“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."

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Turkey is bombing PKK in Iraq and ISIS in Syria

Turkey’s outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party says the conditions for maintaining a ceasefire with Ankara is no longer in place. This, after Turkish warplanes bombed PKK positions in northern Iraq. 

Two Turkish soldiers killed as tensions mount

Sunday 26 July 2015 11.32
1 of 2

There have been a number of protests and confrontations with police in Ankara and Istanbul
There have been a number of protests and confrontations with police in Ankara and Istanbul
Two Turkish soldiers were killed and four wounded in a car bomb attack on their convoy in the mainly Kurdish southeast of the country, officials said.
The attack came after the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebel group threatened to no longer observe a truce, following Turkish air strikes on its positions in northern Iraq.
It comes after a wave of unrest triggered by a suicide bomb in Suruc, blamed on so-called Islamic State which killed 32 people.
There have been a number of protests and confrontations with police in Ankara and Istanbul.
The car bomb went off as the soldiers were travelling on a road in the Lice district of the Diyarbakir province late yesterday, a statement from the Diyarbakir governor's office said.
"Two of our personnel were killed in the heinous attack, four were wounded," said the statement.
It said that large-scale operations have been launched to find the perpetrators.
The PKK had yesterday said that the conditions were no longer in place to observe a fragile ceasefire that has largely held since 2013.
It followed the heaviest Turkish air strikes on its positions in northern Iraq since 2011.
The PKK has for decades waged a deadly insurgency in the southeast of Turkey for self-rule that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.
A peace process that began in 2013 has so far failed to yield a final deal.
Meanwhile, the White House has said it welcomed Turkey's increased focus and efforts to fight Islamic State, and called the Kurdish militant PKK in Turkey a "terrorist" organisation.
The comments were made at a news briefing in Nairobi by a White House official during a visit to Kenya by US President Barack Obama.
Rally against IS to take place in Dublin
Meanwhile, hundreds of demonstrators are expected to gather on Dublin's O'Connell Street later to protest against the actions of the self-styled Islamic State.
The rally has been organised by the Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council to distance Islam from the group, and show that it is a peaceful religion.
The "Not in Our Name" demonstration was organised in the wake of last month's terrorist attack in Tunisia which killed 38 people, including three Irish citizens.
Organisers say it is believed to be the first protest of its kind held in Ireland.
Keywords: pkk, turkey


Being reported today According to the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News, the deal, treated by the Turkish side as a “secret cabinet decree,” also includes plans for a “buffer zone” in northern Syria, something Ankara has long demanded as a means of escalating the war for regime change in Syria.
Gen. John Allen, Obama’s special envoy to the so-called coalition against ISIS, denied this during an appearance at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado Thursday, saying that it “was not part of the discussion.”
State Department spokesman Mark Toner, however, cast doubt on this denial, stating in Washington that, while the Obama administration has concerns “about some of the logistical challenges inherent in a buffer zone…we obviously take threats to Turkey’s border seriously… So, we’re looking at options,” he said.
If this “option” is included in the deal, Turkey’s entry into the anti-ISIS campaign is being joined with a qualitative escalation of the US intervention in Syria.


  1. Turkey is obsessed with the Kurds. Turkey has been sitting on its hands with ISIS. I do not see how this helps the US effort against ISIS.


    Turkey Launches War On Islamic State's Worst Enemies - The Kurds

    By Moon Of Alabama

    July 25, 2015 "Information Clearing House" - Since 2013 a ceasefire between the state of Turkey and Kurdish PKK rebels in south-east Turkey held up well. The government pledged some support for Kurdish cultural autonomy and in return the ruling AK Party gained votes from parts of the Kurdish constituency. The AKP government also has good relations with the Kurds in north Iraq. It buys oil from the Kurdish regional government and supports the kleptocracy of the ruling Barzani clan in that autonomous Iraqi region.
    The PKK is a militant Kurdish organization in Turkey. The equivalent in Syria is known as YPG. In Iran the group is called PJAK and in Iraq HPG. The HDP party in Turkey is the political arm of the PKK. The PYD is the political arm of the Syrian YPG. All these are essentially the same egalitarian, secular marxist/anarchist organization striving for Kurdish autonomy or independence.

    Turkey has now reopened its war on the PKK Kurds in Turkey, Iraq and in Syria. Turkish police rounded up hundreds of Kurdish activists in Turkey and tonight dozens of Turkish fighter planes attacked PKK positions in Syria and Iraq. This war is likely to escalate and will be long and bloody. It will be mostly fought on Turkish ground. How did it come to this?

    The war on Syria and support by Turkey for even the most radical islamists fighting the Syrian government changed the relations with the Kurds. It is undeniable that Turkey not only supports the Free Syrian Army but also the Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Turkey is the transit country for international suicide bomber candidates joining these organizations. Weapons, ammunition and other goods are smuggled into Syria with the help of the Turkish secret services and the Islamic State exports oil to Turkey. The Islamic State is recruiting in Turkey and is believed to have many sleeper cells throughout the country.

    When the Islamic State attacked Kurdish positions in Kobane in north Syria the U.S. intervened on the side of the Kurds. Turkey was miffed and at first blocked all support. The Kurds in Kobane are, like the Kurdish rebels in Turkey, organized in the PKK/YPG. They want an continuous autonomous region in north Syria connecting all Kurdish enclaves along the Turkish Syrian border.

    1. {...}

      Ankara fears that such a region could be joined by the Kurdish areas in south-east Turkey. This would be a threat to the Turkish state. Turkey wants to gain land in the war on Syria not lose any. Idleb and Aleppo in Syria and Mosul in Iraq are regions that Erdogan would like to add to his realm.

      As the Kurds in Syria as well as Iraq had some success in fighting against the Islamic State and increased their territories the Turkish AKP government saw its plans in shambles. Additionally the AKP lost in the recent elections in Turkey while the Kurdish HDP party, for the first time in its history, joined the Turkish parliament. Without a solid parliamentary majority Erdogan's plan of becoming the almighty president over a larger, Ottoman Turkey is finished.

      To change the situation Erdogan decided to reopen the war against the Kurds under the disguise of joining the U.S. war against the Islamic State.

      On July 20 a bomb exploded during a meeting of young socialist Kurds in the southern border town of Suruç. Some thirty people were killed and over a hundred wounded. Turkey immediately attributed the attack to the Islamic State but IS never claimed the attack. The Kurdish PKK immediately blamed the Turkish state and accused it of collusion with the Islamic State. The next day the PKK killed two Turkish police officers in revenge for the bombing.

