“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."

Thursday, December 24, 2015

You Have Never Heard This Christmas Story Before: Peace on Earth and Peace and Health To You All

Would Syrian Refugee Baby Jesus be allowed to immigrate to the US?

By Juan Cole | Dec. 24, 2015 |

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

In this political season in which Syrian refugees have become a political football, it is worthwhile remembering that baby Jesus is depicted by the Bible as being a Syrian political refugee not once but twice.

In ancient times, “Syria” referred not to the area of the modern country but to the entire Levant– Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine and Israel. Scholars sometimes call it greater Syria.”
So given that convention, outsiders in places like Alexandria, Egypt, would have considered Joseph, Mary and Jesus to be Syrians. That is, geographical conceptions such as Judah, Galilee, and Roman Judea, would all have been hyponyms or specific places within greater Syria, which was the hypernym. In 135 AD, Roman Judea and Roman Syria were merged administratively into one province called Syria.

The wise men or magi from the East and Jesus in the manger are staples of Christmas celebrations. (Matthew does not say there were three wise men, and early Syrian tradition held that there were 12 of them). Actually, however many there were, the wise men caused baby Jesus a very great deal of trouble.

Magi were the priests of the Zoroastrian or Parsi religion of ancient Iran. Iranian religions like Zoroastrianism and Mithraism were present in the Near East. In fact, the Iranian Parthian Empire (250 BC-220 AD), stretching from Afghanistan to Mesopotamia, had taken the the Near East and greater Syria away from Rome briefly for a couple of years some 33 years before Jesus was born. In that couple of years, the Iranians deposed the Rome-appointed local governor, Herod the Great, who fled to Rome, and the Iranians installed the Hasmonean, Antigonus, son of Aristobulus II, as their governor.

Herod intrigued with Mark Antony, who was planning a counter-offensive, and offered him a bribe, and talked up the Persian threat, so that the Roman senate appointed him king over the territory when Mark Antony took it back. Herod played the same Iran card with the Roman Senate that Binyamin Netanyahu now plays with the US Congress.

But once back in power, Herod also did diplomacy with the Iranians fearing that they might come back.

Iranian religious currents that stayed behind in Greater Syria carried a prophecy of the ancient Iranian prophet Zoroaster in the Zend Avesta, a book of scripture:
“You, my children, shall be the first honored by the manifestation of that divine person who is to appear in the world: a star shall go before you to conduct you to the place of his nativity; and when you shall find him, present to him your oblations and sacrifices; for he is indeed your lord and an everlasting king.”

So Zoroaster predicted that following a star would lead his priests to a nativity scene, where they would find the world-savior, which they would have called Saoshyant.

Oh, no, Iranian religious leaders spreading their religious ideology in Syria! Alert the Republican National Committee!

The delegation of wise men from Iran appear to have met with Herod before they went off wandering around looking for the savior. Herod tried to keep good diplomatic relations with the neighboring Parthian Empire, still strong in what is now Iraq, explaining why he might have given the priests safe passage.

In any case, an Iranian invasion had deposed Herod once, and he would have been very nervous about Iranian priests spreading end-of-days talk about the rise of an everlasting king. You just have to read the Qumran scrolls to see that some Jewish sects would have been primed for this Iranian message. According to Matthew, their millenarianism got back to Herod.

He says that the magi were instructed in a dream not to go back for an audience with Herod after he had been angered by their prophecy, and so they departed directly “to their own country, by another way.” I.e. they sneaked back to Iran, avoiding Herod’s guards.

Herod, having heard the Zoroastrian prophecy that the Saoshyant or eternal monarch had just been born, took it literally and was afraid that on reaching adolescence an Iranian-inspired boy-king would dethrone him, just as the Parthian emperor had in 39 BC at the beginning of his career. So he announced he would kill all boy babies 2 years old or less.

Matthew says that an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and warned him and his family to decamp.

So the flight to Egypt of the holy family was the migration of Syrian refugees from a combination of religious and political persecution. A blanket killing of boy babies is what we would now call a war crime, and Jesus was directly targeted. Like little Aylan Kurdi, who washed up dead on a Turkish beach, he was forced by a violent regime out of his home, to seek refuge in another country. Unlike Aylan, baby Jesus survived the journey to Egypt.

The biggest Jewish community in Roman Egypt at that time was in Alexandria, and I have long felt that was where the holy family were likely given asylum. Jesus was probably born around 6 or 5 BC, so Egypt would have been governed by Gaius Turranius. Jews in Alexandria had been given their own quarter and originally had been made equal to Greeks by the Seleucids, but there were tensions between those two communities, and both had tensions with the native Egyptians.

Greeks considered Jews to be “atheists” because they rejected the pantheon of gods. Just a little over thirty years before Jesus was born, the Alexandrian Jews had been demoted from being citizens of Alexandria to being just Egyptians. The best status was to be a Roman citizen (as Saul/ St. Paul was), but you couldn’t become a Roman citizen without first being an Alexandrian citizen. The Romans thus abruptly took away from Jews the urban citizenship status they had had since the city was founded by Alexander the Great. In 38 BC there was a riot over these issues between the Greeks and the Jews.

