Thursday, August 25, 2016

"Smoke but no fire" She Said

Hillary Clinton's "smoke but no fire" soundbite was propellant on a fire for the hate-Hillary hit-piece cottage industry. 

One particularly salacious site (which uses "fart on hillary clinton" in the html code) came up with the portmanteau "SHitlery" by blending her name with both shit and Hitler.
Laissez les bon temps roulez (Let the good times roll) as they say in Louisiana!

Maybe someone can explain how a former vice-president got away with a far more obvious conflict of interest for two consecutive terms as media inquiries fell away like water on Teflon.

Dare I suggest a different gender standard at play?
Or is that playing "the woman card"?

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Hillary Clinton Copy & Paste Hit Piece

As election day approaches, the following screed maligning Hillary Clinton is making the rounds in comments threads:
If you are Gay, why are you voting for Hillary when she wants to bring in 1,000's of refugees that believe all Gays should be executed.
If you are Black, why are you voting for Hillary when she admires Margaret Sanger and defends Planned Parenthood when they want o abort as many black babies as possible. Exterminate the black race because they are like "weeds". Most of those clinics are in Black neighborhoods.
If you are a Christian, why are you voting for Hillary Clinton when she wrote her Senior thesis on Saul Alinsky who dedicated his book Rules for Radicals to Lucifer, The Devil. She says he was and still is her mentor.
If you are a Veteran, in the military, or closely related to a military member, why are you voting for Hillary when she left those men to die in Benghazi and had the nerve to lie about it over and over again. They called for help but the help was told to stand down.
If you have factory job, why are you voting for Hillary when she supported TPP and factory works are being laid off because jobs are going over sees. Don't forget the deals she made with china. She also welcomes open borders and illegals to get benefits with your tax money.
If you are poor, why are you voting for Hillary, when she is supporting Wall street and all the big banks. Big banks keep the poor, poor by destroying the poor man's credit by allowing medical bills and collections to affect your credit scores so you can pay higher interest rates than the rich. Taking as much of the little money you earn.
If you are a woman, how can you vote for Hillary when she has buried all of Bills rape victims under the rug including the little girl that was raped when she defended the rapist and laughed about it later.
If you carry a gun, believe in the Constitution, how can you vote for Hillary when she wants to eliminate the NRA, Take your guns, and abolish the second amendment.
If you breathe, why would you vote for Hillary when she has left a trail of dead people that did not agree with her or knew too much!
Who is left?
In other words, if you vote for this woman you must be the stupidest person who ever lived. I found this link to the Snopes Facebook discussion page which has the usual array of sniping and carping in the comments thread. The reader can go there for further information. I'm not wasting time and energy here to summarize how each of these so-called "points" has been worded to mislead. I'm making note of it for future reference.

Something of a cottage industry emerged during the first Obama campaign and first term aimed at creating and disseminating hateful agitprop about him. I suppose as his former Secretary of State and heir apparent to his two terms, Hillary Clinton is getting the same slings and arrows.
Incidentally, here is another link to more anti-Obama stuff. 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

List of Syrian Factions

Following a break in the siege of Aleppo, The Guardian assembled a list of various elements of the Syrian civil war. Go to the link for more content, but this part jumps out to me.
Both sides are throwing everything they can at the four-year battle for the city – a fight that has come to define the Syrian civil war, because each believes the fate of Aleppo will decide the outcome of the conflict. 
“This battle’s results exceed simply opening the road for besieged people; it will overturn the balance of the struggle in the Levant,” said Abu Mohammad al-Jolani, leader of the powerful Jabhat al-Nusra faction that, until last month, was the official al- Qaida franchise in Syria. 
Last month, the faction severed those ties, changed its name to Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and renounced international jihad, although observers said there was little sign of a parallel shift in ideology. Instead, experts reckoned the move was probably aimed at getting it off US airstrike target lists and easing coalitions with other factions. 
That rebranding put the group in a strong position to capitalise on last week’s campaign, particularly if it can consolidate a victory that casts it as a champion of Aleppo’s battered civilians. 
“We urge our people in Aleppo to remain steadfast,” Jolani added in the audio recording released on Friday. “The mujahideen will not fail you.” 
The contrast with western powers, which condemned the siege but said they were powerless to stop it, is unlikely to be lost on Syrians, analysts warned. 
“The world abandoned Aleppo; the jihadis came to the rescue. Al-Qaida’s rebranding could hardly have asked for more,” analyst Kyle Orton, from the Henry Jackson Society, said on Twitter.
Syria’s rebels unite to break Assad’s siege of Aleppo
A lifeline has been re-established to the opposition-held city. But will hardline jihadis reap the rewards for leading the successful offensive?

