Monday, October 20, 2014

Is "meritocracy" another word for plutocracy?

A new article in the WP bewails the fact that a child born to money is more likely to succeed than a child born into a poor family, even when the rich kid is a total screw-up and the poor kid "does everything right."
Specifically, rich high school dropouts remain in the top about as much as poor college grads stay stuck in the bottom — 14 versus 16 percent, respectively. Not only that, but these low-income strivers are just as likely to end up in the bottom as these wealthy ne'er-do-wells. Some meritocracy.

What's going on? Well, it's all about glass floors and glass ceilings. Rich kids who can go work for the family business — and, in Canada at least, 70 percent of the sons of the top 1 percent do just that — or inherit the family estate don't need a high school diploma to get ahead. It's an extreme example of what economists call "opportunity hoarding." That includes everything from legacy college admissions to unpaid internships that let affluent parents rig the game a little more in their children's favor.

But even if they didn't, low-income kids would still have a hard time getting ahead. That's, in part, because they're targets for diploma mills that load them up with debt, but not a lot of prospects. And even if they do get a good degree, at least when it comes to black families, they're more likely to still live in impoverished neighborhoods that keep them disconnected from opportunities.
We've known this for a while. America used to be the land of class mobility, but no longer. Europe -- filthy, socialist "old" Europe -- is way ahead of us in that department.

What bothers me here is the use of the term "meritocracy." That's the problem, right there -- that word. The fact that we have internalized "meritocracy" as an ideal demonstrates how and why we have betrayed our principles. To understand what I'm talking about, check out the Chris Hayes lecture embedded above. Yes, I know that many of you watch Hayes all the time on cable news, and a few of you probably want to bitch about this or that aspect of what he does and what he represents. This lecture (presented a couple of years ago) is quite good, and I would advise you not to judge it until you've heard it.
As bad or worse
(first posted unsigned by mistake - please delete)

The term "meritocracy" was coined by social democrat Michael Young, who drafted much of the British Labour Party's famous manifesto of 1945.

Saw what you like about Clement Attlee, Bessie Braddock, etc., but subsequent Labour leaders Callaghan, Kinnock, Blair and Brown haven't been fit to lick their boots. (Harold Wilson and Michael Foot I'd be less rude about, but still - not a patch on Bevan and Cripps.) Attlee went down to Victoria Station to meet the surviving British worker volunteers when they arrived back from the lost war against fascism in Spain. He must have had something good about him at that time even if later he didn't seem to have a problem with joining NATO and UKUSA. Aneurin Bevan was the best prime minister we never had. Wish I'd realised that 30 years ago, but there you go.

Later, Michael Young was the main man behind the foundation of the Open University. The idea was sound. Would that that institution had become 100 times bigger!

He introduced the term "meritocracy" in his 1958 book Rise of the Meritocracy, 1870-2033. I haven't read it, but I'm told he describes a future where the meritocracy, having 'risen', craps on the downtrodden majority something rotten. I don't know whether he shows them getting overthrown; he may do. The book is online.

I'll read it. Nothing much worth reading seems to be written about the future nowadays. There's a lot of shit about artificial intelligence, 'the singularity' (give it a rest!), and 'transhumanism' (neo-Nazi or non-neo-Nazi, take your pick). Behaviourism on steroids, John von Neumann faction. Then there's the Turner Diaries. Some anarchists in London once did a cartoon book that went down well among some of those characters who like to wear black clothes and throw rocks for a year or two. I can't remember the last time I had an intelligent discussion with anybody about the future, the next 5, 10, 20 years. Or consumed a decent cultural production with that as a theme, even. Greenwash has got a lot to answer for. Youngsters in particular seem mainly not to have the sheerest fucking clue of how to begin to think about the present historical dynamic. Most of them just can't make the effort even where big megacorps like Google and Facebook are concerned.

One of my personalities is shrieking at me: "WRITE YOUR OWN BLOG, YOU ARSEHOLE!"
Not bad advice, b. In fact, didn't I give you that very advice, like, ten years ago?

I have tried to help those who have sought to start their own blogs. I've even tried to help people whose views differ markedly from mine.
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Saturday, October 18, 2014

In the news...

Ebola. I've avoided this issue because the whole debate has degenerated into one of those inane partisan screech-fests, with right-wingers yowling that Obama wants us all to die because he's a Marxist or a Moooslim or a Marxist Moooslim. Trying to argue with the people who spew this nonsense is like trying to reason with Cujo.

Nevertheless, let's address the calls for a flight ban from Liberia and other nations suffering from Ebola. Nate Silver points out what should be obvious: Such a ban would solve nothing, since there are no direct flights from "hot zone" countries. Travelers from Africa usually go through Europe. Riverdaughter made much the same point a couple of days ago.

Also, as The New Republic points out, a travel ban would make it difficult for doctors to get to (and leave) the hot zone. Further economic pressures would cause refugees to leave the country en masse, thereby spreading the disease.

Leon Panetta and Hillary Clinton. The former CIA Director and Defense Secretary has written a book called Worthy Fights, which I should read but probably won't. Apparently, the book offers tepid-but-telling criticisms of Obama while warmly praising Hillary Clinton.
Hillary Clinton “is somebody that I’ve seen who’s dedicated to this country. She’s smart, she’s experienced, and she’s tough. What the hell else do you want?” in a president.
Simple, Leon: I want someone who favors the policies I favor. To be specific: I want someone who is as allergic to neoconservatism as I am.

Is that too much to ask for? Haven't the neocons done enough damage to this country?
It all makes for a pretty tidy narrative, unless you actually read the book. That’s because Worthy Fights itself offers little specific evidence of Clinton’s smarts, toughness, or luminosity as secretary of state. Panetta notes that they agreed about (1) sending more troops to Afghanistan in 2009, (2) launching the raid to kill Osama bin Laden, (3) not swapping Guantanamo Bay prisoners for Bowe Bergdahl, and (4) arming Syria’s rebels.
Let's take a closer look at all four of Panetta's points.

1. Hillary's hawkishness on Afghanistan, as outlined in previous "inside" accounts of the Obama administration, is the main reason I have begun to back away from Hillary.

2. Lots of people would have preferred a raid to capture and try Osama Bin Laden. The fact that he was targeted for death from the get-go indicates that he knew secrets which would have embarrassed this government. "Embarrassed" may be too gentle a word...

3. In exchange for Berghdal, five prisoners were sent to Qatar, with restrictions on their movements. The Republicans spread a rumor that these prisoners became ISIS fighters, but that claim turned out to be a lie. Here's the really weird part: The five prisoners were key Taliban personnel who had been reported as released well before the Berghdal swap. I smell something funky about this whole affair, and until that smell goes away, I can't agree with Panetta or Clinton or Obama or his critics or, well, anyone.

4. "Arming Syria's rebels": Good lord, is Panetta kidding?

The Syrian disaster will go down in history as Obama's most foolish decision -- and Hillary, by her own admission, pushed Obama to pursue this disastrous course.
Hillary Clinton favoured arming Syria's rebels early in the country's civil war but was overruled by Barack Obama, the former secretary of state said in her new memoir, according to CBS News.
She said she returned to Washington from an overseas trip convinced that the training and arming of moderates among the Syrian rebels was the best way to turn the tide against the country's president, Bashar al-Assad.
Once again: We had no business intervening against Assad. He posed no threat to us.

When we decided that Assad had to go, we were toadying to the Saudis, the Israelis and the neocons.

The "moderate" Free Syrian Army is a loose-knit grouping of bloodthirsty warlords who have often worked with ISIS and Nusra. Remember those beheading videos? The FSA captured those guys and handed them over to ISIS. Those are Hillary's "moderates," folks: Even the Pentagon now confesses that they can't work with the FSA.

Syria is a disaster -- a disaster caused by the neocons. I truly hate to admit it, but facts are facts: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton listened to the neocons and must therefore be counted among their number.

Speaking of the neocons: The brilliant Robert Parry, one of the few real journalists left in this world, argues that neoconservative pursuit of empire and regime change now threatens the world economically. I hope Parry won't mind if I quote him at length, because this is must-read material:
The neocons and their “liberal interventionist” junior partners have kept the “regime change” pot boiling with the Western-orchestrated overthrow and killing of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, the proxy civil war in Syria to oust Bashar al-Assad, the costly economic embargoes against Iran, and the U.S.-backed coup that ousted Ukraine’s elected President Viktor Yanukovych last February.

All these targeted governments were first ostracized by the neocons and the major U.S. news organizations, such as the Washington Post and the New York Times, which have become what amounts to neocon mouthpieces. Whenever the neocons decide that it’s time for another “regime change,” the mainstream U.S. media enlists in the propaganda wars.
Parry goes on to point out that this country would be far more prosperous if we didn't have to pay for the previous neocon disaster, the Iraq war. That was a very expensive old do: $2 trillion by this estimate, and the actual cost may rise to $6 trillion.

Back to Parry:
But Obama didn’t do himself (or the world) any favors when he put much of his foreign policy in the hands of Democratic neocon-lites, such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Bush holdovers, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Gen. David Petraeus. At State, Clinton promoted the likes of neocon Victoria Nuland, the wife of arch-neocon Robert Kagan, and Obama brought in “liberal interventionists” like Samantha Power, now the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

In recent years, the neocons and “liberal interventionists” have become almost indistinguishable, so much so that Robert Kagan has opted to discard the discredited neocon label and call himself a “liberal interventionist.”
How about "imperialist"? A little too on-the-nose?

Parry goes on to point out that the necons tried to engineer us into the war against Assad in 2013. Had Obama taken the bait, ISIS might now control all of Syria.
By late September 2013, the disappointed neocons were acting out their anger by taking aim at Putin. They recognized that a particular vulnerability for the Russian president was Ukraine and the possibility that it could be pulled out of Russia’s sphere of influence and into the West’s orbit.

So, Carl Gershman, the neocon president of the U.S.-funded National Endowment for Democracy, took to the op-ed page of the neocon-flagship Washington Post to sound the trumpet about Ukraine, which he called “the biggest prize.”

But Gershman added that Ukraine was really only an interim step to an even bigger prize, the removal of the strong-willed and independent-minded Putin, who, Gershman added, “may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad [i.e. Ukraine] but within Russia itself.” In other words, the new neocon hope was for “regime change” in Kiev and Moscow.
Across the Continent, populist parties from the Right and Left have been challenging establishment politicians over their inability to reverse the widespread unemployment and the growing poverty. Important to Europe’s economy was its relationship with Russia, a major market for agriculture and manufactured goods and a key source of natural gas to keep Europe’s industries humming and its houses warm.

