Friday, April 18, 2014

And now for something outrageous

Has it been a while since your face got all red and steam came out of your ears and you were so ticked off you couldn't talk and when you did try to talk you sounded like Porky Pig? Let's relive that feeling.

I'm sure you recall Phyllis Schlafly, the right-wing activist and mentor to Ann Coulter. Check out her latest...
On Tuesday in the Christian Post, Schlafly declared that equal pay is bad, widening the wage gap is good and that the entire institution of marriage depends on men continuing to earn more than women.

Providing women with equal pay for equal work, she wrote, would lower their chances of finding a "suitable mate," since, as Schlafly argues, women prefer to marry men who earn more than they do while men prefer to marry women who earn less.
Here she is in the original:
Another fact is the influence of hypergamy, which means that women typically choose a mate (husband or boyfriend) who earns more than she does. Men don't have the same preference for a higher-earning mate.

While women prefer to HAVE a higher-earning partner, men generally prefer to BE the higher-earning partner in a relationship. This simple but profound difference between the sexes has powerful consequences for the so-called pay gap.

Suppose the pay gap between men and women were magically eliminated. If that happened, simple arithmetic suggests that half of women would be unable to find what they regard as a suitable mate.

Obviously, I'm not saying women won't date or marry a lower-earning men, only that they probably prefer not to. If a higher-earning man is not available, many women are more likely not to marry at all.
Or they could get over that silly prejudice and support an unrecognized genius who just wants to spend the rest of his life writing a blog and painting pictures while listening to Mahler and Bruckner. He doesn't require much in the way of care and feeding, but one day he'd like a 'puter with 32 gb of RAM. Any volunteers?
That girl has it all arse about face. The so-called pay gap is in favour of women during their twenties, only later in life after marriage and children do men make more, largely due to working considerably more hours on average than women do.

Men earning more doesn't cause marriage, it's the other way around.
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Follow up on the "Register the Jews" ploy...

About those "register the Jews" fliers being passed around in the Ukraine: In the post below, I cried "Bogus." The Anti-Defamation League agrees with that assessment.
The Anti-Defamation League, a group founded to combat anti-Semitism, cast doubt on the pamphlet's authenticity in a statement.

"We have seen a series of cynical and politically manipulative uses and accusations of anti-Semitism in Ukraine over the past year,” Abraham H. Foxman, the group's national director, said. “The perpetrators and their targets are opposing politicians and political movements, but the true victims are the Jewish communities. We strongly condemn the anti-Semitic content, but also all attempts to use anti-Semitism for political purposes.”

And when a reporter for the Daily Beast went to the administration office where the fliers instructed Jews to go pay the registration fee on Thursday, she found the room was empty.

The fliers "could have been the work of provocateurs hoping to discredit the pro-Russian movement" in Ukraine, according to the Daily Beast.
Gee. Ya think...?

The WP has further background...
On Tuesday, the well-regarded Web site reported on the leaflets, writing that they were handed out by three unidentified men carrying the flag of the Russian Federation. The site also reported that there was speculation that the men were trying to provoke a conflict and then blame the conflict on pro-Russia separatists.
Clearly, we're dealing with a phoney -- a provocation. And if you want to know who's behind it, check out sites like the National Review, which has run with this story big time.
Who Are the Real Ukrainian Anti-Semites?
A flier distributed in a separatist city suggests Russians are the real fascists here.
This development is shocking, but it’s also ironic, given the propaganda that the Russian government has circulated to slander the Maidan demonstrators, as well as Ukrainians who dare resist annexation by their aggressive and authoritarian neighbor.
As if NR has standing to lecture us on the topic of "slander"!

So whodunnit? A reader has suggested the CIA. Maybe, but I'm not convinced. This ploy is a little too thuddingly obvious. A psy-war tactic of this sort might have seemed cutting-edge back in 1954, when such things were being discussed over brandies in Paul Linebarger's living room in Baltimore. But nowadays, I think the professionals in the Agency have acquired a greater appreciation for subtlety.

But we know that there are neocons playing spooky games outside of any official intelligence service...

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Ain't buying it. No sale.

Only a fool would take this story at face value...
World leaders and Jewish groups condemned a leaflet handed out in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk in which Jews were told to "register" with the pro-Russian militants who have taken over a government office in an attempt to make Ukraine part of Russia, according to Ukrainian and Israeli media.

Jews emerging from a synagogue say they were handed leaflets that ordered the city's Jews to provide a list of property they own and pay a registration fee "or else have their citizenship revoked, face deportation and see their assets confiscated," reported Ynet News, Israel's largest news website, and Ukraine's Donbass news agency.
It's a leaflet. A leaflet.

Anyone can print a leaflet. Hell, we see deceptive leaflets all the time here in America -- especially during elections.

If there were an actual "register the Jews" policy in place, you'd see more evidence of it than this one leaflet.

Remember the "mystery snipers" that set events into motion in Ukraine? The initial news reports all presumed that the snipers were working for Yanukovych (the pro-Russian former leader of Ukraine who was subsequently toppled). We now have good reason to believe that the snipers did their evil work to benefit not Yanukovych but those who wanted him gone.

And the trick worked.

Think about it. Is there any compelling reason for the pro-Russian forces to issue a leaflet saying "We're going to register the Jews"? Would they really do such a thing now, after Putin has endlessly hammered home the accusation (a true accusation, as it happens) that neo-Nazis played a huge role in the recent Ukrainian revolution?

Let's look at it this way. Suppose Clem and Clyde are running for Mayor in Happyville, a town where half the population is black. Suppose someone hands out a leaflet at a church, and the leaflet reads: "Howdy folks! My name is Clem, and I think all black people should be KILLED! So vote for me, Clem, if you want to see 'em all swingin' from the trees!"

Who really wrote that leaflet -- Clem or Clyde?

Come on. Grow up. It's not even a question.
My thought when I saw that leaflet mentioned on twitter was the same as yours, "Why would pro-Russians do this? They have nothing to gain by it."

My second thought was that CIA director Brennan visited Ukraine last weekend to "help" Kiev stop the "terrorism" in the eastern part of the country.

Looks like a typical CIA "dirty tricks" campaign to me.
I asked the SFC to take this down.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Why do they hate us?

I haven't referenced Juan Cole's blog in ages, but this piece, by Quinn Coffey, deserves wide attention. It's about radical fundamentalist Jewish settlers who have viciously attacked a Christian monastery, and it's not the first such outrage.
These attacks have been increasing since 2008.
This isn't just another article about the Israeli-Palestinian clash. It's about something dark that has taken hold of the Israeli soul -- a permanent hardening of the heart. To be frank, the Jews in that part of the world are becoming something very different from the American Jews I've known.
The most recent attack occurred at the Our Lady at Deir Rafat Monastery located on the site of the depopulated former Arab village of the same name, north-west of the Israeli city of Beit Shemesh. The graffiti, sprayed in Hebrew on the outer walls of the Monastery, read ‘Jesus is an ape and Mary is a cow’, to which the Latin (Catholic) Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, responded, ‘I don’t believe this is a proper way to receive the Holy Father here next month.’ However, this is only the latest in what the UN High Commission reported was a 150% increase in ‘price tag’ attacks since 2008, with over 788 registered attacks from 2012-2013.

Although the majority of these attacks have occurred in the West Bank, Christians in Jerusalem and throughout Israeli have also come under attack. As a series of 2012 Haaretz articles pointed out, Christian clergy who dress in ‘priestly garb’ are frequently spat on as they walk through Jerusalem’s Old City; as one priest commented ‘it’s almost impossible to pass through Jaffa Gate without this happening’. In fact, these anti-Christian attacks have become so frequent that in 2012 the Catholic leadership of Palestine issued a statement entitled, Declaration of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land, in which they urged the Israeli authorities to address the ‘teaching of contempt’ in Israeli schools. Suggesting that, ‘the time has come for the authorities to act and to put an end to this senseless violence and to ensure a “teaching of respect” in schools for all those who call this land home.’

However, the Deir Rafat attack also highlights the contempt that the settler movement and radical right hold for the peace process. Other areas of the Monastery at Deir Rafat were tagged with the slogans, ‘America is Nazi Germany’ and ‘the price to pay for the peace agreement’, which suggests that the settler movement in some way associates attacks on Christian sites with revenge against America or the international community.
Many years ago, I spoke at length with a prominent survivor of Auschwitz -- a lady who had dealt first-hand with Mengele, and barely survived. (She came to his attention because she had a twin.) After moving to America, this lady always wore, in her professional life, a pin with an American flag. She loved this country and was always grateful to it.

What has changed? Certainly, no rational person can argue that the United States has become more anti-Israeli or more anti-Semitic since the 1940s.

Back in 2009, I wrote about an entire site (which hasn't published new material since 2011) which, in its original incarnation, was set up to spit venom at Cannonfire and The Confluence. (My site really has nothing to do with Riverdaughter's, but our critics spoke as if we were joined at the hip.) The site was very pro-Israeli. That didn't bother me. What did bother me was its bizarre, paranoid insistence that the American government was somehow conducting war against Israel.

