terrorists, as they call the rebels. A general showed me a video on his phone of dead rebels with beards, and twice in the video a military boot appears and crushes the faces of the dead men.
    Many of the soldiers I spoke to had been wounded. So they are tough, ruthless men on the government side, and we know the same apples to the rebels. And both sides, as we are well aware, have committed human rights abuses and war crimes. At the moment - but this does not necessarily mean it will last - the government forces in Syria are clearly taking territory from the rebels.

  7. What role is Iran playing in this conflict?

    The war is not about Syria, it's about Iran. And the intention of the West is to effectively destroy Iran's only Arab ally. And for the Iranians it's about keeping their only Arab ally. We know that the Iranian government has given advice, but these are very, very small token forces, compared to the propaganda, which is that thousands and thousands of Iranians are arriving en masse. I did not see any Iranian soldiers on any front line.

    Media reports say that Russia intends to supply weapons to the Syrian government.

    Ever since the Israeli raid on military installations north of Damascus two weeks ago the Syrians have been very concerned that they may find themselves under attack again by the Israelis. They want to be able to prevent this, and I think the Russians are quite keen to give them the weapons to do that.

    The Syrians want to prevent more Israeli air raids
    Is there a danger that the conflict could spread to Israel?

    Israelis America's greatest ally in the Middle East. If it bombs government forces, it's supporting the rebels. So in a sense, we in the West are now involved militarily, by allowing the Israelis as proxies to bomb Syria. But at the moment, I can see every reason why the Israelis would want to stay out of Syria, because the Syrian army in the last two years has broken free of the corruption, and it's become quite experienced in fighting. So if the Israelis did want to get involved on the ground in Syria, they’d find themselves fighting some very determined forces.

    Would it be helpful for the international community to intervene in Syria?

    Militarily, no. Politically, of course. I think the last talks between Kerry and Putin, where they actually went to talk at a joint conference, is the best thing we've heard so far politically. It's interesting that the Americans and especially the French don't want Assad regime people in a transition government. But they also don't want a very large rebel faction, the Islamist Nusra group, to be involved either, so already we're saying, "Let's have a big conference, but here are the people who cannot attend." I think the war is not over; I think it could go on for another two or three years.
    Robert Fisk (66) is an author and Middle East correspondent for British newspaper "The Independent." For more than 30 years, he has reported from the world's crisis regions, including Northern Ireland, Portugal during the Carnation Revolution and Afghanistan. Since 1976, he has been reporting on the Middle East from his home in Beirut. Fisk speaks Arabic and is one of the few western journalists to have interviewed Osama bin Laden. He has won several journalism prizes for his work.

  8. Hezbollah and almost everyone else will always be seeking to ‘destroy’ Israel, Yada, yada, yada. All the platitudes of bringing “democracy","preventing threats to our security" and the "evilness" of Assad (Gaddafi,Hussein) are all a sham - Saudi,Qatar, Bahrain, UAE have no democracy and brutally repress dissent, as nations these countries pose no more of a threat to the US as someone in Mongolia with a catapult. U.S bought oil states who are feudal are in a “bizarre and unnatural” alliance with Isreal and the U.S.
    Governments. The US has been lobbied,threatened and bought by the Jewish lobby to continue on a perpetual destabilizing war until we have a third world that serves the interests of the Global elite while destabilizing and subduing all opposition

    Israel is unsustainable in the region in the long term without making some fundamental changes in its character, first and foremost being that it cannot sustain itself as a Jewish State in the face of a losing demographic race and without heavy investment and support from the outside. In every sense it will be going the way of white South Africa and other colonial states and good riddance.

    1. Dear Anonymous,

      Do you actually believe the nonsense your write?

      I bet you have never actually VISITED israel and while you were at it visit the shitholes you call the islamic world. (notice I said islamic not arab) since the islamic world sucks as well.

      From Morocco to Malaysia Islam as a culture sucks, from London to Dearborn, from Sweden to France Islam as a culture sucks.

      Now about you idea that the Jews control everything. that is true, that is why you have no future.. I'd suggest you simply give up now.

      But to think the Jews or Israel is going anywhere?



  9. Thank you for your service:

    More military men than women are sexually abused in the ranks each year, a Pentagon survey shows, highlighting the underreporting of male-on-male assaults.

    When the Defense Department released the results of its anonymous sexual abuse survey this month and concluded that 26,000 service members were victims in fiscal 2012, which ended Sept. 30, an automatic assumption was that most were women. But roughly 14,000 of the victims were male and 12,000 female, according to a scientific survey sample produced by the Pentagon.

