Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Horrifying thought for the day

Alan Moore on infinity:
Confused? Moore puts it this way. "If you think about a standard journey in three dimensions -- say, being in a car driving along a road, the houses you're passing are vanishing behind you, but you don't doubt that if you could reverse the car, the houses would still be there. Our consciousness is only moving one way through time but I believe physics tells us all those moments are still there -- and when we get to the end of our lives, there's nowhere for our consciousness to go, except back to the beginning. We have our lives over and over again."
Well, there was this roast salmon with onion sauce that I ate while visiting Vancouver Island in the mid 1990s...yeah, I definitely want to have that meal again. And then there was the 50-hour science fiction film marathon at Filmex 1975...Ray Bradbury was there, Robbie the Robot was there, all the coolest people in Los Angeles were there, and we saw vivid original stereophonic prints of Forbidden Planet and War of the Worlds, and 2001 in 70mm. That was a lot of fun. Other than that, Alan Moore's theory is the most horrifying idea anyone ever conceived, because he's basically saying that Hell is real. I hope he's wrong.
Mr. Moore takes the "mystic" implications of quantum physics rather more seriously than I do. *rolls eyes*

The exotic speculations of modern QP tend to remind me of Orwell's quip that some ideas were so stupid only intellectuals could believe them.
Are you saying that I DON'T have to relive all those fights with my exes? And there was this creepy schizy guy I'll call "D" who still gives me the heebie-jeebies every time I think of him. Are you saying I don't have to relive the supremely infuriating times he intruded into my life? Are you saying I don't have to relive all those blundering wrong turns and stupid decisions I made in the 1989-1996 period? All those awful people I let into my life -- I don't have to meet 'em ever again?

Please go ON, Monster from the Id!

(By the way, I take it that you must be a Forbidden Planet fan yourself. Did I ever tell you about the time I met the guy who wrote the original story...?)

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ukraine wisdom

I don't want Cannonfire to turn into "that Ukraine blog," but the unsettling events in that part of the world could ignite a war (note these ominous rumblings) and the propaganda has segued from annoying to dangerous to toxic to radioactive. As an antidote, let's look at some recent good writing on the topic.

First up: Bob Parry. He notes that one of the people trying to gin up war in Ukraine is "journalist" Michael Gordon of the NYT, who just happens to have worked with Judy Miller on those stories that ginned up war in Iraq. Gordon also pushed the Assad-diddit theory of the sarin attack in Syria.
All these stories draw hard conclusions from very murky evidence while ignoring or brushing aside alternative explanations. They also pile up supportive acclamations for their conclusions from self-interested sources while treating any doubters as rubes. And, these three articles all involved reporter Michael R. Gordon.
It seems as though the Aspen-rooted ones have cooked up this whole "Cold War II" scheme.

 This earlier piece by Parry provides some good historical analysis...
After the Feb. 22 coup in Ukraine – spearheaded by neo-Nazi militias – European and U.S. diplomats pushed for a quick formation of a new government out of fear that otherwise these far-right ultra-nationalists would be left in total control, one of those diplomats told me.

The comment again underscores the inconvenient truth of what happened in Ukraine: neo-Nazis were at the forefront of the Kiev coup that ousted elected President Viktor Yanukovych, a reality that the U.S. government and news media have been relentlessly trying to cover up.
Okay, many of you knew that. What about those militants in the Russian-language areas of Ukraine?
The new drumbeat in the U.S. press is that those militants must disarm in line with last week’s agreement in Geneva involving the United States, European Union, Russia and the “transitional” Ukrainian government.
Kind of a lopsided "summit" ya got there...
As for those inconvenient neo-Nazi militias, they have been incorporated into a paramilitary “National Guard” and deployed to the east to conduct an “anti-terrorist” campaign against the eastern Ukrainian protesters, ethnic Russians whom the neo-Nazis despise.
So it's Nazis vs. Russians. Some of you may have seen this movie before. Remember how it ended?

Parry then offers a rejoinder to a really obnoxious piece of pro-war agit-prop by Nicholas Kristof. What pisses me off is that Kristof will have roughly a hundred times the readers.

