Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Atlanta child murders

Today's post will head into some rather fringe-y territory. If that kind of exploration bugs you, stop reading now. (As regular readers know, this blog's weekend offerings occasionally veer away from "hard" news and politics.)

I have been re-reading a book called Programmed to Kill, in which author Dave McGowan offers a bizarre revisionist history of the serial murder phenomenon. Frankly, McGowan is bit of a crackpot, even by my generous standards. But he has his virtues. Unlike most crackpots, he writes well, and he offers some truly fresh material and insights. Unfortunately, a certain predictability sets in toward the end: The automatic gainsaying of consensus belief eventually becomes as tiresome as consensus belief itself.

Nevertheless, McGowan's section on the Atlanta Child Murders of 1979-1981 had me hooked. All readers of a certain age will recall how the killings of some 29 African American children and young adult males caused a national uproar. The killings were ultimately ascribed to a young, locally well-known black musical entrepreneur named Wayne Williams. He was tried only for the murders of two adults; the legal system offered no closure in the cases involving children. Williams maintains his innocence to this day.

In 1985, a three-part TV movie -- starring James Earl Jones, Morgan Freeman, Martin Sheen and Jason Robards -- dramatized the case; it's available on YouTube starting here. I saw this docu-drama when it was first broadcast; it holds up quite well, thanks in large measure to the excellent acting. Although clunky exposition mars the first segment, the script offers a gripping argument that Williams was railroaded.

Gripping, yes -- but not persuasive. I'm not at all convinced of this man's innocence. The fact that he was a musical promoter makes him a likely suspect, in my view: Someone known to be looking for the next Michael Jackson might well have gained the trust of young black kids.

Before the cops identified Williams, many black people believed that the Klan committed the murders. There was an obvious objection to this theory: How could any white person prowl the black neighborhoods of Atlanta unnoticed, especially during a time of great tension and fear? How could a Klansman lure young blacks boys (all of whom were warned repeatedly to avoid strangers) into a vehicle?

A fair point, that. It is nevertheless the case that an informant named Billy Joe Whittaker told authorities that a local Klansman named Charlie Sanders had confessed to the murders. A wiretap recorded Sanders as saying that he would "ride around a little bit" to find another kid. Infuriatingly, this recording was later destroyed by the Georgia Bureau of intelligence.

This site offers a look at Sanders and a number other intriguing suspects.

I don't have the space here to go into all of the details of this complex case. In short and in sum: Even though I am, at this point, convinced that Wayne Williams belongs in jail, I do not think that all -- or even most -- of the important questions have received answers.

In 2010, CNN broadcast a documentary which I should have discussed in this column years ago. Here it is. The documentary, hosted by Soledad O'Brien, addresses some of the controversies surrounding this case; other issues (such as the Sanders angle) are ignored. The presentation concludes with a bombshell interview (excerpted here) with Wayne Williams, in which he is confronted with his own words. 

CNN uncovered a 1992 document called "Finding Myself" written by Wayne Williams. In this autobiographical text, Williams claims that -- when he was all of 19 -- he received CIA training for possible missions in Africa.

This assertion is not so outlandish as it may seem. At the time, there were several hotspots on the continent, and the Agency did not have nearly as many black field agents as it needed.

Nevertheless, a number of internet commenters have scoffed at the idea. Skeptics presume that Williams is a blowhard hoping to draw attention to himself. None of the scoffers have asked the obvious questions: How did CNN acquire this document? When was it written, and under what circumstances? Why isn't "Finding Myself" online?

(I have yet to find a copy. If you know where to look, please pass along the URL!)

Our most important question is this: Does the document contain information which can be verified through other sources -- information that Williams could not otherwise have known? We cannot address the issue of credibility until we see the details.

Right now, all we have is the following:
O'BRIEN (voice-over): When we returned to prison for our final interview with Wayne Williams, we had one question he was not expecting, what Wayne had written about being recruited for espionage training as a teenager. At a secret government camp hidden in the woods near this north Georgia lake, where he was given what could amount to a license to kill.

(on camera): It's called finding myself. What is finding myself? It reads like an autobiography.

WILLIAMS: Go ahead. I'm listening.

O'BRIEN: It's an account of your CIA training.

WILLIAMS: We're not going to get into that.

O'BRIEN: Why not?

WILLIAMS: We're not going to get into that.

O'BRIEN: I have a copy of it.

WILLIAMS: We're not going to get into it.

O'BRIEN: Why not?

WILLIAMS: We're simply not going to get into it. O'BRIEN (voice-over): By his account, Wayne was fresh out of high school, just 18 years old, when he was approached by an associate of an old World War II spy living in the Atlanta area, and was initiated into a secret world.

(on camera): You're not going to answer a single question on this.

WILLIAMS: No, ma'am.

O'BRIEN: Is it fake? Is it fictional writing?


O'BRIEN: Did you work for the CIA?

WILLIAMS: We're not going to get into it.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): In these pages, he said he spent his summer weekends in those woods, learning how to handle plastic explosives, hand grenades, and something even more chilling.

(on camera): So I'll do the talking part and you can answer what part of it you want. You write how you fired rifles, sub-machine guns, handled assault weapons, grenade launchers, C-4, learned unarmed combat techniques, through this training group over weekends. Is it true or is it false?

WILLIAMS: I'm not going to comment on it.

O'BRIEN: When you were 19 years old? You're saying you worked for the CIA. You've been recruited.

WILLIAMS: I'll let the document speak for itself. I'm not going to comment on that.

O'BRIEN: Did you work for the CIA?

WILLIAMS: I cannot comment on that.
The problem becomes more confounding the more one gnaws on it. The reader should understand one key point: The "CIA training" allegation does not bolster the case for Williams' innocence. (This fact may explain why he seemed visibly surprised and upset when CNN's Soledad O'Brien brought up the document.) At trial, Williams' lawyer emphasized that his client was small and physically unimpressive, and therefore unlikely to have choked to death two larger men. "Finding Myself" calls into question the closing statement made by Williams' attorney.

Why did Williams write "Finding Myself" if the text harms his case? Never mind, for the moment, the question of whether this memoir is based on fantasy or reality: Why on earth would a man desperate to prove his innocence undermine one of the primary arguments offered in his defense?

Although the document bears a 1992 date (according to CNN), we have some reason to believe that Williams, before his arrest, had broadly hinted that he had acquired specialized knowledge of hand-to-hand combat. The aforementioned 1985 made-for-TV movie reconstructs -- accurately, I hope -- the testimony offered by various prosecution witnesses. Around 19 minutes into part three, one such witness says that Williams bragged of knowing a special choke hold which induces rapid unconsciousness. Later, this same witness says that Williams has a "split personality."

(This witness was devastating to Williams' case. Perhaps even more devastating was Williams himself, who, testifying in his own defense, went on a tirade that alienated the jurors.)

CNN uses "Finding Myself" to demonstrate that Williams had acquired the training necessary to murder larger men with his bare hands. But if we accept the document at face value, then the Wayne Williams story veers off into very strange territory.

Who was this "old World War II spy" living in the Atlanta area? Offhand, I can't think of a possible candidate -- and I'm a bit irked that CNN has kept the name hidden. (If you can fill in the blank, please share!)

Why did CNN refuse to identify the "north Georgia lake" close to the "secret government camp"? If CNN had investigated Williams' claim and found this camp to be non-existent, Soledad O'Brien would surely have mentioned that fact, and would have named the lake.

(At first, I thought that the reference might go to the Georgia Public Safety Training Center. But that complex is located in central Georgia, and it is hardly a secret.)

We must add one other point. In 1981, none other than Vice President George Bush created a federal task force which investigated the then-unsolved series of murders. Vice presidents do not usually take on such duties; in fact, I can't think of a single parallel. Bush had once headed the CIA, the very organization which -- allegedly -- trained Wayne Williams.

