Monday, December 31, 2012

Did Shell Alaska's Crew Order Rig on the Rocks at Joe Hazelwood's New Year's Party?

You can follow what is happening with the Kulluk, which has again parted its tow lines, four miles from the rocky coast of Sitkalidak Island at these URLs:

Kulluk Incident Joint Command's URL for the Nanuq

Shell Alaska's twitter page

My ongoing diary at firedoglake on this phase of the incident

Valdez-Based Crowley Tug Alert Brings Kulluk Back Under Tow

Crowley tug Alert on Prince William Sound
According to the Unified Command Joint Information Center in Anchorage's Frontier Building:
The Kulluk drilling vessel is under tow by the Aiviq and tug Alert. All three vessels are currently located about 19 miles southeast of Kodiak Island.  
At approximately 12:45 a.m., Monday, Dec. 31, the Alert was able to secure the 400-foot line that was previously the tow line used by the Aiviq. The Alert successfully added tension to the line to test its ability to hold.  
Later in the morning, the Aiviq also restored its connection to the Kulluk. Ensuring the safety of personnel and protecting the area's environment continue to be of the utmost importance. Difficult weather conditions are anticipated to continue over the next several days.  
Unified Command is evaluating all potential options to further secure the vessel until the weather clears.
Among other things, the Unified Command has asked for mobilization of a team from International Bird Rescue:
International Bird Rescue’s senior wildlife response team has been activated as a contingency measure after a tow pulling the drilling vessel Kullak stalled Thursday in stormy seas near Alaska’s Kodiak Island, prompting an evacuation of its 18-person crew. 
Here's the current weather pattern analysis for the Gulf of Alaska:

It seems difficult to predict how serious Tuesday's storm might be, but the low pressure system right over the emergency area looks formidable.  Here's the current NOAA marine forecast for Kodiak waters:
Storm Warning 
Today: SE wind 30 kt becoming E 50 kt in the afternoon. Seas 15 ft building to 20 ft in the afternoon. Rain. 
Tonight: SE wind 55 kt. Seas 30 ft. Rain. 
Tue: S wind 50 kt. Seas 28 ft subsiding to 23 ft in the afternoon. Rain. 
Tue Night: S wind 35 kt. Seas 18 ft. 
Wed: SE wind 40 kt. Seas 18 ft. 
Thu: S wind 25 kt. Seas 15 ft. 
Fri: S wind 30 kt. Seas 13 ft.
Tonight looks like it will be another severe test of this group's emergency capabilities.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Shell Drill Rig Kulluk Breaks Tow Lines - Adrift Again Sunday Night

I.  Early Sunday evening (Alaska time) the Shell-leased Arctic drilling rig Kulluk parted the lines from both tugs which had again begun towing the vessel early Sunday.  In heavy seas, with all crew having been evacuated late Saturday, the rig is unmanned.  It is trailing parts of the parted lines.  However, with no hands aboard the rig to man winches, prospects for recovering the rig in worsening seas are both dim and highly dangerous.  The Kulluk has been reported this evening to be only 20 miles to the south of the nearest rocks on Kodiak's coasts, with winds and waves pushing it toward probable demise.  Lisa Demer, of the  Anchorage Daily News, reports it in a slightly different position:
With no towlines securing it in place, the crew-less Kulluk is drifting about 20 miles south of Sitkinak Island, part of the Trinity Islands, south of Kodiak. Smith said early Sunday evening that he had not yet been briefed on how many hours it would take the Kulluk to reach shore if it continues adrift. A number of variables, including currents and wind speed, would affect when and where it hit, if it came to that, he noted. He said he would provide the information when he gets it.
The superstructure is massive, adding a lot of sail to the wind's effect.

