Friday, August 29, 2014

White privilege or class privilege?

Bill O'Reilly, spewing his usual surrealistic nonsense, claimed on his show that white privilege does not exist. Charles Blow wrote a response in the opinion section of the NYT:
Why would it be harder for blacks to succeed? Could interpersonal and, more important, systemic bias play a role? And, once one acknowledges the presence of bias as an impediment, one must by extension concede that being allowed to navigate the world without such biases is a form of privilege.

That privilege can be gendered, sexual identity based, religious and, yes, racial.

When one has the luxury of not being forced to compensate for societal oppression based on basic identity, one is in fact privileged in that society.
Obviously, I agree with this -- as far as it goes. But Blow has, in a way, lied by omission. Gender, sexual identity, race -- what is missing from this list?


Money. Background. The accident of birth that may or may not place one within this nation's de facto oligarchy.

Class is the key factor (if you will forgive that O'Reilly-esque word) which commentators like Blow routinely ignore.

Our refusal to discuss class explains the continuing appeal of guys like O'Reilly and the other Fox newsers. Right wing propagandists address an audience of poor, working class white people who do not feel "privileged" at all -- in fact, many of them feel that they've been screwed. They're resentful. They have a right to feel resentful, because they know that the fix is in and they are probably never going to get anywhere in life, no matter how hard they work.

The right-wing media infrastructure exists for one great purpose: To convince the white underclass to direct their rage at any target other than the class system.

On Fox, class is a permissible topic of discussion -- but only when the target is a liberal who happens to have some money: The Clintons, Al Gore, Michael Moore, the Kennedy clan, Hollywood celebrities and so forth. If you are liberal and affluent, the Fox crowd will sneer at you endlessly -- but if you are a Republican, you can light your cigars with $100 bills while pissing on homeless people, and Bill O'Reilly won't say a word against you.

If Fox ever takes notice of Charles Blow, they can -- and will -- attack him on the basis of class. The attack will be obnoxiously hypocritical, but they will do it anyways.

Yes, Charles Blow is black, and I'm pretty sure that he did not come from money. (He grew up not far from where Bonnie and Clyde were shot.) Because he is black, he no doubt faced all sorts of unfair obstacles as he climbed up the ladder. But right now, he happens to be a well-educated New Yorker who has worked as an Art Director for major publications. He can get a piece into the New York Times, which you and I will never be able to do. He wears a suit and tie, and no doubt feels comfortable ordering food in fashionable restaurants. In short: He seems to have a fairly secure place in the upper middle class.

(Of course, the ruling class will never invite him in. Someone who has worked his way into upper middle region will never get more than the occasional glimpse of what the patricians are doing. That's all they ever let you see: The occasional glimpse.)

Now, please don't misunderstand me: I'm sure that Blow worked hard to attain his position in society, and I feel confident that he deserves everything he has.

But let me paint a picture in your mind. Imagine Charles Blow in a face-to-face meeting with an uneducated, inarticulate white guy who just lost his job at Walmart. Maybe that guy lost his temper with a customer, or maybe illness and family tragedy caused him to have too many absences. For the past couple of weeks, this unhappy Wally World alumnus has spent his days at home, simmering and stewing and drinking beer -- and probably watching a lot of Fox News.

Now imagine Blow -- resplendent in Armani, his belly filled with panzanella salad from URBO -- telling that white guy: "YOU are the one who is privileged, because your skin is pale."

Can you see the problem?

Yes, white privilege is real. Yes, white privilege no doubt has made life in Ferguson and many other places infuriating, unjust, and intolerable. But an even more important problem in our society is class privilege. We'll never get anywhere until we can address that topic.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

LOTS of weird stuff: Aristocratic pedophiles, ISIS, the beheading video, and the murders that started a war...

Will young people vote Republican if Republicans go libertarian? No, says this writer at the Sabato site.

While it is true that under-30s are attracted to libertarian stances on pot, gay rights, and so forth, we should not automatically presume that the young will really go for Rand Paul. For three reasons:

1. Young voters strongly favor liberal stances on social welfare issues.

2. Young voters tend to skew Democratic.

3. Young voters tend to belong to minority groups. Most black people can see right through that John Galt horseshit.

Those kidnapped Israeli teens. A while back, we talked about the suspicious revised version of the crime which sparked the ghastly Israeli attack on Gaza. Let's review the chronology:

1. At first, the Israeli government implied that Hamas was responsible.

2. Then we were told a very different story by Israeli police officials, who said that the crime was the work of a local gang.

3. Much later -- after the Gaza attack created a world outcry -- the Israeli media belatedly said that Hamas was responsible after all.

Specifically, they said that a Hamas official named Saleh al-Arouri made this admission at a meeting of Islamic scholars in Turkey. I was immediately suspicious of this assertion. Those meetings are public and sizable, yet this startling claim was not reported in the Turkish media.

After I wrote that post, a tape of the al-Arouri statement was posted online. So I guess that settles that.

The Guardian emphasizes one important point:
His claim has not been supported by any other member of Hamas.
Al-Arouri lives in exile in Turkey. It is unclear just how much contact he has with Hamas in Gaza. If you look at his exact words, as delivered at that meeting, one gets the feeling that he may be "talking out of his ass," as we Americans to to put it.

Think of it: Why he would say such a thing?

For the sake of argument, let us grant that Hamas did in fact order the deaths of those three boys. Why would al-Arouri make such an announcement in public? Doing so could only benefit Israel.

The man's history (see also here) is odd. He became involved with Hamas in the 1990s, spent 15 years in an Israeli prison, and came out a "changed" man...
The prominent Hamas leader, who founded the group’s military wing Qassam Brigades, said he was done with terrorism. Done with raising money and recruiting fresh militants. He concluded Hamas is “harmed if we target civilians. At the end of the day, the fruit of military action is political action. All wars end with truces and negotiations.”
He also immediately married the woman he loved and settled down to raise a family. But but but...
He was soon exiled from Israel. He and his wife and daughter fled to Jordan but “were detained by Israeli border officials and told they could not cross the border for security reasons,” reported Amnesty International. “He considers he has no choice but to accept the continue his family life.”
It seems that the wife's home in Gaza was destroyed during the attack.

I do not yet know what happened to al-Arouri's family. If they are in Israeli custody -- well, that would give al-Arouri strong motive to do as the Israelis command, would it not? Maybe that is why he made an announcement which proved mightily convenient to Israel's backers and apologists.

Added note:After the original publication of this post, a reader noted this history of al-Arouri, which indicates that his wife joined him in exile in 2010. However, he has other family members in the Occupied Territories, and it remains possible that they were used as pressure points.

British pedophiles in high places. These disturbing reports keep piling up...
Chris Fay said he was pinned to a wall and throttled before being given a chilling warning to “back away” from allegations surrounding the notorious Elm Guest House in Barnes, south-west London.

Young boys in care were allegedly taken there in the Eighties to be abused by high-profile MPs and other powerful establishment figures.

Mr Fay, who worked for the now-defunct National Association of Young People In Care, accused the Metropolitan Police of acting like “gangsters” when news of the scandal broke in 1990. He revealed how some Special Branch members routinely threatened him and his colleagues and even victims over a three-month period of intimidation.

His shocking claims come as West Yorkshire Police faces accusations that the force protected paedophile Jimmy Savile.
Mr Fay, 67, of south London, said: “It became very dangerous. People seem to forget that Special Branch could do what they liked, they were a law unto themselves.

“At one point they had me up against a wall by my throat with a gun at my head telling me in no uncertain terms that I was to back away if I knew what was good for me.

“A colleague of mine had the same treatment, as did a number of the volunteers. Victims who were actually abused at Elm House were also physically stopped from coming to speak to us at the NAYPIC office in north London.

“I witnessed Special Branch officers manhandling them and turning them away with a warning to keep their mouths shut. It was blatant, it was open, they were acting like gangsters.
Fay also says that his kitchen window was shot at. The story references Liberal Democrat MP Sir Cyril Smith as one of the powerful individuals who visited the house in question.

The James Foley video. You may recall my post from a few days ago, in which I argued that the United States government told an important fib about the death of James Foley. Specifically, U.S. sources at first claimed that Foley was being held by Assad's government forces.

That story changed only when ISIS beheaded the reporter.

Foley's brother Michael now says that the government "could have done more" to save James' life. Oddly, they do not mention the original "Assad did it" theory which the government was pushing. In a robustly Orwellian fashion, that "Assad did it" claim has now been airbrushed out of the historical record.

