Few people read this blog so I actually notice when someone hits my contact page. I saw the hit but I haven’t received any emails. I tested it and didn’t get my own test message either. If you want to contact me send an email. I’m Benjamin and I’m at bnmng.com.
Posted by bnmng on 2014 July 21st
A while ago, I pointed out that a photo which a Facebook friend shared, showing a soldier with a boot on a little girl’s chest, was faked. But now there is so much genuine horror that it seems moot that some of the images are not real. I can’t seem to hold on to an opinion for more than a few minutes, and may instantly regret what I write after I post it, but what I see happening today is Israel claiming to minimize civilian casualties while its military members are so hateful that they don’t really care. I see Palestinians in an unacceptable and unfair situation, but who long ago chose the most horrific methods of expressing their frustrations. I see Israel’s right to invade Gaza and destroy the tunnels, and I see Palestinian’s right to protest the carnage. I see terrible wrong on both sides and partisans on both sides sharing half-true news stories, with Zionists ignoring the economic hardship caused by overbearing security measures and Palestinian supporters ignoring the fact that no matter what Israel gives them, they either destroy it or use it against Israel. There is wrong on both sides.
The original sin, though, is on Israel. Not because the Zionists expelled all of the Arabs to create their homeland; that story ignores all those who willingly left so they could join their Arab neighbors in a failed attempt to murder Israel. And not because Palestine was a sovereign nation that was invaded. It never was. And not because the region hadn’t already changed hands many times before. And not because the people who lived on the land that became Israel might not have prospered had they accepted the Zionists’s offer of citizenship. But despite all that, there were people living in the land that became Israel, and when those people were told that a bunch of new folks were going to move in and form a nation, their response was, “we don’t want it”, and that response should have been honored.
Finding out who threw the first punch isn’t enough to bring peace or justice in an escalating conflict. Today, we have an imperialist military power fighting against a movement that wants nothing short of the death of the sinner as reparations for its sins. Israel will not die to appease terrorists and Palestinians will not accept brutal conditions imposed on them by occupiers. It seems hopeless.
I do think it’s hopeless to stop the horror of the current operation. I am still supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself but cannot blame all of the carnage on Hamas’s “human shields” while praising Israel for not targeting civilians. Too bad my support is irrelevant. This operation will play out until the tunnels are destroyed and Hamas is devastated, along with dozens of innocent, non-targeted children.
But after this incursion, there will again be hope. Israeli supporters claim it is hopeless because they keep making concessions and getting nothing but aggression in return. That is, to a small degree, true. In support for their arguments they contrast relinquishing the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt in exchange for peace against withdrawing from Gaza in 2005. That withdrawal resulted in Palestinian criminals looting and destroying greenhouses that Israeli settlers left for the Palestinian people, economic devastation in Palestine, and continued attacks on Israel. But there are many differences between giving the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt and withdrawing from Gaza, including:
- Israel’s continued control and harsh restrictions of Gaza’s borders (with Egypt’s help).
- Egypt’s financial and political establishment which would not have allowed the Sinai Peninsula to descend into chaos
- Palestinian longing for land within Israel’s borders
Another difference: if militants on Egypt’s border were to fire rockets at Israel, Israel’s response, even if it were disproportionate, would not be so devastating that all of Egypt would be bathed in the blood of Egyptian civilians.
The next withdrawal from Gaza must include a genuine economic investment for peace. It must include a police force capable of protecting resources from looters and the ability to move goods in and out of Gaza. It also must include a willingness on both sides to show enough restraint not to let enemies of peace scuttle the entire process. That last point means accepting the fact that there will be more murders, but not every murder should be answered with a military incursion.
Peace won’t happen without pressure. For Americans it means writing letters to politicians expressing support for Israel’s right to self-defense but also support for pressuring Israel to make genuine, costly, and risky efforts towards peace. It means financial contributions to organizations working for peace. For those who can, it means volunteering for such organizations.
