Saturday, November 22, 2014

Sorry, Christina -- it was not to be

In this Esquire piece, Christina Hendricks talks about what she wants in a man. Most of her specifications describe your humble host to the proverbial T. Obviously, she is sending a message.

Dare ye scoff, ye scoffing scoffers? Here's the proof...
Any woman who is currently with a man is with him partly because she loves the way he smells. And if we haven't smelled you for a day or two and then we suddenly are within inches of you, we swoon. We get light-headed. It's intoxicating. It's heady.
Just imagine the effect that I would have on you, Christina. You could smell me from yards away. Maybe miles. Parsecs.
When you mention in passing that a certain woman is attractive — could be someone in the office, a woman on the street, a celebrity, any woman in the world, really — your comment goes into a steel box and it stays there forever. We will file the comment under "Women He Finds Attractive." It's not about whether or not we approve of the comment. It's about learning what you think is sexy and how we might be able to convey it.
Okay. When I was entering puberty, I formed a mad crush on St. Bernadette, followed by a mad crush on Ann-Margaret. How would you file that in your steel box, Christina?
We also remember everything you say about our bodies, be it good or bad. Doesn't matter if it's a compliment.
Right, Christina. As if there's a whole list of uncomplimentary things I might say about your body.
Never complain about our friends — even if we do.
I can honestly say that I never have and never will complain about a friend of Christina Hendricks.
Stand up, open a door, offer a jacket.
I do the first two things all the time, even when no women are around. As for my jackets: Christina, you can have either the wool overcoat or the Bogie-style trenchcoat, but not both, because it gets bloody cold out here.
No shorts that go below the knee.
I never wear shorts at all.
Also, no tank tops.
Agreed. Heartily.
No man should be on Facebook. It's an invasion of everyone's privacy. I really cannot stand it.
Christina, this one proves that you read my blog and secretly want me. Cannonfire's legendary campaign against Facebook has cost Mark Zuckerberg a truly immeasurable amount of money.
Panties is a wonderful word. When did you stop saying "panties"? It's sexy. It's girlie. It's naughty. Say it more.
For you, Christina, anything. But why doesn't the word "bra" sound sexy or girlie? Seriously, someone should invent a better word. Or maybe we can use the French term: soutien-gorge. Or maybe we should simplify matters and go with that wonderfully direct Icelandic word: brjóstahaldara. (As everyone knows, Icelandic is the language of love.) You'll adore the way I roll my Rs as I whisper Brjóstahaldara verður að vera eins stór og heimsálfu in your ear...
There are better words than beautiful. Radiant, for instance. It's an underused word. It's a very special word. "You are radiant." Also, enchanting, smoldering, intoxicating, charming, fetching.
And then there's glorious. Dazzling. Superb. Stunning. Exquisite. Pluperfectly prepossessing. Right purty. Being a writer by trade, I know lots of words. But "radiant" is indeed underused.
About ogling: The men who look, they really look. It doesn't insult us. It doesn't faze us, really. It's just — well, it's a little infantile. Which is ironic, isn't it? The men who constantly stare at our breasts are never the men we're attracted to.
As you know, Christina, I long ago developed a superhuman ability to look a woman directly in the eye -- the left eye, because I read somewhere that that's the eye to zero in on -- despite all temptation to gaze elsewhere. I'll be happy to demonstrate.

(Fellas: Proper ogling requires strategy. If she walks across a room, gaze at a spot where she is going to be. Also, the compleat ogler should never overlook the vast possibilities offered by mirrors and windows.)

As I read this list, one message became very clear: Christina wants me. But then it came. The deal-breaker:
We want you to order Scotch. It's the most impressive drink order. It's classic. It's sexy. Such a rich color. The glass, the smell. It's not watered down with fruit juice. It's Scotch. And you ordered it.
Actually, I didn't. Never in my life. Not being much of a drinker, I usually order a beer, just to be sociable. Lately, at home, I've been having the occasional vodka. With fruit juice.

Is it possible? Is it really the case that Christina Hendricks and I were not meant to be?

Damn. I was so close!
That is heartbreaking. So close.

She calls Scotch "classic." I's half a shot off from cliche. There was a bar in Cambridge that served Rye on shaved ice....if only more bars did. I think you'd be able to tolerate that and it would be old school classic.

I think she might be impressed by an astute order of an indie brew, but I'm guessing you're not that into the nuances of beer, so no.

A martini, then. With a twist. Or, a Gimlet. That would be serious old school classic. Start practicing at home with lemons and limes instead of fruit juice!

Don't lose hope!

If you like the Icelandic brjóstahaldara, you'll love the Norwegian and Danish word for nipples: brystvorter.
Best brew: Anchor Steam, ordered IN San Francisco.

And don't sneer at fruit juices, zee. An old school chum later became the world's leading authority on Tiki drinks. I think my Mom had a small role in starting him down that strange path, when she took us out to Ah Fong's...
b, I love it when the brystvorter seem to test the brjóstahaldara...
I'm at Star Buckys this morning (Earl Grey tea) and I'm trying to understand all the pressures wonderful women like Christina have. The right words, the right smells, the right man. It's you Joseph, it's definitely you. Just scratch that scotch off your list, after she stares into your eyes and sees that YOU are the one she'll never leave your side. That's when the real trouble begins.
ooo, I like that word seems to say "breast vortex" ....

Anchor Steam is totally a solid choice, and Tiki drinks are so 70s, therefore I will always remember them fondly....but focus, Joseph! It's Christina sneering at men drinking fruity drinks, not me, and my brystvorter certainly don't stack up to hers!
Great post, Mr. C.

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The House intel committee on Benghazi

The House intelligence panel has allegedly debunked the leading Benghazi theories. I've always felt that most of those theories were myths created to feed the right-wing scream machine. But one theory comes from non-right-wing sources: The notion that the CIA was transiting Libyan weapons stores to the Syrian opposition.

This is, by far, the most threatening allegation of all, since the Syrian rebels are now better known as ISIS.

Here's what the AP has to say about it:
A two-year investigation by the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee has found that the CIA and the military acted properly in responding to the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, and asserted no wrongdoing by Obama administration appointees.

Debunking a series of persistent allegations hinting at dark conspiracies, the investigation of the politically charged incident determined that there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue, and no evidence the CIA was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria.
Most of the attention goes to the wrangling over the role played by the Innocence of Muslims video. I'm sure that the intel committee won't touch the fairly substantial evidence that a right-wing faction of our own intelligence community helped to create and spread that inflammatory video.

Anyways, that is freakin' it as far as the Syrian angle is concerned. I haven't read the actual report yet, but I'm wary.

(I've read a lot of books about about the CIA, and I've never seen one in which a spook seems fearful of what the watchdogs on the Hill might do. The "watchdogs" have small fangs and tight leashes. Everyone in DC knows that Frank Church was unseated because spooks funneled money to his opponent.)

Let's refresh our memories.

The arms-to-Syrian-rebels claim (the only part of this brouhaha that matters) was first expressed by Jake Tapper, in August of 2013. He was careful to include the word "speculation." The main thrust of Tapper's report concerned the highly unusual amount of polygraph tests on CIA personnel connected to the Benghazi mission. So large a number of tests seemed to indicate fear -- the fear that someone might talk. about what?
Speculation on Capitol Hill has included the possibility the U.S. agencies operating in Benghazi were secretly helping to move surface-to-air missiles out of Libya, through Turkey, and into the hands of Syrian rebels.

It is clear that two U.S. agencies were operating in Benghazi, one was the State Department, and the other was the CIA.

The State Department told CNN in an e-mail that it was only helping the new Libyan government destroy weapons deemed "damaged, aged or too unsafe retain," and that it was not involved in any transfer of weapons to other countries.

But the State Department also clearly told CNN, they "can't speak for any other agencies."
Sy Hersh took up the story next, in April of 2014.
The full extent of US co-operation with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar in assisting the rebel opposition in Syria has yet to come to light. The Obama administration has never publicly admitted to its role in creating what the CIA calls a ‘rat line’, a back channel highway into Syria. The rat line, authorised in early 2012, was used to funnel weapons and ammunition from Libya via southern Turkey and across the Syrian border to the opposition. Many of those in Syria who ultimately received the weapons were jihadists, some of them affiliated with al-Qaida.
Hersh says that there was a "secret annex" to a highly classified Senate intelligence committee report on Benghazi. (Remember, the new report is from the House.) This annex spoke of an agreement with the Turks:
By the terms of the agreement, funding came from Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the CIA, with the support of MI6, was responsible for getting arms from Gaddafi’s arsenals into Syria. A number of front companies were set up in Libya, some under the cover of Australian entities. Retired American soldiers, who didn’t always know who was really employing them, were hired to manage procurement and shipping.
‘The consulate’s only mission was to provide cover for the moving of arms,’ the former intelligence official, who has read the annex, said. ‘It had no real political role.’
I suppose it is possible that someone disinformed Hersh. He has fallen for bad information before. Not often -- but it has happened. (Cough cough. Marilyn Monroe. Cough cough cough.)