(The US Congress has just made Iranian-Americans, Iraqi-Americans and some other ethnicities with dual citizenship second-class citizens by insisting that these citizens of the USA get visas back to the US if they visit Iran or Iraq. Just because you think you are a citizen with full rights doesn’t mean that you will remain that way. Franco took citizenship away from millions of Spanish leftists, and the Bolsheviks took citizenship away from millions of White Russians).

The holy family was probably refugees for just one or two years in Egypt. If they weren’t in Alexandria, they would have been considered “Egyptians” by the Roman authorities, a low status. If they made it to Alexandria, they would have had more rights, but they likely suffered from not having the same religion as the Greek and Roman elite. The Egyptian polytheists, who still worshiped Horus and Anubis, wouldn’t have appreciated foreign “atheists,” either.

Joseph was a tektōn (τέκτων), a builder or some say carpenter. If a builder he would have looked for day work, maybe working with stone. There would have been no work for a carpenter in Egypt at all. Egypt doesn’t have trees suitable for woodworking, just palms. Wood has long been imported from Lebanon for the elite, which had cedars. (To this day I have seen Egyptian newlyweds given big wooden dresser drawers, an extremely expensive imported gift, meant to last a lifetime). So it is possible that the holy family was reduced to penury and living on handouts, far from the trees of the Levant that supplied wood for carpentry. They might have been hungry. As they fled through Sinai to Egypt, they would have been thirsty. If Joseph could get no work for a year or two, their clothes might have gotten threadbare or even fallen off their bodies. They may have had to beg.

In 4 BC, Herod the Great died.

Matthew says, “But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.”

First, the holy family tried to go to Judah in the north, but Herod’s son Archelaus was ruling there as a tyrant, so they had to flee Judah, too.

That was when the three of them went to Nazareth in the Galilee, which wasn’t in the territory of Archelaus but in that of Herod Antipas. (This ruler later executed John the Baptist for denouncing his marriage to his niece as incestuous, so the holy family’s hope they would be safe under him was misplaced).

So the toddler Jesus got to be a Nazarene because of having been a Syrian refugee twice, once from Herod the Great in Egypt, and once from Archelaus in Judah.

The toddler Syrian refugee would later say,
“31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ ”

Maybe when they were refugees in Egypt, Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus were hungry and thirsty, or lacked proper clothing, having had to flee their homeland abruptly. Maybe Jesus grew up hearing those stories about the Syrian refugees.

There are politicians arguing that Syrian refugees should not be admitted to the United States, even though the US has taken in 750,000 refugees since 2001, and only a handful have gotten into security-related trouble.

Jeb Bush said that only Christian Syrian refugees should be let in.

These American, Christian politicians would not have admitted the holy family when they fled Herod the Great. They were Jews and that was before Christianity. So they were non-Christian Syrian refugees. Out of luck.

Here is the rest of what the Syrian refugee said in Matthew 25:

41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Maybe they should chisel it above the Capitol building.


  1. Well, really, you know, it's a little hard to credit historically and fully the story of Herod and the Slaughter of the Innocents. Not that Herod was a nice guy, but the story's analogue in 'the old Testament' is Pharoah and the escape from Egypt of the Israelites, it being a ping-pong match between 'the old Testament and the New', so to speak, the themes bouncing back and forth.

    There is very little in the Synoptic Gospels, and somewhat in John too, that can't be searched out somewhere in the Jewish writings.

    I am writing a Merry Christmas E-mail to my Hindu Niece, wishing her a Merry Hindu/Christmas, as I've formed the opinion that Christianity is the world's old monomyth in, this time, a Christian dress, (Matthew 4 1-17 in micro), first put to writing by the Hindus, migrating hence to the Egypt of the Pyramids, as they told themselves, 'in the form of a White Bull, from the East', that is to say from India, existing long before in oral traditions. Black Elks Speaks is an example of this at the very end of the experience of our North American paleolithic hunter/gatherer/fishing cultures, pushed out, finally, as in every other corner of the earth, by the farmers, and, due to them, the city builders.

    This old process is still ongoing today in remote areas of the Brazilian rain forests.

    Merry monomythian Hindu/Christmas to all !

    Especially to our Resident Mocker, Rufus ben Mississippi, who is loved too, as we know, by Jesus. We are certain of this because of Our Lord's firm habit of hanging out with the women, and the big sinners, perfectly exampled in our day by Ruf, all of whom he loved, we are assuredly told, and he proved it, too, as we are also told, by 'dying for them', that is to say, for Rufus ben Mississippi too, and especially for him, as us all, personally and in toto.

    She, at least, will 'get' this point of view. Though not the stuff about someone dying for our sins, which, she firmly believes, is our own personal responsibility, to live right, and to do well.

    A great truth lies within all of this.

    Massacre of the Innocents, 1565-66 (Giclee Art Print), The Fine Art Masters

  2. I wish for you, all: health, happiness, and peace of mind, and the wisdom to throw off the ancient superstitions that divide you.

    A Merry Christmas (or, Holiday of your choice,) and a Happy New Year.

  3. Well said, and returned.

    I have been watching the progress of Santa on NORAD's Santa Tracker.