Here's another mystery: We still don't know who funded the more-than-a-million dollar effort by Foley's employer, GlobalPost, to find out what had happened to their reporter. Most people believe that GlobalPost (which is a bit of a shoestring operation) doesn't have that kind of money.

The main focus of conspiracy researchers is the video itself. Some folks are saying that the whole thing is a fake. (As you may recall, people said something similar about the Nick Berg beheading video, which looked as though it had been staged in the Abu Ghraib prison -- same orange jumpsuit, same furnishings, same floor, same wall.)

At this point, I might as well admit that I have not done any serious research into that video, for the simple reason that I do not care to look at it.

If you want to pursue the matter, you may want to start with this post at Moon of Alabama. (Check out the comments section.) Then consult this story published by, a site previously unfamiliar to me.

You may then want to run this German-language article through a machine translation.

It says that James Foley was kidnapped not by Assad's people and not by ISIS. He was abducted by the Free Syrian Army. Remember them? They are the "moderates" who, according to Hillary Clinton, have the ability to topple Assad while simultaneously fending off ISIS. (I think that Hillary's claim is silly.)

According to the above-cited German story, the Free Syrian Army handed Foley over the ISIS, which obligingly dispatched him -- in 2013. This, despite the fact that ISIS and the Free Syrian Army are at odds.

Is the German version credible? No. Foley had been filing anti-Assad stories, which means that the Free Syrian Army had no reason at all to kidnap or kill the guy. (Neither did ISIS, logically speaking -- but those creeps have developed an adversarial relationship with logic.)

So where did the Germans get this dubious story? The article cites an earlier story which appeared in the Russian media.

Oy. Russia supports Assad, so they are hardly an unbiased source of information.

I am not inclined to accept the Russian/German version of events. But that fact doesn't make the video real. Or unreal.

If you want to learn why so many people mistrust this video, go here.
The video of James Foley’s execution may have been staged, with the actual murder taking place off-camera, it has emerged.
Then here.
The footage was most likely edited later using "slick post-production techniques", according to the analysis for The Times in London by an unnamed international forensic science company that has worked for police forces across Britain, the news organisation claimed.

There was also no blood on Foley's neck as the masked militant appeared to drew a knife across his neck.

The analysis suggested that the militant, who speaks with a London accent and is believed to be British rapper Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, may have been a frontman for the execution, and not necessarily the killer.

"I think it has been staged," one of the forensic experts told the news organisation.
Finally, go here for a rather unsophisticated exercise in conspiracy research.
Faking Sarin attacks in Syria did not win support of the public for war on Syria. Alleged beheading of the American journalists seems to be doing a better job in that regard.
No. No no no no. No!

This conflation of two events ignores one key point: The sarin attacks were used by neoconservatives to rally the public in favor of war against Assad. The Foley video is being used to show the brutality of Assad's most fearsome opponents. The people who killed Foley are the same jihadis we (tacitly) supported not long ago

At this time, I can't fairly offer an opinion as to the video's authenticity. My life is depressing enough as it is right now, and I simply do not want to look at the evidence. Maybe in the future. Not now.

If that decision bugs you -- sorry.
A cretin named Michael Weiss is suggesting bombing both ISIS and Assad.
Young voters tend to belong to minority groups. Most black people can see right through that John Galt horseshit.

It really would have been nice if the poster on Sabato had included some actual numbers and sources. According to:

the young who are eligible to vote (not the same thing, by a long shot as actually voting) are 64% "white" (not counting "white Hispanics" like George Zimmerman, of course). Latinos are the second-largest group, at 17%. African-Americans are third at 14%.

I fail to see how 14% (or even 36%) constitutes "tend[ing] to belong to minority groups". And, of course, some minority groups might be quite receptive to the Randroid message. If you think that the words "minority" and "black" are synonymous, you need to evaluate your own assumptions.

I also question whether African-American turnout will be as high in 2016 as it was in 2008 and 2012, unless one of the major parties puts an African-American on the ticket. Identity politics is a powerful force.

I do not yet know what happened to al-Arouri's family.

Your Google skills are slipping, Joseph. It took me all of 30 seconds to find this:

Saleh's wife joined him in exile in April 2010. I assume she's living with him in Turkey.
Think of it: Why he would say such a thing?

Lots of reasons. Maybe he's just not very smart. Maybe he perceives his status to be slipping as a result of his (voluntary, I might add) exile (his expulsion order ended over a year ago) and he felt the need to make an outrageous claim to bolster his fading street cred. Maybe Hamas actually did it (it's not like they haven't targeted civilians in the past). Maybe he's an Israeli double agent.
The sarin attacks were used by neoconservatives to rally the public in favor of war against Assad

Especially that notorious neocon Barack "Red Line" Obama, of course.
I also prefer to avoid looking at someone die. However on another board I saw someone claim there was no blood, although that person and board are not at all conspiratorially minded, and that the only similarly bloodless execution he's seen was Nick Berg.

What does an Islamic fundamentalist rap about? Perhaps he's really MI6 or something similar. Never trust an Englishman abroad.

As for the Free Syrian army, I've been following events in Syria since ISIS grabbed my attention by seizing Mosul, and I've hardly even seen the FSA mentioned. ISIS seem to have taken over the opposition, with the exception of a few Islamic Front fighters being squeezed between ISIS and Assad around Aleppo and the Nursa rump who are keeping a low profile while their best fighters jump ship to ISIS.

Prop, I meant, of course, that minorities are a larger proportion of the young voter age group than of any other age group.

I was stunned by that story about al-Arouri's family because I am sure I came across a very different one earlier (but did not have the citation to hand and was too tired to look up my browser history).

As for Al-Arouri's statement -- what struck me was the lack of detail. It seemed to me that he might have been discussing something he surmised to be true or wished to be true, rather than something he truly KNEW to be true.

SM, it's obvious that the Free Syrian Army is -- well, it's not truly fictional, but there is something fanciful about it by this point, at least in the American imagination. Obama was right: Pretending that the moderates have numbers, motivation, power and appeal is pure fantasy.
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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Some very important questions about "The Avengers"

In the opening scene of the first Avengers movie, Loki comes to earth, causes some mischief, and then escapes from the great collapsible SHIELD headquarters. Where is he going? Does he know where he is going?

When next we see Loki, he and his people are in his lair. How did he get a lair? The guy just showed up on earth with no money and no identification. (And there's no way for him to have made an earlier trip to scout out the place.) How does he fill out a rental agreement on a lair? What does he use for a deposit?

Where does he find the lair? Did he look up "lairs" on Craigslist?

Why isn't SHIELD able to locate this lair? After all, several brainwashed SHIELD personnel are in Loki's company. They all have cell phones.

Wouldn't the vehicles have tracking devices? RFID chips, something like that?

Even without tracking devices, those vehicles would be pretty easy to locate. They're quite recognizable. Lots of people should be able to tell SHIELD investigators "They went thataway."

Loki's convoy can't go very far without stopping to fill up on gas. I doubt that vehicles of that sort could stop for gas surreptitiously.

(Come to think of it, why do cars still use gas in a world in which Iron Man exists?)

A SHIELD helicopter should be able to follow Loki's escape convoy pretty easily, just as TV news choppers were able to follow O.J. Simpson in that white Bronco. So why didn't a helicopter follow those cars?

Instead, we are told that SHIELD can't locate Loki without the aid of Dr. Bruce Banner, the most dangerous man alive. Something about tracking gamma radiation, yada yada yada. Wouldn't it be easier to find Loki via some basic detective work -- you know, like mapping out the maximum range of those vehicles and then checking out all of the available lairs in that area?

Bonus question: This blog usually posts political articles during the week; I save the piffle for the weekends. Can you think of some way to justify the piece you have just read? Is there a way for us to pretend that this article has serious political ramifications?
If the lair had leadened walls and was underground, maybe that would make them untrackable.

Maybe they had oversized drone fake aircraft or on the ground that messed up the search?

Now the correlation is this. Can't heat seeking U.S. satellites observe where missiles are coming from and going to, Couldn't about a dozen US satellites track the confrontation between Israel and Palestine and pinpoint where the heat starts and where the heat ends?