Perhaps someone in Spookworld came up with a clever plan to destroy the credibility of Hersh's main allegation -- that the rebels, not Assad, fired the chemical weapons that nearly dragged us into the Syrian civil war in 2013. That part of Hersh's story has since been verified, although nobody in our media likes to mention the fact.

At any rate, most of the nonsense spouted about Benghazi has come from the Fox Newsers, the Breitbarters, and the Drudge-packers. You can always safely dismiss whatever you hear from those guys. But Hersh...? Okay, maybe he got it wrong. It's possible. But this is the same guy who has broken many important stories in the past, and I won't say that he was mistaken until I see good, hard evidence.
It could just be that the GOP knuckle-draggers in the House finally figured out that they're actually going after the CIA instead of Obama and decided to call off the dogs. I mean, it's conceivable that the operation wasn't even authorized by the Executive; not likely, but possible.
Cannonfire...Thanks to Minnesota native Sigurd Olson; he helped lobby for the Wilderness bill, jets were prohibited from overflying this wilderness area, because the noisy flights were incompatible with Wilderness, "...where man is just a visitor...retains its primeval
character...etc." Wilderness Act of 1964. Will, Minneapolis, MN
Republican politicians would love to smear the label of guns for anything meme on the Democrats since that same tactic was used against the Republicans by democrats regarding the Guns for Hostages allegations and Iran / Contra issues of the 80's.

One of the reports was timed to come out just a few days before a presidential election and apparently it helped the democrats. I forget which year.

The silliness of all other claims is that even if the video story was completely bogus, misdirection is always a possibility when it comes to demoralizing possibly insurgency and terrorists acts.

If an actual terrorism act can be relabeled as something else, that actually can deter future acts of terrorism since it is the publicity that fuels the lust to do more damage. Yet for some reason may republicans just did not seem to understand that.
One would like to believe that this will be the end to the nonsense on Benghazi. But we all know that won't happen with a WH election in 2016. A Friday news dump is telling for most people but Republicans like Graham have already said the report is a pile of crap. So be ready for more endless inquiries and accusations. Anything to smear the Obama Administration in general and Hillary Clinton specifically.

Btw, Joe, I think you're right. This probably has more to do with CIA machinations with the dogs ordered off the hunt and point. We'll likely never know what happened. But the GOP investigators weren't looking for answers, just more material for the spin machine.

The beat goes on and the ugly has just begun.

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Friday, November 21, 2014

The lawsuit

I have made a conscious effort to ignore the GOP's increasingly vituperative anti-Obama fulminations. Discussing their bullshit issues with this president is an unsatisfying task, because exposing their bullshit as bullshit would necessitate coming to Obama's defense. And I don't want to defend the guy. I'd rather critique the president for non-bullshit reasons.

But now there's a lawsuit that the House has filed over Obamacare, and it's a joke. Our nation's right-wing screwballs remind me of an attention-seeking child who, because his screams were ignored, has taken to peeing on the carpet.
The lawsuit — filed against the secretaries of Health and Human Services and the Treasury — focuses on two crucial aspects of the way the administration has put the Affordable Care Act into effect.

The suit accuses the Obama administration of unlawfully postponing a requirement that larger employers offer health coverage to their full-time employees or pay penalties. (Larger companies are defined as those with 50 or more employees.)

In July 2013, the administration deferred that requirement until 2015. Seven months later, the administration announced a further delay, until 2016, for employers with 50 to 99 employees.
A year's delay? So?

I was under the impression that the Republicans didn't like the employer mandate. So let me get this straight -- is the House suing Obama because he did something that agreed with what the Republicans wanted?
The suit also challenges what it says is President Obama’s unlawful giveaway of roughly $175 billion to insurance companies under the law. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the administration will pay that amount to the companies over the next 10 years, though the funds have not been appropriated by Congress. The lawsuit argues that it is an unlawful transfer of funds.
Congress voted for the law. How can paying the money be unlawful?
That issue involves subsidies known as cost-sharing reductions, which the federal government pays to insurers on behalf of people whose incomes range from the poverty threshold to two and a half times the poverty threshold ($11,670 to $29,175 a year for an individual).
And that's what this has always been about. The subsidies are the one truly good thing about Obamacare.

Here's how the Dems should frame the issue: "House Republicans sue to make working people pay more for health care." If they let the Republicans frame the issue their way, they'll lose in the court of public perception, regardless of what happens in an actual court.

There's also talk about an additional lawsuit concerning immigration. Basically, their new strategy is to sue and sue and sue Obama for not being a Republican.

When I think of the obsequious way the Democrats in Congress grovelled before Dubya over the course of eight long years...! I mean, what about the lies that got us into the Iraq war? A lot of money was spent based on a gross misrepresentation of the facts. In the business world, that kind of con-artistry might land a miscreant in court.
I think the suit has a chance sad but it's the demodogs and the beloved potus should have done this in yr one of his term. Then again that wasn't the game plan by corp. owned 0.

We have to remember nancy p. we have to pass the plan to fix it?

That has worked so well hasn't it.
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Weird times

Bloggers are, I think, a little reluctant to write much now, because we're all waiting for the bad news out of Ferguson. Sure, people are talking about Obama's new actions on immigration, but that issue never excited me. One part that bothers me is this:
And Obama will expand the total number of high-tech visas that are available, as well as loosen restrictions so that more would-be entrepreneurs can travel legally to the United States to launch companies.
Do we need more high-tech competition? Do we need more foreign companies?

I am nevertheless quite amused by the Republican reaction, what with Ted Cruz comparing Obama's actions to the Cataline conspiracy to overthrow the Republic of Rome. I really enjoy it when conservatives brag about how they've gone to skul to get all ejikated and stuff. Cruz' complaint would carry more weight if he did not belong to the party of "We're an empire now."

Although the news remains in a holding pattern, there are still a couple of matters we should talk about.

Prohibited airspace. I happened to have a look at Wikipedia's article on restricted and prohibited airspace, taking a special interest in the section on the United States. There are ten permanent prohibited areas in US listed. Most of them are places you would expect to be on the list: Area 51 and environs (known as "The Box" to military pilots); Camp David, the White House and the Capitol; the Kennedy Space Center; Mount Vernon, facilities having to do with nukes, and so forth.

But one listing seems very strange: The Bush compound near Kennebunkport, Maine.

Why does the Bush family rate this kind of protection? Carter doesn't get prohibited airspace. Neither does Clinton. I don't think that Reagan had a no-fly zone over his home in Bel-Air. (Way too much air traffic in L.A.)

(By the way, roughly half a mile away from Stately Bush Mansion is a place called Bumpkin Island. I think that this would be an excellent location for Dubya to create a compound of his own.)

There's another odd item on the no-fly list: The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota, near Lake Superior. It's a place beloved by hikers, fisher-folk and canoe enthusiasts. But why a no-fly zone here, as opposed to any number of other wilderness areas?

I haven't found even the slightest hint of a secret military base in the area.

Max Blumenthal on Ukraine. First, you should understand that I am not an uncritical Blumenthal fan: He's pretty bad on Syria, believe it or not. We can get into that issue at another time. Right now, I strongly recommend that you read this.
AlterNet has learned that an amendment to the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would have forbidden US assistance, training and weapons to neo-Nazis and other extremists in Ukraine was kept out of the final bill by the Republican-led House Rules Committee.
Basically, this bill would have forbidden any aid to militaristic assholes who wear swastikas and other nazified couture. Guess who made sure that this thing got knocked down?

The Weisenthal center and the ADL!
An ADL lobbyist insisted that “the focus should be on Russia,” while the Wiesenthal Center pointed to meetings between far-right political leaders in Ukraine and the Israeli embassy as evidence that groups like Svoboda and Right Sector had shed their extremism.
No, they have not.

What has happened is that, in very recent times, a large section of the neo-fascist right in Europe has decided that Jews are okay after all. They've shifted targets: They now hate Muslims. And Slavs.

We learned all about this strange development from Anders Brevik, the Norwegian mass murderer who admires Israel and who had a presence on websites run by pro-Israel Islamophobes. Guys like Brevik (and Right Sector) are still extremists, even if they say they're fine with Jews.