    The statistics show that, as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel begins a campaign to stamp out “unwanted sexual contact,” there are two sets of victims that must be addressed.

    “It appears that the DOD has serious problems with male-on-male sexual assaults that men are not reporting and the Pentagon doesn’t want to talk about,” Elaine Donnelly, who heads the Center for Military Readiness. She noted that only 2 percent of assailants are women.

    Pentagon spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said the Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Office is tackling the entire problem.


  10. America’s ‘Mission Accomplished’ Legacy to Iraq: Sectarian Violence Mounts with 95 Dead

    Posted on 05/21/2013 by Juan Cole

    Bombings killed at least 95 people on Monday in Iraq, with 10 car bombs going off in the capital of Baghdad alone. Two car bombs were detonated in the southern Shiite port city of Basra, and the mostly Sunni city of Samarra north of the capital was also attacked. Most of the violence seems to have been aimed at Shiites.

    The Sunni-Shiite violence is a legacy of the way George W. Bush and the Neoconservatives governed Iraq in 2003-2008. They deliberately installed the Shiites in power, in an exclusivist sort of way. I remember Neoconservative strategist Marc Gerecht Reuel talking about the goal of putting the Shiites in power. His colleague James Woolsey, a former CIA head, upbraided me at a conference for pointing out that some Iraqi Shiite groups are closely tied to the ayatollahs in Iran. I read somewhere that the Neoconservatives were convinced that unlike the Sunni Iraqis under Saddam Hussein, who sympathized with the Palestinians, the Shiite Iraqis as a functional minority would sympathize with Israel’s Jews. The Neocons were real cut-ups, with all kinds of fancy theories unconnected to reality.

    The Americans played strong favorites for years. They avoided having a truth and reconciliation process. They castigated the Sunni Arabs, many of whom had had ties to the Baath Party (r. 1968-2003), as little short of Nazis, and encouraged the Shiites to fire thousands of them from government employment. At the same time the Americans closed down state factories and created massive unemployment. A ‘Debaathification Commission’ fired thousands of Sunni schoolteachers and brought in Shiite cronies instead.

    Whereas in South Africa the truth and reconciliation commission sought truth over punishment, in Iraq the ascendant Shiites marginalized and victimized Sunnis with ties to the old Baath (or even just ties to Sunnis who had ties to . . .)

    Those Sunnis who formed cells to engage in bombings and sniping to get the Americans back out, bequeathed a legacy of such cells, which remain active, now aimed at preventing the Shiite establishment that inherited Iraq from enjoying its ascendancy.

    In all of Iraqi history from the Sumerians until 2003 there had never been a suicide bombing in that country. The technique was adopted to fight Bush’s occupation, having been pioneered by the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka.

    And now, having screwed up Iraq royally over years, Americans can’t be bothered to even report on events there in more than a sentence on their television news.


  11. {…}

    I am sympathetic to attempts to contextualize such violence, but in fact such coordinated bombings have been a feature of Iraqi life for many years. The only remarkable thing about these bombings is that they came so closely on the heels of others– in recent years the big bombing campaigns have been divided by long periods of quiescence.

    It is not clear that the violence is especially connected to Syria. Similar bombings were carried out before Syria slipped into civil war. And while the Iraqi military repression of Sunni Arab protesters at Hawija about a month ago, in what some Sunnis called a massacre, has inflamed Sunni-Shiite tensions, the simple fact is that before Hawija there were coordinated bombings in several cities at once. The bombings don’t appear to have a specific political aim but rather an over-all strategic one, and to take place no matter what is happening politically.

    Nor is the violence of the past week (or really the last month and a half) like that during the Iraqi Civil War of 2006-2007. Then, most of those killed were victims of neighborhood faction-fighting, and most victims were shot, not killed by bombs. The neighborhood fighting declined when they were ethnically cleansed. It is not likely that that sort of civil war will start back up again now, since there has been so much movement of populations.

    What can be said is that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of the Shiite Islamic Mission Party (al-Da`wa) has not exactly been very good about reaching out to Sunni Iraqis and bringing them into his State of Law Coalition.

    To be fair, large numbers of Sunni Arab Iraqis seem unreconciled to the rise to power of the majority Shiites, who are more or less allied with the minority Kurds. Small terrorist groups among them carry out these bombings in hopes of deterring foreign investment and of keeping the new order from congealing. They cannot really change the political situation with such bombings, but they can stop nice new buildings from being built or the kind of big increase in prosperity from being achieved that make al-Maliki truly popular.

