Sunday, August 21, 2016

partial repeat
Art is intimate empiricism. It's what makes you cry over a picture of a dead baby while another picture would simply make you a sad for a moment. It's the illusion of proximity. Why were people so upset by the pic of the dead kid on the beach? Because he was physically intact. He looked like he was sleeping but he was stiff, like an abandoned doll, a lonely image of death. That's what "aesthetics" means. But the photos themselves are crap illustration, because they aren't made to show you how they work.

Photojournalism is manipulative and voyeuristic. A mature work of art with an image of a dead child teaches you to respect the distance between you and others. You don't believe the fantasy that you're the child's parent; you know you're not and you know you're feeling the wish you were, and that's where it leaves you, in your own world, re-centered of your own world but with a respect for the experience even the tragic experience of others.

Photojournalism is cheap sentiment and cheap politics. It's pity and self-pity, not concern.
From 2004
On the front page of the NY Times this morning, below the fold, is a photograph taken be a camera hovering two feet above the ground, of a naked emaciated child with her head leaning on her mother's thigh.

Get up and walk away from the keyboard, into the middle of whatever room you're in. Bend forward and put your hands in front of your face as if holding a camera; close one eye and look towards the ground with the other and imagine that child at your feet. Move your index finger downwards toward your thumb and make a clicking sound, and see if you can understand what you've become
And as long as we're on the subject, meet the men behind The White Helmets
"Edward", no last name.
The donors page lists the UK, Netherlands, Japan and Norway, but not USAID.
USAID lists them.
https://www.usaid.gov/political-transition-initiatives/syria
"politcal transition initiatives". The words don't appear on the page itself.
Program Highlights
SRP provides assistance to moderate civilian entities at the national, provincial and local levels. All activities include robust outreach components to amplify the efforts of moderate actors and strengthen public support for moderate values. Illustrative examples of SRP programming impacts include the following:
  • Increasing popular support for moderate actors and values in Syria. Assistance to provincial and local councils to provide basic municipal services including keeping schools and hospitals open, electricity and water flowing, and trash and rubble off the streets. SRP also assists the councils with records management, repairing small infrastructure and rehabilitating public spaces such as cemeteries and schools.  
  • Saving lives through support to emergency responders. More than $23 million in assistance to civil defense teams which act as impartial emergency responders to everything from indiscriminate regime barrel bombings to winter storm relief and firefighting. To date, Syrian emergency responders have saved over 40,000 lives.  
  • Preserving moderate space and deterring extremist influence. SRP helps moderate actors remain relevant through community events such as clean-up initiatives, graffiti campaigns, local council outreach events and youth activities. 
"Moderate actors", includes Al Qaeda, and others who behead children and post the video on youtube.
See previous.
Compare Yemen
The June staff withdrawal, which U.S. officials say followed a lull in air strikes in Yemen earlier this year, reduces Washington's day-to-day involvement in advising a campaign that has come under increasing scrutiny for causing civilian casualties. A Pentagon statement issued after Reuters disclosed the withdrawal acknowledged that the JCPC, as originally conceived, had been "largely shelved" and that ongoing support was limited, despite renewed fighting this summer.

"The cooperation that we've extended to Saudi Arabia since the conflict escalated again is modest and it is not a blank check," Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump said in a statement.

U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the reduced staffing was not due to the growing international outcry over civilian casualties in the 16-month civil war that has killed more than 6,500 people in Yemen, about half of them civilians.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

A comment at Mondoweiss. I wasted too much time there, but this one's worth saving.
I realized why Phil Weiss annoys me so much, and why this site annoys me. Weiss argues as an assimilated Jew who pretends anti-Semitism no longer exists in the west. He leaves Jewish insecurity and anger to the Zionists. He leaves the memory of the Holocaust to them as well. Weiss et al. allow for Arab and Palestinian anger but render Jews at best earnest supporters of Palestinian rights.

Jews have been a persecuted minority in the west as elsewhere. After 1945 Zionists used European guilt to ease the conquest of Palestine. All my references above describe the transformation of Jews from a persecuted ethnic/religious minority in Europe to proud European colonialists. The transformation is perverse, and Phil Weiss and his cohorts are no less perverse than Eli Yishai: “Muslims that arrive here do not even believe that this country belongs to us, to the white man.” And Yishai’s family is from Tunisia. By Zionist logic even Tunisian Jews are white!