Mind you, this shift is pretty recent. As Blumenthal notes, the creeps in Ukraine were singing the old song just a few years ago:
Svobodoa’s leader, Oleh Tyahnybok, once called for the liberation of his country from the “Muscovite-Jewish mafia.” In 2010, following the conviction of the Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk for his supporting role in the death of nearly 30,000 people at the Sobibor camp, Tyahnybok flew to Germany to praise him as a hero who was “fighting for truth.”
But hey -- that was the past. It's all good now:
Since the Euromaidan revolution, however, Svoboda has fought to rehabilitate its image. This has meant meeting with Israeli Ambassador to Ukraine Reuven Din El and appealing to shared national values. “I would like to ask Israelis to also respect our patriotic feelings,” Tyahnybok has remarked. “Probably each party in the [Israeli] Knesset is nationalist. With God’s help, let it be this way for us too.”
Reading this story, I keep flashing on those photos of nationalist thugs in Israel wearing "Good night, left side" t-shirts as they beat up peace protesters. The same t-shirt, bearing the same slogan (in English!) is worn by nationalist thugs in Europe.

Ukraine's ruling People's Front party has some interesting characters skulking about in it. There's a guy named Andriy Biletsky, for example. He leads the Azov militia, which is fighting against the people in eastern Ukraine who want no part of Kiev's current madness.
“The historic mission of our nation in this critical moment is to lead the White Races of the world in a final crusade for their survival,” Biletsky recently wrote. “A crusade against the Semite-led Untermenschen.”

Azov fighters are united by their nostalgia for Nazi Germany and embrace of open fascism. Sporting swastika tattoos, the battalion “flies a neo-Nazi symbol resembling a Swastika as its flag,” the New York Times’ Andrew Kramer recently reported.
To today's ADL, that's not a problem. They're open-minded. Swastika Schmastika.

On the other hand, if you're a low-level blogger who favors a one-state solution in Israel and who thinks that Palestinians should have full citizenship rights in that state -- God help you. These days, I'm considered an extremist. Not Biletsky. Me.
I might be able to explain the Boundary Waters restricted airspace.

In my energetic youth, I went in there for a 2 week canoe trip. One day paddling along the border with Canada we heard a buzzing sound, so faint at first that we all thought it was just our ears reacting to the prolonged silence. But it kept up and proceeded to get louder for almost 45 minutes. Finally as we rounded a bend in the lake we saw a motorized canoe coming from the other direction. We hailed (not politely) the pesky, lazy schmucks and were informed it had a 3.5 HP engine.

Can you imagine if the BWCA were overflown by sightseeing tourists from both sides of the border?
makes sense, Pennelope. But why can't we have restricted airspace over other nature refuges?
"First, you should understand that I am not an uncritical Blumenthal fan: He's pretty bad on Syria, believe it or not."

Max has done really important work on Israel, but his stand on Syria needs to be examined. Starting, perhaps with his blog post about why he resigned from Al Akhbar. He complained Al Akhbar was too pro-Assad, and then gave some reasons that make him sound extremely naive in the light of everything that has happened since.

Hindsight is always 20/20 but a lot of people understood Syria from the beginning.

This Nazi resurgence in Ukraine has been a long time coming. In WWII the northwestern Ukraine Nazi groups were especially rabid. Unlike other countries, after the war Ukraine never underwent de-nazification. Allen Dulles was a Nazi sympathizer. With the start of the Cold War with the Soviet Union, the German intelligence services were incorporated into those of the United States under Nazi spymaster Reinhard Gehlen. Nazi anti-Russian sympathies have been cultivated in Ukraine ever since then by the US intelligence services. And now we have a Nazi government running a country in Europe and a fascist surveillance police state in America. The parallels with the creation of the Taliban are profound.

We always think of antisemitism in association with Nazism, but really the defining factor is fascism with a hatred towards some group of "others". It doesn't have to be Jews, there just needs to be some group to apply the festering hate towards and blame them for everything you think is wrong with your world.

George Eliason quotes Biletsky, a commander of a Ukrainian "Punisher" Battalion, who is now a Ukrainian Senator;

"Unfortunately, among the Ukrainian people today there are a lot of 'Russians' (by their mentality, not their blood), 'kikes,' 'Americans,' 'Europeans' (of the democratic-liberal European Union), 'Arabs,' 'Chinese' and so forth, but there is not much specifically Ukrainian...It's unclear how much time and effort will be needed to eradicate these dangerous viruses from our people."
At least over the John Muir Wilderness in the Sierra Nevada, pilots are supposed to keep their planes at a high enough altitude to not be obnoxious to those down below.
@ CBarr : 11:23 AM
"nazism" is short for "national socialism", which in turn is an oxymoron, a contradictio in adjecto and it came NOT as a lapsus, as it was/is DESIGNED to become propagated through the idiots.
Now it is a meme.
Don't Rumsfeld and Cheney have no-fly zones over their pads in Maryland?

Good to know you're on the same page with Caroline Glick.
Anonymous 10:53
Thank you. My comment definitely traveled through the original meaning of Nazi into meme-dom. With there being an unbroken chain from the World War II Ukrainian SS-Galicia Division to the “Social National Party of Ukraine”, which after Maidan changed its name to the Svoboda Party which sports the swastika-like wolf-trap logo, the true nature of these groups are impossible to deny. But the nature of their thinking is mirrored all over the world. When economic hard times appear there are always nationalist leaning racists who will choose a people of some other ethnic or religious identity, "the others", on whom these fascists will place blame for all their troubles. And unfortunately these people are easily manipulated by the right wing power structure.
Breivik and Right Sector...and the French National Front, and the British National Party, and the English Defence League...

Raving pro-Zionists, the lot of them.

The French National Front came first in the 2014 EU elections.
@CBarr - "after the war Ukraine never underwent de-nazification"

To what extent did Germany? A lot of members of the fascist organisations in the Ukraine were either executed or sent to Soviet labour camps. (As was also true with a lot of people who'd been taken prisoner by German forces and had never substantively 'collaborated'.) The fascist structures continued, though, inside the Ukraine, as readers of this blog are aware, and I'm not saying they weren't resilient and powerful. But as far as I'm aware, they didn't have much of a grip in either the CP or the Ukrainian KGB.

I'm no expert on the Ukraine, but I think that in say 1950 the proportion of Soviet officials in that country who had belonged (or still did) to fascist organisations was much smaller than the proportion of German officials in West Germany who'd been in the Nazi party.

How the Ukraine gets portrayed in official mythology in Israel is weird. The mythology gives a lot of space to a 17th century character called Bohdan Khmelnytsky (Chmelnitsky). Up until recently at least, the Israeli media used to throw the tag "Chmelnitskyist" at Ukrainians it didn't like. Israel Shahak shows how the mythology completely obscures the fact that in the Ukraine in the 17th century the Jews were basically a social class - one of the exploitative ones.

To get a take on the Israeli view on the Ukraine, it may be useful to consider the possibility that when it really comes down to it, many Jewish nationalists hate Christianity more than they hate Islam - often much more.
@CBarr : 11:25 AM
"the true nature of these groups" is that they are LUMPEN.
Lumpen are the fall-out of the social-economic proces that is termed History.
Their true character has long been described in the wider context.
The" right wing power structure" - are the capitalists.
In science we don't use new terms if good ones work fine.
Historians tend to mix their science with the art of literature.
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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Even the good news is scary

Looks as though Jim Webb will run for president. To me, this is good news. Sorry, Hillary fans, but Syria is a deal-breaker -- and Hillary's signature is all over the secret war against Syria. This country's foolish effort to create a proxy army against Assad led directly to the creation of ISIS.

There must be a price to pay for such a debacle. In the old days, students would be burning Hillary in effigy. Artists would do unto her the way Diego Rivera did unto the Dulles brothers in his famous painting commemorating the coup in Guatemala.

(Side note: Did you know that Allen Dulles carried a reproduction of that painting with him everywhere, and often showed it off at dinner parties? In those days, villains had style.)

Even if Hillary wins the contest, a Webb challenge may insure that she'll have to talk to progressives instead of pretending that they don't exist. I'd rather see Elizabeth Warren doing what Webb is doing, but I'm still happy to see Webb doing it.

That said...

This announcement has a scary side. A paragraph such as the following should leave everyone wondering "What the hell has happened to this country?"
Webb, who was Ronald Reagan’s Navy secretary and who has held centrist views on a number of issues, has been bolstered by progressive news outlet The Nation as a potential challenge from the left to Hillary Clinton...
Reagan's Navy secretary is challenging Hillary from the left. If the political 50 yard line keeps moving, what will happen? One day, an American election will be a contest between the person who says "I'm the new Adolf Hitler!" and the person who says "Hitler was a softie. I'll kill way more people than he ever dreamed of!"
Comments: <-- That's what happened ;-)
Cannonfire, you are drinking the kool aide. During his time on the Senate Armed Forces Committee Webb did exactly nothing to get us out of Iraq and scale back our aggressive policies. Furthermore, these are NOT the words of a progressive.

notice that NO ONE from Virginia is rallying to this guy? That should tell you something. Hillary will crush him in Iowa without trying.
A 'challenge from the left' from Webb should be a wonder to behold!

