Wednesday, October 01, 2014

In the news...

Ten-SHUN! Windows 9 has died before birth. Microsoft is going straight to Windows 10. By all reports, it's a souped up version of Windows 7 -- and these foolish fools at The Verge dare to complain.
Windows 10 feels like a platform that hasn't seen serious or meaningful change in eight years. Apps have gotten much more powerful and there's a handy way to search everything, but when you pick up a Windows PC it may not be immediately clear which decade it comes from. It's the best Windows 7 ever, but it's still Windows 7.

If that's all Microsoft has up its sleeve, that's a problem.
NO! That's not a bug -- it's a feature. The nightmare of Windows 8 taught us all a lesson: Do not rethink evolution. Evolution is good. Evolution does what it does for excellent reasons, and only a fool would try to resist the flow. Make the OS better, but don't make it fundamentally different.

Damned good question, Ms. Rowley. The celebrated former FBI agent asks: "Why Do Americans Hate Beheadings But Love Drone Killings?"
One lady framed the issue like this: "I request that we discuss and examine why the videotaped beheading of a human being is understood to be more egregious than the explosion (almost totally invisible to the public) of a human being by a missile or bomb fired from a drone."
You can't argue that the victims of drone attacks receive due process. You can't call them combatants in a war. You can't even pronounce them guilty of terrorism, since so many innocents have been killed.

Rowley makes several cogent arguments as to why even so-called "peace" groups embrace the drone but reject the knife. But she misses one key factor: Bigotry. Racial and religious bigotries render some lives less valuable than others -- at least in the eyes of most Americans.

War on Assad? A few days ago, I voiced a tentative hope that the war on ISIS would function as an actual war on ISIS, not as a cover for regime change in Syria. However, Bob Parry's unnerving new piece tells us that the neocons have not given up the old dream...
Now that President Barack Obama has begun airstrikes inside Syria against the terrorist Islamic State – with the tacit but not explicit approval of Syria’s government — Official Washington’s ever-influential neoconservatives hope they can pressure Obama into a major “mission creep,” to also attack and destroy the Syrian air force.

Like the proverbial camel with its nose into the tent, the neocons are trying to push beyond the U.S.-led attacks on the Islamic State and other Sunni extremist groups operating in Syria into a broader “regime change” operation against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, who has been a longtime target of the neocons.
But this mission creep would represent a major escalation of the U.S. involvement and represent a clear case of international aggression. President Obama is on thin enough ice with his rationalization for bombing terrorist targets inside Syria without the government’s explicit permission (although Damascus has raised no formal objections).

If Obama were to order U.S. bombing attacks against Syria’s military, he would have to concoct a new excuse, presumably citing the “responsibility to protect” doctrine which has no standing in international law unless approved by the United Nations Security Council.

The “R2P” claim also would be a poor fit for shielding a rebel army that is engaged in warfare against the established government of a country. In effect, the United States would be intervening in a civil war on the side of rebels whom the U.S. government had recruited, trained, armed and funded. Plus, the likely result of such a direct intervention – as with Libya – would be a victory not by these “moderates” but by extremist militias.
There's a lot to chew on in Parry's piece; I may return to it later today.

The Khorasan fake-out. An earlier Cannonfire post took note of a typically nutty National Review article, which began on a note of sanity. NR said that this new terror bogeyman, Khorasan, is non-existent -- or rather, it exists only as a phoney-baloney renaming of the well-known Nusra front. If they had left the matter there, the folks at NR would have deserved our applause. But then they went traipsing off into Crazyland, as is their crazy wont, arguing that this adminstration's fake nomenclature somehow indicates that Obama wants to arrest the terrorists instead of bombing them. This, despite the fact that bombs clearly are flying.

Glenn Greenwald now has a much more reasonable piece up which calls Khorasan a "fake terror threat." It seems that one of the very first people to unveil Khorasan as an alleged domestic threat was Bob Orr of CBS...
The U.S. government, Orr explained, is trying to keep this all a secret; they won’t even mention the group’s name in public out of security concerns! But Orr was there to reveal the truth, as his “sources confirm the Al Qaeda cell goes by the name Khorasan.” And they’re “developing fresh plots to attack U.S. aviation.”

Later that day, Obama administration officials began publicly touting the group, when Director of National Intelligence James Clapper warned starkly: “In terms of threat to the homeland, Khorasan may pose as much of a danger as the Islamic State.”
What is most instructive here is Orr's approach: He pretended that he was revealing a deep dark secret that THEY didn't want you to know about. Stuff and nonsense. Clearly, this was an authorized leak -- if "leak" is even the right word for it. Orr is not the kind of journalist who deals in real leaks, because he is not a real journalist.

We all know the score by now. When faced with an actual unauthorized leaker, Obama reaches for his white Persian cat and segues directly into his impersonation of Blofeld feeding an unpleasing underling to the piranhas. No piranhas? No leak. It's that simple.

Orr has proven that a "subversive" anti-government pose is one of the ways our government tries to slip lies into the meme-stream. Please make a note of that tactic for future reference.

Greenwald asserts, en passant, that Mohsin al-Fadhli (the alleged leader of Khorasan) is dead, even though the story he cites indicates that the death remains unconfirmed. I can't find anything on al-Fadhli published more recently than three days ago. For example, this piece in the Daily Mail indicates that "officials" believe that al-Fadhli "may be faking his own death."

How do we know that officials aren't faking al-Fadhli's life? As noted in this earlier post, the only Al Qaeda militants scurrying about the Khorasan region of Iran were, in fact, funded by our intelligence services -- a fact which indicates that al-Fadhli may have been "our" guy all along.

(Hey, it's me. I said something similar about Awlaki.)

Let's get back to Greenwald:
Even more remarkable, it turns out the very existence of an actual “Khorasan Group” was to some degree an invention of the American government.
Indeed, a Nexis search for the group found almost no mentions of its name prior to the September 13 AP article based on anonymous officials. There was one oblique reference to it in a July 31 CNN op-ed by Peter Bergen. The other mention was an article in the LA Times from two weeks earlier about Pakistan which mentioned the group’s name as something quite different than how it’s being used now: as “the intelligence wing of the powerful Pakistani Taliban faction led by Hafiz Gul Bahadur.” Tim Shorrock noted that the name appears in a 2011 hacked Stratfor email published by WikiLeaks, referencing a Dawn article that depicts them as a Pakistan-based group which was fighting against and “expelled by” (not “led by”) Bahadur.

There are serious questions about whether the Khorasan Group even exists in any meaningful or identifiable manner. Aki Peritz, a CIA counterterrorism official until 2009, told Time: “I’d certainly never heard of this group while working at the agency,” while Obama’s former U.S. ambassador to Syria Robert Ford said: ”We used the term [Khorasan] inside the government, we don’t know where it came from….All I know is that they don’t call themselves that.” As The Intercept was finalizing this article, former terrorism federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy wrote in National Review that the group was a scam: “You haven’t heard of the Khorosan Group because there isn’t one. It is a name the administration came up with, calculating that Khorosan … had sufficient connection to jihadist lore that no one would call the president on it.”
We all remember the film Wag the Dog. Ever since that movie came out, various writers have argued that various occurrences were "wag the dog" scenarios. Most of those accusations had no real proof to back them. The Khorasan charade offers us our clearest evidence that the government does indeed enjoy the occasional bit of dog-waggery.

And speaking of dog-wagging: Have you noticed that nobody is repeating the canard that Assad was responsible for the sarin attacks? The administration now refuses to mention an incident which almost started a major war.

This is too embarrassing for words. Threshold Entertainment is going to make a film version of...Tetris.

Wouldn't it be easier to make a film called "Chess: The Movie"? At least with chess, you have badasses on horseback. Angelina Jolie as the White Queen...Halle Berry as the Black Queen...with Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the King's pawn. (Ah! The role he was born to play. Doesn't he just look like the King's pawn, nervously advancing two paces ahead?) You know, if I still lived in Los Angeles, I might try to pitch this concept.

It is now official: Name recognition is all; original ideas are considered bad for business. Star Wars is credited with creating Hollywood's blockbuster mentality. Paradoxically, that mentality now insures that a film like Star Wars (an expensive production not based on a pre-existing property) would never receive the green light.
And just in case we thought we could run somewhere, the CIA, I mean Facebook, will be putting drones up as big as jumbo jets to ensure 'everyone' gets internet access in otherwise uncovered areas. That's according to the Daily Mail. Little chance they'll forget about the highlands of Scotland!

Google won't be far away. They boast about employing "less than 50% but certainly more than 5% of the world' leading experts" on machine learning. One investor in Google-owned DeepMind spoke of a "Manhattan Project of AI".

On Facebook: I'll be interested to hear the 2012 US suicide figure when it comes out. I reckon there may have been a very big increase connected with Facebook use.

Chess, The Movie (trailer).

And for balance, about go, The Surrounding Game Movie.
Wait for all the complaints about Windows 10 hiding the Start Screen. People don't like change.

It's said that public execution being abolished stopped the abolition of the death penalty for a hundred years. The media in America won't show you the hideously mangled corpses of the children killed by drones because it might arouse dissatisfaction.

Al-Fadhli, the supposedly dead supposed leader of the Nusra/"Khorasan". And not long ago the entire leadership of the Islamic Front in Syria was blown up when they met in a room next to a bomb factory in a bunker, which was then either blown up by incompetents or by an ISIS suicide bomber. The FSA are nothing but an illusion. The Syrian Kurds have been slaughtered too. ISIS are stomping that Syrian war, and still destroying brigade-scale units in Iraq.

Films not based on preexisting properties can still be made, like Edge of Tomorrow. Good film, didn't make a massive profit.

I admit that I was sceptical about Battleship, the movie of Battleships, which was actually an alien invasion movie which featured a battleship in the later part.

Chess wouldn't make a good film, though. I was going to recommend this article, humourously recommending a filmic Go:

But b already suggested Go: The Movie. Still, that Michael Kelly article is better. Much more Hollywood.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I can believe the latest Theory of Mitt

Ed Kilgore has a fascinating brief piece up about Mitt Romney. In an interview, Romney said that he wishes there had been a visible camera in the room during that famous "47 percent" speech. The sight of a camera would have reminded him that he was talking to the world, not to a small group.
Romney told me that the statement came out wrong, because it was an attempt to placate a rambling supporter who was saying that Obama voters were essentially deadbeats.
This interview marks the first time Romney has explained his gaffe in terms of placating a supporter.

Was Romney, in fact, reflecting that unnamed person's views back at him, rather than expressing his own beliefs?

Probably. Mitt has always struck me as a man with no deeply-felt opinions whatsoever. He is not a choice, but an echo. He is a mirror unto the nature of Certain Powerful Interests. He is a living reminder that those who lack all conviction are not necessarily counted among the best. He is a Pinocchio who doesn't mind the strings and doesn't long to be a real boy.

The fact that he didn't really mean that 47 percent nonsense hardly makes him a more attractive candidate. Despite his recently-expressed desire for constant coverage, we all know that cameras will never be allowed into certain rooms. Consider, for example, his meeting with various Likudnik VIPs in Israel. Visualize him other hobnobbing with war-lovers of other stripes in other secret conclaves. It has always been Mitt's first instinct to say "Sir, yes sir" when told that this country must go to war again. A President Romney would make Barack Obama look like Gandhi.

The people hit by American bombs won't care whether the President came up with the idea himself or acted under the direction of others.
A President Romney would make Barack Obama look like Gandhi.