The last thing Europe needed was more chaos, but that’s what the neocons do best and they were determined to punish Putin for disrupting their plans for Syrian “regime change,” an item long near the top of their agenda along with their desire to “bomb, bomb, bomb Iran.”
Parry then tells the now-familiar story of the American-backed coup in Ukraine, which brought neo-Nazis to power.
Pressured by the Obama administration, the EU agreed to sanction Russia for its “aggression,” touching off a tit-for-tat trade war with Moscow which reduced Europe’s sale of farming and manufacturing goods to Russia and threatened to disrupt Russia’s natural gas supplies to Europe.

While the most serious consequences were to Ukraine’s economy which went into freefall because of the civil war, some of Europe’s most endangered economies in the south also were hit hard by the lost trade with Russia. Europe began to stagger toward the third dip in a triple-dip recession with European markets experiencing major stock sell-offs.

The dominoes soon toppled across the Atlantic as major U.S. stock indices dropped, creating anguish among many Americans just when it seemed the hangover from Bush’s 2008 market crash was finally wearing off.

Obviously, there are other reasons for the recent stock market declines, including fears about the Islamic State’s victories in Syria and Iraq, continued chaos in Libya, and exclusion of Iran from the global economic system – all partly the result of neocon ideology.
Let's return to Leon Panetta's question. What do we want from a President?

We want a President who openly decries neoconservatism. We want a liberal, not a "liberal interventionist." We want no more coups and needless wars. We want no more more hellish partnerships with neo-Nazis and Islamic jihadists. We want an end to the current madness.
I fully understand the dream of actually electing a progressive for President, but I believe all we'll get is another pawn for the Empire. Someone who works for the coming " Global Plantation". Sad!

P.S. Great blog. Thanks!
Both Senegal and Nigeria seem to have contained their Ebola situation. Senegal has been declared "Ebola Free" by the World Health Organization, and Nigeria will be declared the same if no new cases appear before this coming Monday.

I think of Hillary as being a war monger.

As for the Bin Laden assassination story, Sy Hersh told the Guardian, "Nothing's been done about that story, it's one big lie, not one word of it is true,". Wonder when his book will be ready?
hmmm....The Pentagon's Failed "Terrorism Futures Market" Is Now a Ukranian Bookstore?
regarding your comment 'still paying for the iraq war'.... it is only funny money - us$.. until it is knocked off it's defacto world currency position, the funny money can spend however it sees fit.. it is not based on anything real, but instead debt! financial sanctions on other countries is a first line of action against other countries, followed by wars on these same countries.. the bully will continue to bully with it's funny money until enough countries round the globe refuse to do business with the funny money anymore.. getting oil denominated in something other then the funny money is the big challenge.. that little plum was set back at bretton woods before nixon took the us$ off the gold standard.. cheers james
If it is true that children were intentionally gassed, that is a reason for concern.

However, a lot of children were equally hurt in Iraq by US bombs, so that does cloud the issue.

Neo conservatism is just as unreasonable as progressivism. For the moderate middle to back in power, they cannot ignore either platform.
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Friday, October 17, 2014

The CIA says that this trick never works. So why do we keep doing it?

The NYT published a genuinely fascinating story the other day. It discusses a CIA study (to which Obama once made oblique public reference) on the usefulness of an "astroturf" rebel army, in those cases when the American government wishes to see a foreign government toppled and replaced. The CIA admits that this gambit rarely succeeds.
The still-classified review, one of several C.I.A. studies commissioned in 2012 and 2013 in the midst of the Obama administration’s protracted debate about whether to wade into the Syrian civil war, concluded that many past attempts by the agency to arm foreign forces covertly had a minimal impact on the long-term outcome of a conflict. They were even less effective, the report found, when the militias fought without any direct American support on the ground.

The findings of the study, described in recent weeks by current and former American government officials, were presented in the White House Situation Room and led to deep skepticism among some senior Obama administration officials about the wisdom of arming and training members of a fractured Syrian opposition.
May I ask the obvious question? If the trick rarely works -- if the CIA told Obama "Don't expect this trick to work" -- then why did we fund a rebel army in Syria?

(Actually, many reports hold that the rebels were funded by our allies, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. But those nations would not have acted against our will; they may even have functioned as middle-men for our CIA.)
One exception, the report found, was when the C.I.A. helped arm and train mujahedeen rebels fighting Soviet troops in Afghanistan during the 1980s, an operation that slowly bled the Soviet war effort and led to a full military withdrawal in 1989. That covert war was successful without C.I.A. officers in Afghanistan, the report found, largely because there were Pakistani intelligence officers working with the rebels in Afghanistan.

But the Afghan-Soviet war was also seen as a cautionary tale.
Like, duh. If the creation of Al Qaeda counts as success, I'd hate to see failure.

Nevertheless, we (defining "we" broadly) did indeed create a rebellion against Assad. We made sure that these rebels got stores of weapons from Qaddafy's Libya. We trained them in Jordan. We allowed all sorts of assorted maniacs to hop aboard commercial aircraft and fly to the war zone, even though these clowns should have been on the "no fly" lists. We never complain when Israel works with the Nusra front, the Syrian variant of Al Qaeda. Whether or not we intended ISIS to become what it has become, the fact remains that they got their mitts on a whole lot of American weaponry. And they'd use it to blow us away, if given the chance.

So why did we do it? The CIA said "Don't do it!" -- yet we did it. Why?

Assad is a dictator, sure -- but he's no worse a dictator than the guys running Saudi Arabia, and we think they are just peachy. Assad was not directly threatening our interests. He let the Christian community in Syria live in peace. Looking at the situation from a "What's in it for us?" viewpoint, I see no upside for America (not even for corporate America) when it comes to this government's mania for toppling Assad.

Moon of Alabama suggests:
It could also have been a policy driven by the neocon/liberal-interventionist urge to just "do something" - i.e. to achieve some self-satisfaction.

Or the plan was never to win. If the aim was and is the "destruction of the infrastructure, economy and social fabric of Syria" then arming all kinds of insurgents was and is a sane and successful policy.
In other words, Washington no longer wants to see certain countries ruled by pliant dictators. We would rather see mere anarchy loosed upon the world.

Maybe we really have become the military arm of a Saudi/Israeli alliance. They say "jump" and we jump. They say "bomb" and we bomb. They say "create a rebel army" and we create a rebel army. In Steinbeckian terms, they are George and we are Lenny -- the big, strong goombah who does whatever the smart guy says.

Future generations will see the supreme irony of this situation: Roughly a dozen years after 9/11, we have become the financial angels and weapons dealers to Al Qaeda, or at least to the maniacs who have inherited the Al Qaeda movement.

And guess what? We are making the same mistake all over again.
John Allen, the retired Marine general in charge of coordinating the U.S.-led coalition’s response to the Islamic State, confirmed Wednesday what Syrian rebel commanders have complained about for months – that the United States is ditching the old Free Syrian Army and building its own local ground force to use primarily in the fight against the Islamist extremists.

“At this point, there is not formal coordination with the FSA,” Allen told reporters at the State Department.
This time, Allen said, the United States and its allies will work to strengthen the political opposition and make sure it’s tied to “a credible field force” that will have undergone an intense vetting process.
Uh huh. Over the past couple of years, haven't journalists been telling us that we were "vetting" the Free Syrian Army? Readers of the NYT and the WP got the impression that we were vetting the hell out of those guys.

Have you noticed what's missing in the current scenario? Okay, lots of things are missing: Rationality, hope, peace, democracy... But I'm referring to something else, something that used to be an important ingredient in the familiar American "regime change" recipe.

There's no false leader. No Syrian pseudo-messiah. No "our guy." No poster-boy. No one to fight for.

In the old days, we would pick "our guy" and build him up -- and if he later got too big for his britches, we would tear him down. Think: Ramon Magsaysay, Ferdinand Marcos (and later Corazon Aquino), Anwar Sadat (and later Hosni Mubarak), The Shah of Iran, Carlos Castillo Armas, Augusto Pinochet, Boris Yeltsin. Fidel Castro? Yep, he belongs on this list. Osama Bin Laden? Yes, him too. Some puppets snip the strings early on.

We tried the "false Messiah" trick one last time in Iraq, but Ahmed Chalabi never could pass the laugh test.

Is there a Syrian analog to Ahmed Chalabi? I don't see one. Well, there's the leader of ISIS, Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi -- whoever the hell he really is. But I don't think that our intelligence community ever wanted him to rule huge chunks of Syria.

Here's a weird thought. Had history gone just a bit differently, the lovely "Syrian Girl" might have made for an interesting Joan of Arc figure. Her family was prominent in Syria, and had come afoul of Assad in years past. (I don't yet know the full story.) But "Mimi" (as she sometimes calls herself, although that is not her real name) has taken a resolutely anti-American position. And who can blame her? Hers is the only reasonable position to take, given the fact that America has been backing Al Qaeda in her native land.

At any rate, for all of the planned training and vetting and vetting and training of the New and Improved Free Syrian Army, everyone in the world knows that the true leader of the New and Improved Free Syrian Army will be the President of the United States. I don't think that many Syrians want to fight and die for Uncle Sam.
The overriding goal of the American and Western European elite is not really different from that of any of the elites of empires past: keep the barbarians from coming together, keep the resources flowing to the centre, keep assimilating them into the system. Sometimes the elite can do that by buying into the local power structures, sometimes the best thing to do is to kill everyone and cover their land with salt.

That the Western elites are more and more unable to play this game with an acceptable degree of efficacy is indeed an indication that their dream of world domination is being vexed to nightmare.
The officer who replaced me as commander of a CIDG unit in Vietnam was a Cuban who had been a Bay of Pigs POW. He had been ransomed for a farm tractor and given a commission in the US Army for his pains.
It's pretty clear ISIS/ISIL/IS was created & funded by Saudi Arabia to serve as that most repressive regime's Wahhabi Sunni Army. And decades of Middle East disasters shows America has long been Saudi Arabia's bitch. That makes some weird double act, wouldn't ya say?
It's very astute of you, Joseph, to recognize the lack of a poster boy in the US's Syrian effort. Note we have the same situation in Iraq--we're told that the current Shiite government in Iraq is unacceptable and not worth defending, but that we need to bomb ISIS anyway.

If there is a plan, perhaps it is to let those on the ground who are full of passionate intensity bleed each other to death and the swoop in with our Messiah when the dust clears. Or perhaps the plan is to get us all used to the idea of fighting endless wars for no reason except our refusal to admit their pointlessness.