If the "prove you are not a robot" test shows ones own home as the address number we are to type in, should we go find a lair?
In our entertainment, so in our news: They depend on us not to think.
For example, if Yazidis are surrounded and being massacred, the US should help them. If Palestinians or eastern Ukrainians are surrounded and being massacred, we support their killers.
The liar is an undisclosed location six stories below ground at xxx in Omaha. It's where Bush hid after 9/11. Loki hides in the skin Lindsey Graham by day while Bruce Banner is really Bernie Sanders, They all possess the Magic Orb of Logic Warping thereby eluding such things red light cameras and GPS gizmos.
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Why you should donate to the Dems in spite of Obama

One excellent measurement of this country's segue into insanity can be found in the fact that Mitch McConnell is not far enough to the right to please many Tea Partiers. How is that even possible? Mitch is as hideous a reactionary as the Senate has ever seen. Asking him to be more conservative is like saying Baltimore should be more humid in the summer.

In his secretly-recorded speech before a conclave of billionaires -- all gathered together under the aegis of the Koch brothers -- Mitch makes Mitt Romney seem like Michael Parenti. Here is what Mitch promises if Republicans control the Senate:
"And I assure you that in the spending bill, we will be pushing back against this bureaucracy by doing what’s called placing riders in the bill. No money can be spent to do this or to do that. We’re going to go after them on healthcare, on financial services, on the Environmental Protection Agency, across the board (inaudible). All across the federal government, we’re going to go after it.”
McConnell’s pledge to “go after” Democrats on financial services—a reference to declawing Dodd-Frank regulation—is a key omission from his Politico interview. He has been a vocal opponent of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in particular, and presumably under his Senate leadership funding for the CFPB would be high on the list of riders for the appropriations chopping block. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Wall Street was the number-one contributor to McConnell’s campaign committee from 2009 to 2014.
He's against unemployment extension.

He's against raising the minimum wage.

He's against allowing people to refinance their student loan debts.

He's against campaign finance reform.

And he's willing to shut down the government unless he gets his way.

Yes, Obama has been, by and large, a failure. His neocon-lite foreign policy has been even more infuriating than his coddling of the Wall Street hooligans. But Obama's many sins are almost insignificant when we contemplate what the right has in store for this nation. Liberal disappointment with this president does not justify letting the Koch brothers have even more power on Capitol Hill.

So to all of you who want to sell me on the cynical belief that "both parties are the same," I have a message: Screw you. You probably don't live on minimum wage, and you probably don't have to deal with crushing student loan debts.

Let me tell you something about Obamacare.

Yes, many of us were furious -- and remain furious -- at Obama because he took single payer off the table at a time when the idea was popular. But a couple of years ago, one of my family members had to give up his health insurance because the monthly payments (more than $400 a month) were too onerous. This same person has insurance again, thanks to the ACA. The cost: $160 a month.

You want to sneer at that? You want to minimize its importance? Go to hell.
I notice you don't mention both parties are free trading criminals
at their Elite core.

It's really pathetic to have duopolistic zombies not even willing to try to create a multiparty system, not even try to formulate a minimal list of planks which seperate the wheat from the chaff.
Donating to the "Democrats" will not give you very much bang for your buck.

There are more creative and useful donation strategies. A better idea would be to donate to politically-active non-profits that support issues you care about. Let them worry about how to strategically allocate your cash, holding candidates accountable.
Sorry the lesser of 2 evils doesn't work for me and hasn't for some time. The demodogs and repugs sold out a long time ago to their corp. puppet masters a long time ago.

No money from me or help. I also look at this as a pole?
Bullshit. And very simplistic, predictable bullshit. Why wasn't that party with the Koch brothers a bipartisan affair?
I'll suppose the Koch party wasn't bipartisan because it serves the propaganda interests both of the Kochs and their Democratic sycophants to pretend that bipartisanship and the Kochs are mutually exclusive.

Lawrence Lessig's Mayday project intends to fund reform-minded candidates of whatever party. So far those chosen two Democrats and one Republican.
In my observation, the lesser-of-two-evil paradigm gradually but inexorably pushes the political center towards the greater evil. But I also understand that conceding the government to the crazy people risks setting back previously won gains in ways that could take decades to reestablish. Or, the crazy people reveal to everyone once and for all that their policies are crazy and unworkable.

Political problems in the US have some root in the two-party system, and progressive efforts must continue to try and break this system. The Democrats spent more time and energy in 2004 trying to prevent the Green Party from the ballot than they spent on criticizing the Bush Jr administration. In 2012, there was a chance for common cause between progressive Democrats and libertarian Republicans which could have dented the two-party monopoly, but it was scotched by scare-mongering on behalf of Democratic Party shills.
Ah yes, the ratchet effect--the US's inexorable political shift to empire, oligarchy, and fascism:

In the past 30 years, what have the Dems really done about climate change, income inequality, the minimum wage, unemployment, The US's manufacturing base, the US's imperial foreign policy, Wall St predation, etc.?

They've moved right. They've made things much worse. They've abandoned the people who elect them. But vote for the Dem, because she's not quite as bad as the Republican. See where that's gotten us?
Anon 1:15, both the Republicans and the Democrats engaged in very profitable fear-mongering in 2012 to panic their supporters not only into voting the party line but also making campaign contributions. The Democrats assured us that Milt was a lunatic and life in his administration would destroy all we hold dear, and the Republicans told us that Obama was a Kenyan Muslim Communist homosexual who was bent on destroying the USA. Both parties were rolling in campaign bucks from uncritical supporters who expected them to do nothing more than keep the other party at bay. Which both of them can claim to have donw. "Whew! That was a close one! Well at least we kept them from doing anything!"
I see the ratfuckers are out in force today. What is the going price for ratfucking these days?

As for the "what have they done" and "where has it gotten us" questions: I already answered that. Health care that cost more than $400 a month was unaffordable. Health care that costs $160 bucks a month is affordable. It's a big damned deal -- perhaps a matter of life and death -- to someone I know.

You want to sneer at that? You're an idiot.
Joseph, I agree that the healthcare issue is a big deal. I also agree with others that the Democratic party has moved right (something you've talked about yourself over the past few years) and that our choices of candidates get worse and worse on both the Democrat and Republican side. The two party system IS the problem. Both parties are beholden to corporate cash and Wall Street bankers. The system is rigged against any party but the big two getting a foot in the door. Neither party is going to make any effort whatsoever to make it easier for third parties to get a foot in the door, because they both know that would mean the end for them (Dems would go for a truly liberal party, most Repubs would go for a less fascist leaning party). I'm not going to argue though that, in spite of himself and his backers, Obama managed to do a couple not so bad things. That hardly makes up for the disaster of all the other things he did (or didn't do).
Ah, the third party option. No no no. It'll never happen.

The Tea Party didn't go the third party route. They simply decided to take over one of the two major parties.

THAT is what WORKS.

Go thou and do likewise.
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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

It's National Dog Day!

You've heard of Mother's Day and Father's Day -- but did you know that we also celebrate National Dog Day?

My beloved Hell-Hound, Bella, remains the one unalloyed joy in my life. I may be a snarling, sneering, antisocial old cynic, but I still love my dog. She's getting on in years now, and doesn't scamper the way she used to. When she walks to the park, sometimes she limps slightly on the way home. Since there is no injury to any of her paws, I can only presume that arthritis is having an occasional flare-up.

We have her on the healthiest diet I can devise -- chicken or turkey, tuna or sardines, broccoli and some genuine old-fashioned oatmeal. Cold-water fish is supposed to be a cancer-fighter. She used to eat a lot of rice, but I've read that a moderate amount of oatmeal is healthier.

Last year, we nearly lost her. Thanks to the contributions of my readers, she had the operation she needed. I will ALWAYS be grateful.

Happy National Dog Day -- and feel free to tell us all about the special canine in your life.

bella is a beautiful dog! dogs are so much easier to relate to them people!! thanks for this article and a reminder of how much i too love our dog - bell... james
" I may be a snarling, sneering, antisocial old cynic, but I still love my dog. "


" When a man's dog turns against him it is time for a wife to pack her trunk and go home to mama. "

Mark Twain

j ;)
He's adorable in a scruffy kind way. Glad he's better now.
Thanks. I know she's a ragamuffin, but she hates being groomed, and we don't have the heart to do anything she doesn't like....

I believe the term is puppywhipped.
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Who is Roger Stone and why is he saying that the CIA tried to kill Richard Nixon?

I'm under the gun, so I must touch on this story quickly.

Did the CIA make two assassination plans against President Richard Nixon? Such is the purport of a recent story in the Daily Mail. It's a long, weird, not-fully-comprehensible tale of Watergate, Vietnam, the JFK assassination, and much more. The "onlie begettor" of this sonnet is a man named Roger Stone, a former Nixon confidante.