Another article worthy of your perusal comes to us by way of Eric Margolis.
Recently, Sen. John McCain, the voice of America’s ignorant right, sneered that Russia was merely “a gas station masquerading as a country.” Gas stations do not produce the likes of Tolstoy, Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov, Prokofiev, or the very smart Vlad Putin. They do, however, produce puny intellects like McCain.
I'd have tossed in Dostoevsky or Pushkin, but...point taken. The thing is, America isn't even a gas station these days. Despite rising oil production, we buy gas from elsewhere. What we produce are comic book movies, Wall Street financial "products," neoconservatism and neoliberalism. Of those four, comic book movies are the only product that people actually like; the other ones just leave everyone feeling pissed off. Thus, the two former superpowers: One is a gas station masquerading as a country, and the other is a place that makes superhero movies masquerading as a country. Which has the more promising future?
Just as Russia provided the US with a diplomatic exit from blundering into a war with Syria, so the Kremlin is again offering Washington a way out of the Ukraine imbroglio.

That way out consists of a Ukraine-wide referendum to allow each region to determine whether it wants to align with Europe or Russia. Russian must be made a second official language. Most important, the US and NATO have got to halt their daft plan to set up bases in Ukraine and bring it in the alliance. These bases will enrage Russia without boosting NATO’s power.

In fact, NATO’s would-be bases in Ukraine, Georgia, and Azerbaijan, as well as the Baltic, are a major military liability to the alliance which is incapable of defending them if the Russians get really angry.
The "way out" proposed by Margolis sounds like a pretty good plan to me. Snicker if you will, but I think Obama wants a face-saving deal of this sort. I have a lot of problems with Obama, but I'm reasonably certain that he doesn't want more war. Afghanistan was and is a mess and he knows it. War has not been good for this country, and it certainly hasn't been good for Obama. He didn't want war in Syria and he doesn't want one in Ukraine.

But the neocons sure are trying to push him into one.

Putin's strange new claims

Most Americans will dismiss the strange claims made by Vladimir Putin about the uprising which launched Ukraine into its current state of chaos.
When asked whether the so-called “self-defense” forces in the Crimea who had blocked Ukrainian soldiers were from Russia, Putin insisted they were local volunteers from the Crimea and not Russians.

Pressed on why then they seemed so well-trained, Putin replied “My dear friend, look how well-trained the people who led the [anti-Yanukovych] attacks in Kiev were. It's obvious knowledge they were trained in Lithuania, Poland and in Ukraine. They were prepared by instructors, trained for a long time.”

“Everything they did was professional, like in the Russian special forces,” he added.
Russia Today quotes the former head of Ukraine's Security Service, Aleksandr Yakimenko, to this same effect.
Q: Where did those snipers come from?

AY: First shots were fired from the Philharmonic building. Maidan Commandant Parubiy was in charge of the building. On February 20, this building was used as a base by the snipers and people with automatic weapons. They basically covered those who were attacking the demoralized policemen running in panic, hunted down like animals. They were followed by armed people with different kinds of weapons. At that point, somebody opened fire at those who attacked the police, and some of them were killed. All this fire was coming from the Philharmonic building. After this first round of fire, about 20 people came out of this building – this was witnessed by many. These people wore special combat clothes and carried sniper rifle cases, as well as AKMs with scopes. There were witnesses, and not just our operatives, but also Maidan activists from Svoboda, Right Sector, Batkivshchyna, and UDAR.

The snipers split into two groups – 10 men each. The Security Service lost track of one of the groups. The other group took a position at the Ukraine hotel. Killings continued. In the beginning, when the shots were scattered, I was asked by Right Sector and Svoboda to mobilize a Special Forces unit and remove the snipers from the buildings.
Q: So you think they were mercenaries?

AY: No doubt.
There is also an allegation of direct CIA involvement:
Q: Is it true that Nalivaichenko allowed the CIA agents to work in the Security Service building?

AY: Yes, that’s true. He also handed personal files of his own employees over to the CIA agents to study. But their mission was interrupted by an armed coup. The Maidan do not appoint these people; rather, it’s the US that does it. It’s enough to look at the newly appointed officials: Parubiy, Gvozd, Nalyvaichenko are all people who followed somebody else’s orders, the orders of the US, not even Europe. They are directly linked to the American intelligence. They sought to delay the negotiations and prevent the incumbent president from striking a deal with Russia and Russia from helping to prop up the social and economic order in Ukraine. After that they were planning to depose the president and integrate Ukraine into Europe, using Russian money. Who was troubled by the victory of the EU and the pro-integration forces? Only the US.
All the orders were given either by the US embassy or by Jan Tombinski, a Polish representative who worked in the EU mission in Kiev. Poland played an invaluable role in the coup. It has always dreamt of restoring its former power and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

Ever since the Maidan kicked off, our security service registered a dramatic increase in diplomatic correspondence coming in to various Western embassies in Kiev. There is one more mystery. Straight after this influx of correspondence we saw some foreign money at the Maidan and in Kiev exchange bureaus: the new, re-designed US dollar bank notes.