Your analysis left out two benefits to "us" or, rather, to the interests out government serves: 1)the alleged benefit of denying the Russians a military port on the Mediterranean (do they have another? I don't think so.) And then there's always 2) the benefit to the military-industrial complex of military operations making the MIC seem useful and necessary.

Propaganda can be a big war aim nowadays.

On a smaller scale, there is commercial propaganda for weapons sales. Saw that in Georgia and Libya - wars which otherwise made no sense. The west had already taken over Libya, and Georgia never had a chance against Russia.

On a larger scale, yes the MIC - in a context of the "profound cultural changes" required in the desired "world war". (Quoting Ephraim Halevy.) Will it go biological first or nuclear?

Whatever, Google Glass is going to be big!

The US "Saudi Arabia's bitch"? That's what Michael Moore was saying, to avoid mentioning the power of Jewish interests over the US.

Where's the money in it for the Saud family in Syria? Heroin? Been too little mention of heroin in the discussion of that country.
Look what these bastards did to Syrian girl!!!

This comment has been removed by the author.
Anon: You can be sure that I'll soon have much more to say about THAT.

b: From all that I've read, Saudi detestation of the great Shiite powers -- Syria and Iran -- is genuine.
"(C)ommercial propaganda for weapons sales" is at least part of what's happening with the Swedish "submarine hunt".

Lots of references to the Swedish Visby-class corvette - which, as the newspapers keep telling us, is armed with brand-new stealth technology, being one of the world's first "stealth ships". Shiny marketing photos in the news reports.

I'm not arguing post hoc ergo propter hoc. We've seen this before.

I'm itching for the submarine story to merge with the MV Arctic Sea story. Both involve reported events in Swedish waters.

What could be hidden on or near some of the thousands of islands in the Stockholm archipelago, I wonder?

On Saudi: I think everyone hates the Saud family except some of the leaders of other royalist-despotic Gulf Arab regimes.

Wasn't the Alawite self-categorisation as Shiite tactical, though? Or even locally takeover-oriented? But probably they're all Shiite vermin as far as the Saud family go.
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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Atrocity -- or psyop? What made Steven Green go mad?

Here's a follow-up piece I had hoped not to write. In 2006, an American soldier in the 101st Airborne -- Steven Green, of Midland, Texas -- led a group of fellow soldiers on a murder mission near Mahmoudiya, Iraq. They entered the home of a humble grocer and murdered everyone there. Green brutally raped a 14 year old girl named Abir Hamza, who was killed and set afire. (The photo to your left shows her at the age of five; the color photo below shows her at a later age.)

Here's what I wrote on an earlier occasion:
I hope every American sees this girl's face. Are our red-state Jesusmaniacs so blinded by their anti-Muslim bigotry -- so blinded by the lies told by our war-loving president and his propagandists -- that they cannot recognise the humanity and innocence in that little girl's eyes? This war has had many victims; let her face represent those we cannot see.
The UK's Daily Mail has published a follow-up story on Steven Green, who resides in a federal prison in Tucson, Arizona. A convert to Catholicism, he is now fighting his sentence on the grounds that he should not have been tried in a civilian court.

The military did not charge Green when the crime happened. He was diagnosed with a personality disorder and let go.

The new interview with Green contains important information about what happened but doesn't cover all of the mysteries that some bloggers noted at the time. Here's what the Daily Mail has to say:
The military placed Green with the Fort Campbell-based 101st Airborne. Upon arriving in Iraq, Green said, his training to kill, the rampant violence and derogatory comments by other soldiers against Iraqis served to dehumanise that country's civilian population.

A turning point came on December 10, 2005, Green said, when a previously friendly Iraqi approached a traffic checkpoint and opened fire.

The shots killed Staff Sgt. Travis L. Nelson, 41, instantly. Sgt. Kenith Casica, 32, was hit in the throat. Casica died as soldiers raced him aboard a Humvee to a field hospital.

Green said those deaths 'messed me up real bad.'

The deaths intensified Green's feelings toward all Iraqis, whom soldiers often called by a derogatory term. 'There's not a word that would describe how much I hated these people,' Green said. 'I wasn't thinking these people were humans.'
Here's the intriguing part. Green was given unspecified drugs before he committed his crime.
Over the next four months, Green sought help from a military stress counsellor, obtaining small doses of a mood-regulating drug - and a directive to get some sleep before returning to his checkpoint south of Baghdad.

In the interview, Green described alcohol and drugs being prevalent at the checkpoint. Green said soldiers there frequently felt abandoned by the Army and were given little support after the deaths of Casica and Nelson.

Spc. James P. Barker of Fresno, California, testified that he pitched the idea of going to the al-Janabi family's home to Sgt. Paul E. Cortez of Barstow, California, who was in charge of the traffic checkpoint.
Cortez testified that Barker and Green had the idea of having sex with the girl and that he didn't know the family would be killed.

Green, then a private,saidhe had 'an altered state of mind' at the time. 'I wasn't thinking about more than 10 minutes into the future at any given time,' Green said. 'I didn't care.'

At the Iraqi home, Barker and Cortez pulled Abeer into one room, while Green held the mother, father and youngest daughter in another.

Pfc. Jesse V. Spielman, of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, stood guard in the hall. As Barker and Cortez raped the teen, Green shot the three family members, killing them.

He then went into the next room and raped Abeer, before shooting her in the head. The soldiers lit her remains on fire before leaving. Another soldier stood watch a few miles away at the checkpoint.
The article does not specify what happened to the other participants.

Lingering mysteries. At the time this matter first came to light, I wondered whether this atrocity had a hidden side.

Reports at the time indicated that a much larger raiding party was involved. Eyewitnesses said that "10 to 15" men entered the home.

The media told us that the incident came to light only after Green confessed during therapy. But that is not true. American soldier knew all about the massacre directly after it happened, and they lied about the perpetrators:
Here's the part of the story most Americans do not yet know: The authorities soon put a (rather threadbare) cover-up into place.
"After three hours the [American] occupation troops surrounded the house and told the people of the area that the family had been killed by terrorists because they were Shi'ah. Nobody in town believed that story because Abu 'Abir was known as one of the best people of the city, one of the noblest, and no Shi'i, but a Sunni monotheist. Everyone doubted their story and so after the sunset prayers the occupation troops took the four bodies away to the American base.
If Steve Green was the only guilty party -- if we must place all blame on a classic "lone nut" -- then who authorized the official lie? How can we believe the claim that the crime remained unknown until after Green was diagnosed, when an official falsehood went out within hours of the massacre? Are we really supposed to believe that four privates could initiate such a strike and put a cover-up in place?
The Americans also told the hospital workers who received the bodies that the family was killed by "terrorists." The cover story didn't work because ill-educated Americans were unclear on who was Sunni and who was Shi'ite.

In this period, the American military made many efforts to stir up tensions between Iraq's Sunnis and Shi'ites. Americans thought it better to see the nation torn apart by sectarian violence than united in opposition to the occupation.

Thus, this eight-year-old crime has direct relevance to current events in Iraq -- see, for example, this article by Patrick Cockburn.

If I may quote again from my earlier piece:
Initial reports said that Green and the others changed into civilian clothes before the attack. Why? Obviously, they did not intend to pass as American tourists. Obviously, authorities would not give a cover story for an atrocity commit by four Americans disguised as civilians. Obviously, the soldiers hoped to pass as Iraqis -- as mujahideen.

Was this whole operation a bungled psy-op? Were the soldiers instructed to commit an atrocity while posing as insurgents? That theory may be speculative -- but to me, it makes more sense than does the official story.

Think about it. A group of Ameican soldiers leave base -- supposedly without their commanding officer's knowledge. They are dressed as insurgents. They commit a despicable act. They return. Other military men immediately come to the scene and ascribe the crime to the insurgency. The cover story falls apart because the Americans foolishly got the victims' religion wrong.

If you don't like the psy-op theory, feel free to come up with another one that covers all of these facts.
On a later occasion, I added this:
Personally, I find absurd the idea that the murder party did not include anyone of a rank higher than private. The house, it seems, is near a checkpoint; weren't there any soldiers there to investigate the sounds of gunfire? If all of the soldiers assigned to that checkpoint were involved in the crime, then why didn't someone in charge of that unit -- a corporal, a sergeant, a captain -- make sure that these men were doing their job? After the crime, wouldn't investigators ask the guys manning the checkpoint if they heard gunshots?

And I'm still trying to understand why the perpetrators dressed in dark clothing. Seems to me that they would gain entry more easily dressed as soldiers. The civilian clothing is consonant with the theory that they were trying to pass as insurgents.
We now know that Green was identified as psychologically troubled before the crime. I'd like to know just which drugs Green received, and just what kind of "therapy" he underwent before he went on his murder spree.

Even if you cannot buy the theory that Green was a manufactured killer, it certainly seems clear that the American military tried to make opportunistic use of the crime.

If another journalist ever gains access to Green, I hope the following questions are asked: Just what kind of treatment did Green receive before the killing? How did the drug affect his thinking? Did he fall unconscious? Does he have any memories -- even hazy ones -- of receiving instructions? How many people participated in the crime? Who was in charge? Why were the soldiers dressed in black civilian clothing? Were the soldiers trying to pass as Iraqis? Why did the military try to blame the massacre on sectarian violence?
Don't forget the reports of British troops dressed in local garb who were pulled over in Basra either driving a car bomb or firing on locals. Either way, when I read it at the time I assumed they were acting as agent provocateurs in an attempt to inflame sectarian violence in Iraq.
Here's a link to a Global Research article talking about the British soldiers in question. It turns out they had been arrested planting bombs around Basra and were only freed because of a full on helicopter and tank attack on the jail that had been holding them.
In the wake of the Green incident - which was a truly horrifying assault on the lives and dignity of that family - the Army also lied about about a series of revenge killings against members of that outfit. The Army knew full well why several soldiers were kidnapped and killed, but framed those incidents as inexplicable terrorist events.
Depending upon which drug or drugs he was given, Green may have a defense. He was given pills by a counselor?

Interesting article on untested antipsychotic drug combinations possibly given to Robin Williams and their possible role in his suicide.