Look I think Hillary Clinton needs a primary just like every other candidate. She became much more focused as the 2008 campaign went on. That speech she gave in Ohio in the rain, fist raised was one of her best moments. If she can retag that passion, I don't see anyone beating her.

On the other hand if her campaign handlers focus only on 'the first woman' thing as I read yesterday then she'll be vulnerable. Not that 'first' is meaningless [particularly for women] but Dems went with the 'first' business in the selection of Barack Obama. The shine has definitely worn off that strategy.

Hillary Clinton has to come out swinging on domestic, bread and butter issues: inequality, jobs, student loans, etc. Yes, foreign policy stances will be discussed ad infinitum. But Americans vote their pocketbooks in the moment. The stock market may be going bonkers but the average citizen doesn't feel it or believe things are substantially better than when the GOP made an utter mess of everything. And would love to repeat their failures and ram the whole shebang down everyone's throat.

This need to reach for the next bright shiny thing in Democratic circles will be the party's undoing. And the country's loss. Bad enough Congress is now in Republican hands. We can only imagine the damage soon to be rendered by the Chuckleheads. Democrats need to win in 2016, not spend time dreaming of the perfect candidate. If HRC gets her mojo on, she'll win. And yes, she will woo Wall St. just like all other candidates because that's the system we're stuck with at the moment, a Gilded Age redux. That's why the voices of Warren and Sanders, et al are so vitally important to keep the push and discussion open, prodding for change which tends to be frustratingly slow.

Then the Bush family can go into retirement. For the time being at least.

Peggysue, much of your analysis is solid, or solid-ish. It's a semi-solid, and that's the best ANYONE can hope for at this point. You're right: Americans usually vote based on domestic concerns, not foreign policy. And that is why I would vote for HC over any Republican.

But...two things:

1. Domestically, the state of our nation kind of sucks. Not enough prosperity; way too much surveillance and corruption. (Especially police corruption.)

2. Foreign policy OUGHT to matter. It's all connected. If we hadn't wasted trillions of the Iraq war, we'd be in fine or nearly-fine shape, economically speaking.

The left might rebel against the wars of a Cruz or a Jeb Bush--not so against Killary.
Jim Webb refused to help Dennis Kucinich cut off funds for the Iraq War. Enough said.
Run Ralph run.
The left might rebel against the wars of a Cruz or a Jeb Bush--not so against Killary.
Jim Webb refused to help Dennis Kucinich cut off funds for the Iraq War. Enough said.
Run Ralph run.

Killary beckons. Jim Webb is closer to her than to Kucinich.
Warren is surrounded by neocons too.
I wouldn't even trust Rand Paul to keep us out of war. Ron and Ralph, yes.
Joe, I agree with you--the foreign policy issues 'should' matter for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the basic morality of endless, pointless war. Doesn't matter whether the continuous war cry is coming from the Left or the Right. You care about the issue. I care about the issue. But the majority of the voting public? DOES NOT CARE. Or even pay that much attention. It's only political hounds that actually read and follow the news whose blood boils with another lame excuse for foreign involvement, ridiculous geopolitical schemes and flat-out lies fed to the weary, scrambling public. As much as like and admire Elizabeth Warren? Her public comments about Israel and Palestine are boilerplate, Beltway cha-cha language. Webb won't be any better. And Bernie Sanders? As much as I love to hear the man rage against the night, he could not win a national election and would/will be twisted every way till Sunday.

In your heart you know that.

People are too busy keeping their families afloat to give a rat's ass about the Ukraine or Syria or whatever new, shocking revelation comes down the pike. Fox News may be able to feed the rage monster but the rest of the Nation is too busy robbing Peter to pay Paul.

For the vast number of middle-class [or formerly middle-class] workers, yes the economy is a stinker. Wages have been so stagnant that workers are neither better off or staying even; they're falling behind. Wages have not increased and overtime, a staple of middle-class existence, has nearly evaporated. There's a comment at Think Progress [I think] on this very question. The comment was written by the billionaire who warned his fellow plutocrats that if they didn't 'see the light' they were likely to see the coming of torches and pitchforks. This could be corrected by POTUS with that well-documented Devil Power: Executive Action. The simple scroll of President Obama's pen could change the fortunes of millions of Americans and spur the economy with extra buying power.

Will it happen? Probably not. Because our elected officials work for the Corporate Cookie Monster.

HRC is not a perfect candidate. But I've always thought she had the potential of being one hell of a leader because she's worked in Washington and will know how to work Washington.

There are no guarantees. But she's the best candidate out there. I hope she wins and has her shot.

Jim Webb could possibly carry Southern States where Warren, as a New England liberal, would have no chance.

Webb's defects are mainly a problem to the careerist Democratic clique, not the average voter. It would be a shame if the Democratic machine destroys him before he can test his appeal nationally, as I expect they will try to do.

I think he's more vulnerable to attacks from Democrats. Therefore, Webb might be smart to run as a Republican, and break off independent when he loses the nomination.

Webb strikes me as too real of a person to get elected President. But one can hope.


Elizabeth Warren has been under fire for supporting the very accounting practices she protested before she became a senator. Curious if she is duplicitous or the attacks on her are not what they seem. Have looked at this controversy, Joe?
So now Hillary Clinton created ISIS?

We need to look at this differently. Sports are not that big in the middle east (one of the best ways to both incite, enflame, and then douse too much male testerone). Women's faces are covered yet anal sex with women or with underaged men is not frowned upon, just don't get caught.

There are too many secrets to keep in the middle east culture and fewer and fewer ways to keep them secret, hence, cradling a gun is the best way to stand out from the crowd and not be humiliated.

Quit blaming Hillary Clinton for cultural inbreeding and hypocrisy in the middle east.

Everything Peggysue said. I was so happy Jim Webb is throwing his name out there. And I'm from VA even tho I don't live there now. I'm thinking he's really running for VP. Fine by me.
Back in the day, with NO help from Obama, Webb partnered with Delahunt (my rep from MA when I lived there) and did their best to reform the prison system.

A Hillary/ Webb ticket would please me immensely.
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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Eat shit, Tom Friedman

Many people have made a sport of telling NYT columnist Tom Friedman to eat shit. May I join in?

In his latest, he says that freedom-starved Arabs should emulate (or have sought to emulate) the example of the bestest, greatest, most peachy-keeniest Arab country ever: Dubai. Why, even the very name sounds like an ode to capitalism! Do. Buy. Do. Buy. DUBAI!
Did Dubai cause the Arab awakening?

Wait. How could it have? The U.A.E. and Dubai are absolute monarchies that tolerate no opposition or real freedom of the press. It’s because Dubai, beyond the glitz, glass and real estate booms and busts, has become the Manhattan of the Arab world — a place where young Arabs from across the region can come to realize their full potential in arts, business, media, education and technology start-ups — with world-class companies — and in their own culture, their own language, their own religious milieu, their own food preferences, music and clothing.

As more young Arabs came to Dubai, or viewed it on TV from afar, more and more asked: “Why don’t we have that in my Arab country?” The former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said to me: “People know what it means to be a citizen everywhere now.”
“Dubai is the capital of the Arab Spring — the real revolution started here,” argued Mazen Nahawi, 39, a Palestinian who founded News Group International, a media-monitoring company here in Dubai.
And so on.

Tom, Tom, Tom...let me explain something about Dubai to you. Let me tell you the real secret lurking behind those gleaming towers. Let me tell you about something that your Quisling Palestinian mouthpieces may not want to discuss in public.

That secret comes down to one word: slavery.

The people of the Arab world know full well that Dubai and the UAE were built on horrifying exploitation. Yet Friedman thinks that working people in Egypt and Libya want to emulate conditions in those lands. Is he insane?

From a 2008 Guardian story titled "We need slaves to build monuments"...
"They lied to us," a worker with a long beard says. "They told us lies to bring us here. Some of us sold their land; others took big loans to come and work here."
As they eat, the men talk more about their lives. "My shift is eight hours and two overtime, but in reality we work 18 hours," one says. "The supervisors treat us like animals. I don't know if the owners [of the company] know."
Down in the Diera quarter of old Dubai, where many of the city's illegal workers live, 20 men are often crammed into one small room.
The writer then spoke to members of the upper classes:
"We need slaves," my friend says. "We need slaves to build monuments. Look who built the pyramids - they were slaves."