      Last year secret audio tapes leaked of conversations between the Turkish prime minister and the head if the Turkish secret service. They planned a false flag attack against Turkish targets as a pretext to invade Syria. The PKK assumption that Turkey colluded with the Islamic State to attack Kurds in Turkey is thereby quite plausible. The claimed "intelligence failure" that allowed the attack seems to be a mere smoke screen. The attack gives Turkey a public relation talking point that it is fighting the Islamic State while in reality Turkey is attacking those Kurds who are fighting the Islamic State.

      On Wednesday Turkish police raided hundreds of homes all over the country. The mass arrests was sold as an action against Islamic State fighters. But beside a few well known IS functionaries hundreds of Kurdish activists and leftists politicians were taken into custody. Demonstrations and riots by Kurds in Istanbul and other cities increased. Today Turkish courts banned Kurdish news agencies and media. Turkish media and the Internet in Turkey are again partially censored.


    2. {...}

      Why would Erdogan now launch a war against the Kurds? What are his aims? These come to mind:

      * Prevent the unification of Kurdish cantons in north Syria which the Islamic State lost after the Kurdish offensive.
      * Maintain secure supply routes to AlQaeda, the Islamic State and other anti-Syrian groups with the long term aim of incorporating north Syria into Turkey.
      * Rally nationalist for a new round of elections to Erdogan’s side. Shut out the Kurdish HDP from the next election to again win an outright AKP majority.
      * Gain support from the Turkish army which is a political opponent of Erdogan but sees the bigger danger in a possible Kurdish autonomy.


  3. Yesterday the Turkish government announced that it would open the Incirlik air base for U.S. attack flights against the Islamic State. It also claimed that the U.S. had agreed to set up a no-fly zone over Syria. The U.S. officially denied the later.

    Turkey fighter jets flew a few attacks against alleged Islamic State targets in north Syria. The Kurds say the Turks only bombed some empty houses. The official announced plan seems to differ from what the Turks are actually doing:

    Turkey and the United States have agreed on a military action plan with the objective of clearing the Turkish-Syrian border of jihadist terrorists in what the two countries have called the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)-free zone.
    The plan crafted by Ankara and Washington foresees the deployment of FSA units to this area if ISIL is completely cleared from that particular zone, which would both prevent the Syrian Democratic Union Party (PYD) from further expanding its influence towards the West and create a safe environment for either sheltering Syrians fleeing violence or those who want to return to their homelands.
    Last night the Turkish air-force went on an all out attack against Kurds in Iraq not against Islamic State fighters or positions. Several dozens Turkish jets attacked PKK postions in north Iraq. These jets allegedly flew through Syrian air space. This is an attack against the group that was, with international support, most successful in fighting against the Islamic State. One wonders how much of this part of the plans was agreed upon with the United States.

    Does the U.S. collude with Ankara in the now open war against the Kurdish PKK? How then can it then continue to use the PKK/YPG as an ally against the Islamic State?

    The U.S. position is confused:

    Obama administration officials acknowledged the PKK and YPG have links and coordinate with each other in the fight against Islamic State, but they said the U.S. continues to formally shun the PKK while dealing directly with YPG. The groups operate under separate command structures and have different objectives, the officials said.
    Just two years ago, President Barack Obama told Turkey the U.S. would continue to aid its battle against PKK “terrorists.” The U.S. continues to share intelligence about the PKK with Turkey, and military officials from the two countries sit together in an Intelligence Fusion Cell in Ankara established by the George W. Bush administration to help Turkey fight the group.
    But now, “the U.S. has become the YPG’s air force and the YPG has become the U.S.’s ground force in Syria,” said Henri Barkey, a former State Department analyst on Turkey now at Lehigh University.

    Again, the PKK and the YPG are not really distinct organizations. They are essentially the same. It seems that the U.S. is now helping the Turkish government, which supports the Islamic State, to target Kurdish positions while at the same time giving air support to the same Kurds against the Islamic State.

    Who in Washington came up with such a lunatic policy position and what is the real aim behind it?

    Via -

  4. In the Press TV video the name of General John Allen came up. Go back two weeks and we find this story:

    By AFP | Ankara
    Tuesday, 7 July 2015

    The U.S. special envoy for the coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group was in Ankara on Tuesday to meet Turkish officials, after speculation Turkey could launch a military intervention inside Syria, sources told AFP.

    "General John Allen will hold talks in Ankara today," a Turkish official told AFP on condition of anonymity, adding that the talks were "naturally" expected to focus on the fight against IS.

    Accompanied by U.S. Undersecretary of Defence for Policy Christine Wormuth and military officials, Allen is expected to meet with Feridun Sinirlioglu, the Turkish undersecretary of the foreign ministry as well as military chiefs, the source said.

    Turkey has reinforced its military presence on the volatile border over the past week, deploying tanks and anti-aircraft missiles there as well as additional troops.

    The moves come as fighting between Islamist-led groups and Syrian regime forces in the northern city of Aleppo has intensified.

    The Turkish build-up has led to speculation that the government is planning to intervene in Syria to push the militants back from the border and halt the advance of Kurdish forces who have made gains against the extremists in the area.

    Reports last week said the Turkish military could create a buffer zone dozens of kilometres inside Syrian territory to ensure Turkish security and house some of the 1.8 million Syrian refugees on its territory.

    Last Update: Tuesday, 7 July 2015 KSA 18:28 - GMT 15:28

  5. A prolonged resumption of hostilities between the PKK and Turkish security forces will only further complicate the U.S.-led coalition’s efforts to combat ISIS. This is a very worrying set of events, IMO a real crap shoot. Anything this complex can hardly have a predictable outcome. Since it is the Middle East, the outcome will probably be something worse than the worse-case-scenario.

  6. Deuce, did you accidentally disappear my comment? :)

  7. Something was screwed up with blogger earlier.

  8. Anyways . . . , I was saying, I'm not sure that it's much of a deal, in either direction; except that airbase will come in handy when the Iraqis turn their attention to Mosul, and points north.

  9. I think I know what happened. I double posted a comment and deleted one of them. Maybe yours was attached.

    1. sure, sure, that's it. :)

      (it wasn't much of a comment, in any case.)