Assad and his allies

Regime forces
The Syrian army numbered 300,000 before the war but, after five years of fighting, it is barely a third of that.

Hezbollah began to support Assad covertly soon after violence broke out and, in 2013, its leader publicly declared it had joined the war. It is believed to have lost hundreds of fighters, including its top military commander.

Iranian Revolutionary Guards
Iran firmly supports Assad, whom it sees as a key ally in a regional power struggle, and is supplying arms, fuel and hundreds of soldiers. Last year, it released photos of its most celebrated commander on the ground in Syria.

Shia militias
Iranian troops are fighting alongside, and coordinating, Shia militias recruited from across the region, including from Iraq, Afghanistan and even Pakistan.

Russian air force
Last autumn’s Russian air campaign was key to turning the tide of the war in Assad’s favour. Its planes can fly in weather that grounds the Syrian air force and have more powerful and accurate weapons.

Anti-Assad forces in Aleppo

Free Syrian Army
The moderate FSA, made up of many smaller groups, was the dominant opposition force in the first two years of the war. It was initially backed by the Arab states and got cautious US support. After years of disunity and faltering advances, its influence and territory has shrunk, while Islamist groups have grown.

Jaysh al-Fateh
A broad coalition of Islamist factions that came together to fight Assad last year, when its advances forced Russia to come to his aid. Jaysh al-Fateh has been at the heart of the campaign to break the siege on Aleppo. The two most influential groups are as follows.

Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) 
The reconstituted al-Qaida affiliate renounced its ties to the global terror group last month and changed its name, but few observers believe that will herald any change in its ideology.   [See quote above.]

Ahrar al-Sham
Formed by hardliners with Muslim Brotherhood links, who aim to establish a Sunni theocracy in Syria, Ahrar al-Sham fought with Nusra when it was still part of al-Qaida, but rejects international jihad itself. It has a strong support base in Syria.

 President Bashar al-Assad. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Monday, July 25, 2016

Dissection of the relationship between Gülen & Erdoğan

Translated from French, :

Middle East Eye provides a profile of Fethullah Gülen, its network and its conflictual relations with Turkish President Erdoğan.

July 25, 2016
Jillian D'Amours
July 25, 2016

TORONTO, Canada - Following the coup attempt on July 15 in Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan quickly denounced the person he believed to be behind the insurgency.

The Turkish president said repeatedly that the coup leaders received orders "Pennsylvania", referring to rival the Justice and Development Party leader (AKP), Turkish religious living in the United States Fethullah Gulen.

In the days following the failed coup, Ankara has officially asked the US government to extradite Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999.

"When we hand over the terrorist mastermind living in Pennsylvania, everything will be clear," said Erdoğan at the crowd in Istanbul on Saturday following the coup.

Gülen, meanwhile, denied any involvement in the attempted coup, accusing Erdoğan of using it as a pretext to attack him and his supporters. "It's ridiculous, irresponsible and wrong to claim that I have something to do with this horrible failed coup," said the monk in a statement released Tuesday.

"I urge the US government to reject any attempt to misuse the extradition proceedings in order to conduct political vendettas. "

However, major questions remain about the involvement of Gülen and the role of members of güleniste movement, also known by the name of movement Hizmet (service), in recent events.

Who is Gulen?
Fethullah Gulen was born in 1941 near Erzurum in north-eastern Turkey. It became known as Muslim preacher and intellectual in the 1970s, calling for interreligious dialogue, modern education and activism based on faith.

"The Gülen movement is different from other Islamic movements with its emphasis on the importance of ethics in education, the media, business and public life," wrote Gürkan Çelik, author of The Gülen Movement: Building Social Cohesion through Dialogue and Education , a work that has a very positive assessment of the ideology and activities of Gülen.

The Gülen movement told oppose the use of Islam as a political ideology and presents itself as a moderate force advocating cooperation and dialogue.

He is active in the fields of education, dialogue, humanitarian and media in more than 160 countries worldwide, according to the Center for Studies on Hizmet, a nonprofit organization based in London and affiliated with Gülen.

Several non-profit organizations affiliated with Gulen, including the Foundation of Journalists and Writers of the Turkish and the Alliance for common values, have been created, and the movement also organizes seminars and conferences. Gülen millions of followers worldwide, though the exact number is unknown.

But beyond the establishment of schools, charities and non-governmental organizations, supporters of Gülen also have a "dark side", recently wrote Turkish columnist Mustafa Akyol.

The reports and media investigations showed that gülenistes were behind a "secret organization within the state, a project that continues for decades to establish a bureaucratic control over the state," Akyol wrote.

Last year, Ankara has hired the law firm Amsterdam & Partners LLP to investigate the global activities of the Gülen movement and exposing his alleged wrongdoing.