Yes romney would kill of Main Street overnite were 0 and gang are doing by a thousand cuts. It might be slower but neither are anywhere near Gandhi don't think?
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The cops are robbers

It feels odd when a writer you don't like comes up with a piece you do like. In previous posts, this blog has lambasted Mark Ames of Pando for his rather disgusting attacks on Glenn Greenwald. Ames damned Greenwald's new media venture for being backed by a libertarian sugar daddy, even though Pando is itself partially backed by a libertarian sugar daddy. The whole bitch-fight was infuriating and ridiculous.

So it somewhat pains me to recommend Ames' new article on Ferguson, which he sees as an illustration of libertarianism in action.
Libertarians have been coming up with reform programs for our city police and criminal justice systems for a long time. In fact, some of these reforms have actually become law in places like Ferguson.

Take the shocking “discovery” — actually years in the making — that Ferguson shifted many of its revenue burdens away from taxpayers and onto something the New Yorker described as the city’s “offender-funded” justice system, designed to “shift the financial burden of probation directly onto the probationers…. charging petty offenders — such as those with traffic debts — for a government service that was once free.”
Much of the blame, says Ames, goes to Robert Poole, an influential libertarian writer with strong Koch connections.
More relevant to Ferguson, Poole proposed shifting as much of the costs of the criminal justice system onto the criminals — the “users” as he put it — in order to cut taxes and budgets:
“To date, it has always been assumed that the taxpayers must assume the full burden of court costs in criminal matters. But once the idea that the criminal is responsible for the costs imposed on the victim is established, the next logical step is to extend the idea to court costs.”
An NPR investigation earlier this year, “Guilty And Charged,” revealed how this Poole-inspired “user-fee” system — “Court Fees Bill Defendants For Their Punishment” — is now a standard feature in cities and towns everywhere:
“NPR’s investigations unit found that the practices in Ferguson are common across the country. The series reported that nationwide, the costs of the justice system are billed increasingly to defendants and offenders, and that this creates harsher treatment of the poor.”
This system rewards the police for criminalizing as many people as possible. In other words, law enforcement has become a racket. Everyone knows that a sufficiently strict interpretation of the law can make a "criminal" of anyone.

(Many years ago, I read that the average driver makes seven citable mistakes with every trip. I'm not sure if that figure is correct, but if you pay very careful and honest attention to your driving, you'll probably come to a similar conclusion.)

Ames' piece goes on to discuss the restitution racket, although he doesn't go far enough. For a more in-depth look, I recommend checking out the video embedded above, in which Matt Taibbi dissects our injustice system. Even if you think you already know this material, Taibbi will stun you. (Yes, he takes a while to warm up, but what he has to say will definitely reward the investment of your time.)

This new debate on how police departments are funded should also focus on asset forfeiture -- the seizure of property from defendants, especially those suspected (not necessarily convicted) of drug violations. Here's an example:
On November 18, 2009, Shukree Simmons, who is African-American, was driving with his business partner on the highway from Macon, Georgia, back to Atlanta after selling his cherished Chevy Silverado truck to a restaurant owner in Macon for $3,700 of sorely needed funds. As Mr. Simmons passed through Lamar County, he was pulled over by two patrol officers who stated no reason for the stop, but instead asked Mr. Simmons numerous questions about where he was going and where he had been, and even separated him from his business partner for extended questioning. The officers searched both people and the car, finding no evidence of any illegal activity. A drug dog sniffed the car and did not indicate the presence of any trace of drugs. Notwithstanding the total lack of evidence of criminal activity and Mr. Simmons’s explanation that he was carrying money from selling his truck, the officers confiscated the $3,700 on the suspicion that the funds were derived from illegal activity, pursuant to their authority under Georgia’s civil asset forfeiture law. Despite the fact that Mr. Simmons mailed his bill of sale and title for the truck to the officer, he was told over the phone that he would need to file a legal claim to get his money back.
This example is even more outrageous:
Consider the story of Javier Gonzalez: In August 2005, Gonzalez borrowed a car from his employer in Austin, Texas, and drove to Brownsville to visit his dying aunt and to make arrangements for her funeral. He brought more than $10,000 in cash to provide for her burial. On his way, Gonzalez was pulled over for having an improperly attached license plate. When officers found the cash, they handcuffed Gonzalez and took him in for investigation. A search revealed no drugs or contraband, but officers seized the money anyway. They told Gonzalez that he could either sign away his legal right to the cash or face money-laundering charges and have the car seized — despite a lack of any evidence of criminal activity. He signed away his rights. Gonzalez was fortunate enough to be able to hire a lawyer to challenge the forfeiture and, in 2008, three years after his money was taken, it was returned. Others are not so lucky.
Do the cops profit personally from these seizures? Oh yes:
As outlandish as these facts seem, this happens every day across the country to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Under federal law and the laws of 42 states, law enforcement officials are entitled to keep most (and sometimes all) of the money and property they seize. The money goes to pay for salaries, advanced equipment and, in one Texas county, travel to Hawaii for "training."
No wonder our cops are increasingly despised by the communities they are supposed to serve. The cops have become robbers.

Perhaps that devolution was inevitable. The real problem is libertarianism itself -- the libertarian mentality. It has spread like a virus throughout our society. When greed and selfishness are seen as the sole virtues, every segment of our society will eventually become a kind of mafia -- including the police themselves.
Indeed, when law enforcement is privatized (it isn't yet, officially anyway) this sort of thing is inevitable. Much like privatizing health care (profits ALWAYS come first).

It's interesting......we have the US army out fighting for the right of corporations and the uber wealthy to exploit the people and resources of foreign nations. Now we have the US police forces out fighting for the right of corporations and the uber wealthy to exploit the people and resources right here at home.
Ive been thinking lately that the "New World Order" is really the "Old World Order" brought back for the present.
The Koch libertarians are the Feudal lords, the cops are the Sheriff of Nottingham, and we are the peasants tilling the estates (corporations).
Bring the Sheriff a chicken, or pig, or your oldest daughter.
They have people in wage slavery from student loans on.
A return to feudalism is the New World Order...
ZeroHedge on the same topic:

Canada Warns Its Citizens Not To Take Cash To The USA

"The Canadian government has had to warn its citizens not to carry cash to the USA because the USA does not presume innocence but guilt when it comes to money. Over $2.5 billion has been confiscated from Canadians traveling to the USA, funding the police who grab it.

If you are bringing cash to the land of the free, you will find that that saying really means they are FREE to seize all your money under the pretense you are engaged in drugs with no evidence or other charges.

It costs more money in legal fees to try to get it back so it is a boom business for unethical lawyers to such an extent than only one in sixth people ever try to get their money back and the cops just pocket it. That’s right. Money confiscated is usually allowed to be kept by the department who confiscated it.

This is strangely working its way into funding police and pensions.

This is identical to the very issue that resulted in the final collapse of Rome when the armies began to sack cities to pay for their pensions. We are at that level now with respect to seizing whatever they want knowing you will have to spend more in legal fees to assert your rights that do not really exist.

Those trying to flee tyranny elsewhere can not bring money with them for the police get to take it on this end.

This pretend war on terrorism is really a wholesale war against the people. It serves as the justification to seize whatever they desire ever since 9/11 as reported by the Washington Post."

There's an obvious class bias at work in both Ferguson and the broader instances of asset forfeiture. The "offender-funded" approach is never brought up against the Wall Street crooks. While I am adamantly opposed to institutional fine-based policing, as described in Ferguson, or seizures of cash based on mere suspicion of wrong-doing - when the economy finally collapses and the 1% flee to their off-shore havens in the Caribbean, I would fully support aggressive investigation detailing financial fraud featuring large-scale asset forfeiture as a necessary effort to assist cleaning up the mess.
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Monday, September 29, 2014

Fat shaming and the final frontier of social acceptance

Folks, I'm not really in the mood to research and write anything at the moment, because I had a rather painful fall downstairs. (Also, my beloved Hell-Hound is ailing again -- mysterious rectal bleeding -- and when she is in a bad way, I can't easily concentrate on the news.) Fortunately, our friend Ms. Vandal wrote a short piece which she would like to share with a larger audience. Her observations were inspired by this controversy.

*  *  *

From the desk of Ms. Vandal:

A viral video chronicles an experiment involving the picture-driven dating application Tinder. What makes this video alarming is the reaction of the men who have arranged a date with a woman who turns out to be overweight. Although her online profile depicts a svelte young female, the men come face to face with a woman wearing a convincing "fat suit." This is all meant to initiate a dialogue about the discrepancy between online fantasy images and the reality of our growing obesity problem.

This problem goes beyond the social and dating arenas. Research suggests that prejudice against the overweight extends to academia and to the professional world. A Bowling Green State University study suggests that overweight job applicants are less likely to secure a job offer.

Last year, utilizing the hash-tag "truth," evolutionary psychology professor Geoffrey Miller of New York University tweeted these instantly-notorious words:
“Dear obese PhD applicants: If you do not have the willpower to stop eating carbs, you won’t have the willpower to do a dissertation.”
Fat shaming has become an all-encompassing trap. Paul Fussell, author of the revealing sociological tell-all book Class, states succinctly: “Your weight is an advertisement of your social standing.” He argues that it is difficult to transcend your social class unless you are extraordinarily beautiful. Current beauty standards exclude overweight people.

Of course no one wants to believe that they are guilty of fat shaming. No one is a racist, either -- in spite of all evidence to the contrary.

Granted, there are people who date only within the subgroup of overweight people. According to the Center for Disease control, more than one-third of the population is obese. Pseudo-pharmacology has lead many to believe that weight problems can be solved with a pill.

I write this post to make one simple point: Please,always remember that the other person at the other end of that interview, job application, or online dating profile is a person. While the Tinder profile experiment may have been deceptive, it does highlight the genuine prejudice which overweight people face everyday.

* * *

Joseph again: I should mention that Professor Miller later apologized for his tweet (which carried a legal risk, since he sat on the Admissions Committee of his university). Later still, Miller claimed that his original tweet was part of a psychology experiment.

The mind boggles when one tries to imagine the exact nature of such an experiment. What was the point? Was he trying to determine how an online community reacts to someone who says something unpopular and offensive?

If so, all he had to do was ask me.
People have been talking about fat for decades, since "fat is a feminist issue". So it's hardly the final frontier. Height, that's the final frontier. No-one talks about that, yet it forms the ubiquitous background discrimination of society.
I didn't appreciate the commentary on the "social experiment" video. It made it sound like the woman in the fat suit was derided and humiliated, while in fact all of the guys shown in the video were quite polite and respectful.

In reality, there are no harsher judges of women's bodies than other women - especially the women in charge of fashion magazines and brands.

There are plenty of guys who actually prefer curvier women, but to deliberately bait guys with a picture of a skinny woman and to expect to ignore the fat one that showed up instead is creme de la creme of yellow internet garbage.

Fat shaming exist, but let's look at who, why and when perpetrates it, rather than unload on no one in particular.
Not sure why this is a controversy or even surprising. The initial poll says it all: most women are afraid they'll meet a serial killer online. Men? That the woman will be . . . fat.

I love how the actress played this out--unassuming, here I am, no excuses. And the men are highly insulted, angry. Any woman who has struggled with her weight can identify with this crushing social norm. You're required to be slim, young, beautiful, always. If you're not? Wait for the shaming. From men and women alike. Men are far more blatant in their disgust.

Is this the last frontier of bigotry? Certainly, it's the last frontier of open bigotry. What is not PC to say aloud about race, ethnicity, religion and/or class [although many have no problems of criticizing the poor as lazy layabouts] is a wide open field when it comes to fat people. You don't need to be obese to feel the rejection either. Crayon outside the lines and you're a goner.