  10. I am more suspicious. I think it is very reckless and more consequential. The Turks put 5000 police on the street to arrest “terrorists”. So far they have arrested close to 1000.

    1. Oh, I imagine you're right. But, those PKK camps are, I think, up on the Turkish Border, and as a result, I don't think those particular Kurds are having much to do with the ISIS fight.

      All that being said, of course, you'd have to be certifiable to "trust" the Turks (but, that is pretty much SOP for the region, right?)

  11. I’m supposed to go to Turkey in three weeks.

  12. Was planning to visit a factory with some colleagues from Belgium. Obviously, I won’t be going to the beach. I think Ill save that for Greece.

  13. It is probably no worse than seeing a movie in Louisiana, driving in Texas or going to church in South Carolina.

    1. :) Yeah, but in the latter cases, at least your family will probably get your body back.

      (Just stay out of Mississippi - return of bodily remains is somewhat optional south of Greenville.) :)

  14. I spent the best part of a year in Biloxi. I never got further north than Hattiesburg. Some sweet young thing who was going to college in Gulfport took me there. She returned me to Bloxi.

    1. When we all arrived in Ms to take advantage of the newly opened poker rooms we were amazed at how cute all the little cocktail waitresses were, and how every damned one of them had two, or three, kids. :)

  15. From the "for what it's worth" dept:

    BAGHDAD: Iraqi government forces recaptured a university campus Sunday on the outskirts of Ramadi from the Islamic State group, seizing a key position for any offensive to retake the city, officials said.

    Iraqi forces had recaptured parts of Anbar University in May, shortly after losing the provincial capital to the jihadists, but later pulled back.

    The university was retaken by elite forces from Iraq's Counter Terrorism Service (CTS), known as the "Golden Brigade".

    Read more at:

    "The Golden Brigade managed to liberate Anbar University with backing from the army as well as air support from the coalition and Iraqi aircraft," Brigadier General Abdelamir al-Khazraji, deputy commander of CTS forces in Anbar, said.

    "Our forces liberated the university early Sunday and now have full control of it, following a week of fierce clashes," he told AFP.

    "The Iraqi flag is flying above the university presidency once again," he said.

    A statement from CTS sai ..

    Read more at:


  16. Something really pathetic that was done in our name by The Neocon forces and George Bush:

    Al-Anbar University was established on 1987 according to resolution No. 951 on December 23, 1987 in order to expand higher education sector in Iraq. The University celebrates annually its foundation day, the University and its faculties accustomed to hold different scientific, cultural and sport activities, show decoration aspects and commemorate the innovative and distinguished personnel of the University. The University foundation aims to establish a civilized scientific Forum that contributes to prepare a specialized scientific staff to play their active role in building and developing modern Iraqi renaissance and to provide education opportunities for Iraqis who will take their leading role in the society then to prepare futures generation for better living standard.
    On foundation, the University had comprised two faculties (education, female education) then the University expanded to have (16) facilities on 2006-2007 with different scientific sections.
    The University Headquarters: Al-Anbar province-Ramadi city-Republic of Iraq
    P.O.Box: 55431 Baghdad-Iraq
    Fax: 8178849

  17. Iraq was a normal Middle East Society. It was Iraq, not the UK, not the US but a country not unlike the majority of countries in The Middle East, Africa, Asia and in some parts of the Americas. We totally wrecked it. Why can’t we mind our own business? Who are we to do what we do to countries and societies that we do not understand?

    The news about driving ISIS from Anbar University. How did ISIS get there and what was it like before we destroyed Iraq?

    1. The blurb about Anbar University could be about a university in Kansas. What is it today? How did it get there?

  18. Who are we to fuck up one country after another?

    1. Okay; I got it. I just couldn't figure out where you were coming from.

  19. And the scum can’t wait to try do it to Iran.

    1. Iran calls for the death of israel and the death of America.

      Why are you so loyal to Iran?

  20. After the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, US influence in the world has never recovered. George Bush and his Neocons wrecked the repairs that were accomplished since the fall of Viet Nam. Now the GOP is fielding a swill of candidates that are all gungho to go after Iran.

  21. The United States and its allies made 20 air strikes against Islamic State in Iraq on Saturday, with targets near Ramadi bearing the brunt of the attacks, the military said on Sunday.

    Five strikes near Ramadi hit tactical units, tanks and an armored personnel carrier for the militant group while also destroying an Islamic State road block, building, two structures, a mortar position and another armored personnel carrier, according to the Combined Joint Task Force. Four strikes hit Islamic State staging areas near Tuz as well.

    The coalition also launched 13 air strikes in Syria, with five near Kobani hitting Islamic State tactical units and destroying fighting positions, the statement said.

    Another 100 Daid Headcutters, more or less

  22. Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee this weekend escalated the rhetoric over President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, saying that the pending agreement “will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.”

    1. I hate these war-loving obstructionist bastards. The Republican Party has become a dangerous menace to the world.

    2. Huckabee touts the hyperbole of a demagogue and the ethics of a grifter.

    3. It's true...

      Iran, this week, has committed it's self to the destruction of the Jewish state.

  23. Trump has 21% in New Hamphshire and leads , Huckabee has 3% at the bottom .

  24. Not only is Hillary consistently beating all the Republicans, but in the latest CNN poll, Bernie Sanders is, also.

  25. The truly stupid GOP believes that their siding with Netanyahu and breaking the Iranian deal is a winner for them. They really are the dumbest political party of all time and in for one hell of a shock.

  26. Turkey’s new “war on terror” mainly targeting Kurds

    What was at first announced as a new Turkish turn toward attacks on Daesh (ISIS, ISIL) on Friday has quickly become largely a campaign against Kurds instead. It is being alleged that the Turkish Air Force launched dozens of strikes against bases of the Kurdistan Workers Party over the border in Iraq on Saturday, and just 4 against Daesh positions in Syria.

    What is weird about the Turkish campaign against the Kurdish forces is that they have been the only really effective fighters against Daesh with the exception of Shiite militias in Iraq. If you were going to launch a campaign against Daesh, would you do it by damaging Daesh’s most effective foe on the ground?
    Early on Sunday Turkish police in the capital of Ankara dispersed hundreds of Kurdish activists who gathered to protest the bombardments, and arrested 25. the headlines say something about the protesters not wanting the campaign against Daesh, but these were mostly Kurds and they weren’t demonstrating in favor of the beheaders. Turkey’s twin campaign has a propaganda element that the press is sometimes falling for.
    Some 550 persons have been detained by Turkish police, including a prominent Salafi preacher suspected of ties to Daesh/ ISIL. But Kurdish activists maintain that a large number of the arrestees are not Daesh at all but just Kurdish Turks. In other words, the AKP government is taking advantage of its alleged turn against Daesh actually to crack down on the Kurds instead.