Herzl: “We want to emigrate as a respected people”.
Respected by white Europeans, the torturers of Jews. Yishai has inherited Herzl’s self-hatred. I haven’t. I support Palestinians not out of some abstract sense of sympathy but from a shared history of oppression. Israel is European colonialism, full stop. And although I think I said this already, the closest parallel to Israel is Liberia, a state built on conquest. The African natives,”uncivilized” “unchristian”, didn’t get the vote until the 1960s. Liberia was founded as Israel was, on expulsion and Jim Crow.
various repeats. "They're letting a Jew in the building"

Weiss has annoyed me for years, and more recently Blumenthal. Kissinger worked for Nixon; Blumenthal's father works for the Clintons. He knows Clinton's history; why would he assume either Clinton would be any better about Jews than blacks?

"Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." Frederick Douglass

Friday, August 19, 2016

 Leiter 
Against replacing democracy with lotteries or rule by "experts"
Philosopher Eric Schliesser (Amsterdam) and a colleague of his in political science there make some good points.

UPDATE: Jason Brennan (Georgetown) replies.
No links. It's just boring, and offensive.
"some good points."

Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Henry Kissinger will endorse Hillary Clinton. I haven’t spoken to him about it. We rarely speak. Henry is busy with his crowd: trendies, sophisticates, beautiful people. I have my work for peace.
Theater, etc.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

I read discussions describing the piece below as "discredited", and others misquoting it. They may have been quoting references to the interview in Mann's autobiography, but it's unclear; and I think it's less discredited than -willfully- forgotten. The link is to google's newspaper archives; I also pieced together a jpeg, below.
I'm sure my transcription still has some typos.
Stars and Stripes Reporter Visits Richard Strauss
Finds Celebrated German Composer Living in Comfort

(Editor's Note: Klaus Mann, son of the famous writer, Thomas Mann is a staff correspondent for the Stars and Stripes, Mediterranean edition, who has been covering events Germany and Austria)

By Corp. Klaus Mann — Garmisch-Partenkirchen, (Bavaria) -AP- This Alpine village was in prewar days one of Germany's most fashionable winter and summer resorts. Now there are no glamorous tourists, but picturesque Garmisch still can boast some illustrious residents. One of them is the world's most celebrated living composer, Richard Strauss.

I made the fairly long trip from Munich to net the grand old man of European music. As well as paying homage to his creative genius, I wanted to have a look at an old opportunist and to hear what Strauss had to say himself about his experiences under the Nazis.

The composer and his family occupy a comfortable, roomy villa surrounded by a beautifully-kept garden. A companion and I introduced ourselves as "two American correspondents." I thought it wiser not to disclose my identity. One of the first public gestures Richard Strauss made after establishment of the Third Reich was directed against my father. He was among those artists and intellectuals who signed a Nazi-inspired manifesto denouncing a Richard Wagner essay by Thomas Mann as "an insult to the German genius."

In Good Health

Not realizing that he was receiving the son of that same Thomas Mann, he was all smiles and gracious cordiality. His health was just fine, he assured us — and, in fact, he looked surprisingly well preserved for a man of 83.

When we asked about his artistic plans he shook his head with philosophical resignation: "No plans for me anymore! I've written 15 operas, not to mention my symphonic pieces and my many many songs. That's enough for one lifetime."

We listened respectfully to his complaints about the way in which the defunct Nazi regime had been dealing with his recent opera "Die Liebe der Danae."

"Of course." he said, "this was not the first disturbing incident. I have had two rather serious conflicts with the Nazi administration."

One of these "conflicts" developed only last year, when Herr Strauss was supposed to take a bombed-out German family into his spacious villa. Such a nuisance was too much. He protested, appealed to Hitler. The fuehrer remained adamant. Every citizen, he replied, had to make sacrifices; Herr Strauss could not be exempted.

This decision —the only sensible one, as far as I know, Hitler has ever made— seemed outrageous to the old man. Remembering the Incident, he got very annoyed again.

"A bunch of strangers In my house!" he cried. "Imagine! A family with children, if you please! I don't know what to do. Really, I thought of leaving Germany. But how could I afford to lose my main market? We have about 80 opera houses in this country. That's where most of my royalties come from."

"You mean you had about 80 opera houses," I ventured to interrupt. It took him some time to understand. Exclusively concerned with his own affairs, he seemed hardly aware of the destruction of German cities.