I got a taste of this as a kid. I was always 20-25 pounds over the ideal weight. Baby fat, my grandmother said. Unfortunately, that didn't keep the insults and teasing at bay. Kids can be cruel. But let's face it--there are plenty of cruel adults marching around, just waiting to crack on another person they feel is vulnerable. It's as if the overweight individual has no feelings, as if our penchant for snarky, cruel comments are all saved up, eager to wound those we perceive as lazy, out of control, gluttonous, whatever. And in that way, it is related to class, to vulnerability, to what we fear ourselves.

As an adult, I've been thin far longer than my chubby years as a child. But some things you don't forget.

I've been fat since I had my tonsils removed in the 3rd grade. The only time in my 67 years that my weight (BMI) has been near normal, i.e. "beautiful," was when I was averaging running 30 miles per week. It's harder than you think to be "beautiful," fat shamers.
Watson once said ( I am talking about the Noble prize winner, DNA) that he feels sorry for fat people who come to interview for a job because he knows they are not going to be hired.
Stephen, speaking as someone in the "under 5'8"" club, I must concede your point. I'm in that club by only about half an inch, yet it's hard for a guy my size to get the respect normally accorded to someone who is big and dumb. What's bothersome is that, in our culture, people are at least allowed to TALK about unfair treatment based on factors such as skin color or weight. Shorties get short shrift.
Geoffrey Miller (who's at New Mexico) is an "evolutionary psychologist". Isn't that often code for "eugenicist"?

As an associate professor of psychology, he'll know that he isn't supposed to start psychology experiments on his tod, before anyone has checked his protocols. Insulting obese people causes unnecessary distress and breaches the Nuremburg Code. I hope he gets a strip torn off his arse and students and others in New Mexico protest against him.

Edit: yep, this idiot Geoffrey Miller is a supporter of eugenic

How fucking easy it is for him to sit in his ivory tower saying the government should control breeding as he bravely types up to 140 characters insulting real people who haven't got sinecures but get turned away from jobs because they aren't as thin as fashion models.s.
I realize that I'm something of a dinosaur, but my impression was that Tinder was primarily intended as an app for locating casual hookups predicated mainly on the "hotness" of the, er, "Tinderee" as well as his/her proximity to the, er, "Tinderer".

Is that not correct?

If it is correct, why would anyone be surprised at an adverse reaction based on a deceptive ad? If you're selling (and make no mistake about it, that's the right verb) to a specific demographic based on a conformance to a particular standard of "hotness" to which you do not in fact conform, you ought to expect a certain level of disappointment and perhaps outright irritation and anger on the part of those whom you have deceived (if not defrauded).

People who use Tinder aren't exactly looking for soulmates, after all.

There is a strong correlation between obesity and poverty, so I'm also gonna go ahead and assert that fat shaming is in a sense also just another tool for the marginalization of the poor.
Geoffrey Miller wears glasses. Unless he only does it to look intellectual, he presumably suffers from a congenital weakness of his vision - as I do, and as millions of other people do.

So as a eugenicist, has he put his vas deferens where his mouth is and had a vasectomy?

After all, people who need glasses pollute the gene pool, right?
Anon 11:33, I think you have it just right.

b, I see no evidence that Miller has any connection to eugenics. Before the dust-up over this latest tweet, he was best known for writing a paper which argued that lap-dancers in strop clubs make bigger tips when they are ovulating.

I think THAT gives you an idea as to his real area of expertise. He is one of America's leading specialists in Strip Clubology. And he got into trouble only when he ventured outside of his field.

I have to admit, this kind of study is probably a good way for a nerdy guy to get strippers to talk to him about personal matters: "But it's for SCIENCE!"

Yes, he wears glasses. Now you know why he wants to see better.

Even his Wikipedia entry mentions his connections with eugenics.

In this article he praises Chinese eugenics to the skies and says the west should take a leaf out of China's book.

Having no time for "anti-hereditarian political correctness", he says forward forward forward with the "Han ethno-state".

And he speaks admiringly of how Deng Xiao-Peng forbade people with physical disorders from marrying and encouraged "assortative mating".
I'm short and fat, Joseph. Also, very poor and possessing of an extremely strong regional accent, which with the employer-class is a massive black mark. Someone once told me I sound like Jim Bowen from Bullseye. In an interview I might as well punch the interviewer and call him a cunt.
Oh, Propertius 10:07, you are being unfair to the Tinderites! "Not looking for soul-mates"? How do you know?

F. Scott F. obeerved that it was silly to marry for money. He advised: "Go where the money is, then marry for love."
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Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Khorasan deception

The National Review has noticed that "Khorasan" is simply a renamed version of the Nusra Front, one of the three main rebel factions in the war against Bashar Assad. I made the same point -- citing actual evidence -- in the preceding post.

In a diatribe that devolves into an incomprehensible right-wing fantasia, National Review claims that the administration's "fun with nomenclature" games have something to do with Obama's desire to disguise 'Islamic supremacist ideology."
The global terror network must be atomized into discrete, disconnected cells moved to violence by parochial political or territorial disputes, with no overarching unity or hegemonic ambition. That way, they can be limned as a manageable law-enforcement problem fit for the courts to address, not a national-security challenge requiring the armed forces.
That old canard again. The National Review staff must be 'shrooming. They are hallucinating that Nusra was hit by a court summons, not by bombs.

Once again, right-wing writers pretend to address the truth while skirting the real issues. Why did the administration indulge in this whole "Khorasan" charade? To me, the answer is obvious -- use of that name helps to smear Iran. (Khorasan is a province in Iran.) The administration wants everyone to forget that Nusra -- like ISIS, and like the original Al Qaeda -- has received a lot of funding from Saudi Arabia, Iran's enemy.

National Review and the Obama administration have one thing in common: They don't like to mention the Saudi link. Oddly, the Islamophobe right tends to keep its mouth off the Saudis.

The right's position seems to be that we should make no attempt to keep track of the various jihadist factions, and no attempt to distinguish between the religious extremists and their Muslim victims. American rightwingers prefer to reduce our problems to the simplistic formula of the religious bigot: All Muslims are evil. All Muslims must convert or die.

Anyone who thinks this way is a dangerous fundamentalist fanatic, similar in all essentials to the dangerous fundamentalist fanatics in Nusra and ISIS.
Obviously the people pushing the latest 'bombs away' mentality needed to add a new threat to the mix. The whole Khorasan fear-mongering--they're going to kills us in our beds--fell out of the sky shortly after POTUS gave a nod to the latest neocon/interventionist dreamsters.

What I haven't heard through our fearless media is a short article I read the other day [can't recall the source]: the Taliban have come out of their hidey-holes in Pakistan, wreaking havoc in northern Afghanistan. They've taken up beheadings, too. Another huge success story!

Btw, kudos to Bailey's summation of the insanity that's going on. Wish it was all some lame joke. Sadly, it's not. This is how Empires fall to their knees before completely buckling, face down in the sand. I'm wondering if this isn't somehow connected to the fracking bubble that's getting ready to explode. Despite all the flag-waving and fear-mongering, our wars in the ME seem tangled with dwindling energy resources and corporate demands. Putin's threat to nationalize American assets in Russia sent the stock market into an immediate free fall last week. Our elites are getting nervous. Bang the war drum.

We're on a nonstop disaster course.

from james,
so much of western culture is about packaging... so they change the name on the package, but it is the same 'terrorists' either way.. the western gov't leaders are lying and using democracy as a cover.. the banking cartel seems to be dictating much of the direction of our planet at present.. regime change in syria and then onto russia is the name of the game at present.. finding some useful politicians to lie into the media monopoly is as easy as pie here..
14 years... And still wasting our money on wars fighting enemies being pumped out by our allied countries. Where are the terrorists the USA is fighting coming from? Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, UAE, Turkey, Qatar, Kuwait, UK, France and Germany. ALL OF THEM ALLIES. That is where MOST of the terrorists the west is fighting are all coming from. Oh, you thought they would be mostly coming from Russia, Iran and Syria because it would make more sense for the West's terrorist enemies to be hiding in places that were antagonists to the west right? No. The terrorists we are fighting are allies when we need fhem fighting on our side and enemies when we need a way to get the west tricked into a new war. That is the GAME.

If the USA wanted to start to end its nightmare in Iraq tomorrow, it would send 10 B2's and fly them in circles over Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE and Fox News HQ and 90 % of the terrorism problem dragging the USA and the west down would dry up overnight. Gulf War, 9/11, the Iraq War, Al-Qaeda, ISIS and all of the rest of the garbage the west is killing itself fighting was spawned out of these fascist Monarchical run Arab nations with support from Western fascists involved with keeping the West at war so they can profit from it and destabilize secular and liberal democracy at home ...While converting secular democracies abroad into failed states to the benefit of Arab monarchies and Israel.

14 years and the media is still pretending to not understand why we are still stuck in Iraq blowing tax payers dollars away with absolutely ZERO to show for it.

14 years tilting at puppets. Look at the strings on the puppet. Then look up. That is the source of what ails thee.
The uber Neo-Fascist Capitalist End Game which we are stuck in looks like this:

1. destabilize secular governments around world and install fascist theocracies and monarchies in their place
2. Flood your own country with the poor people from these countries you have destroyed to make your own people want to kill more of them
3. Make your own people stressed out and tired, lacking financial security and divided politically
4. Make them all cry uncle and then milk them all like a bunch of cows

All around the world it looks like governments are being taken over by Nazis doesn't it? DARPA is spending your money building Terminator robots and drones to fight terrorists right? You damn well know why all of this technology is being created. To keep you compliant to the ass rape you have been under going since Republican idiots In 2001 thought it would be awesome to hand over all power and authority to the Empire Beast which writers have been warning about being wary of rebuilding since the time of Ancient Rome and which has now SET ITSELF UP AGAIN AND APPARENTLY WE ARE POWERLESS TO NOW REMOVE IT.


The program of destabilization and wars and diseases all looks like some type of coordinated endgame nightmare doesn't it, to knock civilization back into a feudal state. Can't be intentional can it? YES IT IS INTENTIONAL.

April 19th article on the Boston Bomber Bros "connections" to youtube Khorasan video. This premonitory video of the current Khorasan-Shit-Your-Pants-and-Be-Afraid hype comes courtesy of Bill Kristol's Weekly Standard. No surprise there. Nothing like a good ol' homegrown jihadi bombing to get American heiferdom shitting their pants and pissing their beds for another war.
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Friday, September 26, 2014

Is this war real?

From the beginning, I've said that the war against ISIS would not be a war against ISIS. It would be a war against Assad disguised as a war against ISIS.

Now, I'm not so sure. There's more than one way to look at this situation.

Evidence that the war is a huge fake-out: Undeniably, the United States and its allies have encouraged the rise of Al Qaeda-linked jihadists in various countries. We even armed these Islamists with weapons stolen from stores in Libya. (That is the real Benghazi scandal -- the one that the Republicans will never talk about.) John Kerry now calls these jihadi fighters "criminals." Yet he was perfectly willing to pal around with the Saudis who bankrolled all of this criminality.

Why would the Saudis do such a thing? And why would our own government help the Saudis do such a thing?

All of the players in this game (the United States, the Saudis, Turkey, etc.) have their own reasons for aiding jihad. The Israeli motivation was laid out by former ambassador Michael Oren -- and yes, I am going to publish this quote once again, because it's that important:
"We always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.” He said this was the case even if the other “bad guys” were affiliated with al-Qaeda.
The original version of Al Qaeda was itself, in large measure, a creation of the CIA's war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. In our perpetual search for proxy warriors, we have a habit of unleashing forces we cannot control.

Moreover, no-one can deny that the war against ISIS has dramatically weakened Assad. The jihadis have taken Syrian military stores and destroyed Syrian air bases. Falsely ascribing a sarin attack to Assad resulted in a deal to eliminate his chemical weapons stockpiles.