    The PKK had had a truce with the Turkish government since 2013, but a PKK spokesman said Saturday that the truce, and any peace process are at an end given the bombing campaign Ankara launched against them.
    The US and Turkey consider the PKK a terrorist organization, and in the past it has been extremely violent. In the 1980s and after some 30,000 persons died in southeastern Turkey in a dirty war between the PKK guerrillas and the Turkish army. Some 20% of Turkey’s 75 million people are ethnic Kurds, who mainly live in the hardscrabble southeast of the country. Very few Kurdish Turks are separatists, but Ankara is obsessed with the danger that they might turn in a secessionist direction, encouraged by moves toward autonomy of Kurds in Syria (Rojava) and in northern Iraq (the Kurdistan Regional Government).
    The PKK seemed a spent force 15 years ago, but the Bush invasion and occupation of Iraq destroyed that country’s security and some 5000 PKK commandos fled Turkey to camps on the Iraqi side of the border.
    The pro-Kurdish left of center Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which has 13 percent of seats in the Turkish parliament, complained that
    “It is unacceptable for [Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan] and the Justice and Development Party [AKP] to make their war on the Kurdish people part of their war on Daesh.”


    1. The turn of Kurdish Turks to parliamentary politics and their entry into parliament in the recent elections could have formed a basis for improved Turkish-Kurdish relations. Instead, the Islamically-tinged AKP seems to have seen this development as a threat and appears to want to polarize the country so as to weaken and isolate the Kurds.
      The HDP believes that the bombardment of PKK positions is an electoral ploy intended to whip up nationalist Turkish fervor in case there are snap elections because Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu of the center-right ruling Justice and Development Party could not put together a coalition with another party.
      In Iraqi Kurdistan, the bombings put KRG President Massoud Barzani in a bind. He had sought better relations with Ankara after the rise of Daesh, Salafi Arab organization that relentlessly attacks Kurds. People are accusing him of letting Turkey bomb Kurdish territory, and President Erdogan said after a phone call with Barzani that the Kurdistan Regional Government leader approved of the bombardment of PKK positions. Barzani himself denied saying any such thing and he demanded that Turkey stop its aerial bombardment immediately. Barzani’s forces, the Peshmerga, and the PKK fighters had not gotten along until last summer, when they united against the depredations of Daesh. Barzani’s government is center-right whereas the PKK are leftists and former Communists.
      The HDP theory is that Erdogan is doing all this to win the next parliamentary elections which could come as early as four months from now if coalition talks between the AKP and its rival, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) fail. I don’t know if that is true. I can’t actually see how AKP could improve its fortunes by mobilizing Turkish Kurds. Maybe AKP leaders are convinced they lost the last election, or didn’t get 51% of seats, because of low turnout among ethnic Turks?
      In any case, sensible analysts agree that Erdogan’s decision to ruin the truce with the PKK is a fateful one, and that it could throw Turkey into disarray.


  27. A senior Western official claimed that information gathered at the compound of Abu Sayyaf, the individual responsible for oil smuggling operations on behalf of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) who was killed in a US commando operation a few months ago, points to high-level contacts between Turkish officials and leading ISIL members, the Guardian newspaper in the UK has recently reported.

    While they had given voice to some resentment and mild criticism of Turkey's much-questioned approach against ISIL, until very recently, Western officials had refrained from directly criticizing Turkish decision makers. The recent revelation appears to be the first public criticism of Turkey's approach and could complicate Ankara's relations with its Western allies.
    Turkey, which entered the fray against ISIL after two years of reluctance to take an active part in the international coalition against the militant group, had faced charges of ignoring, if not openly facilitating, militants' border crossings to join ISIL in Syria. Ankara's refutations of such accusations seemingly fall short of convincing its Western allies, and the Guardian report will likely fuel underlying questions about ISIL's links with Turkey.
    "In the wake of the raid that killed Abu Sayyaf, suspicions of an undeclared alliance have hardened," the Guardian report said.
    One senior Western official familiar with the intelligence found at the compound told the Guardian that "direct dealings between Turkish officials and ranking Isis [ISIL] members was now ‘undeniable.'”
    The Guardian report continues: “'There are hundreds of flash drives and documents that were seized there,' the official told the Observer. ‘They are being analyzed at the moment, but the links are already so clear that they could end up having profound policy implications for the relationship between us and Ankara.'”
    With Turkey now striking ISIL targets in Syria after a bomb attack suspected to have been carried out by a militant killed 32 in the southern Turkish town of Suruç near the Syrian border and the killing of a soldier on the border, Ankara may have earned loud praise and strong support among its Western allies.
    But questions and charges of tacit cooperation with the militant group over the past two years will, especially after the discovery of new information at Abu Sayyaf’s compound, overshadow today's efforts and haunt Ankara's ties with the West in years to come.

  28. It is looking more and more that Turkey is more interested in attacking Kurds in Iraq than ISIS.

  29. The truth is simple. Iran is committed to the destruction of Israel. Giving Iran 100-150 billion dollars (of their frozen assets) and unlocking a 20 billion dollar a year petrol industry will give the Islamic State a huge pile of cash to finance it's terror networks.

    Many sanctions that froze those assets had nothing to do with their nuclear ambitions.

    It's fool hardly to discount Iran's own (recent) words that the nuclear deal will not deter Iran from funding and supporting many in the region committed to the total destruction of the jewish state.

    If you disagree? You are lying to yourself.

  30. Press TV has conducted an interview with Mike Gravel, former US democratic senator from San Francisco, for his take on Israel’s anger over the conclusion of nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 countries.

    The following is a rough transcription of the interview.

    Press TV: How surprised should we be or not that the Israelis are this angry?

