Friday, August 22, 2014

Those Libertarians never miss a trick, do they?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Right now, this Jerusalem Post story reeks of bullshit.

The politics of turpentine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It's cheaper to produce.

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

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

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

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

"Thanks to the government."

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

Not just about turpentine. About everything.

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

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

On the other hand...

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

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

You CAN handle the truth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or just paste the URL for the streamed video in at

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

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

(Link for downloading audio of the Blumenthal video was right the first time.)
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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Go Russ Go!

In 2008, the Kos crowd created a false picture of Hillary Clinton, portraying her as a corporatist DINO, even though her record was more liberal than Obama's.

You can still feel the Hillary-hate if you visit Daily Kos, HuffPo and environs. No, I will not offer any links. Suffice it to say that many of the things being said are so over-the-top as to make me feel sympathy for Hillary, even though I'm not otherwise inclined to send her any groovy vibes right now.

Nevertheless, she said what she said in that Atlantic interview and can't un-say it. No-one can claim that she was blindsided or quoted out of context. I don't know if she was always this hawkish on foreign policy, and I strongly doubt that her newfound conservatism extends to her proposed domestic agenda.

Truth be told, I suspect that her big plan on the domestic front is to find some way to return taxes to where they were during her husband's administration, then sit back and watch the red ink slowly disappear. Not such a bad plan, actually.

But war has a way of upending plans like that, and neocon ideology has a way of leading to war. That's why so many of us were disturbed to hear her talk the neocon talk. That's why Ezra Klein said that she was too hawkish for her party.

That's also why Niall Stanage of The Hill has listed five polticians who can challenge Hillary from the left. We certainly need someone who can offer an alternative to the prevailing neocon orthodoxy. It would be infuriating and outrageous if that alternative arrived on the GOP side of the aisle, in the form of Rand Paul.

So let's look at Stanage's choices:

Elizabeth Warren is obviously the best choice from a progressive point of view. The big problem is simple: She won't run. She has made that clear.

Joe Biden would make a good president. No, I'm serious. Behind the scenes, he has consistently pushed this administration toward liberal policies while remaining loyal to Obama. Yet he also knows how to maintain friendly personal relations with congressional Republicans (at least the ones who haven't gone completely insane). The big problem with Biden is that progressives simply don't like him very much. I think they ought to like him better, but the situation is what it is.

Martin O’Malley, a.k.a. "Dukakis II," is an admirable fellow in many ways. (So was Dukakis.) Alas, O'Malley was the mayor of Baltimore, much of which is a decaying corpse of a city -- the kind of city that makes you want to grab a trenchcoat and go full Rorschach. It's also a city of many secrets, and I suspect that one of those secrets might bite him in the ass if he hits the national stage. Taxes in Maryland are certainly high enough to wound his chances in the general election. Yes, O'Malley seems interested in the presidency, and he might actually be good in that position. But right now we're talking about someone who can challenge Hillary from the left, and O'Malley has shown no signs that he can ignite any fires in the progressive heart.

Bernie Sanders? Sorry. If you are going to represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic party, you ought to have an actual (D) listed by your name. Besides, he is 72. Worse, he embraces the "S" word, which makes him an impossibility in the general election: Most Americans equate socialism with church-burning Bolshevism, and no amount of argumentation will dislodge that equation from their tiny little minds.

On the other hand, he has said that he is interested in running. So, like, there's that.

Question: Is the lack of a (D) really such a bad thing? It has been said that all true Stars Wars fans hate Star Wars. Maybe all true Democrats hate the Democratic Party. Maybe that (I) next to Sanders' name is a plus.

But if you still want that big (D) feeling, you gotta go with...

Russ Feingold. He bought me some soup once (without really knowing what a scurvy knave I am), and I remain loyal. Go, Russ, go! Besides, he's Jewish and thus can criticize Israel, as many liberal Jews are wont to do these days. Wouldn't that be a teaching moment?

Those five are not the only possibilities, of course. May I suggest Al Franken? Pete DeFazio? Kathleen Sibelius?
Instant heavyweight contender, if he would choose to enter the race: Al Gore. I presume he will not, but has he been asked and definitively declined? Bonus for him: actually got elected president once, if the refs hadn't robbed him 5-4.

Hi XI.
Good to see you.
The only reason I would vote for her is because I hate her enemies more
Biden is heavily involved in promoting the false flag war in Ukraine. And his son is cashing in on the whole affair. Voting for Biden is voting for WWIII, same as Hillary.
I'm hoping against hope that Al Gore will seriously consider running.
He said in interview, some weeks ago, when asked about this that he's "a recovering politician". I guess that doesn't slam the door on the possibility of a run completely. He won't put cards on the table too early though, because...well, can you imagine the s..t just waiting to be hurled at him from both right and factions of the left?

He's the one we, and the planet, need!
Run Al, run!!!
IMO, Hillary Clinton has now moved into position as the most dangerous woman in America, a spot previously occupied by Diane Feinstein (now in second place).

Is the lack of a (D) really such a bad thing?

Some of us were asking that last time around, if you'll recall. The Lesser Evil is, after all, still Evil.

I'm with Xi - let's re-elect President Gore.
Russ Feingold is the only demodog I would vote for and since he won't run I'll be voting Green
Joseph, the problem with taxing away the deficit is that the austerity hurts the economy, and then the Republican propagandists blame the hurt economy on "socialism", and then when the Republicans take power again they find some excuse to engage in deficit spending (like a defense buildup or two wars) that pumps up the economy and then they can claim they fixed the democrats' mistakes--then dump the deficit back on the Democrats when they take power again.

Rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat. The Republicans have been running this scam since the 1970s.
For four years, Clinton kept a lid on the problems now erupting in the world but you dislike her because of something she said in an interview?
I've been concerned about her performance as Secretary of State from the beginning. I said at the start that I would have preferred for her to stay in the Senate.
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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Spying and lying (Added note: Is there a Snowden II?)

Here's an interesting tweet from Wikileaks...
Warning: @wikileaks_forum @WikiLeaksForumD etc are fronts started by a confirmed FBI informer. They are not endorsed.
I'd like to know more. Just how do the folks at Wikileaks know that they are dealing with an FBI informer? I suspect that we may be dealing with Siggy Thordarson, Sweden's answer to Pugsley Addams. We have mentioned him before.