Even if every ISIS fighter were to disappear within the next three minutes, they have already done their task, from the U.S. point of view. They have left Assad wide open and vulnerable, should we choose to attack him.

The Iranians (hardly a disinterested party, of course) are claiming that they have footage of "Takfiri" terrorists training in the Golan Heights, occupied by Israel. "Takfiri" is a Muslim-on-Muslim term of insult; in this case, it refers to ISIS and/or Nusra.
Regarding the video, Press TV News Director Hamid Reza Emadi said people in the Middle East “are wondering why the Takfiri terrorists only kill Muslims and Christians in Iraq and Syria, but do not act against Israel’s interests.”
Yeah, but. Even if we take this video at face value, it speaks only to the situation on the day the footage was taken. And as we shall see, attitudes may have changed -- very rapidly and very recently.

It is, however, true that, just a few days ago, Israel shot down a Syrian fighter which had flown into Golan airspace. American audiences have been told that the jet had "infiltrated" Israeli airspace by accident -- an absurd suggestion. The Syrian government said that the jet was going after al-Nusra fighters in Israeli territory, a claim which has the advantage of conforming with common sense.

In other words: The United States flew into another country's airspace to bomb Nusra (or "Khorasan," as we are now supposed to call it). But when the Syrians did the exact same thing, their jet was shot down.

Here's another indicator: Turkey has given safe haven to fleeing ISIS fighters. In fact, there is something of an economic boom in Turkish border towns, thanks to these refugees. Even as the Turks have welcomed ISIS, they have repelled the Kurds.

Andrew Tabler has said that the likely outcome (read: goal) of the war against ISIS is to partition Syria into three: A Kurdish state, a Shiite state, and a "Sunni center." Although Tabler won't admit it, that "Sunni center" will be a land of nightmares.

Our self-appointed foreign policy "savants" have been pontificating about a Syrian partition for years now -- see, for example, here and here.

Of course, any partition would be incredibly bloody, chaotic and disastrous. The partition of India and Pakistan left millions of people dead and resulted in a perpetual cold war between the two countries. The current Israel/Palestine conflict may be considered the result of a partition (of sorts). How well did that work out?

So that's the argument. That's why many people think that this war against ISIS is actually a cover for a war against Assad. One train may hide another.

But now that we've examined the evidence for the "grand fake-out" theory, let's take a gander at...

Evidence that the war against ISIS is real. Frankly, I was stunned by the attack on Nusra. So were a lot of other people

It was sold to the American public as an attack on a brand-new threat called Khorasan. Moon of Alabama says that this new bogeyman, Khorasan, is "as fake as the Kardashians's physiques." M of A quotes Agence France-Presse:
But experts and activists cast doubt on the distinction between Khorasan and Al-Nusra Front, which is Al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch.

“In Syria, no one had ever heard talk of Khorasan until the US media brought it up,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

“Rebels, activists and the whole world knows that these positions (hit Tuesday) were Al-Nusra positions, and the fighters killed were Al-Nusra fighters,” added Abdel Rahman, who has tracked the Syrian conflict since it erupted in 2011.
Aron Lund, editor of the Syria in Crisis website run by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, raised similar doubts.

“The fact that news about this Al-Qaeda-run, anti-Western cell linked to Al-Nusra emerged just over a week ago, through US intelligence leaks — well, it’s certainly an interesting coincidence,” he told AFP.
This is extremely significant.

This humble blog has joined with many other voices in trying to warn the world that our Saudi and Qatari allies pretty much created the Nusra front (just as they also created ISIS). The most important lesson to be learned here comes from a McClatchy story which seems to be no longer online, though M of A and other bloggers have quoted it...
Raad Alawi, the commander of a smaller group of fighters, the Squadrons of Al Haq, told McClatchy he was very angry.

“Starting the war with the bombing of Nusra is an indication that this is a war against the revolution and not [ISIS] … “Maybe next they will bomb the bases of the Free Syrian Army.”
A war against the revolution.

What conclusions shall we draw from this?

I suspect that there has been a very sudden shift in attitude. Maybe the Israelis have decided that they would rather have a relatively sane dictator like Assad on their border, as opposed to a state run by Sunni crazies.

When you think about it, the Israelis would have to be truly psychotic to want Saudi Arabia (a temporary partner which isn't really an ally) on one side and the Islamic State on the other.

That brings us to the larger question: Why were the Israelis willing to risk that situation? The answer is simple. Grim, but simple.

The Israelis want rid of the current governments of Syria and Iran because those governments fund the Palestinians. That's the ultimate reason for all of these wars: Israel wants to make life for the Palestinians unbearable. Israel can't slaughter the Palestinians outright -- although it seems that a growing number of Israelis would like to go the "Final Solution" route. It would be better for Israel if the Palestinians simply went away.

Iran and Syria have kept the Palestinians alive, and have thus kept hope alive for a two-state solution. The Israelis want a single-state solution -- a single state containing only a few non-Jews. If pursuit of that goal means working with Al Qaeda-linked crazies and stirring up a Sunni-Shiite war, so be it.

Only recently -- as in, the last few weeks -- has the Big Problem with this plan become apparent: At the end of the day, this strategy would leave Israel surrounded by maniacs who are so extreme as to make Osama Bin Laden look like a pansy.

Bob Parry has documented the change in thinking. First, he reports that Obama is quietly working with Assad:
The Obama administration, working through the Russian government, has secured an agreement from the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad to permit U.S. airstrikes against Islamic State targets in parts of Syria, according to a source briefed on the secret arrangements.

The reported agreement would clear away one of the chief obstacles to President Barack Obama’s plan to authorize U.S. warplanes to cross into Syria to attack Islamic State forces – the concern that entering Syrian territory might prompt anti-aircraft fire from the Syrian government’s missile batteries.
Yet, this secret collaboration may go even further and include Syrian government assistance in the targeting of the U.S. attacks, according to the source who spoke on condition of anonymity. That is another feature of U.S. military protocol in conducting air strikes – to have some on-the-ground help in pinpointing the attacks.
Parry also reports that Israel has engaged in some heavy re-thinking:
More recently, however, with the al-Qaeda-connected Nusra Front having seized Syrian territory adjacent to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights – forcing the withdrawal of UN peacekeepers – the balance of Israeli interests may be tipping in favor of preferring Assad to having Islamic extremists possibly penetrating directly into Israeli territory.

Direct attacks on Israel would be a temptation to al-Nusra Front, which is competing for the allegiance of young jihadists with the Islamic State. While the Islamic State, known by the acronyms ISIS or ISIL, has captured the imaginations of many youthful extremists by declaring the creation of a “caliphate” with the goal of driving Western interests from the Middle East, al-Nusra could trump that appeal by actually going on the offensive against one of the jihadists’ principal targets, Israel.
Nevertheless, neocons still insist on "regime change" in Syria.

It's important to keep in mind that the neocon movement, like all other movements, has factions -- and Israel is hardly in control of the whole shebang. For that matter, the Israeli government also has factions.

The United States, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar all have their own reasons for wanting Assad to go. They are not going to give up on that goal -- but they may be willing to put it on hold.

I think that the "Army of the Vetted" now training in Saudi Arabia will never see action against ISIS. They are being held in readiness for the day when ISIS and Nusra are cleared from the field. The rebellion against Assad must be crushed in order for the rebellion against Assad to proceed. The Syrian civil war will not end; it will be placed on hold. It will resume when "our" rebels supplant the jihadist maniacs.

I think that this scenario is Obama's plan. I may be wrong, of course -- and I would appreciate hearing from anyone who offers a counter-argument.

But for the moment, let's say I'm right. Will the trick work?

Probably not. Until now, we've been funding the Islamic maniacs for the simple reason that they are really, really good at one thing: Killing people. They are motivated. Boy howdy, are they ever motivated! They have their version of the beatific vision. They are willing to die and willing to destroy. As this reporter puts it:
Any Syrian soldier will tell you that they are happy to fight the FSA because these warriors of the “moderate opposition” always run away. It is the al-Qaeda-Nusra-Isis “terrorists” who fight to the death.
I suspect that the "Army of the Vetted" will also imitate Brave Sir Robin of Monty Python fame. Sure, they'll have money and arms -- but will they have that proverbial fire in the belly?
ISIS has a head of steam up now but evidently lack control of air space. What would it require to retard the USA/Allies dominance? Who would you buy this technology from? Russia I'd hazard wouldn't dare dream of supplying (even as much of the proxy war happening in Ukraine) thus reducing their own trump card. Are there any states able to supply? What happens if ISIS forms the tech themselves? As I would expect they are trying.
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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Finally! Someone who understands what's going on!

In a letter to a newspaper, a genius named Aubrey Bailey explains our current war(s) in the middle east. I shall transcribe:
Are you confused by what is going on in the Middle East? Let me explain.

We support the Iraqi government in the fight against Islamic State. We don't like IS, but IS is supported by Saudi Arabia, whom we do like.

We don't like President Assad in Syria. We support the fight against him, but not IS, which is also fighting against him.

We don't like Iran, but Iran supports the Iraqi government against IS. So some of our friends support our enemies and some of our enemies are our friends, and some of our enemies are fighting against other of our enemies, whom we want to lose, but we don't want our enemies who are fighting our enemies to win.

If the people we want to defeat are defeated, they might be replaced by people we like even less. And all this was started by invading a country to drive out terrorists who weren't actually there until we went in to drive them out. Do you understand now?
Perhaps you still need a guide for the perplexed. Let me help.

Before Bush invaded Iraq in his quest to convert the entire region to democracy, there were no "franchises" or offshoots of Al Qaeda in Iraq. Or in Syria. Or in Iran. Or Nigeria. Or Lebanon. Or India. (Yes, they're in India now.) In 2002-3, some American liberals (and some libertarians) warned that the invasion of Iraq would only increase Al Qaeda's popularity. Those who sounded this warning were called unpatriotic.

Here's another fun fact which even Aubrey Bailey may not know. The rebel fighters in the Free Syrian Army are the alleged "moderates" whom we are training and arming. And yet, according to Wikipedia's "Al Qaeda" entry, the Free Syrian Army is listed among the allies of Al Qaeda. On the other hand, the governments of Syria and Iran, which we would like to topple, are listed as opponents of Al Qaeda.


If you are still confused, let me repeat this passage from former Mossad officer Victor Ostrovky's 1994 book The Other Side of Deception.
Supporting the radical elements of Muslim fundamentalism sat well with the Mossad's general plan for the region. An Arab world run by fundamentalists would not be a party to any negotiations with the West, thus leaving Israel again as the only democratic, rational country in the region. And if the Mossad could arrange for the Hamas (Palestinian fundamentalists) to take over the Palestinian streets from the PLO, then the picture would be complete.
Let's also take another look at the words of former Israeli ambassador Michael Oren:
"We always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.” He said this was the case even if the other “bad guys” were affiliated with al-Qaeda.
Quite the blabbermouth, Oren is. That's why I like him. Oren and Ostrovsky make a complex situation much easier to comprehend.

This chart says it all

A rising tide sinks most boats -- except during the Clinton years, when the economy started to right itself. And things held steady when JFK was in office.

This chart is the truest measure of whether a president was liberal or conservative; the "D" and "R" labels are much less reliable indicators.

Update:  The preceding paragraph may have been foolish, since the president does not have that much impact on the economy. The choice of president does, however, reflect the prevailing zeitgeist.

Eric Holder stepping down

Eric Holder has announced that he will resign as Attorney General. I don't know why he is going and I'm not sure I care. NPR suggests that he may go back to the corporate law firm Covington & Burling, where he may root and snort with the pigs of the earth for the rest of his days..