Allow me to quote from my earlier post. These snippets will include sub-quotes from the pro-Israeli site in question.
According to this site, Uncle Sam himself doesn't like Jews -- and vice-versa:
The United States, in its typical ignorance of the functionings of the Middle East, seems to think that it can blackmail Israel by sending the message that there will be no help on the Iran nukes front until Israel consents to a Palestinian state with a divided Jerusalem. [the folks at the Konfluence don’t seem to realize that utilizing this kind of blackmail to dictate the policy of a sovereign nation is the same neocon tactics used by George W. Shrub, but they don’t care as long as they get the results they want; a Palestinian State led by its current terror kleptocracy which means a fucked Israel...

What Tushy Obama, and his anti-Israel cabal don’t understand is that Israel does not need the United States’ approval to bomb the mother loving crap out of Iran. Israel does not need access to Iraqi airspace to bomb the mother loving crap out of Iran...
And it goes on and on like that. One more example:
Rahm is on board with his master's plan to curry Islamist favor by setting up Israel to be rocketed out of existence.
This leads to more blather about how the Department of State "perennially sells out Israel's security interests."

Well. I must say that I am surprised to learn that one of Israel's greatest enemies is the United States of America.
The earlier Cannonfire post from which I quote then went on to talk about related issues. A few other segments may be worth remembrance here:
At the Durban Review Conference on Racism, Alan Dershowitz -- whom I used to admire, believe it or not -- went completely off his coconut:
US attorney Alan Dershowitz said Monday on the sidelines of the Durban Review Conference on racism in Geneva that Switzerland's president was supportive of 'hate mongering' and that the anti-apartheid activist Desmond Tutu was a 'racist and bigot.'
This is Desmond freaking Tutu we are talking about.
Meanwhile, in Israel itself, Jewish fundamentalism -- which is every bit as obnoxious as its Islamic, Hindu and Christian siblings -- continues to infect the public psyche.

* A Jewish "modesty patrol" in a Jerusalem suburb tossed acid in the face of a 14 year-old girl who committed the crime of wearing pants.

* IDF troops refused to attend a performance featuring a female singer. (Remember when Israel was applauded for allowing women to serve in its army?)

* In some parts of Israel, women are required to sit in the back of the bus. A newspaper editor characterized a petition to change this practice as an attempt "to impose Western secular culture on us."

"Western secular culture"? A telling phrase, that. In my view, this new disdain for "western secular culture" ties into the anti-U.S. blather quoted above.
Back in the 1970s and 1980s, those who supported Israel continually argued that the country was an "outpost of the West" in an otherwise inhospitable part of the world. But now, many Israelis speak as the "the West" as an evil force, an opposing force. The orthodox identify themselves as non-Western, as anti-Western. This mindset seems little different from that of the Islamic fundamentalists we have fought in Afghanistan.

This mind-set also reminds me of the right-wingers one encounters on Free Republic or the Breitbart sites or anywhere else where Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter are revered.They too seem to derive a near-orgasmic pleasure from resentment. An inchoate, venomous resentment is how they define themselves.

Perhaps, across cultures and ideologies and all other boundaries, that word has become the word of our time: Resentment.
Christian fundamentalism, Islamic fundamentalism, Jewish fundamentalism, Free Market fundamentalism,... Rigid ideologies are the undoing of humanity. So Israelis are choosing to wage war against the rest of the world? This isn't going to end well. Not at all.
thanks for sharing this. mondoweiss is a good site for news in this part of the world too and it holds no punches either.. i haven't visited it in a good length of time, but thought i would pass that on.. you probably know about it already..

They're just reverting to the purer authentic Diaspora Judaism. Which is NOT the worship of the Ancient Israelites.
And it makes "Christian" Zionists look like the traitors they are
to traditional Christianity.
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Back to Boston

Was the US government in contact with the Boston bombers before the event? So far, we've heard rumors to that effect -- lots of rumors, though not a lot of evidence. No serious writer has paid much attention to the claim. Now, Russ Baker steps forward (following up on a piece he did a few days ago).

Baker says that the Boston bombing is now being used in the "new Cold War" against Putin...
In our previous story, we were working from a leaked article about a forthcoming government report on the bombing—whose central message was that the bombing might have been prevented if only the Russians had not held back still more information beyond what they had provided to US intelligence. In other words, “Putin did it.”
As we previously noted, much earlier, back in 2013, the New York Times reported another leak. That leak asserted that US authorities had been in contact with the Tsarnaevs as early as January 2011. If true, this assertion would be enormously consequential, because it would mean the Tsarnaevs were known to US authorities two months before American intelligence learned from the Russians that the Tsarnaevs might be terrorists.

As far as we know, no one in the media ever followed up on this leaked assertion. When we queried the Times about it, the paper never replied. Nor has the Times ever published a correction.
Fascinating. For my part, I've long suspected that the Tsarnaev connection involved a drug ring. Tamerlan was a not-very-successful boxer, and drug importation specialists often hire guys like that.
Consider that the Tsarnaevs lived in Cambridge—home to members of a ring of Russian spies that was broken up shortly before the Tsarnaevs came under scrutiny. Remember that the US rolled up a spy ring in June of 2010—after monitoring it for a decade, and that an exchange of prisoners quickly followed. An American mole inside Russian foreign intelligence, Col. Alexander Poteyev, who was back-channeling to American intelligence while simultaneously directing the stateside ring from Russia, fled to the US before the arrests. His role was obscured by American officials; and his identity was only revealed when a Russian court later found him guilty in absentia.
A lot of people recall this spy ring as the one with Anna Chapman. Remember her? She had the movie-star figure. I wasn't all that crazy about her, personally -- she smokes -- but she was very popular in some circles.
Was the US itself monitoring the Tsarnaevs at the same time the Russians were? Of even more interest, did US authorities, as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s defense suggests, seek to turn Tamerlan Tsarnaev into an asset?
He would certainly have been a prize catch. And this theory would explain the guy's travel budget, which otherwise seems utterly mysterious.
If the defense is half-right—that the feds pushed Tamerlan Tsarnaev to become an operative—would they simply have accepted, willingly, if he said, “No, thanks”? Intelligence and security services don’t tend to take no for an answer, and traditionally have played very rough with those who decline. So it is unlikely that a foreign national like Tamerlan Tsarnaev—whose family arrived less than a year after 9/11 and who was given “derivative asylum status”—could simply decline to cooperate.
Incredibly, even after this, when Tamerlan traveled to Russia three months later, exactly as the Russians said he would, and while on that terror watch list, US authorities did nothing.
I find this part telling. I'm reminded of Anwar al-Awlaki, who inspired similar inaction when he went traveling in and out of the country.
As the report notes, an FBI counterterrorism officer
conducted database searches, reviewed references to Tsarnaev and his family in closed FBI counterterrorism cases, performed “drive-bys” of Tsarnaev’s residence, made an on-site visit to his former college, and interviewed Tsarnaev and his parents.
The question is obvious: Why no effort to monitor the Tsarnaevs’ covertly? What about, instead of warning them that they were under suspicion, keeping a close and quiet watch on them? Isn’t that how you would proceed if you wanted to find out what a suspected terrorist was up to?
Given the tendency of spy services to play elaborate games with a long view, it is reasonable to wonder whether the Russians had more in mind than just being helpful when they notified the US that it ought to look at the Tsarnaevs.

Could the notice to the FBI have been a warning that the Russians knew the US was already in contact with the Tsarnaevs? Given the possibility that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was supposed to infiltrate anti-Russian jihadists, that essentially puts the two intelligence services on the same side in this matter. Or were the Russians worried that the Americans were playing a double game, seemingly hunting jihadists while simultaneously using those jihadists to put pressure on the Russians in their majority-Muslim, oil-bearing southern flank?

There is also the possibility that, as with the US mole in Russian intelligence, Colonel Potayev, both sides thought they were controlling the Tsarnaevs....
There's much more. The article is long and juicy. Sure, parts of it are questionable. You expect questionable bits in any lengthy article about espionage. Nevertheless, this is one of those pieces that deserves careful reading.

Incidentally, Baker's readers seem particularly hip when it comes to spy stuff. I admonish you to check out the comments...
These people have been working on the Boston Bombing for one year now. They KNOW all the pictures and images that are out there. Originally they were on Russ's site WhoWhatWhy and I pushed them to set up their own investigative site which is now bearing fruit. Russ is even trying to get some mileage when before he just did a sort of drive-by on it. I shall tweet your site to them tonight as I think you should be in touch with each other. They really know more than anyone on this.
Thanks for posting
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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Any stick to beat a dog

Yesterday's post was about Pando, the Thiel-funded cyber-publication obsessed with attacking Glenn Greenwald and all known associates (including and especially Ed Snowden). That piece forces us to consider the larger question of propaganda. How can you tell the difference between the paid propagandist and someone who simply has a view which differs from your own?

One key "tell," methinks, is the "any stick to beat a dog" attitude.

The propagandist does not care much for consistency. Any attack which denigrates the target may be used, even when that attack conflicts with something the propagandist may have said earlier. This Pando piece offers a superb example of what I'm talking about. Take a look at the illustration...

The message is easy enough to grasp. We are being told that Greenwald is a filter: Big secrets go in, small secrets come out.