Another Collision

The other collision between the master's interests and Nazi policy took place more then 10 years ago. Strauss had based one of his operas, "The Silent Woman," on a libretto written by Stefan Zweig. Rehearsals at the Dresden Opera house were well under way when Goebbels interfered on account at Stefan Zweig's racial background. In this case, Hitler proved more diplomatic. He allowed "The Silent Woman" to be shown for a few times in Dresden, whereupon It disappeared from the repertoire and remained buried. "The whole affair was indeed most tiresome," Strauss told us. "I hated to lose Stefan Zweig—the best librettist I've ever had since the death of Hugo von Hofmannsthal, who, by the way, was also partly Jewish. Naturally, after this experience, my relations with the government remained a little cool for some time. But in general, I have been treated very decently ever since."

Anti-Semitism or any other manifestation of Nazi madness irritated him only when it affected his own interests. Richard Strauss has never said a word against the defamation of his Jewish colleagues.

When Bruno Walter was forbidden to conduct the Berlin Philharmonic orchestra, back in 1933, it was Richard-Strauss who replaced him.

"Why shouldn't I take over the concert?" he asked with an almost disarming naivete. "It wouldn't have helped my old friend Walter if I had refused to do so. Yet it seems I have hurt his feelings- I really don't understand why. When I saw him in Salzburg, some time ago, he didn't even say hello to me."

It would have been useless to explain to him why Bruno Walter resented his actions. He wouldn't have understood. Nor did be understand why my friend and I exchanged bewildered glances when he called Baldur von Schierach, former Nazi governor of Austria. "a very nice chap" because he had granted certain privileges to the Richard Strauss family.

Another Nazi boss of whom the master spoke with sincere warmth was Hans Frank, governor of Poland, who was responsible for atrocities of truly appalling dimensions. Strauss praised the governor's delicate, artistic taste. The fuehrer too, he added, was able to appreciate good music — for instance, music by Richard Strauss. In short, if it hadn't been for those two minor misunderstandings about Stefan Zweig add the Garmisch villa, the Nazis were more or less all right.

Washington’s Sunni Myth  The author is anonymous.  One asshole says it's Nir Rosen. If he's right right it's another reason to trust the argument.
If you read Western media outlets, including War on the Rocks, you might think that most of the problems in the Middle East can be traced to Sunni disenfranchisement, especially in Syria and Iraq. The broader Western debate about the ongoing civil wars in the Middle East is plagued by a false understanding of sectarian identities. Washington elites imagine a broader Sunni sense of identity that does not exist outside the confines of Saudi Arabia and territories held by jihadist groups. This has the malign effect of encouraging polices that add fuel to the fires consuming Syria and parts of Iraq. Alongside this narrative exists another that portrays Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces as bloodthirsty sectarian militias engaged in constant abuses against Iraq’s Sunni Arabs — but this is simply not the case.

Similarly, these same voices describe the Syrian government as an “Alawite regime” that rules and oppresses Sunnis. However, Sunnis are heavily represented at all levels of leadership in Assad’s government. The territory it controls at this point in the war and at all points past is majority Sunni. And the Syrian armed forces are still majority Sunni. Alawites may be overrepresented in the security forces, but all that means is that they get to die more than others. It if it is an “Alawite regime,” isn’t it odd that includes and benefits so many non-Alawites?
Sunnis not only have political power in Syria, but they also have social power, more opportunities, and a greater range of choices in life compared to other states in the region ruled by Sunni heads of state. At the heart of this negligent misapprehension of what is actually happening in the Middle East is an acceptance and mainstreaming of notions of Sunni identity propagated by the most extreme voices in the Sunni world: Saudi Arabia, al Qaeda, and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

...There is a cacophony of voices constantly complaining that the U.S. government does not sufficiently support the Sunni sectarian insurgents it backs in Syria. At this point in the conflict, these voices are open about the fact that these Sunni Arab “moderates” cooperate with al Qaeda, but go on to say they still deserve Washington’s support. Sometimes, it seems they argue that we help al Qaeda win in Syria so that its men don’t flee further west to us. Last year Gen. David Petraeus proposed arming al Qaeda in Syria against ISIL. At War on the Rocks, Faysal Itani bemoans the idea that Russia and the United States might cooperate to degrade Jabhat al Nusra, an avowed Salafi jihadist group that until very recently operated as an al Qaeda affiliate.