Earlier today, I telephonically attended a hastily convened press conference that was held in Anchorage's Frontier Building.  Asking questions at the presser were Lisa Demer from the Anchorage Daily News, and Rachel D'Oro, from the Associated Press.  Both had just filed stories on the press event when the news of further disaster became known, and both have updated their stories within the past hour. From Demer's updated story, it appears the lines parted almost exactly when the 1:00 pm AST press conference started:
An unmanned mobile oil drilling rig owned by Royal Dutch Shell is adrift -- again -- south of Kodiak Island after it lost towlines Sunday afternoon from two vessels trying to hold it in place against what have been pummeling winds and high seas, according to incident management leaders. 
A team of 250 people from the Coast Guard, the state of Alaska, Royal Dutch Shell, and one of its contractors was hunkered down Sunday, mainly in Midtown Anchorage's Frontier Building, trying to resolve the ongoing crisis with the Shell-owned drilling rig, the Kulluk. 
Before the latest turn for the worse, representatives of the Coast Guard, Shell and the state Department of Environmental Conservation told reporters in a briefing early Sunday afternoon that the situation was critical, but under control. Then tow lines from the Aiviq and a second support vessel, the Nanuq "separated," the joint command team said in a statement sent out at about 4:30 p.m. The setback happened sometime after 1 p.m., just as commanders were briefing news media on what appeared at that point to be a successful response after a series of failures. They didn't yet know the towlines had broken free, said Shell spokesman Curtis Smith, who is part of the unified incident command team.
Demer also noted the somewhat forced optimism I described in my comments posted at firedoglake during the conference. Rachel D'Oro, in her AP article, noted:
He lauded the involved responders dealing with extremely challenging conditions. He also praised the performance of Shell and its contractors. "Flawless operations is always the goal. But being a responsible operator also means putting contingency plans in place," Churchfield said. "Shell has done that throughout."
II.  Shell and its contractors deserve no praise whatsoever.  I've been following the deployments, misuse, problems, fiascos and clusterfucks of the vessels of this operation since July.  If there is but one clear message Shell has sent this year regarding its ability to safely drill off Alaska's Arctic Coast, it is this - We are a major disaster waiting to happen!  Lisa Demer expands on this, perhaps unintentionally:
The incident team also must find a safe harbor for the Aiviq, as well as the Kulluk, to undergo inspections and possible repairs before heading south to Everett, Wash., where the Kulluk had been headed for off-season maintenance before the troubles began. 
Shell has had a difficult experience as it tries to drill offshore in the Alaska Arctic. It couldn't drill to oil-rich zones because its novel oil spill containment dome was damaged during testing. Its other drilling rig, a converted log carrier called the Noble Discoverer, recently was cited by the Coast Guard for problems with safety and pollution discharge equipment. Mehler ordered it held in Seward while the most serious issues were addressed. While the ship now is free to leave for Seattle, it remains docked in Seward because it is waiting for escort vessels now working on the Kulluk situation, Smith said.
The other main element of Shell's hapless Arctic drilling fleet that has made a lot of news in 2012 is the icebreaking barge Arctic Challenger, which didn't even make it to Northern waters this season because of the disastrous testing failure of its capping dome unit in Puget Sound, Washington in early September, on a perfectly calm, sunny, waveless day.  It is beginning to look like a good thing that the Arctic Challenger didn't make it up to Alaska, adding a third vessel to Shell's already over-stretched capabilities for safe movement in risky waters.

When you add this whole package of failure after failure up, it equals incompetence at best, criminally negligent planning and engineering lapses at worst. I'll try to keep you updated here.  Not hoping for the Kulluk ending up in the rocks, but I am hoping that this incident wakes up a lot of people.

The only elected official to hold a hearing on Shell's lapses yet has been Alaska U.S. Senator Mark Begich.  My usual contact with Mark's office is in the hospital after multiple bypass surgery (praying for you, Mary!), so I'll find out elsewhere if he is as outraged as we all should be about this serial malfeasance from Shell and its agents.

Keeping Updated on Shell's Abandoned Drill Rig Kulluk During the Upcoming Storm

USCG helicopter enabling crew to abandon drill rig Kulluk south of Kodiak (click to enlarge)
Although currently back under tow from the vessels Aiviq and Nanuq, Shell Oil's Arctic drilling rig Kulluk has been abandoned.  The U.S. Coast Guard, very riskily removed 17 crew members from the vessel late yesterday, with a Kodiak-based rescue helicopter.  Should the drill rig again part its lines, particularly during a new storm set to arrive in the vicinity of this unfolding drama early Tuesday, a crew would have to be inserted back on to the abandoned, unmotorized vessel, in order to winch the new line into place.  The new insertion would be unusually dangerous, and might prove to injure far more than the two already hurt in this unnecessary and almost farcical clusterfuck.