History will be unkind to Holder, for reasons best given by Firedoglake:
Holder’s involvement with the war on whistleblowers, tracking and intimidating reporters, killing Americans without judicial review, and the abysmal failure to enforce the law against criminals in the financial services industry has left America a more divided and unjust society. Not a particularly good legacy to leave behind.

America not only saw a white collar crime wave go unpunished, but saw Holder himself announced a doctrine that has been called Too Big To Jail. Holder claimed in congressional testimony that some Wall Street banks could not be prosecuted because of their size, saying “If you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy.”
Republicans have their own criticisms of Holder. Those criticisms are, of course, quite nutty -- a fact which does not make the man's sorry record any less sorry. When neither the right nor the left feel compelled to defend you, it's time to go.
So who cares, he goes back to a bigger office on corner this time so he can look down on the serfs below.
The revolving door at its best. He and Lanny Breuer can meet for cocktails and joke about how they really put one over on the rubes.
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Yesterday's conspiracy theory is today's conventional wisdom

First and foremost: I know how a few of you will react to this post's headline. Look at the "Rules for comments." See rule 2? You have the rest of the internet in which to romp and scamper. I don't want to hear a single goddamned PHONEME out of you.

Salon has published a piece by Patrick L. Smith on the war against ISIS, and why it probably won't work. Smith's piece begins thus:
In history there are the Punic Wars and the Opium Wars, each a turning point, and now we must talk of our Iraq Wars. As of this week they count three since George Bush the Elder cynically drew Saddam Hussein into invading Kuwait 23 years ago.
If you're older than (say) 35, you'll recall how things were back then. Anyone who suggested that Poppy Bush "cynically drew Saddam Hussein into invading Kuwait" was accused of being a paranoid conspiracy theorist -- or of being a paid agent of Saddam Hussein. (Come to think of it, the second accusation was itself a conspiracy theory.)

Meanwhile, in the Daily Beast, Michael Tomasky argues that this Iraq war is morally superior to the one that started in 2003.
The first and most important difference, plainly and simply: Obama didn’t lie us into this war.
If you're older than (say) 22, you'll recall how things were back then. Anyone who said that the administration lied us into war was accused of being a paranoid conspiracy theorist -- or of being a paid agent of Saddam Hussein. (Come to think of it, the second accusation was itself a conspiracy theory.)

So, like, neener. In 1991, I said that Bush I was a liar. In 2002-3, I said that Bush II was a liar. And I was right both times. Neener neener neener.

The neener factor means that right now, in 2014, you had damned well better think twice before accusing me of being a paranoid conspiracy theorist. I'm here to tell you that Tomasky has it all wrong: This Iraq war, like the last Iraq war, was predicated on a series of falsehoods. An earlier post listed five of those fibs:

Myth number one: There are "moderates" in the anti-Assad coalition whom we can train and equip to fight both Assad and ISIS.

Myth number two: Assad created ISIS.

Myth number three: ISIS had no state backing from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other American allies.

Myth Number four: Obama can destroy both ISIS and Assad.

Myth number five: The war against ISIS is a war against ISIS -- as opposed to a war against Assad.

Bob Parry, formerly of Newsweek and lately of The Consortium, goes further. Although many will dismiss his explanation of events as a paranoid conspiracy theory, I think that his viewpoint will one day be considered conventional wisdom.

Here is his bottom line (emphases added by me):
For the past several years, the Israeli government also has sought the overthrow of Assad, even at the risk of Islamic extremists gaining power. The Israeli thinking had been that Assad, as an ally of Iran, represented a greater threat to Israel because his government was at the center of the so-called Shiite crescent reaching from Tehran through Damascus to Beirut and southern Lebanon, the base for Hezbollah.

The thinking was that if Assad’s government could be pulled down, Iran and Hezbollah – two of Israel’s principal “enemies” – would be badly damaged. A year ago, then-Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren articulated this geopolitical position in an interview with the Jerusalem Post.

“The greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc,” Oren said. “We always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.” He said this was the case even if the other “bad guys” were affiliated with al-Qaeda.
According to Parry, Israel now understands that this strategy was an incredibly foolish blunder, and that sharing a border with Assad might indeed be preferable to sharing a border with the kind of people who think highly of Nusra or ISIS. A fair amount of evidence does indeed suggest that the Israelis, the neocons and the Obama administration have had a (very belated) change of heart regarding the usefulness of the jihadis.

But, hey -- no problem. It's not as though Israel has to clean up this mess. That's what we're for.

Parry made a very similar argument in an earlier article:
The neocon vision got knocked off track when Bush’s Iraq War derailed and the American people balked at the idea of extending the conflict to Syria and Iran.

But the neocons never gave up on their vision. They simply kept at it, clinging to key positions inside Official Washington and recruiting “liberal interventionists” to the “regime change” cause. The neocons remained focused on Syria and Iran with hopes of getting U.S. bombing campaigns going against both countries. [See’s “The Dangerous Neocon-R2P Alliance.”]

The neocons’ new hope has now arrived with the public outrage over ISIS’s atrocities. Yet, while pushing to get this new war going, the neocons have downplayed their “regime change” agenda, getting Obama to agree only to extend his anti-ISIS bombing campaign from Iraq into Syria. But “regime change” in Damascus has remained a top neocon priority.
Parry wrote those words roughly two weeks ago. He now seems to think that things have changed.

If Parry's most recent piece is right -- if there has indeed been a belated recognition that arming the jihadis was a massive error -- must I now revise myth number five? In other words, will the fake war against ISIS morph into an actual war against ISIS? Will Obama form a sub rosa alliance with Assad and/or Iran?

Frankly, I'm not sure. As you mull over that problem, you may want to check out the argument offered by Syrian Girl in the video above. She seems to think that Assad remains the real target.

Ostrovsky called the shot. If you want to read something truly prescient, check out Victor Ostrovksy's remarkable 1994 book The Other Side of Deception. (I never took much interest in Mossad until I read his two books.) From page 197:
Supporting the radical elements of Muslim fundamentalism sat well with the Mossad's general plan for the region. An Arab world run by fundamentalists would not be a party to any negotiations with the West, thus leaving Israel again as the only democratic, rational country in the region. And if the Mossad could arrange for the Hamas (Palestinian fundamentalists) to take over the Palestinian streets from the PLO, then the picture would be complete.
Ostrovsky goes on to state that "Mossad began trying to undermine the fiber of Egyptian society by supporting the fundamentalists, also under false flag..."

If you're into predictive spy literature, you may also be intrigued by page 117 of the same book, partially reproduced below. "Ephraim" is Ephraim Halevy, who became the head of Mossad after the events chronicled in this book. (Actually, Ostrovsky never divulges the man's full name in this volume. Trust me: It's Halevy.) As you scan these words, keep in mind: This book was published in 1994.

Despite the headline of this post, I must admit that not every conspiracy theory has any basis in reality. Frankly, most such theories turn out to be ridiculous -- even dangerous. You must now be wondering: Is there a simple way to determine which theories are valid and which are silly?

Sure! Just read this blog. The theories I endorse are possibly valid. The ones I do not endorse are probably silly.

Easy-peasey, eh wot?
Ostrovsky's insights into Israeli's long game for the Arab World are prescient. But the question remains, why is Arab, and by this I mean Sunni Muslim Arab, culture so amendable to fundamentalist persuasion. I think we refuse to answer this question because it leads back to religion and the cultural contribution of religion to basic social receptors. Western minds, being very secular, have lost the ability to perceive the power and influence of religious doctrines and practice and thus simply ignore the question.
Hi, could you post some links about how Bush Sr. 'drew' Saddam Hussein into the first Gulf War? Thanks.
Anon, I think the answer has a lot to do with the West's opposition to Nasserism. He was a secularizing force for change. Afterward, fundamentalist religion was the only game in town.

Brian, I think the name you are looking for is April Glaspie.

And so on.
"Supporting the radical elements of Muslim fundamentalism sat well with the Mossad's general plan for the region."

You could replace "Muslim" with "Christian" and this statement would still ring true. Protestant Dispensationalists are Israel's biggest supporters, the new drivers of American Zionism.
The full text of the Glaspie meeting with Hussein never really made it to the public until 2003 or so. What is amazing - particularly as there was a common spin that Glaspie gave assurances that she was not authorized to do - is that she states clearly, and more than once, that she is iterating the assurances under the direction of Sec State James Baker.

There was an Arab states meeting ahead of Saddam's move into Kuwait that was written about by James Ridgeway in the Village Voice. The dispute between Iraq and Kuwait was a main topic of the meeting. Ridgeway quoted Hussein of Jordan as being very upset at intransigence on the part of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, in refusing to negotiate or acknowledge Iraq's position - a stance which Hussein of Jordan correctly saw as potentially leading to war as all other options for resolution were being closed off. He felt that the Saudis seemed to know something that others at the meeting didn't.

The first Gulf War came at a time when public opinion was solidly behind a "peace dividend" at the end of the Cold War, whereby the huge defence budgets could be greatly reduced and the money directed elsewhere. A US admiral said during the military build-up in the Gulf in response to Saddam's "aggression": "If you're looking for the peace dividend, it just left on an aircraft carrier for the Persian Gulf."
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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Did the Guardian give 251,000 Wikileaks Cables To Mossad? (Plus: More about our "new" enemies)

Did the Guardian give 251,000 Wikileaks Cables To Mossad? That's what Julian Assange claims in an interview which you can see here. For the most part, the interview is about other matters. The assertion about the Guardian is made en passant around the 17 minute mark. Also see here and here.

We're talking about those State Department cables which then-Bradley-now-Chelsea Manning is said to have delivered unto Assange. It should be admitted that the contents of those cables (discussed here and here and here) did not set the world ablaze.

Let us turn our attention to the terrorists du jour.
(This is a follow-up to the post below.) Before the very end of 2012, a lot of people were angry at the United States because it refused to designate the Nusra Front a terrorist organization. Why were we so afraid to call a terrorist a terrorist? Because they were fighting Assad (whom the neocons had targeted for regime change) and because we were helping them.

An NYT article (cited in a previous Cannonfire post) published in March of 2013 was surprisingly open about who turned Nusra into a bunch of badasses:
The airlift, which began on a small scale in early 2012 and continued intermittently through last fall, expanded into a steady and much heavier flow late last year, the data shows. It has grown to include more than 160 military cargo flights by Jordanian, Saudi and Qatari military-style cargo planes landing at Esenboga Airport near Ankara, and, to a lesser degree, at other Turkish and Jordanian airports.

As it evolved, the airlift correlated with shifts in the war within Syria, as rebels drove Syria’s army from territory by the middle of last year. And even as the Obama administration has publicly refused to give more than “nonlethal” aid to the rebels, the involvement of the C.I.A. in the arms shipments — albeit mostly in a consultative role, American officials say — has shown that the United States is more willing to help its Arab allies support the lethal side of the civil war.
Odd, isn't it, that we are hearing nothing about any of this, now that Nusra is officially EEEEEE-vil?

Here's another funny thing: Now that we are dropping bombs on Nusra, we've taken to calling it Khorasan. That's also the name of a province in Iran, the country that the neocons most want to topple.

Why the name change? I think it's part of a disinfo campaign. We are seeing a lot of planted stories designed to give you the impression that Iran is responsible for the growth of Nusra/Khorasan.

These new stories are bullshit. The above-cited NYT article from 2013 proves that these new stories are bullshit. Nusra got its arms from our allies, and from the CIA. We armed them to fight Assad, who happens to be Iran's ally.

If you let these surrealists rewrite history, soon they'll be telling you that French funded Benito Juárez, the English funded Joan of Arc, and the ancient Israelites funded Pompey.
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Is (was?) Muhsin al-Fadhli OUR guy? And is he dead?