My immediate reaction to Stone's tale can be summed up in one syllable: "Whuuuhhhhh?"

I ran the story past Jim DiEugenio, an expert in the assassination and all of that there stuff. I asked him to give his reaction, even a one-word reaction. Soon thereafter, the word came forth:


Quote unquote.

Another fine JFK researcher, Joe Williams (a.k.a. Trojan Joe, a regular in this blog's comments section), has reminded me that Roger Stone played an ill-understood role in the tale of Dan Rather and those rather notorious Texas Air National Guard documents.

Williams also reminded me of this New York Daily News story from 2008:
GOP operative Roger Stone helped bring down Eliot Spitzer
Stone was the one who tipped off the FBI to Spitzer's dalliances with those hookers.

Spitzer allies blasted Stone's involvement as evidence that the investigation was tainted from the start.

"This whole story does not pass the smell test," Harvard Law Prof. Alan Dershowitz told the Daily News. "What others have done to Eliot Spitzer is far more serious than any crime Spitzer committed."
A source close to the case questioned Stone's account that he found out about Spitzer's involvement through a friend in the Miami sex business.

Spitzer's sworn enemies in politics or on Wall Street, where he is widely reviled for leading a crusade against corporate corruption, would have had ample motive to dig for dirt on him, the source said.

"[Stone] has no shortage of history involved in bizarre political situations," said a Democratic consultant.

A GOP consultant who has locked horns with the mercurial Stone warned the whole thing could be one of his famed PR stunts.

"How could you believe anything this guy says or does?" the rival said. "I think the guy's got a screw loose."
Does Stone's history mean that everything in the recent Daily Mail story is (quote) "Crap" (unquote)? Not necessarily.

But...consider the source.
Interesting that Stone was associated with the take down of Spitzer. So he got his info through a contact in the sex business? Makes sense since Stone and his wife used to frequent sex clubs. Roger Stone was known for his costume at the clubs. He liked to wear leather chaps.

The guy has tied himself to Nixon's image. He's trying to rehabilitate Tricky Dick. He's been pushing the "Johnson killed Kennedy" meme. He recently published a book about Nixon that must badly need publicity. Saying the CIA was antagonistic to Nixon makes Nixon look good and distances him from JFK's murder.

Stone posted a retort to a Robert Parry article carried in OpEdNews about Nixon's treasonous deal with the North Vietnamese to derail the peace talks. His avatar was a photo of the Nixon tattoo on his back at the base of his neck. (I think he's developed a few loose screws). This story has a connection with Watergate in that Johnson wrote out a letter detailing Nixon'x involvement in the treasonous N. Vietnam affair. Some believe Nixon's burglars were looking for that letter

Roger Stone tells lies for a living. I wouldn't believe a word he says about anything.
I've been working on this one too. Now that so many files have been released about the JFK hit it's time to throw a monkey wrench in the gears. Stone also wrote a book saying that LBJ was the mastermind of the Kennedy assassination. Here's a good interview with Jeff Morley at his JFK facts website with Stone. there are 104 comments and some are priceless:

However, it is plausible that there was a plan to kill Nixon if the watergate break-in didn't work. In his book "The Road To 911" Peter Dale Scott describes how Nixon and Kissinger were hated by the emerging neo-con faction. This was for opening talks with China, the Helsinki accords and the way Kissinger circumvented the conventional "chain of command".
Mae Brussell was also convinced that there had been a plot to kill Nixon, and there were several potshots taken at Ford and later an attempt on Reagan.

Back to Stone; the comments on Morley's website interview suggest Stone is a loon.

Dojo, I agree with your take. Stone is hardly a reliable source. But it is true that the hard-liners hated Nixon for pursuing detente with China and the USSR. Also, the far right detested Kissinger even more than the lefties did.

James Jesus Angleton -- still the patron saint of the far right -- thought that Kissinger was a commie. I suspect (but cannot prove) that this may have something to do with the removal of both Angleton and Helms in that period.

A long time ago, there was a book called "The Glass House Tapes" about a guy named Louis Tackwood who basically snitched to the LAPD about what radical black groups were doing. Tackwood claimed that he somehow stumbled across a plot to stage an attack on Nixon during the 1972 Republican National Convention. This might have led to a postponement of electoral politics as usual.

Is this true? I don't know. I once met a guy who kind of knew Tackwood. He liked Tackwood, but said that he was a con artist. Which is what you would expect from someone who became a police informant.

My gut feeling is that something really, really big and weird was in the works in that period. But we need better sourcing. We can't rely on questionable characters like Roger Stone and Louis Tackwood.
Scott Kaiser-

I find it so amusing that so many folks seem to think they have all the answers, but neglects to communicate with folks who do know, like Eugenio Martinez who is still very much alive.

Listen folks, the reason they wanted to take Nixon out is because Nixon shutdown CIA operations into Cuba.

Thirty remaining "frogmen" were stationed in Moa Bay Cuba when Nixon ordered them back to the United States.

By this time Nixon and Helms were already butting heads over the Bay of Pig documents.

Eugenio Martinez was among those thirty remaining frogmen,Eugenio was quite pissed that it all came to an end although he won't admit it directly, anyone with over 350 infiltrations didn't want to give up.

When the two assassination attempts failed that's when the CIA took matters into their own hands, and Eugenio Martinez was more than happy to be apart of it.

By the way, my father just so happened to be the sixth burglar in Watergate none has known about.

Yes, I gave Roger those documents from the Howard S. Libengood papers regarding Nixon's assassination attempts.

Any questions?
The CIA plans described in the article sound a little far fetched. Wasn't a "lone nut" the operable template in those times?
Hello, I'm reading Roger Stone's book on LBJ and the JFK assassination at this time. It doesn't read like the work of a madman. Stone is not the only one to try and "rehabilitate" Nixon by the way, so does liberal-leaning Russ Baker. Partisanship can't always be the ultimate consideration.
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Monday, August 25, 2014

Cornel West wakes up

Lots of people are talking about Cornel West's interview in Salon. The subject, of course, is Obama:
No, the thing is he posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit. We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency, a national security presidency. The torturers go free. The Wall Street executives go free. The war crimes in the Middle East, especially now in Gaza, the war criminals go free. And yet, you know, he acted as if he was both a progressive and as if he was concerned about the issues of serious injustice and inequality and it turned out that he’s just another neoliberal centrist with a smile and with a nice rhetorical flair.
My question is: Why were people like Cornel West unable to recognize Obama's counterfeit nature back in 2008? I could see it. It was as plain as a dog turd on a frozen lake. He was so obviously counterfeit that I don't even feel comfortable calling him a counterfeit.

Let me list just a few of the clues...

1. Obama's big lie about NAFTA and free trade agreements. In campaign literature, he claimed to be a NAFTA opponent -- but before running for the presidency, he had supported NAFTA. The record was clear to those who (like myself) had bothered to look it up. When he was caught sending a backchannel message to the Canadians ("Relax, guys: This anti-NAFTA stuff is all a ruse for the rubes!"), his followers invented a fake story claiming that it was Hillary who had sent the message. The Canadians investigated and proved that Obama, not Hillary, was the guilty party -- a fact which most of the American media, for some strange reason, refused to discuss.

Why didn't Cornel West notice any of this?

2. Obama's likely CIA background. Okay, I don't blame West for not talking about this angle. Respectable people don't like CIA stories. Such allegations are too weird, too paranoid, too Alex Jones-ish. But I believe that this one has substance.

3. Corruption. Every time Rod Blagojevich got a payoff, Obama got a smaller payoff. The amounts were never large, but the pattern was clear. The documentation (as laid out in Evelyn Pringle's stories) was substantial.

There was also the strange case of Tony Rezko, whom Obama said he "barely knew," even though evidence later emerged proving that the two men were in constant contact. That lie would have destroyed the chances of any other candidate.

4. Iraq.
Yes, Obama gave a speech against intervention in 2002, at a time when he was an unknown. That speech, which was not recorded, was delivered before a left-leaning audience that never would have tolerated any other stance. He was, in fact, the most conservative speaker on the rostrum that day.