    They are having some success in this strategy. When I was in Baghdad a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that there were not many new buildings or construction sites and the city seemed in some ways frozen in 1991. Although Iraq is an oil state, it hasn’t been able to kickstart Abu Dhabi style building. (A developer has started work on a nice big new mall).

    The bombers are, then, spoilers rather than revolutionaries, and they appear to have no coherent plan beyond disruption. It is a little surprising that they manage to keep at it despite having had no political impact at all for many years.

    It is also surprising that al-Maliki has not been able to mount an effective counter-terrorism policy. How hard could it be to infiltrate the cells and bust them? Of course, even better would be to so mollify the general Sunni Arab population that they become willing to turn in the people making car bombs (you can’t make car bombs on an industrial scale without the neighbors noticing).

    A little over ten years ago, George W. Bush gave his infamous “Mission Accomplished” speech about how permanent warfare could now be deployed in a humanitarian fashion and without substantial loss of life to build up and maintain an global American empire. Wow.

  12. :):):):)More whistleblowers will emerge shortly in the escalating Benghazi scandal, according to two former U.S. diplomats who spoke with PJ Media Monday afternoon.

    These whistleblowers, colleagues of the former diplomats, are currently securing legal counsel because they work in areas not fully protected by the Whistleblower law.

    According to the diplomats, what these whistleblowers will say will be at least as explosive as what we have already learned about the scandal, including details about what really transpired in Benghazi that are potentially devastating to both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

    The former diplomats inform PJM the new revelations concentrate in two areas — what Ambassador Chris Stevens was actually doing in Benghazi and the pressure put on General Carter Ham, then in command of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) and therefore responsible for Libya, not to act to protect jeopardized U.S. personnel.:):):):)

    PJM EXCLUSIVE: Ex-Diplomats Report New Benghazi Whistleblowers with Info Devastating to Clinton and Obama

    May 21st, 2013 - 12:05 am

    What a wonderful way to start the day.

    Reading a headline and article like this.

    Remember General Ham? The guy that was shut up? Removed?

    Zeus and Nemesis have prevailed in the counsel of the gods.

    1. Stevens’ mission in Benghazi, they will say, was to buy back Stinger missiles from al-Qaeda groups issued to them by the State Department, not by the CIA. Such a mission would usually be a CIA effort, but the intelligence agency had opposed the idea because of the high risk involved in arming “insurgents” with powerful weapons that endanger civilian aircraft.


      He added that he and his colleagues think the leaking of General David Petraeus’ affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell was timed to silence the former CIA chief on these matters.


      Regarding General Ham, military contacts of the diplomats tell them that AFRICOM had Special Ops “assets in place that could have come to the aid of the Benghazi consulate immediately (not in six hours).”

      Ham was told by the White House not to send the aid to the trapped men, but Ham decided to disobey and did so anyway, whereupon the White House “called his deputy and had the deputy threaten to relieve Ham of his command.”

      The White House motivation in all this is as yet unclear, but it is known the Ham retired quietly in April 2013 as head of AFRICOM.


    2. Hope this is all accurate.

      If it is, that should about do in both Shilary and Barky.

      I think of it as a tornadic outbreak.

    3. Good Morning, Rufus!

      Wonderful day is it not?!

  13. The simple fact is that we had no business being there in the first place. Once again we stirred a hornet’s nest and then are shocked, shocked, that they bit us on the ass.

  14. The good old stinger missiles, meant to bring down the Soviet HIND helicopter and in a perverse way brought down the two towers. Still, lesson unlearned.

    1. Stingers now aimed at Shillary and Barky!

    2. Wasn't it Carter and his wise guy Zbigniew Brzezinski that got us into Afghanistan in the first place?

    3. "Stingers"

      Does that not set off even an itty-bitty alarm bell to one that is advocating sending in helicopters to a hot Urban LZ?


    4. That CNN Poll was interesting. It isn't that people aren't paying attention to the so-called "scandals." They are, and they support more investigations.

      It's just that from what they've heard so far, they trust what Obama is saying, and are regarding the whole deal as, basically, a "he-said, she-said."

    5. Worrisome it is.

      Bullets are worrisome too.

      Definitely not a threat free environment, we know that because shots are being fired.

      Shots being fired is why they were calling for help.

      Otherwise they wouldn't have called for help.



    6. >>It's just that from what they've heard so far, they trust what Obama is saying<<

      Which is why we are in this pickle to begin with, too many voters weren't really listening and trusted Obama and voted for the fraud. Besides, they got a free ObamaPhone outta the deal.