In the preceding post, I cobbled together everything I could find about the latest international man of mystery, Muhsin al-Fadhli. In case you missed the last episode, he is the leader of Khorasan, which may or may not be a rebranded version of the Nusra Front, which is one of the main jihadi factions fighting against Bashar Assad in Syria.

Shocking news: Even though most of us met him for the first time only yesterday, we now learn that Muhsin is dead. Sort of.
Unconfirmed reports on jihadist social media sites say that al Fadhli was killed in the bombings. Neither US officials, nor al Qaeda has verified this reporting. The fog of war often makes it difficult to quickly confirm whether an individual jihadist has been killed, wounded, or survived unscathed. Initial reports should be treated with skepticism and there is no firm evidence yet that al Fadhli has been killed.
Wow. That was quick.

Y'know what? I don't believe it. These terror leaders tend to die many times before their death. I seem to recall that al-Baghdadi died once, then got better. Look at how many deaths Zarqawi had. Look at how many times Bin Laden died. Hell, I don't feel so good myself.

For what it's worth, the latest news stories speak of al-Fadhli as though he is still alive. Here's the Boston Herald on Khorasan:
“They’re looking for a big flash,” said Mieke Eoyang of the Washington-based Third Way think tank and a former defense policy adviser to the late U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. “They don’t go for a few bombs here and there or shooting up a mall like in Nairobi. They want a big event.”
More on al-Fadhli:
Al-Fadhli is an effective fundraiser and organizer, having collected money to finance the attack of a French ship off the coast of Yemen in 2002. He was convicted in 2003 in a Kuwaiti court for funding terrorist activities, and was placed on Saudi Arabia authorities’ most wanted terrorist list in 2005 for a series of al-Qaeda attacks there.
Yeah, but.

In our previous installment, we heard that wealthy Kuwaitis were the ones giving money to al-Fadhli. This strikes me as rather odd behavior: Didn't we liberate Kuwait from Saddam Hussein? I distinctly recall that there was some sort of war in that part of the world, back in the early 1990s...

If, in 2002, certain well-heeled Kuwaitis were handing large wads of cash to this young man (then all of 22), perhaps they did so because someone in DC had approved of the deal.

Also, the Saudi Arabians (our buddies) have long been the main backers of Nusra, the organization that al-Fadhli eventually commandeered. Says so right here (in a story from 2012):
Nusra members in Syria have told McClatchy that most of their funding comes from individuals in Saudi Arabia.
The Khorasan/Nusra/al-Fadhli story is so bizarre, so rife with contradictions, that one must conclude that at least part of what we're reading is disinformation. Which part? You tell me.

Iran. As noted in the preceding post, Al-Fadhli is said to done a brief stint as the leader of an entity called "Al Qaeda in Iran." A lot of people doubt that such a thing even exists. After all, Al Qaeda is a Sunni group out to destroy Shiite institutions -- and the Iranian government is the biggest Shiite institution in the world.

If there is an "Al Qaeda in Iran," it wouldn't make sense for such an entity to have any links to the Iranian government. One would think that the two would be at odds.

(Incidentally, around the time of the Boston bombing, there was a spate of stories alleging that "Iranian" Al Qaeda operatives were planning something awful in Canada)

In 2008, Sy Hersh published a story indicating there was, in fact, something like Al Qaeda scuttling around Iran. These people were Sunnis, they were ultra-fundamentalists, they beheaded people, they were bad-asses. But guess what? They were funded by...

(wait for it...)
The Administration may have been willing to rely on dissident organizations in Iran even when there was reason to believe that the groups had operated against American interests in the past. The use of Baluchi elements, for example, is problematic, Robert Baer, a former C.I.A. clandestine officer who worked for nearly two decades in South Asia and the Middle East, told me. “The Baluchis are Sunni fundamentalists who hate the regime in Tehran, but you can also describe them as Al Qaeda,” Baer told me. “These are guys who cut off the heads of nonbelievers—in this case, it’s Shiite Iranians. The irony is that we’re once again working with Sunni fundamentalists, just as we did in Afghanistan in the nineteen-eighties.” Ramzi Yousef, who was convicted for his role in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is considered one of the leading planners of the September 11th attacks, are Baluchi Sunni fundamentalists.

One of the most active and violent anti-regime groups in Iran today is the Jundallah, also known as the Iranian People’s Resistance Movement, which describes itself as a resistance force fighting for the rights of Sunnis in Iran. “This is a vicious Salafi organization whose followers attended the same madrassas as the Taliban and Pakistani extremists,” Nasr told me. “They are suspected of having links to Al Qaeda and they are also thought to be tied to the drug culture.”
The story goes on and on like that. Some parts of that 2008 article seem awfully relevant to what we're now hearing about Khorasan.

Bottom line: If (as claimed) Muhsin al-Fadhli really was causing havoc in Iran around 2011, he may have been working with us.
This is Strategy of Tension 101: Create a crisis and then provide a solution to said crisis. Create a terrorist, then offer to combat said terrorist. Fund an army to fight a proxy war, then have an army to fight once they've exhausted their usefulness. Use anthrax to bring both the media and the population to heel, then leverage that new found fear of anthrax as part of the reason for an already planned war.

I feel like you're getting close to an epiphany, Joe.
And those extremist madrassas are funded by the Saudis, in political alliance with the extremist Sunni Wahhabis, right?
Shades of "chemical Ali". We and the Brits killed that guy 3 or 4 times, all of them "confirmed" by DNA as I recall.
Some of Bin Laden's family members did go to Iran after the US attacked Afghanistan as refugees. The Iranian government did allow them to stay in Khorasan province under house arrest until 2011 or 2012.
They went to Iraq and Syria after leaving Iran. They are similar to Al Qaeda in goals but not in bed with Daesh (ISIS) .
Accourding to ME news outlets.
None of this makes sense. But as is often said: that's most likely a feature rather than a bug.

The only thing this current round of bombing another ME country seems destined to do is: increase ISIL's recruitment potential.

This looks like another wearisome chapter in the War Without End. Osama bin Laden must be laughing his ass off!

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The story you are about to read does not make sense

Well, we're bombing targets in Syria. Judging from this report and what we read in the NYT, I don't see how we can do much to change the situation without an invading army. We can take out some buildings in Raqqa; we can kill ISIS personnel and civilians. But without an army, how can we make the city change hands? And if we don't intend to make the city change hands, then what is the point?

But ISIS is, like, so five minutes ago. All of the hip kids are talking about the new extremist group in town. It's called Khorasan, it's led by one Muhsin al-Fadhli, and it's more surreal than a David Lynch film festival.
Little is known about al-Fadhli, though the Department of State says he was based in Iran. But hardly any public information was available about the group before this week and some are suggesting the Khorasan group is simply a renaming of already-known Al-Qaeda operatives in Syria.

That started to change in the last week, as stories about Khorasan began appearing in the media. U.S. officials have described the group as being part of Jabhat al-Nusra, an Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria fighting both Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces as well as ISIS.
Lots to chew on here. First: Iran?

Wikipedia says that al-Fadhli was born in Kuwait and was so close to Osama Bin Laden as to have had foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks. At the time, little Muhsin was all of 20 years old. The NYT published this profile of him a few days ago; it vaguely connects al-Fadhli with an attack on a French oil tanker in 2002. The Arab Times (an English-language newspaper published in Kuwait) has more, citing "informed sources."

At this point, we enter a realm of unnerving contradictions.

The Nusra front is fanatically Sunni, while Iran is the Shiite state par excellence. Iran is in wary alliance with Bashar Assad's government in Syria. Iran certainly has no logical reason to see Assad fall -- at least, none that I can see.

And yet are to believe that al-Fadhli works out of Iran, presumably with the blessing of the Iranian government. (The Arab Times story cited above says that he was under house arrest in 2011.)

And we are to believe that he has commandeered the Nusra front, which is funded by Iran's enemies. Nusra strives to undermine Assad and to create a Sunni superpower -- a superpower which might one day threaten Iran.

Oh. And under the leadership of al-Fadhli, Nusra has declared war on "Da’esh" -- which is, in Arabic, an insulting term for ISIS. He has also declared war against Assad and the FSA. All against all.

Does this story make sense to you?

Once again, I feel like we're all trapped in that old cartoon in which the cheese-hating mice ask to be eaten by the cat who wants to be killed by the bulldog. It don't add up!

More ominously, we are told that the main purpose of Khorasan is not the conquest of Syria per se but the planning of attacks on the United States.
But the Khorasan militants did not go to Syria principally to fight the government of President Bashar Assad, U.S. officials say. Instead, they were sent by al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri to recruit Europeans and Americans whose passports allow them to board a U.S.-bound airliner with less scrutiny from security officials.

In addition, according to classified U.S. intelligence assessments, the Khorasan militants have been working with bomb-makers from al-Qaida's Yemen affiliate to test new ways to slip explosives past airport security. The fear is that the Khorasan militants will provide these sophisticated explosives to their Western recruits who could sneak them onto U.S.-bound flights.

The Obama administration has said that the Islamic State group, the target of more than 150 U.S. airstrikes in recent weeks, does not pose an imminent threat to the continental U.S. The Khorasan group, which has not been subject to American military action, is considered the more immediate threat.
Why would anyone involved with the fight in Syria be plotting a terror strike against the United States now? Is it not the case that such a strike would only create massive American public support for sending in ground troops? What other effect could a terror bombing have?

And since this al-Fadhli fellow can be linked to Iran, a terror strike would give the neocons their wet dream: A casus belli against Iran.

Why on earth would the Iranians want that? What's in it for them?

Why would anyone involved with the Syrian civil war (pro-Assad or anti-) want to see American ground troops in that country?

The redoubtable Heather Digby Parton is the only blogger known to me who has written about Khorasan before today. Her latest offering is titled: "It's not making sense guys":
Read the whole thing because it's fascinating and informative, but take a couple of Excedrin first because sorting out the truth from the propaganda is impossible.
Anyway, when you see this kind of contradictory and confusing rationalizing after the bombing campaign has begun, it's probably a good idea to be skeptical that it's all on the up and up. It's happening, whether we like it or not, and the American people seem to be on board. Those videos were a master stroke. But we really have no idea what's really going on.

Oh, and it's nice to know that congress, the alleged overseer that's going to check the president's war making powers, was kept informed about all this for months.
I have a truly bad feeling about this. Remember all of the "Saddam plotted 9/11" disinformation tales that we saw throughout 2002-3? Remember the "Iran funded Bin Laden" fables that popped up throughout that period?

An (alleged) explanation: The Arab Times offers this rationale as to why Iran would supposedly back a group aimed against an ally....
The Iranian regime strives to achieve a set of objectives from such a double deal, out of which the most important objective is to flood Syria with extremists and terrorists to help its ally — Assad’s regime to give the impression that the latter is fighting a ‘war of terror’. Such an objective will give Assad’s regime the opportunity to continue with the war, using the excuse of the ‘terror card’ as his top agenda in any political discussion he engages with the opposition.
Color me doubtful. This narrative sounds a lot like the "Assad created ISIS" guff we were getting not long ago.

Remember: The Arab Times is a product of Kuwait. Wealthy Kuwaitis have backed both ISIS and al-Fadhli himself.

What is Kuwait's "angle" on all of this? Here's what CNN has to say:
Al Fadhli was designated as a terrorist by the United States in 2005 as "a major facilitator" for al Qaeda and Abu Musab al Zarqawi, then terrorizing Iraq. He had access to plenty of money from private donors in Kuwait. According to court testimony, he had been involved in a group called the Peninsula Lions in Kuwait and had experimented with explosives while planning an attack on U.S. troops at the Arifjan Camp in Kuwait.

Al Fadhli escaped. Wanted in Saudi Arabia and convicted in absentia in Kuwait, he vanished for a while before resurfacing in Iran as al Qaeda's most senior representative there.