These advocates too often ignore that the Sunni insurgents have been receiving ample assistance and that Syria’s political and military elite is majority Sunni. Yes, I am talking about the Assad regime. Those who lament the meager assistance provided by the United States to Syrian insurgents overlook the fact that this is one of the best-supported insurgencies in history. Moreover, they discount how successful Syria’s insurgents have been at driving Assad’s forces out of most of the country. Most of the country has fallen into chaos or into the hands of the jihadists who cooperated with U.S.-backed groups. In fact, external aid to Syria’s insurgents was so successful that it forced the Russian military to directly intervene to prevent the total collapse of Syria. Earlier this month Salafi-jihadists led by a Saudi cleric used suicide attackers and foreign fighters to nearly storm into the government-held half of Aleppo. And yet they were lauded as heroic rebels by Western media and applauded by the official Western-backed Syrian opposition leadership. If they succeed, over one and a half million residents of the government-held area of Aleppo will be at great risk.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

repeat
Forgotten history, 1947:  Sub-Committee 2 and the one state solution.
Rapporteur: Mr. Thor THORS (Iceland)

...8. At its twentieth meeting the Committee considered the question of the composition of the conciliation group and of the two Sub-Committees which it had decided to create. As regards the conciliation group, the Chairman, Vice-Chairman and Rapporteur were authorized, if they succeeded in initiating the conciliation process, to co-opt other members to assist with their task.

As to the composition of the two Sub-Committees, the representative of the Soviet Union proposed that the Sub-Committee entrusted with the drawing up of the detailed plan of partition with economic union (Sub-Committee 1) should be composed of fifteen members and should include all the members of the Security Council. The proposal was not adopted, (six votes in favour; thirty-two votes against) and the Chairman was authorized to name the members of that Sub-Committee as well as those of Sub-Committee 2, which was to work out the details of the plan for one State in Palestine. The Sub-Committee were asked to submit their reports not later than 29 October, subject to an extension of that time limit if necessary.

9. With regard to the various draft resolutions which the Committee had not yet considered, it was decided at the twentieth meeting; (1) that the discussion of the draft resolution by Sweden and the United States approving the principles of the majority plan of the Special Committee on Palestine (A/AC.14/16) should be deferred until the report of Sub-Committee 1 had been received; (2) that the various resolutions proposing to amend the plan of the majority of the Special Committee should be referred to Sub-Committee 1; (3) that the Colombian draft resolution on acts of violence (A/AC.14/11) should be considered when the Committee discussed its recommendations to the General Assembly; (4) that either Sub-Committee was empowered to take up and consider any or all written proposals before the Ad Hoc Committee which it deemed to be relevant to the performance of its functions, such as the draft resolutions relating to the problem of Jewish refugees and displaced persons. A proposal by the Colombian delegation to set up a special sub-committee to study this problem was not adopted (seven votes in favour; nineteen votes against).

10. By virtue of the authority vested in him by the Committee, the Chairman appointed, on 22 October, the following members to serve on the Sub-Committees:

(a) Sub-Committee 1: Canada, Czechoslovakia, Guatemala, Poland, South Africa, United States of America, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Uruguay, Venezuela.
(b) Sub-Committee 2: Afghanistan, Colombia, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen.
---
REPORT OF SUB-COMMITTEE 2

INTRODUCTION

Composition and terms of reference of Sub-Committee

1. Sub-Committee 2 on Palestine was set up on 23 October 1947 following the decision of the Ad Hoc Committee of Palestine to establish two Sub-Committees. By virtue of the authority conferred on him by the Ad Hoc Committee, the Chairman nominated the following countries as members of Sub-Committee 2: Afghanistan, Colombia, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Yemen.

The terms of reference of the Sub-Committee were as follows:

1. “To draw up a detailed plan for the future government of Palestine in accordance with the basic principles expressed in the proposals submitted to the General Assembly by the delegations of Saudi Arabia and Iraq (documents A/317 and A/328, respectively) and the proposal submitted to the Ad Hoc Committee by the delegation of Syria (document A/AC.14/22); and

2. To incorporate this plan in the form of recommendations.”

The Sub-Committee was also authorized to take up and consider any of the other proposals before the Ad Hoc Committee which were considered to be necessary.

2. The Sub-Committee held its first meeting on 23 October 1947 and elected the delegate for Colombia, Dr. A. Gonzalez Fernandez, as Chairman, and the delegate for Pakistan as Rapporteur. It was explained by the Chairman that the representative of the United Kingdom would sit on the Sub-Committee as an observer and that his advice would be available to the Sub-Committee as and when required.

