The 2016 Elections

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Re: The 2016 Elections

Postby MerriadocBrandybuck » Mon Jun 12, 2017 8:40 pm

Business as usual in Washington.

Last election was the same as previous elections, nothing changes.

The mystery of the 2016 election was its normalcy
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Re: The 2016 Elections

Postby Storyteller » Mon Jun 12, 2017 9:20 pm

My impression about Qatar is that this is what happens in the Arab world when truth gets leaked.

Does Qatar have good relationship with both Israel and Iran? It sure does. Qatar has official trade relations with Israel since 1992. The only Middle Eastern airline that still hasn't canceled a partnership with Qatar in the recent crisis is Israel's Arkia. (Last year I had to call QR headquarters to sort out a ticketing issue, and while me introducing myself as representing an Israeli travel agency caused an audible stir in their office, they were nevertheless nice, polite and helpful). There's a soccer stadium in the Israeli Arab village of Sakhnin that's built on Qatari money, and Qatar is very active financing construction projects in Gaza with Israeli mediation (Egypt won't allow Qatari delegations into Gaza from their side). At the same time, their foreign policy is the most pro-Iran of all Arab states, and their official media is never heard criticizing anything Iran-related. As two of the world's three biggest natural gas exporters, Iran and Qatar are bound by a web of agreements, and I believe they're the one Arab state that has agreements with Iran regarding defense.

Does Qatar support terrorism? You betcha. First move they've made when the current crisis began was kick out the Hamas HQ. Qatar was one of only two states to officially endorse the Hamas government in 2007 (Turkey was the second). Its financial support for Hamas has so far added up to over $1 billion, and that's just the official part. Qatar readily hosts assorted financeers of Al-Qaeda, Nusra Front, and many Arab states accuse it on hosting ISIS financeers as well. They have displayed a curious reluctance to support military action against ISIS by fellow Arab states, and actually condemned Egypt's airstrikes against ISIS in Libya, for example.

So yes, Qatar's been trying to seat on all chairs at once. I suppose their ability to do so had to run up against some kind of limit, so here we are.
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: The 2016 Elections

Postby hamlet » Tue Jun 13, 2017 8:50 am

You see, stuff like this doesn't make it into US media . . . of any stripe. Curious.
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Re: The 2016 Elections

Postby Storyteller » Wed Jun 14, 2017 10:17 pm

The spat with Qatar has really loosened some tongues! The Red Crescent Secretary General is now speaking out about the way Hamas exploited hospitals as firing positions during the last Gaza war:

"While we were in the field hospital that the UAE built, we were surprised by – and this is the first that we have announced this – someone from Hamas instigating Israeli forces by launching locally made rockets from the field hospital", he said.


Inevitably, the Israelis hit back. "This shows their [Hamas’s] wicked intentions and how they sacrificed us," Mr Al Falahi said. "They always claim that the enemy targets humanitarian envoys but the betrayal came from them."

He said as the team were leaving Gaza "after having raised the white flag, Hamas accused us of being spies, undercover foreign intelligence who were escaping".

"And apparently they had informed extremist militias in Sinai and Sheikh Zuweid [in Egypt] that there was a group making their way there, so prepare for jihad against them.


"So Muslims fighting Muslims, who were giving humanitarian aid to Muslims. As we stopped at a grocery to buy something to eat, they started shooting at us."

He said the same time they found that the militias had planted landmines in their path a few kilometres farther down the path.
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: The 2016 Elections

Postby Jnyusa » Fri Jun 16, 2017 7:19 am

Merry, very interesting article by Vox!

I like Vox -- watch their youtube channel frequently and read their articles. Vox and PBS are the only news sources that don't make my blood pressure go up, but I do listen to pretty much all the other channels as well, just to see what point of view they are selling.

I've read similar analyses by other pundits ... and going into the 2016 election I thought that Hillary had an uphill battle because it would be very unusual for the US not to change parties after 8 years of one President. So the Republican Party did seem to have the historical advantage for the general election. What threw me the most was Trump's winning the nomination, because he's so obviously not competent to do much of anything, so obviously un-civil, so obviously violent in his inclinations, and so on. That is wholly down to the media, I think, that they treated the nomination process like Reality TV instead of the dead-serious reality that it is. And the appointment of Bannon to the National Security Team, a neo-Nazi whose self-reported goal is to "deconstruct" the government ... this is not typical Presidential behavior. So I think that the content of the Trump presidency so far is not business-as-usual, though his being president, once nominated, is not real hard to explain.

Most interesting about the article, I thought ... because I've heard the observation made by other historians about our devolution into identity politics but never heard it put so consequentially as it was in this article ... the fact that people no longer feel real hatred on the basis of race or gender alone but they feel real hatred on the basis of political affiliation. Or rather, the hatred felt over political affiliation exceeds the hatred felt over race and gender.

I'm trying to decide whether this is progress or not. Or, maybe ... what it says about human nature. People who mediate the world by means of anger and resentment and blaming ... maybe this is just a human 'type' and we'll never get away from them. Part of me says that if you're going to hate, then it's better to hate people for choices they have made than for things like race and gender that we don't control. But I don't think the consequences are much different; just the distribution of people who suffer the consequences is different. Is that progress? Is it better to distribute the victims randomly across genders and ethnicities and races, etc. instead of picking one group and persecuting it?

Prof. Tim Snyder, historian at Yale, published a book in February, On Tyranny. I haven't read it yet but have listened to him lecture on it and want to pick it up and read the whole thing this weekend. There was political theory going back to ancient Greece that democracies can indeed terminate themselves: they devolve into anarchy which is ''cured' by a despot, but Snyder has put together an interesting collection of hallmarks in that process and recommendations for what an electorate should do when those hallmarks appear. I guess I would make this recommended reading for just about everyone.

