Netanyahu has gone too far in several ways.

Peter Baker writes in the NYT: “Israeli officials defied American opposition on Friday to announce 450 new settlement units in the West Bank and privately whispered to their media that Mr. Obama had given Iran 80 percent of what it wants.” There are many articulate comments highly critical of Netanyahu in the Comments following the article. I agree with the most recommended ones, Netanyahu has insulted our president and the presidency. Democrats should boycott the joint session of congress to meet him that bypassed diplomatic protocals and the president. The US should have stopped supporting Israel with billions/year of support, when they restarted building illegal settlements on occupied Arab lands, which make the prospect for peace approach impossible. Netanyahu does not treat us like a friend or ally. It is not too late to require that the settlement building stop, maybe even that some are destroyed, or handed over to the Palestinians.

The diplomatic break touched off by Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to negotiate an address to Congress without first telling President Obama reflects their fundamentally…|By PETER BAKER

Good news from the NYT on Climate Change Politics

Good news from the NYT: “In a finding that could have implications for the 2016 presidential campaign, the poll also found that two-thirds of Americans say they are more likely to vote for political candidates who campaign on fighting climate change.”

An overwhelming majority, including nearly half of Republicans, back government steps to curb global warming, according to a poll conducted by The Times and others.|By MARJORIE CONNELLY

Suffering in Syria and Iraq

Not only is this horrible news, but we helped cause this mess, and have some responsibility to help clean it up. It is good, therefore, that President Obama is helping in fight against ISIS.

I have visited camps before, but this time the pain left me speechless.|By Angelina Jolie

The presence and fear of handguns is epidemic.

Thank you Charles Blow for a thoughtful article.
A Yale campus police officer pulls his gun and points it at a Yale student, because the student looks like a tall black male. There are two sad issues.

1. The officer behaved very badly.
2. The presence and fear of handguns is epidemic.
Our Police are afraid of us, because we allow so many guns in our society. The NRA and it’s friends should take some of the blame for this dangerous racial profiling. But the problem is bigger than racial profiling. One commentator identifies herself as plump, short, 50 year old white woman, who had officers draw their guns on her.

What if my son had panicked and the officer had fired? Had I come close to losing him?|By Charles M. Blow

Inclusive Capitalism ideas appear in Obama’s State of the Union speech.

“Not only would Obama raise capital gains tax rates from 23.8 to 28 percent for couples making more than $500,000 in taxable income, but he would eliminate a provision in tax law that allows the very rich to avoid taxation on much of the wealth passed on to their children and he would end a current exemption from taxation on the increase in the value of stocks, bonds and other assets when passed on through inheritance.”

In his State of the Union address, President Obama demonstrated the influence of the Democratic Party’s turn toward a more ‘inclusive capitalism.’|By Thomas B. Edsall

Should there be a carbon offset market for trees?

“The pace of deforestation is so great today that it accounts for an estimated 12 to 15 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions annually.”

Tropical forests could be protected by selling their carbon reserves as offsets to greenhouse gas emitters.|By Don Melnick, Mary Pearl and James Warfield
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  • David Lindsay There are many critical comments to the rosy idea above after the column in the NYT. For example:
    Michael Goldstein
    Oakland, CA 9 hours ago
    I have to believe that most people behind this initiative are well intentioned. However, it is both a manifestation, and a dangerous promotion, of the illusion that barely restrained corporate capitalism and sustainability are somehow compatible. If we and other species are to survive, the rain forests must be protected — period. And if we and other species are to survive, most of the remaining fossil material we think of as fuel must stay in the ground — period. It is not either/or. The idea that coal and oil companies and the industries that rely on energy from the burning of their products can continue to pollute as long as they also pay something for saving some of the rain forests is so plausible to the uninformed, and yet so daft, that for people who have studied the situation to promote it amounts to criminal negligence. Please rethink this and come back from the Dark Side.


Paul Krugman, wonders why so many on the right deny climate change

The other oracle, Paul Krugman, wonders why so many on the right deny climate change, inspite of the facts, and science. 2014 was the warmest year ever recorded, etc. He decides, these people just don’t want solutions by government. Krugman writes:
“And why this hatred of government in the public interest? Well, the political scientist Corey Robin argues that most self-proclaimed conservatives are actually reactionaries. That is, they’re defenders of traditional hierarchy — the kind of hierarchy that is threatened by any expansion of government, even (or perhaps especially) when that expansion makes the lives of ordinary citizens better and more secure. I’m partial to that story, partly because it helps explain why climate science and health economics inspire so much rage.”

Why do so many Americans hold views that are completely at odds with, and completely unaffected by, actual experience?|By Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman on the futility of conquest by large powers

Paul Krugman: “I have no idea what will become of the Putin regime. But Mr. Putin has offered all of us a valuable lesson. Never mind shock and awe: In the modern world, conquest is for losers.”
Iraq was a disaster for the US, that cost between 1-3 trillion in lost US treasure.

There is still a powerful political faction in America that hasn’t learned this lesson.|By Paul Krugman
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  • David Lindsay From Comments at the NYT:
    Reality Based
    Flyover Country 27 days ago
    The neocons learned several things from the Iraq debacle. First, in the United States of Amnesia, there is no political penalty for deliberately lying to the public about weapons which didn’t exist in order to justify a totally unjustified war that will ultimately cost not $800 billion but three times that when all costs, including disabilty costs are included (see Stiglitz). And of course this three trillion dollar debacle was a financial bonanza for Halliburton and a thousand or so revolving door defense and security contractors cashing in. If you think any of the neo-con hustlers who foisted this debacle on America are bothered by destabilizing an entire region, wrecking a country, empowering Iran, causing the displacement to date of over a million people, well, you would be wrong. It is impossible to be too cynical about the motivations of this bunch.

    They just turn on their propaganda arm, blame the whole thing on Obama, and get ready to do it all over again.


Maureen Dowd on the movie “Selma.”

Thank you, Maureen Dowd, for helping to set the record strait on the movie “Selma.” She wrote: “I loved the movie and find the Oscar snub of its dazzling actors repugnant. But the director’s talent makes her distortion of L.B.J. more egregious. Artful falsehood is more dangerous than artless falsehood, because fewer people see through it.
DuVernay told Rolling Stone that, originally, the script was more centered on the L.B.J.-M.L.K. relationship and was “much more slanted to Johnson.”
“I wasn’t interested in making a white-savior movie,” she said.
Instead of painting L.B.J. and M.L.K. as allies, employing different tactics but complementing each other, the director made Johnson an obstacle.
Top Johnson aide Jack Valenti told Michael Beschloss, the presidential historian, that L.B.J. aspired to pass a Voting Rights Act from his first night as president. Valenti said that his boss talked to him about it the night of J.F.K.’s assassination in the bedroom of Johnson’s house in D.C., The Elms, before the newly sworn-in president went to sleep.On the tape of a phone conversation between President Johnson and Dr. King the week of L.B.J.’s 1965 inauguration, the president said that he indicated the time was yet ripe to ask Congress for it, and he made it clear that they both needed to think of something that would move public opinion more than a presidential speech.”
What DuVernay did to LBJ was disgusting. I learned much from the movie, it is wrenching, and recommend it to all, with the warning of the falsehood claimed by many and clarified by Dowd. It does make one wonder, how much of the rest of the film is false. Maybe the cheap and ugly manipulation against LBJ by the director led Oscar voters to boycott the talented cast, who beautifully acted out a magnificent story, just not always the one of record.

The truth of the strategizing on civil rights between President Johnson and Dr. King was dramatic enough. Why twist it?|By Maureen Dowd