  15. Here, boobie, this one's for you
    From a writer you respected, back when you respected writers.

    Finally, many Republicans think, the tide is turning against the Democrats. Republican strategists -- and the few conservatives on Capitol Hill who were in Washington during the Clinton years -- are less excited. They fear that the party is about to repeat the mistakes it made in 1998.

    Early that year, it came to light that President Bill Clinton had had a sexual relationship with a White House intern and lied about it to the public, to a court in a civil suit and to a grand jury in a criminal case. Congressional Republicans tried to remove him from office. The public hated the idea, and Republicans lost seats in the fall elections. They had been expected to make significant gains because the opposition party usually did in the sixth year of a presidency. ...

    Watch the way the Republicans are handling today’s controversies and it’s easy to see how their tactics could backfire again. You would expect that Senator Lindsey Graham, who helped to lead the impeachment proceedings against Clinton, had learned to be cautious in pursuing a scandal. Yet he decided to tie the Benghazi investigation explicitly to the 2016 presidential race, saying that the controversy would doom Hillary Clinton. If Graham were a Democratic plant trying to make the investigation look like a merely partisan exercise, he couldn’t have done better.

    Republicans are trying to tie IRS misconduct to President Barack Obama, so far without much evidence. The Republican National Committee is demanding that the president apologize to targeted groups, apparently on the assumption that the public isn’t satisfied with his calling the IRS’s actions “intolerable and inexcusable.” Other Republicans are saying that the president created a “culture” that made the scandal possible by being a partisan Democrat.

    1. These efforts are strained. If the evidence leads to the conclusion that the IRS bureaucracy acted on its own, that is scandal enough; it would serve to strengthen the public’s conservative instincts about the dangers of trusting the government, whoever happens to be in the Oval Office. Republicans shouldn’t be obsessed with Obama, who won’t be on the ballot again, and shouldn’t make a legitimate inquiry into potential abuses of power appear to be -- or, worse, actually be -- part of a personal vendetta.

      The biggest danger for Republicans in giving themselves over to scandal mania is one that the conventional retelling of the Clinton impeachment neglects. Republicans didn’t lose seats simply because they overreached on Clinton’s perjury. It is true that his impeachment was unpopular, and public approval of the Republicans sank as they pursued it. Still, only 5 percent of voters in the 1998 election told exit pollsters that the scandal had played a role in their decision, and Republicans got a majority of those voters.

      Social Security was the top issue for more than twice as many voters, and Republicans lost that issue by 18 percentage points. Even more voters cared about education, which Republicans lost by 34 points. They lost on health care and the economy by similar margins.

      For the most part, Republicans didn’t campaign on impeachment in 1998: They didn’t say, “Vote for me and I’ll do my level best to oust Clinton.” Their strategy was more passive. They were counting on the scandal to motivate conservatives to vote while demoralizing liberals. So they didn’t try to devise a popular agenda, or to make their existing positions less unpopular. That’s what cost them -- that, and the mistake of counting on statistics about sixth-year elections, which also bred complacency.

      Republicans have similar vulnerabilities on the issues now. They have no real health-care agenda. Voters don’t trust them to look out for middle-class economic interests. Republicans are confused and divided about how to solve the party’s problems. What they can do is unite in opposition to the Obama administration’s scandals and mistakes. So that’s what they’re doing. They’re trying to win news cycles when they need votes.

      Congressional Republicans were right to press for hearings on all of these issues.
      But investigations of the administration won’t supply them with ideas.
      They won’t make the public trust Republicans.

      They won’t save them from themselves.

      (Ramesh Ponnuru is a Bloomberg View columnist, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a senior editor at National Review. The opinions expressed are his own.)

    2. .

      In bold, rat.

      But investigations of the administration won’t supply them with ideas.
      They won’t make the public trust Republicans.

      They won’t save them from themselves.

      GOP, it's ok if you take out a few flunkies at the lower levels but don't ch'all go getting uppity. Don't think about about going after Emperor Ming, the wizard of OZ.



    3. When Bunker uses bold, it is like he is yelling at his disobedient troops.

      Troops that long ago gave up taking anything General B says seriously.

      Like one of these folks that say the same thing over and over and over and over again.

      Thinking that if he just yells loud and long enough he will prevail.

  16. Oh, and boobie, Hillary is gone.

    Why oh why do you continue to attack poor lady?

    She will be 69 years old, in November of 2116, way to old for her to make a successful run for the White House.

    She'll look like a high mile grandma, which is what she'll be. Rode hard, worn out and put up wet.