Even though Obama's 2008 statements and campaign literature conveyed the impression that he remained a staunch and strident opponent of the war, the hard truth is that he had never voiced opposition to the invasion throughout the rest of 2002. Displaying a prudence that some would consider indistinguishable from cowardice, he made every attempt to keep silent on the subject throughout 2003 and most of 2004. When he gave that over-praised speech at the Democratic National Convention, he did not condemn the invasion -- even though John Kerry and Bill Clinton, in their own speeches, did decry Bush's great error. (A lot of people thought they heard Obama speak out against the invasion on that occasion, but the evidence of what he actually said is right there on YouTube.) In the Senate, his Iraq war funding votes were (somewhat) to the right of Hillary's, and he opposed all efforts to defund operations in Iraq.

Why didn't West notice any of this?

Seriously: Why the blinders? Is race the primary factor here?

Sure, most Dems loved the idea of voting for a black president -- and for understandable reasons. But liberals were not going to support just any black man who vied for the job. Suppose Alan Keyes had run in 2008. Would liberals have said: "Well, he's black, so we have to vote for him even though we hate his politics"?

Of course not. So why were most people unable to see Obama for what he obviously was?
I'd been wondering what had happened to Cornel West - hadn't seen or heard anything from him for ages. He used to appear on Real time with Bill Maher occasionally, but not recently.

I have a post on my blog from 2011 regarding an interview with West by Chris Hedges. It throws a bit more light on West's feelings:

West:“I have to take some responsibility,” he admits of his support for Obama as we sit in his book-lined office. “I could have been reading into it more than was there."

"I was thinking maybe he has at least some progressive populist instincts that could become more manifest after the cautious policies of being a senator and working with [Sen. Joe] Lieberman as his mentor,” he says. “But it became very clear when I looked at the neoliberal economic team. The first announcement of Summers and Geithner I went ballistic. I said, ‘Oh, my God, I have really been misled at a very deep level.’ And the same is true for Dennis Ross and the other neo-imperial elites. I said, ‘I have been thoroughly misled, all this populist language is just a facade. I was under the impression that he might bring in the voices of brother Joseph Stiglitz and brother Paul Krugman. I figured, OK, given the structure of constraints of the capitalist democratic procedure that’s probably the best he could do. But at least he would have some voices concerned about working people, dealing with issues of jobs and downsizing and banks, some semblance of democratic accountability for Wall Street oligarchs and corporate plutocrats who are just running amuck. I was completely wrong.”

West says the betrayal occurred on two levels.

“There is the personal level,” he says. “I used to call my dear brother [Obama] every two weeks. I said a prayer on the phone for him, especially before a debate. And I never got a call back. And when I ran into him in the state Capitol in South Carolina when I was down there campaigning for him he was very kind. The first thing he told me was, ‘Brother West, I feel so bad. I haven’t called you back. You been calling me so much. You been giving me so much love, so much support and what have you.’ And I said, ‘I know you’re busy.’ But then a month and half later I would run into other people on the campaign and he’s calling them all the time. I said, wow, this is kind of strange. He doesn’t have time, even two seconds, to say thank you or I’m glad you’re pulling for me and praying for me, but he’s calling these other people. I said, this is very interesting. And then as it turns out with the inauguration I couldn’t get a ticket with my mother and my brother. I said this is very strange. We drive into the hotel and the guy who picks up my bags from the hotel has a ticket to the inauguration. My mom says, ‘That’s something that this dear brother can get a ticket and you can’t get one, honey, all the work you did for him from Iowa.’ Beginning in Iowa to Ohio. We had to watch the thing in the hotel.”

A black woman whom I respect once told me while we were taking about Obama's dismal contribution to black people's situation, that even if her situation get to the point where she lives under a bridge as long as the one living in the white house is black she is happy
"At least we got an African-American elected President."

Don't discount that angle. It's really the only substantive claim left. Was it big at the time? It certainly was in the air. Identity politics cannot be separated from the modern Democratic Party. That's really what Obama faked-- that he was a progressive in the sense of being black. Like about everything else in his story, it's just half true. He's an incomplete man. Obviously a massive failure to the Democratic Party and progressives that had the mantle by the middle of last decade. Things like his CIA 'support' are just unfathomable by the identity types.
I knew Obama was a fraud in 2004 when he gave the keynote speech and all of the corporate media talking heads started preparing us to accept him as our next president. The writing was on the wall then, regardless of whatever drama the media spun through the primary and election process (both rigged).

We have no democracy in this country.
There were some other warning signs as well:

1) Saying in May 2007 that an important goal of healthcare reform should be to "give insurance companies a seat at the table"

2) Flipping on telecom immunity for participation in the Bush-era warrantless wiretapping program (
after promising he would filibuster against it)

3) Flipping on public campaign financing

Two thumbs up for pointing out the corruption issue. I will never forget raising this issue with another party official during the 2008 campaign and receiving the following rejoinder:

"Yeah, the guy's obviously mobbed up, but he can win"

That's when I decided the Democratic Party had lost its soul.
Obama fooled the black rubes and appealed to black guilt for the balance of them ...(you're guilty if you vote third party alternative) and Bush and Romney fooled the white rubes.
The only minority that gets its political way is the Jews.
Hillary will ensure the continuance of the rube and Jew theme.

I like Cornel but he kept saying we need to vote for 0. I'm glad he woke up. This is from Lambert.

Points the way 0 was going and this his first interview for the job of potus.

Enjoy or not

Ken, those "Jew" remarks were pretty damned ugly. Arguably I should not have published your comment. I let it go through -- this time -- simply to take this opportunity to issue a warning. I don't want to see remarks of that sort in the future.

I've been extremely critical of Israel, and of Israel's blinkered supporters. I have even come to believe that military intervention may be necessary to force the country into pursuing a non-racist course.

But I do not accuse Israelis of committing any sins that were not previously committed by my own ancestors. I'm half Italian, and although I remain quite proud of that half, I know that Mussolini's evil was such as to force the world to take up arms against him.

The fascist instinct bedevils all peoples, all races. It's always there, always tempting us. It's as if the entire human race is composed of potential alcoholics, and the ghost of Adolf Hitler runs an open bar, beckoning us to step forward and take that first sip.

Most Jews I've known have despised the far-right, anti-intellectual strain within American life. If Jews ran this country, George Bush would never have gotten near the presidency.

It's always good to see the scales fall.
Ken it is rude of me to respond pseudo-anonymously as you have the courage to use your real name but I want to thank Joe for his 6:06 comment. Joe hates ass-kissers as he is a natural contrarian but I can't help myself as I hate islanders who say bigoted things. Ken, I believe you have great knowledge of many things, please don't squander it with prejudice. Apologies for not referencing the post in which Cornel rightly fesses up.
I totally agree with this:

"Q: One last thought, I was talking to a friend recently and we were saying, if things go the way they look like they’re going to go and Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee and then wins a second term, the next time there’ll be a chance for a liberal, progressive president is 2024.

"CW: It’d be about over then, brother. I think at that point—Hillary Clinton is an extension of Obama’s Wall Street presidency, drone presidency, national surveillance, national security presidency. She’d be more hawkish than he is, and yet she’s got that strange smile that somehow titillates liberals and neo-liberals and scares Republicans. But at that point it’s even too hard to contemplate."
Michael, perhaps the only hope re: Hillary is that she is trying to "Putney Swope" her way into power.

The reference goes to a radical comedy directed by Robert Downey (yes, Iron Man's dad) in the late 1960s. It's about a black man who is the "token negro" within a large corporation. He plays the corporate game, always smiling, always going with the program, never offending anyone, until the day comes when he is (more or less accidentally) voted in as the CEO. At that moment, he turns into a full-on power-to-the-people radical.

In 2008, some people hoped Obama would be a Putney Swope. Others hoped that he would "pull a Putney" after he won re-election. As Bill Maher said in 2012: "Obama is half white and half black. Let's hope his next administration is the black one."

Well, we now know that Obama is never going to be that guy.

But maybe Hillary...?

I doubt it. But (as Hemingway once put it) -- isn't it pretty to think so?

Yeah, well when liberal Zionists like Boxer start denouncing Zionism instead of okaying genocide, I'll be sure to constrain myself to "Zionist" in all instances of criticism.
I'm sure Neturi Karta forgives me
as is.

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Our government lied about murdered journalist James Foley -- and Austin Tice

(Athough I can't claim that this post offers truly original research into the Foley and Tice fabrications, the evidence given here has received almost no discussion in the American media. For this reason, I hope readers will do their best to publicize this important story.)