Everyone knows that Greenwald has access to more secret documents (thanks to Ed Snowden) than have appeared in print so far. Pando wants us to be suspicious: What is he hiding and why is he hiding it? Why doesn't he just dump all of those secret documents on us in one huge go? Is Glenn Greenwald really working for...

(cue thunder and discordant horns)

...for THEM?

Pando's been sounding that theme for a while. But on this occasion, the very same Pando article approvingly links to this anti-Greenwald, anti-Snowden piece published in the Christian Science Monitor.

The CSM piece accuses Greenwald of being the new Joe McCarthy. It's a bizarre accusation: Although the old Tailgunner was a man of many sins, nobody ever accused him of revealing secret documents. I think we're supposed to call Greenwald "the new McCarthy" because he attacks his attackers. GOP rabble-rousers often take umbrage when a target mounts a defense: "How DARE you punch back when I punch you? fiend!"

The piece then goes on to say that Ed Snowden is a bad guy because his revelations are making it more difficult for the NSA to combat the Chinese, the filthy Russkies, and "Mexican drug cartels."

That's right. Remember this presentation on how to use the internet as a psy-war tool? Now we're supposed to believe that those techniques were directed not against you and me but against "Mexican drug cartels."

Right. Pull the other one.

In order to underline the "any stick to beat a dog" approach, let's make our comparison (a little bit) visual. Here are a couple of tweets from the guy who wrote that Christian Science Monitor attack on Snowden.

See the problem? If you still don't get it, glance rapidly between these tweets and the cartoon above. Notice the contradiction?

Some of you may still need me to spell it all out. (I live in a working class suburb of Baltimore. I am used to being around people who need things spelled out for them.) Very well.

My friends, you can attack Greenwald and Snowden in one of two ways:

1. You can say that they are revealing too many secrets in a scattershot fashion. You can say that G and S are making it harder for our intelligence services to do their fine work against commies and cartels and that awful, awful Putin fellow.


2. You can say that Greenwald is not divulging enough secrets. You can accuse Greenwald of hiding the really important stuff. You can imply that G and S must be secretly working for our intelligence services in some fashion. 

You can try one argument or the other. But you can't have it both ways. Attack 1 and Attack 2 contradict each other and cannot be reconciled.

That contradiction will matter to you only if you are the sort of person who likes to think about things logically. Most people don't. The propagandist does not care one whit about logic. The propagandist cares about only one thing: Any stick to beat a dog.

Another example: Instead of "Any stick to beat a dog," Taylor Marsh uses the term "the kitchen sink theory of political attacks." She uses the phrase to describe the "shoe truthers" who think that Hillary Clinton staged the incident in which a bizarre woman from Arizona tossed a shoe at her. (The shoe thrower was named Allison Ernst and she's facing up to a year in jail.) Marsh:
The more Republicans pound on Hillary Clinton, with their overzealous glee, the easier it will be for people to tune any criticism out. It will just get too predictable, coming off as exactly what it is, doing everything they can to diminish her.
Is this truly the case? Does the Anything Goes approach to propaganda ultimately fail because it desensitizes the audience?

Maybe. But maybe not. Maybe people will think that so much smoke must indicate the presence of a fire.

Marsh recalls 2008 as well as anyone else. At that time, she defended Hillary against the "anything goes" propaganda attacks coming from the Obama forces. And then Marsh turned around and became an Obot -- for a while.
And speaking of dogs, you're filled with doggie doo-doo if you think anti-Snowden, anti-Greenwald thoughts are limited to the rags you're pointing to.

Try these on for size:
thanks for the article.. i am not sure what is going on with pando, other then that anyone paying attention are watching how they clearly discredit themselves over the topic of greenwald and company.
BBC News had an interview with Greenwald on the radio yesterday. He made a big point about the real need for national secrets and his actions to sort through and separate out the true security risks from those items of which the public should be made aware.

Methinks the illustration is not so much a criticism of Greenwald for not deciding to release all or nothing, so much as saying, who is Greenwald to take upon this role of decision maker for himself? This fits better with the standard attacks upon Greenwald and Snowden as being self absorbed narcissists.
So by this token the illustration is saying that Greenwald has gotten too big for his britches. It also casts him as a voyeur riffling through the nation's underwear drawers. He's drawn to look like Lily Tomlin listening in on the public's phone conversations.

Daniel Ellsberg pointed out that having a high security clearance gives the individual access to a world of information of which he'd previously been ignorant, and eventually this leads one to believe that for those without access to this information trove, their opinions are not worthy of consideration. Those who follow an authoritarian bent tend to agree with this and defer to those in charge. These people are outraged that Greenwald the outsider has chosen to take upon himself his current role in the Snowden chronicles.

And the people who write the propaganda eventually come to believe it themselves... every time.

But authoritarians see everything as a zero sum game. They seek domination instead of partnerships. They'll tend to choose war over finding common ground and detente. And roles within the security state naturally attract authoritarians.

So the system itself tends to lead a nation down the road of oppressive dictatorship and war. The founders established a constitutional civilian leadership for this very reason. And it is why Harry Truman publicly regretted permitting the formation of the CIA.

Oh, I do so love it when this humble blog comes to the attention of a group with an agenda. I must keep tweaking the noses of these people!
Taylor Marsh folded, but what made it so annoying was she would not admit she was folding, she became a concern troll rather than simply admit that she had folded.

Groups like Move on dot org, people like Taylor Marsh, until they publicly apologize to Hillary Clinton for prematurely forcing democrats to accept Barack Obama before all the votes had been counted in all states, have virtually no sway with me.
2. You can say that Greenwald is not divulging enough secrets. You can accuse Greenwald of hiding the really important stuff. You can imply that G and S must be secretly working for our intelligence services in some fashion."

I'm in this camp. Pablum from Intercept since Ebay held sway. It's a nothingburger with nothin on it.

" And it is why Harry Truman publicly regretted permitting the formation of the CIA."

Where was that? Truman signed the death warrant with the National Security Act of 1947.
Are you thinking of Eisenhower?

Yes, any stick to beat a dog alright. I was a fan of Lord Greenwald from the very beginning. I trusted him. I took up for him against the naysayers.

But guess what. Time passes and things change and people sell out and do bullshit stuff.

I can tell from your snarky attitude about the whole thing that you're not the change I want to be...or something. These things others, that you dismiss, bring up are legitimate concerns and I wouldn't mind The Lord Greenwald addressing them as such. Same goes for you.

Without the god-damned snark, of course.

Oops! Did I say that out loud?
I no longer trust the Lord Greenwald, or you for that matter.

Isn't that what it comes down to? Why yes. Yes it is.
Can't please everyone, tsi. Start your own blog and you'll see that you can't pay that much attention to individual critics.

Limit CIA Role To Intelligence by Harry Truman, December 22, 1963, Washington Post

Note the date.
tsisageya, I don't have to agree with Cannon to trust him. No blogger is right 100% of the time and you have to take what you can from each of them (though some are wrong 100% of the time). In any case, I'm undecided where Greenwald is concerned. I'm not impressed with anything the Intercept has done yet, as big revelations were promised. But I just might be a bit too cynical at this point.
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Monday, April 14, 2014

What is WITH these people?

In the past, we've talked about the creepy guys at Pando. They are the ones trying to slam Glenn Greenwald on the grounds that he's working for a new journalistic enterprise funded by an alleged libertarian named Pierre Omidyar. Of course, the hypocrisy here is mind-boggling, since Pando itself is funded by a real libertarian (as in total hard-core dickishness) named Peter Thiel.

The Pando-ites are now saying that The Intercept has stopped publishing. They also say that Marcy Wheeler has stopped all professional association with them.

Oh really?

Guys, there's this thing called journalism. You may want to try your hand at it one of these days. Journalism involves checking things out with sources. Even I, lazy bastard that I am, have been known to do that sort of thing from time to time, and I'm just a blogger in an attic who thought he'd get in a quick post before making the dog's dinner.

I checked Greenwald's site, and guess what? The Intercept is still publishing.

I checked with Marcy. She's still in. Nothing has changed.

So why is Thiel's operation so hell-bent on destroying the reputations of people like Glenn Greenwald and Marcy Wheeler? In my opinion, those two are doing the best reporting on national security issues since the heyday of CAIB. (You probably have to be as grey-haired as I to know what those initials mean.)

The Pando folk would have you believe that only the paranoid or the purchased would dare to question Theil's operation. They also want you to think that if you say anything positive about Greenwald or Snowden, commies are gonna getcha. It's not that simple.

Here's the truth about Thiel:
He's a libertarian. But he has also funded the secretive data-mining company Palantir, which works for the FBI and the CIA.
Palantir is now worth billions. Serious intelligence reforms could cause that valuation to plummet.

Get the picture?
Oh my. Contracts with the intelligence community. Well that explains a lot!

In a similar vein, has anybody figured out yet why Josh Marshall of TPM is so hostile to Snowden, Greenwald et al? Just asking.
I'm not so sure Palantir would be affected by any reform in data collection. From what I've been able to gather from multiple videos of them talking to clients (at conferences) about what they do, it does things afterwards when the big data sets have already been acquired. It queries distributed databases and displays the results in an accessible and slick interface. The value is that they actually do things with the collated data from multiple sources and find patterns and links for further investigation.
Marcy Wheeler has tweeted, at least twice now, that her role with the Intercept is "limited". You claim otherwise. I'll believe her.