    Robert Byrd is no longer a Senator from the State of W. Va.. Hillary is no longer in the government.

    You should not threaten either her or the President with bodily harm. It does not lend credence to your arguments. In fact it could put you on the Federal Terrorist Watch List.

    1. I could be wrong; but I don't think Hillary would be the strongest candidate the Dems could put forth.

      I would be very interested in seeing that boy from San Antonio get there.

    2. Bob
      Tue May 21, 08:43:00 AM EDT

      Stingers now aimed at Shillary and Barky!

      A Stinger is a deadly weapon, so deadly it could be considered a WMD, if used against US.

      Tread lightly, old man, you threaten the President of the United States with death and destruction.

      You seditious piece of shit.

    3. :):)

      General Bunk is in a foul mood, irrational today.

      Metaphorically stingers may bring the both down. Political careers grounded.

      I don't have a stinger, do you?

      I wouldn't know how to operate one.

      You might.

      I am already on the WatchList, having gone to a Tea Party rally once, where I held up a sign

      >>of your design<<

      you seditious piece of shit.


    4. She will be 69 years old, in November of 2116

      Reagan was older than that, wasn't he? I forget, but he was up there.

    5. .

      The boy does seem to be on edge this morning.


    6. Needs to pop a serotonin reuptake inhibitor before beddy bye bye each evening, wake up rested, in a good mood.

    7. Hillary is no Ronald Reagan.

      No, I am not on edge.
      boobie has disrespected the US for quite a while, now.
      Today he advoctes for downing Air Force One ,or Marine One, he does not specify.

      But what he said ...

      Not a euphemism.
      B ut a direct threat to the President, on the Inet.

      Guess he knows there are no Gulags in the US.
      Despite he claiming it to be so.

    8. .

      Don't waste your time, Bob.

      The rat don't get metaphor.


    9. What a lot of horseshit, General.

      No one, no one takes you seriously anymore.

      This place was doing pretty good there for a while, till you came back.

      Now a full third of it is just your horseshit again. You said you had a lot of horseshit, and you were telling the truth there.

  17. Apple released an advance copy of Cook's testimony Monday night. Its 17 pages of self-defense are clear, blunt, unambiguous: Apple, Cook declares, "does not use tax gimmicks." It pays "an extraordinary amount" in U.S. taxes -- nearly $6 billion last year, making it "likely the largest corporate income tax payer in the U.S." Its effective tax rate last year, he says, was approximately 30.5 percent.

    Cook implies that Congress, intent on removing a speck (figuratively speaking) from Apple's eye, may perhaps have overlooked the 2-by-4 in its own: an outdated tax code.

    "Apple," he says, "welcomes an objective examination of the U.S. corporate tax system, which has not kept pace with the advent of the digital age and the rapidly changing global economy."

    He then goes on to recommend reforms.

  18. Referring to the way Apple manages to lessen its U.S. tax bill by moving money around overseas, he concludes: "While some Subcommittee members may have differing views on these tax policy matters, Apple hopes the Subcommittee will see that these recommendations aim to create meaningful change and go well beyond what most U.S. companies propose."

    As for the Subcommittee, on Monday night it released a 40-page memorandum, which, after a 16-page highlights-reel, gets down to business, asserting that Apple has used a variety of "offshore structures, arrangements, and transactions to shift billions of dollars in profits away from the United States and into Ireland, where Apple has negotiated a special corporate tax rate of less than 2 percent."

    "One of Apple's more unusual tactics," says the Subcommittee, has been "to establish and direct substantial funds to offshore entities that are not declared tax residents of any jurisdiction."

    These entities are, in effect, corporate men-of-the-world.

    One such entity, Apple Operations International, says the memo, is currently sauntering about with $30 billion in its pocket. Yet, during the four years during which it earned that sum, it "paid no corporate income taxes to any national government."

  19. While the subcommittee stops short of accusing Apple of having broken any U.S. law, it finds the company to have circumvented the U.S. Tax Code's Subpart F, whose purpose is "to prevent multinational corporations from shifting profits to tax havens to avoid U.S. tax."

    So adroitly has Apple peeled Subpart F, says the memo, that from 2009 to 2012, it managed to avoid "$44 billion in taxes on otherwise taxable offshore income."

    On Monday, ABC News quoted Sen. John McCain as saying: "Apple claims to be the largest U.S. corporate tax payer, but by sheer size and scale, it is also among America's largest tax avoiders."


    2. Apple went to Ireland, and it found a pot of gold. Or more precisely, it managed to bring in $30 billion in overseas profits over a four-year period without paying a dime of corporate income tax to the Irish, American or any other national government.