Sharla Musabih, a human rights campaigner who runs the City of Hope shelter for abused women, is familiar with such sentiments. "Once you get rich on the back of the poor," she says, "it's not easy to let go of that lifestyle..."
Here's the BBC from 2009:
"The latrines are so filthy we cannot use them, we are so disgusted. The roads are full of garbage and waterlogged. Living and moving about here is a great problem. We suffer greatly," one of the workers told us.
This story attracted some interesting comments from people who know the truth all too well:
Dubai is a brilliant place for the rich but the poor have very little to reap from it. The poverty gap in Dubai is massive, and I myself am quite disgusted in how the public treat the low pay workers.
Having lived and worked in Dubai, everyone out there knows that Dubai is built on the modern day equivalent of slave labour. It is not a secret, is not hidden, and anyone who tells you different is lying. Whether you choose to ignore it or not is up to you, but do not pretend not to be complicit, when their poor wages subsidise your lavish lifestyle, gas guzzling car, swimming pool, school fees etc etc
From a now-classic expose by the Independent. A Bangladeshi worker named Sahinal was promised a well-paying job if he traveled to Dubai...
So Sahinal sold his family land, and took out a loan from the local lender, to head to this paradise.

As soon as he arrived at Dubai airport, his passport was taken from him by his construction company. He has not seen it since. He was told brusquely that from now on he would be working 14-hour days in the desert heat – where western tourists are advised not to stay outside for even five minutes in summer, when it hits 55 degrees – for 500 dirhams a month (£90), less than a quarter of the wage he was promised. If you don't like it, the company told him, go home. "But how can I go home? You have my passport, and I have no money for the ticket," he said. "Well, then you'd better get to work," they replied.
The room stinks, because the lavatories in the corner of the camp – holes in the ground – are backed up with excrement and clouds of black flies. There is no air conditioning or fans, so the heat is "unbearable. You cannot sleep. All you do is sweat and scratch all night." At the height of summer, people sleep on the floor, on the roof, anywhere where they can pray for a moment of breeze.

The water delivered to the camp in huge white containers isn't properly desalinated: it tastes of salt. "It makes us sick, but we have nothing else to drink," he says.

The work is "the worst in the world," he says. "You have to carry 50kg bricks and blocks of cement in the worst heat imaginable ... This heat – it is like nothing else. You sweat so much you can't pee, not for days or weeks. It's like all the liquid comes out through your skin and you stink. You become dizzy and sick but you aren't allowed to stop, except for an hour in the afternoon. You know if you drop anything or slip, you could die. If you take time off sick, your wages are docked, and you are trapped here even longer."
One could cite many similar stories. It's worth noting that all of the above pieces were printed in the UK. I doubt that any British paper would have printed Friedman's garbage.

I used to think that Tom Friedman was just silly, but "silly" doesn't suffice to describe his latest. This shit is evil.
Eventually, the plutocrats, in their folly, are going to bring back Communism, or something like it.

Maybe this time the Marxists, or their equivalents, will be smart enough to make peace with religion, and thus get the most powerful galvanizing force on the planet on their side.

The plutocrats who realize this tend to think their public and private security forces will protect them--at least long enough for them to die of old age, et apres moi, le deluge. IBGYBG and all that.

Maybe so, but the Bourbons and Romanovs thought that, too.

But as Saruman said to Frodo, none of that will be my doing. I merely foretell.
It's hard for little tommy to know the truth when staying $10,000 a night rooms and having dinner with the countries dictator.
And that's why Friedman has a secure pulpit at the NYTimes. He speaks for and to the plutocracy and their servants, NYTimes' core demographic.
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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A mysterious arrest: If THIS doesn't frighten you, you're an idiot

I've come to admire Ray McGovern, the former CIA analyst turned peace advocate. Although he has said a few things I cannot agree with, his heart seems to be very much in the right place.

Even if you are not a McGovern fan, you should be troubled by the circumstances surrounding his arrest on the 30th of October. He had paid to attend a lecture by General Petraeus. McGovern intended to ask an important (albeit uncomfortable) question or two about the general's ever-optimistic reports about the prospects for victory in Iraq and Afghanistan.

(I'd like to ask the General this question: If America did such a bang-up job of training a new Iraqi army, why did that army fold like origami paper when ISIS came marching in?)

But McGovern never got a chance to ask his question. The "organs of state security" were waiting for McGovern when he showed up, ticket in hand. FDL has a good account of the confrontation:
World Can’t Wait activist Stephanie Rugoff said a guard stopped McGovern. “Ray, you’re not going in,” the guard said.

McGovern, who is 74 years-old, told the guards something to the effect that the Bill of Rights gave him the right to go into the event. McGovern had a ticket too. But the guards would not let him pass and soon New York police officers surrounded him.
McGovern's arms were twisted painfully when he was handcuffed. (He had suffered an injury to his shoulder a few days earlier.) He experienced great pain during his trip to the police station.
Rugoff heard him screaming. He was shouting about how they were hurting his shoulder. He asked the officers to stop twisting it so they did not aggravate his shoulder and possibly re-injure it.

“I had a ticket as well,” Marini explained. “They recognized me as well and called me by my name, my first name. They seemed to know who people were.”
They seemed to know who people were...

And that, my friends, is the mystery -- the big, big mystery which McGovern describes in The Consortium:
The “organs of state security” (the words used by the Soviets to refer to their intelligence/security services) were lying in wait for me when I walked into the Y? Why? How on earth did they know I was coming?
It appears that the authorities knew that McGovern was coming because they were spying on his email. And that, my friends, makes this incident extremely troubling.

McGovern says that when he travels to New York, he stays at the Catholic Worker house founded by Dorothy Day.
Naturally, he communicated with those people before showing up in the city.
Moreover, the Catholic Worker Movement is an international organization widely looked upon as subversive of the Establishment, and this adds to the suspicion. In recent years, many of my Catholic Worker friends have been arrested for protesting the use of drones to kill foreigners dubbed “militants,” most of whom don’t look like most of us.
My Catholic Worker friends comfort the afflicted, while in no way shying away from afflicting the comfortable, as the saying goes. And for that, they often pay a price, including being snooped upon, in violation of the Fourth Amendment, for exercising their rights under the First.

I am not making this up: In the fall of 2010, Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine criticized the FBI for conducting “anti-terrorism” spy operations against the Catholic Worker Movement and even the Thomas Merton Center in Pittsburgh. According to Fine, spies were sent into the Merton Center to “look for international terrorists.” One of the informers photographed a woman he thought was of “Middle Eastern descent” to have her checked out by “terrorism analysts.”

So my possible tradecraft lapse may have been contacting my Catholic Worker friends. On Oct. 26, I sent Martha an email with the innocuous title, “Room in the Inn?” It contained the usual request for simple lodging at the Catholic Worker together with details regarding my classes at Fordham and Manhattan and the Petraeus event.
How did they know who Ray and the other unwelcome guests were? How did the cops know them by sight? Why were these people addressed by their first names?

Spying. Unlawful spying on the Catholic Worker people.

I can't think of any other likely explanation.

Our nation's sheep keep bleating the refrain: "If you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about." Ray McGovern wasn't doing anything wrong. The authorities had no right to read his private messages to and from the people at the Catholic Worker House.

None. Zero.

Folks, we have plenty to worry about. All of us. A culture in which such things happen cannot be labeled a democracy.
Same thing happened to Ralph Nader when he attempted to attend a presidential debate he was not allowed to debate in. They didn't violently arrest him but they denied him access to the debate even as an audience member.
this is disturbing shit.. thanks for telling this joseph.. i am shocked on some level..what is the message being communicated here? james
Denying access is indeed bad, Alessandro. But the real problem here is the indication that THEY are tracking the movements of certain people.
Not only was the police state tracking Ray, it has probably placed informants inside most of the peace organizations he deals with.
Ray McGovern was manhandled three years ago when he protested silently at a Hillary speech by standing and turning his back on her.

On Saturday Nov. 22, Ray will appear in NYC at 80th and Lexington (All Souls Church, 2 pm) to support H.R. 428, a bill in Congress calling for the release of 28 pages redacted from the original congressional report on 9/11.

The standing up and turning one's back incident was bullshit, on McGovern's part. That is what the outside is for, for protesting. Inside are the listeners and supporters, its really that simple.

So he's an internal disrupter who is being watched for internally disrupting events, that is the right thing to do. That type of distraction is exactly what an actual assassin would relish.
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Monday, November 17, 2014

"Run over only one Arab, that’s all..."

An Israeli train driver named Benny Levy posted a noteworthy message to Facebook the other day...
Forward, don’t break!!!! In light of the difficult situation of the Jewish Nation we’ve got to wake up! Everyone takes one little action into his own hands, run over only one Arab, that’s all, and God Willing together we’ll manage to make a difference! Each person will invest one small effort for us all!
That was the message in full, just in case someone out there is itching to say that I quoted Benny out of context. In other transportation news,
A Palestinian bus driver was found hanged in his vehicle on Monday, an incident that led to stone-throwing protests by Palestinians suspecting foul play but which Israeli police, citing autopsy results, termed a suicide.
Of course it was. For a fuller, truer account, see the video above...