Theil has put $300K towards funding Pando, where he regularly gets excoriated. Omidyar is the publisher of First Look Media. He says he will invest a total of $250 million to create it. He's the owner/founder/publisher. It's his.

The only thing the Intercept has published in the last 11 days is a reply to Pando.
By all means, tov, write Marcy yourself, as I did. The fact that she never gave up her own blog indicates that her involvement was always limited, I should think. You're grasping at straws. And straw-grasping is another indicator of the paid propagandist -- right up there with the "any stick to beat a dog" thing.

You know what MIGHT fool people into thinking that you're honest? The "aw shucks" approach. As in "Well, I admit there's more than one way to look at this thing, and maybe I"m wrong. But it seems to me..."

Why don't more propagandists do it THAT way? There's a much greater chance you'll be granted credibility.

Just a suggestion. Improve your technique, tov.
Focus is on NSA docs. Site is a placeholder. Try to keep up will you.
Surprised Joseph that you did not talk about the op that Palantir launched against Greenwald. This is a grudge match, and of course they are working as proxies for the deep state.
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Although I usually talk about art-n-stuff on the weekends, I have to direct your attention to an excellent piece on Salon, "David Foster Wallace was right: Irony is ruining our culture," by Matt Ashby and Brendan Carroll. Long-time readers know I consider irony -- in writing as well as painting -- an act of cowardice. The hipster smirk ceased to require any courage about five or six decades ago. Irony became the default mode because it is easy and cheap.
But what if irony leads to a sinkhole of relativism and disavowal? For Wallace, regurgitating ironic pop culture is a dead end:
Anyone with the heretical gall to ask an ironist what he actually stands for ends up looking like an hysteric or a prig. And herein lies the oppressiveness of institutionalized irony, the too-successful rebel: the ability to interdict the question without attending to its subject is, when exercised, tyranny. It [uses] the very tool that exposed its enemy to insulate itself.
So where have we gone from irony? Irony is now fashionable and a widely embraced default setting for social interaction, writing and the visual arts. Irony fosters an affected nihilistic attitude that is no more edgy than a syndicated episode of “Seinfeld.”
However, renegade accomplishments like Rauschenberg’s gave way to an attitude of anything-goes pluralism. No rules governed the distinction of good and bad. Rather than opening doors, pluralism sanctioned all manner of vapid creation and the acceptance of commercial design as art. Jeff Koons could be seen as a hero in this environment. Artists became disillusioned, and by the end of the 1980s, so much work, both good and bad, had been considered art that nothing new seemed possible and authenticity appeared hopeless.
Let me interrupt right here. A big problem pops up every time I slam Jeff Koons, the major Fraudist of our time. There's always some idiot in the audience who will say: "Oh, I see what this is. This is the old argument about realist art versus abstract art, right?"

NO. NO IT FUCKING ISN'T. I don't know why so many people reflexively want to rehash the problems of a hundred years ago, but this ain't that.

Koons does not make abstract art or cubist art or impressionist art or expressionist art. He doesn't have the talent. The only way to get a good abstract painting out of Koons would be to blow out his brains against a blank canvas -- not a procedure I'd recommend.

Koons hires other people to make what I guess can be called a form of realist art. Looky see. See any abstraction in there? No, you do not. (Well, maybe that BMW he painted...) With that out of the way, let's return to our Salon piece.
In the same period, a generation of academics came of age and made it their mission to justify pluralism with a critical theory of relativism. Currently, the aging stewards of pluralism and relativism have influenced a new population of painters, leaving them confused by the ambitions of Rauschenberg. Today’s painters understand the challenging work of the early postmodernists only as a hip aesthetic. They cannibalize the past only to spit up mad-cow renderings of “art for no sake,” “art for any sake,” “art for my sake” and “art for money.” So much art makes fun of sincerity, merely referring to rebellion without being rebellious. The paintings of Sarah Morris, Sue Williams, Dan Colen, Fiona Rae, Barry McGee and Richard Phillips fit all too comfortably inside an Urban Outfitters. Their paintings disguise banality with fashionable postmodern aesthetic and irony.
Actually, I like the work of some of the artists listed above. Sue Williams is the best living abstract painter known to me.

Richard Phillips? Well, my feelings are very mixed. Too glossy, too reliant on photography, and too ironic. The irony makes me want to vomit. The guy can paint, but I wish he'd divorce himself from commercial imagery. That shit's old. Dude, just paint a picture of a girl you want to fuck. Paint her using really expressive brushwork and interesting colors, based on a drawing you made from life. That never gets old -- it'll still be new 1000 years from now -- and it's honest.

If you're a painter looking for an escape, here are my suggestions:

1. Never use the term "postmodern" again. It means nothing.

2. Stop making paintings about ideas. You don't have any. If you had ideas, you'd write a blog. Make paintings about beauty. 

3. Believe in the beautiful. Don't laugh at it. Only a poseur laughs at beauty. Mean it.

4. Remember: Hip = evil.

5. A few more equations: Fashion = evil. Celebrity = evil. Money = evil. You can figure out the rest from there.

Popular culture is not intrinsically evil, although it must be approached with the correct (non-hipster) attitude. Popular culture includes comic books, which are drawn by real artists -- the best working today.  For pure draftsmanship, David Finch is the real thing, and Richard Phillips is a poseur. If the ability to draw means nothing to you, never talk about art again -- in fact, just kill yourself.
To me, irony seems like the wrong description for what you are ranting against, Joseph. Irony's meaning must have been stretched almost out of recognition if it really is the right word....or maybe I failed to get the point here.

It was a cliché, once upon a time, oft repeated in the UK, that Americans don't understand irony.
Maybe they've simply re-assigned it? ;-)

Believe in the beautiful. Don't laugh at it. Only a poseur laughs at beauty. Mean it.

I thought I was the only one to think that.

Never heard of Jeff Koons until this article and I know a lot about art. I have to agree with you 100% on this: his stuff is terrible which is probably why I had no idea who he was. When did things like art and philosophy die in this country? At least music seems to be making a comeback with a lot of new material that has actual melody in it again with a blessed lack of auto tune.
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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Heartbleed and the NSA

The Heartbleed bug hit some two thirds of this nation's internet servers. Usernames and passwords stored on those servers are at risk. There's a patch, but it's too little and too late.
The bad news is that about 600,000 servers are still vulnerable to attacks exploiting the bug. The worse news is that malicious “bot” software may have been attacking servers with the vulnerability for some time—in at least one case, traces of the attack have been found in audit logs dating back to last November. Attacks based on the exploit could date back even further.

Security expert Bruce Schneier calls Heartbleed a catastrophic vulnerability. "On the scale of 1 to 10, this is an 11," he said in a blog post today.
You've probably heard that those clever lads and lasses at the NSA found this security hole months ago and have been using it to worm into the system. That revelation came from a Bloomberg story which the Obama administration officially contradicts. The denial comes from Caitlin Hayden, spokesperson for the White House National Security Council.
"If the federal government, including the intelligence community, had discovered this vulnerability prior to last week, it would have been disclosed to the community responsible for OpenSSL," Hayden added.

Hayden said that when US agencies discover a new vulnerability in commercial and open-source software, "it is in the national interest to responsibly disclose the vulnerability rather than to hold it for an investigative or intelligence purpose".
I don't know how seriously anyone is going to take this government's ringing declaration of its own virtuousness. I feel certain that the original Bloomberg story got it right.

The big question: If No Such Agency did exploit the bug, were they acting opportunistically, or did they plan this whole Heartbleed thing all along?

A German named Robin Seggelmann was supposed to examine the code for such flaws. The thing got past him. He insists that he is not a spook (for any service) and has never worked for spooks.
After he submitted the code, a reviewer "apparently also didn’t notice the missing validation", Dr Seggelmann said, "so the error made its way from the development branch into the released version." Logs show that reviewer was Dr Stephen Henson.

Dr Seggelmann said the error he introduced was "quite trivial", but acknowledged that its impact was "severe".
Well...okay. But I'd like to hear more about this Henson fellow. (He is also mentioned here.)

So when and how did the NSA discover the vulnerability? The Electronic Frontier Foundation traces it back to November of 2013...
It would be very bad news if these stories were true, indicating that blackhats and/or intelligence agencies may have had a long period when they knew about the attack and could use it at their leisure.
A lot of the narratives around Heartbleed have viewed this bug through a worst-case lens, supposing that it might have been used for some time, and that there might be tricks to obtain private keys somewhat reliably with it. At least the first half of that scenario is starting to look likely.
Even worse, we now have an indication that the "fix" doesn't fix enough...
The results are a strong indication that merely updating servers to a version of OpenSSL that's not vulnerable to Heartbleed isn't enough. Because Heartbleed exploits don't by default show up in server logs, there's no way for sites that were vulnerable to rule out the possibility the private certificate key was plucked out of memory by hackers. Anyone possessing the private key can use it to host an impostor site that is virtually impossible for most end users to detect. Anyone visiting the bogus site would see the same https prefix and padlock icon accompanying the site's authentic server.
So what does this mean?

When you visit your web-based email site, are you really there, or are you somewhere else?

I've read some comments indicating that OpenVPN is vulnerable. I don't know if any other VPNs have been compromised.

