Friday, June 27, 2014


So, how do you translate "al-Sham?"

There is a real difference between "Syria," a modern state, and "the Levant," a nineteenth century translation of "al-Sham" that included most of Iraq, greater Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Israel.  Recently (on YouTube, of course,) "al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi Iraq wa al-Sham" cleared it up for us.  They're talking Levant.  Their intended caliphate includes pretty much all of of the aforementioned states.

Poor Jordan. Poor Lebanon, only recently emerged from so many years of internal strife.  Poor everybody else, if Israel decides it has to use its nukes.

Now and in the future, when I use the term "ISIS," the final "S" stands for "al-Sham."

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Fucking Egypt

A couple of days ago, John Kerry was in Cairo "reconfirming" America's "relationship" with Egypt.  Yesterday, the al-Sisi courts sentenced three al-Jazeera journalists to seven years in prison on trumped up charges without even bothering to trump up any evidence.

So, what's up?  Well, as we all know, we have to maintain our "relationship" with fucking Egypt to maintain our "relationship" with fucking Israel.  Israel, at the moment, is using the matter of its three missing teenagers to destroy the remaining Hamas presence in the West Bank.  We're told that the "evidence" of Hamas responsibility will be produced later this week, but it seems it has not been thoroughly "trumped" yet.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Mess in Iraq

Saddam Hussein was dreadful, but Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has been a catastrophe.  His virtual elimination of Sunni Muslims from the Iraqi government, beginning with his targeting the now exiled Sunni vice president Tariq al-Hashemi immediately following the withdrawal of U.S. forces in 2011, left Sunni Iraqis with no political power and no way to address grievances.  Add to that his increasing authoritarianism, and civil war looked inevitable.  ISIS is merely the precipitating factor.

Those currently insisting that Obama "should have" left some American troops in Iraq conveniently forget that Maliki refused to sign the status of forces agreement that would have permitted that.  It was clear at the time that Maliki wanted the United States out of Iraq, so he could more easily pursue his sectarian goals.

Now Maliki wants Obama to send air power to help him fight off the ISIS rebels, but without dependable American spotters on the ground, air strikes are more likely to kill hapless civilians than rebel fighters.  Old Baathists are joining up with the ISIS forces,  Shi'a militias are forming, and QUDS guardsmen from Iran already may be in Baghdad.  Quite frankly, any American involvement at this point seems absurd.

I'm waiting for the Kurds to spread out from their autonomous region, perhaps even into Syria, and declare an independent Kurdistan.  Their pesh murga is the best fighting force in the region, and the ongoing chaos in Iraq may be their best chance to have the homeland that has been their goal for many years.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Eric Cantor

Eric Cantor's "stunning" loss to Tea Partier David Brat really is not all that stunning.  After the 2010 census, Cantor's dependably Republican district was further gerrymandered to make it even more Republican and more conservative.  For Cantor, that may have backfired.

Brat's campaign issue was immigration, where Cantor had let a tiny glimpse of light shine through between his position and the brick wall of the hardest of the hard right.  "We all don't care much for furriners in these parts."

Well, then tell me, Jim Bob: how do you feel about the Jeeeeewwwwwws?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Some Catch-up

Bowe Bergdahl

No, he wasn't a hero.  Also, he wasn't a traitor.

How emotionally disturbed does a young man have to be to walk off a base in a very active war zone, leaving his weapon, armor, and night vision goggles behind?  Maybe it was some sort of psychotic episode.  Maybe it was moral outrage.  Maybe the two are not mutually exclusive.

The five Taliban "leaders," out of the loop for thirteen years, are not likely to present much of a problem to the USofA.  Their successors will not be inclined to step aside to accommodate their return.  Maybe they are propaganda victories, but I suspect their only other use will be as suicide bombers — and I'm pretty sure they won't be volunteering any time soon.  Suicide bombing is for kids.

The Palestinian "Merger"

Bibi is jumping up and down like Yosemite Sam.  I am amused, of course.  Bibi wants the USofA to end all contact with the Palestinians now that Hamas has reconciled with the PLO, but that's not happening.  Abu Masem is a sly old bastard, and I think he's making some good moves right now.

Obama's "War on Coal"

Let the wild rumpus begin!  Okay, it's not Obama's war on coal — the real war is being waged by the natural gas industry.  Natural gas is a much cheaper means to generate electricity than, at the very least, Appalachian coal.  Montana's coal is even cheaper than that, but mostly exported to China, where it brings higher prices.

I guess the "War on Coal" might have some small impact on the midterm elections, but I don't think it will matter all that much.  Employment in the coal industry already has been decimated by natural gas and heavy equipment mountaintop removal.