Absolutely ridiculous. Robin Williams did not commit suicide as the result of any drug or combination of drugs. He may, MAY, have committed suicide due to a Parkinson's Disease diagnosis and prognosis, a painful and fatal disease. Additionally, countless people commit suicide everyday, there is nothing so special about Mr. William's suicide, other than being an idol of film and pop culture. The premise that suicides only occur as the result of drugs is a flawed premise. Just because someone committed suicide does not mean they were influenced by drugs (legit drugs, ie. prescriptions, or illicit drugs). Internal struggles and torment, combined with an observation that the world is not a worthwhile place but a hell, is more than enough thought to lead to suicide, no drugs required. The death of Robin Williams does not need a grand jury, it needs to be left alone. If Robin chose not to live in this world anymore, not only is that totally understandable and relatable, but that decision should be honored and acknowledged. Who are you to force someone to stay here against their will? Other than a self-righteous and pompous jackass.
Geeze Jay, no one "forced" Robin Williams to stay on this earth, obviously. The questions about medications are completely realize that most anti-depressants list suicidal thoughts as a possible side effect right? You know that people, who otherwise showed no sign whatsoever of suicidal tendencies, have killed themselves after starting or being on such drugs for a short period. This is not a controversial issue. However, you may well be right about Robin Williams, and I would agree that there isn't really any point in opening an investigation. If it was the result of medications, there isn't much chance of proving that one way or the other, and he certainly had had problems over the years and had quite a number of reasons to be depressed and possibly suicidal. There is no question that not all suicides are the result of medication side effects, but there is also no question that some, in fact, are.
"The premise that suicides only occur as the result of drugs is a flawed premise."

Where did you get this premise? I never stated it, nor was it contained in the article I linked to.

"Who are you to force someone to stay here against their will? Other than a self-righteous and pompous jackass."

Project much? You don't know me nor my life. Again, this was not contained within my statements, nor the article I linked to. Did you even read it?
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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What you need to know about evil clowns

A rash of evil clown sightings in southern California has led to copycat clownage in other cities.

It all began in the small town of Wasco, near Bakersfield, where the fellow to your left showed up to terrorize the upstanding citizenry. Some say that his clowning is part of an ongoing art project. He even has his own Twitter feed -- which is not to be confused with the Twitter feed of Creepy the Clown, an unfriendly rival who haunts nearby Bakersfield.

The copycat clowns have allegedly been seen wielding machetes and baseball bats and even guns.
One child says he was chased down the street with an ax, KGET reports.

A deputy with the Kern County Sheriff's Office told the station that there have been reports of crimes committed in the neighborhood by people in clown costumes.
We should probably discount all reports of weaponized clowns. If you decided to pull a stunt like this, would you give the cops an excuse to haul you into the pokey? I wouldn't. I would be a scrupulously law-abiding clown who just happened to look evil.

(Is a scary clown allowed to carry a folding knife? California's knife laws are notoriously vague. By contrast, under Maryland law, an evil clowns may have a concealed "pen knife" of any size. If you are intent on being an evil clown, do it in Maryland.)

One copycat clown was arrested for "annoying a minor." Why don't cops arrest the many minors who annoy me?

Evil clown reports are not new. Loren Coleman's 1983 classic Mysterious America contains a chapter on Phantom Clowns. As Coleman documents, in the summer of 1981, a flurry of news reports in several states warned of enigmatic, frightening clowns who tried to lure children into their vans.

(Would that trick ever work? Seriously, has any pedo in history ever had any luck with that tactic?)

The tale of Tuppy. At this point, it may be appropriate to mention my personal run-ins with an unnerving clown. This story takes us back to 1980, the year before the sightings chronicled by Loren Coleman. I was in college when I met Tuppy.

Tuppy favored a brown costume. (Considering his line of work, he was pretty drab.) I wouldn't call him evil-looking; he was more of a sad clown, in the style of Emmett Kelly. During that summer, my friends and I frequently encountered him as we made the rounds of our usual haunts -- UCLA, Westwood, Santa Monica and environs. On occasion, he would talk with us, making unfathomable references to sick and dying children. He spoke in a strange mumble. He never asked for money.

Although we often saw him wandering the streets and always greeted him cheerfully, Tuppy creeped us out. That creature was an omen in greasepaint: Whenever Tuppy flippity-flopped into our presence, we knew that at least one of us would suffer a hideous and immeasurably profound reversal of fortune. For example, one of us might ask a girl on a date and she would say no.

Over time, even worse things started to happen.

As that hellish summer progressed, we all became genuinely freaked out by the conjunction of bad luck and the appearances of His Tuppiness. Bad things happened every single time we laid eyes on him, and I became convinced that Tuppy was somehow responsible for the increasing number of misfortunes in our lives. (Yes, I was guilty of post hoc ergo propter hoc reasoning -- but in my defense, we're talking about one hell of a lot of hoc.)

One night, I was part of a crew on a student film. The location was a working-class home on the edge of an industrial area, roughly forty miles away from our usual stomping grounds. We wrapped after midnight and packed up the car. I'll never forget the sight of the lone figure who came walking down that dark, shadowy street: Tuppy.

When we asked him why he was there, he gave no comprehensible reply. He simply sputtered something about sick and dying children.

As we drove off, I told my friends that what we all knew. "None of the footage is going to come out. Right?"

So it was written; so it was done.

The next time we saw the Clown of Doom -- near the Santa Monica Cafe, if memory serves -- was the day before I learned that my mother had lung cancer.

Tuppy's charm had definitely worn thin. Fortunately, that was the last sighting.

More clowns. Loren Coleman, a braver man than I, has continued to track the comings and goings of sinister circus folk.  Here are some reports coming out of Chicago in 2008.
In the October 2008 incidents, a man wearing clown make-up and a wig is using balloons in an attempt to lure children into his vehicle on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois. Police issued an alert about a week after a man with a similar description was spotted on the West Side.

The near abductions were reported in the 8300 block of South Mackinaw and the 10000 block of South Normal, according to a community alert by Calumet Area detectives.

The man, who wears clown make-up and a wig, approached children with balloons attempting to lure them into his vehicle, but the children ran and called 911, the alert said.

The man, who wears a clown mask or white face paint with teardrops on the cheek, has approached children walking to and from school, police said. Witnesses told police he was seen driving a white or brown van with the windows broken out.

The attempted kidnapping/child abduction occurred on October 7, 2008, at 5:55 p.m. and October 10, 2008, at 8:55 a.m.

Police on Sunday morning, October 12th, said the sightings have not been concentrated to one specific area and there have been multiple sightings of clowns across the city, according to a Harrison Area Special Victims Unit detective.
Seriously, you'd think that a pedophile would use any other approach.

There were quite a few Evil Clown sightings in 2013, as far away as Northampton in the UK, Volendam in the Netherlands, and the island of Crete. Meanwhile, here in the states:
In late April of 1981, Daniel O'Connell of the Boston Public Schools sent the following memo to principals of elementary and middle schools in the city:
It has been brought to the attention of the police department and the district office that adults dressed as clowns have been bothering children to and from school. Please advise all students that they must stay away from strangers, especially ones dressed as clowns.
This sounds like a bad joke, but the memo was based on multiple reports of clowns harassing small children in the Boston area. A clown had tried to lure children into his black van near Franklin Park and the Mary Curley school in Jamaica Plain, and two clowns in a black van had offered Brookline children candy if they would join them for a quick ride.
Boys in the hoods. Some of you may have heard of a similar phenomenon involving roadside interactions with people in dark hoods. Not long ago, while perusing the wares at one of Baltimore's finer thrift stores, I happened across a scholarly volume titled Files From the Edge, by one Philip J. Imbrogno. From page 110:
In the summer of 2002, a young woman left her friend's house at 11 PM in North Salem, New York, and began her drive home to Brewster. She decided to take the back roads and drive around the reservoir; it was very beautiful that time of year. As her car turned down the Lower Magnetic Mine Road, she saw a figure standing in the road up ahead. At first she thought it was a deer, but when she flashed her bright lights she could clearly make out the outline of a person. The figure started walking toward the car and it was apparent this mysterious apparition wanted to get her attention. She stopped the car, rolled down the window, and yelled, "Are you OK?" Without warning, her car was swarmed by "at least fifteen men and women" in long red robes who pounded on her car hood and started shaking the vehicle. The woman screamed when one of them opened the driver's door and tried to pull her out of the car."
You'll have to buy the book to find out the rest of the story. (Ain't I a stinker?) Imbrogno reports that "people in hoods" accounts have a long history in this area; the earliest report goes back to 1910.

The hooded "Tau" robe is, of course, the traditional costume worn by practitioners of ceremonial magic. These robes are usually black, not red, although Squeaky Fromme and her associates once favored the "Wendy the Witch" look.

So, what do we make of these sightings? Perhaps the greasepainted enigmas in Wasco and other California towns are readers of Loren Coleman's book who have decided to maintain the tradition of Evil Clown apparitions. Something similar can be said of the roadside-attackers-in-hoods tales: I suspect that enterprising pranksters have decided to "live the lore" by dressing up as locally famous bogeymen.

The "street theater" theory explains both the Brewster magi and the Wasco clown, along with his Bozo-ized brethren.

But it doesn't explain Tuppy. Tuppy was a demon.
I have no fear of clowns, and my own feelings are the farthest thing from outright phobia of clowns (coulrophobia). Yet, even I can understand the fear of clowns, without knowing it myself. Clowns mimic and imitate the appearance of people ('folks'), but incorrectly so. In the same way that some folks are terrified of dolls, mannequins and other anthropomorphic 'things' which only incorrectly copy the appearance of man. Even if the copying error is a slight one, something off even in the slightest way, it's more than enough to induce disgust and terror.

It actually makes me wonder if, æons ago, seemingly an ævum ago, when the Tetragrammaton (YHWH) supposedly created man in his image, if the copy, humans, of YHWH was not a perfect copy. Since nothing else YHWH did was done to perfection, there is no reason to believe that an attempt to copy or clone himself resulted in a perfect copy either. Even if it did, doubtless that we have changed much since that time, since modern anatomical humans (homo sapiens sapiens) are so many generations removed from the first generations, we appeared quite differently in our initial generations.

All of it coming from failures in the copying process, in the same way that DNA often fails to transcribe properly, resulting in disfiguring diseases that appear terrifying.

Also, you may want to read upon on Rob Zombie's next flick, titled '31', which is about killer clowns. And where is that sequel to 'Killer Klowns from Out Space' that has been promised for decades. I'm wondering if it will ever happen.

I also believe that fear of clowns may be caused by an unreasonable and irrational fear of pedophiles (a fear that is so popularised and promoted today that it exceeds or equals that of 'terrorists'). Don't buy into the fear of pedophiles, don't buy into the fear of Ebola (Hemorrhagic Fever), don't buy into the fear of 'terrorists' (some would call them 'freedom fighters' or 'rebels'). These fears are stimulated for the singular purpose of control.