Q: So they were bringing in cash?

AY: Yes. Poroshenko, Firtash, Pinchuk – they all poured money into the Maidan. With all their assets in foreign banks, they found themselves trapped. So they had to follow orders from the West. All they were supposed to do was back the Maidan; otherwise they would have lost all their assets. They were thinking about their money rather than their own country. Unfortunately we couldn’t prevent the casualties, the people, mainly those who had come from the Western regions, were sent into the line of fire. The Maidan militants had left the barricades after the sniper fire started. But time will set the record straight.
As I said: Most Americans will immediately dismiss these claims as propaganda. I am not so sure. We've been lied to on so many occasions that I feel no obliged to take this administration's word on anything involving Ukraine.

The man's right about one thing: Time will set the record straight.

In the past, I've been hesitant to ascribe a direct role to the CIA in the Ukraine coup. The whole business was too daring, too over-the-top, too redolent of the Agency adventurism that prevailed throughout the 1950s and '60s. But now I'm open to the idea.

If the Agency has gone back to its wild and reckless roots -- what does that fact say about Obama?

One thing is clear: The plan -- whatever the plan was and whoever the planners were -- did not go as planned. I think Obama understands this now. That's why he's backtracking, looking for a way out. Here are the some neo-connish words published today in the WP:
Again Vladi­mir Putin is flagrantly disregarding the warnings and “red lines” of the Obama administration. He has reason to do so: President Obama also doesn’t observe them. Despite Mr. Kerry’s clear words, sanctions that have been prepared against cronies of Mr. Putin and companies involved in his Ukraine ad­ven­ture remain on ice at the White House, where they have languished for more than a week.
You can see where this is going. They're trying to use the "You're not a real man" jibe to press Obama into a disastrous action, possibly into war with Putin. The fact is, when it comes to sanctions, Putin holds all the cards. By "cards," I mean gas. Ukraine can't long survive without natural gas, and they buy the stuff from Russia. But Ukraine can't pay the bill for the gas they have already received.

So that's that. The Ukraine gambit never had a chance.

Speaking of Putin and Poland: Now that the new cold war is in full swing, propagandists are accusing Putin of murdering the President of Poland via an engineered plane crash. Check it out. The primary evidence favoring this theory concerns the extremely large number of aircraft fragments, suggestive of a mid-air explosion, not a debris field left by a crash.

Well...maybe. Possibly. But where is the evidence of authorship? 
Putin has learned, at this point complaisance does not help you. Exposing the moves does.

It takes the "who could have known " malarkey out of the frankly worn out spin/lies . Note to CIA : please get new writers

There is also an allegation of direct CIA involvement:

Can anyone believe there isn't direct CIA involvement? The head of the CIA was just there, was he on vacation?

What I'm finding hard to believe we have a government besides the CIA FBI, NSA alphabet spooks are us etc ...The Hill lock steps as it's told. It's like a Disney ride at this point

Anne, I guess I had come to think that the CIA's cowboy days were past. I mean, during the run-up to the Iraq war, the CIA was clearly hesitant to play ball and all the "cowboy" stuff was moved to various ad-hoc units in DIA and elsewhere.

But if what we're reading about the Ukraine is right -- it's the 1950s all over again. Wheeeee!
Joe , 2003 was a long time ago. In terms of our government and rule of law, it was an age ago. What was old is new again

There was ample speculation at the time of the Polish president's plane crash that the Russians had been behind it, so this isn't the first time this theory has been trotted out.

I can't speak to the veracity of that claim, but anytime a crash of that magnitude happens inexplicably I think it's important to try to figure out who benefits.
German language.
Personally, I am not,generally, convinced of Voltairenet.
But here they might have a case.

I'll take back to their old way for $1.00.
if we look back to the good old days of evil overlord chaney going to the cia basically forcing out the old guard the stood up to him then have all those left that want nothing other than make their new evil overlord happy with yes Iraq has wmd and off Amerika went.

Just around the net and see how many former cia like Ray M. write at sites, joined dod vendors or just retired to teach somewhere.