The American military understands that eradicating ISIS requires hitting them in Syria as well as Iraq. But there's a problem...:
Officials said the options include speeding up and intensifying limited American efforts to train and arm moderate Syrian rebel forces that have been fighting both ISIS as well as the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
You have just heard the voice of the NYT, America's most beloved source of neoconservative news management. The phrasing here is designed to give Americans the impression that ISIS and Assad are collaborators, not foes.

In point of fact, allies of the United States -- Saudia Arabia, Turkey and Qatar -- armed ISIS as a proxy army against Assad. I've made that point in many previous Cannonfire posts, citing respectable sources. One need merely Google the words "ISIS funded by Saudi Arabia" to learn an important truth that neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama dared to utter during their recent tiff.

The NYT wants you to believe that "President Obama has long resisted being drawn into Syria’s bloody civil war," but this is, at best, a half-truth. He resisted neocon calls to become directly involved in that war. He did, however, consider it permissible to create -- or to allow the creation of -- a proxy fighting force, now known as ISIS. The only point for historians to debate is whether the Saudis acted as CIA cut-outs, or whether we simply decided not challenge a Saudi decision.

I would argue that striking at ISIS in Syria requires us to shift sides in the Syrian civil war. Bashar Assad is the only possible ally there; a "moderate" Syrian rebel force with the ability to knock out ISIS does not exist.

From a new piece by Robert Fisk:
But now Assad’s lads are chatting – so I hear – to Dempsey’s lads about their mutual apocalyptic-visioned enemy, which has just beheaded an American journalist who (so American officials claimed not long ago) was in an Assad jail.
The reference here goes to Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Is the American military/intelligence complex talking to Assad's forces? I doubt it not: War makes strange bedfellows. But don't expect the NYT to make that admission unless it absolutely has to.

The Foley fabrication. Fisk is right about something else: American officials really did claim that Assad's government (not ISIS) had captured journalists James Foley. Check out this amazing news story promulgated by an NPR station back in May of 2013:
The family of a New Hampshire journalist abducted in Syria on Thanksgiving last year says they believe they now know where he is. James Foley’s family on Friday claimed the Syrian government is holding him in a military detention center.

They’re going public with this new information with the hopes it will help win his freedom.
Last Thanksgiving, Foley disappeared while he was reporting on the civil war in Syria. No word ever came. No one claimed responsibility.

In the 162 days since then, GlobalPost has spent “many, many, many hundreds of thousands of dollars” to try to find Foley, said its CEO, Phil Balboni, on Friday. He said he’s now very confident that Foley was captured by a pro-government militia commonly referred to as the Shabiha, who then turned the freelance journalist over to the ruling regime.

“Jim is now being held by the Syrian government in a detention facility in the Damascus area,” Balboni said. “We further believe that the facility is under the control of the Syrian air force intelligence service. Based on what we have learned it is likely that Jim is being held with one or more Western journalists, including most likely at least one other American journalist.”

Balboni is not saying who the other American is. He cited multiple sources, but he stopped short of giving further details, saying the situation is sensitive and complex.
Foley's employer (GlobalPost) and family could not have come to that false conclusion of their own accord. I believe that they were misled by American officials.

Why would those officials lie about a kidnapped reporter? It's really very simple: At the time Foley went missing (November of 2012), the administration wanted the public to cheer the rebels (read: ISIS) and to boo Bashar Assad. And so the Obama administration gave the truth a 180 degree propaganda twist. (In fact, we always knew who really had Foley.)

What else is this administration lying about? Well, consider the case of Austin Tice. We'll get to that soon...

Did GlobalPost really pay more than a million bucks for disinformation? A Christian group called Shoebat differs from most of our blinkered fundamentalists in that they are willing to face the reality of the Syrian situation...
James Foley was not the only American to be captured by jihadists. James Foley went missing in 2012 when he was in Syria to cover the revolution. Before his execution, the GlobalPost (the outlet that he was writing for), asserted that Foley was captured, not by the jihadist rebels, but by the Syrian government.
After citing the same Balboni quote that made me say "Wow!", Shoebat rhetorically addresses Foley's employer.
Who were your sources? Or were you just being a sycophant for the jihadists while your colleague was on his way to get beheaded?
I have absolute confidence that at least one or two of Balboni's "sources" were people who work for the American government. Remember, Foley's family (who surely would have been in constant contact with the State Department) also thought that Foley was in Assad's custody.

Balboni now admits that his sources were wrong. It is said that GlobalPost (in business since 2009) paid more than a million dollars for this incorrect information. I find this claim very strange, for two reasons. First: I doubt that even the NYT or CBS would have paid that kind of money for that reason, so what was the source of GlobalPosts's funding? (GlobalPost can't afford to pay reporters more than the trifling sum of $1000 a month.) Second: If Balboni really did pay more than a million bucks for bad information, why doesn't he tell us who lied to him?

(Foley also worked for Agence-France Press. It suddenly occurs to me that Foley may have had another employer...)  

Austin Tice. Let's return to Shoebat's piece...
It turns out that the same sort of baseless pretensions are being said about another American journalist, Austin Tice. He too went to Syria as a sympathizer for the jihadists and an opponent of the government, and he too was captured and executed by the same Islamic killers that he supported.
Shoebat then displays video of Tice in the hands of jihadists. I've embedded that video below.

Although this video would seem to be conclusive, our government and our media boldly told another lie:
Now, regardless of this video, there were people saying that the captors in the video were Syrian government agents, similar to how the GlobalPost CEO was affirming that the Assad regime was responsible for the capturing of Foley. In the year of his disappearance, U.S. State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland said:
You know, there’s a lot of reason for the Syrian government to duck responsibility...but we continue to believe that to the best of our knowledge we think he is in Syrian government custody
The Assad government denied this charge, and of course no one trusted the regime. There were even so-called “analysts” saying that the video of Tice was staged by the Syrian government.
Ah, Victoria Nuland! If we can't trust her, who can we trust?

That claim appeared in 2012. It was published by -- who else? -- the New York Times, the usual performance space for neoconservative theatricals.
The State Department has said it believes that Mr. Tice is in the custody of the Syrian government, which has not acknowledged holding him.
Several analysts said that the video appeared to be staged and that it lacked the customary form and polish of jihadist videos.
Note the wording: "Several analysts." All we learn about these analysts is that they were several in number. I feel quite sure that if these "several analysts" worked for a private organization, the group would have been named. Giving that kind of information is standard journalistic practice.

I therefore presume that, in all likelihood, the NYT was talking to spooks. But they didn't want to tell the readers that they were talking to spooks. In today's cynical world, the way to make a CIA statement seem credible is to keep the CIA unmentioned.

That was the story in 2012. The only cited sources for the "blame Assad" story were (predictably enough) the Syrian rebels and (oddly enough) the Czecholslovakians.

And now...?

Now that the American government has stopped covertly supporting the jihad against Assad, it may soon be permissible to admit that Tice is, or was, in the hands of jihadists. (There are varying opinions as to whether Tice is still alive.) Such is the implication of this L.A. Times story published a few days ago.

On the other hand, CBS is still saying that Tice is in the custody of the Syrian government. So the tale remains in a state of flux.

Our controlled press. Very few mainstream writers have seen fit to note the morphing official stories about Foley and Tice. Apparently, most American journalists are hoping that you and I won't notice the Orwellian narrative shift: Jim Foley was always in the hands of ISIS, just as Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia. To claim otherwise is Thoughtcrime

In a brave attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable accounts, BBC reporter Kim Ghattas tried to float a truly bizarre claim. Ghattas wants us to believe that Assad's prople transferred Foley to ISIS for disposal. (Is there a "Glienicke Bridge" linking the warring sides in Syria?)
"Until recently, James Foley was thought to be in hands of pro-Assad forces. If Assad is handing over Westerners to ISIS to be killed, it indicates Assad feels cornered, looking for leverage," BBC's Kim Ghattas tweeted, adding that the assessment jibes with what her sources in Damascus have told her recently.
For Christ's sake. This claim isn't just bullshit -- it's obvious bullshit.

Although Foley had been giving the Syrian government bad press, Assad had no motive to keep the guy in detention, as opposed to expelling him. Assad certainly had no reason to kill him. Why would Assad needlessly hand the U.S. a casus belli at the very time when the neocons were pushing Obama to side openly with the rebels? And if (for god-knows-what reason) Assad's government did want Foley dead, why would they hand him over to their sworn enemies? And why would those sworn enemies do Assad a favor? Why would ISIS cover up Assad's involvement?