    Gravel: I’m not surprised at all. They’ve been opposed to this all along. You got to to keep in mind that a big lie about Iran seeking a nuclear weapon started with Netanyahu and the AIPAC in the United States controlling our Congress. I applaud the agreement but I truly cherish the statement made by the ..of Iran, where he said, we finally negotiated an agreement to end the search for a weapon that Iran has never sought to bring about. And that’s been two decades, where Iran has been discriminated against because of Israel’s influence on the American Congress in this regard. And so, one I applaud that the agreement was reached, it’s a little bit ridiculous and ironic that …Israel and the American Congress have never accepted the fact that two fatwas from Ayatollah Khomeini and [Ayatollah] Khamenei have said they do not believe in the use of weapons of mass destruction and that’s never been accepted. In addition to that there is no evidence from any of the intelligence communities including the Mossad, the Jewish intelligence community, that there is any effort on the part of Iran to seek a nuclear weapon.

    Press TV: Some wondering at this point, what kind of an obstacle can Israel create through either the US Congress or otherwise?

    Gravel: Well, through the Congress is the only way that they can affect. I think that they’re discredited. In fact, you’re going to see the opposition of Netanyahu making an effort to depossess him of his prime ministership. With respect to the Congress, I think that would be a lot of foiling around, but Obama has said, he would veto anything that would pose an impediment by the Congress. And I don’t think they would have the votes to overwrite that veto. But as far as the Congress is concerned, it’s an embarrassment for the Americans to admit that the Congress is controlled by a foreign government through the offices of AIPAC in the Jewish American community.

    1. Iran is working on a bomb. To suggest otherwise is delusional.

      It's quite simple.

      The distraction of your slander accusing Jews of being foreign agents?


    2. It is only slander if it is untrue.

  31. Turkey and the United States have agreed on the outlines of a de facto “safe zone” along the Turkey-Syria border under the terms of a deal that is expected to significantly increase the scope and pace of the U.S.-led air war against the Islamic State in northern Syria, according to U.S. and Turkish officials.

    The agreement includes a plan to drive the Islamic State out of a 68-mile-long area west of the Euphrates River and reaching into the province of Aleppo that would then come under the control of the Syrian opposition. If fully implemented, it would also bring American planes in regular, close proximity to bases, aircraft and air defenses operated by the Syrian government, and directly benefit opposition rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

    Operations in the targeted area would stop short of meeting long-standing Turkish demands for a full-scale, declared no-fly zone, but the area could eventually become a protected haven for some of the estimated 2­ million Syrian civilians who have fled to Turkey.

    The first word of the agreement came last week, when Turkey said it had agreed to allow armed U.S. aircraft to fly out of its base at Incirlik. Turkish jets have begun flying missions into northern Syria.

    1. Additional details, including the composition of Syrian opposition forces that are to be inserted on the ground to hold the protected area, are still being worked out, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the evolving operations.

      “When areas in northern Syria are cleared of the [Islamic State] threat, the safe zones will be formed naturally,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told journalists in Ankara on Saturday. “People who have been displaced can be placed in those safe areas.”

      U.S. officials did not dispute the Turkish description and said U.S. and coalition air cover would effectively operate around the clock as Islamic State targets were located. But they said the United States would not officially designate the area — about 40 miles deep into Syria along the 68-mile stretch of border — a protected zone.

      A senior administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said in a statement late Sunday that “any joint military efforts” with Turkey “will not include the imposition of a no-fly zone.”

      “What we are talking about with Turkey is cooperating to support partners on the ground in northern Syria who are countering ISIL,” the statement said. “The goal is to establish an ISIL-free zone and ensure greater security and stability along Turkey’s border with Syria.” ISIL is another term for the Islamic State.

    2. NATO’s secretary general said Sunday that the alliance’s 28 members will hold consultations Tuesday in Brussels in response to a Turkish request that followed a suicide bombing in Turkey last week. The consultations are under NATO’s Article 4, allowing any member to convene a meeting when it believes its territorial integrity or security is threatened.

      NATO deployed Patriot anti-missile batteries to Turkey in ­early 2013, after Turkey charged in Article 4 consultations that its citizens had been killed by Syrian government missiles fired across the border and that Syrian planes had violated its airspace.

      The Obama administration has long resisted establishing Syrian safe zones, protected by U.S. and coalition air power, and has said its air operations would target only the Islamic State. The Pentagon has maintained that targeting regions of western Syria, near where the government is fighting numerous rebel and militant groups, could provoke a clash with Syrian air defenses that are centered in that area.

      Turkey had previously refused use of Incirlik as a base for U.S. air attacks unless the United States agreed to establish a protected zone along the border.

      But several aspects of the conflict have changed for both governments since they first formally discussed the issue late last year.

      [For Turkey and U.S., at odds over Syria, a 60-year alliance falters]

      Assad’s forces have lost considerable ground in the northwest, including in and around Aleppo, Syria’s second-largest city, to a coalition of moderate and non-

      Islamic State militant forces in recent months. At the same time, the Islamic State, driven by ­Kurdish-led forces out of many of its northern strongholds to the east of the Euphrates toward the Iraqi border, began to push westward. The militants now control Syria along the border from the river to a point near the Syrian town of Azaz, north of Aleppo.

    3. Turkey’s change of heart began about six weeks ago, after a push by the Islamic State in May to capture Azaz, the most vital border crossing for U.S.-backed moderate rebels. The offensive was kept at bay, with the belated help of limited U.S. airstrikes. Syrian rebels, who called urgently for air support at the time, complained that convoys of Islamic State soldiers had converged toward their positions without any intervention by coalition warplanes.

      U.S. officials subsequently noted that those Turkish-requested strikes would have been more effective if planes could have flown from Incirlik, about 250 miles away, rather than from a faraway base in Bahrain.

      [This Turkish base could be a game-changer in the war against Islamic State]

      The zone now open for U.S. strikes stretches east from Azaz to Jarablus, on the Euphrates. According to Turkish media accounts, it will extend southward to the town of al-Bab, on the outskirts of Aleppo, but will not include Aleppo itself.

      It was unclear whether the administration has informed the Syrian government of its new operations in the northwest. The U.S. government had indirectly warned Assad not to interfere with U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic State that began in September in northern, central and eastern Syria. But those strikes were not seen as a problem, since the Syrian government had basically ceded those areas to the militants and conducted minimal operations.

      Once the area is cleared, the plan is to give control to as-yet-unidentified moderate Syrian rebel groups. The United States and Turkey have differing interpretations as to which groups can be defined as “moderate.”

      It would then be possible for displaced civilians to find refuge in the area, something that would go a long way toward fulfilling Turkish ambitions for a way to ease the refugee problem in Turkey.