    He doesn't seem to have taken off yet, far as I can tell.

    NORAD's Santa Tracker -

    NORAD has been tracking Santa for as long as I can remember. A good thing,
    too. If the militant Moslems, some of whom have jet planes now, and missiles,
    should even dare to try to shoot down Santa, our brave pilot's from the
    North American Air Defense Command shall promptly response, and shoot the
    bastards out of the air ! For ALL the world's children, all Moslem kids included !

  4. I've been thinking Santa's elves need to get Unionized.

    They are up there in the cold north already working on next year's toys.

    They never catch a break.

    All work, no play, shrivels the soul, and body too, it is said.

    That's why they are elves.

    Santa seems a great guy, but he's not the perfect employer.

    Yup, the elves need to get Unionized, and go on strike for once.

    Think of the pressure Santa would under !

    He'd buckle immediately.

    Even The Donald treats his employees better.

  5. I wish for you, all: health, happiness, and peace of mind, and the wisdom to throw off the ancient superstitions that divide you.

    A Merry Christmas (or, Holiday of your choice,) and a Happy New Year.

  6. December 25, 2015

    Poor Muslim banned from Disneyland was self-proclaimed 'Taliban supervisor'

    By Ed Straker

    The liberal media was crying foul when a British Muslim family of ten was suddenly and mysteriously denied permission to travel to America. All they wanted to do was visit Disneyland! The liberal media was crying that this poor Muslim family simply wanted an all-American vacation, and they suffered evil discrimination, simply because they were Muslim!

    At least, that was the story, until today, when it turns out that one of the banned Muslims said in on Facebook that he was a "Taliban supervisor":

    A British Muslim father whose planned Disneyland trip was ruined when he and his family were barred from boarding a flight to the U.S. has now been forced to distance himself from a Facebook account claiming links to Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

    Mohammad Tariq Mahmood, 41, his brother and their children, aged between eight and 19, said they were stopped at the departure gate at Gatwick airport and told their visas to the US had been revoked.

    He claimed the family were barred from flying 'because they are Muslim'.

    However, it has since emerged that a Facebook page claiming links to radical Islamist groups was set up by someone who has lived at the family's postal address, according to ITV News.

    The account, which includes information suggesting it may have been published as a joke, was in the name of Hamza Hussain - a first name shared by Mr Mahmood's 18-year-old son. It reportedly lists the job titles 'supervisor at Taliban and leader at al-Qaeda'.

    When asked about the account, Mr Mahmood believed hackers may have been to blame, adding: 'That could be anything, maybe a mistake.'

    The Facebook page in question also had an FBI logo with some Arabic writing and the slogan "Federal Bureau of Islam" underneath it.

    Mr Mahmood's sister-in-law Sadaf Mahmood later told LBC radio that her husband was detained overnight in Israel before being put on a plane back to Britain, but the reason was never explained to them.

    Mr Mahmood, who was born in Pakistan, came to the UK when he was just 12, when his father came to work as a chartered accountant.

    He said of last week's incident: 'I felt humiliated and my kids were tearful they were so upset. My son hasn't left the house, he is so upset.'

    [This event] comes after an imam who says he has preached against extremism and has previously travelled to the US was also prevented from boarding a flight in similar circumstances.

    This suits me. Maybe it was a joke on their part, but maybe it wasn't – why take a chance? People who are unsympathetic to the Taliban certainly wouldn't make a "joke" like that. The father's explanation that maybe his account was "hacked" sounds like Anthony Weiner's lame excuse for sending pictures of his "schlong" (thanks, Donald, for adding this word to our public vocabulary!) to non-wife female supporters. Maybe it was hacked? Does that mean that also maybe it wasn't?

    I don't know about you, but when I go to Disneyland, I don't want to be mingling with any Taliban mid-level management. If I brought kids there, I wouldn't want to see Mickey Mouse suddenly decapitated, or Goofy (whose sexuality was always ambiguous) thrown from the top of the Sleeping Beauty Castle.

    Expect more Muslims to cry racism when they are denied boarding passes, even when they do so obvious a thing as to go online and express their love for radical Islam. Also expect most of the American media to do zero examination of the circumstances of their banning and instead immediately cry racism.

    1. Jihad Watch
      Exposing the role that Islamic jihad theology and ideology play in the modern global conflicts

      UK Muslim family barred from Disneyland trip by “Islamophobia” actually has jihad terror ties

      December 24, 2015 11:55 am By Robert Spencer 29 Comments

      Hamas-linked CAIR was all over this, asking that there be an investigation into whether Trump’s Muslim ban was already de facto in place. Prime Minister David Cameron promised to look into it, which he never did when I was banned from Britain for making the commonplace and obviously true assertion that Islam has doctrines of violence. The mainstream media has been filled with stories of these poor victims of “Islamophobia,” denied their holiday in Disneyland because of “racism” and “bigotry.” There’s just one problem with all this: it looks as if there were numerous legitimate reasons to bar this family from the U.S. — reasons that have nothing to do with their being Muslim or holding certain political views, and everything to do with ties to jihad terror.