The recommended course of action: Change all of your passwords. Personally, I wouldn't do that until we hear that the Heartbleed problem has been solved once and for all.
I won't be changing my passwords. They will only have been lost to hackers if you were logged into a site via SSL encryption at the exact moment they looked into RAM, and even then it's somewhat unlikely. The NSA, I rather expect them to have all my passwords anyway. Even if they haven't, I expect that they have someone working at my e-mail provider who can give them all my e-mails. And a tap on the trunkline that carries the information so they can siphon it all off onto the servers.

If you intend to change yours you must wait until you know your server has the newly patched version of OpenSSL, assuming they were vulnerable in the first place. The patch does solve the problem, which was a very simple problem to solve when spotted. Someone just forgot to put in a check so that response to heartbeat requests would be as small as possible, hence they instead sent out random chunks of RAM.

There's no reason to listen to the doom and gloom, either. As it's only stuff active in RAM that can be read private keys are probably safe, certainly no-one has shown them to be vulnerable. Of course if their servers have proper security the private key won't have been available in RAM at all, assuming they're using Perfect Forward Secrecy. And again, we already know that the NSA have impersonated Slashdot and other sites without this bug, so don't worry about that either.
Joe, apologies for an offtopic question. I'm just curious if you ever knew any brussel sprouts in cali? I'm travelling in europe and saw something that made me think of your film past. Thanks,
Not sure what you are talking about, but if I had spent my life on better terms with leafy vegetables, I might now be able to get out of this chair without saying OOF.
Private keys have been shown to be vulnerable. Cloudfare asked people to find their private key and several people did. Still, I am not changing my passwords because I do not do anything important online anyway.
Brussel sprouts are grown in Watsonville, Calif. area. They are harvested around Feb.
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Friday, April 11, 2014

2008 and all that

In case you haven't noticed, Riverdaughter at The Confluence has caught the writing bug again. I recommend her latest piece on Obamacare, which she gets almost entirely right.

Unrelated to that, in the comments, I asked her to contribute an observation or two to something I intend to write concerning "2008 and all that." Boy, did she deliver. It's a great piece of writing, a model for bloggers everywhere -- chatty, opinionated, yet nuanced. In my response, I kind of gushed in my praise. But...what the hell. From time to time, one gushes.

At any rate, let me run some of her words by you folks. Let's see if your recollections/feelings match what you see here.
I’ll keep saying what I’ve said before. Nothing good comes from a bad seed. Obama’s future performance was evident from the beginning. If you were paying attention and voted for him anyway, thinking that he was going to be some liberal messiah, you should have your head examined.

I watched the beginning of the Obama phenomenon when I was still posting on DailyKos and went to YearlyKos in 2007. My best guess is that the original candidate of choice over there was John Edwards but shortly after YearlyKos, the cat was out of the bag about his personal life. That would explain why the conversion diaries and rec list hostage crisis pivoted from Edwards to Obama in a heartbeat over there. The manipulators looked like the same people to me but an edgier, meaner and more testosterone poisoned bunch seemed to infiltrate the blog at about the same time the switch from Edwards to Obama happened.
Was the Edwards thing apparent THAT early? Was I really that naive...?
I don’t believe that blogs were the true drivers but they were an essential component.
I may go with "true drivers." Remember how "Get this to Keith" became a catch phrase on Kos? The blogs created the memes which cable news ran with.
But the bigger behind the scenes actors must have been in the party itself. How else could they have planned to give so much clout to the sparsely populated mountain states? How did the caucus states get the delegate representation it did? How the hell did one candidate wind up winning CA, NY, NJ, FL, PA, OH, TX, MA, NV, NM, essentially ALL of the major, most populated, most Democratic states in the country and still lose to a candidate who wasn’t even on the ballot in some primaries? The evidence is staring us in the face that the primary was rigged to some extent. Clinton should have won early in the primary season.
Even Plouffe doesn't have a really good explanation for this in his book The Audacity to Win.
And then there was the infiltration. There was a glut of campaign money to Obama in February 2008. The blogs got nastier and more misogynistic. I think this was the point when Wall Street picked its candidate. If you want a pithy quote, my best attempt is that Wall Street saw Obama as an enabler and Clinton as rehab and they said no, no, no. Obama was one of their own tribe.

That’s what is so funny about the blogosphere backing Obama. He was so obviously not what they said they wanted. He was a corporate schmoozer. He would have made a great CEO of some fortune 500 company. You know, the guy they bring in to engineer some merger or acquisition, hangs around to get a humongous bonus and then decides to “spend more time with his family” when the newly merged company starts hitting the skids. THAT’S Obama. He’s the guy who negotiates the deal on the golf course in an industry he knows very little about. He just has the right pedigree and chromosomes to get to the top. Getting to the top is the goal. He didn’t really have a plan after that.

After the money picked the candidate and the party was primed to rig the nomination, it was easy for the media to jump in and fan the flames. To the media, it was just like high school. They liked the BMOC and not the girl. I don’t think there’s much more to be said there. It really was that petty.

We can’t discount the effect of the civil rights movement on the early baby boomers. It was the defining issue of their lives, aside from Vietnam. To late baby boomers like myself, well, I was in Obama’s cohort in school. Schools were largely integrated by the time I was a kid, or at least the ones I went to near military installations were. The civil rights movement was still important but not a burning passion. To me, feminism was the defining issue of my age. I think the campaign analysts played on that divide and the early baby boomers were snookered.

The nastiest thing the Obama campaign did to Clinton’s campaign was, well, there were so many, but I think the worst was denying her a legitimate roll call at the convention. But of course, they couldn’t really give her one because even the media would get a clue that the delegate count difference between them was slimmer than the width of a gnat’s wing. There might have been a floor fight. The party didn’t want anyone rocking the boat, especially the voters. I get it because they were desperate to win. But the ends do not justify the means and when you start with a bad beginning, it ends badly.
I think that this analysis somewhat underplays the role of the blogs. For me, the great untold story of that campaign concerns the use of personas to drive the national debate. People make decisions based on group pressure. Nobody wants to admit this fact -- we all think that we can think for ourselves. But we don't.

That was the great revelation we received from this presentation, offered unto the world by Ed Snowden. The key slide features these words: "People make decisions as part of groups. People make decisions for emotional reasons, not rational ones."

And that, I suspect, is the story of 2008.
Glad that I am not the only one who is still feel the hurt from 2008. Disappointment in people sometimes takes longer to overcome
Anybody who thinks that Hillary Clinton would have been the great liberal answer just had not been paying attention.
I understand that the Democrats were tired of losing and having had two elections stolen from them, but did they have to get down in the dirt,use sleezy tactics and behave like Republicans? Did the Democratic upper echelon have to stab Hillary in the back for their own selfish purposes? Yes, I'm talking about you, Nancy Pelosi and all those Kennedy brats plus Teddy when I carried a tourch for your two uncles and brothers. I was an old, bitter knitter. Oh, Yea, but I was right about Barry and that Madame of his...common grifters.As you can tell, it still HURTS! BTW, Mrs. Pelosi, you "pray" that Hillary runs and wins in 2016? What was wrong with her in 2008? Oh, I forgot, you were Speaker and couldn't stand the idea that another woman would be more powerful than you. I can complain about Nancy, she, unfortunately is my congress person.
I think gushing is an appropriate reaction here.

Keith Olberman was a big part of the flipped out mass hysteria which resulted from Hillary mentioning RFK's 6/5/68 assassination in illustrating that the primaries often go well into summer without a chosen front leader. On DKos, Troutfishing even went so far as to post a diary claiming that Hillary was using subliminal messaging to try and instigate a lone nut to make an attempt on Obama's life.

DKos fell into pandemonium after that. The national stage wasn't much different. Suddenly Bill Clinton was made out to be a flaming racist. Neither Clinton could say a thing without somebody twisting way it out of context.

After the selection of Sarah Palin as McCain's running mate, I just couldn't get it out of my head that McCain had been selected to lose this election. Why ruin a good thing when you've got a Democratic presidential candidate with political views on par with Richard Nixon?
So familiar! I remember being amazed at the adulation on the part of the Obama fan base. Also amazed at how nasty they started to get. I'd try to talk with some of them about Obama's stands on issues and they'd just parrot something like "he's going to make government transparent." BTW, how'd that work out?

I live in a caucus state. Now, caucuses are inherently undemocratic. If you have to work, are sick, etc., you don't count. The system was definitely manipulated to be even worse at representing the real %s.

I very quickly got sick of saying "I told you so" to the Obots as Obama showed his true tepidness.

--NW Luna

Hope and Change ...

"Here is the context in which he said that (from page 234 of Ron Suskind's 2011 book, Confidence Men ):

The CEOs went into their traditional stance. "It's almost impossible to set caps [to their bonuses]; it's never worked, and you lose your best people," said one. "We're competing for talent on an international market," said another. Obama cut them off.

"Be careful how you make those statements, gentlemen. The public isn't buying that," he said. "My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks."

It was an attention grabber, no doubt, especially that carefully chosen last word.