I'm sure the trolls will call me an anti-Semite for publishing a post that acknowledges a reality that the American media doesn't like to talk about. To paraphrase Colbert, reality has a well-known anti-Israel bias.
Give it a rest, Joseph, please. Get real....that crap is no different from runaday hate jocks on American radio....this essential is your own hate-jockeying, in a way. Not to mention, the Islamic "hate jocks" recently put out a call for Muslims to kill "infidels" any way they could, even by "running them over." Is the a response to that? Who knows or cares, even tho the Islamists immediately responded by running over people in Canada, around the same time as the shooting there. It's just so run of the mill I don't know which is sadder....the bloodshed or the criminal dullness of the bloody global pissing contest. If we were really going to "talk" about it: time for ALL "jocks" ---those with penises of any color, creed or nationality to grow the fuck out of whatever primal urge makes them create all these death cults. Jewish and Muslim alike are from the same tired Abraham cult and it gets nuttier the further away you get from the stupid original solo "father" god. Christians made a cult out of a Jew who specifically instructed his Jewish followers not to "feed the dogs" (meaning anyone NOT of the Chosen People) and they went right ahead and made an idol out of him despite his explicit instructions not to. And look how far the nutball Mormons have come in gaining power and, incredibly, even straightfaced acknowledgment.'re gonna take a position in this global pissing contest? Instead of pointing the enlightened way out from all the godbag shit?
Rather than just trust electronic intifada, I tried to the post that you referenced. I couldn't find it. Perhaps you could link to the post so that I could determine its meaning. As to the suicide, there don't appear to be any bruises consistent with a kidnapping or any kind of struggle. However, I think it best to wait to make any conclusions until all the facts are in.
Abraham obeyed until the last minute the voices in his head that told him to kill his son, and three religions celebrate him for it. What a crock!
Are you referencing the "run down an infidel with your car ?"

Sorry, come on. It was in stories about the Canadian shooting.

Ordinarily I'd do the heavy lifting, even for someone like you who knows better.

Not happening now for personal reasons.
According to electronic intifada, the facebook page has been deactivated. There is no screenshot, no cached version, nothing I can find to authenticate his version. In the meantime, this morning there was an actual atrocity, the murder of four rabbis who were in a synagogue, praying. The murderers have naturally been praised by Fatah and their supporters are busy handing out candy and sweets to celebrate the occasion.
Yeah, Joseph! Don't you know religion is corrupt, so pointing out Israel's fascism and racism is pointless?
And meanwhile, we should wait until all the facts are in on that hanging, not that all the facts could be completely damning and nothing will be done about the murder. Meanwhile, Palestinians everywhere are planning to bake a Jewish infant in celebration.
I try to be sarcastic, but it's hard to keep up with the cynicism of Israel's trolls.
Don't you dare give this a rest Joseph. Your reporting of this is a breath of fresh air in almost total Zionisitc favored vacuum of our news coverage. Kudos.
Anonymous: I do NOT think that religion is inherently corrupt. But I do think there is something inherently corrupting about nationalism, and especially about that strange area where nationalism and religion intersect.

I'm not just talking about Israel here. There is also the case (mentioned a couple of posts down) of the Islamists who have decided that "The Islamic State" is their true home, even though they have spent their lives in Europe or elsewhere. And they go to their "home" to kill people whose families have lived there for centuries.

America's period of "Manifest Destiny" belongs in this same category.

As Syrian Girl once said, some people think that God is a real estate agent.
Apropos - the synagogue where today's attack took place is in the Har Nof ultra-religious area...on the site of the village of Deir Yassin.

For those who don't know already, Deir Yassin was where the Zionists killed a large number of women, children and elderly men in the 1948 terrorist massacre which led to the flight of around 750,000 Palestinians from their homes, the Naqba.

How many mainstream western media organs are going to mention that
b, of COURSE it won't be mentioned. Israel is immune from any critical reporting in US mainstream media. Any HINT of criticism is always met with howls of "anti-semitism" and outrage. Killing Palestinians is Israels "right" after all (but not the reverse, that is "terrorism").
They get away with murder and more...
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Beware the dirtboxes among us

It may look like a private airplane, or even an advertising plane. In fact, it's the U.S. Marshall's Service (or some similar agency) using "dirtbox" technology to mimic cell phone towers and spy on your conversations and text messages.
Once a cell phone picks up the signal, it sends back its identifying information, which allows Marshals to figure out where people are. It’s possible for the officers to get similar information by requesting it from cell phone companies, but actually flying a fake tower over a suspect makes it easier to pinpoint that person’s location.
Flights are usually conducted to seek out multiple fugitives in the same area. Because the devices emulate a cell tower, they can pick up thousands or tens of thousands of signals from other citizens who aren’t being targeted by the Marshals.
Those Marshalls are supposed to be working for us. Why doesn't someone ask us if the goal of finding fugitives justifies the loss of privacy?

Speaking of privacy, it seems that the mighty TOR offers less of the stuff than its fans believe.
My article also revealed that Tor was created not to protect the public from government surveillance, but rather, to cloak the online identity of intelligence agents as they snooped on areas of interest. But in order to do that, Tor had to be released to the public and used by as diverse a group of people as possible: activists, dissidents, journalists, paranoiacs, kiddie porn scum, criminals and even would-be terrorists — the bigger and weirder the crowd, the easier it would be for agents to mix in and hide in plain sight.

Finally, I pointed out that Tor was not nearly as secure as many of its proponents claimed. For people with really something to hide from the state, Tor very likely offered the opposite of anonymity: it singled out users for total NSA surveillance, with intel agencies potentially sucking up and recording everything they did online. Recent events have proven yet again that Tor is not as secure as its fans claim, or as its own developers say they hoped.
I've used this analogy before: When banks ship large amounts of worn bills, they use the post office, because armored cars serve only to tell the bad guys where the money is. TOR is, in a sense, an armored car. We now learn that TOR also functions as a way to disguise infiltration. In decades past, federal agents would to grow long hair in order to move among the hippies and the protesters. Now, thanks to TOR, agents can move among their targets without changing their looks.

Speaking of undercover operations...

The NYT reports that undercover operations (once the province of the FBI) have become the norm across all levels of government.
At the Supreme Court, small teams of undercover officers dress as students at large demonstrations outside the courthouse and join the protests to look for suspicious activity, according to officials familiar with the practice.

At the Internal Revenue Service, dozens of undercover agents chase suspected tax evaders worldwide, by posing as tax preparers, accountants drug dealers or yacht buyers and more, court records show.

At the Agriculture Department, more than 100 undercover agents pose as food stamp recipients at thousands of neighborhood stores to spot suspicious vendors and fraud, officials said.
As some of you know, the fear of infiltration hinders activism, due to the increased paranoia levels.

In the end, though, the ultimate control is media control. If you are presented with a miniscule range of conceptual options, you will think only what you are told to think -- yet you will think that you can think for yourself. FAIR studied the range of permissible opinion on teevee political shows, concerning the question of ISIS, Iraq and Syria...
In total, 205 sources appeared on the programs discussing military options in Syria and Iraq. Just six of these, or 3 percent, voiced opposition to US military intervention, while 125 (61 percent) spoke in favor of US war.

On the high-profile Sunday talkshows, 89 guests were invited to talk about the war. But just one, Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel, could be coded as an anti-war guest.
The question of whether to launch an attack seemed almost not worth talking about. As MSNBC host Chris Matthews (9/9/14) put it, “When it comes to down to how we fight this, everybody seems to be for air attacks, airstrikes. Everybody is for drone attacks.”
Not everyone, Chris. Some of us feel that drones should be considered as despicable and horrifying as CBW weapons. That position would be more popular in America if its advocates were allowed on the fucking teevee regularly.

And that, my friends, is how the Powers That Be control you. They're not protecting you: They're controlling you.
If privacy concerns can be respected, this technology can be very useful in traffic planning. Vehicles passing the normal traffic count station are a mix of local shoppers, some commuters and some long-distance travelers. They all look identical to the "dumb" count stations.

A grid of these "dirtboxes" can deduce the path of individual vehicles that contain cell-phones or those equipped with Bluetooth. This can be very useful information for planners with no surveillance intent whatsoever.

Perhaps some anonymizing process can alleviate the concerns of the paranoiacs.
Every passing month the USA becomes more and more like East Germany of old. Indeed it has far surpassed that failed totalitarian state in many ways.

That Pando article isn't any good. It claims they revealed Tor to be a government creation, but that's always been public knowledge. It claims Tor singles you out for total NSA surveillance wherein they will record all of your internet activities, but they do that anyway.
The less legitimate the government, the more it feels the need to keep tabs on its citizens lest those citizens who've realized there's no democracy here might actually organize and start behaving democratically.
Great post. Did the NYT article mention that many of these agencies have purchased large caches of bullets in the past few years? For their spies and department militias?
We're being boiled slowly for sure.