Although I'm irked by Dave McGowan's more outlandish theories, I must admit that many aspects of the Atlanta story do not add up. This case deserves a new investigation.
Interesting point you bring up Joseph, Why would he write that book while in jail? Maybe he was hoping the CIA would panic and help get him out of prison?
John Douglas, the FBI criminal profiler and author, wrote about the case in "Mindhunders." He was there and deeply involved in the investigation. He says that Williams committed some, but not all, of the murders. I think you have to take very seriously the people who were there at the time. As an aside, Bill James, the great baseball writer, said that while Rabbit Marranville did not have the statistics to justify his Hall of Fame selection, that the sportswriters of the time consistently voted him among the best of his time has to be taken seriously. As a further aside, I believe a strong case for the guilt of Lee Harvey Oswald is the Will Fritz, a veteran homicide investigator and the one who interrogated Oswald, was convinced of his guilt.
The last comment can be ignored, when you tote up the number of well-informed people who thought otherwise. I can't judge Douglas' book because I have not read it. Nevertheless, "profiling" seems rather questionable. It's a bit like tea leaf reading, isn't it?

Consider the record:
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Friday, August 28, 2015

The Big Smear

I really do not want to defend Hillary Clinton. Yes, she deserves to be criticized -- for the right reasons. This nonsense is not one of the right reasons. Perhaps it was a bit over-the-top for Hillary to liken the Republicans' stances on women's issues to terrorism. But so what? These days, over-the-top sentiments are as common as raindrops in a rainstorm.

If you hit the link given above, check out the comments -- many of which, we may fairly presume, are pure astroturf. These commenters pretend to be incensed by Hillary's intemperate language, yet the writers always express themselves in the most outlandish terms imaginable. Hypocrisy is hip, it seems. I found the following to be particularly amusing:
I will be more happy when she is in jail for treason and misdemeanor homicide
There's such a thing as "misdemeanor homicide"? Just who, prithee, is the alleged victim? (The same commenter says that Hillary won't go to jail because she is a "Clition.")

In a similar vein, here is the latest attempt to smear Bill Clinton.
ABC News has obtained State Department e-mails that shed light on Bill Clinton’s lucrative speaking engagements and show he and the Clinton Foundation tried to get approval for invitations related to two of the most repressive countries in the world -- North Korea and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Yada yada yada. Basically, ABC News is giving us the usual smear job. If you read their piece carefully and skeptically, you'll discover the truth of the matter: Clinton runs a charity, and he goes around the world trying to drum up millions for his charity. Where the money comes from doesn't matter as much as where it goes to. As far as I'm concerned, if dictators and thugs pony up some dough and starving villagers in India receive the benefit, fine. Would you feel comfortable telling the starving villagers to keep starving?

Unfortunately, our "unbiased" news media insists on writing stories which convey the impression (without directly stating) that the money goes into the Clintons' own pockets, not to the starving villagers. A number of alleged progressives go along with this hallucination, because doing so makes them feel hip. This situation persists even though the watchdog groups who keep track of charities all say that the Clinton Foundation is clean and transparent.

Incidentally, Clinton did not speak at any function involving the North Koreans or the Congo. His foundation simply told the State Department that the invitations had been received. That's it. This, we're told, constitutes some kind of scandal.

And so it goes.

Hillary's numbers are going down not because of her policies, not because of anything real, but because the Clinton name is being subjected to daily smears. As the saying goes: If enough bullshit hits the wall, some will stick.
I believe that in America treason requires a state of war and active collusion with the enemy. America doesn't do official states of war any more.

I watch some intrigue-based American TV and that always annoys me. No, you can't charge them with treason for that.
This is from the Constitution, Stephen:

"Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort."

This definition is, in my view, both too narrow and too broad. It is too narrow in that it says nothing about those who have no allegiance to a foreign power yet seek the overthrow of the government. It is too broad in that the phrase "aid and comfort" can be given a very loose interpretation, especially in a quasi-hysterical time, such as the McCarthy era or the run-up to the Iraq war.
>>If enough bullshit hits the wall, some will stick.

It's the Big Lie, as taught by Josef Goebbbels. Just repeat it enough, and send out your minions to beat people over the head with it, and suddenly it becomes truth.

I find it hard to believe that anyone calling him- or herself a progressive would help promote this kind of crap against any Democrat. If it's Bernie supporters doing it, just stop. Put that energy into electing more liberal Democrats to Congress so we have a better chance of getting fairer legislation passed.

Helping the right wing smear Hillary is self defeating. That's why I think it's shills doing it. Just as there were internet shills against Al Gore, and against John Kerry, and against Hillary in 2008 (and they ended up getting a president who has been more conservative than she is). We need to call these people what they are, because they're promoting apathy that will keep likely Democratic voters from going to the polls next year. Meaning more Republicans in Congress.

Julius Caesar taught us the lesson more than 2,000 years ago: Divide and conquer.

P.S. I sent you an email, since you said you wanted to ask something.
To some progressives Clinton is most threatenin than the most conservative. So given a choice they would rather have them win than her. So they can keep the big lie.
Do you realize how crazy you sound, Anonymous? What you're saying is, let's open ourselves to permanent defeat, continuing to attack people who are at least partly on our side. Why? Just so we can claim some sort of intellectual purity? That sounds exactly like what the most reactionary right wingers say.

As Bob Somerby keeps saying, if we're so much smarter than the right wing, why do we keep losing to them?
Ever heard of Feminists For Life?
There are plenty of conservative socialists who believe it is terrorism to sanction the killing of fertilized eggs for any purpose other than to save the life of the mother and some don't even make that exception.
So Hillary is a fail on another issue besides taking sociopathic delight in helping murder Khadaffi.
But I assume Joe reserves the right to vote for her.
Caro, which is it?

Don't you realize in her vote for the Iraq War Hillary could have cared less whether WMDs were found as long as a quick victory was achieved, and a puppet pro-American, pro-Israel government installed, allowing a quick departure with minimal loss of life and limb?

Or you realize it and like Hillary, you're a hypocritical liberal imperialist who just doesn't care?
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Is there a peace candidate?

The invaluable Bob Parry demonstrates, once again, that our political culture has been so thoroughly neoconned that no candidate in either party can openly favor peace. Even Bernie Sanders, who voted against the Iraq misadventure, seems to have lost his way.
When Sanders has spoken about the Mideast, he has framed his comments in ways that make them acceptable to Official Washington but that ultimately make little sense. For instance, in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Sanders suggested that Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich sheikdoms replace the United States as the region’s policeman in the fight against Sunni terrorists in the Islamic State (also called ISIS).
Ridiculous. Saudi Arabia is one of the major backers of ISIS -- a fact of history seldom discussed out loud, but a fact nonetheless. The murderous behavior of the Saudis in Yemen demonstrates that King Salman has no interest in peace, justice, or international opinion.

Joe Biden once blurted out this unspeakable truth about Saudi Arabia. (Biden is one of this country's truly great blurters.)
“Our allies in the region were our largest problem in Syria … the Saudis, the emirates, etc., what were they doing? They were so determined to take down [President Bashar al-] Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war, what did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of military weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad, except the people who were being supplied were Al Nusra and Al Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.”
Whenever Biden emits one of his honesty farts, pundits mutter about the vice president's tendency to commit gaffes. Those "gaffes" are the main reason to welcome the idea of a Biden presidency. On the other hand, Hunter Biden's involvement in Ukrainian affairs is more than a little worrisome.

Parry does not mention the name of one candidate who might challenge the war consensus: Jim Webb.

Some aspects of Webb's foreign policy plan bother me -- especially point 4, which is is nothing more than a new way of sucking up to Israel. But his key point, the one that overshadows all others, comes at the end:
7. Congress must step up and restore its relationship with the executive branch.

Senator Webb identified a shift in war-making power from the Congress to the presidency. He drew on Libya and Iraq as examples of executive military maneuvers that bypassed legislative approval. In both cases, Webb felt that no vital national interest was at stake.
When the public applies pressure to Congress, Congress feels it. Right now and for the foreseeable future, the public does not want war.

In 2013, every "respectable" pundit was screaming for Obama to rain hellfire on Syria. Obama, boxed in and seeking a way out, hit upon a brilliant strategy: In a rare (and purely tactical) show of respect for the Constitution, he left the decision up to Congress. After the people of the United States made their feelings known, Congress had to shun Ares.

Although the administration made clear that the Great Syria Dodge was a one-time deal, Webb wants to transform 2013 into the new normal. He clarifies his foreign policy stance here:
However, there is an important caveat to how our country should fight international terrorism. The violation of this principle has caused us a lot of trouble in the recent past. I can do no better than to quote from an article I wrote on September 12th, 2001, the day after the 9 / 11 attacks. “DO NOT OCCUPY TERRITORY. The terrorist armies make no claim to be members of any nation-state. Similarly, it would be militarily and politically dangerous for our military to operate from permanent or semi-permanent bases, or to declare that we are defending specific pieces of terrain in the regions where the terrorist armies live and train. We already have terrain to defend – the United States and our outposts overseas – and we cannot afford to expand this territory in a manner that would simply give the enemy more targets.”