Bamford on Snowden. Excellent article -- presented in a design style that I guess we can call Web 3.0. This is the future of web graphics.

You know, I was thinking about the great anti-Snowden meme that was making the rounds not too many months ago. Remember when everyone suddenly started calling Snowden a "narcissist"?

All the right-wingers pundits were repeating that charge -- at once, starting on pretty much the same date, as if on cue. They repeated the cry so often -- "Narcissist! Narcissist! Narcissist!" -- that even some dimwit progressives began to pick up on it. Men go mad on a slogan, as Conan the Barbarian once sagely observed.

Nobody is saying "narcissist" any more. The whole idea never made any sense: If Snowden was out for himself, why would he not stay in America, play along with the program, and continue to earn big bucks while sleeping with his beautiful girlfriend? If we can use the word "narcissist" to describe a man who, out of principle, courted prison and gave up everything in life that he loved, then can we also use the word "demure" to describe Donald Trump? Can we apply the adjective "hulking" to Johnny Galecki?

And is it not true that the term "narcissist" applies far more readily to the talking heads on Fox News who got paid well to call Ed Snowden a narcissist?

There was something Frank Luntz-ian about this particular anti-Snowden attack. Luntz, the propaganda guru for the GOP (and Israel), fancies himself a master of the power of words. His shtick is making sure that "bad" words get wrapped around ideas/people/causes that he and his clients do not like, while "good" words" are associated with ideas/people/causes that he and his clients do like.

The surreal "narcissist" campaign against Snowden demonstrates that a bad word can be chosen pretty much at random. Maybe Luntz wrote a whole series of bad words on small slips of paper, affixed them to a wooden board, and then chose the Word of the Day by throwing a dart. If the dart had landed on "infantile" or "selfish" or "metrosexual," then we would have woken up one day to discover a hundred voices screaming that Ed Snowden was infantile, selfish, or metrosexual.

But how do you make the "bad" word stick to its target? Repetition. If enough people in the media chant the phrase "Kevin Bacon has polka dots on his nose," then a large segment of the populace will begin to see polka dots on Kevin Bacon's nose. Yes, people really are that gullible.

So what I want to know is -- by what mechanism do the Luntzian forces send out their instructions? Is there a secret email list? "ALERT! Here is a new command from Smear Central. You are hereby ordered to get on camera and say that Ed Snowden is a narcissist. Use that word as often as possible. Your usual check will arrive on the 15th."

Is that how it works?

Added note: A second Snowden? For a while now, I've been meaning to write about the reports that a second leaker has been making material available. From the Bamford piece:
And there’s another prospect that further complicates matters: Some of the revelations attributed to Snowden may not in fact have come from him but from another leaker spilling secrets under Snowden’s name. Snowden himself adamantly refuses to address this possibility on the record. But independent of my visit to Snowden, I was given unrestricted access to his cache of documents in various locations. And going through this archive using a sophisticated digital search tool, I could not find some of the documents that have made their way into public view, leading me to conclude that there must be a second leaker somewhere. I’m not alone in reaching that conclusion. Both Greenwald and security expert Bruce Schneier—who have had extensive access to the cache—have publicly stated that they believe another whistle-blower is releasing secret documents to the media.

In fact, on the first day of my Moscow interview with Snowden, the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel comes out with a long story about the NSA’s operations in Germany and its cooperation with the German intelligence agency, BND. Among the documents the magazine releases is a top-secret “Memorandum of Agreement” between the NSA and the BND from 2002. “It is not from Snowden’s material,” the magazine notes.

Some have even raised doubts about whether the infamous revelation that the NSA was tapping German chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone, long attributed to Snowden, came from his trough.
Intriguing. But consider the disinformation possibilities...

A short while ago, we saw a fake story in a Bahrain newspaper attributed to the Snowden cache. While that particular tale was a fairly obvious fraud, the Snowden II who is giving documents to the Germans may -- or may not -- be playing a devious game. What if this source establishes his bona fides by leaking genuine stuff, only to follow up with a fake?

That kind of gamesmanship is very common in Spookworld. In fact, back in the 1990s I was told by someone who had (sort of) worked with an intelligence agency that this is the standard operating procedure. Suppose you work for the clandestine side of the government and you leak information to the press: If you are caught, they won't immediately toss you in the pokey. Instead, they'll instruct you to keep meeting with your press contact -- and you will be given documents and/or information to hand over. Will that material be genuine, or will it be disinformation? You may never know.
Last night i went to a wedding of a friend from my college days. One of the guests was a longtime acquaintance who is the leading GOP contender to be the next Attorney General of Missouri. When I asked him for his campaign platform, he said one word: "Liberty." When I pressed, it turned out that he didn't believe in the liberty of sick people to smoke marijuana, freedom from surveillance or the rights of protesters to assemble in nearby Ferguson. "Liberty" is one of those Luntz-ian words for "deregulation."
Indeed it is, TJ, although it should be noted that the better libertarians are serious about applying the "liberty" concept to things like marijuana. That said, even the better libertarians are full of crap when it comes to economic issues.

Your acquaintance is simply using a buzz word to sell plutocracy.
This site censors! No open dialog here!
Anon 1:07: Yup! But if you want to get through, you must abide by the clearly posted rules for comments. You can't miss 'em.

Come to think of it, there's a rule about anonymous comments. So I should have censored what you just said. Sorry for the inconsistency.

(Actually, I often let that rule slide. But Rule 1 is more strictly enforced.)

Keep in mind that this is, as some Wikipedia editors recently said, a personal blog. If it were the sort of blog that Wikipedia would feel comfortable citing -- or if I were getting paid for this gig -- the rules would be more lenient.

Way I see it, this place is my home. It's not a public forum -- it's my HOME, and you are guests. And you are required to behave here as you would if you were visiting me in person.

Dig or split.

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Perry is so very...over

Time to scotch all talk of a Rick Perry run in 2016...
Gov. Rick Perry of Texas was indicted on two felony counts on Friday by a state grand jury examining his handling of a local district attorney’s drunken driving arrest and the state financing for a public corruption unit under the lawyer’s control.
Summary: Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat, was the D.A. in Travis County. She also oversaw the anti-corruption unit that ended the career of Tom Delay.