The good days at cia are back, torture, droning people to death and taking down elected officials. Yes I know the Ukraine president was a crook but he was elected.
i agree with anne and joe6pac.. how else does one explain obama being so out of sync with those making the usa's foreign policy moves here? him and kerry are a couple of bimbo's at this point and don't run the country.. looks like nuland has her hand on the pulse of power currently emanating from the usa, more then they do.

any thought on what is happening with moon of alabama website? - thanks - james
ps - i agree with the others too - anonymous question is a good one - who benefits the most? i think that would be the usa more then russia, especially if the usa's desire it to put nato in poland/ukraine area next to russia.. poor relationships with poland and russia don't serve russias interest any...
james, no government is a monolith. Not even Stalin's was! So of course there are people playing funny games outside of Obama's control. There are always such games going on, no matter who the president is.

And no, this does not necessarily make any given president a good guy.
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Monday, April 21, 2014

Dubya in court?

Dubya's being sued for crimes against peace. It's a class action lawsuit filed in California by victims of the Iraq war.
The case against Bush is based on the conduct of members of the administration prior to coming into office as well as conduct taking place on and after 9/11. Years before their appointment to the Bush Administration, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz were vocal advocates of a militant neoconservative ideology that called for the United States to use its armed forces in the Middle East and elsewhere.

They openly chronicled their desire for aggressive wars through a non-profit called The Project for the New American Century (or PNAC). In 1998, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz would personally sign a letter to then-President Clinton, urging the president to implement a “strategy for removing Saddam’s regime from power,” which included a “willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing.”

On 9/11, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz openly pressed for the United States to invade Iraq, even though intelligence at the time confirmed that it was al Qaeda, and not Saddam, that was responsible.
We now know that the Bush Administration began a concerted effort to scare and mislead the American public in order to obtain support for the Iraq War. As alleged in the complaint, this included the famous phrase that “the smoking gun could not be a mushroom cloud,” which was used repeatedly by Administration officials on news shows as a way of equating non-action with the vaporization of a United States city. The Administration used bogus and false intelligence to make the case for weapons of mass destruction, and also falsely linked al Qaeda to Iraq, despite the fact that there has never been any evidence of any operational linkages between the two. These were not simple mistakes: this was an intentional campaign by Administration officials to use faulty data to garner support for a war.
I'm happy to stipulate the truth of all of this, and more. But I still don't think that this lawsuit is going anywhere.

On the other hand, if America's standing in the world continues to sink -- and the BRICS countries continue to become more powerful -- we may reach a point where lawsuits of this kind could be lodged in a body like the World Court. And the penalty? Trade sanctions. A 100% tax on American imports, to be lifted only when this country hands over the accused for judgment.

This is all blue sky conjecture, of course, but you gotta admit: It'd be an interesting thing to see.

And in the long run, a little punishment from a world body might be the best thing to happen to this country. Arrogance is a nation-killer, and humility sometimes has to be imposed from outside. The Germans got spanked after WWII -- not as soundly as they should have been spanked, but there was still a big, internationally-sanctioned spanking. And Germany benefited from the discipline.
Sibel Edmonds said FBI tapes revealed that the US was planning to invade Iraq from before 9/11:

The monitoring of the Turks picked up contacts with Feith, Wolfowitz, and Perle in the summer of 2001, four months before 9/11. They were discussing with the Turkish ambassador in Washington an arrangement whereby the U.S. would invade Iraq and divide the country. The UK would take the south, the rest would go to the U.S. They were negotiating what Turkey required in exchange for allowing an attack from Turkish soil. The Turks were very supportive, but wanted a three-part division of Iraq to include their own occupation of the Kurdish region. The three Defense Department officials said that would be more than they could agree to, but they continued daily communications to the ambassador and his defense attaché in an attempt to convince them to help.

And former criminal prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi argued that Bush was guilty of murder under well established US law and should be prosecuted.

I like the idea but I don't like the chances.
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A grand jury is looking into the question of whether Texas governor Rick Perry abused his power. He had vetoed funding for public corruption prosecutors when one of them didn't resign at his request.

Part of me hopes that Rick Perry survives this problem. Y'see, he has his eye on another presidential run. And although I (obviously) do not want him to be President, I'd love for him to be the Republican nominee. What fun!
Don't want to come off as defending Perry but Rosemary Lehmberg's and her predecessor Ronnie Earle are disasters. There's a big understory of corruption and incompetence here - I suspect Perry rides this out with no serious harm because folks know how bad things are in Travis county texas. I heard basically a conspiracy theory that perry wants this because the grand jury will start poking around into all sorts of shenanigans in the Travis county government.