    4. Eliminating the Islamic State from the area under focus would be a major strategic blow to the group, depriving the militants of their last remaining points of access to the outside world. After losing control of the important border crossing of Tal Abyad to Kurdish forces in June, the Islamic State controls only two small crossings, at Jarablus and al-Rai, through which to smuggle foreign fighters. Those border towns are the next priority in the fight against the Islamic State, U.S. and Turkish officials say.

      The speed with which the militants crumbled in Tal Abyad, under withering U.S. airstrikes and little in the way of ground fighting, demonstrated that air power can work against the group, U.S. and Kurdish officials said. Tal Abyad is located east of the Euphrates and the city of Kobane, where Kurdish-led forces, assisted by U.S. airstrikes and Turkish supply lines, drove out the Islamic State early this year.

      The agreement will also shift the dynamics in other parts of northern Syria in ways that will work to Turkey’s advantage. Turkey has watched with alarm as Syrian Kurds have become the beneficiary of U.S. strikes east of the Euphrates.

      “After the capture of Tal Abyad with significant U.S. assistance, the next step would have been the Kurds moving west of the Euphrates and taking this large amount of territory,” said Soner Cagaptay of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

      “This helped accelerate the deal. Now you’re going to see massive aerial bombing in the region, and it will not end up in the hands of Kurds exclusively,” he said.

      The head of the Kurdish group that has been benefiting from the U.S. strikes expressed concern that the plan for the zone would eventually lead to the entry of Turkish troops in the area.

      Saleh Muslim, leader of Syria’s Democratic Union Party (PYD), has frequently accused Turkey of supporting the Islamic State to counter Kurdish influence and said that any Turkish forces entering Syria would be viewed as “invaders.”

      The PYD and its military wing, the YPG, are allied with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), whose bases in Iraq were hit by Turkish airstrikes early Saturday. The PKK wants to establish a Kurdish state in a region that currently encompasses parts of Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran. Both the United States and Turkey have labeled it a terrorist organization.

  32. Paul Krugman: Zombies Against Medicare

    Despite what you might hear from conservatives, Medicare is "eminently sustainable":

    Zombies Against Medicare, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: Medicare turns 50 this week, and it has been a very good half-century. Before the program went into effect, Ronald Reagan warned that it would destroy American freedom; it didn’t, as far as anyone can tell. What it did do was provide a huge improvement in financial security for seniors and their families, and in many cases it has literally been a lifesaver as well.

    But the right has never abandoned its dream of killing the program. So it’s really no surprise that Jeb Bush recently declared that while he wants to let those already on Medicare keep their benefits, “We need to figure out a way to phase out this program for others.” ...

    The ... reason conservatives want to do away with Medicare has always been political: It’s the very idea of the government providing a universal safety net that they hate, and they hate it even more when such programs are successful. But ... they usually shy away from making their real case...

    What Medicare’s would-be killers usually argue, instead, is that the program as we know it is unaffordable — that we must destroy the system in order to save it... And the new system they usually advocate is ... vouchers that can be applied to the purchase of private insurance.

    1. The underlying premise here is that Medicare as we know it is incapable of controlling costs, that only the only way to keep health care affordable going forward is to rely on the magic of privatization.

      Now, this was always a dubious claim. .... In fact, Medicare costs per beneficiary have consistently grown more slowly than private insurance premiums... Indeed, Medicare spending keeps coming in ever further below expectations...

      Right now is, in other words, a very odd time to be going on about the impossibility of preserving Medicare, a program whose finances will be strained by an aging population but no longer look disastrous. One can only guess that Mr. Bush is unaware of all this, that he’s living inside the conservative information bubble, whose impervious shield blocks all positive news about health reform.

      Meanwhile, what the rest of us need to know is that Medicare at 50 still looks very good. It needs to keep working on costs, it will need some additional resources, but it looks eminently sustainable. The only real threat it faces is that of attack by right-wing zombies.

      Economist's View

  33. .

    Drip. Drip. Drip.

    It was just a matter of time before the US, in support of the 60 moderate militants we've trained to take on ISIS and other radical Islamic groups in Syria, came into conflict with Assad. It was predicted.

    Reason #2 the US should have never entered another conflict in the ME.

    You will recall that reason #1 was that we have proven ourselves incompetent in these type of interventions.


  34. Time for a new Casualty Report:

    U.S. Killed in Action - 0

    U.S. Wounded in Action - 0

    U.S. Missing in Action - 0

    1. Cost to Treasury to date: approx. 0.0001 of GDP

    2. $1.00 for every $10,000.00 of GDP

      Not exactly "breaking the bank."

    3. So, my question is: What would the ME look like, today, if we hadn't stepped in and helped against ISIS?

    4. Complete and total domination by the Shiites of Iran, instead of 360,000 dead in syria and 11 million refugees, and 550,000 dead in Iraq? (and untold homeless)

      We'd have even more deaths by the Iranians, Hezbollah and Assad....

      Makes you all warm and fuzzy KNOWING we are suppressing a violent group of thugs/savages so that a even more violent group of thugs and savages can really kill more...

    5. Rufus IIMon Jul 27, 10:13:00 AM EDT
      Time for a new Casualty Report:
      U.S. Killed in Action - 0
      U.S. Wounded in Action - 0
      U.S. Missing in Action - 0

      How many women and kids killed? Oh that doesn't count when it's not Israel doing the fighting?

  35. .

    So, my question is: What would the ME look like, today, if we hadn't stepped in and helped against ISIS?

    I suspect not much different than it is today.


    1. Complete and total domination by the Shiites of Iran, instead of 360,000 dead in syria and 11 million refugees, and 550,000 dead in Iraq? (and untold homeless)

      We'd have even more deaths by the Iranians, Hezbollah and Assad....

      Makes you all warm and fuzzy KNOWING we are suppressing a violent group of thugs/savages so that a even more violent group of thugs and savages can really kill more...

    2. .

      A bit fixated there ain't you, son?

      Next you'll be blaming Iran for global warming.


  36. Here is how the Lobby manipulates and controls the spineless bastards in the US Congress:

    Israel Controls Congress
    How the Israel Lobby Set Congressman, Beto O’Rourke Right

    What Happens When Freshman Lawmaker Misses the Memo

    By Nathan Guttman

    November 12, 2014 "ICH" - "The Forward"- It took only one wrong vote to teach a freshman Democrat from Texas how sensitive, and even wrathful, the Jewish community can be when it comes to Israel.
    But the real story of what happened to Rep. Beto O’Rourke did not stop with the angry reaction he got when he cast one of only eight votes in Congress against special funding for Israel’s Iron Dome rocket defense system during the recent Gaza war.