In 2013, Lehmberg was arrested for drunk driving. Sensing an opportunity for some partisan payback, Rick Perry tried to force her to resign. He said to her (in essence): Either you go right now, or I'll veto funding for that anti-corruption unit. She didn't go; he vetoed. (The amount in question is not large. They don't spend a lot of money on anti-corruption in Texas.)
Mr. Perry’s detractors said that his moves crossed the line from hard-ball politics to criminal acts that violated state laws.
Damn straight. It now seems possible that Lehmberg will keep her job after Rick Perry loses his. He certainly isn't going to get anywhere near the nomination.
No Perry fan here but the behavior or Lehmberg'and her predecessor Ronnie Earle are grotesque. There is an open problem in Travis County Texas and everyone knows if.

No one is going to begrudge Perry trying to force this creature from office. The prosecution of Tom DeLay - another scumbag - was an expensive waste of time, the charges were cleared as soon as the case was appealed outside of Travis County.

Anyone who understands the laws in Texas knew that the charges against Delay would he tossed as soon as they were beyond Travis County and a politically motivated jury. The same thing will happen here - Texas governors can exercise a line item veto on any item for any reason.

The Perry situation is even more ridiculous than Delay's - some insiders believe that a trial where Travis Couny officials are subpoenaed about their activities - and you can bank that very powerful, very shrewd and very knowledgeable GOP friendly lawyers will aid Perry's cause - will result in broader criminal charges and embarrassment for Travis County, and likely pull down the Travis County Democratic machine.

Again, no fan of Texas Republcans here, but as a Travis County resident who isn't "close" to the Travis County machine, I can tell you for a fact that theres enormous corruption at the county and municipal (Austin) level, and that swamp is about to be drained.

It's going to be the last notch on Perry's gun belt, and possibly a benefit to his run in 2016 assuming that's what he is actually doing.

ARGUGWB, you may be right. I am certainly glad to have the perspective of a Texan. But my main purpose here was to assess the (obvious) implications this development will have on the 2016 race.

It's too bad. Perry is entertaining.
@A.R.G.U.G.W.B. (or anyone, including Joseph, if they know the answer),

Over at TPM I noticed a Texas resident commenting that a trial of Rick Perry must, by mandate of the State Constitution of Texas, be held in Austin and nowhere else. So, according to that Texan, any further trials or appeals will be confined to Austin. Is this true, can you confirm or deny this?

"t's too bad. Perry is entertaining."

That was my first reaction at the news. The debates were my kettle corn.

How will they dispose of Rand?

Not sure about whether it has to be in Austin, but this case will likely quickly make its way to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which is in Austin. I believe either this courtmormsupreme court of Texas would handle any matter involving the governor.

To follow up on why this probably simply raises Perry's profile, gins up the right and likely weakens the position of Travis County, is because this case will end up almost immediately in this court, and this court will toss it. And it will be at least the third time the Travis county office gets its ass handed to it once the hearing is taken outside of a Travis county courtroom.

There's no legal foundation for the assertion that Perry abused his power or coerced Lehmberg to misuse or abuse hers. An appeal to resign is outside the authority or enumerated powers of either office, and that's what the law is about. Perry is free to veto legislation for political purposes, which is all he did here.

The Travis County "integrity" unit has a lousy track record of purely political prosecutions, costing Travis County taxpayers millions and resulting in zero successful prosecutions. This is the latest.

If prosecuted, the precedent would basically be set that elected officials have no authority over budgets, discipline, administration, etc. the governor, lt. Governor, comptroller and state legislators "coerce" appointees, minor or local elected officials and state employees everyday. Any veto by a governor (and the governor has broad line item veto powers) could be prosecuted under this decision.

It's not going to happen, and Travis County has given Perry and his ilk a huge boost in stature and rightwing street cred. Republicans in Texas are rallying around Perry to an extent they haven't in a decade.

If this moves forward in any meaningful way, Perry will compel testimony from county and state employees and subpoena information. My understanding from folks at the county and "the pink dome" is that this information will at minimum be embarassing to Lehmberg, prominent state legislators and even a few current Austin municipal officials. One figure in particular with a lot to lose is a former Austin mayor who now serves in the legislator and apparently has been involved in these matters. Again, I don't personally know these things but folks I trust have shared info with me. I trust them but have no way of proving anything.

Why hasn't this info come out before? Again, I'm told that folks have shared the info as instructed to do with the integrity unit, which hasn't taken any meaningful action on it.

In the end, that's why Perry wants to clean house in Travis County.

My assumption this gets tossed without that happening, but many are shocked this prosecution went through, worried that it hasn't been thought through and that Perry comes out of this looking like a figure targeted by a democratic machine gone out of control.

I'm no republican, but will veer in to righting conspiracy theory for a moment. I'm told that Lehmberg, her predecessor and the organization behind this investigation of Perry have strong ties to the Cintons. And again, I have no idea if this is true or not ... But if it is, Perry will do everything he can to get that out in the public consciousness. And if this all gets tossed because theres no substance to any of it . . . ?


Thank you for responding. However, I don't believe for one second that you aren't a Republican (or at least a Republican sympathizer) and a Perry supporter. You've gone a long way out of your way and put a considerable effort to write up a defense, and that's only here. You're defense doesn't entirely hold up and your accusations of a Democrat with connections to the Clintons doesn't prove or mean anything. Most Republicans have connections to more powerful Republicans and their families, who usually sponsor the new generation of up and coming Republicans. It is mostly the same with the Democrats too. There is nothing unusual about having connections to more influential and powerful people within either of the two dualistic parties. So even if Lahmberg does have connections or interpersonal relations with the Clintons, so what? Seriously, so what? The Republican Party operates similarly.

Don't try to communicate with these clowns: if you don't adhere strictly to their dogma, you're somewhere to the right of Sarah Palin.

That said, there are no intelligent people out there who think this lawsuit is worth a turd of consideration.

@Anon (1:16 A.M.),

Ad-hominem attacks on your part, typical and ubiquitous of your style, I expected nothing less. You insinuate you are not a creature of habits, adherences and faiths, as all humans are. Point being, you have your own dogma, which you fly off the handle about with ad-hominem displays, calling those that differ from you 'clowns' and other such nonsense. Why? Because you have nothing more than personal attacks to resort to. You aren't clever enough for anything else. Your reference to 'turd of consideration' was, ironically, self-referential, describing your own input here. If you think Joseph's blog is a 'circus', it beckons the question why you drunkenly stumble onto it all the time.