      Mohammad Tariq Mahmood

      “Father of Muslim ‘Disneyland Family’ Banned from U.S. Denies Extremist Links,” by Liam Deacon, Breitbart, December 24, 2015:

      One of the fathers traveling with the Muslim family banned from entering the U.S. this week has denied any alleged links to Islamist extremism after a Facebook page set up at his home address was discovered, praising al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

      On Tuesday Mohammad Tariq Mahmood, his brother and nine of their children were pulled from a queue at Gatwick airport by British Border Force guards and barred from traveling to the US on the instruction of U.S. Homeland Security.

      A Facebook account, set up at his London address in the name of Hamza Hussain, has now been discovered listing titles such as “supervisor at Taliban and leader at al-Qaeda”.

      Although one of Mr. Mahmood’s sons is called Hamza, when asked about the account, Mr. Mahmood told ITV that hackers may be to blame, adding: “That could be anything, maybe a mistake.”

      A U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman said that currently the “religion, faith or spiritual beliefs of an international traveler are not determining factors” when deciding if a person can travel to the US.

      However, the spokesman explained, people can be denied entry for a variety of reasons including health-related issues, prior criminal convictions, security concerns or on miscellaneous grounds.

      Despite claiming that they were stopped unfairly, it was reported last night the brothers “hit positive for terror checks”.

      As reported by Breitbart London, it was revealed yesterday that Mr. Mahmood’s brother was denied entry into Israel and detained eight years ago on a “lads” trip to Middle East with a “group of older gentlemen.”

      The Muslim Council of Britain, which was recently linked to the Muslim Brotherhood Islamist network in a government report, said that the last-minute denial of boarding privileges without explanation is distressing for Muslims.

      “There is a perception that such decisions are being made due to the faith or political activism of individuals,” the council said.

      Yesterday Labour MP Stella Creasy wrote a letter to David Cameron demanding action, claiming that “a growing number of UK Muslim citizens say they have been similarly treated.”

      A Downing Street spokeswoman promptly confirmed the Prime Minister was considering the issues, and would respond in due course.

    2. “Muslim ‘Disneyland Family’ Banned From America: Why Their ‘Islamophobia’ Story Doesn’t Stack Up,” by Liam Deacon, Breitbart, December 23, 2015:

      It’s been two days since the Guardian broke the ‘Disneyland family’ story; a woeful Christmas tale of American ‘Islamophobia’ and discrimination. An innocent Muslim family cruelly denied entry into the US by Homeland Security scrooges with no good reason, we were told.

      Speaking to the Guardian, Mohammad Tariq Mahmood, who was travelling with his brother and nine of their children on a family holiday to Disneyland California, said: “It’s because of the attacks on America – they think every Muslim poses a threat.”

      This morning, Labour MP Stella Creasy waded in on the furore, claiming the ‘Disneyland family’ had been “trumped” and calling for a “critique of American Republican primary political positioning”.

      Linking the issue to Mr. Trump, anecdotally, she postulated that “a growing number of UK Muslim citizens say they have been similarly treated”, and the BBC believed her.

      Ms. Creasy, MP for Walthamstow in East London, perhaps trying to redeem herself with Muslim constituents after voting for action in Syria, wrote a letter to David Cameron demanding action. A Downing Street spokeswoman promptly confirmed the Prime Minister was considering the issues, and would respond in due course.

      When a former member of Hizbut al Tahrir – one of the largest global movements for an Islamic caliphate – tweeted her a similar tale of victimhood, she promised to lobby for him to be allowed into the US too.

      Today, however, it looks as thought the MP and the Guardian might just have jumped the gun.

      One of the brothers was interviewed on LBC Radio. He explained that they had left their wives at home and traveled to the airport. “We were waiting in the queue at the gate and we were very close to getting on the plane”, he said.

      “Then an announcement said they wanted to speak to Mr. Mohammad. There was no one else of Asian origin or who looked Muslim so I knew it was me.

      “A gentleman said he was from British Border Control and he had a border control jacket on… He said there was something wrong with my ESTA [Electronic System for Travel Authorization] and that I wouldn’t be able to board.

      “…He finally said they had had a call from Washington DC from homeland security”.

      At first, Mr. Mohammad said he had no idea what the call could concern. But, when questioned, he let slip that his brother, “had a scenario 10 years ago when he went to see the holy mosque in Tel Aviv”, presumably referring to the holy mosque in Jerusalem.

      “He did not get in any trouble, ” he said, but was detained because “he is a bearded man,” and was only held overnight because the guards did not work on Saturday. His brother’s wife later revealed that the BBC had reported that he had been detained for eight days.

      Speaking later on the same show, she said: “My husband travelled to Israel with a couple of other gentlemen; a couple of older gentlemen and a couple of friends”.

      She explained that it was “about 8 years ago, before any kind of war or any thing of that kind of nature was going on – you were allowed to travel to Israel”.

      However, when pressed, she revealed that her husband was flat out denied entry to the country.

      “Same as here, we weren’t given any answer”, she said, postulating: “Probably because there were young lads, they probably thought they were going to, you know, cause havoc or something.”

      Unlike on this occasion, after being denied entry into Israel, “he didn’t make a fuss”, she said, and returned straight home.