Wen Lehmberg's was in the drunk tank the deputies put her in chains essentially and she had a spit guard on. I'm told her behavior was beyond anything you could condone from an elected official arrested for anything.
Okay, maybe you're right. And the conspiracy theory certainly sounds possible. But on the other hand....


(Wouldn't it be ah-MAZ-ing if he got the nomination?)
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Final proof: That "register the Jews" leaflet in Ukraine was a hoax. The chief rabbi of Donetsk has so declared. Also see here. (Donetsk is the city where the leaflets were distributed.)

The truly appalling thing about this episode is not that venues like the National Review still pretend that the thing was real. What do you expect from a pig but a grunt? And to be honest, I'm not that bothered that John Kerry initially reacted as though the leaflet represented something real. To err is human, and all that.

What bothers me is that he didn't walk back that initial reaction even after the rest of the world started to ask hard questions. After a certain point, human error starts to look like political calculation.

Gag order: Why did the New York Times follow a gag order issued by an Israeli court? The case itself it of limited importance; it involves the arrest of a Palestinian journalist named Majd Kayyal. What troubles me is what this affair says about the NYT. From an editorial by Times editor Margaret Sullivan:
I asked The Times’s newsroom lawyer, David McCraw, about the situation. He told me that he was consulted by Times journalists this week as they considered publishing an article about Mr. Kayyal’s arrest. Although the situation is somewhat murky, he said, “the general understanding among legal counsel in other countries is that local law would apply to foreign media.” Similar issues arise when America news media organizations cover the British courts, he said.
This is nonsense. I've seen American newspapers cover stories that got an infamous "D notice" in the UK. Richard Silverstein's response is worth reading:
I’m rather shocked by the entire brouhaha because it’s obvious to anyone with half a brain who follows Israel reporting by domestic Israeli and foreign media, that they all abide by gag orders.
After all, what Rudoren and the Times are practicing is a form of self-censorship. They won’t report a story they could report because they know it will inconvenience their professional lives. But if the Times had followed the same rule regarding the Pentagon Papers, it would never have published them. If the Times China bureau followed the same rule it would never have reported the amazing Pulitzer Prize-winning stories of high-level Chinese corruption, which caused a huge uproar and the expulsion from the country of one of the NYT reporters who wrote it. In that case, the fear of repercussions didn’t deter the Times. What’s the difference between Israel and China?
The rule of money: Philip Geraldi has written an interesting but frustrating (and somewhat deceptive) article about a familiar topic, the corrupting influence of money. The opening of this piece is arresting:
I recently had an interesting lunch with a foreign academic who is in the US on a one year sabbatical to study how the political process in Washington shapes foreign policy. She asked me why the United States has a foreign policy that does not appear to serve actual US interests, citing the recent drive to revive the Cold War and to bomb Iran over a weapons program that it does not actually have. The question led to a discussion of how corruption works in the world’s oldest constitutional republic. I explained that money has corrupted every aspect of government at every level in the United States, creating a system in which laws are passed to make various forms of corruption legal rather than trying to have government do things that actually benefit most of the people.
I disagree with Geraldi's belief that the Tea Party was hijacked by the Republican Party. The Tea Party was, from the beginning, the creation of the Ayn-addled Wall Street ueber-capitalists. Also, I can't agree with this:
"...they initially demanded smaller, more responsible government, constitutionalism and an end to America’s perpetual wars, surely all positive objectives."
Positive? Frankly, I want more government. That is: More truly democratic (with a small d) government. In the wake of the 2008 disaster, a lot of us expected greater restrictions on Wall Street, greater aid to the states, greater aid to those struggling with their mortgages, and an FDR-style jobs program.

Geraldi's piece uses the standard Libertarian tactic (Ron Paul division) of decrying neo-con foreign adventurism in order to persuade the public that the very concept of government is irredeemable. Articles like this remind us that Libertarianism has a two-fold plan:

1. First, the Big Money Guys buy the politicians.

2. Then, when the purchased politicians fail to improve our lives, the Big Money Guys (or their shills) say: "See? Gummint doesn't work. All forms of gummint -- including democracy -- don't work. Big Money will always find a way to corrupt the system. So let's just get rid of gummint. It's time for us, the Big Money Guys, to run everything directly! No more Social Security! No more environmental regulations! No more public schools! No more democracy! Wheeee!"