    What is notable is how quickly the carrot followed the stick.

    It was almost a textbook case of how the establishment pro-Israel lobby works its magic — and a story not yet completed in early September, when The New Yorker magazine took note of what had happened to O’Rourke.

    In an in-depth report on the work of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the large Washington-based lobby, during the Gaza war, New Yorker writer Connie Bruck recounted the blasts that rained down on the El Paso congressman following his vote.

    The reactions, as Bruck reported, included a mass email blast labeling O’Rourke as “an anti-Israel congressman” and denouncing his vote as “shameful.” Critical local press coverage included a public comment by one of his own Jewish donors to the El Paso Times that in voting as he did, O’Rourke “chooses to side with the rocket launchers and terror tunnel builders” of Hamas.

    But since then, behind the scenes, what has followed is a long process of mutual outreach and hours of hashing out differences, until the final act, which is now in the works: an El Al flight to Tel Aviv on the pro-Israel lobby’s dime.

    “He’s a good guy, but he didn’t know how the Jewish community would react,” said Daniel Cheifec, executive director of the Jewish Federation of El Paso. “Now he knows that this community is not going to be very happy if he screws up again.”

    O’Rourke, in fact, had no prior record of criticizing or voting against Israel. He did not even oppose more funding for the Iron Dome system. He only opposed rushing through the large appropriation with no debate as members of Congress were hurrying home for the summer recess when a more considered vote to boost the program was coming in October.

    Israel, which receives more than $3.6 billion per year in various forms of aid from Washington, is already the single largest recipient of American largesse. But the August 1 House vote appropriating $225 million to Israel above and beyond its usual aid was meant to allow the Jewish state to restock on Iron Dome interceptors that had proved effective in countering Hamas rocket attacks into the country.

    Congressional leaders squeezed the vote into the legislative schedule just as members were packing up to leave for their summer recess. The overwhelming support of 395 representatives with only eight voting against was not unusual for a pro-Israel piece of legislation, especially one that deals with military assistance at a time of war.


    1. {...}

      “I really don’t understand how he makes his decision,” Rabbi Stephen Leon of Congregation B’Nai Zion, a local synagogue, told the El Paso Times even before The New Yorker piece picked up on the pushback. “It’s a great, great disappointment to the Jewish community here. We had meetings with him prior, to talk to him about the importance of Israel, and the way he voted makes very little sense.”

      El Paso, a city with a 70% Hispanic majority, has a relatively small Jewish community, estimated at 4,000, amid a population of some 862,000. But Jews are well represented on O’Rourke’s donor list, with local businessman Stephen L. Feinberg among the top contributors to his campaign.

      O’Rourke, in a Facebook posting, tried to explain his vote. “I could not in good conscience vote for borrowing $225 million more to send to Israel, without debate and without discussion, in the midst of a war that has cost more than a thousand civilian lives already, too many of them children,” he wrote. He also stressed that with an aid package for Israel up for a vote in two months, he felt no need to rush more spending without adequate debate when Congress was all but empty.

      To members of the Jewish community who later spoke with him, O’Rourke also explained that he was one of the last to vote in the roll call, at a point at which it was clear the bill was cruising toward passage. He consequently felt free to cast a vote on principle, knowing it would not impact the final outcome. O’Rourke believes that every appropriation should be properly debated.

      Veteran Democrat Jim Moran of Virginia, who is known for refusing to vote along the lines of the pro-Israel lobby, tried to warn O’Rourke. “I tried to find him on the floor, but I couldn’t,” he told The New Yorker. “I’m afraid he may have a tough race in November.”

      At O’Rourke’s office, emails flooded his inbox. The El Paso Jewish federation sent out an alert to members, urging them to take action. It contained O’Rourke’s contact information and a suggested sample letter. Another email, for which no one will now take responsibility, circulated among Jewish activists urging supporters not to re-elect him.

      This threat is all but empty, since O’Rourke faces no real challenge in his strongly Democratic district.

      Beto (short for Robert) O’Rourke, 41, is a fourth-generation El Paso native who started off his career in a teenage rock band. He studied at Columbia University and returned to his hometown, where he ran for city council before moving on to the national scene. His political focus has been on immigration and veteran affairs, two key issues for a border town that hosts a large army base. But he won more recognition for his call to legalize marijuana, an uncommon voice in the state of Texas. Foreign policy has never been a top priority.

      Hours after the controversial vote, O’Rourke launched a damage-control campaign that proved to be effective. He reached out to Jewish donors and friends who were more than happy to start the healing process.


    2. {...}
      A meeting was arranged with a group of 10 pro-Israel local leaders, including key members of AIPAC, along with heads of the local synagogues and of the Jewish federation. “We didn’t ask him to apologize for his vote,” Stuart Schwartz, a former county commissioner and longtime AIPAC supporter, told the Forward. “He is a very principled man, and he believed that his vote was justified under these circumstances.” It was Schwartz who earlier denounced him for having sided with “the rocket launchers and terror tunnel builders.”

      “We explained that it was particularly painful for us,” Schwartz added, “and he understood there is a lot of emotion here.”

      After the first meeting came another and then a third one. In between, pro-Israel activists sent O’Rourke articles explaining Israel’s position. O’Rourke also met with the Israeli consul general to the Southwest, Meir Shlomo, and invited federation leaders to meet with him in Washington when they come to the capital for the Jewish federations’ General Assembly in November.

      The talks, participants said, were friendly and open. O’Rourke, they reported, took real interest and noted that his voting record makes clear he had never opposed American aid to Israel. He even doled out an anecdote about some Jewish ancestry in his family. Pro-Israel activists came out satisfied, attributing the vote against Iron Dome to a freshman’s mistake rather than to a pattern of anti-Israel voting. “A bump in the road,” in the words of Schwartz.

      O’Rourke, according to Cheifec, even absorbed some of the pro-Israel activists’ skepticism regarding talks aimed at dismantling Iran’s nuclear capabilities. “He told us he is a lot less optimistic about a diplomatic solution with Iran than he was in our first meeting, and that was only a month and half ago,” he said. “This means he is doing his homework.”

      O’Rourke initially agreed, but then later he declined to be interviewed for this article.