But then Obama's flat tone turned to one of support, even sympathy. "You guys have an acute public relations problem that's turning into a political problem," he said. "And I want to help. But you need to show that you get that this is a crisis and that everyone has to make some sacrifices." According to one of the participants, he then said, "I'm not out there to go after you. I'm protecting you. But if I'm going to shield you from public and congressional anger, you have to give me something to work with on these issues of compensation."

No suggestions were forthcoming from the bankers on what they might offer, and the president didn't seem to be championing any specific proposals. He had none: neither Geithner nor Summers believed compensation controls had any merit.

After a moment, the tension in the room seemed to lift: the bankers realized he was talking about voluntary limits on compensation until the storm of public anger passed. It would be for show."
Your post describes me well. I was in the comment thread at the Confluence the night PUMA was coined and like many former Edwards supporter who had gone to Clinton, I was and still am exceedingly angry about the corruption of the Obama campaign and the Democratic party in general. But third parties are no solution-- the only solution is the nomination and election of good human beings from dog catcher to president.
That Hillary may not have been a great liberal hope is sort of a discussion ender for many. Riverdaughter and Lambert both contended rightly that the difference, although marginal, was not inconsequential. Riverdaughter nails it with her apt comparison : Wall street rightly perceived Obama as enabler, Hillary as rehab.
2008 was my opportunity to put newly acquired US citizenship to use by voting. Still wet behind the ears I was unaware of what went on in the shadows. I stumbled from Kucinich (my favourite) to Edwards, to Clinton, to Obama.

I've just fished out a post from my own 2008 archives, written on the day before voting day in 2008, it began:

"It's a long time since I felt so keyed-up! I could weep and jump for joy at the same time. Neither is appropriate - yet! The roller-coaster ride to the US general election is almost at an end. "Roller-coaster" is apt, the ride wasn't nearly graceful enough to be likened to the Carousel or Waltzers. It has been zany enough at times to resemble the Fun House, and scary as the Ghost Train at others. But even more appropriate than the Roller-coaster is the House of Mirrors....

A friend, fellow British ex-pat commented on the complexities of
the race about to end, saying that "Alice's Caucus Race (in Wonderland) was much simpler"; I added "and far more sensible!"

At the beginning, I had the impression that Obama was more liberal than Hillary. Edwards I didn't really know about (he was still in the race then). So I compared their policies and statements on various issues, based on info from their own websites. Much to my surprise, Edwards was by far the most liberal. Next was Hillary, and last was Teh One. So I supported Edwards till he withdrew, and then supported Hillary as next most liberal, compared to Obama.

Hmmm. Just recalled that when a group of us former Edwards supporters were discussing who to support now, I joked that the Obama fans were getting virulent enough that their attitude would be enough to drive me away from their candidate.

I beg to differ on the point about emotion ruling/guiding one's choices. In support, I refer to this study (saw link on naked capitalism.)

Researchers find people with a 'supersense' for justice are swayed by reason rather than emotion.

--NW Luna
A severely sprained ankle in early February of 2003 landed me on my parents recliner with my foot elevated while MSNBC played all day long whether my parents were watching or not.

I went from being completely clueless that a coup of the democrat party was unfolding to being so madeI started several blogs focusing on various aspects of the 2008 democrat race.

I think the ultimate drivers were George Soros fueling Move on dot org, Arianna Huffington, and MSNBC. MSNBC, being on 24 hours a day and with Keith Olberman and friends ranting on a daily basis against Hillary Clinton, led a progressive movement against Hillary Clinton that still lives on today.
Glad to know that people haven't forgotten the corruption of the 2008 primary and the part the liberal media played.
I always thought this video said it best

I was one of the ones that pivoted from Edwards to Obama. My rationale was that a black man had a better chance than a woman in the general. Blatant sexism was still okay in the public discourse The GOP would use it as a tool to destroy her. On the other hand, blatant racism was not okay. It would be called out in a heartbeat, and if used might even engender a sympathy/guilt bias for Obama.

Once Obama won, the situation reversed. Obama's election "proved" that we are a post-racial society. It's okay to criticize the president, even in ways that are obviously racial, but it's not okay to call the GOP out for it because we're past all that nasty racism stuff.

Since that time we've learned more about Hillary. Now I would still vote against her on the basis of her own demerits. Unfortunately, I'm not in a state that counts in the primaries.
Alessandro, I'm not the sort to mutter darkly about Soros. But as you know, I never did care for Arianna, no matter which side of the partisan divide she stood on.

As I research what hit us in 2008, I think that much of Team Obama's strategy comes down to one little-noticed fact: Primary elections in caucus states are not policed by the individual states. Everything is run by the local party leadership. If there are outrages and deceptive tactics -- and there were -- then there was no mechanism for accusing Obama's team of breaking the law.

I want to thank everyone for their contributions, both here and on the Confluence and Corrente. Please add further comments -- of any sort! I'll be leaving this post up for at least a few more hours.
Caucus Cheating Blog

This was just one of my blogs that followed the democrat caucus cheating crime wave that went on in 2008.
I had a very cool graphic from 2008 that showed the caucus cheating.

The Great Plains State, Fair Reflection Ignored by the Democrat Party
A recap of what went wrong in 2008 during the voting.
A Recap of 2008 Democratic Caucus Cheating and Irregularities that ALWAYS FAVORED Barack Obama.
Obama is a big disappointment to me. But I can't say that it was patently obvious to me in 2008 that he wasn't the liberal he claimed to be. I'm not a stupid person, but I missed the allegedly obvious signs. Maybe its because I don't live in a presidential primary state and so I don't stick my head in the primary "weeds".

I will admit that there were a couple of incidents that I really should have taken as big warnings. The one that bothered me most was when he disavowed his own Minister of 20 years for something the Minister said that taken out of context and trumped up by the media.

It also disgusted me that he invited Rick Warren to pastor his inauguration. Warren is a toad.

Once he was elected president, though, the signs started appearing, fast and furious.
I can only comment on one thing about those who supported Obama in 2008. You were as dumb as a stick. He was in plain view as the nose on your face. If only you had looked for yourself at his history (voting present)(representing the Southside of Chicago and doing nothing for them)instead of watching TV. Living in Florida I was livid when 27 million voters were disenfranchised by my party and immediately switched to non-partisan which I remain today. If I support a Republican it will be because I looked at the candidate, not the party affiliation.
I want to just comment that after being disenfranchised by the Democratic Party ignoring 27 million voters in my state and switching to non-partisan, if I choose to support a Republican, that does not make me a right-winger. It means that I looked at the candidate, not the party affiliation which should have been done by all the disappointed Obama voters who now express regret and disappointment that the emperor had no clothes. I'm old enough to know not to believe everything on TV, especially the talking heads.
What happened in 2008 reminded me of how it was in the 90's when the powers that be wanted Bill Clinton to resign when they used Ken Starr and 24/7 cable news/ media pinchers among other things...

Basically if you didn't live though and witnessed these two events ( 1990's -2008 ) you would not believe them and what went on.

The idea because Hillary isn't a super liberal, she wasn't a better alternative is pretty laughable Can anyone honestly say Hillary would not have been better than O?

For starters, she would not have " negotiated" with the GOP by giving them even more than they asked for every time, then tell her base to sit down, shut up and eat your peas.

Take it from Wall St and all that was done to get O in...there was a difference

The Obots I knew could not conceive of a non liberal black guy...( oh he's just saying that to get elected) so who was the racist?

One only had to google for a few minutes and see who was pushing Obama so hard and the insane money spent to know something stank

Edawrds's job ,from the start of the '08 race, was to tag team with Obama to beat up Hillary during the debates, have Elizabeth say awful things about her and then at the right moment, JE '08 implodes from the scandal.

Let's remember David Axelrod had history with both men. The public may have been in the dark about JE...but Axelrod was not. He used washed up Edwards to help his new guy, Obama

I recommend everyone revisit the excellent thread on this subject at Correntewire. These are a few of the thought the inimitable Lambert has contributed there:

Three questions about the 2008 campaign | Corrente
"[Leaving this sticky to remind myself that I still have things to say. And it's interesting to imagine what future historians, if any, will think of the 2008 Democratic campaign. We'd better get our thoughts and memories on the record! I'd also note, for researchers like Cannon, that Corrente's archives are incomparable, and our faceted/filterable search function is excellent. It's also sad to me that many comrades in arms from that time have dispersed. It's natural, of course. --lambert]
2008 was indeed strange; for many of the commenters, me included, it marked a turning point on engagement with the Democratic Party and with electoral politics generally."

"It matters for several reasons

1) It's an important and interesting piece of history (and it would be nice if it weren't written by the winners;

2) Individuals in public life need to be held accountable for bad acts;

As for the campaign itself: I felt very much that I was fighting to retain the last vestiges of a party that could actually do something, however marginal, for people who needed help; a Democratic Party more like the Democratic Party of FDR or even LBJ than the party of Ronald Reagan. Whatever else one might think of Clinton, it is clear that she still had the idea that government could still serve public purpose actively (see her support for HOLC). With Obama... Well, the bold move he made to distinguish himself from Clinton in Iowa was to put Social Security in play."
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Here's what's wrong with dissent in America

Well, I was almost going to give this very popular video (nearly a million views) an unqualified thumbs up -- but then, around the three minute mark, our hostess had to come back and stump for the Gospel According to Ayn.