3. On a preliminary review of the task assigned to it, the Sub-Committee felt that it was somewhat unfortunate that both Sub-Committee 1 and Sub-Committee 2 on Palestine were so constituted as to include in each of them representatives of only one school of thought, and that there was insufficient representation of neutral countries, It was accordingly proposed that the Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee should be requested that, irrespective of what might be done with regard to Sub-Committee 1, Sub-Committee 2 should be reconstituted so as to replace two of the Arab states in the Sub-Committee (which were prepared to withdraw) by neutrals or countries which had not definitely committed themselves to any particular solution of the Palestine question. This request was laid before the Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee, but for reasons which he explained to the Sub-Committee, he could not see his way to accepting the Sub-Committee’s recommendation. In those circumstances, the delegate for Colombia resigned on 28 October and Sir Zafrullah Khan, the delegate for Pakistan, was elected as Chairman in his place.

Sub-Committee’s Plan of work

4. With regard to its work, the Sub-Committee decided at the very outset to concentrate on three broad issues:
(i) The legal questions connected with or arising from the Palestine problem, in particular the three proposals bearing on the subject submitted to the Ad Hoc Committee by the delegations of Iraq, Egypt and Syria. (documents A/AC.14/21, A/AC.14/2 and A/AC.14/25).

(ii) The problem of Jewish refugees and displaced persons and its connection with the Palestinian question.

(iii) The termination of the Mandate over Palestine and constitutional proposals for the establishment of a unitary and independent state on the basis of the proposals submitted by Iraq and Saudi Arabia to the General Assembly.

Working groups were established to deal with each of these main issues and they were constituted as follows:
(i) Legal Problems – Pakistan, Syria and Saudi Arabia
(ii) Refugee Problem – Afghanistan, Colombia and Lebanon
(iii)Constitutional Proposals – Egypt, Iraq and Yemen
The reports of working groups were considered by the Sub-Committee and, as finally adopted, constitute chapters I, II, and III respectively of this report. The conclusions of the Sub-Committee have been embodied in the form of three resolutions for submission to the General Assembly, and are contained in the concluding chapter.

5. The Sub-Committee wishes to record its gratitude to Mr. H. Beeley, the United Kingdom representative, for his assistance and advice, and to Mr. H. Vigier, the Secretary of the Sub-Committee, and his colleagues, for supplying the Sub-Committee, and his colleagues, for supplying the Sub-Committee with some of the documentary material utilized for the preparation of the report, and for their readiness to lend the Sub-Committee their assistance.

/.....
FULL REPORT

The bottom of the page links to a pdf of a typewritten copy of the report; the header page tagged in modern computer font: Best Copy Available

The links above are often slow or unresponsive. The report is also available here.
...85. While the task of framing a constitution must naturally be left to the Constituent Assembly, the Sub-Committee feels that it should indicate in general terms the main principles on which the future constitution be based. These are summarized below:
(a) Palestine shall be a unitary and sovereign State.
(b) It shall have a democratic constitution, with en elected legislature and an Executive responsible to the legislature.
(c) The constitution shall provide guarantees for the sanctity of the Holy Places covering inviolability, maintenance, freedom of access and freedom of worship in accordance with the status quo.
(d) The constitution shall guarantee respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion and freedom of religious belief and practice in accordance with the status quo (including the maintenance of separate religious courts with matters of personal status).
(e) The constitution shall guarantee the right of religious bodies or other societies and individuals to maintain, in addition to educational establishments administered by public authority, educational institutions of their own, subject to normal government supervision and inspection.
(f) The constitution shall recognize the right of Jews to employ Hebrew as a second official language in areas in which they are in a a majority.
(g) The Law of Naturalization and Citizenship shall provide, amongst other conditions, that the applicant should be a legal resident of Palestine for a continuous period to be determined by the Constituent Assembly.
(h) The constitution shell ensure adequate representation in the Legislature for all important sections of the citizenry in proportion to their numerical strength.
(i) The constitution shall also provide for adequate reflection in the Executive and the Administration of the distribution of representation in the Legislature.
(j) The constitution shall authorize the Legislature to invest local authorities with wide discretion in matters, connected with education, health, and other social services.
(k) The constitution shell provide for the setting up of a Supreme Court, the jurisdiction of which include inter alia, the power to pronounce upon the constitutional validity of all legislation, and it shell be open to any aggrieved party to have recourse to that tribunal.
(i) The guarantees contained in the constitution concerning the rights and safeguards of the minorities shall not be subject to amendment or modification without the consent of the minority concerned expressed through a majority, of its representatives in the Legislature. 
The Perfect G.O.P Nominee
All these woebegone Republicans whining that they can’t rally behind their flawed candidate is crazy. The G.O.P. angst, the gnashing and wailing and searching for last-minute substitutes and exit strategies, is getting old.