This isn't a place to vent your vehemently fascist rage and loathing for everyone you caricaturize as 'leftists'.
No more fighting, mes amis. Let's move on.
This indictment won't hurt Perry. One must remember that we are dealing with the American people. Everyone of their 'elected' lackies are corrupt. The American citizens have layed around on their worthless, degenerated behinds and allowed the most dangerous and the most sophisticated, corrupt, oppressive oligarchical regime in tbe history of the planet to promogulate on them for decades, known as the U.S. Government, snd waved it's flag, and sent their children to die for it's causes(not theirs), and are dutifully doing it as we speak.
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Naming the cop

We finally have the name of the cop in Ferguson, Missouri, who shot Michael Brown: Darren Wilson.

The police also revealed that a robbery -- a minor matter involving a box of Swisher Sweets cigars -- took place shortly before the incident. At this point, matters become murky: The NPR report cited above says that Wilson was unaware of the robbery, although a police report pictured here named Brown as a suspect.The NYT indicates that the cops may have felt that Brown was connected to the robbery. Michael Brown's family issued a statement alleging that the Ferguson authorities are trying to "assassinate the character" of the victim.

Incidentally, this amazing and shocking story about an unrelated earlier incident gives us a pretty good idea as to what the cops are like in Ferguson. The police arrested a man they mistakenly thought had outstanding warrants. (Same name, different guy.) Instead of letting him go once the error came out, officers filed charges against the man for getting blood on their uniforms during a beating. The story becomes even more surreal after that.
Here's a nice slice of the overall problem. Assholes and ignorant red-necks are the reason we can't have nice things.

"Here in Olivette, the people I spoke to showed little sympathy for Michael Brown, or the protesters.

"It's bullshit," said one woman, who declined to give her name. When I asked her to clarify what, specifically, was bullshit, she said, "All of it. I don't even know what they're fighting for."

"It's just a lot of misplaced anger," said one teenage boy, echoing his parents. He wasn't sure where the anger should be, just that there should be no anger at all, and definitely no stealing.

"Our opinion," said the talkative one in a group of six women in their sixties sitting outside the Starbucks, "is the media should just stay out of it because they're riling themselves up even more."

"The protesters like seeing themselves on TV," her friend added.

"It's just a small group of people making trouble," said another."

Joseph, I saw that same surreal story. Police are fucking out of control.

Ben, I often wonder if these people you correctly describe have any clue how AMERICAN "innocent until proven guilty" is.

Police training snipers on protesters --- as they did yesterday here in Baltimore as well as in Ferguson ---smacks of me as guilty until proven innocent.
The video from the convenience store might be a lot less than what is being claimed. The use of the technical term - strong armed robbery - effectively established a narrative, but the police report was written on another day as it names Brown, and only two witnesses out of at least six are quoted, and they are both store employees. The only items Brown appears to walk away with are on the floor and he had to bend down to pick them up. As he does so, the store owner is rushing to the door where the shoving occurs. Obviously there is some kind of dispute, but the footage is not conclusive of a robbery.
It's getting interesting, Anon. But do remember that I wrote this brief post roughly twenty minutes after the NYT published. Far fewer facts were at hand at that time.

Treating lawful protest as terrorism;
Too bad it bears that Info Wars stamp. Otherwise, I would have published the image. But anything involving that maniac Alex Jones is toxic...
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"Hillary, see this hoop? Jump through it!"

Hillary's hawkish side became apparent to all readers of the two "insider" books about the Obama administration, Confront and Conceal and Bush at War (which most people only pretend to have read). I suspect that she sounds pretty hawkish in her new book Hard Choices (which I'm not going to pretend to have read, although I'll get around to it one day). Even so, nothing published previously prepared us for her recent impersonation of Dick Cheney, a fiasco which may explain her falling poll numbers.

"Good lord, what has happened to this woman?" I asked. Now that a few days have passed, we're in a better position to unravel the mystery.

If you need a clue, let me drop a name on you: Max Blumenthal.

He's a fearless critic of Israel who, not long ago, published an excellent book called Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel. I strongly urge readers to watch this guy's lectures and interviews via YouTube: He is seriously great. In fact, I'd go so far as to call him the bravest and most intelligent investigative writer in today's world.

When Goliath came out, Blumenthal was subjected to full-bore villification. As has become standard operating procedure, he was called a "self-hating Jew" repeatedly. The mainstream media -- and even the progressive media -- declared him persona non grata. Even though Blumenthal's superb earlier book, Republican Gomorrah, had made him a beloved figure (at least on the left), the publication of Goliath instantly transformed him into a cockroach to be squashed. A horde of hysterical critics embarked on a multi-media tirade designed to convince the public that Goliath is the new Mein Kampf.

Almost needless to say, the book is not anti-Semitic. Arguably, it is the most courageous and incisive investigation of the corrupting nature of racism that anyone has published in decades. Calling Blumenthal a "self-hating Jew" is akin to calling James Loewen a "self-hating white."

Alas, most Americans are quite willing to form an opinion of an author without reading his actual words. Blumenthal's opponents understand that fact very well.

The "Attack Max!" campaign has used every scurrilous trick in the book. (One of these days, someone should actually write that book. Suggested title: How to Smear.) For example, when a deranged, old-school anti-Semite cited Goliath on his web site, the attackers implied that Max Blumenthal was somehow "in bed" with the KKK. The villifiers also arranged to have his important short video "Feel the Hate" banned from YouTube on the grounds that it contains "inappropriate content." (How often does anything get pulled from YouTube these days?)

These tricks are very familiar. They're vile, but familiar.

Here's where it gets really interesting...

Max Blumenthal happens to be the son of Sydney Blumenthal, another figure I've long respected. (It would probably be impolitic of me to mention Sydney's youthful dalliance with those awful, awful JFK assassination researchers.) As many of you will recall, the elder Blumenthal was a key adviser to Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Naturally, the Max-attackers went after the Clinton connection. One of the most prominent attackers was Eric Alterman, who refers to Goliath as the I Hate Israel Handbook (and who has refused to debate Blumenthal).
What may have turned out to be the most disturbing element introduced by Alterman, was his bringing Max Blumenthal’s father, Sidney Blumenthal, into the argument. What seemed to some as an innocuous comment in Alterman’s first article, has turned into a sordid campaign by even more sordid people, to attack both the elder Blumenthal, and Hillary and Bill Clinton, and their foundation. The hits have devolved from to to white supremacist Robert Stacy McCain’s blog, as the threats have escalated.