A true effort towards peace is almost impossible to imagine, since Israelis will raise hell in protest and it will not eliminate the threat from anti-Zionists who only want the death of Israel. But considering Israel’s prosperity on land that once belonged to others, they should and hopefully can be pressured to take the only realistic path towards peace short of self-annihilation or criminal oppression and murder. As for the Palestinians who want Israel dead, I believe that pragmatism can beat extremism even when the extremism is fueled by a legitimate grievance.
Posted by bnmng on 2014 July 20th
Israel is now firing on Hospitals. Do you actually believe that Hamas is using the Hospital to hide a stash of rockets?
On facebook, a friend asked, “Israel is now firing on Hospitals. Do you actually believe that Hamas is using the Hospital to hide a stash of rockets?”
I wrote “Yes”.
Yes, I actually believe that Hamas is using hospitals to stash weapons. While I can believe that the Israelis are evil enough to destroy a hospital out of hate, I can also believe that Hamas is evil enough to turn a hospital into a target. My friend only seems capable of believing the Zionists are evil.
Even if Israel is evil enough to destroy a hospital for no reason other than pure hate, how could they be so stupid? Not only did they fire upon El-Wafa hospital, they broadcast their intentions in advance to allow a everyone to gather around and watch. “Hey look everyone, we’re about to destroy a hospital. Grab your smartphones, you won’t want to miss this!”
International solidarity activists are staying in a Gaza hospital, which the Israel Defense Forces has indicated it plans to bomb, as a human shield.
Hamas is not stupid either. Hiding weaponry in a hospital is a win win situation for them. They either get to store their weapons in a place that Israel won’t dare destroy, or, more likely and more lucrative, they get the publicity of showing Israel’s wanton destruction. So the the next question is if Hamas is willing to sacrifice Palestinians to further their goal of destroying Israel. Considering the suicide bombers and the belief in martyrdom, I have to think the answer is yes.
They are both capable of evil. I am not as pro-Zionist as my friend thinks. But the Israeli strike on the hospital would be completely against Israeli interests if there wasn’t a tactical reason for it, and creating a tactical reason is very advantageous to Hamas.
Posted by bnmng on 2014 July 16th
Although I’ve seen posts yesterday implying that the deadline was last midnight, I’m pretty sure that the deadline is midnight tonight. So if you’ve been procrastinating about sending in your comments about net neutrality, you have a few hours left.
I wrote, “The Constitution grants the government the right to establish post offices and postal roads, to ensure that the people of the United States of America have access to information. The internet is a new postal route. In fact, it is now the primary source of the kind of information that the framers hoped to protect. We should not allow information to be throttled by private interests. We have a duty to protect this new route of information.”
I can understand if you haven’t acted on this issue yet. It’s technical, and the other side seem to have a good point. Why shouldn’t content providers pay more for a higher level of service?
John Oliver explains perfectly why you’ve been procrastinating and why you should stop immediately. My only point of contention with Oliver’s very good segment is he frames the debate in terms of entertainment, ie Netflix vs Comcast (well that and the fact that he ripped off “nutflix” from “Idiocracy”).
What he leaves out is that the debate isn’t just about watching movies. It’s about information. What if your cable company doesn’t like the reporting done by a news organization that isn’t supportive of big corporations? That is the bigger issue. If net neutrality is abolished, your cable company will have an easier time throttling information that they don’t want you to hear. To put it more bluntly, they will have an easier time limiting the news that your low-information neighbor sees because your low-information neighbor doesn’t work very hard to get informed. that news will only be news that his provider wants him to see, and that will be what he takes with him to the polls.
There are several ways to submit comments. You can go to the FCC’s comments page, or, for a friendlier interface submit through organizations such as Free Press or Battle for the Net. I used Battle for the Net’s interface but I asked them if the message goes to the same place.