Rosamonde Miller put it quite eloquently when she, talking about whether we should think the world (which means human civilisation) is evil or not, said:

"...rather than referring to the natural disasters, physical pain and death we find in the natural world, more aptly describes the view of the world and the concepts we humans have created by our ignorant desire to oppress and control. Thus we create heartless mechanistic philosophies that treat sentient beings as if they were inanimate objects; commit acts and create laws that restrict and objectify other sentient beings, all in search of an illusory idea of safety and survival. We find ways to justify our ends of obtaining greater dominion and control by maintaining our psyches in fear and convincing ourselves that our actions are righteous and that they justify the means we use. We deceive ourselves and indulge in revenge by calling it justice.......... We see a great tragedy unfolding, with ignorant humanity inflicting this tragedy upon each other and upon all of nature."
Lon Chaney: "Nobody laughs at a clown at midnight."

Tuppy's a great story, Joseph. Hsve you considered doing a screenplay?
Anon: A friend of mine did, in fact, write a screenplay inspired by Tuppy.

In this story, an army led by the fearsome Colonel Striker take up arms against the rampaging menace of clowns worldwide. After all other clowns are wiped out, only Tuppy is left.

In the last scene, the Colonel has his gun pointed at Tuppy's forehead -- right between the eyes, point blank.

"You can kill us all," says Tuppy, "but you can't kill an idea."

"WHAT idea?" barks the Colonel.

"If only we had one," sighs Tuppy.

The Colonel fires. His aide adoringly says: "Good shot, sir!"

It would have made a fine film. Trouble is, the script was only 40 pages long.
Well Joseph, the problem with your 40-page screenplay is that it's just an elaborate joke. You need to have more at stake.

You've got a great mystery there in Tuppy. Is he psychic, or is he a spook? If the latter, why is he spooking you?

You could have conflict among the spookees (some of them want to kidnap Tuppy and torture him for information, some of them want to buy him beers and hang out, and some want to avoid him altogether.

You could have an arc of character of a spookee who wants to think the world is benign and then has to admit that his rational mind will not let him believe that. You could have the waking-up character lose his girlfriend because she wishes to live in a solipsistic world in which if she can keep bad thoughts out of her beautiful mind nothing bad will happen.

Bring children into the mix and that raises the stakes. Maybe Tuppy starts spooking the kids. Maybe he wants to escort them home from school to protect them from invisible threats.

There's a lot of potential that your 40 pages didn't begin to explore.

I didn't write that script. But the fact that another person wrote a script demonstrates the impact that Tuppy had on us.

The same person, incidentally, later did a pass on the Brendan Frasier "George of the Jungle" movie. Remember...? "Bad guy falls in poop: Classic element of physical comedy. Now comes the part where we throw our heads back and laugh."

The same guy later found a way to drink for a living, proving Dorothy Parker wrong.
Added note: I should note that my friend of that time did an UNCREDITED pass on GOTJ, plus a number of other films.

You may not be familiar with my very favorite Dorothy Parker quote. It runs: "Though many have tried, no-one has yet found a way to drink for a living."

That friend, and maybe two or three other people, remain living witnesses to the entity known as Tuppy. I haven't made up anything. I may have gotten a detail or two slightly wrong -- many years have passed -- but there really was such a clown.

Now that I think back on it, the sight of Tuppy walking toward us on that empty, dark street so late at night was genuinely eerie. I haven't been able to shake that image this entire night. That scene gets weirder the more I think about it.

I mean, Tuppy should have recognized us by that point, because we had had maybe nine or ten previous encounters. Yyet he said no words of recognition. He didn't seem surprised to see us.

And if he did NOT recognize us, why wasn't he at all apprehensive or scared? After all, we were four guys in our early 20s, while he was just one short, middle-aged clown.

Remember, this was late at night. A very dark and very empty street.

Tuppy walked right up to us and calmly babbled something about sick children. There were NO hospitals in that area. No reason for him to be there. Certainly not at that time of night!

He wasn't walking to his car. He seemed to have no car -- not then, and not at any other time. He had no companions of any kind. He never seemed to be working for anyone.

And think of this: Not only were we some forty miles away from our usual realm, we had been filming indoors that night. Loading up the vehicle took maybe ten or fifteen minutes -- not a long window of time for him to run into us.

What are the odds?
Reminds me of a book I read about "Sinister Yogi's" and India, before yoga became all the global fashion trend of exercise. There, the yogi's would steal children from the villages in rural India, so the legends go.
Fascinating, JB. Earlier today, it occurred to me that modern tales of child-snatching evil clowns are really variants of the tale of the Pied Piper of Hamlin.

Perhaps there are no new myths -- just old myths in new costumes.

But Tuppy was not a myth!
I now have a new perspective on evil clowns.
Love GOTJ, love Dorothy Parker (and ahem....please share the tip on how to make a living drinking!)

But back to Tuppy. I believe you. I've had an encounter with what I call a wraith. It was three encounters over three days, and the disaster was a neighboring building exploding (gas) that I might have been able to prevent. Two people died.

The wraith was very old, his creased skin clung to every contour of his skull, with a sinister stare. His targeting me was spooky....following me through the streetcar, laying one finger in the middle of my spine, then later that night on the last trains home (my streetcar was immediately following the 2nd to last train) he let the first train pass and got on mine. I fled the car and speed-walked home.

That was when I smelled gas, but didn't call to report it because my landlady was on the phone (yes, back in the day we had one landline.) The next day I went and smelled nothing, so concluded it was all part of my unusual frightened state. The next night our building shook with the force from the explosion. An old man and his daughter didn't make it out of that building.

I was upset and called my significant other to explain how that man must have been a wraith, come to warn me (or blame me---wraiths are held to be spirits who appear before their deaths) so S.O. arranged to come meet me for breakfast. As we were walking out of the house, he was trying to calm me, saying "that old man was not a wraith, why look----there he is right now."

Just as inexplicably as Tuppy, there he was, standing exactly opposite the house we were emerging from. Not walking. Standing and staring. It was some random neighborhood street, no destinations just residences.

"That just proves it!" I clung to my S.O. and noted that neither one of us had the nerve to look back as we walked down the street. S.O. saw two of the three encounters and would only conclude "it was very strange."

I lived in that neighborhood nearly 6 years and never saw the wraith before or after that. I didn't mean to write all this, but I had the flashback at the point in your narrative where Tuppy appeared at some random out of the way film shoot.
Great story, zee.

Of course, when I am my most rational self, I presume that Tuppy was just a strangely ubiquitous middle aged man in a clown costume, while your wraith was just an old dude who just happened to be...there.

But these encounters sure don't feel that way, do they?
Exactly, Joseph, they don't feel that way. Also strange how real life "coincidences" are considered "unrealistic" in fiction....
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Another Curveball?

I'm not the only one who has been wondering why we don't join forces with Bashar Assad to defeat ISIS. A rising chorus is sounding that note.

So forgive me for pointing out the suspicious timing of this Yahoo News story which purports to give us "smoking gun proof" of Assad's evil. The evidence is a trove of 27,000 images of torture victims. These pictures were supposedly taken by Assad's official torture photographer, a man known only as Caesar. We are told that Caesar, sickened by his job, eventually turned against the regime and made his way to the UK.

(Along the way, he faked his death. I've long voiced my suspicion that Anwar al-Awlaki did the very same thing, with our aid.)

Actually, Ceasar was introduced to the world back in January; the BBC wrote about him in June. For some reason, his story is making the rounds in the news once more.

Look, I don't want to sound flippant or dismissive when discussing evidence of an incredibly serious crime. But:

1. Caesar seems more than a little reminiscent of Curveball, the fellow who told some of the lies about WMDs that gave rise to the Iraq war. I'm not the only one who thinks that Caesar resembles the great Iraqi hoaxer: See here and here.

2. There is a long history of defectors who made a living by telling their sponsors anything the sponsors wanted to hear.

3. American news sources hid the fact that Caesar's report was paid for by the Qataris and the Saudis, the prime funders of ISIS.
But it gets worse – we discover that the ‘report’ was commissioned by the Qataris and authored by Carter Ruck law firm in London, solicitors who just happen to also represent Saudi clients accused of, wait for it… funneling money to al Qaida terrorists. Yes, like those same terrorists who happen to have flooded into Syria over the last two and a half years.
4. Caesar has pushed the "Assad created ISIS" propaganda meme. We know now ISIS owes its existence to funders in Saudi Arabia and Qatar -- not to Assad.

5. History teaches us to be wary when assessing atrocity claims. For example: In the 1980s, Robert Conquest and William F. Buckley teamed up to created a documentary called Harvest of Sorrow, which showed photographs of people who died in a famine deliberately created (or so the film claimed) by Joseph Stalin. In fact, the documentary was a complete fake which misrepresented images taken at other times in other places. (The famine in Ukraine resulted from crop-burnings committed by anti-communist guerrillas.)

6. Michael Isakoff's "new" Caesar story on Yahoo News makes no reference to the skeptical reactions that arose when Caesar made the news back in January. In fact, Isakoff strives to give the impression that Caesar has never been mentioned previously!

Bottom line: This collection of photographs depicts a large number of people who were killed after being abused terribly. (The actual number is open to dispute, as this Christian Science Monitor report indicates.) But where is the evidence that Bashar Assad perpetrated these crimes?

Perhaps we are looking at victims of ISIS, Nusra, or the Free Syrian Army. All three rebel groups have been committing atrocities. The rebels have persecuted, tortured and killed many non-Sunnis -- Alawites, Shiites and Christians -- and have meted out brutal treatment to Assad's armed forces.
Carter-Fuck are a libel firm. They mostly work for rick people trying to silence their critics.
Hell, Joseph - the victims could just as easily been tortured by us.
WSJ revisited that story a few months ago (but at least had the integrity to mention the Gulf connection).

- Anon1
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Monday, October 13, 2014

"Rationally related"

Will someone please explain elementary biology to this man? Texas gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott says that lifting a ban on gay marriage will raise the number of children born out of wedlock. Ah yes. And a sheep's bladder has a key role in earthquake prevention.

Quoth he: "Texas’s marriage laws are rationally related to the State’s interest in reducing unplanned out-of-wedlock births." Isn't that cute? I always smile when a Texas Republican uses a word like "rationally." Aficionados of sweet reason, take note: 42% of Texas births are out of wedlock, compared to 34% for Massachusetts, the first state to legalize same-sex marriage.

This chucklehead is a state attorney general! I read the article (my head hurts) but not the brief he filed. I think you got his argument wrong Joseph. Here's the quote;

"By channeling procreative heterosexual intercourse into marriage, Texas’s marriage laws reduce unplanned out-of-wedlock births and the costs that those births impose on society. Recognizing same-sex marriage does not advance this interest because same-sex unions do not result in pregnancy.”