And finally, a warning spurred by the actions of this Administration in places such as Libya. There is no such thing as the right of any President to unilaterally decide to use force in combat operations based on such vague concepts as “humanitarian intervention.” If a treaty does not obligate us, if American forces are not under attack or under threat of imminent attack, if no Americans are at risk, the President should come to the congress before he or she sends troops into Harm’s Way.
Do these words mean that Webb deserves to be called "the peace candidate"? Many of you will say No.

My response: If Webb turns war into a congressional problem, peace will finally get a chance -- because Congress, for all of its many corruptions, must listen to the people. True, many Americans are easily fooled by propaganda. Many Americans are dumber than a rock that failed rock school. But even the more obtuse citizens of the United States understand that the Iraq misadventure cost trillions, and that our nation would now be far more prosperous if Dubya's disaster had never happened. Not all Americans love peace -- in fact, many Americans are bellicose boobs. But nobody wants to run up that kind of debt again.

Reagan adviser Martin Anderson used to say: "In politics, the question is always 'Compared to what?'" Compare Webb to Hillary Clinton, to Bernie Sanders, to Joe Biden. Compare Webb to anyone who participated in the Republican debate. Ask yourself: Which candidate is least likely to let the neocons dictate foreign policy?
"In politics, the question is always 'Compared to what?'"
-> In SCIENCE the question is always 'HOW related is it to WHAT?'
Different worlds, altogether
I wish Sanders foreign policy matched his domestic policy. I don't think we can ever expect Hillary to defy the neocons, since she seems to have become one of them. I don't know enough about Webb, but I doubt his chances. He doesn't seem very charismatic and I don't think many people even know who he is, let alone his policy stances. I just know I'll vote for whoever keeps someone like Trump (or any of the Republicans for that matter) out of office. I usually vote 3rd party, but things are getting so bad with the Republicans I don't think I could do so this time in good conscience.
I heard Webb in fox talking about the rights of working WHITE people. It seems the neocons is already dictating to him.
Good post Joe, spot on, but, even a guy like Webb will be crushed by the weight of the Empire's desires.
Full disclosure: I am a Bernie supporter, although I do find his campaign's relative inattention to foreign policy somewhat disconcerting.

That said, I actually think his stance on Saudi Arabia/ISIS is pretty sensible. Yes, the despicable Saudi regime played a major role in the creation ISIS and is committing innumerable horrors in its criminal war in Yemen- but how much of that is due to their confidence in the fact that the U.S. will take the lead in the ISIS fight while enabling their meddling in Yemen? The U.S. needs to remind the Saudis that they're the client state in this relationship, and we're sick of sending our young men and women to be killed and maimed to take out their regional rivals and clean up their messes (i.e. ISIS) while they use their own very expensive military to needlessly meddle in the internal politics of their neighbors.

Again, I would very much like to see Bernie beef up on FP and I won't be entirely comfortable with his position on this issue unless he elaborates and condemns the Saudi war in Yemen, but I don't find his current stance particularly objectionable.
Forgot to include this in my earlier comment, but you left out Lincoln Chafee, who opposed the Iraq War from the beginning, has called for the drone program to be scrapped, and has even suggested that we enter negotiations with ISIS. Although his nonexistent campaign infrastructure and nonentity status in the polls makes it unlikely he'll remain in the race past New Hampshire, I could certainly see myself supporting a Chafee candidacy if, by some miracle, he actually managed to make himself competitive. If not, he'd make a great SoS in a Sanders administration ;)
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Thursday, August 27, 2015

What a burn! Or: Bohemian grave

Burning Man is now officially for assholes only. Fucking libertarians always gotta ruin everything.

When I read the article at the other end of that link, I thought: How many times have we seen this process play out? Bohemians (or "hippies," as they were called during one brief historical moment) shout "Freedom!" and initiate Coolness. Rich people respond: "Yeah! Freedom! Freedom for the rich to take over!" -- and then they turn Coolness into Uncoolness.

Many people don't know that the Bohemian Grove -- you know, the thing with the giant owl -- also began with a group of artsy types from San Francisco who sought to create an anything-goes enclave out in the woods. It didn't take too long for a bunch of stuffy bigwigs to take over the show.

This pattern will continue until a new generation of Bohemians finally understands that the pattern is a pattern. Next time the artists and visionaries and crazies construct a Bohemian enclave in the wilderness, they have to erect barriers against the One Percenters: "Sorry, but this is an exclusive club. Only actual human beings are allowed inside. You wouldn't understand."

Speaking of the Bohemian Grove: I just found the damnedest photo...

This is a picture of various members of the Bohemian Club in the woods circa 1904. (The Bohemian Club founded the Grove.) The painting is of none other than Gustav Mahler, then very much alive -- in fact, his best work was ahead of him. Now considered one of the world's greatest composers, Mahler's music was, at that time, thought to be unfathomably avant-garde; he was famous as Vienna's most celebrated and controversial conductor. It seems that his fame had spread to the redwoods of California.

Why had the club fixated on Mahler? Perhaps because he was literally a scion of Bohemia, being born in the center of what later became Czechoslovakia.

There's another possible explanation. In the 19th century, a secretive artist's society called the Schlaraffia (a German term for "fairyland") sprang up. Mahler belonged to this group, although I doubt that he took it very seriously. It was a bit like the Dead Poets Society, and their symbol was the Owl of Minerva (goddess of Wisdom). Writer Terry Melanson argues that the Schlaraffia may have given birth, so to speak, to the Bohemian Club.
There was a branch of Schlaraffia instituted in San Francisco as early as 1884, so there is the possibility of real connections and influence among the two groups.
(He meant "between the two groups.") The intersection of Bohemia and Big Money always seems to fascinate the more easily-gulled conspiracy researchers. Artsy-fartsy Bohemian-types love to play with symbols and riddles and mystical murkiness. Conspiratards consider all of that stuff to be very spooky and scary. Most conspiratards are poorly-educated Christian fundamentalists, and when these apes try to comprehend what the Bohemians have been getting up to, hilarity ensues.
Joseph, would you care to comment on the rumor that Richard Nixon's behavior at one Bohemian Grove celebration resulted in his being blackmailed by fellow Clubbers?
First I've heard of it. I know that he went to the Grove (was photographed there) and privately complained that the pace was -- well, I seem to recall that he used the term "faggy" or "queer." He wouldn't have used the term "gay" because it had not yet entered into general parlance.
"The intersection of Bohemia and Big Money always seems to fascinate the more easily-gulled conspiracy researchers. Artsy-fartsy Bohemian-types love to play with symbols and riddles and mystical murkiness."

And the one-percenters love it. They don't want to have either the same sexual practices or the same religious or spiritual beliefs as the hoi polloi.

Major input into the Green ideology came and still comes from the devotees of Rudolf Steiner. Their bank, Triodos, is a big player right now among greens and so-called "anti-capitalists". Several other vehicles and positions could also be mentioned. But one can point too to figures such as Thomas Malthus, who wasn't a mystic even if he was a religious minister. Yet conspiratards fixate. They don't understand how ideology works. Not that it's easy to understand. The same goes for money.
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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

More proof of the unspeakable

Our regional allies back ISIS. Phil Giraldi:
From the start, Turkey, which nominally opposes radical rebel groups like ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, has been curiously absent from the fray, instead arguing that the major effort should be focused on defeating al-Assad. Indeed, when I was in Istanbul last July bearded rebels were observed in the more fundamentalist neighborhoods collecting money for ISIS without any interference from the numerous and highly visible Turkish police and intelligence services. Turkey has also been surreptitiously buying as much as $3 million worth of smuggled oil from ISIS every day, virtually funding the group’s activities. Ankara has allowed ISIS militants to freely cross over the Syrian border into Turkey for what might be described as R&R (rest and recreation) as well as medical care and training. Weapons have been flowing in the opposite direction, cash and carry, some provided by the Turkish intelligence service MIT.
The Kurds have been some of the fiercest fighters against ISIS. Turkey -- which will not tolerate a Kurdish state -- has launched hundreds of air strikes against the Kurds under the pretext of fighting ISIS.