      She never explained why he had traveled there with the “older gentlemen” or group of “lads” and what “havoc” the authorities feared. But, arresting someone for merely “having a beard” is illegal in Israel, and being denied entry into the country not particularly common….

  7. Replies
    1. Same to you !

      See lemon meringue pie eating instructions below.....

  8. Hope you all had a wonderful Winter Solstice.


  9. The video gave them the justification they needed to deal harshly with the violence of the radical right; a justification that is based on ideology and the fact that the Duma murderers are apparently surrounded by others who support and encourage them.

    Even many of those opposed to the Shin Bet found the video repulsive, though they prefer to focus on who leaked it.

    There are those who maintain that it was leaked by the Yesha Council, the coordinating body of West Bank settlements, while others believe it was leaked by the Shin Bet.

    The fact that Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon showed the video at a meeting he held before it was broadcast on TV feeds the conspiracy theorists. Past experience teaches that leaks are sometimes random and not every leak is necessarily the fruit of brain-storrming by strategic consultants.

    But the truth is no longer relevant. Along with the claims that the Shin Bet released the video in order to justify its use of torture, other, more troubling, allegations are also being made, according to which the objective of the leak was to besmirch religious-Zionism as a whole (even though the head of the Shin Bet belongs to the camp.)

    The Video referenced


    1. In addition to the arson-murder at Duma, a much wider infrastructure will be revealed of activists who have the goal of dismantling the state and replacing it with a theocratic kingdom. The leaders of the underground network are the sons of rabbis or youths from distinguished families – the heart of the religious-Zionist mainstream – who have gone through a process of radicalization

  10. If you freeze the lemon meringue pie then eat it just still barely frozen it tastes best !

  11. SOUTHWEST ASIA, December 25, 2015 — U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.

    Officials reported details of the latest strikes, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.

    Strikes in Syria

    Attack, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 12 strikes in Syria:

    -- Near Ayn Isa, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit.

    -- Near Raqqah, two strikes destroyed two ISIL excavators.

    -- Near Dayr Az Zawr, one strike struck an ISIL crude oil collection point.

    -- Near Mara, three strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed three ISIL fighting positions and wounded an ISIL fighter.

    -- Near Manbij, five strikes struck four separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed six ISIL vehicles and an ISIL fighting position and wounded two ISIL fighters.

    Strikes in Iraq

    Rocket artillery and attack, fighter and bomber aircraft conducted 19 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government:

    -- Near Baghdadi, three strikes struck an ISIL cave complex, an ISIL staging facility and an ISIL staging area and destroyed three ISIL buildings.

    -- Near Huwayjah, one strike destroyed an ISIL trench system.

    -- Near Kirkuk, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun and an ISIL fighting position.

    -- Near Makhmur, one strike suppressed an ISIL mortar firing position.

    -- Near Mosul, seven strikes struck five separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed 13 ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL vehicles, an ISIL heavy machine gun, five ISIL rockets, four ISIL bunkers, an ISIL command and control node and an ISIL assembly area and suppressed an ISIL mortar position.

    -- Near Ramadi, three strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed three ISIL fighting positions, seven houses ISIL had rigged with explosives, three ISIL staging areas, three ISIL buildings, two ISIL tunnels, an ISIL homemade explosives cache and an ISIL vehicle-borne bomb and denied ISIL access to terrain.

    -- Near Sinjar, one strike destroyed 10 ISIL fighting positions.

    -- Near Tal Afar, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit.

    -- Near Albu Hayat, one strike struck an ISIL staging area.

    Task force officials define a strike as one or more kinetic events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative, effect. Therefore, officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against buildings, vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making those targets harder or impossible for ISIL to use. Accordingly, officials said, they do not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.

    1. It's been heating up around Mosul, recently. Are they next?

    2. After Ramadi is taken, Mosul is next on the list.

      BAGHDAD - Iraq's armed forces will move to retake the major northern city of Mosul from Islamic State once they capture the western city of Ramadi, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Friday.

      Capturing Mosul would deprive the militant group of its biggest population center in both Iraq and Syria, effectively abolishing the state structure of IS in Iraq, depriving it of a major source of funding and dealing a blow to its influence.

      A little behind the schedule predicted a year or so ago, but ...
      Better late than never.

    3. :) Yeah, I'm no longer doing "timetables" for Iraqi military campaigns.

    4. They've had enough trouble trying to retake Ramadi.

      Don't expect Mosul to fall next month.

    5. I read a long description of life in Homs, Syria recently.

      Basically, there isn't any human life there, just the wind and the weeds.

      "The Wind and the Weeds" would make a good book title.

      Ash, Merry Christmas to you, young Gentleman, might be able to write an autobiography entitled "Passing Wind and Smoking Weed".

    6. Don't see where anyone expressed that expectation.

      Are you trying to set up a straw man, Robert?

  12. ISIS has made too many enemies.

    They have now also taken to 'harvesting' infidel body organs for their own reuse, or resale and profit.

    Good Grief. If any of use had known, including Bush, that his deposing Saddam would lead to all this, he wouldn't have done it, and we wouldn't have voted for him.