"The activities of the Gülen network, including its infiltration of Justice and the Turkish police and political lobbying abroad, should worry all who care about the future of democracy in Turkey", said to time the founding partner Robert Amsterdam .

Turkey has officially registered the Gülen movement as a terrorist organization in May.

"We will not leave alone in this country those who divide the nation", said Erdogan at the time."They will be brought to account. Some fled, some are in prison and judged now. This process will continue. "

"A very bitter divorce"

However, relations between Erdoğan and Gülen has not always been as explosive.

Erdoğan was close to Gülen for decades and the two leaders were opposed to the secular Kemalist forces in Turkey.

They also shared the goal of transforming Turkey into a state whose essence would be a "Turkish nationalism with a strong conservative religiosity," said Ariel Salzmann, associate professor of Islamic and international history at Queen's University in Canada.

Erdoğan and Gülen were "partners seeking to take power for decades," Salzmann said.

These leaders shared the same opposition to the Kemalist forces in Turkey for many years and, even if it is not launched himself into politics, Gülen supported the AKP - and has mobilized its supporters - when the party was founded and later came to power.

The members of the Gülen movement have also been linked to two notable cases in Turkey: the Ergenekon and Sledgehammer investigations, which focused on alleged attempts to overthrow the government of the AKP and Erdoğan.

The Ergenekon case has led to the arrest of Ahmet Sik, a journalist who wrote a book about the Gülen movement and the alleged his influence in the Turkish security forces. Critics say the Ergenekon case was only a pretext to target dissidents.

"It's a modern Islamic brotherhood," said Salzmann to Middle East Eye on the debut of the relationship between Gülen and Erdoğan.

"They had common interests and were complementary in many ways," said Salzmann.

The links between Erdoğan and Gülen began to fray when supporters of Gulen in the police and justice "have become too independent," according to Salzmann, and they are aggravated when Gülen himself criticized Erdoğan for his handling of the Gezi park demonstrations in 2013.

Later that year, Erdoğan said that Gülen and his followers tried to bring down his government through a bribery investigation involving several officials and business leaders with ties to the AKP and led to the resignation of ministers of the AKP.

The government also accused members of the Gülen movement have tapped government officials.

Since then, Erdogan has repeatedly stated that Gülen runs a "parallel state" in Turkey and its government suppressed the Gülen-affiliated institutions, including the popular newspaper Zamanand Bank Asya.

"I think the idea that there would be someone who would question [Erdoğan], which was slightly disagree with him, with his ideas and methods led to this confrontation, which resulted in the decision State control of all entities linked to Gülen, "said Salzmann.

"It's really a very bitter divorce," she added.

güleniste Education Network

Gülen extended its influence significantly by establishing schools in Turkey and by progressively public and private academic institutions in other countries.

According to the university Bayram Balci, these schools have the same goal: "creating new modern elites capable of modernizing Muslim societies."

"The movement is very modern. They provide a modern and generally very secular education, but at the same time conservative, "said Balci at MEE , likening supporters of education linked to Gülen abroad to the Jesuits, known for their missionary work.

"They are elitist, modern, mysterious and they travel around the world to spread their values," he said.

Balci, an expert on the influence of gülenistes institutions in Central Asia and the Caucasus, toldMEE that Gülen had chosen to focus on the expansion of its movement in the region after the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990.

At the time, countries such as Albania, Bosnia, Macedonia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and other Central Asian countries were more open to foreign influence - and in particular, Turkish "he explained.

The movement is also linked to about 150 charter schools - public schools that are managed by the private sector - the United States, although many of these schools deny any link with alleged Gülen or güleniste influence on their operations.

"This refusal of affiliation is not unique to these schools under contract," said Joshua Hendrick, a professor at Loyola University in Maryland and author of Gülen: The Ambiguous Politics of Market Islam in Turkey and the World .

"What is and is not an affiliate [...] with the Gülen movement has always been something without direct response from those who were asked this question. "

Hendrick told MEE that since these schools are technically public, they must offer the programs established by the districts in which they operate. Schools do not engage in direct religious teachings, but all offer Turkish language option and give students and parents a chance to make a trip sponsored by Turkey.

"They are much more Turks in what they are trying to present as an alternative. This falls under their Muslimness and their Turkish identity, "said Hendrick.

The Gülen movement aims to accumulate and influence, said Hendrick, in order to create social change in Turkey in the long term. However, gülenistes prefer to use their influence to support political actors rather than participating themselves directly in politics.

In the US, individuals affiliated with Gülen also extend beyond charter schools, and they can be found in the media, finance, retail, catering, law, accounting, businesses and even farms, said Hendrick.

"Schools are the element most blatant and so anchor of the community, but in no case [this influence] is not limited to schools," he said.