      That is one key conclusion in a new report from the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations on the computer giant’s strategies for avoiding U.S. corporate income tax. It is a rare and detailed window into how multinationals juggle their international operations to avoid having to pay the taxman. This report may be about Apple, but the information it contains will sound familiar to anyone who has talked to tax lawyers or studied the 10-Ks of other major companies that do business around the worl


      Apple Operations International is registered in Cork, Ireland, but has “no physical presence at that or any other address,” according to the report. Indeed, the corporate entity has existed for 30 years and apparently never had a single employee. Of the three people on its board, all Apple employees, two live in California; 32 of its last 33 board meetings took place in Cupertino, and the Irish director participated in seven of them. Its assets are managed by a Nevada company, and held in bank accounts in New York.

      It falls in a strange loophole: Because it is not managed and controlled in Ireland, that nation does not tax its earnings, even at the low Irish corporate income tax rate. And because it is not registered in the United States, it has owed no American taxes.

    3. This using bold is becoming contagious.

    4. .

      Apple takes advantage of the free money policies in the U.S. and then stiffs us on the taxes.

      Apples huge buy-back of stock was financed through loans at very low interest rather than use the cash they have stashed overseas. Legal, makes sense from Apple's standpoint, still...

      Apple's appeals for revisions to the tax code, while most would agree with the words, actually translates to "Lower my taxes."

      Apple is not an American company, they are a multinational company. Their allegience to the U.S. is nil.


    5. I am in favor of revisions to the tax code, too. Lower my taxes.

    6. Lower your benefits, by a third, maintain your taxes.

      Eliminate tax exemptions for political social welfare organizations.
      Pus a host of other reforms ...

      If done across the Nation, well, the Federals cash flow problem would be solved.

      We just have to cut the Welfare benefits to the elderly, by about a third.
      Social Security and Medicare, both. Those are the 'Budget Busters'.

    7. Then once the deficit is closed ...

      .. and the $16 trillions in debt paid off ...

      ... then we could talk about tax cuts.

  20. Netanyahu’s attack on Syria has completely backfired. Assuming the Russians saw the Israel attack as a warm-up and a way of goading Obama forward, Putin is sending enough high quality defensive weapons necessary to put the usual suspects on notice that there will be no repeat of a Libyan style turkey shoot.

    Netanyahu has made it politically toxic to support the “rebels” effectively allying them with Israel.

    The S-300 antiaircraft systems and the Yakhont “ship-killer” missiles will help dissuade irrational thinking about attacking Syria.

    Reigniting Hezbollah will further give pause to Lebanese support for Syria which would be defacto support for Israel.

    Nice strategic thinking on Bibi’s part.

  21. His bellicosity, impetuosity and paranoia is an existential threat to his brain.

    1. He should have given a police escort for the missiles to Lebanon.

      Showed his good will.

      Seriously, the situation is ripe for miscalculations.

      I'm really glad I don't live in the Mideast.

      And the trout fishing is very very bad there.

    2. Everybody seems to hate each other's gut there.

      This is no way to live.

    3. .


      Take a look around.



  22. More about the new whistleblowers, should they exist -

    New whistleblowers coming forward on Benghazi?

    posted at 10:01 am on May 21, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

  23. Apple is following the law. Congress makes the laws.

    1. Fancy that.

      If the GOP were to renounce Romneynomics and embrace effective tax reform that would benefit the Middle Class and economic growth, well, they could win.

      If they stick to playing 'Who struck John', but avoid the core issue, their glide path to oblivion will continue.

    2. Take the advice of Deuce, General, call your Congressman. Congress makes the laws.

      Call Charlie Rangel even, he was head tax boy in the House for a long time.

      I think your cattle ought to be taxed a global warming tax. Filling the atmosphere up with methane, they are.

      We all different ideas about taxes.

      Yours go even further. Steal earned Social Security benefits from the elderly.


    3. boobie, who ever told you that you ERNED Social Security benefits, after 1960, lied or was ill informed.

      If it was a member of the general public, I'd assume 'misinformed' would fill the bill.
      Any politico that told you that Social Security benefits were EARNED, why, they lied.

      Nestor vs Fleming tells the tale.

      Social Security is not a defined benefit program.
      The payments made, merely Federal taxes.

      The benefits paid, who they are to be paid to, and whether the recipients should be means tested, all to be determined ...
      ... as time goes by.

      You've been conned, boobie.

      By the Republicans and the Democrats, together as one in the political scam of your lifetime.
      To paraphrase what Governor Perry of the State of Texas said ...