See, so he wants to keep a ban on gay marriage because the marriages wouldn't result in pregnancy. So I guess older heterosexual couples where the woman is past menopause shouldn't be allowed either?

I have to go take an aspirin for my headache now.
I'm sorry but True Believers aren't worth the time.
Actually, if you take race into account, Texas and Massachusetts have very similar out-of-wedlock birth rates. On the site you linked, if you take the number of children by race in Texas and Massachusetts as a proxy for births by race (which I couldn’t find there), then Texas births are 33% white, 12% black, 49% Hispanic, 4% Asian, and 2% other.

Massachusetts births would be 66% white, 8% black, 16% Hispanic, 6% Asian and 4% other.

The national out-of-wedlock rates by race are 29% for whites, 73% for blacks, 53% for Hispanics and 17% for Asians.

When I ran the numbers in a spreadsheet and assigned the “other” race group the same OOW birth rate as whites, I came up with an expected 45.6% OOW rate for Texas and an expected 35.6% rate for Massachusetts. That’s a 10% gap, similar to the 8% gap you mentioned.
Interesting work, Rob. But Abbott did not make race part of his argument, and so I see no reason to do so.
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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Knowing Jack

Since this is the weekend, perhaps I may be forgiven for dashing off some late-breaking news about Jack the Ripper. A number of news stories have reported that a certain shawl, associated with Ripper victim Catherine Eddowes, contains blood and semen stains which permit DNA identification of one Aaron Kosminski as the killer. We now have further information about this shawl business, which this blog has discussed in previous posts. (See here and here.)

Kosminksi was a mentally ill Jewish immigrant from Russia (born in Poland) who was confined to an asylum not long after the final Ripper murder. At the time, some London policemen considered him a good suspect, although Inspector Abberline (in charge of the Ripper investigation) did not believe that Kosminski was the killer.

The man who owns the shawl, and who claims to have proven the case against Kosminski, is one Russell Edwards. A reader has directed my attention to an interview with Edwards on Jim Harold's Paranormal Podcast. (Harold put Edwards on his show even though these claims have nothing to do with the paranormal.)

Edwards makes an excellent impression. Soft-spoken, modest, and intelligent, he provides reasonable answers to some of the issues raised by critics. For example, he says that a policeman did not (as previously reported) secretly snatch up the shawl at the crime scene. Rather, this policeman got permission to take the item as a souvenir after Eddowes was given an autopsy.

Unfortunately, the Harold/Edwards interview brings up a couple of problems.

1. Russell Edwards says that the shawl is expensive and of Russian manufacture. Catherine Eddowes was desperately poor and would have sold any expensive item that happened to come into her possession. Edwards therefore reasons that the shawl belonged to Kosminski, an immigrant who had lived in Russia.

My response: Why would Kosminski carry anything like this shawl? A number of witnesses saw a man with Eddowes shortly before her murder. None of these witnesses reported that the gentleman was carrying or wearing a large, brightly-colored shawl, of the sort that only a lady would wear.

The murderer took Eddowes' white apron and deposited it at the scene of the "Goulston Street graffiti." Why would the killer leave a shawl while taking an apron? True, Kosminki was not sane -- but does that fact suffice to explain this bizarre "clothing exchange"?

2. Edwards says that a witness named Israel Schwartz identified Kosminki as the man seen with that night's previous victim, Elizabeth Stride. (Stride and Eddowes were killed on the same night.)

Schwartz, a Hungarian immigrant who spoke very little English, is a well-known and much discussed witness. Using an interpreter, he gave a statement to both the police and to a newspaper. He did indeed see someone -- perhaps two men -- with Stride fifteen minutes before her murder.

(The Schwartz/Ripper encounter was recreated -- more or less accurately! -- in the film version of From Hell.)

No previous writer has ever presented any evidence that Schwartz identified Kosminki. In all previous accounts, Schwartz spoke only of a man he did not know.

Russell Edwards says that Schwartz did finger Kosminski but refused to offer official testimony against a fellow Jew. Where is the documentary evidence for this claim? If such a document exists, how could it have escaped the attention of all "Ripperologists" before Edwards?

Not only that. It is well-known that the man with Stride shouted "Lipski" at Schwartz. According to a number of writers, "Lipski" was an all-purpose anti-Semitic insult which enjoyed a brief vogue in lower-class London, following the execution of a Jew by that name.

Kosminki was himself Jewish. My question: Would one Jew use an anti-Semitic insult to refer to another?

In modern America, as everyone knows, young black men have been known to use a certain "verboten" term when addressing each other familiarly. But I don't think that London's Jews spoke to each other in this fashion back in 1888. I may be wrong.

As always, we must take into consideration the fact Aaron Kosminski suffered from a serious mental illness, and therefore may have behaved in inexplicable ways.

Some "birther" history

Earlier today, during a Barnes and Noble run, I flipped through a book called Wingnuts, by John Avlon -- a work which carries an endorsement from no less a personage than Bill Clinton. Although the book came out a few years ago, I did not get a chance to skim through those pages until tonight. It's a not-bad compendium of the nuttier right-wing attacks on Barack Obama.

Alas, Avlon gets his history wrong when he talks about the origin of "birther" madness. Worse, his blunder was picked up by the Daily Beast

Avlon claims that birtherism was originally a liberal "thing." Specifically: Wingnuts argues that birth certificate paranoia originated with the PUMA movement. In case you came in late, PUMA is an acronym for Party Unity My Ass, a movement comprised of people who refused to give up on Hillary Clinton during the 2008 campaign. I was loosely affiliated with PUMA.

To claim that this movement gave birth to birtherism is wrong and arguably slanderous.

PUMA began on The Confluence, a pro-Hillary site set up by Riverdaughter, a feisty and extremely talented former Daily Kos blogger. She was exiled from Markos Moulitsas' mega-site because she refused to clamber aboard the Obama bandwagon. Her site was the first to publish the acronym and the first to shape that acronym into a movement. Throughout 2008, The Confluence was PUMA Central.

It's important to understand one key fact: Not long after The Confluence got PUMA going, Republican operatives -- sensing an opportunity -- set up a number of fake PUMA sites. These sites pretended to be the work of liberals disenchanted with Obama, although these wolves-in-sheep's-clothing were rarely very persuasive. No matter how stridently they tried to baaa, they emitted a distinctive lupine odor.

Perhaps the most influential pseudo-PUMA site was No Quarter, the brainchild of former CIA guy Larry Johnson. He was the cleverest of the bunch -- which isn't surprising, given the man's background. Johnson had me fooled for a while, although I eventually saw through him.

Another suspected "wolf in sheep's clothing" site (at least in my opinion) was, which published some of the earliest birther texts. I never considered those people to be genuine Democrats, and thus did not link to any of their posts.

The real PUMA movement centered around the Confluence. Love her or hate her, Riverdaughter was the real deal.

Being a scientist, Riverdaughter understood from the start that birtherism was sheer nonsense. Neither she nor any other contributor to her site ever published one positive word about that idiotic theory.

Throughout this period, I was "kinda, sorta" aligned with the PUMA movement. What differentiated me from someone like Riverdaughter is...well, in the first place, she's a better writer than I am, at least on those occasions when she's fully engaged. More importantly, she was and is Hillary Clinton's number one fan, with the possible exception of Chelsea.

For my part, the situation was always more complicated. I was not so much a Hillary supporter as an Obama opponent. It was all too easy to predict what kind of president Obama would be -- and to forecast the damage he would do to the Democratic brand name. Hillary Clinton deserved support because she was the only person standing between Obama and the nomination. Of course, her sheer grit and tenacity during that battle eventually won me over.

For the most part, Riverdaughter preferred to ignore the birther phenomenon. I did pay attention to it, but that attention was not sympathetic.

Larry Johnson publicized an analysis by someone who went by the name of "Techdude," an alleged forensic specialist. He claimed that, by using the imaging program GIMP, he could determine that Obama's "short form" birth certificate was a forgery. The Techdude posts were filled with "fancy footwork" that bedazzled the gullible while providing nothing of probative value. I've used Photoshop (the pro app that does what GIMP does) professionally since the very first iteration of that program, and I could not replicate this fellow's directives. Neither could anyone else.

Despite The Daily Beast's claims that birtherism began on the left, none of the original birth certificate loons were bona-fide lefties or real PUMA folk. Eventually, they all showed their true colors as right-wing wackos: Larry Johnson, Orly Taitz, the freaks behind HillBuzz, Phil Berg, Linda Starr, the vile "Texas Darlin," and the ultra-mega-hyper-vile Pamela Geller. Most of these people were pretty easy to figure out -- for example, I found evidence that "Texas Darlin" had been a contributor to the far-right Free Republic site, which is not normally known as a hotbed of pro-Clinton activism. Texas Darlin' (who later pushed a lie that Michelle Obama had been disbarred) had the same IP number as the ultra-weird Larry Sinclair, the oddball who claimed that Obama had been a male hooker.

(Were Larry and TD one and the same? Hm!)

As for Johnson -- well, allow me to reprint some words I published in 2008:
In previous posts, I detailed how Larry Johnson's No Quarter deliberately inflamed the public with a false story about the allegedly "forged" Obama birth certificate. That site published as established fact -- without any caveats or "maybes" -- the claim that a professional image analyst was able to discern the name of Barack Obama's sister in the candidates much-disputed Certificate of Live Birth.

Did No Quarter publish a single image backing up this assertion? No. The site published all sorts of other images, but not the one that mattered.

No-one has replicated these "findings." No Photoshop professional found the details comprehensible. The source of the claim, "Techdude," has now been exposed as an utter fraud.

Has No Quarter issued an apology? Nope.

Johnson and his confreres (Texas Darlin' and Susan UnPC) maintain an aggressive, belligerent stance, despite having about as many legs to stand on as Monty Python's black knight.

Think about it: If your blog published a major piece of false information -- one that sparked a firestorm of public interest -- wouldn't you show a little humility when the whole thing was revealed as a crap-fest of deception?
You can't understand what happened to PUMA unless you understand the tactics of infiltration and political imposture. To the best of my knowledge, none of the "birthers" had any previous history of liberal activism. The genuine PUMA writers, the ones who could be trusted, all had Riverdaughter's seal of approval.

(Well, she never really approved of me. But how could she? I'm an unclassifiable, ornery ol' bastard who pisses off everyone on every side of every issue. And proud of it!)
No Quarter was definitely over the top and suspicious in my book but the Techdude birther crap cemented that they were wolves in sheeps clothing. Taylor Marsh was the one who disappointed me the most with how she "flipped" once Hillary got hosed by the corrupt Caucuses. I was never an Obama fan. I understand that people who lie or say whatever we want to hear are not accountable and will not stand up and fight for their positions.