We are now being told that Turkey is finally going to get serious about bringing the fight to ISIS. You can bet your last drachma that we will see more "war by oopsie," as bombs that were supposed to fall on ISIS and Nusra accidentally hit the Kurds.

Remember those alleged "moderate" fighters against the Syrian government? The ones that are forever described as "vetted"? They are few in number, and serve primarily a fig leaf function as Nusra and ISIS do the dirty work of overthrowing Assad.

Recently, a group of those moderates got screwed -- by our friends in Turkey. From McClatchy:
The kidnapping of a group of U.S.-trained moderate Syrians moments after they entered Syria last month to confront the Islamic State was orchestrated by Turkish intelligence, multiple rebel sources have told McClatchy.

The rebels say that the tipoff to al Qaida’s Nusra Front enabled Nusra to snatch many of the 54 graduates of the $500 million program on July 29 as soon as they entered Syria, dealing a humiliating blow to the Obama administration’s plans for confronting the Islamic State.
“Only the Americans and the Turks knew” about the plans for the train-and-equip fighters to enter Syria, said an officer of Division 30, the rebel group with which the newly trained Syrians were to work. “We have sources who tell us the Turks warned Nusra that they would be targeted by this group.”
Propaganda blitz. The Iran deal is one of the few things this administration has done right. But can it survive an onslaught like this?
No sooner had the deal been announced then anti-deal television ads attacking it went up all over the country. AIPAC, the powerful pro-Israel lobbying group, launched a massive campaign to pressure lawmakers to nix it, literally marching on Capitol Hill to intimidate Congress into voting no.

The budget for this coordinated campaign: upwards of $145 million.
That kind of money buys a lot of lying.

As the old Rogers and Hammerstein song put it: You have to be carefully taught. In 2003, the American people were carefully taught a lot of nonsense about Saddam Hussein's WMDs. It's happening again...
Three years ago the Chicago Council on Global Affairs asked Americans, in a multiple choice question, what was the assessment of the U.S. intelligence services about Iran’s nuclear program — an assessment that has been constant over the last several years and repeatedly expressed publicly in statements and testimony.

Only 25 percent of respondents picked the correct answer: “Iran is producing some of the technical ability to build nuclear weapons, but has not decided to produce them or not.” A mere four percent erred in the reassuring direction by choosing “Iran is producing nuclear energy strictly for its energy needs.” A plurality, 48 percent, incorrectly chose “Iran has decided to produce nuclear weapons and is actively working to do so, but does not yet have nuclear weapons.” An additional 18 percent chose “Iran now has nuclear weapons.”

It is easy to see how deficient public knowledge on such a subject undermines support for an agreement such as the one before Congress.
How many weapons of mass destruction does the US have?
How many weapons of mass destruction does Israel have?
How many weapons of mass destruction does Iran have?

How many times has the US used WMD's?
How many times has Israel used WMD's?
How many times has Iran used WMD's?

Case closed.

Thanks for your continued reporting on this.
Hildy pretty much sums it up. Americans are largely stupid, uninformed, and completely uninterested in contemplating the human cost of their ignorance, let alone changing that state of affairs. I love America, I think the constitution was and is brilliant, and I think that not everything America has done is terrible. These days though, no matter how cynical I become, I just can't keep up (to paraphrase Lilly Tomlin, I think?).
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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Did I call the shot or what?

In previous posts, I gave my view that the Ashley Madison hackers -- the so-called Impact Team -- were political operatives disguised as "Anonymous"-style anarchists. A few days ago, I wrote:
Prediction: The Ashley Madison data dump will feature the names of prominently hypocritical conservatives -- at first. In this way, the true political motive of this operation will be obscured.
And now, this. (The story originally broke on Breitbart, but I won't link to that site.)
Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden says the profile that uses his email address on the hacked “cheating” website Ashley Madison does not belong to him.

“I am certain that the account in question is not mine,” Hunter Biden said in a statement provided to ABC News. “This account was clearly set up by someone else without my knowledge.

News of the account registered to an email address belonging to Biden was first reported Monday by Breitbart News and comes as the vice president is weighing a 2016 White House bid.
Before you scoff at Hunter's words, read this. Such things are quite possible.

Ah, but the tale gets stranger still: It seems that the folks at Ahsley Madison hacked into a competitor's site back in 2012, and may even have manipulated the data.
At the time, was experimenting with its own adult dating section, and Bhatia said he’d uncovered a way to download and manipulate the user database.

“They did a very lousy job building their platform. I got their entire user base,” Bhatia told Biderman via email, including in the message a link to a Github archive with a sample of the database. “Also, I can turn any non paying user into a paying user, vice versa, compose messages between users, check unread stats, etc.”
If such things can be done to a competitor, such things could have been done to Ashley Madison itself.

Now, I know that feminists of the most fanatical type will dismiss the possibility that I'm raising here. Their logic is unassailable: All men are lying evil penismonsters. Hunter Biden is a man. Therefore, Hunter Biden is a lying evil penismonster. That presumption is what makes an op like this one so effective.

By the way, did you know about this?
Islamic preacher Hamza Andreas Tzortzis has been allegedly "named" on the leaked list of members of the adult website Ashley Madison. However, the well-known preacher has denied that the account belonged to him.

Tzortzis has also denied signing up for an account on Ashely Madison, the infidelity dating website -- which was recently attacked by hackers who leaked the names of hundreds of thousands of its members -- and said that it was a conspiracy by hackers to defame him.

Tzortzis, a member of the Islamic Education and Research Academy, is known for his radical Islamic views.

In a Facebook post, Tzortzis wrote: "It has come to my attention that my details are on the Ashley Madison data leak. This includes my name, address, and bank card details."

"This is an obvious case of fraud. My email address (this website doesn't verify emails, and all the relevant emails went to junk) can be found online and so can my address, as it is linked to my business account, which is registered online."
I am by no means a fan of this Tzortzis fellow, who appears to be just another fundamentalist creepazoid. At the same time, the guy makes a fair point: A frame job would be pretty easy to engineer. True, acquisition of the man's "bank card details" would require a greater-than-average expertise in skullduggery, but such things are possible. As you know, other major hacks have scooped up a great deal of banking information.
So Hunter is the first Democrat exposed, and the assumption is that it's a double crossed application?
Hunter Biden isn't the first Democrat exposed. Barack Obama was already exposed. IN fact, several accounts were registered to his e-mail address and various of his addresses. Of course, e-mail addresses aren't verified, so I suppose it's an outside possibility that one or more of those accounts weren't really him. But then, that's exactly the situation with this Biden chap.

It's possible to steal bank details, but those are a far more reliable was to tell if an account is legit. I mean, I'd notice if my account was being regularly debited for someone else to have an affair. So Tzoltzis is probably just a pervert.

I just can't put any stock in stolen data. I don't see how anyone does no matter whose information pops out. The only way I know if it is true or not is if a nitwit creep (Duggar) comes out and apologizes for his actions. Otherwise, I have to believe that information acquired through criminal activity is just fraudulent information. And who in their right mind is stupid enough to give out their information to a web site like that?
In the wake of the 2014 Ukrainian coup, Hunter Biden was appointed to the board of Burisma Holdings, that country's largest private gas producer --thanks Dad-- and as such he can get all the call girls he wants, probably for free. He has absolutely no need for Ashley Madison.
What Mr. Morgan said.
There is a far more detailed account of the hypocrite creep Tzoltzis elsewhere. I managed to glean a bit from it tho I had to force myself thru it as I give zero fucks about this site or its hacking. He used his card in various countries and the time actually coincides with when he was there.

Yep and as Stephen said, it was used regularly.
Why are you folks spelling his name wrong? I have no opinion on this particular story (as yet), but doesn't it make sense to spell the name right? It lends a certain credibility to ones' opinion, if one plans to be so outspoken about it.

Good writing lately, Mr. Cannon, and lots of it. m
m, why are you using "anonymous" when that can easily be set as "m?" If you are a long-time reader here, you know that's been pointed out many a time.

As far as spelling the pig's name wrong, I'm just copying others because I give zero-fucks...including whether others are spelling his uninteresting forced-on-us misogynistic wannabe celebrity name correctly. Mr. Barf would suit his ass just as well.