No, Carey (that's the young lady's name: Carey Wedler): "The institution of government" is not the problem. With that phrase, you are taking in all forms of government, including democracy, of which we need a great deal more, not less.

You are damning the governmental regulations which protect workers.

Your forebears in the 19th century worked ten-to-twelve hour days, six days a week, and were paid with scrip for the company store. Millions of others were actual slaves. Do you want to live like that? I don't think so. You know what put an end to those practices? Government.

Your fellow workers in Germany and other European countries are better paid and better protected than you are, and they get at least one full month of paid vacay each year. The workers in those countries attained vastly improved lives because they exercised their democratic rights. In other words, they did not disparage "the institution of government": They took control of that institution.

Carey, if you want to toss out "the institution of government," then you have no right to decry Goldman Sachs and the other "malefactors of great wealth" who created the crash of 2008. Governmental regulation -- nothing else -- prevented the Wall Street scoundrels from destroying this country in a series of Great Depressions. FDR imposed regulations on our financial sector, and his rules worked out just fine, giving us decades of prosperity.

And then the fucking Libertarians came along. Since 1980, they have slowly demolished our protections. If the SEC had been doing its job, we wouldn't have had an economy infested by CDOs backed by crap loans.

And now you're saying that Obama's manifest failures mean that we need more Libertarianism? Libertarianism is the fire destroying our national infrastructure. Why would you want to pour gas on that fire?

Sure, Obama is a fraud. What made him a fraud was the fact the he sold out to the corporate interests who fund too much of our political process. And now those same corporate interests are hitting us with incessant propaganda: "See? Obama proves that government -- all forms of government -- cannot be trusted. So let's get rid of government altogether. Goldman Sachs = We the People! We One Percenters should be able to do whatever the fuck we want -- to whomever we want! We're going to take this country back to the 19th century, back to the era of twelve hour workdays and the company store. Yaaaa-HOO!"

So let me ask you, Carey -- if you think that Libertarianism is the answer, then why are the more Libertarian-oriented red states such economic basket cases? According to your theory, those states should be leading the way, because the "institution of government" is less powerful in those regions. Why, then, is most of our economic growth coming out of California and New York and other blue states?

Citizens of the red states take more from the federal treasury than they contribute in taxes. Savor the paradox: The more Libertarian a state is, the more likely it is to be a leech. We in the blue states -- those bastions of "socialist oppression" -- are the truly productive ones. Because we're the only ones who know how to make a profit, we end up funding the wars that the red staters start.

Are you really going to try to argue that the well-educated, civilized denizens of Connecticut should envy the lifestyles of those snaggle-toothed, pauperized peasants in "libertarian" Alabama?

Screw you, Carey. Obama proves that we need more government -- but only if we are talking about truly democratic government, beholden to the 99 percent, not to the richest of the rich.
There are no hillbillies in AL; there are no hills.
Is she shooting in Mommy and Daddy's back yard, or has she done very well for herself at a very young age? In either case, it appears that she thinks the view in her backyard is just fine, and if she didn't have to pay taxes maybe she could put in a swimming pool or something. But what she's leaving out of the equation is that it's only a police force and a social contract that are keeping her backyard nice. That in the anarchy she advocates, it would be neither nice nor safe.

She's young, Joseph, and obviously somebody has got her ear with a lot of simplistic answers. And I'm not sure, but she may be reading from a teleprompter in that last part. Not exactly home-video technology there.

The government-is-inherently-corrupt meme was very popular among defenders of Bush in 2004. "There is no hope for change, young people, nothing you can do except vote for the candidate that promises to tax least." The meme spreads cynicism and despair, and it seems that Obama has done his damndest to further it. We seem to have a bipartisan agenda of stalemate here, very comfortable for both parties, disguised by both sides' employment of rhetoric of conflict and fear of the other side.

Good point, Bob. My apologies. I have rewritten the post.
OT; News 3 weeks old on MH 370. Fire suppression bottle found on Maldives beach.

How did the Media miss this?
'fracking' as applird to society(zoon politicon)
releases a mass of idiots.
The 'idiot' beeing the element
of the commplex (society).
Sending shockwaves across the body
of the earth, releases gas, oil.
Unbound 'liberal' idividuals then
may be chained together in a profitable way.
Deconstructive reconstruction.
Analysing, synthesizing are both aspects of the same process.
We are used to look at one side only, usually.
Relational thinking is rare.
Joe just accept the kind of government you want is impossible
in the United States, toto, and opt for small units.
A socialist secessionist region.
Then support all movements which would reduce power in DC.
Collapse is inevitable anyway.
No way, amsp. The government I want is the government we had. I like Ike, and all that. If we did it before, we can do it again. Nothing has really changed, so there's no need to be defeatist.
Empathy defeats Tyranny, but Anger Defeats Empathy.
Astute post. I often think we'd be much better off now if we'd never revolted from Britain.

--NW Luna
Finally watched this video. I agree, she got it right until the second half where she broad brushes government. Robert Heinlein said that the alternative to politics is beating each other with clubs. If we tear down the existing constitutional framework, America will become a living hell.

I held out for a long time. The last straw for me was Obama's standing up and lecturing us trying to justify the invasion of Iraq. The absolute last straw.
I don't get that.
Please explain.
anonymous 1:19

I assume your comment was directed at mine.

Brussels 3/26/14
"I hated you more than I hated George Bush" because you skinny ass didn't know anyone who died in Iraq? and after all your a privileged white american woman who didn't get blown up like a million Iraqis?

Those who control the government the Plutocracy benefit immensely by having people believe in the BothSidesDoIt and Government can't do anything We end up getting the Government They want...
What made him a fraud was the fact the he sold out to the corporate interests who fund too much of our political process.

I think "selling out" is not quite the correct description. If you looked at his political record as a legislator in Illinois, you'll see that he was pretty much the creature of Exelon and always an enthusiastic backer of the corporate cause. "Selling out" implies that he was at one point opposed to corporate interests, and that simply was never the case. You can't "sell out" if you were a scoundrel from Day One.
There are no hillbillies in AL; there are no hills.

Bob, I beg to differ:

Alabama borders Tennessee, after all. Certainly not "mountainous" (at least not as we Coloradans would understand the term), but definitely "hilly" (at least in the northeast corner of the state).
I often think we'd be much better off now if we'd never revolted from Britain.

I don't:

Having an overpaid, parasitic corporate class is bad enough - adding an overpaid, inbred, parasitic royal family to the mix would be just too much to bear. I'm sure the Windsors are perfectly lovely people (I think Charles, for example, is continually underrated), but they really ought to get off the dole and start making an honest living.
Those who control the government the Plutocracy benefit immensely by having people believe in the BothSidesDoIt and Government can't do anything

Maybe, but the professional political class (lobbyists, professional campaign consultants, pundits, advertising agencies, and the networks that live off advertising revenue) also benefit from using wedge issues, demonization, and mudslinging to whip up the base and keep the contributions rolling in. This stuff may have been invented by Atwater and perfected by Rove, but the Dems are pretty enthusiastic practitioners now, themselves. I note that my rather desperate Democratic Senator (Mark Udall) is sending out twice-daily emails decrying his probable Republican challenger for catering to "special interests"(and tossing about the dreaded "K" word) when he himself has accepted over $7 million in corporate PAC money and not one of his top 20 donors is a labor or progressive organization.

As for the actual plutocrats, I'm sure that Soros, Buffet, Adelson, the Kochs, and the boys from Goldman will all manage to prosper no matter who is in office. I'm sure they all get a kick out of watching the rubes fight amongst themselves.
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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Finally! Sy's piece gets some attention

Remember that Seymour Hersh piece about he Syrian sarin attack? The piece that everyone is trying very hard not to mention (except for the occasional Twitterized insult)? Well, Sy's work finally made the front page at Salon.
The Turks wanted “to do something spectacular,” as one of Hersh’s sources explained — something to shove the Americans into the war. And now we know why there was a gas attack in Damascus last Aug. 21, three days after the U.N. inspectors got there. It was spectacular; you have to give the Turks and the insurgents this much. (And spectacularly stupid — too stupid for Assad to have done it, as I argued in this space at the time.)

Hersh’s sources speculate that the Turks will continue supporting the Syrian insurgents, however poorly the war goes for them. It is anyone’s guess what the Obama people will do, other than deny Hersh’s report and pretend once again the revealed remains secret. “‘If we went public with what we know about Erdoğan’s role with the gas, it’d be disastrous,’” one of Hersh’s sources tells him. “‘The Turks would say: “‘We hate you for telling us what we can and can’t do.’”
Remember the criticism that the sample which went to Porton Down came via Russia, and therefore is not to be trusted? We talked about that business a couple of posts down. Salon has some further responses to that critique (somewhat spoiled by the misspelling of "Porton Down")...
Answers, please: Why did the Porter Down lab work on the sarin sample if there was any possibility of taint? There would be no point and they would not have done so, or they would have looked at the sample but warned of possible taint. Why did Hersh’s source on this, an American well inside the intel scene, describe the Russian as trustworthy? Not too common, this. He did so out of loyalty only to the truth.

Why did Porter Down urgently advise defense counterparts in Washington that the case against Assad was not holding up? Why did the Defense Intelligence Agency then ask a source in the Syrian government for a typology of Assad’s chemical weapons and confirm on this basis that Porter Down was right: Assad was not the culprit?