Shell, or rather the hastily convened "Unified Command" gave a press conference Sunday afternoon at 1:00 pm Alaska time, in what they are calling the "Joint Information Center."  Reporters Lisa Demer from the Anchorage Daily News and Rachel d'Oro from the Associated Press attended it.  I attended telephonically, and posted running commentary on it at firedoglake.  Here's my synopsis of the conference:
What I got out of this press conference was:

1). Aiviq and Kulluk walked into this storm blithely.  
2). At least two people have been injured.  
3). USCG does not want to talk about why their cutter left the scene early Saturday.  
4). Shell is backing off from earlier descriptions of the multiple simultaneous engine failures on the Aiviq being caused by fuel contamination. No mention in the presser of the USCG offloading “900 pounds” worth of new fuel injectors onto drifting Aiviq for those engines Saturday. This may be more important than is readily apparent.  
5). There is nobody aboard the drill rig.  
Should Tuesday’s storm part the lines again, like Friday’s did, it will be extremely dangerous to get anyone back aboard. Pumps are on automatic, but to re-hook for a tow, winches would have to be manned on the rig.  
No wonder they are putting as many miles as possible between them and the rocky coast of Kodiak Island eh?
I'm keeping track of developments as best possible.  I expect the rig and tugs will successfully weather the storm, but Shell's bad luck in the 2012 drilling season only seems to get worse.

Time for a lot of heads to roll.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Over 30,000 American Veterans Have Killed Themselves Since Obama Was Elected

Homeless U.S. Vet
From the U.S. Government:

Since Barack Obama assumed duties as US president and commander-in-chief, at least 30,137 veterans and military members have died from suicide. (source: US Dept of Veterans Affairs, US Center for Disease Control)

Obama certainly isn't responsible for each of these deaths, but he is as responsible for the growth of this tragic epidemic as is anyone.  Now that he has been re-elected by Americans, will he do something about it?

I doubt it.

How about you?

Here's something to think about - combat and other campaign deaths from some of our mostly fucking useless wars:

War of 1812 - c. 20,000

Mexican War - 13,283

Great Sioux War (including Custer's Last Stand) - 314

Spanish-American War - 2,446

Phillippine-American War - 4,196

Korean War - 36,516

Gulf War - 258

Afghanistan and Iraq combined - 6,518

Essentially, these suicides add up to almost as many recorded deaths of U.S. service members as the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War combined.  Almost as many as in the Korean War.   And far - FAR - more deaths than all our other campaigns beyond the Civil War and the two world wars combined.

There's something wrong here, and before Obama gives another entitlement to the wealthy, he should address this comprehensively.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

FDA Approves Frankenfish – What Could Possibly Go Wrong ….?