Obama has proven to be piss poor at standing up to the Republican propaganda machine and they have basically lied about him continuously with impunity. He is what I thought he'd be and yet, to me he is better than expected as I had zero expectations. But the drone attacks and the killing of American citizens to having law enforcement in this country pulverize our rights and freedoms just kills it for me. While much of it is not his fault purely from a cause and effect relationship his dearth of leadership really does set the tone. The war on young black kids by our police officials just is perplexing and must be stopped but is Obama leading the charge against this blatant racism? Hell no. He is a failure of epic proportions and yet he is better than W and better than I expected. Not a bad guy just one not able to do the job of President. (That person may no longer exist by the way).
Ah, I remember the Meta but not the Micro. Wasn't there some argument about a font on the birth certificate or do I have my scandals confused? btw, for historical reference, I was sitting in the comment thread at the Confluence when the name was coined and I was probably the second or third person to jump on the PUMA wagon-- I tried to change my voter registration to PUMA but the election board said no.
I have nothing to add but, I was there too (The Confluence) at the birth of PUMA. What a sad day, I can't get over it.

To me, that Rules Committee meeting proves that the primaries are a worthless waste of money. And perhaps a fraudulent exercise. How could delegates have been moved willy-nilly from a candidate who was on a ballot to a candidate that wasn't -- at the very least that was a deal killer for me and the Democratic Party.

PUMA was everything to do with that and nothing at all to do with birtherism (which will still get you tossed in the spam filter if you try to talk about it at The Confluence)

I remember that I posted a link (at TC) to your exposé of the birth certificate / photoshop thing -- like breaking news. I was so impressed with the work you did and the clarity of your explanation. VERY weird to think that PUMAs or The Confluence (by association) could be tainted with that idiocy.
I'm grateful for your kind words, katiebird. I hope RD won't get too mad at me, even though I'm disenchanted with Hillary. She should have stayed in the Senate, fighting for working people. Having any association with this administration was a mistake.

Avlon's book gets PUMA history wrong, but what can you expect? Gore Vidal once said that every single time he attended an event that was later reported in the newspapers, the newspapers never told the story accurately. Something similar can be said of "events" that happen online.
Thanks for noting this, Joseph, and setting the record straight. The only omission from the entire dialog is what set the birther scam off to begin with. The original "natural born citizen" argument was whether Obama qualified because he was multi-national. He himself said he had British citizenship thru his father's nation. Add to that the question of whether his step-father made him an Indonesian citizen and we're up to four nationalities. Since the founding fathers likely put in that language to weed out those with lingering ties to Great Britain it was a discussion our nation should've been having and this birth certificate distraction made a fine derailment...much like the "controlled demolition" derailment of other more serious questions about the greatest security failure in our history.
I agree with prowlers: there was a discussion to be had about the multiple nationality question in 2008 but . . . the conversation was either insanely conspiratorial [Obama hate 24/7] or deemed verboten on any level.

Strange thing about No Quarter. I was a regular poster at the site until it took a hard right, Tea Party turn. It happened rather quickly as I recall and the posters who were all pro-Hillary transformed into hate all government, all the time and particularly anything with a 'D' attached to it. The rage is what startled me. Not quite sure how you keep that up without burning out. That's not to say that POTUS didn't disappoint early on for anyone who believed all the silly hype. But the hate itself is corrosive and hard to stomach.

Gregory P pretty much stated my own Obama opinion: he was never the right candidate for the job or the situation the country found itself in after the GW&Cheney debacle. There's a lot of blame to go around but the same people who hyped Barack Obama are now insisting that there's a 'perfect' progressive candidate in the wings.

I didn't buy the meme in 2008; I don't buy it now.

On the other hand, the Republican brand is utterly toxic and contaminated with Mad Cow disease [something C. Pierce reminds his readers on a daily basis]. The Democratic Party is badly flawed but the Republicans are beyond redemption, deserving of a straight jackets, not election wins.

The beat goes on!

Thanks for this Joseph. As a veteran of the Primary Wars of 2008, it's nice to know that you're out there keeping the record straight. Of course back then it was part of a winning strategy to paint PUMAs as crazy, racist or both.
I'm curious as to how many people like me (party loyalists who had manned phone banks for thirty-
odd years) the democrats lost in '08. Up until then, I had been naive enough to believe in the system. A candidate gaming the systemn in order to win was one thing; the systemn gaming itself in the service of...I'm really not sure who or what (plutocrats? villagers? hipsters?)... was another matter entirely. So to this day, I say PUMA, and I say it proudly.
I wish someone would write a book to document those horrible times from the real pumas perspective.
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Saturday, October 11, 2014

Free college degrees

Germany now has tuition-free colleges, available to all -- even to Americans. Of course, you have to know German, a language which few people would call Der Snap.

We could have free college educations here. All we have to do is ignore the libertarians. Germany is prosperous, yet Germany is "socialist" -- if one accepts the Ayn Randroid definition of the word "socialism." If libertarianism works, then why are the majority of people happier in countries with mixed economies?

In the United States, we have an increasing number of people arguing that college is a waste of time and funds. The people who take this line want to transform the majority of American workers into something like the dull, unthinking, brutish proles in Fritz Lang's Metropolis.

I say that education is an absolute good. Free and easily accessible higher education is not just about jobs -- it is necessary for the creation of an informed citizenry. Arguably, college should be not just free but compulsory. The American south would no longer be the homeland of barbarism and fundamentalist superstition if the people forced to live within that inferior culture were educated to think and behave as rational creatures.
I think education is an absolute evil. It's just a way to brainwash people into an intellectual monoculture. If everyone had economics degrees, we wouldn't have more people who know economics, we'd have more idiots parroting monetarism.
Some of us are old enough to remember when the University of California system (then arguably the best public universities on the planet) were tuition-free. Of course, Ronald Reagan changed all that when he became governor.
Nice to see what's happened in Germany.

Those who are interested in Britain, never forget that the reason why 'higher education' was expanded here, most student grants scrapped, housing benefit scrapped for students, and tuition fees introduced, was to help moneylenders by normalising massive debt unrelated even to living accommodation or the purchase of any other actual good. This was an enormously important plank of Thatcher-Blairism. Think finance capital.

Most people here now get into debt very soon after the minimum legal age at which they're allowed to borrow money, 18, and stay in debt until their 40s or 50s. Half of the youngsters don't even understand it is debt. They're told student debt isn't 'real' debt, or that they're getting a really good deal, and they lap it up. (No disrespect to those who don't think like that.) It hasn't always been this way.

It is also normal in Britain to borrow almost as much as you possibly can when 'buying' a house. That isn't true in France, Germany, Scandinavia, etc.

German capital isn't quite so finance-dominated as British capital.

BTW when I first read your reference to "tuition-free" colleges, I thought you meant that anyone could just buy a degree without getting taught or learning or knowing anything in particular!

(There is a lot of corruption at British universities, but that's another story. Cambridge University was recently caught taking bribes from Chinese oligarchs who then sell undergraduate places. Oops. That's on my reading.)
What a concept! That people should be encouraged to better themselves and supported in that enterprise.

Clearly the current configuration is about control. Those who go into debt to pursue higher education will choose vocationally-oriented education, and will align themselves with the interests of their employers when they graduate. Those who might wish to pursue philosophy or history will decide that they can educate themselves reading books, and academic discipline of autodidacticism is likely to result in a death spiral.

Mission Accomplished: the college-educated will be compliant drones, and the bright-and-curious will sink into a cynical self-medicated stupor.

I'm planning on reading William Deresiewicz's book "Excellent Sheep" as soon as I can get my hands on one of the six copies my local library has (the waiting list is 33-deep, so it will be a while).
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Friday, October 10, 2014

Israelis want to send Ebola to Obama

Check it out...
In the wake of Israel’s summer 2014 genocidal massacre in Gaza, euphemistically called Operation “Protective” Edge,” the US corporate media is finally (somewhat) catching on to the egregious degree of violent extremism, racism, and downright fascism in Israeli culture.

A 5 August NBC story, titled “Send President Obama Ebola as Birthday Gift, Some Israelis Say,” reports that, according to a recent poll, 46% of Israelis “said they wanted to give Barack Obama an envelope containing the Ebola virus as a present for his 53rd birthday.”

Note, these aren’t just “some” Israelis, as NBC writes; these are almost half of Israelis.

Vox also ran a story, published on 4 August, when 48% of polled Israelis had advocated sending Ebola.
My question: What the hell are the Israelis bitching about? Could the United States government look the other way more when it comes to Israeli crimes against humanity? How could that even be possible?

In this country, if you call Israel an apartheid state, you will be derided as an anti-Semite. Yet in an infuriating display of hypocrisy, a growing number of Israelis openly admit that they desire an apartheid state. ("We can say it. You are forbidden.")
In 2012, in Haaretz, renowned journalist Gideon Levy published the results of a poll that found “Most Israeli Jews Would Support Apartheid Regime in Israel.” This study, “expos[ing] anti-Arab, ultra-nationalist views espoused by a majority of Israeli Jews,” was not based on an internet survey. It was conducted by Dialog and directed by professor Camil Fuchs, Haaretz’s polling expert and head of the Department of Statistics at Tel Aviv University’s School of Mathematical Science, and commissioned by the Yisraela Goldblum Fund.

The study revealed the following unsavory facts about Israeli society:

– 59% want preference for Jews over Arabs in admission to jobs in government ministries.

– 49% want the state to treat Jewish citizens better than Arab ones

– 42% don’t want to live in the same building with Arabs

– 42% don’t want their children in the same class with Arab children.

– c. 33% want a law barring Israeli Arabs from voting for the Knesset

– 69% object to giving 2.5 million Palestinians the right to vote if Israel annexes the West Bank.

– 74% majority are in favor of separate roads for Israelis and Palestinians

– 24% believe separate roads are “a good situation”

– 50% believe separate roads are “a necessary situation”

– 47% want part of Israel’s Arab population to be transferred to the Palestinian Authority

– 36% support transferring some of the Arab towns from Israel to the PA, in exchange for keeping some of the West Bank settlements

– 38% want Israel to annex the territories with settlements on them

– 31% don’t admit that Israel practices apartheid against Arabs

– 58% do admit that Israel practices apartheid against Arabs
The short Max Blumenthal presentation embedded above reveals horrifying details of what went on in Gaza. Some of these details shocked the hell out of me, and I've been following this story. Arguably, the IDF are even more brutal and merciless than were Hitler's armies.

Noam Chomsky still speaks as if the United States is calling the shots and Israel follows our orders. (See below.) But is that really the case? Which is the tail and which is the dog?