And that's how libertarians like Geraldi end up pushing for more power to the Big Money Guys, even in an article whose announced intent is to decry the corrupting influence of money.

It's Clinton conspiracy season! Our friends at Skydancing published a funny, yet depressing, series of links to the most insane conspiracy theories inspired by Chelsea Clinton's pregnancy. My question: Is this happening because conspiracism has become this country's default mode? Or did some bigwig in the Republican party send a note to his underlings: "We gotta do something with this pregnancy story. Come up with the usual conspiracy bullshit..."?

To put it another way: Do these inane stories occur organically, or are they manufactured under orders from on high?

The same Skydancing post references this Los Angeles Times piece on documents from the Bill Clinton White House...
One unsigned and undated document contained in the files of Jane Sherburne, a Special Counsel to the White House between 1994 and 1996, details theories about how the right wing, with the help of think tanks and conservative publications, was funneling “fringe” stories to the media. It also expounds on the financial powers and connections of billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, who was referred to as “The Wizard of Oz.”

Part of the problem, the memo suggested, was the fact that the Internet “allows an extraordinary amount of unregulated data and information to be located in one area and available to all.”

“The right wing has seized upon the Internet as a means of communicating its ideas to people,” the unsigned memo continues. “Moreover evidence exists that Republican staffers surf the Internet interacting with extremists in order to exchange ideas and information.”
I'm sure a lot of right-wingers will interpret these words as evidence of Clintonian perfidy. Frankly, I think that Sherburne was right on the money.
French economist Thomas Piketty has been making favorable impressions across the board with his claims about the emergence of a new financial oligarchy. He argues that by 2030 all appreciable global wealth will be held by a small oligarchy and most of it will be inherited rather than have earned. Piketty's detailed statistical analysis concluded that inherited wealth is the historical norm and that the kind of economic competition and striving that we popularly think of as capitalism is an aberration. He also notes that modern financial capitalism insists on a return of greater than 5% while national economies traditionally only have an averaged growth rate of 2-3%. The end result is that national productivity growth and national assets have to end up with the wealthy classes who insist on the higher rate of return. He notes that since 2008 over 60% of US national growth profits have passed to the top 1% of Americans. Quite simply, they are taking everything. We have seen a similar feature in the US since 1970 with virtually all employee productivity increases (over 100%) have been passed to employers while wages have been held stagnant.

Piketty claims that the mechanism of capitalism is always destined to fail the broader society. It is a startling thesis and one extraordinarily unwelcome to those who think capitalism and inequality need each other. Capitalism requires inequality of wealth, runs the argument, to stimulate risk-taking and effort; governments trying to stem it with taxes on wealth, capital, inheritance and property kill the goose that lays the golden egg. Unfortunately, this fiction merely hastens the rush to wealth accumulation by a select few, a return to the historical norm.

Paul Krugman says he was shocked by Piketty's findings (See also here and here).
About the Israeli gag order, it was only for a few days and has been lifted. I believe the temporary gag order was to protect Israeli assets in Lebanon or find Lebanese assets in Israel. But that’s just a guess. Anyway, I’ve been doing some research on your post “Why they hate us” and will have a lot to say on that soon.
The reason for the gag order or the length of time it was in place has no bearing on the point of what I wrote. The New York Times shouldn't be restricted by the orders of a foreign government. Hell, it shouldn't be restricted by the US government!
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Sunday, April 20, 2014

A monster for Easter (updated)

Apparently, someone found Nessie -- or at least her wake -- via Apple Maps. I'm not convinced, but I have to admit that this image really is kind of cool.

It looks like something just below the surface is leaving a wake -- and it's a really BIG something.

A few years back, there was a similar flurry of excitement over an alleged Nessie sighting via Google Earth. That one was more easily explained as a boat...

Y'know what it looks like to me...?

Yes. I've always wanted to share the word of Cthulhu on Easter Sunday...

Update: A friend to this blog directs our attention to this article, which tries to convince us that what we're seeing is just another boat wake. Bah! Obviously, Cthulhu's minions are everywhere.