But as to your other point, yes, Mr. Cannon has an exhausting amount of interesting writing, most of which is a challenge to keep up with.
prowlerzee,I meant no harm. I didn't even say I was a regular reader. I won't put the 'm' again, if I ever post. Which I won't! I seriously thought maybe posters were changing the spelling purposely so the post couldn't be googled or something; shows what I know (nothing). Nobody really needs to hear anything from me. I've been reading comment sections all day, it's psyche-crushing. I really shouldn't do it. I especially shouldn't comment!
Anon, or M, I should have popped in earlier. Please feel free to comment here or elsewhere again.

Actually, I encourage people to sign their comments in any way they see fit. You don't have to sign in to anything.

The "signature" policy has a fairly simple rationale. As you know, sites that have a "free for all" commenting policy tend to attract submissions that are bizarre, foolish, hate-filled, thoughtless and insipid. YouTube comments are notorious in this regard. It is also the case, sadly, that anonymous "drive by" comments are left by paid trolls with an agenda.

Bloggers have found that the quality improves when contributors are asked to attach a signature to their words. On other blogs, you would have to sign in using your Google account or Facebook or some other service. Personally, I'm not a big fan of social media. So my own policy is simply to ask people to attack a signature of any kind, the same way they would sign a personal letter sent by snail mail.

We have a contributor here who often writes as "b." As it happens, I know who he really is, but even if I didn't, "b" would be fine. You can be "m."

And I hope you hold no rancor toward prowlerzee. She is a fine lady whom I would trust with me life.

This comment has been removed by the author.
Anon, or M, I should have popped in earlier. Please feel free to comment here or elsewhere again.

Actually, I encourage people to sign their comments in any way they see fit. You don't have to sign IN to Google or to any other service. Just a name or nick beneath your words will do.

My signature policy has a fairly simple rationale. As you probably know, sites that have a "free for all" commenting policy tend to attract submissions that are bizarre, foolish, hate-filled, thoughtless and insipid. YouTube comments are notorious in this regard. It is also the case, sadly, that anonymous drive-by comments are left by paid trolls with an agenda.

Bloggers have found that the quality improves when contributors are asked to attach a signature to their words. On other blogs, you would have to sign in using your Google account or Facebook or some other service. Personally, I'm not a big fan of social media. So my own policy is simply to ask people to attach a signature of any kind, the same way they would sign a personal letter sent by snail mail.

We have a contributor here who often writes as "b." As it happens, I know who he really is, but even if I didn't, "b" would be fine. You can be "m."

And I hope you hold no rancor toward prowlerzee. She is a fine lady whom I would trust with my life.
thanks for this and other posts joseph.. james...
Thanks for the note, Joseph.I'm not a fan of dumping my google sign-in anywhere, I hate that stuff.

I hold no rancor for anyone here, especially prowlerzee! m
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Monday, August 24, 2015

Hillary and Joe -- and a quandary

Didn't I tell you that the Hillary email scandal would be used to target her aide Huma Abedin? The Islamophobic right loves to spread obnoxious, racist fear-stories about Huma. And now we have this from Richard Viguerie's site:
"Is Huma Abedin Hillary Clinton's Alger Hiss?"
No. She isn't.

(Moreover, Alger Hiss was not "Alger Hiss." That is to say: I don't think that the guy was a spy. And yes, I know all about the Venona thing: That's not Hiss. Perhaps we'll go through that argument in detail one of these weekends.)

Viguerie and his comrades-in-lunacy may be McCarthyite freaks, but we live in freaky times, and the freakiest among us have a tendency to take over our national conversation. No-one can deny that Hillary -- fairly or unfairly -- has suffered some wounds in recent days. Those wounds may prove fatal.

Where, then, do we turn? There's much talk of Joe Biden running for the presidency -- perhaps with Elizabeth Warren as his running mate. NBC is arguing that a Biden run could actually aid Hillary:
First, it would force Clinton and her campaign to step up their game. "She's a terrible front-runner but she's a marvelous candidate when she gets into the middle of the race," as NBC/WSJ co-pollster Peter Hart (D) put it on "Meet the Press" yesterday. In other words, give her a real Democratic race -- a la what she experienced in the spring of 2008 when Clinton trailed Barack Obama -- and it'll force her to be a stronger candidate. Two, Biden jumping in would swap the scandal-focused coverage of Clinton and replace it with horserace-focused coverage. It has become increasingly apparent that Hillary Clinton might not be able to beat a unified political press corps on constant scandal patrol. But she could beat Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.
Let me explain my personal quandary to you. As some of you know, I have been apprised of a scandal involving Joe Biden. I'm fully aware that you, the reader, have no reason to take this claim seriously until you see details. Your skeptical attitude is understandable. At this stage, skepticism would be the correct attitude for you to take.

Let me therefore phrase my quandary as an intellectual exercise -- a hypothetical situation.

Suppose that I'm telling the truth. Provisionally, temporarily, for the sake of argument: Suppose that I really have been given some information by a source (or, rather, by a source who talked to a source).

Furthermore: Suppose that this information concerns a story that is rather bizarre and tabloid-friendly. Suppose that there might even be a celebrity or two (or three) involved in this matter, perhaps peripherally.

Suppose we are talking about a story that, if revealed and verified, probably would not make America gasp in shock and horror. (At this point, most Americans don't shock very easily.) Instead, it would make America giggle -- and the resulting fit of giggles might injure the entire Democratic brand.

Again: This is all hypothetical. Just for the sake of argument.

Now ask yourself: What would you do in my situation?

You see, I like Joe Biden, and I honestly would not mind seeing him become president. He is preferable to Hillary Clinton, in my opinion. Moreover, his family has endured a good deal of pain and stress, and I would not care to add to the burden.


If I know about this "Gigglegate" scandal, then it is fair to presume that the Republicans may also have gotten wind of it. (This presumption would explain why publications like the National Review seem so weirdly enthusiastic about a Biden run.)

All of which leads us to the Nightmare Scenario: Biden runs, Biden trounces Hillary in the primaries, Biden nabs the nomination -- and at that point, Gigglegate is unleashed on the country as an October Surprise. The Democratic brand is tarnished. The end result: President Donald Trump (or whoever the GOP nominee turns out to be) is given the nuclear launch codes.

Would it not be better for Gigglegate to come out now, as opposed to later?

Here's another point to consider. I have decided not to name my source. She's a very nice lady, uninterested in politics, and she has no direct link to the scandal that I am provisionally calling Gigglegate. So if I reveal what I know, I won't be able to provide proof. All I will be able to divulge is a name -- a very interesting name.

It will be up to Biden's opponents to research the matter from there -- if they even bother to note what goes on in this humble blog. (They may not). Further investigation by others may confirm that claim. On the other hand, confirmation may never come.

(There will, of course be many harsh words said against yours truly. As if I care.)

This is a horrible situation! If Joe Biden becomes President Biden, I'll be a happy man. But the Nightmare Scenario -- the possibility of an October Surprise -- scares the hell out of me. So I'm asking you to give me the best advice that you can give. Please don't ask for more information, because I can't give it right now.
Q: "Would it not be better for Gigglegate to come out now, as opposed to later?"
A: Yes.
Joe Biden is a creep and a charlatan, and I hate that he's gonna run. From his son's natural gas dealings with a shady oligarch in Ukraine (no conflict of interest, the administration risibly insists), to his leaking his presidential ambitions to the execrable Maureen Dowd and his putting them in the dying breaths of his other son, the man is a boil. He masquerades as the solidly middle-class dad with the power tools in the garage on a quiet Sunday, but strip away the fakery and he's just a monster of ambition and calculation and cynicism. He's not eloquent - in fact, he's a gaffe machine - and he's also creepy, touching women's hair and complimenting young teens' looks. The Republicans are rooting for him because they know he's a weak opponent.
As for Jim Webb, he's pro-Confederate, uninteresting, unelectable. Bernie Sanders: admirable principles, utterly unelectable. O'Malley is fine but a lightweight - a Mondale, in a word.