They already have a 1-percenter who will be totally fine in the Oval Office, someone they can trust to help Wall Street, boost the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, cuddle with hedge funds, secure the trade deals beloved by corporate America, seek guidance from Henry Kissinger and hawk it up — unleashing hell on Syria and heaven knows where else.

The Republicans have their candidate: It’s Hillary. 
I don't read Dowd, but the attacks on her by the left-liberal elite were always self-serving and stupid.

Going through the archives I found this.
I'd forgotten that quoting her played a part in my being banned from Crooked Timber.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

A repeat from 2013, because the subject came up today.
Read the linked "previous post", and the one at the bottom of the page.



"Heydrich's facial expression as he died betrayed an 'uncanny spirituality and entirely perverted beauty, like a renaissance Cardinal,' according to Bernhard Wehner, a Kripo police official who investigated the assassination."

He's off by a few years, in both directions. But again, there's a difference between a mannered pose or work of art and a mannered life.  Repeats: A standard definition of kitsch is to be "more Catholic than the Pope." So I guess this makes it explicit that I'm continuing from the previous post.


Jean Fouquet, Etienne Chevalier with St. Stephen, left half of the Melun Diptych c.1454
According to his Wikipedia pages Wehner had a rich career after the war, and was chief of criminal investigations for the Dusseldorf police dept. from 1954-70. It's unsourced in the english, but sourced in German.

Later discussion of Paul Feyerabend

Friday, August 05, 2016

"Glamour Exclusive: President Barack Obama Says, 'This Is What a Feminist Looks Like' "
Image and caption below as in original.

Ladies First "Michelle and I have raised our daughters to speak up when they see a double standard," says the President (here with his family at a 2016 U.S. state dinner).
"Glamour", "Ladies First".
repeats, here,  here, and here, which include the images below.
A new tag: Feminism and Post-Feminism


Wednesday, August 03, 2016


A back and forth with Phillip Smyth and others. Abrahms points to the last paragraph specifically. Mehdi Hassan agrees. "the last para is indeed gushing/awful. Al Qaeda's 'local prestige and goodwill'. Ugh."
Ironically, the only parties showing creativity and adaptability in Aleppo are the beleaguered rebels themselves, who are trying to break the siege from inside and outside of the city. The most powerful component of this insurgent alliance is Jaish al-Fateh, a coalition dominated by the hardline Salafist groups Ahrar al-Sham and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham—until recently known as the al-Qaeda affiliated Nusra Front. These groups have combined military performance with a grasp of local sentiment, emerging as the insurgency’s vanguard in Aleppo. Should they successfully break the regime’s siege, these hardliners may well be the real winners of the battle for Aleppo. Their victory would boost the depressed position of their Turkish and Arab backers and embarrass the United States. Alternatively, the siege may endure, which would simply highlight US failures in Syria. Regardless, these rebels’ local prestige and goodwill as the main anti-regime force amid Western disengagement will sustain them for now, in Aleppo and beyond.
 It continues until it gets to this

I reply, jumping in, agreeing about the piece, but adding that there is no science of tone. Abrahms responds: "You sure about that?,  linking the below.
Human coding of news media

Human coding of data is much as it sounds: Trained coders read or look through some selected sample of media coverage and systematically note its important traits. The questions (or variables) used differ depending on the goal of the project. Questions range from ‘what is the topic’ to ‘is the treatment of the topic positive or negative.’

As with any type of research, the process of conducting a content analysis project begins with the selection of a main research question or goal. What is it we are trying to answer? All of our subsequent decisions are aimed at best answering that main question.

For all studies, we must select the sample of material to examine, which is often more difficult than it sounds.

Sample design

Choosing a sample involves both a focus on thoroughness, representativeness and the purely practical question of availability. Depending on the scope and goals of a project, we might code every story in a given news outlet, or we might use various search techniques to find specific articles relevant to our analysis.

In recent years, the center has conducted analyses of many types of outlets, including print, online news sites, network TV programs, cable TV programs, radio broadcasts, blogs and tweets.

Sometimes, the research question is focused on understanding the scope of coverage of a particular news outlet. In these cases we generally code every story – or at least a large, representative sample of stories – contained within that outlet during a given time period. Other times, the research question is focused on the way a particular news topic, event or issue is covered. In those cases, we generally use various search techniques to collect the relevant materials.
Within a few minutes he was pulling rank. I asked him to do a "content analysis" of the Constitution, and Shakespeare -later it became more specific: The Second Amendment, and Olivier's Hamlet (the scene with his mother). I said he was sounding like Scalia, and posted a link to Jack Balkin's  "Why are Americans Originalist". He replied, "That paper has 3 citations :)". After then it became whether Jack Balkin or David Lazer is higher on the academic food chain.