And to Stickler, wtf do we need all the spyware on our highways anyway? My tax dollars allowing them to measure me, watch where & how I travel? "Useful information" - bs!
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Sunday, November 16, 2014

A reminder of past horrors

Since we seem to be engaged on a sick crusade to overthrow the government of Syria (under the guise of overthrowing ISIS), it may be helpful to look back at our last sick crusade in that region. The following comes from a wounded Iraq war vet named Tomas Young, who inspired the film Body of War. Tomas recently passed away in Seattle. All of the words below the asterisks are his. (Although I've had problems with Ralph Nader in recent times, we owe him a great deal for making this letter available to us.)

* * *

I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost a parent, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries…I write this letter on behalf of the some 1 million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded. I write this letter on behalf of us all—the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.

I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because…I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.

Your positions of authority, your millions of dollars of personal wealth, your public relations consultants, your privilege and your power cannot mask the hollowness of your character. You sent us to fight and die in Iraq after you, Mr. Cheney, dodged the draft in Vietnam, and you, Mr. Bush, went AWOL from your National Guard unit. Your cowardice and selfishness were established decades ago…you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage.

I joined the Army two days after the 9/11 attacks… I wanted to strike back at those who had killed some 3,000 of my fellow citizens. I did not join the Army to go to Iraq, a country that had no part in the September 2001 attacks and did not pose a threat to its neighbors, much less to the United States. I did not join the Army to “liberate” Iraqis or to shut down mythical weapons-of-mass-destruction facilities or to implant what you cynically called “democracy” in Baghdad and the Middle East…I especially did not join the Army to carry out pre-emptive war. Pre-emptive war is illegal under international law. And as a soldier in Iraq I was, I now know, abetting your idiocy and your crimes. The Iraq War is the largest strategic blunder in U.S. history…I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11…We were used. We were betrayed. And we have been abandoned. You, Mr. Bush, make much pretense of being a Christian. But isn’t lying a sin? Isn’t murder a sin? Aren’t theft and selfish ambition sins?…

My day of reckoning is upon me. Yours will come. I hope you will be put on trial. But mostly I hope, for your sakes, that you find the moral courage to face what you have done to me and to many, many others who deserved to live. I hope that before your time on earth ends, as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness.

Pre-emptive was is actually legal if it is, in fact, pre-empting something.
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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Let us have the wisdom to choose wisely

The nomination of Jeb Bush is one of the few things that could transform me into an enthusiastic supporter of Hillary Clinton. Another Bush? Yow. I'd rather see the Dogma turd-monster in the Oval Office.

That said, Glenn Greenwald's assessment of Hillary and her supporters is depressing. He quotes Politico...
While the finance industry does genuinely hate Warren, the big bankers love Clinton, and by and large they badly want her to be president. Many of the rich and powerful in the financial industry—among them, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman, Tom Nides, a powerful vice chairman at Morgan Stanley, and the heads of JPMorganChase and Bank of America—consider Clinton a pragmatic problem-solver not prone to populist rhetoric. To them, she’s someone who gets the idea that we all benefit if Wall Street and American business thrive. What about her forays into fiery rhetoric? They dismiss it quickly as political maneuvers. None of them think she really means her populism.
They thought that about Obama, didn't they? And they were right.

Greenwald then quotes Foreign Policy on Hillary and Israel...
Both Bill and Hillary are so enamored with the idea of Israel and its unique history that they are prone to make certain allowances for the reality of Israel's behavior, such as the continuing construction of settlements.
Here's an interesting bit that Greenwald should have quoted but didn't:
Much of this is political. As veteran pols they are pragmatists. Hillary opined in Hard Choices that she was uneasy with the president's call for a comprehensive settlement freeze because it would escalate a fight with Netanyahu that the United States probably couldn't win.
It's impossible to read these words without asking "Who's in charge here? And how did they get to be in charge?"

Greenwald then quotes an NYT story to prove that Hillary has the support of the so-called liberal interventionists.
But Exhibit A for what Robert Kagan describes as his “mainstream” view of American force is his relationship with former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who remains the vessel into which many interventionists are pouring their hopes.
Some of you may not know who Robert Kagan is. Key words: Project For a New American Century, Republican adviser, Iraq war promoter, Russia-hater, Mr. Victoria Nuland. One word summary: Asshole.
“I feel comfortable with her on foreign policy,” Mr. Kagan said, adding that the next step after Mr. Obama’s more realist approach “could theoretically be whatever Hillary brings to the table” if elected president. “If she pursues a policy which we think she will pursue,” he added, “it’s something that might have been called neocon, but clearly her supporters are not going to call it that; they are going to call it something else.”
The 2016 election is shaping up to be a contest between assholes. One butt will have blood, tapeworms and diarrhea dripping out of it. The other will simply be full of shit. Let us have the wisdom to choose wisely.
It isn't just the 2016 election that will be a choice between two assholes; every election seems to be that way. I think the reality is that there is a stable of vetted candidates who have been sufficiently vetted by the powers-that-be and are therefore treated as viable by the mainstream media. The Clintons and Bushes are obviously the two with the strongest brand names right now, but it's safe to assume that anyone who gets to the show - Obama included - is a known quantity.

The flip side is obviously candidates like Howard Dean and John Edwards who base their campaign platforms on this like economic justice or actually looking out for the little guy. Those types of candidates will always be discredited by the media, and failing that the machine would figure out another way to deal with them before ever letting them be the nominee for president.

Yeah, we get to choose our president to a certain extent (except, obviously, when we choose the wrong person and then we get 2000), but if anyone gets far enough to be in the running for the nomination for either party, chances are they're an asshole.
A choice between a Clinton or a Bush? Enough of this dynasty nonsense. I wonder if Julie Eisenhower would be interested in running for office?
Why wouldn't Jeb be worth a hard look? I haven't looked into his record, but I understand he's more liberal than his brother. As you've explained, Hillary has worked to bring ruin to an ancient civilization. Did Jeb destroy Florida? Was his record there that awful? With a name like Bush, he doesn't have to prove he's an asshole. Maybe he doesn't want to be hated like his brother. Also, Obama has proved there's more resistance when Republicans try to launch wars.

I'm voting Jeb Bush unless someone can point to anything he's done or advocated that's worse than Hillary's track record.

Jeb Bush may be smarter and more liberal than his little brother, but he's still an active member of a crime family.
will please some one tally for me this horrible record of Hillary's. I don't recall ever that she was in position of power in the financial sector nor did she sponsor any bill to that effect. I don't like her unconditional support for Isreal, but tell me a bout a powerful politician who doesn't.
I think Bill Clinton gets it. People have to have more control LOCALLY over their own lives by finding ways to be more efficient, especially from an energy and food production point of view.

I don't think bankers mind that idea and it is very pro people.
My son was watching an rerun episode of Southpark one time. It was about a student council election at the school. A turd sandwich was running against a giant douche. Not being familiar with the show, I asked him what that was all about. He said that it must have been made during an election campaign. He checked the date and sure enough, it was 2004. Since then, I've come to appreciate Parker & Stone's genius.
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When is it permissible to say that the average American is stupid?

Over on the right side of the aisle, the big question is: When is it permissible to say that the average American is stupid?

(This controversy has something to do with Obamacare and a ninny who bears the ominous name of Gruber.)

Right-wingers have answered with one voice: Never. You must never call average people "stupid." Anyone who does so is a condescending jerk.

Well, that's their public answer.

In private, I suspect that conservatives are just as likely as anyone else to play the role of the condescending jerk. In fact, they are more likely. In his Nietzschean heart-of-hearts, your average right-winger considers himself a diamond in a bag of charcoal. I am the Overman and the rest are mere cattle: Isn't that the whole point of Galt's Big Speech? Isn't that precisely what the Best Book Ever is trying to teach us?

In a funny post, blogger named David Swanson argues in favor of the proposition that the average Americano has become achingly, stupefyingly, outrageously and dangerously dumb -- particularly on the topic of peace and war:
But the primary thing the U.S. government does is wage wars, and it wages them against other people who had no say in the matter. Of course I don't want wars waged against Americans either, but the general impression one gets from traveling around and speaking and answering questions at public events in the United States is not so much that people are indifferent to the destruction of the globe as long as they don't miss their favorite television show, as that people are unclear on what destruction means and can't identify a globe when it's placed in a lineup with six watermelons.
A few young people believe we simply must have wars, and every last one of them has the identical reason: ISIS. Because ISIS is something evil, there must be war. "Should we attack ISIS or do nothing?" they all ask.