    Hindsight is sooooo much easier.

    It might have worked out better if we had simply imposed a more amendable dictator. But, O no, we got to try and set up some kind of voting system, etc. Now this looks incredibly naive and simplistic.

    I finally blame it all on Obama, though.

    He's the true culprit here.

    Since Grand Master Chess Champion Gary Kasparov says so, you don't have to believe Uncle Bob.

    I thought I was going to 'Star Wars' with my daughter today, but I fell asleep after the turkey and pie, and she took off somewhere.

    Not sure I really wanted to go anyway.....

    I may have another piece of pie instead, and go back to sleep, which sounds better and cheaper too.

    1. The Israeli were known for 'harvesting' Palestinian body parts.

      The sectarian radicals over there, in "Greater Syria" just birds of a feather, flocking together.

    2. I should have anticipated that comment.


    3. Doctor admits Israeli pathologists harvested organs without consent

      Israel has admitted pathologists harvested organs from dead Palestinians, and others, without the consent of their families – a practice it said ended in the 1990s – it emerged at the weekend.

      The admission, by the former head of the country's forensic institute, followed a furious row prompted by a Swedish newspaper reporting that Israel was killing Palestinians in order to use their organs – a charge that Israel denied and called "antisemitic".

      The revelation, in a television documentary, is likely to generate anger in the Arab and Muslim world and reinforce sinister stereotypes of Israel and its attitude to Palestinians.


    4. Yes, Robert, you should have anticipated that the truth will out.


    5. The arrests of rabbis who trafficked body parts uncover more complicated issues.

      By Benyamin Cohen

      With the right ingredients of salaciousness and scandal, the news appeared to be straight out of a Hollywood screenplay: corrupt politicians, money laundering, people being arrested by the busload, raids on synagogues, an Apple Jacks cereal box stuffed with $97,000 in cash, and rabbis trafficking organs. Allegedly, one paid $10,000 to an impoverished Israeli for his or her kidney and tried to sell it for upward of $150,000 in the United States. The criminal complaint quotes the rabbi as saying he was in the organ business for a decade. (And in a you-can't-make-this-stuff-up twist, it wasn't even the day's only story on Israelis trafficking human body parts.)

    6. Israeli and American Zionist Jews top the world’s organ harvesting industry – from Haiti to Kosova to United States. On April 7, 2010, BBC reported the arrest of Israel’s three-star General Meir Zamir and his five accomplices being investigated for their role in an international organ-trafficking ring.

      In 1998 Scottish Alisdair Sinclair died under questionable circumstances while in Israeli custody at Ben Gurion airport. An autopsy performed at theUniversity of Glasgow found out that Alisdair’s heart and a tiny throat bone were missing. At this point the British Embassy filed a complaint with Israel.

      In 2000 Dr Yehuda Hiss, former head of the Abu Kabir forensic institute near Tel Aviv – admitted that his staff was involved in harvesting skin, corneas, heart valves and bones from the bodies of Palestinians killd by Israeli soldiers.

      Israel daily YNet reported on May 22, 2012 that Israel Police’s National Fraud Unit has arrested ten Israelis including one physician for allegedly part of an organ harvesting network operating in Israel’s two Muslim allies – Azerbaijan and Kosova.

      In 2009, Solomon Dwek, a bankrupt Jewish real-state dealer helped FBI to nab several rabbis and pro-Israel politicians for money laundering and organ harvesting.

      On August 17, 2009, Israeli writer, Donald BOSTROM, in an article entitled, Our sons plundered for their organs, claimed the Israeli soldiers have killed Palestinian kids just to collect their body organs. The author was hunted down by Jewish military apologists and Israeli Hasbara goons, calling him an antisemite.

      In August 2010, Ukrainian police, busted an Israeli-run organ trafficking network illegally recruiting organ donors to send their body parts to Israel. In 2009, Ukrainian professor Vyacheslav Gudin, had claimed Israel had brought around 25,000 Ukrainian children into the country over the past two years in order to harvest their organs.

      In September 2010, Israeli-linked organ harvesting ring was busted inside South Africa’s largest healthcare company Netcare.

      In January 2002 Nessim Dahan, an Israeli cabinet minister admitted that organs taken from Palestinian victims of Israeli soldiers could have been used in Israeli hospitals without the knowledge of victims’ families.


  13. Footage emerges of Israeli wedding guests celebrating death of Palestinian baby

    Footage has emerged appearing to show guests at a wedding in Jerusalem celebrating the death of a Palestinian toddler.

    The video was shown on Israeli TV and showed wedding guests dancing with guns and knives.

    One guest appears to be dancing with a knife through a picture of 18-month-old Ali Dawabsheh, who died with his parents when their home in the village of Duma in the occupied Westbank was set alight in July.

    Israeli officials described the attack as “Jewish terrorism”, ...
    Israeli authorities are investigating whether the actions of the wedding guests constitute an incitement to violence.

    The video was seized by state investigators, .

    There are hints charges of may be imminent in the arson case, but some of the suspects’ lawyers have accused the Shin Bet security agency of trying to extract confessions with torture.