      Social Security, it is a Ponzi Scheme.

      You've been scammed, sucker.‎

      by MD Tanner - 2012
      ... in the 1960 case of Fleming v. Nestor, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that workers have no legally binding contractual rights to their Social Security benefits, ...

    4. no legally binding contractual rights to their Social Security benefits, ...

      You know why that is, boobie?

      Because there is no 'legally binding contractual rights to welfare benefits.

      The benefits are not, and never were 'theirs'

      1960, boobie.

      And this is the first you've heard?

    5. Yeah, yeah, I done heard all that.

      who ever told you that you ERNED Social Security benefits

      Nobody ever done told me that.

      The simple fact remains, you want to screw over the elders.

      And we know that those that do not honor the elders aren't really human.

      Honor thy father and mother, that thy life may be long.....

    6. You are nuts, boobie.

      You are concerned about all the wrong thing.

      Welfare in the form of direct cash payments and subsidies for health Insurance for the elderly, but no health care or health care insurance subsidies for the unemployed.

      EARNED, boobie, it should have been EARNED, but really, if that is the best you have, you may as well admit defeat.

      You are a seditious welfare papa, that advocates for tax avoidance by your political cronies, all of whom are wanting to ensure your, and their, welfare benefits FLOW!.

      You are amongst the 47% of the population that Romney and the Republicans disdain.
      The folks with their hands out, wanting more.

      Thinking they've EARNED it.

  24. Hey, lookie here, the folks at the IRS are beginning to drink -


    I'd start to drink also if I were in his shoes.

    Commissioner knew more than year ago about IRS targeting conservatives...
    Ex-chief: Can't say how it happened...
    Conservative Group Waiting 3 Years For Approval Files Suit...
    IRS worker used government credit card for years-long AMAZON shopping spree...
    Top Dems blame scandal on tax code...
    MARCHING ORDERS: Liberal Pundits Gather in West Wing...drudge


  25. CBSNEWS reporter: My computers hacked, too...

    'Began in Feb. 2011 during reporting on Fast and Furious'...

    POLL: Public trust shifts away from Dems... drudge

    Barky's losing or has lost the press.

    Bad, bad news for Barky.

  26. :):)

    Here we go: IRS official Lois Lerner to plead the Fifth at congressional hearing tomorrow

    posted at 4:41 pm on May 21, 2013 by Allahpundit

    >>>Can't do any better than Popehat's wry comment -


    IRS Official to Reaffirm Importance of Constitutional Rights In Response To Congressional Inquiry<<<


    Isn't that the truth. When your ox is about to be gored, curl up in the Constitution!!

    1. She's done the right thing, lawyered up!

      "Keep your damn mouth shut, Lois, curl up in the Constitution."

    2. "We can barter your testimony for a reduced sentence."

    3. "Flip on Barky, you might walk, even be something of a national celebrity. Book deals, interviews, you might get rich."

    4. As in Iran/Contra, the Congress grants immunity for testimony.
      The testifier falls on their sword, or implicates others that have similar immunity offers.

      In the end, Caspar Weinberger is convicted of a crime and pardoned by the President.
      Cap went to work for Steve Forbes.

      Determinately, no impeachments.

  27. Is it time to consider a RICO case against the Administration?

    May 21, 2013

    Pattern of lawbreaking and corruption. More

    Great idea. Let the Tea Party and others make a RICO complaint.

  28. Off my favorite topic of the fall of the Obama Administration --


    Neanderthals: Extinction by BBQ?

    May 21, 2013 10:00 AM ET // by Larry O'Hanlon

    >>>Humans today eat gorillas and chimpanzees, so why would our prehistoric ancestors flinch at sitting down to a nicely roasted Neanderthal?

    That's the shocking new hypothesis being raised by anthropologists in Spain, who wonder if our closest extinct relative was exterminated in the same way as 178 other large mammals, so-called megafauna, which are suspected of going at least partially by the hand of hungry human hunters.<<<

  29. Poor bob.

    He thinks the scandal in DC is whether Obama went to bed on 11SEP12 or stayed up late.

    Whether the IRS went slow on approving Tea Party tax status or asked inappropriate questions of the petitioners.

    The "Real" scandal, that the Federal Socialists have misappropriated trillions of tax dollars in a political conspiracy that spans more than fifty years, well, he says it just isn't so.

    It is so just comical, as to make me laugh out loud.

  30. What a lot of horseshit.

    Call your Congressman.

    Work to elect people who don't like taxes.