I imagine I'd laugh if I weren't trembling for our future. Iraq III: The Return of the Decider is becoming the worst parody of a humanitarian war in history. First George W. Obama gave himself a waiver from his own dumb rules against killing unlimited civilians. Then he asked for a special waiver in order to arm lots of really good people who happen to torture some folks and murder some folks and rape some folks and genocide some folks. This after he asked the CIA if arming rebels has ever worked out, and the CIA said "No, but we do it as a matter of principle," and he said "Let's roll!"
This is the best bit:
Do you recall, you can say, that last year the White House wanted you to support attacking Syria, and wanted to attack the opposite side in that war? And people said no, remember? And now they want to attack the opposite side, while arming it, and this makes sense to you? They have no goal in mind, no plan, no estimated end-date or price-tag or body-count, and this makes sense to you?
I honestly doubt that most people understand that we did switch sides in the Syrian war.

Or did we? That's still an open question, because the administration is trying to do two contradictory things at once. We are attacking ISIS, the enemy of Bashar Assad, but we also trying to topple Bashar Assad. We are attacking ISIS in Iraq with the not-so-hidden intent of herding them back into Syria, where they are to kill the people we want them to kill.

Not only that: The neocons have tried to hide the fact that ISIS is the enemy of Assad by spooling out a lot of inane propaganda: Thus, the "Assad created ISIS" meme. I'd like to think that nobody bought into that propaganda, but...well, Americans can be pretty stupid.

There. I said it. In public. Let's get back to Swanson:
It happened that while I was touring and talking, NATO claimed for something like the 89th time this year that Russia had invaded Ukraine. If it were ever true, I asked, would anyone believe it? The answer I got: Nobody cares.

Nobody with the easy ability to do something about it cares.
Actually, a lot of them do care, but they've been bamboozled. A lot of people think that Putin started the civil war in Ukraine. A lot of people think that Putin invaded Crimea.

And a lot of people still think that Putin shot down that jetliner.

And that really is a stupid thing to say, now that we have new photographic evidence indicating that a Ukrainian warplane shot down MH17. For an excellent instruction in the ways of propaganda, compare the kind of treatment this story has received in the UK press (go here to see the photos) with the version published by the American media (no photos).

And then, if you have the stomach for it, check out the comments left by Americans...
Russia back to the days of Pravda and the KGB. Don't think this is unique to Russia and other distant government controlled societies around the world, as the like minded Obama and his Democratic Party have brought government controlled messaging to the once free people of the United States...
I wish the Russians would come clean and just admit the mistake, agree to pay compensation to the victims, and be done with it.
And so on. As though Putin had anything to gain from shooting down MH17, or from covering up an accident....!

In point of fact, even before these photos came out, we had substantial evidence that the Ukrainians shot down the jet.

But really, this isn't about evidence, is it? It's about propaganda.

The American people have been subjected to endless propaganda designed to implant one simple narrative: Putin is always the bad guy, and Americans are always the good guys (unless that American is named Barack Obama).

Americans, in short, have been fooled. But does that fact means that we can call them fools? And can we ever call them fools out loud, even though doing so carries an obvious political risk?

When is it permissible to say that the average American is stupid?
Corp. media never ending message wither on npr or fuax is the same

Russia Bad & Amerika Good
Your thesis may be valid but the plane tragedy is maybe not the best place to hang our hats.

I find the evidence underwhelming (probably fake) but it is telling how our media treats it. Different substantiated evidence points to either side, but the relative silence of the West suggests. I think I could convincingly argue either side's guilt at this point. Lastly I wouldn't think Putin's popularity really is the first thing that comes across the minds of battlefield folk who might be thinking they are shooting down an opposing jet.

Back to 'bating and video games for me. Let me know when someone opens a cryogenic capsule from the past with some guy who can save our collective ass.
Unfortunately, the photographic evidence is almost certainly faked. There's a nice thread at Metabunk showing how Google Earth images from 2012, among others, were used to create the 'evidence.'
Looks like this is falsified evidence of a true story, similar to the W. Bush military documents that took down Dan Rather. Explains why the U.S. press is reporting it.
As someone who tried to sell health insurance for six months and who's father was senior VP for multiple health insurance companies, Gruber was dead on when he said the American people are too stupid too understand health insurance. They are. In the time I tried to sell the commodity I was met with a wave of ignorance over how insurance works that was truly staggering. People fall to understand that ALL insurance is socialistic, that Obamacare is NOT a takeover by the government and that the current insurance program before Obamacare was actually worse. The same happens now with net neutrality which is being perceived as a government takeover, which it isn't, wage increases, which are being demonized falsely, and climate change deniers which are using statistical tricks to back up false data. But as the average American can barely blow his nose without his brain leaking out, these concepts are being brainwashed into the masses. For God's sake USA, open a freaking book once in a while and stop believing everything you are being told.
Both airplanes are about the same size as an entire tilled field. No airplane ever made is that big.

If the pix were taken 10,000 feet above the planes, perspective would account for that. But the claimed source is a satellite photo, which are taken hundreds of miles away, and there are no perspective effects from that distance. If the photos were actual satellite photos, the planes would look quite a bit smaller than a field, just as they would if they were on the ground.
How could you not think that Russia shot down MH17; I was happening to check out the coverage of the recent G20 event in my sleepy town, Brisbane. My local TV threw to how America views the stage show. Well well wasn't it interesting to see that the American news blatantly says that Russia shot down that Jetliner, no equivocation "Russia shot down MH17"
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Friday, November 14, 2014

Genius move, David Cameron

Just yesterday, David Cameron of the UK did something that made ISIS stronger.

Let me explain. First, we need some background...

Radicalized young Muslims from all over the world have joined ISIS and the Nusra Front in order to overthrow the governments of Syria and Iraq. A lot of these young fools have lived for many years in Europe and the United States; some had never even set foot in Iraq or Syria. Nevertheless, they now feel that they have the right to go back to their "home" and take over the place. They also feel that they have the right kill Syrian and Iraqi families who have lived in that land for hundreds, thousands of years -- if those families subscribe to the "wrong" form of Islam, or, worse, are not Muslims at all.

Know this: We let this happen.

Our NSA knew full well that a bunch of extremist, violent jackasses who should have been heading up the "no fly" lists hopped onto airliners and zoomed off to the war zone.

(Where did they get the money for travel? Damned good question!)

How do we know that the NSA knew? The methodology is called "Travel Tracking." The NSA -- and Britain's GCHQ -- are very good at it. I've written about this matter before.

The image to your left is one of those NSA powerpoint slides helpfully provided to us through the good offices of Mr. Snowden. It proves what I'm saying. If the spooks say that they didn't have the technology to track these jihadis, they're lying.

By the way, do you see that GCHQ logo at the top of the image? Good. I just wanted to make sure that you saw it.

So let's be clear: If a bunch of disaffected, jihad-crazed young maniacs from the UK left home to kick ass in "the Levant," they did so with the full knowledge and approval of the folks who live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and 10 Downing Street. 

So what did Cameron do yesterday that made ISIS stronger? This:
David Cameron announced new anti-terror powers during a speech to the Australian parliament.

British jihadists who travel abroad to fight could be prevented from returning under new powers outlined by the PM.
Under the Temporary Exclusion Orders, British citizens suspected of fighting with Islamic State (IS) militants would be stopped from re-entering the UK unless they gave themselves up at the border.

Suspects would have their passport cancelled and their name would be added to a "no-fly list" that would prevent them travelling to Britain.

They would only be allowed to return if they agreed to be escorted by the police before facing either prosecution or close supervision under monitoring powers.
In other words, Cameron's message to the jihadis is this: "We helped you guys go to Syria and fight against Assad. You're going to stay there and finish the job. We're not going to let you just walk away from the battle. If you want to come back to the UK, you'll have to do time in jail. Stay and fight."

That's pretty much it, isn't it?

Logic tells you that if "our" side really wanted to dismantle the fighting capability of ISIS, we would be making it easier for the fighters to chuck it all and study war no more. Instead, we made it easy for these young, easily-gulled fools to go to war -- hell, I wouldn't be surprised if "our" spooks paid for the plane tickets! -- and now it's impossible for them to leave.

Genius move, David Cameron. You've given us yet more reason to believe that ISIS was intended from the beginning to be nothing more than our proxy army.
This is so bizarre. All in plain sight. It's crazy-making.

Just to be a grammar nerd for a moment. Our NSA put that power point slide together? That's the best they can do? I don't feel reassured. Though technically address's could be construed a (rare!) correct use of an apostrophe, they correctly spelled it addresses later in the same line! Did the apostrophe take up that much less space than the e? And "whilst?" Really?
Cameron is too stupid to show that much guile. This probably won't go anywhere as it's against European law.
This policy will continue until the Israeli government gets out its strategic scales and decides the Sunni Salafis are stronger than the Russian-Damascus-Hezbollah-Tehran axis, then the policy will be as Cannon suggests
more feasible to UK interests.
New evidence claim on MH17. It raises quite a few issues.
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