In 2012, the U.S. State Department said al Fadhli was moving fighters and money through Turkey to Syria, leveraging his extensive network of Kuwaiti jihadist donors.
So. Some people in Kuwait are giving the guy lots of money, while others want him in jail because he was planning terror attacks in that country.

It still don't add up.

One last question. Remember that NYT story which linked al-Fadhi to an attack on a French oil tanker in 2002? Well, I'm wondering: What strategic purpose did that attack serve? Near as I can tell, the logical effect of such an attack would be to impel France to join Dubya's war against Al Qaeda, which became a war against Saddam Hussein.
If you would quit connecting the dots we could all be happy with the latest lies from the govt. and lame stream press;)

Sadly the sheeple only see and hear the corp. owned press.
it is hard confronting a non stop stream of lies.. if the bombing of isis was to include bombing the equipment they got directly or indirectly from the us gov't, that would help.. maybe this is the point of it - make work projects.. make weapons, then bomb the weapons..nice loop the mic has going..
Careful how far down the rabbit hole you go on this stuff, Joe. Next thing you know, you might start to suspect that ALL of these so-called terrorist groups are just useful idiots who are unknowingly doing the bidding of their Western Intelligence puppet masters. I mean, if we've learned anything over the past 15 years it's that nothing boosts public support for a foreign war like a good old fashioned terrorist attack.

It's like Operation Gladio writ large.
Over at his "Sic Semper Tyrannis" blog, Col. Patrick Lang says the group seems to originate in Afghanistan, having moved westward to Syria. He thinks the name refers to the army of Muslim fighters "that rode to the west from the Khorassan region", destroyed the Omayad caliphate based in Syria and established the Abbasid caliphate based in Iraq. The leader of that army was Abu Muslim Khorasani.

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Monday, September 22, 2014

Old news is new news: Alinsky, Hillary, Donna Rice, Gary Hart -- and the CIA

The blood-chilling RETURN of the murderous menace of...SAUL ALINSKY! Once again, the right-wingers are mountain-izing a molehill, trying to make Saul Alinsky into the secret mentor of Hillary Clinton.

(A couple of years ago, we were told that Alinsky was the secret mentor of Barack Obama. Good ol' Saul sure did a lot of secret mentoring...)

Who the hell was Saul Alinsky? He was an anti-racist liberal organizer of yesteryear, now largely forgotten by everyone on the left. His legacy, or a very twisted version of it, lives on within Blogosphere Right. Conservative whackadoodles have retconned him as sort of Marxist bogeyman who wrote a set of "Rules for Radicals" which all lefties everywhere have supposedly committed to memory.

I really do have to get around reading that thing one of these days.

According to one right-wing website I consulted, one of Saul's rules was this: Use ridicule as a weapon against your opponents. Thus, every time some Sarah Palin admirer encounters ridicule, said admirer can blame Satanic Saul. Of course, no-one connected with (say) the Breitbart sites would ever use ridicule against anyone. No sir. That would be too unfair, too Alinsky-esque.

Anyways, it seems that someone has dug up some correspondence between the young Hillary and Alinsky, from ages and ages ago. It's all totally innocuous. Nevertheless, the reactionary numbskulls have been going crazy, as is their wont:
Ohh, the early training of Hillary!
As I wrote on an earlier occasion:
Moreover, it seems that by the standards of the early 1970s, Alinski wasn't considered particularly radical -- in fact, I get the impression that the actual hard-core revolutionaries of that time considered the guy a squishy softie. George Romney, father to Mitt, seemed to admire Alinsky.

Yet if you wander into RightWingerLand, you'll soon see that the folks there believe that guys like me have spent the past forty years eating, drinking and breathing Alinksy. The right thinks that Alinkyism controls our every action and every utterance.

Cue blast of off-key brass: "Nobody expects Saul Alinsky! His chief weapon is surprise! Surprise and fear! His two chief weapons are surprise and fear and a fanatical devotion to Karl Marx! Three. His three chief weapons are..."

Oddly enough, if you type the name "Saul Alinsky" into Google, you'll see that only right-wing political sites make the front page. Very few people on the left care about Alinsky -- even though the reactionaries love to hallucinate otherwise.
Donna Rice and Gary Hart. We now know the name of the woman who is said to have blabbed about Gary Hart's 1987 tryst with Donna Rice. (Actually, we've known that name for a while: See below.)

What the new round of articles won't talk about is the Adnan Kashoggi connection to Donna Rice, which was mentioned very briefly in the newspapers at the time. Back then, most members of the general public (and even most reporters) knew nothing about Kashoggi's entourage of gorgeous young ladies, whom he would introduce to various VIPs and movers-and-shakers.

A later Los Angeles Times story, which made no mention of the Rice/Hart connection, quoted a Kashoggi associate who spoke about these girls. He said: "On this level, it's not prostitution." (I'm going on memory here, having lost the clip ages ago, but I think the quote is exact, or nearly so.)

In the late '90s I spoke to a former "Adnan" girl. Still very lovely, lithe and elegant, she was traveling with a more downscale crowd. Around the same time, a friend of mine (the wife of a retired judge, who lived in the California desert) told me of her encounters with another girl in Adnan's stable. (She happened to be the daughter of a friend of my friend). The girl died mysteriously. I had planned to follow up on that story but never did.

Based on what they told me, I can confirm this: These women did not think of themselves as prostitutes during their time with Kashoggi -- in fact, they would be greatly affronted if you used that word in their presence. They simply fell into his orbit, fell into bed with important men, and somehow ended up with all sorts of baubles and expensive dresses and nice things.

Whatever you want to call what they did, do not call it prostitution. It was on another level. (Remember Gigi? You weren't supposed to call her a prostitute, either.)

Nowadays, you can find various webpages which link Donna Rice to Adnan Kashoggi: Here, for example.
Miriam Rice said that, after the yacht party, Nabila Khashoggi [Adnan's daughter] invited Donna and Semones, during a tour of Europe, to "'go buy whatever you want. If you need some new clothes, I have an account. It was like a dream."

Both young women apparently cultivated their relationship with the Khashoggi family. A former executive of Khashoggi's U.S. business interests said he saw Semones in Khashoggi's New York apartment last year, and Miriam Rice said her daughter has met Khashoggi, an avid gambler, in Nevada.
It suddenly occurs to me that some of you may not even know who Adnan Kashoggi is. Whoo boy. What can I say?

If you do some digging, you will find substantial links between Kashoggi and American intelligence -- indeed, the CIA seems to have greatly aided him in his quest to become one of the richest men in the history of the world. His ultra-luxurious yacht, The Nabila, was featured in a James Bond movie (Never Say Never Again).

His name keeps turning up in all sorts of parapolitical investigations -- the Lockheed bribery scandal, the BCCI scandal, the Iran-contra scandal, various issues involving Imelda Marcos, and all sorts of other matters. Larry Kolb's book Overworld offers much inside information about Kashoggi's world. Basically, the guy is flypaper for spookwatchers and conspiracy buffs.

The spooks had reason to go after Gary Hart. For one thing, he was -- and still is -- a strong skeptic of the Warren Commission's conclusions about the JFK assassination.

On a completely unrelated note: Sorry to rely so much on memory in this post, but I do seem to recall a little-noted passage in Bob Woodward's Veil which describes a very enigmatic, near-fatal airplane crash involving Gary Hart in Central America. This occurred in the mid 1980s. Does anyone else remember reading that? (I don't want to dig up my copy of the book, since the mass-market edition uses a font so tiny I doubt that even a citizen of Kandor could read it without glasses.)

Perhaps we should also mention Adnan Koshoggi's alleged links to none other than Alex Jones. Let's not make too much of this, since these allegations trace back to AJ's enemies, who somehow manage to be even weirder than he is. I don't think that Jones has bad intentions. He is, however, a blowhard who is far more gullible than he would prefer to think. At some later time, we'll have to look into this morass and sort out what's what.

Oh yeah. The name of the woman who blabbed about Gary Hart? Dana Weems. Didn't her name come up in some previous story about the Hart thing?

Update: Yes it did. I thought her name seemed familiar.
*Cough* I knew Donna Rice in high school (I was a couple of years ahead of her - she was pals with my girlfriend's little sister).
That's it? Tell us more, Prop!
Alinsky's Rules for Radicals are pretty damn good. They should be compulsory reading for everyone on the left!
We sure need a present-day version of Alinsky. I included this from a Playboy interview with him in one of my own posts about him a couple of years ago:

From paras towards the end of an interview with Alinsky conducted by Playboy magazine in 1972-

PLAYBOY: You seem optimistic. But most radicals and some liberals have expressed fear that we're heading into a new era of repression and privacy invasion. Are their fears exaggerated, or is there a real danger of America becoming a police state?

ALINSKY: Of course there's that danger, as this whole national fetish for law and order indicates. But the thing to do isn't to succumb to despair and just sit in a corner wailing, but to go out and fight those fascist trends and build a mass constituency that will support progressive causes. Otherwise all your moaning about a police state will just be a self-fulfilling prophecy. That's one of the reasons I'm directing all my efforts today to organizing the middle class, because that's the arena where the future of this country will be decided. And I'm convinced that once the middle class recognizes its real enemy -- the megacorporations that control the country and pull the strings on puppets like Nixon and Connally -- it will mobilize as one of the most effective instruments for social change this country has ever known. And once mobilized, it will be natural for it to seek out allies among the other disenfranchised -- blacks, chicanos, poor whites.

It's to that cause I plan to devote the remaining years of my life. It won't be easy, but we can win. No matter how bad things may look at a given time, you can't ever give up. We're living in one of the most exciting periods of human history, when new hopes and dreams are crystallizing even as the old certainties and values are dissolving. It's a time of great danger, but also of tremendous potential. My own hopes and dreams still burn as brightly in 1972 as they did in 1942.

Theresa LePore apparently worked for Kashoggi before she became the election supervisor in Palm Beach County FL for the 2000 election. Her illegal 'butterfly' ballot design was one of maybe five things that each may have cost Gore the Florida vote and the presidency. I'd heard her family and she had been life-long Republicans. After the 2000 election, LePore switched her registration from (D) to no party.

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"Ronald Reagan showed more heart than Barack Obama"

This is part two of my transcription of Norman Finkelstein's important lecture about the real causes of the recent atrocity perpetrated against Gaza. Part one is here. Here, he tells the truth about those alleged "rocket attacks" and the tunnels that our media instructed you to worry about. As noted previously, I have lightly edited his words to increase readability; a video of the actual lecture is here.

The words below the asterisks were said by Norman Finkelstein to an audience in Baltimore, while the attack on Gaza was still underway. (Note: as most of you surely know, Iron Dome is the name of Israel's much-vaunted air defense system.) Please do what you can to publicize this post, because Finkelstein brilliantly disposes of many false notions propagated by our media.

 *  *  *

I want to dispose of all of the nonsense about Hamas rockets, the miracle of Iron Dome, and now the tunnels that they have discovered in Gaza.

Let’s start with the first. Does Hamas have rockets?

Now when I conjure up in my mind a rocket, I conjure up something pretty tall, pretty impressive, and pretty destructive. That’s a rocket in my mind. Maybe I have a quaint imagination, but that’s what I see.

Now let’s use some simple common sense. Gaza has been under an airtight blockade for seven years. Israel doesn’t let anything into Gaza that can be remotely used for militarily purposes. That’s fact number one.

Now some of you are thinking: “Aha! He’s deceiving us. What about those tunnels that have been dug between Egypt and Gaza?”

Fair enough. It was a sophisticated tunnel economy, and probably militarily-related material was smuggled in. I don’t doubt that. But whatever they managed to smuggle in, they exhausted in 2012, during Operation Pillar of Defense.