On December 21st, the Food and Drug Administration announced that the first genetically animal animal ever approaching approval for public consumption – a hybrid Chinook Salmon-Pouty – has been declared to have “no significant impact” on the environment.  As of the 21st, the FDA’s tentative approval of this GMO salmon, called “Frankenfish” by its many detractors, entered a 60-day public comment period.
In Alaska, home of a high percentage of the world’s remaining wild salmon, and a state where fish farming has been banned since 1989, the state’s three national legislators quickly responded to the FDA decision.  Most colorful, Republican Representative Don Young quipped:
“You keep those damn fish out of my waters. It will ruin what I think is one of the finest products in the world,” (Congressman Don) Young said in an interview, saying he fears that the spread of fish farms could eventually contaminate the wild salmon industry in Alaska. He wants to force delays in any FDA approval.
“If I can keep this up long enough, I can break that company,” he said, referring to AquaBounty, “and I admit that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Republican U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski put out a press release and video:
Kenai River angler Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, was railing against ”Frankenfish” again on Friday after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave a green flag to long-running efforts to produce bigger, faster-growing, genetically modified salmon. Murkowski, backed by Alaska fishing organizations, has repeatedly tried to stop such approval by tying the agency up in red tape.
She previously tried, but failed, to get the Senate to require the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) be intimately involved in the process. She said again and again she thought a more thorough scientific review of the biotechnology was in order. But she sort of let slip on Friday that the demand for better science was really more of a smokescreen for efforts to simply kill the idea.
In a video released by her office outlining her renewed opposition, she stated flatly, “I just don’t believe that these fish should be approved.”
And Alaska’s junior Senator, Democrat Mark Begich denounced the FDA plan:
“The notion that consuming Frankenfish is safe for the public and our oceans is a joke,” Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, said in a statement Friday. “I will fight tooth and nail with my Alaska colleagues to make sure consumers have a clear choice when it comes to wild and sustainable versus lab-grown science projects. . . . Today’s report is by no means the final say on this issue.”
Along with concerns about what might possibly go wrong if some of these hybrids escaped into the wild and successfully bred, there are other concerns, particularly about how what is already being touted as a potentially very inexpensive food product will impact Alaska’s commercial salmon industry, along with those of other countries who harvest wild salmon.  Alaska’s wild salmon industry suffered 50% diminution in prices paid for their product when the first farmed salmon started showing up in quantity in the marketplace.  The GMO salmon, which appear to be even cheaper to produce than farmed Atlantic salmon, could do this all over again.  Economist Nicolaas Mink is concerned about this:
The health of wild salmon rests, however counterintuitive it may seem, on the global desire to consume wild salmon. Right now, wild salmon command consumer allegiance when it is priced somewhere between 30 and 80 percent more than its farmed counterpart.  But when wild salmon becomes two and three times more expensive than this new, faster growing genetically modified salmon, a growing number of price-sensitive consumers will think twice.
The market for wild salmon will collapse in the global rearrangement that comes with the introduction of this fish, and with it the political and economic will to maintain the ecological health of wild salmon stocks in Alaska.
This is the crucial point that the FDA report misses, and it is the one that will have the most significant ecological consequences when AquaBounty releases this fish to the public.
One of the strangest aspects of the December 21st FDA announcement on tentative approval of frankenfish, was that it came now, rather than many months ago.  Just a couple of days before the FDA’s declaration, Slate published an article critical of the lapse between the completion of the draft report and its release:
The bioengineered salmon has been winding its way through a labyrinthine approval process for 17 years. And it’s been in regulatory purgatory for more than two years since the Food and Drug Administration held public hearings—and promised a final determination within weeks.
As recently as last week, a spokeswoman for the Food and Drug Administration told me, “The application is still under review.” But that’s not the whole story.
The Genetic Literacy Project (GLP), which I direct, has learned that in April, the FDA completed its draft environmental assessment (EA), the final step in its scientific evaluation. The agency confirmed that the salmon is safe to eat and poses no serious environmental hazards. The approval document had made its way through every appropriate agency in an interagency review process coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), which oversees the president’s science policies and is empowered to enforce integrity guidelines.
But within days of the expected public release of the EA this spring, the application was frozen. The delay, sources within the government say, came after meetings with the White House, which was debating the political implications of approving the GM salmon, a move likely to infuriate a portion of its base.
The GLP has been leaked a confidential copy of the 159-page assessment, dated April 19, 2012, which had been circulated and approved—a summary of which we have been given permission to publish. It states that the Center for Veterinary Medicine, which has regulatory responsibility within the FDA, reached a “no effect” determination under the Endangered Species Act. That should have led to the publication of the EA in the Federal Register, paving the way for a public review period, which would have lasted 30 to 90 days. If the process had been followed, genetically modified salmon could have been on dinner tables by next year.
When asked about the holdup, FDA spokeswoman Siobhan DeLancey said, “I recommend you talk to the OMB or the White House. That’s all I’m willing to say.”
So, with the election over, and the controversial topic of GMO approval in California, for instance, killed, it appears the Obama administration decided to move forward on getting this weird new product to market.
Jon Entine’s long Slate article on the Byzantine aspects of FDA’s reluctance to move forward on this, though written from a viewpoint favorable to the new product and GMO food in general, is quite thorough, and worth a read.
However, nowhere in Entine’s article is there mention of any plans to rear the fish anywhere but in labs on Canada’s Prince Edward Island, and in rearing and growth pens in the mountains of Panama:
Anticipating environmental concerns, AquaBounty [the GMO salmon's designer] developed the salmon at a secure indoor facility in Prince Edward Island, Canada. A second facility was established in the mountains of Panama to evaluate whether the fish perform well under standard commercial conditions.
As part of its evaluation, the FDA inspected both facilities, determining the fish would be securely contained with multiple redundant systems that would prevent the salmon from escaping into the wild—one of the main concerns for people opposed to GMOs. The FDA concluded that even a catastrophic event at the Panamanian facility would not pose a threat. Lengthy expanses of warm, muddy water outside the facility would serve as a graveyard to any escaped cold-water fish. If some somehow made it to the ocean, they would die in the warm currents thousands of miles from their spawning grounds in the frigid waters of the North Atlantic.
Yet, on December 22nd, the New York Times noted the plans of an ex-employee of AquaBounty [emphasis added]:
AquaBounty has argued that the faster growth of its fish makes it feasible to rear them in inland tanks rather than ocean pens, reducing the environmental impact. “That allows us not to disturb the oceans whatsoever,” said Elliot Entis, the founder of AquaBounty.
Mr. Entis, who no longer works for the company, has formed a new company to rear the salmon in the United States.
What could possibly go wrong here?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Sens. Begich and Murkowski Vote for Indefinite Detention of American Citizens

Here's the vote tally.