Behind the coup?
While Erdoğan has consistently dismissed the alleged Gülen sympathizers in the police, judiciary and the media, the Turkish army was "the last bastion remaining gülenistes in Turkey", recently wrote Dani Rodrik, Professor of International Political Economy at Harvard University.

He said Erdogan was preparing to purge the army of officers gülenistes, meaning they "had a pattern, and the time of the attempt [coup] accredits their involvement."

However, a violent coup is not a usual tactic of gülenistes, according to Hendrick.

"Whatever we want to say about the Gülen movement, he is not incompetent organizationally. They have the capacity to play the long game, be patient, be clear about their objectives for their constituents ... and the disorganization and fragmentation of it all, poor planning and the speed with which the coup was crushed seem curious, "he said.

"This does not look anything like their procedure. "

At the same time, Salzmann says that Gülen has become a "lure" Erdoğan used to justify the repression of all opposition perceived in Turkey and greatly limit freedoms.

Since the attempted coup, the Turkish government introduced a state of emergency for three months, during which he will suspend the European Convention on Human Rights.

Turkey banned the university to leave the country, closed hundreds of schools, suspended the annual leave of three million civil servants and arrested, dismissed or suspended at least 50,000 policemen, soldiers, judges, teachers and other professionals.

Impact "cataclysmic "
Erdoğan then repressed all that is linked to Gülen in Turkey, it was him until now difficult to close similar structures outside the country, according to Balci.

"It's hard to outlaw movement and its schools while you have supported them for over twenty years," he said.

"In Central Asia, for example, schools have started to form new elites in 1991, when the USSR collapsed, so for twenty years or more, many people went to these schools in perfect legality. "

Yet Hendrick added that if Erdogan could prove - in accordance with high legal standards to the international level - that Gülen was indeed responsible for attempting to overthrow his government, the impact on gülenistes activities around the world would be "cataclysmic ".

"It would immediately become what his critics said it was and is for 40 years," said Hendrick.

"Knowing that there is conclusive evidence that the organization operating in their country tried to overthrow their business partners, I do not see how that host country [the US] may continue to allow this entity to operate .

"It would be cataclysmic for their future on the existential level if this was correct. "

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Peter Birkenhead's Post

This post appeared in my Facebook timeline at the end of a week when social media has been aflame with the killings of Alton Sterling, Philandro Castile and six police officers in Dallas. Here is a description of slavery as seen by generations that followed.

Here’s what we’re gonna do. We’re going to hunt you. We’re going to trap you. We’re going to tear you from the arms of your mother and call you cargo.

We’re going to beat you. We’re going to put you in a crouch under an all-day sun and deform you. We’re going to forbid you to read. We’re going to lash your skin with salted leather if you read. We're going to rape your daughter if you read, or if you ever dare to stand up. We’re going to tear your son from the arms of his mother, and we’re going to burn you alive if you look for him. We are going to kill you.

We’re going to kill your children. We’re going to leave your daughters to die in the mud after birthing our children. We’re going to crush the bones in your children’s hands with the weight of great buildings. We’re going to brand your children like beasts, raise great buildings on their backs and call them lazy. We’re going to celebrate those buildings as our accomplishment.

"The Half Has Never Been Told"
by Edward Baptist p. 22
We’re going to write laws in those buildings that make it impossible for your grandchildren to enter them, or vote, or read or keep a family together. We’re going to mock them for not being able to do those things. We’re going to kill them. We’re going to dare your grandchildren to vote, or love, or read. We’re going to pull their bowels from their bodies or drown them or hang them when they try to do those things. We’re going to tell stories of their ignorance and wickedness when they don’t try.

We’re going to kill your great grandchildren. We’re going to taunt them with dreams. We’re going to tell them what to dream, then mock them for dreaming those dreams. We’re going to shackle their hands with their bootstraps. We’re going to flail our arms and ball our fists and redden our faces in roaring incomprehension that they don’t have jobs, or know the value of an education.

We’re going to burden them with our fear. We’re going to drop the unmeasurable weight of our failures on them and laugh when they bend their spines. We’re going to insist they straighten up. We’re going to laugh at their names and erase their faces. We’re going to steal their expressions of pain and call them our own. We’re going to force them to deform themselves, to take the shape of our nightmares, to swell to the size of demons and make us fear for our lives instead of theirs. We’re going to sigh about this on occasion.

We’re going to pretend to not understand your great grandchildren. We’re going to wonder what their problem is, and then we’re going to kill them. We’re going to kill them by crooking our fingers. For putting their hands in their pockets. We’re going to wish we didn’t have to kill them, though, so that should count for something. We’re going to kill them yesterday, today and tomorrow. We’re going to hunt them, we’re going to trap them, and then we’re going to kill them.

And we’re going to want you to get over it.