"Assad feels cornered, looking for leverage" -- what the fuck are those words supposed to mean? That phrase is a complete non-sequiter. How could Assad get leverage from capturing and murdering an American journalist? Leverage for what?

Our controlled press simply cannot bring itself to confess the obvious fact that the United States government lied when it said that the Syrian government had captured Foley and Tice. That is the simplest explanation. It's the only credible explanation.

Alas, any news organization which makes this admission will lose access to official sources. Access is granted only to the compliant.

If I didn't know better I'd almost say our government actively creates these terrorist organizations so it can then have a reason to intervene militarily, clamp down on civil liberties at home, pour trillions of dollars into the defense (shouldn't it be called "offense" at this point?) industry, and keep the proles distracted from reality by keeping them scared.

Al Qaeda was borne out of the remnants of the mujahideen fighters we armed to fight a proxy war against the Soviets in Afghanistan and now ISIS has risen up following the clandestine shipments of arms stolen from Libya. Both are useful to American - and Israeli - geopolitical goals, almost to the point that you have to wonder who's actually issuing their marching orders.
The NYT wants you to believe that "President Obama has long resisted being drawn into Syria’s bloody civil war," but this is, at best, a half-truth. He resisted neocon calls to become directly involved in that war.

The what was all that "red line" BS about back in 2012? He'd have been perfectly happy to leap into the Syrian mess, were it not for the poll numbers, some Congressional opposition, and some guy named "Putin". He didn't "resist", he backed away from a losing political strategy in an election year.
pour trillions of dollars into the defense (shouldn't it be called "offense" at this point?) industry

Let's not forget that, in a more honest time (pre-Cold War), the "Department of Defense" was named the "War Department",
The first time I heard about it was in a press conference his family did. May be I am not a very brave person but it struck me almost shocked me how collected they were. This could be to their credit but I didn't get it now I read all this and I am thinking they know some I don't
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Friday, August 22, 2014

Those Libertarians never miss a trick, do they?

Nick Gillespie, the proudly libertarian editor of Reason magazine, is also a writer for the Daily Beast -- because, you know, running your own damned magazine isn't enough exposure for someone who wants to foist Randroid propaganda on the public. Although he is white -- as I am -- he believes that he knows what the black people of Ferguson really, really want.

No need to ask them what they want. Ask Nick. Nick knows. Nick will answer on their behalf.

Nick thinks that these people are protesting because they long to bring about a Libertarian revolution. They've taken to the street because they hate Obamacare sooooo much. They are motivated by "a general lack of belief that spending more money is going to fix the country." They seek a "fiscally responsible" economic model.

Of course, by "fiscally responsible," Nick means deep-sixing all economic protections for the working class. He wants you to believe that the protestors seek a free-for-all, crush-the-weak Social Darwinist economic model.

His article comes with an illustration of three black men marching in Ferguson. Nick wants us to believe that these three men are thinking the following thoughts:

Now if you want to know what those three guys were really thinking as they marched down the street, you'll have to ask them. If you happen to be one of those guys, please write in.

That said, I have my own suspicions -- and they run counter to Nick's scenario.

At this point you may be asking: What makes the Cannon version more accurate than the Nick Gillespie version?

Granted, I'm as white as Nick is. But I doubt that I'm as privileged as Nick is. I grew up poor, supported by a widowed mother who depended on Social Security and her late husband's veterans' benefits. My father (who got the Purple Heart in Korea) paid into the system and expected the system to take care of his kids if anything happened to him. In the 1960s, this presumption was considered perfectly honorable, reasonable and fair. True, there were years when I earned decent money and even attained a taste of the middle class lifestyle. But some time ago, mostly through my own foolishness, I slid into near-homelessness, and have remained in a precarious state for...well, for longer than I care to think about. Improving that situation is no snap -- not at my age.

Despite my pale skin, I've learned to be very wary of cops. That's a lesson most poor people learn, regardless of race -- although I have no doubt that those who are both poor and black have a harder time of it.

So I can't claim to speak for the protestors in Ferguson, because only they know what it's like to live there. Like Nick, I can only hazard a guess as to what those three guys were thinking as they marched together. But let me ask you: In your opinion, whose guess comes closest to the truth -- Nick's or mine?

Do the protestors truly want an end to what's left of the social safety net, as Nick seems to believe? Do they want poor people without insurance to die in the streets? Do they want employers in their area to be free to say "You'll work for a dollar an hour or you won't work at all?"

Or do the protestors simply want the cops not to act like assholes?

Bonus questions: Aren't asshole cops and a militarized police force the inevitable result of one-percenters seeking to protect their loot from the 99 percent? Aren't libertarians like Nick seeking to establish an out-and-out plutocracy? Doesn't history teach us that plutocrats never hesitate to use incredibly brutal methods to keep the peasants from rebelling? When the unruly mob starts to get out of line (or when a weaker foreign government won't give their resources to international conglomerates), won't the plutocrats suddenly decide to toss their anti-government rhetoric right out the window? Won't the rich learn to love government at that moment?

The problem is not government per se but which class that government answers to.
Thank you, Joseph. I may not always agree with you, but you are right on the money with this one.

Especially your photo captioning.
I can't help but suspect that an element of the plutocracy is that the 1% recognized 30 years ago that peak oil and global warming and the rising seas and soil depletion were going to cause major economic stresses--so their wealth accumulation has been motivated as much by their wishes for self-defense as by greed.

Then they seized on the catalyst of 9/11's New Pearl Harbor to ram through the neo-fascistic surveillance state (and the fact that they haven't invoked these powers yet only means they don;t yet need them); and they used demonstrations at the WTO and OWS as an excuse to militarize crowd control operations.

All in all it looks like the last 30 years have had a deliberate neo-utilitarian agenda with the purpose of providing the greatest benefit to a select few.

And no doubt many of them envision a massive population reduction over the next century, and a kind of heaven on earth for the half-billion or so survivors who will enjoy technological and scientific (and life-extended) mastery over a depopulated and resource-rich and renewing world.
Being a poor boy from the other side of the tracks, I agree 100%. I've commented several times on various blog that Jabbar was correct in that Ferguson wasn't purely racial but was also economic, but since I'm white, according to people I could not possibly understand police abuse. I wish those folks could've been with me that Halloween night way back in '63.
I agree too Joseph - every word - especially these:

Aren't asshole cops and a militarized police force the inevitable result of one-percenters seeking to protect their loot from the 99 percent?

Doesn't history teach us that plutocrats never hesitate to use incredibly brutal methods to keep the peasants from rebelling?

I almost got interviewed by the Daily Beast once. The back and forth emails prior to what was going to be a telephone interview were quite comical. I did not want to be audio recorded but was assured that the reporter doing the recording would not ever release the recordings in any form.

When I asked what about the rest of the company, suddenly something came up and that was that.
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Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Claim 1: The White House has announced that a special operations team made a failed attempt to rescue hostage James Foley.
The administration said the decision to release information about the rescue attempt was made as some news organizations prepared to reveal the mission's existence.
But did this rescue attempt actually take place? Let me drop two names on you: Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman.

Claim 2: After everyone in the world (including an Israeli police spokesman) has admitted that Hamas did not kill those three Israeli teens, the Jerusalem Post has published a story claiming that Hamas leader Salah al-Aruri, speaking at an Islamic conference in Turkey, bragged about his group's responsibility for those murders.

Really? It would be idiotic for any Hamas leader to say those words now. Such an admission -- in public! -- could not aid Hamas in the slightest, while doing great injury to the worldwide sympathy for the Palestinian cause generated by the atrocities in Gaza.

Although there is indeed a World Muslim Scholar's Union conference in Istanbul, I've seen no indication that al-Aruri is in attendance. Perhaps he is, although he would seem to have his hands busy in Gaza (where his home was destroyed last month). As the photo indicates, these conferences are large-scale public affairs. If a Hamas authority really did make a shocking and important claim before such a huge audience, one would presume that the news would appear in a journal other than the Jerusalem Post.

Let's keep in mind the record of Israeli fabrication in this matter. Israeli officials very quickly determined that the three youths had been killed, yet pretended for 11 days that the boys were still alive. These theatricals gave the IDF a pretext for arresting 350 Palestinians, five of whom were killed. As this Reuters story notes,
An Israeli government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Israel was looking to leverage the search into a wider clampdown on Hamas in the West Bank and was also looking at legal aspects of deporting West Bank Hamas leaders to Gaza.
The actual leader of the small cell which kidnapped the boys is a man named Hussam Qawasmeh (sometimes spelled Kawasme), who was captured by the Israelis. He readily admitted ordering the deed -- but only after being tortured did he "confess" that Hamas leaders in Gaza had financed the crime. I'm not sure that a crime of this sort is so expensive as to require outside financing. Obviously, an admission made under torture has little value.