On November 6th, carried an article by Rosie Gray, centering on Max’s father...
The Buzzfeed hit piece need not be summarized here. The following excerpt from Gray's work should give you some idea of the depths of scumminess being plumbed:
Several phone calls and emails to the Clinton Foundation seeking clarification on Blumenthal’s role in the organization went unanswered. A BuzzFeed reporter who went to the Clinton Foundation’s offices in New York on Tuesday seeking the organization’s most recent IRS 990 form was turned away.

“We don’t know what you’re referring to,” said Clinton Foundation spokesperson Nick Merill when asked about the emails and whether Hillary Clinton is aware of Blumenthal’s defense of Goliath. He copied Clinton spokespeople Philippe Reines and Matt McKenna on his response to BuzzFeed, as well as Sidney Blumenthal.
That's right. They went after the Clinton Foundation's freakin' IRS information, simply because the Clintons had once been friends with the father of someone who had become our official new Emmanuel Goldstein.

Then the Breitbarters got into the act. They printed a scurrilous tirade from -- who else? -- Alan Dershowitz. (Believe it or not, I used to be a Dershowitz admirer, before he became the living embodiment of Israel Derangement Syndrome. I also used to like Alterman.)

Get out your vomit bags, folks:
Max Blumenthal is well outside the acceptable range of rhetoric about Israel. His constant comparisons between Nazi Germany and the Jewish state establish him as an extremist bigot whose greatest appeal is to antisemites and others who apply a double standard to the Jewish state. Any political candidate who would associate himself or herself with such views would be unacceptable to Americans. In addition to being extremist in his anti-Israel views, Blumenthal is also vehemently anti-American.

I have long known his father and have worked with him. But even understanding how a father would want to identify with a son, no decent person should ever support the views expressed by Max Blumenthal. I would sincerely hope that Sid, while continuing to love his son, would completely dissociate himself from his son’s bigotry. And I ask decent people to ask themselves what they would do if they had a son who espoused views akin to those expressed by the KKK, Hamas and other antisemites. I would hope they would do the right thing and dissociate themselves from such views.

In light of the long association between the Clintons and Sid Blumenthal, I hope that the Clintons ask Sid to expressly disassociate himself from his son’s views–and if he refuses to, that they no longer work with him on any matters.
(Emphasis added) Unbelievable. And thoroughly disgusting.

First: I invite all readers to compare Dershowitz' outrageous and sick mischaracterization of Blumenthal with the story told by Blumenthal himself. The video embedded above provides a good introduction.

Second: The Dershowitz attack, although expressed demurely as a series of "hopes," may be construed as an ugly threat. (Imagine Charles Augustus Milverton saying "I hope you will see reason on this matter.") And Dershowitz made this statement in public. Talk about chutzpah...!

(For another example, see here: "Will Hillary Clinton Banish Anti-Israel Sidney Blumenthal?")

To my knowledge, the Clintons have not said anything against the elder Blumenthal, even though the son says that he remains on fine terms with his father. And that, I think, is as principled as the Clintons are gonna get in this controversy.

Although she has refused these commands-from-On-High to engage in ritualized Blumenthal-bashing, Hillary Clinton now feels compelled to out-necon Michael Ledeen.

(Hey. Isn't this where we came into the movie?)

Of course, Blumenthal can't be the only pressure point. I'm sure that the facts of life have been made crystal clear to Hillary Clinton: If she doesn't play the neocon game -- on Syria, on Israel, on Iran, on Ukraine, right down the line -- she's toast. The same powerful (though not all-powerful) media forces that tried to paint a Hitler mustache on Max Blumenthal will support the Republican candidate wholeheartedly, even if that candidate's name is Rick Perry or Sarah Palin.

But there's an even deeper side to all this. If Dershowitz was willing to say such things in public, you can imagine what is being said behind the scenes -- by the potential funders of a Clinton campaign.

More on that soon, I hope.
I do understand that the road to white house passes through Israel. But for someone who painted herself as the women's fighters # 1 how could she support the fundamentalists in the Syrian war(now ISIS). They enslave and rape young girls daily. They kill the men and take their women and pass them between them like pieces of furniture. Why didn't she care is it because this is a wrong ethnic and religion crowd so any thing is permissible? that's racism in its ugliest form. I agree with you WHAT HAPPENED TO HER
even if the zionist lobby can stigmatize blumenthal, there are many more behind him that will continue to speak to truth.. i was first introduced to his work on mondoweiss a few years ago... kudos to blumenthal for challenging the status quo.. i hope more people are exposed to his insights..
Anon 109: Actually, she said that Obama should have supported the Free Syrian Army, the supposed moderates. But that was always a fantasy option.
kinda like saying we support the good terrorists, but not the bad terrorists.. the usa admin is so full of shite, may as well have hilary as president for more of the same, but a more easy read, as their is nothing sophisticated about her or her approach..
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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Rand Paul and the warrior cops

Rand Paul:
When you couple this militarization of law enforcement with an erosion of civil liberties and due process that allows the police to become judge and jury—national security letters, no-knock searches, broad general warrants, pre-conviction forfeiture—we begin to have a very serious problem on our hands.
This is fine. But this bit is deceptive:
Not surprisingly, big government has been at the heart of the problem. Washington has incentivized the militarization of local police precincts by using federal dollars to help municipal governments build what are essentially small armies—where police departments compete to acquire military gear that goes far beyond what most of Americans think of as law enforcement.
Big government? The cops usually function as the shock troops of the propertied. Throughout my life, it has always been conservatives who ran on a "law and order" platform. Meanwhile, liberals -- and only liberals -- have complained of over-zealous policing in black, brown and poor neighborhoods. Throughout the Bush years, right-wingers sneered at guys like me when we warned that the onerous, ominous infrastructure of "anti-terrorism" was largely an excuse to institute a police state capable of crushing any potential domestic uprising.

Let's take a closer look at the military gear made available to cops:
The nasty little secret of policing’s militarization is that taxpayers are subsidizing it through programs overseen by the Pentagon, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Justice Department.