    Everything is a conspiracy to you --

    >>in a political conspiracy that spans more than fifty years<<

    when actually we have held open election after election for those fifty years, all across the nation, in every state, where taxes are always a subject of debate.

    To you, "it's all a conspiracy, I tell ya!!"

    And you call me laughable for hoping the Three or More Scandals ruin Barky's reputation, his program, his Presidency, and his efforts to subvert the Constitution, and ruin Shillary's future political career hopes.


    1. Fifty years of conspiracy, that only General Bunk is able to see.


    2. Fifty years of free elections = fifty years of conspiracy


    3. You believe that you EARNED your welfare benefits.

      That is a crock of shit, boobie.

      You may have paid taxes, in the past.
      You may pay taxes, now.

      You do receive welfare, in direct cash payments and health care insurance subsidies.

      There is no escaping that reality, old man.

      Social Security benefits and Medicare subsidies, all the recipients should all be means tested.

    4. Fifty years of misinformation and outright lies do a conspiracy make.

      Why is it that Brown v Board of Education is known across the land, but ...

      Fleming v Nestor is unknown but to those educated along the lines of Judge Andrew P. Napolitano's and Ron Paul's proposed curriculum.

      You EARNED nothing in regards Social Security and Medicare.
      You may have paid some taxes.
      The amounts you may have paid have no bearing upon the benefits you or others will receive.

      There is no relation between the two, you are just a seditious little Welfare King.
      Sucking off Uncle Sugar, just like those single black welfare moms you so despise.

      The Equivalency Standard, it strikes again.

  31. Latest Poll: 39% of Republicans Do Can Not Name the Country in which Benghazi is located.

  32. 39% of Republicans Can Not Name the Country in which Benghazi is located.

  33. Ask Democrats if Libya is the old capitol of Iraq and report back.

  34. JAKARTA, Indonesia—Legislators here are reviewing a proposed new criminal code that would outlaw sex between unmarried people, cohabitation and black magic, among other stricter measures that would mark a significant shift for a young democracy widely viewed as a voice for moderate Islam.

    The drafting of the code, commissioned by the Ministry of Justice and led by a conservative Muslim legal scholar, reflects the influence of conservatives in Indonesia, the country with the most Muslims.

    1. We three were at the bar, Q had gone off by himself.

      Umatilla Jack, who was drinking heavily, something he rarely does, said:

      "There's something about Q that is really weird. Anybody know what music he likes?"

      UJ was fiddling with the eagles feathers on his headdress, looking more out of place at the mahogany bar of The Imperialist than the burked Saudi women of some days ago.

      Hamdoon, eating an olive, said: "Yes, quite weird. But he can be magnificent. 98% of a mission he is utterly worthless, but at the end, he can be magnificent."

      I said: "He told me once, when the heat is on, time slows down for him."

      Hamdoon immediately looked up: "Really? He said that"

      "Yes, he did."

      "That is interesting", continued Hamdoon. "It's like he is concentrating his inner resources before the action, like a coiled snake, like all the chaos in him turns to clarity momentarily. He can make life and death decisions in a nano second in a crisis, like he is watching the action in slomo from above, but he can't find his shoes when he gets up in the morning."

      "Never can find his keys", I said. "Music? Weird stuff he likes, magical stuff, strange, feminine really, haunting, never heard anything like it myself, taboo stuff, island stuff, just strange."

      "I like our tribal tom toms" said UJ, sipping his whiskey.

    2. We heard a shuffle, and turned and watched as Q swung unsteadily through the swinging doors of the Imperialist Bar. He entered with a strange preternatural shit eating grin on his face. He had been upstairs, drinking in solitude, as Hemingway said one mustn't, as it leads to alcoholism.

      Q stumbled in between UJ and Hamdoon and took a sip from UJ's whiskey as UJ whispered low in my ear, "he's skunked", and then, "white men can't handle the white man's liquor like we can".

      After a few more rounds we decided to go driving and find the Reflecting Pool. A dispute arose over who should do the driving. Q was volunteering to some opposition but was finally given the key. I acquiesced, thinking if he gets nailed, he deserves it, as I remembered how he had abandoned me in Vegas.

      Inside the car now, Q was behind the wheel, and searching his pockets.

      "I can't find the key. Did you give me the key?"

      UJ said, "It's on that lanyard around your neck, white man."

  35. 80% of Democrats don't know where Mississippi is located.

    50% of Mississippians don't know where Mississippi is located.

    1. .


      But then giving them the benefit of every bit of doubt we can muster, what does it matter if you are already there?