      The final chapter in his run-in with the pro-Israel lobby will be written soon. In the spring, or perhaps even sooner, O’Rourke will join a group of lawmakers going to Israel on a trip arranged by an AIPAC-affiliated organization.

      “We’re very pleased he will be setting aside time to visit Israel,” Schwartz said.

      Contact Nathan Guttman at or on Twitter, @nathanguttman

  37. Deuce highlights the "LOBBY" and it's actions..

    but what? WHO is the "LOBBY"?

    "even wrathful, the Jewish community"

    SO yes virginia, it's the JEWS….

    Deuce, getting more and more open and hostile to jews…

    1. Not one "israeli" mentioned…

      Just Jews lobbying Congress as their right to do so, just like every other American citizen is encouraged to do..

    2. I am hostile to any group that wants to take this country to war for the perceived benefit of a foreign power that has never done anything for the USA.

      I am hostile to a US Congress who places US interests behind a foreign power for their perceived political gain.

      I am hostile to a depraved politician that disrespects a sitting US president and is rewarded by a sitting US Congress.

      I am hostile to a minority sect of a religious cult that believes a US war is in the interest in their pathetic version of a make believe god, be they Christian, Jew or Muslim.

      I am hostile to a corrupt political system.

    3. Funny list.

      Shame that you missed: "I am hostile to Jews, Zionists and Israel."

    4. .

      Just Jews lobbying Congress as their right to do so, just like every other American citizen is encouraged to do..

      There is a difference.

      AARP lobbies but they lobby for elderly 'Americans'.

      NRA is primarily concerned with 'American' gun rights.

      AFSCME and the AFT lobby for 'American' workers.

      AIPAC lobbies for Israeli interests. It is their raison d'etre.


    5. There is no litmus test on the topic of lobby.

      Greeks do it, Russians and Italians do it, Catholics and Africans do it...

      But the Jews do it?

      It's criminal

    6. .

      Not criminal. AIPAC should just register under FARA. IMO, of course.

      I've been through their website a number of times (started going because you insisted I knew nothing about AIPAC). The initiatives and programs designed to benefit American Jews are few and far between. Go to their website today. Every topic, every video, every appeal is a push to support the Israeli government's position on the Iran deal and/or talking about what a great lobbying job they are doing. Not much else.

      Didn't see any articles talking about American Jews per se. No talk about trends in the the Jewish community, nothing on demographics, no studies on issues uniquely affecting Jews, no recipes, zip. Merely, appeals for money and support for AIPAC and more specifically Israel.


  38. From: Tom Jensen, Director of Public Policy Polling
    To: Interested Parties

    Subject: Americans Strongly In Favor of Iran Deal
    Date: 7-27-15

    A new Public Policy Polling survey finds that there’s strong support nationally for the Iran deal,
    that voters want their members of Congress to let it move forward, and that there’s no potential
    political backlash for members who do support the deal.

    Key findings from the survey include:

    -Only 38% of voters are opposed to the Iran deal, compared to 54% who are supportive of it.

    Democratic voters (75/17) are far more united in their favor for the agreement than Republicans
    (36/54) are in their opposition to it. Voters within every gender, race, and age group are in
    support of it, reflecting the broad based mandate for the deal.

    -Similarly 54% of voters want their members of Congress to vote to allow the agreement to move
    forward, compared to just 39% who would like to see it blocked. There is very little public
    sentiment to let the deal fail and then see how things play out from there
    - voters want to see their
    elected officials move this along.

    -There are basically no potential repercussions politically for members of Congress who do vote
    in support of the agreement. 60% of Americans say that if their members vote for it, they will be
    either more likely to vote for them in the future or it won’t make a difference either way in their
    future voting. Fully 79% of Democrats said they’d be more likely to support their members in the
    future or it wouldn’t make a difference. Just 36% of overall voters say they’ll be less likely down
    the line to vote for a member who supports the Iran agreement.

    The message is clear: voters think the Iran deal is a good one for the country, they want Congress
    to move it along, and if anything they’ll reward elected officials in the future who throw their
    support behind the agreement. It’s a winner politically.

    Public Policy Polling surveyed 730 registered voters on July 23rd and 24th on behalf of
    Americans United For Change. The survey’s margin of error is +/-3.6%.


  39. The Disappearing Entitlements Crisis

    July 26, 2015 2:35 pm July 26, 2015 2:35 pm

    A few years back elite policy discourse in the United States was totally dominated by the supposed entitlements crisis. Serious people all assured each other that history’s greatest menace was the threat posed by the unstoppable growth of Medicaremedicaidandsocialsecurity, which could only be tamed by dismantling the legacy of the New Deal and the Great Society, while of course cutting top marginal tax rates.

    A few of us argued, however, not just that it was foolish to worry about long-run budget issues in a time of depression and zero interest rates, but that the long run fiscal problems weren’t really that intractable. I used to say that all we needed were death panels and sales taxes — that if we got serious about cost control on health care, the rise in entitlement spending due to an aging population would shrink to a level that could be covered by moderate increases in revenue, meaning that no fundamental dismantling of the welfare state was necessary.

    Sure enough, health spending began moderating after the passage of the ACA — and as Bruce Webb points out, if you believe the reports of the Social Security and Medicare trustees, we’re basically already there.

    In 2009 the Trustees projected a gigantic rise in Medicare spending, which was obviously unsupportable (although Social Security never looked like a big problem).

    Chart: the view from 2009

    But in the most recent report most of that projected rise has gone away.

    Chart: the view in 2015

    1. Bear in mind that the current US budget deficit is below the level at which the debt/GDP ratio can be stabilized, in other words poses no problem. Looking forward, population aging will expand that deficit by a few percent of GDP, but that’s well within the range that could be closed with moderate tax hikes, cuts in pointless military spending, etc.. Nor is there a big rush: nothing terrible will happen if we don’t immediately decide how we’ll pay for projected benefits in the year 2050.

      The truth is that there never was an entitlements crisis. But now there isn’t even an excuse for pretending that such a crisis exists. I know that a large part of the commentariat is professionally and personally invested in fiscal crisis rhetoric — admitting that it’s no longer relevant would suggest that they have, all along, been silly rather than Serious. But next time you see someone solemnly intoning that we must destroy Medicare to save it, remember that there is no there there.

      The Disappearing Entitlements Crisis

    2. .

      Said the grasshopper to the ant.



  40. A guy named David Waldman:

    "Did I hear that right? Party of Lincoln wants guns in theaters?"