Yes, our form submits directly to theirs, we just tried to make it a bit easier for people since their’s is a bit confusing.
-Evan at FFTF
Which it is.
If you miss tonight’s deadline, there is still a reply period, but it’s best to get your comments in now.
Posted by bnmng on 2014 July 15th
I don’t like posting about Israel and Palestine because it’s hard for me to compensate properly for my bias. But I’ve seen posts by Facebook friends of faked or falsely attributed photos about the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian violence and feel I must at least help dispel some of the lies.
My bias makes me react more strongly to the lies about Israel than to the lies about Palestine, but there are indeed lies 0n all sides. Because of all the lies, you cannot form an intelligent opinion about the Middle East by reacting to Facebook posts and tweets. If you have a few Zionist or anti-Zionist friends and you mindlessly forward their shocking pictures or heartbreaking stories without taking at least a couple of minutes to find out if they are real, then you are probably helping to disseminate false propaganda, which leads to more violence.
So here is a quick list of things to consider and hopefully compel you to do more research on more than one side of the issue. Some of my items are pro-Israel, some pro-Palestine. It’s not an “all you need to know” list, but it’s a start.
* Hamas uses human shields, and that is part of the reason the body count is so one-sided (another, of course, is Israel’s military superiority). And Israel warns the Palestinians about their targets. (see Video Shows Gaza Residents Acting as Human Shields, Newsweek, and Israel drops leaflets warning Gaza residents to evacuate ahead of airstrikes, CNN )
* Some of the horrible pictures that we’re seeing are not current and/or not from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Many are from Syria (see Report: Gaza supporters using false images on Twitter, Haaretz. Also see More Fakestinian lies, old lies, and video tape, from Almost Midnight in the West. I don’t advocate the hate that this website promotes, but this page has good examples of falsely attributed images.)
* Many would be surprised how many Jews opposed the creation of Israel, and still oppose its existence. There is a rational for saying the Torah forbids a Jewish homeland. ( see Why Orthodox Jews are Opposed to the Zionist State, Neturei Karta )
* There are a significant number of Arabs and Muslims who will not accept any solution other than the destruction of Israel, and are lying when they come to the negotiating table. (see Benny Morris: “The 1948 War Was an Islamic Holy War”, Middle East Quarterly).
* Israel also lies at the negotiation table, and cannot in good faith work towards peace while it continues to build settlements. (see Obama and Israel: The pessimistic perspective The Hill)
Posted by bnmng on 2014 July 14th
Elliott Fausz, the Democratic candidate for Virginia’s 4th District of U.S. Congress, was at the July meeting of the Suffolk Democratic Committee, and he said that he’d be a supporter of education initiatives, immigration reform, and the minimum wage. Then he took some questions.
A good portion of the questions, including one from me, were about his campaign. Elliott and his campaign manager Chika Anyadike, emphasized the need for a grass roots effort on the part of Democrats to get the word out. Someone asked how he’s going to get enough money to combat Randy Forbes. Again, they answered “Grassroots effort.” Someone asked what he was going to do if he doesn’t get all that money. It reminded me of the scene from Armageddon where Stamper asks Truman, “What’s your contingency plan?”
TRUMAN: Contingency plan?
STAMPER: Your backup plan. You gotta have some sort of back up plan, right?
TRUMAN: No. We don’t have a backup plan. This is it.
Folks — We are the plan. I say this especially to Democrats who live in Virginia’s 4th Congressional District but also to Democrats anywhere. There is no pot of money that Elliott Fausz can tap into to make up for anything less than a surprisingly enthusiastic grassroots movement. There will be no financial match to the heavy corporate funding that Randy Forbes will receive. There will be no comparable spending of air time to counter Randy Forbes’s misleading attacks. Randy Forbes has the support of the wealthiest corporations in Virginia. Defense contractors have already given Forbes well over $100,000.00 for this election cycle alone. Fifteen thousand already from Huntington Ingalls ( And since corporations are people, how many people at Huntington Ingalls are happy to have the corporation they are a part of supporting Randy Forbes? A lot, I’m sure, but I bet not nearly all of them. Probably not most. ).