Operation Pillar of Defense ends in November. Seven months later is the coup in Egypt. The first thing [Egyptian President] Sisi did after the coup was blow up all the tunnels. Nothing could get into Gaza. Nothing for the last year.

So where did these rockets come from? Where was the material to make them?

As now is freely admitted, all of these rockets were home-made by Hamas with barely any materials. The reason these Hamas rockets have caused all of three Israeli civilian casualties is because they’re not rockets. They’re closer to firecrackers.

Some of you may now say: “Aha! Finkelstein is deceiving us again. We all know that these are very efficient rockets, but that miracle of miracles Iron Dome managed to knock them out of the sky.”

Okay. What are the facts behind that?

The top person in the world in this field of research is Theodore Postol at MIT. Postol was the first person to expose the nonsense about the Patriot missile system during the 1991 Gulf War. For those of you who remember, at the time they were saying that the Patriot missile system was 85-90 percent effective. It turned out that maybe one Scud Missile was deflected by the Patriot anti-missile defense system. That was revealed a year or two after the first Gulf War by Theodore Postol.

Postol was recently asked: “Well, what about Iron Dome? What is its efficiency?” He put its efficiency – I’m quoting him – at five percent. [For more, see here.]

It’s not Iron Dome that’s deflecting these humungous rockets. They’re not rockets in the first place.

How do we know that? There is such a simple way to know that, if you use your brain for half a minute.

Operation Cast Lead, 2008-2009. It lasted 22 days. How many civilian casualties were there in Israel? There were three. Operation Protective Edge has lasted now 22 days [at the time this speech was given]. How many civilian casualties in Israel? Three.

Operation Cast Lead: Before Iron Dome. Operation Protective Edge: After Iron Dome.

What’s the rational conclusion? Iron Dome did zilch. In fact, the rockets now being used are much more primitive than the ones they used in 2008-9, because at that point they had managed to smuggle something in.

Well, now Mr. Netanyahu has a problem. He boasted so much about the efficiency of Iron Dome -- this miracle of miracles, this work of genius by the geniuses of all geniuses, the Israelis. If it’s so efficient, then why are you killing all these Gazans? Why do you have to carry on like maniacs and lunatics?

So he has a problem. And he comes up with a new pretext.

That’s why the New York Times has people like Isabel Kerschner: She’s there to copy out anything that the New York Times hands her. Excuse me: Anything the Israeli consulate hands her – and even there, the difference is only a flea’s hop.

They come up with a new idea: “The reason we’re attacking Gaza – because the rockets, so to speak, don’t fly anymore – is because of the tunnels."

Day in and day out, they keep saying that this whole operation is because of the tunnels. And that is supposed to explain to rational people why Israel is doing what it’s doing. It’s not the rockets anymore. It’s the tunnels.

So when an Israeli naval vessel kills four kids on the beach playing soccer, it’s because of the tunnels.

And when Israel targets Al-Wafa hospital – why? It’s because of the tunnels. Even though nobody claimed that there were tunnels underneath the hospital.

And when Israel targeted Al-Shifa hospital, and also targeted the playground nearby -- well, it’s obvious why they did that: It’s the tunnels.

Day in and day out you keep hearing about the tunnels, as if the tunnels can rationally explain why Israel’s precision weapons are constantly killing kids and targeting manifestly civilian sites.

Since it’s obviously not the tunnels, you could say that Israel’s doing it because it’s a lunatic state. It’s a state that has gone over the cliff.

I myself have to acknowledge that, on more than one occasion, I have said as much. I think it’s a crazy state. It’s not a failed state: It’s a crazy state.

But there is, to use a Shakespearean expression, a method to the madness, and it’s not difficult to discern.

When Israel launched Operation Cast Lead in 2008-9, the orders given to the Israeli combat forces were: “Blast everything in sight, because we don’t want combatant casualties.”

Israel is in many ways the reverse of conventional societies. In most societies, they tolerate combatant casualties much more than they’re willing to tolerate civilian casualties. Israel is a different kind of society. It’s more of a Spartan society in which military or combatant casualties are a source of much greater anguish and torment than civilian casualties.

So the first rule is: Combatants aren’t supposed to get killed. And so in Operation Cast Lead, if you read the orders that were given – a lot of it was published – it was: “If you see a building in the distance, you don’t ask any questions. You demolish everything in sight, so there will be nobody to take a sniper shot at you.”

And that can explain some of what Israel has been doing now. In Shejaiya, the biggest massacre to date, it was freely admitted: “We leveled the place because if we have to go in, street by street fighting with the Hamas militants, we would have had to absorb a large number of combatant casualties.” And so they wiped the whole place out. It wasn’t only because of that: The day before, seven Israeli soldiers had been killed, and it became a kind of revenge operation. That partly explained it.

But that’s not the larger part of the explanation.

Contrary to what you might conceive, there hasn’t been a ground invasion. There has been an occupation a couple of miles into the border. It’s for the reason I mentioned to you already: There was and is a fear that if they were to conduct a real ground invasion deep into Gaza -- they still might – they could suffer some severe combatant losses.

So why are they doing it? Why have they seemingly gone mad?

The reason has been completely acknowledged by Israelis, if you read it. It won’t surprise anyone in this room.

They are hoping that a terror bombing will bring Palestinian Gazans to their knees.

They’re hoping that if you destroy everything in sight, there’s a humanitarian ceasefire, the people come out, they see nothing, and they say: “Let’s end it.” Because the devastation is so terrible.

The longer term goal is, with all the death and destruction, the [Palestinian] people will eventually blame Hamas for what happened, and will then seek to unseat Hamas.

And in fact, that was the calculation during Operation Cast Lead as well. There was some truth to it. The people of Gaza stood behind the resistance in 2008-9, but then a significant element of alienation entered when the people of Gaza asked themselves: “For what?”

Israel left behind 600,000 tons of rubble after Operation Cast Lead. All of the death, all of the destruction. The blockade was still there. So there was the feeling “Hamas got us into a mess.” I don’t think that was accurate, but that’s what Israel is hoping will again happen this time.

That’s the purpose behind the terror bombing.

A couple of days ago, I couldn’t take it anymore. Watching this thing unfold, 24 hours a day, seven days a week – you begin to go mad.

My friend Sara Roy, some of you may know her from Harvard – she lived in Gaza, knows the people, and has a heart. She’s a very decent human being. She sent an email to various people describing the attack on the playground, another kid just blown to fragments. Sarah is a very smart person, an elegant person, a distinguished scholar, comes from an impressive family – her mother was a survivor of Auschwitz. And in the last line, her email said: “I want to vomit.”

“I want to VOMIT.”

And that just struck a chord with me. No fancy language; no rhetorical curlicues. I want to vomit because of the way Israel is carrying on in Gaza.

So I decided it was time to do something. I can’t justify in my own mind just sitting in front of a computer. So I decided: “All right, let’s organize a sit-in, get arrested – I don’t know what I want to do, but I want do something. Let’s do it in front of the Israeli consulate, its mission to the U.N.”

And after I announced it, I’m thinking in my bed, “You know, Norm, you kind of made an error here. Why are you attacking the Israeli mission? Who was the enabler? Who allowed it to happen?”

Every day that that pedantic, pontificating, insipid President...


It’s a fact. Let’s not kid ourselves. Every single day that that man came out and said: “Israel has the right to defend itself.” Each time he said it, he was giving Israel the green light to continue the massacre.

That’s a fact. Were it not for him, that could not have happened.

And it’s a very odd thing, but facts are facts and we have to acknowledge them.

There are people here whose memories go back to 1982 and the Israeli massacre in Lebanon then. How many people remember it? The Israeli massacre in 1982 was quite a shindig: Israel killed between 15,000 and 20,000 Palestinians and Lebanese, overwhelmingly civilians, in those three-and-a-half months.

But during the massacre, at one point, President Reagan – that brain-dead monster – he had this picture of a child. How many people remember? A child who was a victim of the Israeli attack in Lebanon. And he took the picture of a child who had been severely burned and put it on his desk.

And then the [Israeli] prime minister of the time, Menachem Begin, embarked on one of his lunatic jihads. He was going to prove that child was not targeted by Israel. And so a kind of little war of images – whatever you want to call it, in this stupid post-modern language – a war of “narratives,” whatever that means -- went on between Prime Minister Begin and President Reagan.

But the fact of the matter is, if we want to be truthful to ourselves, Ronald Reagan showed more heart than Barack Obama.
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Folks, the comment I deleted was a death threat. That's what we're dealing with here.
I suppose it's better the get death threats over Israel and Palestine than over computer games.

But Who was it that funded the Syrian who ate a man's heart? Obama's got all the heart he can eat. Eat your heart out, RayGun.
israel is a crazy state. yes to that.. it is an eye for an eye state, that was blinded sometime back and has lost any moral or ethical position it might have ever had..
The tunnels have been shown on network TV news reports, with military armanents, with mainstream journalists standing in Israel at a tunnel end and stating explicitly that the tunnel was leading out of Gaza and into Israel.

Calling the rockets "firecrackers" does not change the fact that hundreds of such explosives were being fired into Israel, day after day.

Your bias against Israel makes it hard to remain a reader of this blog.
Wow! A death threat. You obviously hit a nerve, Joe. Btw, I caught Finkelstein's presentation when it aired on Book TV. Very potent. One can only imagine the number of death threats the man has received with his very public and withering condemnation of Israel's continuing lies and rampant violence. No wonder she's one of our allies, eh?

The whole thing is sickening made more so by our own allegiance to the on-going propaganda wars. This is what the hard-right view of the world looks like and I continually despair that the left merely sits and repeats the wearisome mantras about self-defense, civilians are never targeted and the true barbarians are in the terrorist du jour camp.

Really? The evidence counters the arguments, the excuses, the disproportionate violence without end. When we become our own worst nightmare, the game/strategy/war is lost.

For me, it all blew apart when those 4 little boys were slaughtered on the beach, followed by the callous, indifferent response from Israeli authorities. Whatever trance I was in broke in that moment. The propaganda wall shattered and what was revealed was immoral and monstrous.

Made me heartsick. Still does and there's no going back.

The one positive thing has been the nascent resistance and condemnation by Holocaust survivors, Israeli intelligence officers and people like Finkelstein who are courageous enough, appalled enough to step forward and say: No! This is utterly wrong. This is immoral.

Being labeled an anti-Semite doesn't cut it anymore. Perhaps, a death threat is simply the next step in the on-going insanity.

Anon -- and please sign with a nick -- Your bias in favor of racists who stole land and now are committing genocide make it impossible for me to care whether you remain a reader of this blog.
Blogger Joseph said...
12:44 PM

Yep, I agree and good read about the truth.

Of course, the rockets only started falling after the air-strikes on Hamas began. Before that it was Hamas itself which was policing other groups in Gaza to prevent rocket attacks.
Anon 12:32.........anyone who does not have a bias against Israel obviously lacks a conscience, a moral center. To support Israel at this point is to support fascism, racism, and genocide. It's that simple.
These rocket attacks could also very easily be the work of agents provocateurs within the Palestinian ranks, because we already know Unit 8200 was using intercepted intelligence to sow strife within that population. They could also have been the work of actual Israeli agents withing for a pretext to begin and then continue the bombardment.

Remember the "rocket bombs" from 1984? While that book is ostensibly fiction, it does talk about the way the government would randomly fire on its own citizens to keep them afraid so they'd continue to support the endless war.

Just a thought.
James, I think that scenario is completely unproven but possible. At this point, any act of anti-Jewish violence is a godsend to the Israeli nationalists, because it can be used to justify the ethnic cleansing directed against the Palestinians.
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