Right now, this Jerusalem Post story reeks of bullshit.
From whom were they claiming to rescue Jim Foley? If it was the Syrian government, then it's no surprise that he wasn't there. But if it was the other guys, then when do they say that he was handed over to new captors who are the government's sworn enemies? Isn't this claim a real problem for the US government's credibility?
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The politics of turpentine

As noted in an earlier post, traditional art supplies often have odd histories. Today, I'd like to talk about -- stay right where you are, Mina: I see you sneaking toward the exit door -- turpentine.

To be specific, let us discuss the profound political implications of this review of Utrecht brand pure gum turpentine:
In the past you could find this in any hardware store but thanks to the Government you now have to pay more for it at art outlets but Utrecht has the best quality and quantity for the money I've found.
Let's zero in on those emphasized words: "Thanks to the government."

So far as I know, no government regulation prohibits hardware stores from selling turpentine of the best quality. The good stuff may even be available at a hardware store near you. (Though not near me, apparently.)

These nice people in Georgia offer what some connoisseurs consider the world's best turps, made the old-fashioned way. The makers sell it openly. It's not a black market product. If you want to acquire some, you don't have to travel to a sketchy part of town at midnight and be buzzed into a seedy back room where the turp bottles are stacked next to the heroin and C4.

Southerners know good turps the way Italians know good olive oil. Even though turp containers carry a "harmful or fatal if swallowed" label, some people even take the stuff internally as a medicine. I'm not kidding: You really ought to see this guy slurp it up. He's definitely a trip, especially when he describes the use of turpentine baths to cure erectile dysfunction. Wood giveth turps and turps giveth wood.

Of course, he's talking about real turpentine, not crap turpentine.

Real turpentine smells like a Christmas tree with licorice ornaments. Crap turpentine smells like the Grim Reaper's halitosis.

Real turpentine comes from a resin harvested from living pine trees (much as you might tap a maple tree to get real maple syrup, another product rarely encountered nowadays). I have theorized that the custom of bringing conifers indoors during the winter owes much to the mildly intoxicating "perfume" associated with pine resin.

Real turpentine is even said to intensify the high one gets from cannabis. If that proves to be true, then those nice folks in Georgia may have a whole new market open up for them.

Crap turpentine doesn't come from living trees. Crap turpentine is an industrial byproduct produced when trees are ground up into paper products.

So why does your local hardware store -- and most art stores -- stock only crap turpentine?

It's cheaper to produce.

Plain and simple. The Mean Ol' Gummint isn't the bad guy in this situation.

(Well, arguably the Mean Ol' Gummint did play a role, when it won the civil war and freed the slaves. The turpentine farms of the antebellum south relied on slave labor. The work was miserable -- even worse than picking cotton.)

Even the pricey turps sold in art supply stores tends to be crap turpentine, "rectified" and refined to subdue the stench-o-death. Some piney perfume may be added. The stuff is usable, but it's not the same as the magical elixer which the Old Masters slathered on their panels to achieve that ineffable glow-from-within.

So why am I telling you all of this? Because these words have haunted me all day:

"Thanks to the government."

Behold the triumph of libertarian brainwashing: Our citizenry has been trained to blame everything bad on the Mean Ol' Gummint, even when the culprit is actually a megacorporation. This is the way we think -- the way we've been taught to think.

Not just about turpentine. About everything.

Ideology is the strongest intoxicant, infinitely stronger than pine resin. This dangerous intoxicant induces hallucinations which can cause us to lose sight of reality.

A judicious use of gummint regulation might help us navigate the byways of Turpworld. The phrase "pure gum turpentine" is supposed to designate the real McCoy, but in my experience, even some hardware store cans which bear that label may neverthless smell pretty damned death-y when you open 'em up. I'd like to see labelling which clearly informs the turp-buying public as to whether a product has been derived from living trees via traditional methods. I believe that an educated consumer will choose to buy a substance which does not stink of decaying rodent cadavers.

On the other hand...

The world of folk remedies is not an area into which the Mean Ol' Gummint should intrude, even when those remedies seem really wacky and kind of dangerous. I will never take turpentine internally, and I would never advise anyone else to do so. But what you do with your body is own damned business.
During WWII my dad was a flight instructor stationed in Colorado. As an officer with family he had private quarters. He noticed that his liquor was becoming weaker and weaker as time went by. He suspected that somebody in the cleaning crew was taking shots from his liquor cabinet and then filling the bottles back to their original level with water. So he emptied all his clear liquor into other containers then refilled the bottles with turpentine. Next time he checked, one of the bottles was missing a few ounces. Never had a problem after that though. He didn't say whether or not he'd used the good stuff, but maybe in the early forties that's all there was.
There presently is an effort to bring back the Longleaf Pine which once was the dominant tree in my area. I have them on my lot and have transplanted several seedlings.

In the 18th & 19th centuries, the local trees were tapped, as you say, for the resin, which was then used for waterproofing ship's rigging. Most of the turpentine production came later by smother-burning in earth-covered piles, which frequently exploded. Later exploitation was for timber, with the port of Georgetown SC shipping more lumber than any other in the US.
Real maple syrup rare? I guess living in New England insulates me from that sad reality, though not from the price of the real stuff. You could always join us up here if you need to leave Baltimore.
I'm not Anonymous; I'm CambridgeKnitter. I guess Blogger decided to eat my name.
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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

You CAN handle the truth

I haven't much time to blog right now, but I would like to encourage you to listen to some important (albeit discomforting) truths, via the most important writer/speaker/researcher of our time, Max Blumenthal.

Give him a chance. Like a fine old tube amplifier, he takes a little while to warm up, but when he gets going, he is gripping and astounding -- at times, downright shattering. Even if you think you've heard it all already...well, you haven't. Not by a long shot.

A tech note: YouTube features many lectures which you may want to transfer to your personal mp3 player. The visual aspect of these presentations is superfluous. You'll want to keep the file size as small as possible, because a spoken word audio file doesn't require high fidelity.

There are many ways to accomplish this task. If you use a desktop or laptop, consider this approach:

Users of Firefox or one of its knockoffs (such Pale Moon and Ice Dragon) probably already have an addon for downloading videos. I'm sure that IE/Chrome/Opera/other browser have their own video downloaders.

These downloaders give you a choice of versions to save to your computer. Choose the smallest one, which will probably have the .3gp suffix and will be labeled "mobile." Because the file is so small, the download time is usually very short.

Now we must convert that file to an .mp3 file. The best free program for the job is called Freemake. Just drag and drop the .3gp file into the main window, then chose the "to MP3" button in the bottom left corner.

A new, small window will pop up, allowing you to choose the type of mp3 file you want to make. Hit the small icon that looks like a blue gear. Under "channels," choose "mono." Under "bitrate" choose 32 KBPS. Hit OK. Double check to make sure that the file is being saved in the place where you want it to go. Then hit "Convert."

Conversion occurs very rapidly. The resulting audio file will be teensy-tiny, taking up very little space on your player. And it'll sound just fine. You can listen while walking, driving or (if you have the right kind of job) working.
Just an added note. I review a vast quantity of audios in a given week; most of them are from talk shows that have about ten minutes worth of content stretched over two to three hours. Oftentimes, some person will speak in such a slow manner that I can’t pay attention, so I use AVI player and increase the playback speed anywhere from 1.4 to 1.7 x, and sometimes up to the point that the audio sounds like the cartoon chipmuncks.talking. After a while a person can become accustomed to the high speed speech and go through, say 30 hours’ worth of audio files, in less than an hour.

This feature can also be useful if you have a partner who talks too much. Just ask them to tape it and you will get back to them later. ;) j
It's as if the revolution isn't happening.

It's like. while you're gnashing your teeth over Palestinians or whatever the hell ISIS is, who cares if our own barely emanicipated slaves rise up to protest their daily slaying at the hands of our slavemaster police force.

Or just paste the URL for the streamed video in at

For example, to get a link for the audio from the third Max Blumenthal video above, click here.

See also, which enables the downloading of streamed video in various file formats and has also got a SnipMP3 option.
Corrected links: and

(Link for downloading audio of the Blumenthal video was right the first time.)
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