 .... first they came for the Japanese-Americans, then they came for the Arab-Americans, then the Jewish-Americans, then .......

Did You See This on Mainstream Media Coverage of Thursday's NRA "Press Conference"? NO

Wayne LaPierre managed to get hundreds of reporters to show up, film his diatribe, ask no questions, and then file their wan reports.

Medea Benjamin and Code Pink, once again showed how pathetic this entire sham is.  Most press reports didn't even acknowledge Code Pink's presence, to their shame.

Abby Martin on Top Mainstream Media Fails of 2012

Thoughts on Careless or Irresponsible Use of the Term “Anti-Semite”


Three recent events have brought an onslaught of hurling the term “anti-Semite” toward a number of people who certainly do not warrant such an epithet:
1)  The October 5th, 2012 letter by fifteen leading Christian clerics to the U.S. Senate, requesting the latter body investigate the legality of U.S. military aid to Israel.
2)  Objections from an array of people in U.S. public life to the mid-November 2012 bombardment of the Gaza concentration camp by Israeli forces.
3) The possible nomination by president Obama of former GOP U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel to be the next Secretary of Defense.
The last of these three instances has evoked an almost shocking level of vitriol directed toward a public figure who has been what most regard as a voice of sanity in the midst of crazed rhetoric toward Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas or the Palestinian people themselves, by uber Zionists.  Perhaps the best known example of this malevolence was in an article by Daniel Halper in the Weekly Standard on December 13th (emphases added):
In response to reports that Barack Obama is likely to choose Chuck Hagel to be the next secretary of defense, a top Republican Senate aide emails, “Send us Hagel and we will make sure every American knows he is an anti-Semite.
When asked to elaborate, the aide writes, “Hagel has made clear he believes in the existence of a nefarious Jewish lobby that secretly controls U.S. foreign policy. This is the worst kind of anti-Semitism there is.”
I wrote about this at firedoglake on December 15th, in a somewhat humorous piece, but the anonymous quote cited by Halper is just one of many hits against Hagel that went beyond careless or irresponsible, and into libel territory.  The list of his detractors is long, and getting longer by the hour.  Yet the list of his supporters seems to be lengthening even more rapidly.
Beyond my concern for the sliming of Hagel by use of the anti-Semite libel is a tangential concern that came to my attention from an exchange in the on-line journal Dissent Magazine, between University of California sociologist James B. Rule and Princeton University political philosopher Michael Walzer.  TheDissent article is behind a paywall, but the blog Mondoweiss carried a synopsis of it on December 17th that revealed claims of anti-Semitism by Walzer toward the July 6th vote at the Presbyterian General Assembly, to boycott products from illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank.  Walzer’s protest shows careless and irresponsible accusations toward an entire Christian denomination, which, in my mind, is an egregious fault for such a noted academic and scholar (emphasis added):
Now, I have been reading recently about the effort, narrowly defeated, to get American Presbyterians to divest from companies doing business in Israel. The debate about divestment was fierce…. I couldn’t find a single item describing Presbyterian engagement with any other contemporary state or society. I Googled “Presbyterians and China,” looking for some protest against the settlement of Han Chinese in Tibet, a project on a far larger scale and much more effective than anything the Israeli Right has been able to do on the West Bank. I could not find a single item. Not a word. Jim Rule probably doesn’t find this “jarring.” But I do; I was uncomfortable reading the Presbyterian debates, while I am, most of the time, at ease in a synagogue.
Philip Weiss, who published the Mondoweiss synopsis editorialized on Walzer’s statement:
So he is saying that the Presbyterians went after Israel because they don’t like Jews, and that scares him.
The utter carelessness of Walzer’s claim was easily revealed by commenters at the post.  Here is part of a comment by Hostage:
My reply to Waltzer re “I Googled “Presbyterians and China,” looking for some protest against the settlement of Han Chinese in Tibet.” . . . . & etc.
Much more to the point:
1) You need to turn off Google search history personalization, or else the results will simply reflect your own selection bias and interests; link to
2) You need to see if the website in question uses a robots.txt file to restrict access to directories by Google’s automatic indexing program. The robot.txt file at does exactly that.