Why did American military officers look at Porter Down’s material and then send Obama a last-minute warning not to strike? And why, finally, did Obama heed the officers, seek cover in Congress, and ultimately step back from the threatened missile attack?
Damn good questions.

I don't want people to say that Putin and I are dating or anything -- but let's face it: Russia has been an honest actor in this particular drama. Meanwhile, the Obama administration has been something very different.
Not too far off topic I hope is the question, What happened to Hersh's revelations of the Obama execution of bin Laden? Months (Sept of last year) ago he promised a whole chapter in an upcoming book dealing with the Abbottabad raid.
A side note to Hersh's essay states;

"Seymour M. Hersh is writing an alternative history of the war on terror."
Thanks CBar but the link only leads to the London Review of Books and "The Red Line and the Rat Line" and
"Whose Sarin?" both of which I have read. Nothing about the bin Laden raid.

The link also leads to the line I quoted. No more than that.
Well I remembered an article on this by Paul Craig Roberts on so I ran his name through their search engine with “Bin Laden raid” and it called up a cornucopia of essays including one about Sy Hersh. Pretty interesting stuff to say the least! If this is true and it is accepted as such by the American public then there will be a hornet’s nest of indignation resulting in prosecutions. Hillary’s presidential bid would be toast. I hope Hersh stays out of small aircraft.

We have gotten so bad, Putin looks good. Looking at the fascists we have installed in Kiev, it's no wonder Eastern U wants to join Mother Russia.

We always hire the worse thugs and then refuse to pay what we promised . Then they have a falling out with us( Libya ) or amongst themselves( Syria) and there is only mayhem. Everywhere we brought our "freedom" is far worse off than before .

We don't fear R will invade eastern U. We desperately fear it will not and keep provoking it hourly.

It's all simply to take over the world...funny since we can't run what we already have decently
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Tortured testimony

Yeah, I know I should have said something days ago concerning the brouhaha between former CIA Director Michael Hayden and Dianne Feinstein. It amused me that so many people focused on the sexist undertones of Hayden's remark and not on the fact that he has almost certainly lied to Congress about torture.

Marcy Wheeler (a thousand blessings upon her name!) wrote a piece which puts the focus where it belongs.

But it's not enough to remind the audience, as Marcy does, of the time Hayden lied in 2007. Even more egregious, I think, was the time he forced his successor, Leon Panetta, to grit his teeth and lie to Congress during the latter's confirmation hearings.

Before proceeding, you should understand that I never liked Hayden. Granted, I have a reputation as an old-school, '70s-style CIA critic -- so in that sense, I'm not supposed to like any of those people. But Hayden in particular has always rubbed me the wrong way. It's just something about the guy: Talks too fast, seems too full of himself...

Anyways, Hayden wanted to stay in the job after Obama won. Nevertheless, Obama chose Leon Panetta -- who was, supposedly, a total CIA outsider. (I doubt that. Of course, I'm just being paranoid.)

So Hayden met with Panetta for the big transition meeting. During this meeting, Hayden said: "Don't ever put the words 'CIA' and 'torture' in the same paragraph again."
“Torture is a felony, Leon,” Hayden said. “Say you don’t like it. Say it offends you. I don’t care. But just don’t say it’s torture. It’s a felony.” The Justice Department had approved what the CIA did in long, detailed memos, so -- legally -- the CIA had not tortured anyone.
I'm not sure that the guys being waterboarded would have cared one whit about those long, detailed memos.

(By the way, the quote comes from Bob Woodward's Obama's Wars. Like many of you, I had stopped reading Woodward a long time ago, but this book turns out to be pretty useful. I note that Woodward never explicitly says that Panetta was a CIA outsider.)

A short while later, Panetta was on the Hill for the usual confirmation grilling. He said that the Agency will no longer send people to foreign countries "for purposes of torture." Watching this testimony on CSPAN, Hayden got royally ticked off. Had he not given clear instructions not to use "CIA" and "torture" in the same paragraph? There had been no torture, never ever ever. Hayden had long, detailed memos to prove it.
He contacted Jeff Smith, a former CIA general counsel who was helping with the transition for Panetta.

“He walks that sentence back tomorrow in his public testimony,” Hayden threatened, “or we will have the spectacle of the current director of the Central Intelligence Agency saying the prospective director of the Central Intelligence Agency doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” He said he would say this publicly. “That’s not in anybody’s interest.”
At that stage, I'm not sure if many people in the country would have cared about a Michael Hayden tizzy fit on that topic. Nevertheless, the threat must have rattled Obama's team.
The next day, Friday, February 6, Senator Kit Bond of Missouri, the senior Republican on the Intelligence Committee, pressed Panetta.

“Thank you for the question, Senator, because I think there is some clarification required. ...We may very well direct individuals to third countries,” Panetta said. “I will seek the same kind of assurances that they will not be treated inhumanely.”

Would he retract his statement from the previous day about torture? Bond asked.

“Yes, I would retract that statement.”

Bond rubbed it in. So “liberal blogs” and “rumors or news stories” were insufficient sources for someone nominated to be CIA director. “I would ask you to assure this committee that you will not make rash judgments based on hearsay.”

“Senator, you have my assurance that I intend to do that.”
This anecdote is pretty damned outrageous. It becomes more outrageous the closer you look at it.

First and foremost, we have the spectacle of Senator Kit Bond -- someone who is supposed to be exercising control over the intelligence agencies -- carrying water for Michael Hayden. Then you have the equally tawdry spectacle of Leon Panetta offering a humiliating apology for words that required no apology.

And finally, there is that last childish dig from Bond: “I would ask you to assure this committee that you will not make rash judgments based on hearsay."


Panetta, in his original statement, had committed the great sin of telling the truth: The CIA did send people to foreign countries for torture. Many news stories (not "hearsay") documented the phenomenon. There were even people who tracked the flights.

America has become a country in which one cannot get ahead unless one is willing to lie.

For the rest of the story, go here. Marcy, again. 
Oh man, Hayden, that fucker can rot in hell. Everyone that matters (at least from my perspective) knows he's a clown, but in the end that doesn't matter with DC, does it? The disconnect is so grand that I have to laugh and then cry.
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Wednesday, April 09, 2014

They're going after Seymour Hersh on Syria

Well, at least they are no longer ignoring Seymour Hersh's research into the sarin attacks in Syria. In fact, there's a bona fide backlash...
The main criticisms seem to be:

1. Hersh ignores the fact that the attacks appear to have been carried out using Volcano rockets, which have been filmed in the possession of regime forces (this is Eliot Higgin’s main criticism)....
So? We know that the rebels have raided Syria's weapons stores. And Assad isn't the only one in the world with those rockets.
2. That the Sarin sample allegedly tested at Porton Down, and which didn’t match any known Sarin from the Assad regime’s arsenal, came from Russian Intelligence, and is therefore of questionable reliability. This to me is a reasonable criticism, because Russian Intelligence do have a vested interest in exonerating the Assad regime. But as Hersh tells it, the scientists at Porton Down – who you wouldn’t expect to easily fall for the ruses of Russian Intelligence – appear to have accepted the sample as genuine.
If Porton Down has reason to distrust the provenance, let's hear it from Porton Down. The fact that we haven't heard from Porton Down is, I think, telling.
3. That the U.N. have said that the Sarin came from government stockpiles, with Just Security quoting a U.N. report which reads ‘the perpetrators likely had access to the chemical weapons stockpile of the Syrian military’.

While the report does indeed say this, the use of ‘likely’ is a bit of a qualifier, and suggests a degree of doubt. This reading is further backed up by the fact that the very same report, in reference to chemical weapons attacks in Syria, then says ‘In no incident was the commission’s evidentiary threshold met with regard to the perpetrator’ (p.19).
So, what's next? Are these people going to claim that My Lai didn't happen?

Turkey has gone after Hersh in a big way -- but this, of course, is to be expected. At this point, simply quoting an official denial from the United States State Department is hardly likely to convince anyone of anything.

The Daily Beast tries to dismiss Hersh's scenario as unlikely, but offers research which tends only to buttress his findings.

In the meantime, the NYT and the WP continue to ignore what Hersh has to say.

And nobody is talking about the Benghazi angle.
Libertarian, Justin Raimondo, takes Hersh’s story the Benghazi route giving props to Rand Paul. “What we know for sure is that Sen goes. Rand Paul was dead on right when he demanded of then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton whether she knew about the involvement of our "consulate" in secret arms shipments to the rebels from Benghazi.” Maybe wing nuts will shut up about Benghazi now that we know the consulate transferred weapons to Turkey. I still wonder how Paul knew about this at Hillary’s Senate hearing February 2013. He hasn’t said anything about it since. No one on either side of the aisle wants to admit Turkey almost suckered them into WWIII. Maybe they told Paul to STFU about Turkey.
Now I understand why we didn't go to war last summer...why the UK Parliament said "whoa there" when it usually says, "yes sir!"...if we are going to go to war on a false flag( and what else do we go on ? ) it's gonna be OUR false flag damn it! Who does Turkey think it is? Us?

If it's in the news 24/7 it's a false flag

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