That leaves Clinton. I've said it before on this blog, and I'll say it again: it's Clinton or bust. The right fears her and for good reason. When you stack up the 90s under Clinton against the 2000s under Bush, it's just no contest. And that's what the Jeb-Hillary contest will come down to fundamentally, psychologically. The left's revulsion at Hillary, I'll never fully understand. It's too quick to hold n emotional grudge against its own and forget the enemy. It should rediscover the Bush hatred that Obama so stupidly doused. Do we want another Bush in the White House, or not? That's the only question that should matter to leftists, and there are only two answers: I do, or I dont. If you don't, stop undermining Hillary. Now.
Joe Biden must be a cross-dresser in private.
You know a source, who knows a source, of this potentially devastating revelation? That sounds familiar...OH MY GOSH, Joe Biden was the guy who recorded Michelle Obama's "Whitey" speech! And then he destroyed the tape after showing it to some people who know some people who know Roger Stone! No wonder he was chosen for Vice President!
Anonymous -- all that stuff I said went right over your head, didn't it? I carefully used words like "hypothetically" and "suppose" -- and yet here you are, pretending that I am offering this thing as proven.

Not very bright, are you?

By the way, I happen to be the guy who spent an entire day tracking down a witness who could confirm or debunk that "Whitey" thing. (It was debunked, and I so reported.) So don't lay that one on ME, asshole.

OTE: No. Not at all. You're thinking of someone else.
No no, unimaginative "anonymous." Biden became VP because he had his son whisk the gay prostitute off the national stage to Delaware. Some of us remember.

I say Joseph do the best of both worlds. A cryptic tabloid cartoon. Sooner rather than later. Then let others do the digging....or not.

If either becomes the comes potus we little people of the little blue sphere hurling thought space are not doomed but is the so-called human race is. It's not a bad thing is it?
Way off-topic, but you might (or might not) want to see this bit of propaganda and the resulting comments. I don't think it went the way the DM hoped.
The problem with the rumor is if there really was something on Biden, it would have already come out.

Not another plagiarism scandal, I hope.
No doubt it is better if it comes out earlier. The only questions are how sure are you that it is true and how sure that it will come out. You say it's from a source or a source, that doesn't sound totally reliable to me but obviously you are in the best position to judge the specifics. Is there a paper trail for this, or video? If there's no documentation and it's something that would rely on one specific person to confirm and defend, then it very well may not come out.
Anon, I trust my source as if he or she were a member of my own family. But I really can't put this person on the spot, so...really, all it would come down to is for me to put the allegation out there. There will be a few "semi-confirmatory indications" that what I am saying is true, but they won't be probative.

However, the claim will (presumably) be so odd and interesting that someone with resources -- a tabloid newspaper, an oppo researcher -- might very well see fit to do further investigation. And I think there is a good chance that such an investigation would verify what I'm saying.

Look, if I were a writer who gets, y'know, a regular paycheck, I'd be concerned about what people said about me. But I'm not. So, frankly, I don't care what people think.

One further point: The earlier Anon compared what I've said to the "Whitey" rumor which that creep Larry Johnson spread in 2008. Here's one big difference: Johnson had a motive to spread a fake story, because he did not want Obama to become president. I, however, DO want Biden to become president. Or at least, I find Biden less objectionable than a lot of other candidates. My concern is a subtle one: I think the scandal will be considered forgivable if it comes out early, but will be devastating if it comes out in October of 2016.
It's the Inspector Finch Dilemma from V For Vendetta. I found myself in a similar position during the first Skippy the Shrub run when I was given some eye-witness first hand info on Darth. What I was told was so unbelievable, though I believed the person telling me, that I was stuck between a rock and and a nuclear meltdown. I could've published the story and attracted a few blog hits but without video it would have ultimately been me blowing my head off. I still mull that decision. Was it cowardice on my part or good sense? I'll never know. Oh. And drop it sooner than later if Biden jumps in. Remember we have four SCOTUS nominations to worry about.
How devastating can it be for someone to impugn the solemn dignity of Joe Biden with giggles?
However, the claim will (presumably) be so odd and interesting that someone with resources -- a tabloid newspaper, an oppo researcher -- might very well see fit to do further investigation. And I think there is a good chance that such an investigation would verify what I'm saying.

The only question you should be crowdsourcing here is what would the tabloid's budget be for the investigation?

Because you will do a Kickstarter to get the money you need to research this story yourself. You promise to publish what you know by some deadline. Kickstarter campaign donors will be the first to be notified by email of the results of your investigation (whatever they may be).

Your budget will include a proper salary for yourself: air travel, hotels, dining sources, etc. Budget for the serious investigation you'll be doing.
What the hell? Why would I do THAT?

You still don't get it. It's a little difficult to believe that skulls attain your level of thickness, but apparently, yours does. So I'll say it again -- for the last time, I hope.

I LIKE Biden. I have no desire to make his life harder. In fact, I would not mind seeing him in the Oval Office. Normally, I would say nothing about what I (accidentally) came to know. In fact, I have kept mum since October of 2008. My only fear is this: If I know about this thing, the Republicans probably know about it as well -- and they will release the information at the worst possible time.

My gut feeling feeling is that the "scandal" isn't so very bad by modern standards, and that Biden could ride it out easily enough if the bad news came out early. If it comes out in October of 2016 -- different story.
Someone said he doesn't understand the revulsion the left has for Hillary. Let me explain it to you. Because most of them are liars and hypocrites. they love the rich, the old money filthy rich like the Kennedy etc. They salivate at been at their feets licking their boots and selling the public to them. But someone making money in front of their eyes and getting rich that is a cause for revulsion. I bet they still fuming at the fact that Bill Clinton get to be a president and neither Ted Kennedy or Karry didn't. It's class warfare waged by the left. I have been a leftist since I was 14 years influenced by a relative who was a professional. In fact I consider myself to the left to most of the democrats, so I recognize the symptoms. Now Hillary go public and say her mother used to clean houses, she should have known better. Democrats will never have anything to do with that. They only want to ride that boney of the working class to the white house not to be in their company.
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"Satan worshipers drown women with milk in Planned Parenthood counter-protest"

Satan worshipers drown women with milk in Planned Parenthood counter-protest

I don't have much to add here. I'm not going to pretend that this is an important story. All I'm going to say is that we have discovered this month's best headline of all time.

"Satan worshipers drown women with milk in Planned Parenthood counter-protest." Say it loud and there's music playing. Say it soft and it's almost like Satan.
At one point during the protest, a man claiming to be a sheriff unsuccessfully attempted to move the Satan worshippers along.
If you live outside the United States, I have to ask: Does anyone in your country still take the United States seriously? If so, why?
The Satanic Temple is a bunch of atheists who do what they can to rile up Christians. That the right loves to give them press only encourages them.
Glad to see the Satanists stepping out front and assuming a leadership position at the head of the pro-death coalition. Hope those women were wearing ear plugs or else they could end up with ear infections from hell.
The greatest ever headline, which really does bring music, was that from the Sun's sport page after Inverness Caledonian Thistle knocked Celtic out of the Scottish Cup: "Super-callie-went-ballistic-Celtic-were-atrocious".
I think I've found a great title for my next musical composition.
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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Is AP peddling lies about the Iran deal?

Sure looks like it. If this report pans out, then we have another example of a classic political forgery. From The Protocols to the Zinoviev letter to the "laptop of death," these clever fakes have made an awful lot of history -- yet most historians refuse to acknowledge their role.

The search for an alternative

I still maintain that the Hillary Clinton "scandals" are nonsense. See, for example, the latest from CNN: This breathless pseudo-investigation seems to exist for the sole purpose of getting the "Weiner" name into a piece on Clinton.

Nevertheless, it is clear that the Dems are now scrambling for an alternative. Joe Biden has met with Elizabeth Warren, apparently to ask for her blessing and/or advice. It's a bit strange to think of Warren -- who is still rather new to politics -- as a kingmaker, but such is apparently her role. She has yet to endorse anyone.

And this just in: Biden also met (in a separate private confab) with Jim Webb. I'm not sure how to interpret this situation. Here are the tea leaves; read them as you will:
Webb, who is currently running far behind Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the Democratic race, gave few details on his meeting with Biden.

“I think private meetings are best left that way,” he said, adding that he “wouldn’t get into another individual’s potential campaign.”

But Webb did say that “it doesn’t surprise me that he’s sitting there and talking to someone who has a strong record on economic fairness issues.”
I like Biden, but he must not run. Scandal lurks in that man's background -- and if I know about it, others must know as well. If he becomes the candidate, and if the bad news pops out at just the right time, President Trump will get the nuclear launch codes.

Jim Webb -- whom I consider the strongest choice -- waded into a minor scandal of his own concerning the Confederate flag. Considering his southern background, that controversy represents a no-win situation for him. At any rate, I strongly doubt that the 2016 election will be decided over a debate over that flag.