Here's the thing...

"Ramallah (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) - The Palestinians are under heavy pressure to drop plans to seek a UN Security Council resolution to end Israel's occupation, risking $700 million a year in US aid, president Mahmud Abbas has said."


Abbas should call Kerry's bluff. The US will be hard pressed to cut off funds (700k) when the no-strings attached three billion to Israel continues.

Joining the ICC is critical. Israel and USdotgove are worried. If vetoed, I hope Abbas has the balls to follow through. he has no choice.


Anyone that believes Israelis share the blind love and devotion for Americans and Christians that some political figures here have for Israelis should check out the anti American, anti American ads Netanyahu had his Ministry of Immigration Absorption put out. If the US put out ads like that, the world would be outraged. But congress and talking heads were afraid of being called anti Semite and stayed silent. Thankfully, Jewish Americans raised a huge fuss and got Netanyahu to pull his ads.
If you're in public life, (including university professors) and you speak out, you're toast. Look what happened to Helen Thomas;

And prominent public figures in Israel call for ethnic cleansing;

"During a visit to Israeli settlers on 30 September in the occupied West Bank, Rabbi Dov Lior said that Israel “must strive to cleanse the entire country” of Palestinians, ostensibly referring to present-day Israel, the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip."

"Lior, who is the chief rabbi for Israeli settlers in the West Bank city of Hebron and in theKiryat Arba settlement, was speaking at an event at Givat Oz Vgaon, an “outpost” colony recently established in the Etzion bloc of settlements in the central West Bank."
Are you anti-Semitic or just willfully ignorant? Tough call. But let's start with this, the Ebola poll was put out by an entertainment company that asked people to call in. It was not a scientific poll. It is the equivalent of one of Bill O'Reilly's call in polls. The company said IT WAS NOT A SCIENTIFIC POLL. Of course you could have discovered that if you had followed your own links. Haaretz apologized for the Gideon Levy article which misrepresented the poll and Levy himself apologized, citing time constraints for his errors. But why let facts get in the way of a narrative. When you use words like apartheid, fascist and genocide, most people assume that you are using the words as the rest of the English speaking world uses them. However, you have your own private language meaning real communication is impossible. Lastly, to compare the IDF to the Nazi armies is beyond sick. It indicates either an astonishing lack of knowledge of history or, more likely, a pathology so diseased that it causes complete irrationality. Get some help.
Chomsky is full of it.

He even says BDS (boycott-divestment-sanctions) against Israel is a bad idea because unlike in South Africa most of the population in the country would oppose it. What?

On the wag and dog question...

Does a Stars and Stripes PAC own the Knesset?

Did Avigdor Lieberman do a Hillary and say it would be fine for the US Navy to shoot and kill unarmed civilian humanitarian Israelis on the high seas?

Does a US equivalent to the Shomrim, the Jewish police agency, patrol any areas in 'Israel'?

In parts of north London the Shomrim have a far quicker response time than the British police - and they also benefit from better access to a lot of CCTV surveillance footage. I see they also operate in Baltimore.

And what about any 'US first' equivalents of CPMAJO, Hollywood or the ADL?

Imagine if nearly 50% of a poll sample of US citizens said they wanted Netanyahu to be shot dead. I think the ADL might say something in response.

Has any powerful US-friendly organisation in Israel kicked up a fuss when Israelis say they'd like Obama to be murdered?

I just can't take seriously the idea that Israel is under US domination. Can Chomsky be for real?
Did you not understand the context of my comment?

You should see the pressure from Netanyahoo as all-pervasive but apparently you don't

small j, I've figured it out. The only anti-Semitic Jews -- and probably the only anti-Semites who matter -- are the ones who support Israel.

I'll probably write a long column about it one of these days. But the gist is, they want to be hated. That's why they are un(?)consciously aping the Nazis.

The psychology is pretty easy to understand. A child who feels scorned, abused and falsely accused of various wrongs will grow into an adult who lacks self-esteem but makes up for with overweening bravado. In adulthood, such a person will do self-destructive things -- or destructive things, as a way of earning the scorn to which he has become used. (The sadist is always a secret masochist who metes out that which he feels he deserves.) You've probably met this sort of person in your own life. We all have. I think that this same psychological process happens to groups -- and I am NOT just talking about Jews. You can probably think of other examples.

America has Uncle Sam. Israel should use the image of Dan Burros.
I looked up those ads. Seems to me the Israelis-versus-diaspora theme is similar to the Zionist left-versus-right theme in 'Israel'. When it really comes down to it, these issues are fake or at best superficial, however much shouting might occur. I would have expected the anti-Christmas thing to get some flak. The touchstone issue is whether or not people support the existence of a Jewish state in Palestine, an existence which depends on genocide and I don't mean the German Nazi one.
I'm sure if you conducted a web survey (not a statistically valid, scientific poll) of readers of some websites in the US (say, Ace of Spades, Hot Air, or Instapundit), I'm sure you'd come up with some shocking and inflammatory results - and they'd be every bit as representative of American opinion as this survey was of Israelis.
So now you're going to add anti-semitism to the words that will have a different meaning and put up a post that up is down, black is white, war is peace and apples are llamas. I don't think I'll be paying much attention. I think that anti-Israel rants, Israel being the only Jewish state in the world, are at bottom anti-semitism. But you don't have to believe me, I'm sometimes wrong, not as often as you, but occasionally nonetheless. The expert on anti-semitism that you might listen to is Yaacov Lozowick. He has a blog, and he has his email address there. He seems like a nice man and would probably respond to polite questions. Ask him about your anti-Israel posts. Learn something.
Lower-case j: what is your view on Jewish racism, then, which is what this article is about? Not enough 'expert opinion' or 'scientific evidence' to establish that it's widespread or has played a role in oppressing and massacring innocents?

Just as the only views on apartheid South Africa (and Israel is far worse) which deserved respect were premised on the idea that there should be no legal distinction between blacks and whites, the only views on the Zionist regime which deserve respect are premised on the idea that there should be no ethnic Jewish state in the Middle East, no Israel. Reasonable discussion can be had about what proportion of settlers to expel once the country is occupied and de-Zionisation is underway.
"I think that anti-Israel rants, Israel being the only Jewish state in the world, are at bottom anti-semitism"

Deep in your heart, you know full well that your formulation allows Israel to commit any crime. One could as easily argue that in the year 1940, any anti-Germany rant must stem from anti-German racial prejudice, because Germany was the only German state in the world.


At least Germany, for all its horrors, was not built on stolen land. Israel IS built on stolen land. Every pro-Israeli Jew knows this fact very well. That's why Jews react with purple-faced fury whenever someone points out the inarguable. The fury derives from the lack of rational counter-argument. All you have is the illogical formulation that "Auschwitz justifies stealing land from the Palestinians." (Bet you're just dying to say make that argument right now, aintcha? Pathetic.)

The reality is that one of history's great victims immediately became one of history's great victimizers. Your psychological inability to recognize this reality does not make it any less real.

Look at what you say here:

"The expert on anti-semitism that you might listen to is Yaacov Lozowick..."

Pretend, for the moment, that we are talking about an expert in anti-Martianism or anti-Chupacabraism or some other group to which neither you nor I belong. Can you see the problem with your statement, from the standpoint of formal logic?

You are expecting the other party to accept as a given a formulation backed purely by your say so! Would you allow a Martian to stipulate that a Martian should be the final authority on what constitute anti-Martianism?

The right of the Jews to steal Palestinian land is based on the same "logic" of proof-by-assertion. Jews continually tell us that they have a right to live there because God gave the land to the Jews. And never mind the fact that David Ben Gurion didn't believe in God, and neither does Netanyahu. Neither do (I would wager) a good many modern American Jews. Many have a squishy, malleable "sort of, kind of" belief in God which transfigures into fanatical fundamentalism only when Israel is mentioned.

When you point out this contradiction to Jews -- "If God does not exist, how can God parcel out real estate?" -- Jews smile and shrug and think it's all very cute. Well, it's NOT cute. It's the fundamentalist anti-logic at the foundation of a crime exactly similar to the crime against the American Indians.

John Oliver and Andy Zaltzman (yes, THAT John Oliver is also part of a comedy team in the UK) underlined this absurdity in a skit they did some years back. Zaltsman said: "Well, John, I'm Jewish, so it's all very simple. God gave us the land of Israel. End of story."

And Oliver answers that he just spoke to God, who told him something different. "The point is, Andy, I BELIEVE it, and therefore it is legally and politically binding."

Do you disagree with Oliver? You must hate British people.

I have nothing to learn from you, joseph. You have no moral right to lecture me on anything. You are an apologist for evil and I am not. I am not going to listen to any of your bullshit any more than I would have listened to (say) William Dudley Pelley's pro-German bullshit back in the 1930s.

If this were 1940, I'd say that Italians were unworthy of argument, unworthy of being heard out, unworthy of anything but spit and bullets. (And I say that as someone of Italian heritage.) Israel has reached a similar level of depravity. We no longer need to hear your side. You've been heard already. You do not HAVE a side. All you have is rage, racism, and strident accusations of anti-Semitism that have lost all meaning and that no longer have any impact.

The thing is, joseph, I sense that deep in your heart, you KNOW that Jews have committed land-theft and genocide.

How you must hate yourself! Only self-hatred -- not self-interest -- could compel anyone to defend mass murder.
I probably should not have written such a long reply. It seems defensive to do so, and I am not the one who needs to defend anything.

So let's put it briefly.

I cited a poll which says that nearly 60 percent of Israelis ADMIT that Israel is an apartheid state. You, joseph, defend the state of Israel, which openly defines itself as an apartheid a racist state.

And yet YOU accuse ME of racism!

Do you have ANY concept of how sick that is, joseph? See a shrink. You are mentally ill.
By the way, B, Chomsky is not full of it. He's a great man. However, his point of view was formulated in the 1960s, when the US imperialism in Vietnam was the issue. Having pinpointed the bad guy then, he tends to see the same bad guy in all other situations.
I told you that Haaretz apologized for its characterization of the poll. Here is an analysis of it But again, why let facts get in the way of a narrative?
Actually, your link shows that there was nothing wrong with the poll itself, only how it was characterized by Haaretz. Some of the key questions were not properly reported, and some data was mashed together to make it seem worse than it was. Nonetheless, Israel IS an apartheid state, and the ACTUAL poll supports the notion that many Israelis agree that this is the case (whether they think it's bad or good). Just maybe not a majority, as the original articles claimed. There is no question at all that the government of Israel wants and enforces an apartheid state, and a decent percentage of the populace is okay with that.
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