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended Shin Bet’s methods and said the video was evidence of the need to curb violent Jewish zealots.

    He said: “The shocking pictures that were broadcast … show the true face of a group that constitutes a danger to Israeli society and to the security of Israel.

    “We are not prepared to accept people who deny the laws of the state and do not view themselves as subject to them.”


  14. He (Bibi) said: “The shocking pictures that were broadcast … show the true face of a group that constitutes a danger to Israeli society and to the security of Israel.

    “We are not prepared to accept people who deny the laws of the state and do not view themselves as subject to them.”

    And there you have the difference.

    Good on you for pointing that out, Jack is Back.

    1. Not being in an argumentative mood, I go no further.

      It is, after all, Christmas Day.

    2. Robert, would you like the qotes from the Muslims, those that echo Bibi's sentiments, from the legitimate government of Syria, theAssad regime?
      From the Iraqi government, too, all denouncing ISIS, they are readily available.

      I have yet to read of an Israeli official denouncing ISIS, in Syria.
      I have read that Israel prefers al-Qeada operatives taking power in Syria.
      I have read reports of the Israeli providing material support to ISIS.

      All in the public domain.

    3. Mr Assad wonders why the EU allows terrorists to flow into Syria from across Europe.

      Inquiring minds would like to understand why the NATO alliance countries are so accommodating to European terrorists going to Syria to fight against the legitimate government, there.

    4. There are many in the Syrian and Iraqi governments that deplore the violence instigated by the radical Muslims

  15. ( Baghdad – On Wednesday, Baghdad Operations Command announced the continuation of the liberalization operations south of Fallujah, while indicated to the killing of 30 terrorists and the dismantlement of 45 improvised explosive devices.

    The spokesman of Baghdad Operations Command Saad Maan said in a statement followed by, “The heroes of Baghdad Operations Command are continuing the liberation operations in southern Fallujah (62 km west of the capital), dismantling 45 improvised explosive devices and cleansing the liberated areas.”

    Maan noted, “The SWAT team managed to kill eight terrorists and dismantle 12 improvised explosive devices in Naemeh area,” indicating that, “The army’s sixth brigade killed 13 terrorists and destructed two vehicles belonging to the enemy in Ma’ameer area.”

    “The army’s seventeenth brigade were able to kill nine terrorists, while dismantled 33 improvised explosive devices and destructed three sites for the enemy in Bostan al-Tikriti area,” he also added.

    1. ( Baghdad – Baghdad Operations Command announced on Friday, that the army forces had managed to kill 54 “terrorists” and dismantle 85 improvised explosive devices during the ongoing military operations in southern Fallujah.

      A spokesman for the command, Brigadier Saad Mo’en, said in a statement received by, “Troops belonging to Baghdad Operations Command managed to kill 33 terrorists and destroying eight hideouts, in addition to dismantling 45 improvised explosive devices in Nuaimiya,” adding that, “These troops also managed to kill 14 terrorists, dismantle 27 roadside bombs and destroy two defensive sites for the enemy, in addition to treating four booby-trapped houses and burning a vehicle for the enemy in Ma’ameer and al-Irawaiya canal.”

      Mo’en also pointed out to “the killing of seven terrorists and the deactivating of 13 improvised explosive devices in the area of al-Tikriti and al-Anaz Bridge.”

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  16. Belatedly, for sure, the Iraqis are making some effort to get some Sunnis into the fight.

    ( al-Anbar – On Thursday, Brigadier Commander of al-Hashd al-Sha’bi Colonel Issa Hamid announced, that the tribal fighters of al-Hashd are ready to take over the liberated areas in Ramadi.

    Hamid said in a statement obtained by, “We started to gather huge forces from the tribal fighters in al-Hashd to take over al-Dobat, al-Bakr, and al-Aramel areas which were liberated by the Anti-Terrorism and other security forces in Ramadi”.

    Hamid added, “These forces were trained in al-Habana base, and 200 fighters of them were armed five days ago to participate in liberating Ramadi and taking over the liberated areas, especially in the southern region of the city.”



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  18. Would Syrian Refugee Baby Jesus be allowed to immigrate to the US?

    By Juan Cole | Dec. 24, 2015 |

    By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

    Informed comment ?

    The Christmas imps are jesting.

    You got to be bull shitting me.

    Of all the articles Deuce has put up by this leftist propagandist, this is the loopiest.

    He takes the mythy story of the Birth of the Christ, at Christmas time too !, and twists it so as to try to shame us all for not wanting wanting to take the risk of more Moslem terrorists, unvettable, entering into our country.

    Talk about gutsy, and blatant.

    Sweet Jesus.

    I'm almost surprised he didn't try some way or other to twist things around in such a way as to identify poor misused Jesus here as in some way having some Moslem blood in his veins.

    The article is shameless, and shameful too, both at the same time.

    Look, there weren't any 'three wise men', or 12 or any positive number at all.

    There were zero wise men, aheading to Bethlehem, where Jesus was not born.

    The idea of Herod talking to these mythical folks is high slap knee comedy.

    There was no trip to Egypt.

    I could go on and on, but what's the use.

    Juan Cole isn't a dummy, he knows his article is total bull shit.