Take the 1033 program. The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) may be an obscure agency within the Department of Defense, but through the 1033 program, which it oversees, it’s one of the core enablers of American policing’s excessive militarization. Beginning in 1990, Congress authorized the Pentagon to transfer its surplus property free of charge to federal, state, and local police departments to wage the war on drugs. In 1997, Congress expanded the purpose of the program to include counterterrorism in section 1033 of the defense authorization bill. In one single page of a 450-page law, Congress helped sow the seeds of today’s warrior cops.

The amount of military hardware transferred through the program has grown astronomically over the years. In 1990, the Pentagon gave $1 million worth of equipment to U.S. law enforcement. That number had jumped to nearly $450 million in 2013. Overall, the program has shipped off more than $4.3 billion worth of materiel to state and local cops, according to the DLA.
Astoundingly, one-third of all war materiel parceled out to state, local, and tribal police agencies is brand new. This raises further disconcerting questions: Is the Pentagon simply wasteful when it purchases military weapons and equipment with taxpayer dollars? Or could this be another downstream, subsidized market for defense contractors?
It wasn't us hippie peacenik types who demanded all of that ordnance for counterinsurgency wars. I'm a liberal, and my own record is clear (as you can see from a random sampling of older posts): Uncle Sam should stay out of the affairs of other nations unless absolutely compelled to intercede. We should take a "hands off" attitude when a popular uprising in a third world country seeks to overthrow one of those reactionary dictatorships that our conservatives seem to love so much. Taxpayer dollars would be better spent domestically -- paying down the debt, revamping our energy infrastructure -- than on policing the world.

The position articulated in the preceding paragraph is the same one traditionally espoused by such notorious lefties as Noam Chomsky and Michael Parenti. The right has spent decades denigrating those who hold such views.

Is Rand Paul trying to deny this history?

More than that. That revelation about brand new equipment finding its way to local law enforcement is very intriguing. At first glance, it seems as thought the defense contractors have found a potential new customer base.

Newsflash, Rand: "Defense contractors" are big capital, not big government.

And that's the problem which libertarians like Paul never admit. The problem is not the size of government per se; the problem is who owns that government. If big capital owns government, evil will result. If big democracy owns government, good will result. Government, big or small, is beneficent only to the extent that its scope and activities are determined by the people.

If anyone had consulted we the people, we would have said that we don't want secret wars, and we don't want the militarization of police.

But nobody asked us.
Nice catch, thanks....not that it matters if the military equipment is old or new....we do not need a militarized police force trained on our citizenry. We definitely need the preppers on our side in this, rhetoric-wise. They also should've come out tonight in solidarity.

Went into Baltimore for the national moment of silence OR the "day of rage" depending on whether you were using the Anonymous name for it!

2.5 hours, hundreds came out, we went from the police HQ to city hall to the plaza across from the inner harbor, then through the inner harbor and back through the streets to police hq.

Police were out in force, taking our pictures, snipers were trained on us from rooftops and garages.

I'm off to read up on how the rest of the nation fared tonight.

"Hands up! Don't shoot!" I added "DUH!" when we passed by officers close enough to hear.

The US Government is a form of 'corporate socialism'. Big Capital = Big Government. Without electoral reform/revolt I'm afraid it's here to stay. I think Rand Paul is actually very astute in labelling the issue using the 'Big Government' term to get the usual conservative anti-big government crowd frothing at the mouth.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Cooking with gas -- Or: The Apocalypse Fart

The death of Robin Williams has caused some people to take another look at a riff he did more than a decade ago...
And they say there is no global warming, but right now the North Pole is a pool. There’s things just floating away...

It is beyond global warming at this point. It is cooking.
Williams may have been engaging in comic overstatement when he said those words, but now we have evidence that we are indeed cooking -- cooking with gas. This story about the Siberian mystery crater has received far too little attention. The worst-case scenario theory of the crater's formation turns out to be the likeliest.
There’s now a substantiated theory about what created the crater. And the news isn’t so good.

It may be methane gas, released by the thawing of frozen ground. According to a recent Nature article, “air near the bottom of the crater contained unusually high concentrations of methane — up to 9.6% — in tests conducted at the site on 16 July, says Andrei Plekhanov, an archaeologist at the Scientific Centre of Arctic Studies in Salekhard, Russia. Plekhanov, who led an expedition to the crater, says that air normally contains just 0.000179% methane.”

The scientist said the methane release may be related to Yamal’s unusually hot summers in 2012 and 2013, which were warmer by an average of 5 degrees Celsius. “As temperatures rose, the researchers suggest, permafrost thawed and collapsed, releasing methane that had been trapped in the icy ground,” the report stated.
That crater isn't the only one. If a substantial number of craters appear in the permafrost, an unthinkable amount of methane would be released into the atmosphere.
“Pound for pound, the comparative impact of [methane gas] on climate change is over 20 times greater than [carbon dioxide] over a 100-year period,” reported the Environmental Protection Agency.

As the Associated Press put it in 2010, the melting of Siberia’s permafrost is “a climate time bomb waiting to explode if released into the atmosphere.”
Of course, the release of arctic methane has been a massive worry for some time now. A piece published in the Alaska Dispatch News raises further alarms...
In 2013, a paper published in the journal Nature put a price tag on the possibility of the Arctic’s methane being released. The experts suggest it could trigger costs of $60 trillion. Normally, as soon as money is involved, public interest tends to rise. The report should really have brought the subject of “Arctic methane hydrates” out of the science corner onto the economic and political agenda. Which is, of course, where it has to be, if there is any chance of limiting the Arctic thaw by halting global warming.
On the other hand:
There are scientists who insist that such a scenario is not likely. Let me refer you here to a detailed analysis of the scientific literature on the subject published in 2013 by Nafeez Ahmed, executive director of the Institute for Policy Research and Development, in EarthInsight hosted by the Guardian. He points out that none of the scientists who reject the plausibility of the scenario are experts in the Arctic, and specifically the Eastern Siberian Arctic Shelf. On the other hand, there is an emerging consensus among Eastern Siberian Arctic Shelf specialists based on continuing fieldwork, he writes, “highlighting a real danger of unprecedented quantities of methane venting due to thawing permafrost."
Here's Nafeez. He says that environmental collapse stems from income inequality. Obviously, this guy's a damned socialist pinko with an Ay-rab name, so screw him. As any Fox News watcher can tell you, Total World Death is preferable to even the slightest hint of socialism.