Twice this week on twitter I've linked to this.
‘Truly this is the sweetest of theologies’, William said, with perfect humility, and I thought he was using that insidious figure of speech that rhetors call irony, which must always be prefaced by the pronunciato, representing its signal and its justification – something that William never did. For which reason the abbot, more inclined to the use of figures of speech, took William literally …
How do you code for irony?

In one of my first responses to Abrahms I stipulated that journalism was hackwork, so at one level deserved no more than a simplified and therefore vulgar reading: "Now code me Shylock or the Constitution". It went on, and went nowhere.

I can be surprised still how much bureaucratic logic has dumbed down the academy. A few people (from The Atlantic Council!) came to my defense, accusing Abrahms of being a bully. I told them it wasn't an issue.

As always I take comfort in the existence of actors, poets, con-men, comedians, and lawyers. A link from Matthew Scott of Barristerblog.
Casting my mind back 20 odd years to when I started out at the Bar is an uncomfortable experience. On any objective assessment I was a pompous little know-it-all, writes 11KBW’s Sean Jones QC…

I was confident I could succeed because I had never lost an argument. Or so I thought. My armoury of dispute resolution skills included a dogged intransigence, an inexhaustible energy for prolonging the argument and a facility for slyly belittling my opponents and their positions. Arguments always ended the same way: with my opponent calling me a colourful name and refusing to engage with me any further. I was left alone on the battlefield, victorious.

Except, of course, in truth I had lost the battle and the war. What it took me an embarrassingly long time to grasp is that effective advocacy does not depend on having an unshakeable confidence that you are right. It does not even depend on actually being right (though that obviously helps). It depends on being able to persuade someone else that you are right. The unacknowledged truth about advocacy is that it is a sales job. You are trying to persuade the adjudicator to buy the case you are selling. It turns out that requires a completely different skillset to the one I had been developing.
Interesting and amusing update since Abrahms was criticized by an Arabic speaking journalist for not knowing the language. Elijah Magnier responds.
In the next tweet Magnier says that Abrahms works with him.
Magnier is fluent, and he's on the ground.
Senior Political Risk Analyst with over 32 years’ experience covering Europe & the Middle East. Acquiring in-depth experience, robust contacts and political knowledge in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan and Syria. Specialized in political assessments, strategic planning and thorough insight in political networks. Created and coordinated network of decision makers to provide key insight into the complex political developments of the Middle Eastern region. Experienced in dealing with intrinsically difficult situations in a broad spectrum of situations when interacting with leaders and fundamentalist movements in war zones and areas of growing instability.
Magier is the tradesman, the connoisseur, the negotiator, the player. He's much more important to Abrahms than David Lazer.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Rembrandt, The Polish Rider, c.1655, Oil on canvas, 46 x 53 1/8 in. (116.8 x 134.9 cm)
Hackwork of the gods.
There's so much about it that's by the numbers and yet on the money. The genius is in the roteness.

Rembrandt could be a hack in the way Hals could never be. Hals was always a professional; like Rubens but not at his level. But something in this painting, the offhandedness of execution, casual to the point of boredom, I think of a dancer or a Vaudeville performer doing the show again one more time, but perfectly. It cracks me up every time I see it but I feel a shiver.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

updated, at the top, not the bottom. It seemed appropriate. And a second time. Serendipity

Austin American-Stateman: Violent arrest of teacher caught on video; officers face investigation
Officials are investigating an Austin police officer’s violent arrest of an African-American elementary school teacher who was twice thrown to the ground during a traffic stop for speeding and comments by a second officer who told her police are sometimes wary of blacks because of their “violent tendencies.”

Video from the previously unreported June 2015 incident was obtained by the American-Statesman and KVUE-TV this week. The video shows the traffic stop escalating rapidly in the seven seconds from when officer Bryan Richter, who is white, first gives a command to 26-year-old Breaion King to close her car door to when he forcibly removes her from the driver’s seat, pulls her across a vacant parking space and hurls her to the asphalt.
Gawker: "Video Shows Unarmed Black Man Pleading With Arms Raised Before Getting Shot by Police"

WSVN News Miami
In his hospital bed Wednesday and speaking to 7News exclusively, Kinsey said, “When I went to the ground, I’m going to the ground just like this here with my hands up,” Kinsey said, “and I am laying down here just like this, and I’m telling them again, ‘Sir, there is no need for firearms. I’m unarmed, he’s an autistic guy. He got a toy truck in his hand.”