Can you imagine a contest between a decorated Marine from Virginia and a flashy New Yawk draft-dodger like Trump? How will that piece of political theater play in the south? It is interesting to note that Webb is a former Republican, while Trump was...well, what was he?

Bernie Sanders is terrific on domestic issues, but much less impressive on foreign policy. He's the preferred candidate of the "bell the cat" voters who refuse to accept reality or reason (a group that I myself am often tempted to join). The man is unelectable. This country simply will not choose as president an elderly man who identifies himself as a socialist.

At 69, Webb is no spring chicken himself. But he's the only Dem likely to "just say no" to the neocons. He's the only candidate who spoke out against the Iraq misadventure at a time when doing so was almost an act of political suicide. Our current president can't really make that claim.
We always credit the right with all the hatred towards Hillary, but I think the left is more venomous. I think they looked hard and long enough and this is all they found. It never occurred to anyone all the agencies from home land security,FBI,CIA,SNA etc who are suppose to be in charge of looking for anything that is not kosher just over looked that for four years. Either some how she was given a green light or it became an issue later. At this point the effort from both side to do away with her is working in her favor. Where is Bill by the way?
I like Joey Biden, too. I'm not aware of the 'scandal' you mentioned but I agree that the GOP would love to knock off Hillary and have Biden or Sanders as the nominee. Particularly with Trump screwing the game plan. The email/server investigation is reminiscent of the Whitewater nonsense of the 90s, a huge fishing expedition. Hillary's chance to turn the tables is during the upcoming [October] Benghazi testimony, which will be public.

As for Bill Clinton? He said early on he would not participate during the early primary season. Whether he/she will change their minds about his participation remains an open question. You'll recall that Bill Clinton was blamed for messing things up during 2008, something I never believed.

Should get interesting after Labor Day.

Joe Biden wrote the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act--the law that created all the mass incarceration of black Americans; the law that Bill Clinton just apologized for signing.

If Clinton had to apologize just for signing the bill, what should Joe do for writing the damned thing? ;)
I would argue, Perry, that the main problem was not that act, but a very lazy (and vicious) approach to policing, which was the norm here in Baltimore. Basically, to keep black people off the streets, they were picked up on a bullshit charge, given a dangerous and bruising ride in a metal van, and put through the legal ringer. The charge would not stick, but that was hardly the point. The point was to drive home a message: "Stay off the street, or we will make your life miserable."

This tactic would have been in place regardless of whether that law was passed.

Of the Dem candidates now running, the one who is truly responsible for that implementing ghastly police tactics is Martin O'Malley. He formed his presidential ambitions while he was still carrying his Mickey Mouse lunchbox. When he was mayor of Balmer, he desperately wanted to be able to brag that he brought the crime rate down. Which he did. But at what cost?
Biden probably feels like one of those cuckold types you were talking about. He's the vice president, after all, yet he's forced to sit idly by while all these Johnny-come-latelies hump his electorate.

Not to set myself up as voice of the perverts, but cuckoldry doesn't generally have any racial connotation in the world of kink, by the way. Only in the right-wing reactionary world.

And given Biden's reputation, he might just be into that stuff, the saucy minx.

"Not to set myself up as voice of the perverts, but cuckoldry doesn't generally have any racial connotation in the world of kink, by the way."

It apparently does now. Things change fairly rapidly in that world. I'm old enough to recall when the phrase "pearl necklace" referred to a necklace made of pearls. Hell, I'm old enough to recall when "gay" meant "lighthearted."

At any rate, "cuckservative" is now firmly established as a term of opprobrium, used by far-rightists who denigrate other rightists considered insifficiently zealous.

I may talk about Biden further when the time comes. Better out than in, as you Brits say.
Interesting thoughts about Webb vs Trump. My questions are more about how Jim Webb can win the Democratic primaries. What does the path to the nomination look like for Jim Webb? I'm having a lot of trouble picturing it. Glad you are discussing this guy.
Trump isn't going to be the GOP nominee. The organization will not allow that. He will run as a third party candidate to prevent Jeb Bush and John Kasich from getting in.
It may not have been illegal, but running her official email through that personal mailserver was a very unwise move (some might say reckless), for which she has yet to give a satisfactory explanation, other than "Colin Powell did it." I suspect her motive was to have ready access to them, without government interference, when she writes her memoirs some day. It speaks volumes about her personality and poor judgment, that she puts her needs ahead of national security. I don't buy the crap about "not marked classified." You can't tell me with a straight face that her mailserver wasn't chock full of stuff our enemies and semi friends would love to read.

I'm sorry, but I do not like her. And as each day goes by I am despising the sight and sound of Hillary Clinton more and more. I don't know if I can stand another year of her calculating, sanctimonious politicking (assuming someone else wins the nomination).
The demodogs and corp. puppet masters are scared hillabillie is losing it to that guy from Vermont. So in another desperate move JB shows up to try and save their business as usual potus stake.
The man [Bernie Sanders] is unelectable you say, Joseph. Well... he will be if people believe the writings of otherwise erudite bloggers like yourself. Tell enough of 'em that he's "unelectable" and he will become so, but give them hope that, with great effort on all our parts, he could be electable - then watch what happens! Jim Webb would make a good VP for Sanders, I reckon.
If Biden were to get in the race, don't you think the Clintons would use the scandal you're talking about to knock him out in the primary?
I recall many saying they wanted Barack Obama to be the candidate instead of Clinton, because she had so much baggage and would get hysterical right wing attacks 24/7 if she won. What has happened after BO became the nominee and came into office should disabuse anyone of that theory now, since it is now abundantly clear that is what they will do to any D elected (or nominated).

Whether novel charges against a different person might have less initial force does not matter, since, like a pitbull, once they've latched their teeth into something they are both relentless, and effective at drawing blood.

There is no doubt in my mind that had HRC handled her e-mails with an official and a personal account, these exact claims and charges would have been raised as to the personal e-mail account, and she had the experience to know it. No one has had her baptism in fire, or come out of that crucible tempered and stronger, as she has.

This is a considerable credential for office in this toxic environment, and not one that should be discounted. I am mainly worried about her hawkish foreign policy tendencies, but I do not find Bernie Sanders' record any better. THE critical policy for the next president will be to avoid war in the ME, and I expect her to follow the PBO policies in that regard, one of the few actions of this administration I can commend.

Joe Biden helped trash Anita Hill. And don't think the right won't find other things to beat him over the head with, like plagiarism-gate.

If we change our ideas about a candidate based on how much hate the right wing can gin up against him or her, then we are putting the crazies in charge of the asylum.
On the racial connotations of cuckoldry, I agree with Stephen Morgan. I'm not an expert, much less a participant, but I get the impression that what's important is that the guy doing the cuckold's wife has a more generous masculine endowment than the cuckold. And some types of people have racial connotations about this type of size.

DCblogger here

what is with all the Webb talk? Have you taken even a cursory look at his senate record? WELL to the right of Hillary. Webb is a racist women hater, which is why his campaign has gone nowhere fast. He was a horrible candidate, have you met him? I have, he has the charisma of a dead skunk. At the time of macaca he was 17 points behind in the polls, for the worst reason a candidate can be behind, he refused to campaign. He did like 5-7 events a month. Less than most candidates do in a day. Webb is interested in selling books and getting a TV gig. He is not interested in anything else.
While I strongly disagree with DCblogger that Webb is a "racist women hater," Webb has, as the comment suggests, a perception problem among influential groups in the Democratic party that goes beyond his position on the flag issue.
Not to obsess over cuckoldry, but I disagree with PhilK. It's not about a more generous endowment, it's about the cuckolded being humiliated. Generally it's a femdom thing. So the cuckolder could have a larger penis, or could have larger muscles, or could even be a woman. As long as it's a difference that the cuckolded can be taunted about while being made to watch.

Only the right wing mind could take something so innocent and turn it into a racist thing.
>>I suspect her motive was to have ready access to them, without government interference, when she writes her memoirs some day.

Stop with the mind reading, please. We don't need so-called progressives doing the work of the right wing, helping them trash her.
Caro, I've criticized Hillary myself, over her Syria policy. But that's IMPORTANT. The nonsense that everyone is talking about is...nonsense.

Hey, there's something I'd like to talk over with you privately...
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Is there an Overeaters Anonymous for dogs?