Hamlet, I'm befuddled by your friends' views on Europe. Are they aware that in the run-up to the elections in continental Europe it looked like there might be a resurgence of fascism in Europe? Did they really consider that to be just another lousy option among many lousy options?

Storyteller, thank you for that confirmation of some of what we're hearing in the news about Qatar. One of the things that made the friend-of-Israel accusation seem dubious was the simultaneous reporting that this information had come from Israel. It would not seem to be in Israel's interest to 'out' Qatar if that relationship was true. So if the email was not a fake after all, do you have any information about who leaked it?

That Qatar and every other Arab nation support terrorist factions was not even surprising much less incredible.

The other thing that I hope will not be swept under the rug in all this is the pointed interest of Saudi Arabia in keeping its own monarchy unchallenged. I listen to Al-Jazeera English ... not frequently but routinely when I want access to an Arab view on some issue ... and it is easy to see why Saudi would find it irritating.

There was an interesting interview with ... mm, one of the Saudi princes, Prince #1 I think ...in which he was talking about Iran and Yemen. [Sidebar: Something about him reminded me of Mitch McConnell ... self-righteous, smugly dispassionate, having the condescending demeanor and gestures of a despot, smoothly spinning events to the Saudi POV ... there was something about him that made me despise him with the same brand of despite that I feel towards Mitch McConnell and Jeff Sessions (and no other Republicans that I can think of offhand).] Besides being a donkey he also said something about Iran that I can't discount. Trump's criticism of Iran while in Saudi Arabia seemed particularly ill-timed to the Iranian elections, but this Saudi Prince said that Iran always goes through cycles like this -- they do outrageous things, then elect a moderate who repairs relations with their neighbors, then when things are calm and cooperative for awhile they elect another extremist who stirs the pot. He said his family learned their lesson when Ahmadinejad came to power and would not be fooled a second time that the election of moderate Rouhani had changed Iran's colors.

This has to be weighed against the fact that Iran does have elections, which probably galls the Saudis more than anything else, after the fact that Iran is Shiaa. Ah yes, he also spoke about Shiaa Islam in starkly prejudicial terms: people who are waiting for the Mehdi are uncapable of rational thought, they are not normal humans, they are primitive, they are insane, etc. Hard to believe that two groups of people could hold onto hatred at that level for fourteen hundred years, but they have.

Doesn't increase one's optimism about Ireland. Anyway, it was interesting.
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Re: The 2016 Elections

Postby Storyteller » Fri Jun 16, 2017 11:58 pm

Jnyusa wrote:
Storyteller, thank you for that confirmation of some of what we're hearing in the news about Qatar. One of the things that made the friend-of-Israel accusation seem dubious was the simultaneous reporting that this information had come from Israel. It would not seem to be in Israel's interest to 'out' Qatar if that relationship was true. So if the email was not a fake after all, do you have any information about who leaked it?

I'm not sure what you're talking about, to be honest. The current crisis is about remarks attributed to the Emir of Qatar which were published by the official Qatari news agency's satellite TV channel. They supposedly appeared in the scrolling ticker at the bottom of the screen. So I am not sure what email you are referring to.
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: The 2016 Elections

Postby Jnyusa » Sat Jun 17, 2017 1:44 am

What I read in the US news (or heard on a news program) was that the remarks that were published were taken from an email that the Emir had sent to someone, the email had leaked, and that the leak was orchestrated by the United States and Israel. But maybe this source was mistaken, or fabricated. It wasn't clear where the information came from (to the Qatar news agency, I guess) when the story first broke in the US, or whether the Emir had actually said those things.

Just thought you might have more information about the veracity of the report, and it sounds like you are saying that whether the Emir made those statements or not, the content of the statements is true with regard to Qatar's policies.
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Re: The 2016 Elections

Postby Storyteller » Sat Jun 17, 2017 4:57 am

Yes, that is pretty much what I meant.
I also think that Saudi Arabia, UAE etc. have enough intelligence sources inside Qatar to verify whether or not the remarks were genuine rather than fed by a hacker, and the extent of damage to the formerly solid ties between the GCC members would appear to confirm that everyone is convinced they were.
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: The 2016 Elections

Postby hamlet » Tue Jun 20, 2017 8:55 am

JNyusa: Yes, my friend and I are acutely aware of what the elections in Europe (and, really, in the US and worldwide to similar extent) look like: the rise of "pre-fascism" if you would. It frightens me. Populism is on the rise again and I really don't like it. I knew that the 2016 elections would bring a strong reaction to the Obama years and we'd see a hard conservative viewpoint. I never realized just how stupid and how far we'd go. I'd been afraid of Ted Cruz and his theocracy when I should have been afraid of Trump and his . . . stupidity.

And Europe is facing some of the same things. May is leading a party that wants to actively censor the internet "for security" which just brings up nightmares to me. But you have to realize that just because these are obviously bad choices doesn't mean that people will rationally walk away from them when they're presented with perceived equally terrible or worse choices. No matter how bad of a choice/candidate Trump was/is, Clinton was very little better really. At the very least, she was poisoned goods and during the election she spent much more time giving free press to Trump than actually articulating her own platform. She didn't offer an alternative, she just pointed and said incredulously "really, that?". It was her election to lose and boy did she lose it.
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Re: The 2016 Elections

Postby Jnyusa » Tue Jun 20, 2017 4:10 pm

hamlet, yes, I agee with all of that.
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