I live on an island near the Canadian border. Our little newspaper usually has a paragraph or two of old historic news for general interest. One such piece was of a group of fishermen that reported seeing a "Nessie" type creature. They were watching a group of Orca whales running down a school of fish when the Orcas stopped suddenly and reversed direction. They had never seen them behave like that, and sure enough a huge creature rose out of the water. It clearly had a head like a horse and a long neck, and if I remember it was covered with kelp which made it look hairy. Pretty cool, makes you wonder if animals like that still actually exist.

Don't get me started on Bigfoot...
Is boat.
Is Cthulhu.
Is The Nautilus. Always has been.
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Saturday, April 19, 2014

"Page after page of signatures are all in the same handwriting...”

First a couple of caveats: Our main source for this post goes to The Heritage Foundation, a right-wing think-tank which I do not like. Also, the name of the author -- Hans A. von Spakovsky -- rings a bell with an unpleasant sound. As the day goes on, I'll probably recall just which piece of this man's previous ouvre ticked me off.

I can tell you this much: He refers to the "the Democrat Party." That's the sure sign of the propagandist. Hans: If you have the facts on your side, why resort to such silly tactics?

On the other hand, Hans is just the messenger; the citations in his article go to other, better sources. Let's look at the message. Yes, it's a "2008" story -- a primary election fraud story. But it is not a story that enough people know.

We go back to the Indiana primary, which was a real primary, not a caucus. (Most of the cheating in 2008 occurred in caucuses.) Obama's delegate lead was small and shrinking.
The allegations of electoral fraud first emerged in 2011 when a Yale University undergraduate student looked through the signatures of the petitions that were filed with Indiana election officials to get Barack Obama qualified for the Indiana Democratic primary ballot.[17] Ryan Nees, a former Obama White House intern, pored through the “byzantine and complicated” petition signatures.[18] Page after page of the voter names and signatures in St. Joseph County turned out to be complete forgeries.[19]

Nees said the fraud was easy to detect “because page after page of signatures are all in the same handwriting.” A close inspection also revealed their similarity to signatures from a petition for a previous gubernatorial election. Even worse, some of the names appeared on the list several times.[20]

Erich Speckin, a forensic document specialist, confirmed the forgeries, concluding that 19 of the ballot petition pages for Obama filed with election officials were illegitimate.[21] Nees uncovered the fraud while working as an intern for Howey Politics Indiana, a nonpartisan political news website, and later published his findings through the South Bend Tribune.[22]

In the wake of these revelations, the state chairman of the Indiana Republican Party wrote to the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana, David Capp.[ 23] Mr. Capp was nominated to serve as the U.S. Attorney by President Obama in 2009.[24] The letter requested that federal officials investigate the allegations of election fraud.

Although Mr. Capp refused to act, state officials ultimately charged four people with conspiracy and forgery.[25] In an ironic twist, the state trial court had to appoint a special prosecutor, Stanley Levco, because St. Joseph County Prosecutor Michael Dvorak could not press charges since his signature was one of the ones forged, making him a victim of the crime.[26] Dvorak was not the only Indiana official with that problem: Former Governor Joe Kernan’s name was forged on a petition as well.[27]

The ringleader of the election fraud was Butch Morgan, chairman of the St. Joseph County Democratic Party.[28] Morgan conspired with three other local officials to duplicate signatures from a previous petition for a Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Jim Schellinger.[29] In Indiana, the authenticity of the ballot petitions must be reviewed by the Republican and Democratic members of the county Board of Voter Registration, with the signatures of the board members executed on the ballot petitions to evidence their review.[30] In this case, Morgan and his coconspirators illegally used a rubber stamp of the signature of a Republican member of the St. Joseph County Board of Voter Registration, Linda Silcott, to forge her approval of the ballot petitions when she was out of the office due to the loss of her husband.[31]

Former Board of Voter Registration worker and Democratic Party volunteer Lucas Burkett revealed the details of the fraud.[32] Burkett confessed that “there were meetings at which several people explicitly agreed to forge these petitions” and that his job was to “forge petitions for candidate Barack Obama.”[33] Furthermore, Board of Voter Registration worker Beverly Shelton “was assigned to forge petitions for candidate Hillary Clinton,” while former County Board of Voter Registration worker Dustin Blythe “was assigned to forge petitions for candidate John Edwards.”[34] John Edwards dropped out of the race at the end of January 2008, and at that time, Burkett had a change of conscience and refused to participate further in the scheme. Consequently, Morgan instructed Blythe to forge signatures on the remaining Obama petitions.[35]