Virginia’s fourth is a gerrymandered district that connects the rural and once rural regions between Richmond and Norfolk, and includes much of South Hampton roads which is heavily dependent on military contracts. But even those not in Virginia’s 4th are effected by our politics. As the leader of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, Randy Forbes has been one of the most outspoken critics of one of the most important principles of the U.S. Constitution, which is the separation of church and state. Forbes has been a proponent of military spending and he says jobs depend on it, but opposes government spending on green initiatives, education, and infrastructure because government needs to get out of the way in order to create jobs. Forbes supports Jesus in federal government, tax cuts for the wealthy, unchecked military spending, and not much else.
In Armageddon, Truman eventually says to Stamper, “We’re a little short on time. Will you help us?”
We’re a little short on time, folks. Will you help? Whatever you can contribute to his campaign (or to the Suffolk Democratic Committee) will be a huge benefit. But I don’t expect Fausz to raise even half as much as Forbes. Money will help, but canvassing and talking to your friends and neighbors will help more. Remind them that every year is an election year in Virginia and every election is important.
Elliott Grayson Fausz is a real leader and a true grassroots candidate who will support education, infrastructure, the minimum wage, and our military members without pandering to the huge military and financial firms that spend obscene amounts of money on Randy Forbes.
We are the plan. Elliott Fausz for U.S. Congress, Virginia’s 4th Congressional District. fausz4congress.com
Posted by bnmng on 2014 July 9th
Despite all of the memes on Facebook about how your boss’s religion trumps your personal rights, the Hobby Lobby ruling isn’t so much about bosses, employees, or even religion as it is about the legislative authority of Christians and those of Christian heritage pretending to be Christian. To illustrate that fact, Huffington Post ran a farcical article listing different activities, such as public sex and the use of hallucinogens, that could happen now that we abide by laws “a la carte”. But it’s hard to imagine anything on that list coming to pass unless well connected Christian conservatives claim that it must pass lest their Christianity be overburdened. And it can’t be just any Christians. The Huffpo article also mentions unpasteurized milk, the distribution of which the Amish have not been successful in legalizing despite it being against their beliefs to withhold from others food that they consume themselves.
The owners of Hobby Lobby like to present the appearance of towing the right wing Christian line, but their hypocrisy, as reported by Mother Jones, proves that it’s all for show. In addition to investing in companies that violate their fake principals, Hobby Lobby also sells tons of cheap trinkets imported from China, and doing business with China is no way to keep your hands clean of indirectly supporting non-Christian practices.
Based on Hobby Lobby’s non-Christian dealings and the fact that nobody from Hobby Lobby’s owning family would ever be forced to directly purchase the products that they object to, I don’t believe that anybody at Hobby Lobby felt that God would have been angry at them for violating his commandments. I believe that they objected to being told what to do by a president who doesn’t show due reverence to their Christian heritage.
Rallying behind the cross isn’t about religion, except for a few true-believers who have been duped into thinking that Christianity is compatible with the right wing agenda. Rallying behind the cross is about heritage, and what we’ve seen, more than once now, is that sometimes heritage is more important then merit when it comes to being heard by this Supreme Court.
Posted by bnmng on 2014 July 1st
In response to all of the emails and Facebook posts telling me to “Tell President Obama” not to Intervene in Iraq, I urge you to to let Obama follow the advice of experts who know a lot more about the situation in Iraq then you, I, or even Bill Mahar.
Going into Iraq now would not be doing the same thing that we did before. It would be the opposite. Instead of toppling a regime and creating a power vacuum, we’d be supporting a government already in place and preventing an overthrow. Instead of lying to justify an invasion, we’d be responding to a request for help.