George, my recently-adopted dog, head-butted me awake at four a.m. yesterday. He has been doing this ever since he discovered a new meal called pre-breakfast. If you're a Tolkein fan, you already know about second breakfast and elevensies, but George wants credit for the invention of ten-somethingzies and the eleven-forty practice lunch. Around 1 p.m., he embarks upon the dinners-and-suppers portion of his day, an intricate series of events which usually ends around midnight. Four hours later, the process starts all over again.

This dog gobbles up everything, including broccoli. And string beans. Have you ever met a dog who loves broccoli and string beans?

I can't let any zombie movies play in this house. George will get ideas.
Awwww....a chow hound! Yes, my dog loves green beans and broccoli....if you peel the stalk, it makes a fine crunchy for them.

Don't let him hit you. My hound will hit just behind the knees to bring you down if you don't feed him!!

Definitely beware the zombie movies....
when I lived in Maryland I had a cat that would steal & eat broccoli set to cool the minute I turned my back... the other cat loved corn on the cob & would finish off the cobs.

2. Have you considered the possibility that you are a self hating Jewish descendant of the Belzer Rebbe?

3. There was an old Honeymooners skit that included (something like) the following:

Ed Norton comes into the Kramden apartment.
Alice: Ed, would you like breakfast?
Norton: I already ate breakfast.
Alice: How about a second breakfast?
Ed: Already had a second breakfast.
Alice, grabbing the plate: Well, you can't have a third breakfast.
Ed, grabbing the plate back: No, but I could have a first lunch.
Added note re my vegie loving cats (anon5:56): a vet in Balmer told me that they were stalking those foods because their cat food diet was deficient in the nutrients they needed and to let them have it.
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Saturday, August 22, 2015

The propaganda blitz against the Iran deal

I've put off writing this piece for days, for reasons that will soon become clear.

There's a group called "Veterans Against an Iran Deal" which has been gaining a lot of attention in recent days. Note the terminology: They are not against the Iran deal. The name indicates that they will not tolerate any Iran deal. Although this organization pretends to be grassroots, it's really an offshoot of WINEP and AIPAC -- in other words, we're dealing with yet another Israeli propaganda front.

Lately, they've been running highly emotive ads featuring a wounded vet named Staff Sergeant Robert Bartlett, who says that his facial scars resulted from an "Iranian" IED. Is there any proof that Iranians created this device? No. Phil Giraldi, I am glad to say, is on the case:
As Sergeant Bartlett notes, the weapon of choice for the insurgency was indeed a “bomb,” the EFP, which was frequently deployed along roadsides against American armor. The EFP is very simple to make. It consists of a concave copper disk that is placed at the top of a tube. At the bottom of the tube is a military grade plastic explosive charge attached to a detonator. The detonator causes the explosive to go off, the heat and explosive power turning the copper disk into a molten jet of metal that can penetrate as much as eight inches of steel.

The claim that EFPs deployed in Iraq originated in Iran accepted in part that the EFP was actually a sophisticated weapon that could not be produced by Iraqis without Iranian assistance but there are problems with that assumption. The American military knew perfectly well that the Iraqis were more than capable of making the weapon because both U.S. and British forces captured machine shops assembling such devices. The weapon can, in fact, be made by any reasonably competent machine shop that has a metal lathe and access to explosives. U.S. Army Special Forces training manuals that provided instructions on making and using shaped charges were available on the internet at the time of the Iraq War. They have since been deleted but the information is still available online.
Thus, the oft-heard claim that Iranians killed 170 Americans in Iraq is baseless.

At any rate, let's not ignore the fact that Iran did not invade Iraq. We did. The first Bush administration did not seek Saddam Hussein's overthrow in 1991 because GHWB understood that removing Iran's great regional enemy would empower Tehran.

A few other points:

1. Before the American invasion, there was no sectarian conflict (and no Iranian influence) in Iraq. Sunni and Shiite lived in harmony. Although Saddam Hussein was a dictator, his government was secular.

2. Right now, the Iranians are, arguably, the most effective fighters against ISIS. An American war against Iran would give the leaders of ISIS the greatest gift imaginable.

3. Iran has not invaded any other country since the 18th century. Although there are legitimate reasons to condemn that government, one cannot fairly claim that the Iranians have a history of bellicosity.

God knows, I certainly don't feel comfortable criticizing someone who was wounded in his country's service. In fact, the need to do so makes me feel downright crappy -- hence, in large measure, my reluctance to write this post. Nevertheless, I have no choice but to question both Bartlett's facts and his motives. I would like to know how much he is being paid. It is clear that "Veterans Against an Iran Deal" is a front group.

Yet that group is not the only force at work here. Fox News -- but of course! -- has used the Big Lie technique to spread the notion that, under the terms of the deal, Iranian nuclear sites will be given a 24 day "heads-up." This is simply not true.
Australia is now looking to send fighter aircraft into Syria against ISIL. It's clearly an illegal move and few politicians here in Oz have any idea at all of the political complexity of the situation or that such a move would legitimize the establishment of "safe havens" that would be used for further attacks against Assad. Our PM, losing in the polls, appears keen to trumpet the war on terror, and may have actually initiated the offer to the US. Meanwhile, the propaganda crap rolls on.
Thanks for writing this. I am swamped by propaganda by fellow Veterans, all screaming about the "hundreds" of Americans "murdered" by Iran.....
You are correct about the relative simplicity of IEDs. For funzies, and to prove to my CIDG troops in Vietnam how easy it was, I made a miniature demo model using a 35mm Kodak film can (remember those?) a less than an ounce of C4 and a cone made by cutting up a beer can. A blasting cap inserted thru a hole in the screw lid of the film can, and voila! an IED that blasted a hole thru a 1/2 inch steel plate.
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Friday, August 21, 2015

Can you name this law?

My ladyfriend watched a video in which some tea partiers were interviewed on the Washington Mall, at a gathering convened by Glenn Beck. One of the people interviewed was a woman who insisted that Barack Obama has passed a law which forbids her (or anyone else) from praying at "national monuments." Apparently, this law has something to do with the menace of communism.

Can you name this law? I mean, is there any law passed since January 2009 which could be interpreted as having any bearing on where one may pray?

Let's suppose that such a law exists. Since laws are made by Congress, not the president, and since Congress has been largely in control of the Republican party, hasn't this tea partier just given us a good reason not to vote for the GOP?

(We have many real problems in this country. I'm continually stunned by the number of people who prefer to be upset by hallucinations.)
The woman may be wrong on the specifics, but there is an element of truth in what she's saying. There's a law against dancing at national monuments. There may well be a law against praying, but some dancing is religious (Rain Dance, etc) so such prayers would be outlawed. Enforcement of stupid laws is at the discretion of Parks Police which is under the Dept of Interior, an Obama appointee. There's a lot of discretion about which laws get enforced. Parks Police turned a blind eye to Occupy DC encampments until they were no longer politically useful. Around the time of the Beck rally, Parks Police were arresting dancers at Thomas Jefferson Memorial.
Obama has barely been able to pass any laws, let alone a law that might infringe on the ability of morons to exercise their delusional beliefs. This woman is as much of a fraud as the rest of the right-wing blowhards who bitch about imaginary problems.
She's talking about an executive order, of which there are none related to not praying at monuments. There is a national day of prayer, but nothing prohibiting prayer that I can find, and I looked. By the way, Jewish ergo Mossad? Really? A lawyer started Ashley Madison because he saw a way to make a buck. Whether that site is appropriate or not is something I not only don't have an opinion about, but is something I don't care enough about to have an opinion.
I suspect this myth grew out of this incident:

In a nutshell, the Administration opposed a House bill to install a plaque with FDR's D-Day prayer on the WWII memorial. The bill passed the House, but stalled in the Senate. That's the closest thing I could find - and it's pretty easy to see how a semi-literate person might be confused.
"By the way, Jewish ergo Mossad? Really? A lawyer started Ashley Madison because he saw a way to make a buck."

That's precisely what I SAID.

I am simply suggesting that the hackers -- not the company, the people who attacked the company -- might be spooky. Biderman is probably clean.

Now, the hackers could be employed by any number of services, including the Chinese and the Russians, not to mention our own NSA or CIA. But I would put Mossad high on the list of suspects because it seems quite possible that Biderman would trust a firm like ZoneAlarm/Checkpoint. And there are plenty of other small computer security firms with 8200 alums.
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