In June 2013, the fraud trials concluded,[36] and the group’s ringleader, Butch Morgan, was convicted of conspiracy to commit petition fraud and felony forgery.[37] Morgan was sentenced to one year behind bars, the only defendant to receive prison time.[38] Former St. Joseph County Board of Voter Registration worker and Democratic volunteer Dustin Blythe was also convicted of conspiracy to commit petition fraud and felony forgery, receiving one year of probation.[39] Former St. Joseph County Board of Voter Registration Democratic board member Pam Brunette and board worker Beverly Shelton pleaded guilty and testified against Morgan. They received two years of probation.[40]

Following the convictions, St. Joseph Superior Court Judge John Marnocha stated: “The defendants who were saying, ‘I was just following orders,’ or ‘I was just doing my duty,’ that’s no excuse. Through history a lot of evil has been done by those saying they were just following orders.”[41]

In this case, the very people meant to be ensuring the fairness of the election were engaged in a scheme to subvert it.
If Obama had been stripped of his Indiana delegates -- as would have happened, had this scandal been uncovered in time -- he would not be president today.

And no,I don't think we should elide the allegation that there was also a scheme to forge petitions on behalf of Hillary.
It was up to Team Hillary to check on that. But then maybe somebody would check on her and they would have found her fake signatures, so says FOX News.
But are these guys really guilty of anything beyond a conspiracy to be lazy dumbasses? I mean, it's highly unlikely any of those three candidates would have been at risk of not making the ballot; it just means some Democratic campaign worker would have had to spend a few frigid hours in mid-winter Indiana to collect the name. (Or, perhaps more likely, it means these particular Democratic campaign workers would have had to pay minimum wage to some kid 'taking a break' after his or her first year of college to collect the names, instead of simply claiming that's what they did, and pocketing the funds.)

That there were orders to cheat issued on behalf of the Big 3 also makes m think such an order came from as low down a high up as possible -- somebody like, say, county Democratic chairman Butch Morgan. All three were experienced candidates; each would have instinctively known there was virtually *no* upside possible upside and almost limitless downside; and none of the three would have the others to know about it.

Maybe I'm missing something, but I just don't see any 'there,' there.
The interesting thing about Indiana was how the city of Gary would not delivertheir votes. They had to see how many Hillary had so they could have more for Mr. O ...this went on for so many hours it became embarrassing( yes politicos could still be embarrassed back then ) because it involved hitting a few buttons to get the numbers. No one was counting paper other country would not deliver its votes either. It was a standoff.

Gary was more in the spotlight and I believe they gave in first...

I have problem with the use of "The Democrat Party" versus The Democratic Party".

Illinois moved up their primary from the end of March to the beginning of February, that is what actually swung the momentum to Barack Obama.

North Carolina was giving 14 or 28 bonus delegates for not moving up their election.

Florida and Michigan got skunked because they favored Hillary Clinton.
von Spakovsky is the go-to guy for the Republicans when they want to justify their voter ID schemes.

Check him out on
Thanks, stickler. I KNEW that ol' Hansie had done something to piss me off. But as one ages, one forgets a few names...
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Friday, April 18, 2014

And now for something outrageous

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

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

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

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

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

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

Men earning more doesn't cause marriage, it's the other way around.
On Tuesday in the Christian Post, Schlafly declared that equal pay is bad, widening the wage gap is good and that the entire institution of marriage depends on men continuing to earn more than women

Pretty funny. I think Schlafly is looking for a book deal... ...yawn
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Follow up on the "Register the Jews" ploy...

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

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

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

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

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

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

But we know that there are neocons playing spooky games outside of any official intelligence service...
Kerry can't stop talking about it... so plainly we ginned this up. If we incessantly talk about something, we did it .
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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Ain't buying it. No sale.

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

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

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

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

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

And the trick worked.

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

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

Who really wrote that leaflet -- Clem or Clyde?

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

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

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

Long experience debating liars on the internet has showed me that a favorite technique of their is "flipping". If they're lying blatantly, they will falsely accuse you of lying blatantly so as to create confusion among the readers.
In the same way, if your "revolution" is allied with Nazis, the flippers will try to create the impression that the opposition is Nazis.
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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Why do they hate us?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Any stick to beat a dog

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

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

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

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

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

(cue thunder and discordant horns)

...for THEM?

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

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

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

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

Right. Pull the other one.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Without the god-damned snark, of course.

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

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

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

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