Nevertheless, this methane thing could turn out to be bad for business:
They also said it could be devastating if deep craters emerge below bridges and buildings in the Arctic region or closer to the now abundant natural gas pipelines in the regions.

The scientists also said that the scariest issue about methane is its cyclical damage. Methane is 20 times more effective on global warming than carbon dioxide.
Ah, hell, don't fret. I'm sure that former jailbird Jay Lehr of the Heartland Institute -- or some other well-recompensed talking head -- will find some way to explain away these concerns. That's what Heartland is in business to provide: Better science through payola.

Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice. But what if they're both wrong? What if the Earth farts us to death?
Methane slowly degrades in the atmosphere leaving carbon dioxide as an end product. It may have twenty times more impact as a greenhouse gas than CO2 over a hundred year period, but its impact in the first ten years is much much greater. This is important since we're talking about a self perpetuating feedback loop where methane release accelerates heating which in turn accelerates more methane release.

The arctic methane emissions aren't only from the permafrost. There is an immense amount of methane ice (methane hydrate, or clathrate) frozen within the arctic seabed. Research expeditions to the arctic ocean have found a radically increasing amount of methane bubbling up out of arctic waters. As the surface sea ice melts, the sun's rays increasingly heat the darker arctic waters in another accelerating feedback loop.

Worried about their careers and trying not to sound too alarmist, researchers tend towards conservative predictions. But the reality has been that things are changing much faster than the projections. We're passing tipping points now. And still those who've been suckered by the fossil fuel industry sponsored propaganda will come on and comment that this has all been a hoax. What a shame. And it was such a nice planet too.
I'm not sure how the release of arctic methane translates to a potential cost of $60 trillion. If all that methane is released, all the money in the world isn't going to stop the climate disaster and mass extinctions that will ensue. If we spent $60 trillion now to try to slow carbon emissions, we might make a dent. But I doubt it.
There's one thing we could do to reduce carbon emissions literally overnight: Turn off the street lights. Let cars navigate the roads by their headlights; let pedestrians carry their own lights, let homeowners install motion-activated security lights in their yards. This business of lighting up the world like twilight all night just because people are afraid of the dark is silly.
Another thing to reduce emissions pronto: smart traffic lights. How many times have I seen fifteen cars sitting with their engines idling at the red light while the green light waits for three cars 150 yards down the road.

I don't know how the lights decide now, but I suspect that they are on a timer-based system with variable timing for different times of day.

The operational principle should be to keep the traffic moving, the least braking and idling for the greatest number. Sophisticated sensors could greatly increase the efficiency of traffic control.
I was just reading about this on another blog. The situation is looking more and more grim, and as the other guy said here, it's as much the methane in the sea as on the land that should worry us. These guys usually have the up-to-date arctic climate news, it can be sensationalist but the science seems pretty solid. I also take issue with their constant advocacy of geo-engineering. There are lot of other options we should focus in before we pull that trigger.
So maybe the world ends not with a bang or a wimper but with a "Pfffffft" ?
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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Hillary disagrees with Obama's "Don't do stupid shit" policy

It's not just me. Another veteran of the 2008 blogworld fight-for-Hillary has privately asked me: "Is it possible we dodged a bullet with Obama?"

Obama has (privately) defined his foreign policy as "Don't do stupid shit," and Hillary has made clear that she disagrees: She wants to do stupid shit. For what reason? I dunno. Something about great nations needing "organizing principles." At least she didn't use the word "vision," the usual go-to term for all politicians who want to justify the doing of stupid shit.

You know what's really stupid? It's stupid for Hillary, who wants to be president, to insist that we should have armed the Syrian rebels even though all polls indicated that the American people hated the idea. It's stupid for her to pretend that there was a way to unseat Bashar Assad without empowering the jihadists. And it's stupid for her to anger so many liberals by taking an unpopular stance over last year's historical decision point. There are no do-overs in history, unless your name is Dick Nixon.

We live in a profane age, and Obama has been using some surprisingly earthy language of late, calling the criticism of his Syria policy "horseshit" Apparently, Hillary is not the only neocon Dem spewing fantasy:
Top Democratic lawmakers agreed with Corker and Clinton that doing more to support the moderate rebels would have at least had a chance of averting or mitigating the current crisis, which has now spread to large parts of Iraq as ISIS expands its newly declared Caliphate.
Oh, for chrissakes. This "moderate rebel" horseshit (if I may be forgiven the presidential terminology) is, and always has been, nonsense. These alleged moderates had neither the numbers nor the motive.

I'll say it again: To topple a government, you need sunzabitches. Fighters. Zealots. In the Middle East, that means Islamic zealots, there being no other kind in that region.

The American Conservative gets it (partly) right. We trained and equipped the entire fucking Iraqi Army: How well have they fared against ISIS? Even if these hallucinatory Syrian "moderates" were real, could they have successfully fought both ISIS and Assad?
More likely, the weapons supplied to “moderate” rebels would have been lost through conflicts with jihadists, or “moderate” rebels would have used those weapons to weaken the regime’s control and help to expose even more of Syria to the depredations of the most fanatical rebels. Insofar as the “moderate” opposition and jihadists coordinated against the regime, there would presumably be some pooling of resources, so it is also conceivable that U.S. arms would find their way into jihadist hands with the agreement of the Washington-approved rebels.
"Conceivable?" It actually happened! Hell, there was a point when the "moderates" claimed that America was leaving them high and dry while the Nusrah Front was getting all the armaments they could wish!

The elephant in the room -- the thing that neither Hillary nor Obama can talk about in public -- is that we did, in fact, aid the jihadists. Many previous posts have discussed this fact, and those posts all cited credible reports taken (mostly) from mainstream sources. We made sure that the anti-Assad Islamists got arms -- including arms from post-revolutionary Libya. We trained the jihadis in Qatar. We trained them (reportedly) in Jordan. We trained them in the use of chemical weaponry. We even let these crazies fly in and out of our country, despite the "no fly" list.

Everyone knows that Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar tossed a lot of money at the jihadists who have now coalesced under the ISIS banner. This is not a controversial point. It is naive to think that these countries, whom we consider friendly, would have funded a massive Sunni uprising without our blessing. It is undeniable that these countries did what they did with our knowledge and without any public complaints from this administration.

The above-referenced American Conservative piece discusses the impossibility of "vetting" the rebels to make sure that they weren't Islamic wackos. While truish, this point misses the deeper truth: We welcomed Islamic wackos. We encouraged them.