When America was cheering the removal of troops from Iraq, many conservatives not only endorsed the end of the war, they gave Bush credit for it, which was (I’ll agree with Politifact on this) at least half-true. Now they criticize Obama for leaving.
Whether your an Obama supporter or an Obama hater, crediting Obama for withdrawing or blaming him for it requires you to ignore the Bush timeline, the expectations of the American people, and the attempts to maintain a small force in Iraq against the will of the Iraqi government. Had we not withdrawn, many of the same people who are criticizing Obama for leaving would be criticizing him for staying, and Obama would be in a position of maintaining forces in Iraq against the will of the American and Iraqi people, while fighting a Congress who controls the purse strings and will do anything to make Obama fail. I think we had to withdraw.
Now I think we should return. Sometimes you have to take the training wheels off to see what happens. The American people can plainly see that Iraq isn’t ready to move forward without us. The government we helped put in place is asking for our help in cleaning up the mess that we helped create. Who are we to say “No”?
Posted by bnmng on 2014 June 22nd
It was Shays’ Rebellion which prompted Thomas Jefferson to write about the blood of patriots and tyrants. But while Jefferson praised the spirit of the rebels, he was condescending towards the rebellion and its participants.
Jefferson thought the Shaysites were ignorant, and had misconceived the facts. But the Shaysites weren’t as misinformed as he thought. They certainly weren’t as misinformed as today’s self described patriots who think they’re following in Shays’s footsteps. The Shaysites knew they were being unfairly burdened during an economic crises, and had called for a fiscally conservative government to intervene and help relieve their debt.
I say nothing of it’s motives. They were founded in ignorance, not wickedness. God forbid we should ever be 20. years without such a rebellion. The people can not be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive.(Monticello.org)
But that government refused
Unlike many other state legislatures in the 1780s, the Massachusetts government didn’t respond to the economic crisis by passing pro-debtor laws (like forgiving debt and printing more paper money). us history.org
I find that even my fellow liberals, while noticing the irony of quoting the man who thought their role models were ignoramuses, fail to emphasize the contrast between the Shaysites and the insurgents of today. They assume that the two are analogous and apply Jefferson’s words to both. But the Shaysites had a better reason to rebel than today’s insurgents.
Imagine if today’s angry, armed American terrorists with their threatening “tree of liberty” signs were calling for debt forgiveness and more money from the government! They might just as well have called for the government to do something about the skyrocketing cost of a medical system which increasingly served the wealthy and left the poor to die of treatable conditions. Instead they’ve been tricked by the right wing establishment to whip themselves into a murderous frenzy at the thought of the government taxing the wealthy to help the poor. Daniel Shays wasn’t nearly so misinformed.
Not only was Jefferson patronizing in his attitude towards the Shaysites, he had little company in his enthusiasm for periodic bloodshed. Sam Adams was far more representative of Founders’ attitudes towards the rebellion,
In monarchy the crime of treason may admit of being pardoned or lightly punished, but the man who dares rebel against the laws of a republic ought to suffer death.
I haven’t seen that one scrawled on a cardboard sign. With few Founding Fathers to quote in support of their bloodthirsty treason, today’s insurgents have settled for the words of a Founding Father who never fought for his country, and they quote him cheering the spilled blood of those who he called ignorant.
Shays’ Rebellion was put down in 1787 by government forces.
Perhaps it will ultimately be for the best if our homegrown terrorists rise up and get squashed. Shays’ Rebellion had positive consequences, and ultimately helped gather support for the ratification of the United States Constitution, although most of the Shaysites were against it. On that subject they were indeed misinformed. But if today’s insurgents want to rebel in the spirit of those who Thomas Jefferson condescendingly praised, they should be fighting for much of what they are fighting against. They should be supporting, rather than threatening a government which intervenes in an economic downturn and provides relief for those who struggle to keep what little they have.
Posted by bnmng on 2014 June 20th