3) The site search feature at the Presbyterian Church USA returns 65 items about Tibet. Many of the results happen to be news and announcements that address the annexation of Tibet by China and persecution of the ethnic Tibetan population or Tibetan refugees:
link to
4) The Presbyterians appear to be at work, together with the World Council of Churches and the China Christian Council, on the subjects of equal rights and human rights in China. There are 434 results for articles about China.
I noted in a comment at the Mondoweiss synopsis:
My reply to Waltzer re “I Googled “Presbyterians and China,” looking for some protest against the settlement of Han Chinese in Tibet.”
Jesus didn’t get baptized in the Yangtze River. It was the Jordan.
Jesus didn’t heal a blind man in Shanghai. It was in Bethsaida.
Jesus didn’t begin his ministry in Tianjin. He began it in Capernaum.
Jesus didn’t raise the dead in Nanjing. He did it in Nain.
Jesus didn’t raise Lazarus in Beijing. He did it in Bethany.
Jesus wasn’t tried and crucified in Shanghai. It happened in Jerusalem.
Jesus didn’t have his transfiguration on Mt. Kailas. It happened on Mt. Tabor.
Why doesn’t Waltzer understand the centrality of this to the Presbyterian faith, or other Christian creeds?
Perhaps he is anti-Christian?
It has long struck me as troubling that people of Walzer’s ilk (his willful irresponsibility re the Presbyterians deserves at least that much approbation) feel they can get away with this level of intellectual dishonesty when it comes to what they see as the centrality of the geographic area now known as Israel to their faith, yet ignore its importance to others.  Can his anti-Christianity be equated to anti-Semitism?  And if so, can he be condemned at the same level Zionists seem to feel is appropriate for those they choose to label as anti-Semitic?
God only knows that many Christian leaders have bent over backwards again and again to accommodate sensitivities in this regard from Jews.  One striking, if little known example is the libretto of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Johannes-Passion.
The sacred masterpiece, based largely on the account of Christ’s passion from the Gospel of John, has been described as “anti-Semitic” based on the scene in which the blame for Jesus’ death is placed upon “the Jews.”  Since World War II, many performances of the work substitute “Leute” (people) for “Juden” (Jews) in the necessary sections.   Other versions of the St. John Passion have undergone similar editing or modification.  Essentially, what has been done here is that Christians, to placate another faith, have changed the words of their own gospel.
Although these moves to assuage religious sensitivities may be both ahistorical and unnecessary (some scholars argue that Bach’s setting of the scene in question “contain[s] fewer statements derogatory toward Jews than many other contemporary musical settings of the Passion. Bach [also] used words for the commenting arias and hymns that tended to shift the blame for the death of Jesus from “the Jews” to the congregation of Christians.”) they are real.  Walzer’s greater sin in respect to his comments on the Presbyterians in the Dissent synopsis isn’t his anti-Christian carelessness.  It is his comfort level with being able to do this without being held to some sort of standard of honesty.  Indeed, Baylor University Professor of Jewish Studies, Marc H. Ellis, notes, regarding Walzer’s serial dishonesty:
When I encountered Walzer in Jerusalem in 1987, I was speaking on my soon to be published book, Toward a Jewish Theology of Liberation.  Walzer was one of my respondents.
Respond he did, using the same arguments he uses with Rule. As with Rule, Walzer was less interested in explicitly defending Israel’s actions.  His more important task was to make suspect anyone critical of Israel.
Walzer made his career with these kinds of calculated and malicious arguments.
On some levels, even more disturbing than all this dishonesty used to attack honest critics of one Israeli government after another, rather than against a creed, faith, culture or race, is its context in the midst of long-time and steadily growing apartheid.  Ellis on Walzer over the years:
What he writes in Dissent – ‘Israel is a country in need of radical criticism; it currently has the worst government in its history, perhaps the worst government among Western democracies’ – he spoke in more or less the same words twenty-five years ago.
Walzer has been a pessimist about Israel for decades.  Then and now he sees glimmers of hope. Israel can embrace them if she has the political will. In the meantime, Walzer believes that no one outside his self-defined circle can sound the alarm.
Giving Ellis’s thoughts on this resonance is New Yorker editor David Remnick’s very recent observationon Israeli politicians and governance:
[T]he Israeli political class is a full-blown train wreck.
Whenever the Walzers and so on fail to confront this, but instead attack honest people who would rather help, even if that help resembles intervention to stop an alcoholic or heroin addict, they only make all this worse.