Any stick to beat a dog, and Bashar Assad was the dog.

Iran. Hillary's instantly notorious interview was neo-connish in all sorts of ways, and not just on the topic of Syria. While discussing Israel, she made clear that everything bad everywhere is the fault of Hamas. ("Robin Williams killed himself? Damn you, Hamas...!) And Iran...? Yow. Don't get her started on Iran:
Contrary to their claim, there is no such thing as a right to enrich. This is absolutely unfounded. There is no such right.
By what right does she say they have no such right? Where is "no enrichment" written in international law? If Iran has no right, then why does Israel have a right? Why do we have a right?

I'll tell you what nations have no right to do: They have no right to piss on the very concept of national sovereignty. They have no right make war against a country at peace with other countries. Like it or not, the phrase "at peace with other countries" describes Iran a hell of a lot better than it describes us.

As Digby says:
This is a very scary interview. Much more hardcore than I expected.
It's possible she's doing this to speed things up so an agreement can be struck before Obama leaves office --- kind of a Reaganesque madman move --- but considering her hard line on everything else, I'd guess not.

The reason why. So why is Hillary saying what she is saying? Here's a clue, via the WP:
Josh Block, president of the Israel Project, said it is “important” to see a Democratic leader laying out a worldview “that recognizes the role of our values and very real threats and trends facing the U.S. and our allies today.”

“It struck me as the reemergence of common sense in Democratic foreign policy after a period of drift and indecision,” Block added.
Whenever the Israel-Firsters try to sell war as "the reemergence of common sense," may God help us all. Note the use of the term "values": That's another go-to word, like "vision."

More historical revisionism. Just to make the situation pluperfectly surreal, we have have an insane Bloomberg piece by Megan McArdle, titled "When Obama Beat Hillary, We All Lost." This piece posits that Hillary -- unlike that pinko Obama -- would have governed much further to the right, and that this would have been a good thing.
I think that Hillary Clinton would have been more cautious when dealing with Republicans, and therefore ultimately more successful in some ways. At the very least, she would not be facing the same level of vehement opposition in Congress.
This is nonsense, of course: The behavior of the Republicans during the Bill Clinton years was totally nutzoid. Remember the militias? Remember their supporters in Congress? Remember Ken freakin' Starr?

The writer then engages in the fantasy that Hillary would not have backed anything like the Affordable Care Act (even though she is on record as having done just that) and that there would have been no Tea Party -- because, in this view, the ACA is what created the Tea Party. McArdle also says that the American people have rejected the ACA because it is too radical, even though polls in 2009 indicated that a majority of Americans wanted full-bore Medicare-for-all.

Does McArdle really believe this crap? The Tea Party was never a grassroots movement; it was astroturf created by Wall Streeters to insure that the country focused on deficit reduction instead of stimulus. (The trick worked.) And does McArdle really expect us to think that Obama has given us a librul pinko foreign policy? Until very recently, he has been outrageously hawkish -- drones, Gitmo, unbridled spying, all sorts of devious covert ops, Israel ueber alles...

To his credit, however, Obama has kept this country from participating in direct military intervention, even though the Washington elite keeps finding new reasons to press him into "going Dubya" in this or that region of the world. When Obama says "don't do stupid shit," he really means "Don't send in the Marines unless you truly have to." Alas, that kind of stupid shit is precisely what our elites demand of a president.

Hillary Clinton, I will always treasure my initial delusions about you. I thought you stood for peace. But now...? Well, all I can say is this: If you really insist on imitating George Bush, I'll be happy to send you some brushes and oil paints. 
Honduras was stupid shit.
When you talk about Israel-firsters you are talking about people who promote biological racism-the only folks who are permitted to do so and be called "democrats" as in "the only democracy."

" Halakhic and biblical restrictions on marriage are applied in Israel. So, for example, a kohen may not marry a convert to Judaism."

Now, the priesthood of kohens were mythically purported to be the only people who possess a certain genetic market containing a haplotype or somesuch entity.
It's been long since demonstrated that many members of non-Jewish Middle Eastern groups also posess the marker, but mythical Jewish
identity as understood by the retrograde Orthodox must be maintained in racist Israel.

And Hillary will shed a multitude of non-Jewish American life and limbs fighting wars and funding movements to keep Arabs and Muslims divided and dominated by Jewish racists, bet on it. They own her.
There is no way she said this Shi t back in 2008 and I still invested so much in her. She keeps breaking my heart
Hillary Quote: "Israel is a beacon of everything that's good and right."
Send her the brush and oil paint, Adolf Schickelgruber was a painter too. One more quote from her before i puke: "We came, we saw, he died!"
What do you think will happen if US cut off all aide, all arms to the entire ME including Isreal?
And for the sake of argument, the UN passed a resolution that no other country was allowed to arm or aide any country in the ME either and everyone actually agreed.
Let's hear your predictions. It is a fun exercise in wishful thinking but it will make all arguments about which side we should arm or aide clear.
And she's all gung-ho about restarting the Cold War with Russia. On the national level, it appears that the democratic party I remember no longer exists.
"Israel ueber alles"? Do you have the slightest notion how offensive, no, obscene this is? Maybe if you had a few relatives shipped off to Auschwitz-Birkenau, you might be less willing to display your ignorance. Sheds light on your values. Shame on you. Yep, bringing up the Nazi comparison automatically makes you the loser. Watch your words, pal. Absolutely disgraceful. You don't like 9/11 Truthers, but look at your readers' comments. You foster Nazi comparisons. You don't like 9/11 Truthers, but Nazism is perfectly fine? You, Sir, are boorish and a jerk and would be dangerous if anyone took your trash seriously.
I used the term precisely because I despise fascism and I want to force Israel's supporters into the realization that the nation which has become their religion is, in fact, fascist. In fact -- that's pretty much the DEFINITION of fascism: Making a religion of a state or a tribal identity.

My purpose was to offend. Israeli barbarism and land-theft offends ME, as it does all thinking people. If you accept their behavior, you are Nazi trash and beyond rational discourse.
And fuck Godwin's law. In this case, Argumentem as Hitlerum is justified.
Anon 8:35
How does un-arming and un-aiding Israel translate into sending all Jews to Auschwitz?
I am a "reader".
Your comment is beyond taking liberties with interpretation.
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