Kinsay said he was attempting to calm an autistic patient who ran away from a group home. Kinsey could be heard in the video saying, “All he has is a toy truck. A toy truck. I am a behavior therapist at a group home.”
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Leiter:  "More on police violence and racism."

"A genuinely illuminating discussion from sociologist Randall Collins (Penn).... a really rich essay".

"CAN THE WAR BETWEEN COPS AND BLACKS BE DE-ESCALATED?"
The phrase “war on cops” is partly correct. There also has been a war of police against black people. Both have been going on for a long time, and each reacts to the other. 
The recent argument is that violence is encouraged by black protests, mainstream supporters and officials who have caused police to withdraw from active policing, putting them in a defensive position with black criminals on the offensive. This is a part of the causal pattern, but it is embedded in a much larger process: counter-escalation of each side against the other. Both political mobilization and violence play a part in the escalation process, and this happens on both sides. A key mechanism is the emotions that pervade both camps: sometimes righteous anger, sometimes jittery tension that blows up little incidents and feeds the fire with atrocities.

...Only a small fraction of each side engage in violence; but for their opponents they become emblematic of the entire enemy camp. The emotions of the most volatile fringes drive the back-and-forth process.

The micro-sociology of emotions shows there is something practical we can all do to de-escalate the conflict.
...Individuals disappear from view; the cop you are ambushing may be one of the good guys who sincerely believes in community outreach; the black man whose car you are stopping may be a middle-class citizen. But at the moment of confrontation they all fade into the category of the stereotyped enemy.
"a middle-class citizen".

Two warring tribes, no discussion of the fact that one is made up of agents of the state.

The author's latest book "Napoleon Never Slept: How Great Leaders Leverage Emotional Energy". self-published at Amazon.

Monday, July 11, 2016


I had a little fun today with a geek academic, a black nerd PhD. He was earnest and irate, angry and moralizing, but missed the point entirely. Cops are now mil-geeks. They saw the woman as a threat, because she couldn't be anything else. The result is comic. As I said later, someone should find out the cops' names and send the pic to their mothers, and ask each of them what they think of their son's behavior: scared of a girl.

The image has spread because of the absurdity. Little military rationalists, rendered impotent.
The only appropriate response, and the best response as a matter of politics, is laughter.
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The image is comic, but it's a shot of motion, and one of a series. The cops moved in a grabbed her and walked her back behind their lines, under arrest. It's all pathetic theater. And the woman was playing her part.
I just need you people to know. I appreciate the well wishes and love, but this is the work of God. I am a vessel! Glory to the most high! I'm glad I'm alive and safe. And that there were no casualties that I have witnessed first hand.
"I am a vessel!".  It's all political cosplay, teenage boys and teenage girls.

Saturday, July 09, 2016

He Toms from the heart.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Deborah Lipstadt, self-hating Jew.

Donald Trump’s "Inadvertent Anti-Semitism"
Trump may abhor anti-Semitism, but, however unconsciously, he instrumentalizes it and spreads it. Then he doubles down to defend doing so.
I thought I'd posted these before, but maybe not.


"The anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies.
We want to emigrate as a respected people"
It's a famous quote. Others are less so.
"The wealthy Jews rule the world; the fate of the governments lies in their hands. They start wars between countries, and when they wish, the governments make peace. When the wealthy Jews sing, the nations and their leaders dance along, and meanwhile the Jews get richer!” (Published by Herzl in a German newspaper)
Given the source, I don't question it.

See previous discussion of Jason Stanley, with a mention of Lipton at the bottom, and links to Amos Schocken and Sara Lipton.

We're back to ressentiment again (a link to the previous post). European Jews identifying with their torturers and abusing their own closest relatives, Palestinians, but also Mizrahi.
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I've said a few times that  Muslims are "the new Jews", the new bookish intellectual outsiders. But I ignored the corollary, that they're the new urban elite and hated by the peasants. The Brexit mess woke me up a bit. And Sadiq Khan's smiling Blairism.

Jews, Muslims, and the ethnic Chinese in Malaysia.

A Bulgarian waiter I know explained to me that Muslims and Jews don't do physical work; they're in business and management. If they work in restaurants they work in their own restaurants. Leaving 10 minutes later I said goodnight to his north African coworker and we had a laugh.