    I guess that's what our politics comes down to, total bullshit.

    The Presidential debates on both sides can be seen as extended bull shit sessions, the winner being the biggest bull shitter.

    In my view, of the politicians, Billary takes home the prize. Others may have differing opinions.

    I guess it all depends on what flavor of bull shit one likes.

    Among the 'journalists' following these events, Juan Cole is my current front runner as the best bull shitter of them all.

    1. Hillary Clinton is trying to convince us, like Bernie too, to again buy into a sort of South Sea Island Cargo Cult.

      This is real true bull shit on steroids.

      The truth is, during Obama's Regency, the racial divide has widened, and worsened, not the opposite. Blacks have not been helped at all, in fact the have lost ground in almost all the areas they are concerned about, the economy is the shits, foreign policy is a disaster. That covers the water front, foreign and domestic policy.

      Hillary has the stones to attempt to try and convince American citizens to buy into more of this same horse shit, even an enhanced and more advanced form of it, only lacking thus far the Styrofoam Pillars of O'bozo's backdrop, with the paid feinters of yore, which I believe to have been the first time this tactic had been used in American politic bull shit.

      With Hillary, this time, finally, all will be well, and we'll all be getting gifts from the skies we never had the power to even imagine.

      And when this hallucination proves false, we will make mythy, create another Cargo Cult, and long helplessly for 'the good old days', which shall return with the election of just more Democrat.

      Democrats perpetually hang this type of bull shit fruit before us all........

    2. Here is the Rooskie equivalent of The Hillary Clinton Cargo Cult -

      Vladimir Putin calendar with president in different pose each month goes on sale in Russia

      A Putin-inspired perfume called Leaders Number One has also just got on sale as Russian enthusiasm for the President's image reaches new heights

      Russian President Vladimir Putin-image

      The black bottle features Putin’s profile and the caption, “Inspired by Vladimir Putin” – strangely written in English, despite the Russian president’s distaste for the use of English in marketing. Photo: AFP

      By Allison Quinn, Moscow

      10:46AM GMT 25 Dec 2015

      Russians will get the chance to wake up to President Vladimir Putin's wise words and smiling face each day in 2016, thanks to a new calendar for sale in Russian bookshops.

      In the calendar, aptly titled "All Year With the President of Russia," Putin is shown in a different pose each month, be it embracing a puppy, shirtless while fishing, or looking determined while working out.

      Each monthly photograph is accompanied by a personal quote from the president, ranging from silly to serious.

      “No one will ever get military superiority over Russia. Our army is contemporary, capable, and as they now say, polite, but formidable,” Putin says while decked out in military garb.

      In another, while hugging a dog, he simply says “Dogs and I have very warm feelings for one another.”

      It comes as a new scent inspired by the Russian President hit the shelves with his “soft but very firm” essence turned into a perfume.

      The scent for men, called Leaders Number One, is now on sale in Moscow for 6,000 rubles, or about £57.........

      The Pootyfume is sold exclusively in the USA out of a warehouse outside of Detroit, Michigan through a marketing called "Q"erfumes, LLC, for $299.99 a bottle, delivery charges and overseas import fees and charges not included.

      There is also a home grown USA invented perfume for Queers, called "Q"ueererfume, marketed by the same firm listed above.

      Since Hillary doesn't look so great on calender covers, she opts for mental imagery, such as swearing she tried to join the US Marines, and took live fire at an airport landing strip somewheres overseas.

      "Q"ueererfume, by the way, uses a little more skunk gas as its base ingredient than the regular

    3. The English language on the bottle was written up, of course, by the marketer in Detroit.

      He knows it will give the sales a boost, suggesting it comes from America or has something to do with America, the nation to which every Russian, actually, deep down in his heart of hearts, wishes to immigrate.

      The English writing lends the product this distant allure.

    4. Meanwhile the Russian population keeps dropping, and the average age at death continues to decrease, as the nation drinks itself to an ever earlier grave on killer Vodka.

    5. But with Pootyfume their dead bodies will no longer raise such an intolerable stink in the Christian caskets.

    6. "The bodies firm, but the aroma soft" as one Russian undertaking firm advertises.

  19. Isn't it amazing how these charts always go the good way during Democratic administrations, and the wrong way during Republican reigns?

    Median Income

    1. You mean like during the FDR years ?

    2. Like during the Carter years, which I farmed through, when the wheat prices weren't worth a shit, and interest rates were in the low 20% area ?

      Those years ?

      And Carter blamed it all on 'the malaise' of the American People ?

      Them years ?

    3. Carter and Roosevelt were Presidents for God sake.

      There's supposed to be able to wiggle their noses and make everything right, we all know that.

      Obama was even going to lower the sea levels.

    4. Which weren't of course even really rising, at least not by much, it all was just all bullshitting.

      FDR's main economics guy was saying privately to Franklin 'nothing works'.

      WWII pulled us out of that one.

    5. As for the Carter years, Billy Carter had the best idea of all.

      Just sell some gas and drink cheap beer until your time comes.

      Billy would have must just as good a President as Jimmy, and perhaps better, and we would have some laughs.

    6. You're drinking again, Robert..