Thursday, December 18, 2014

Did North Korea do it?

The New York Times says yes, North Korea did launch the hack attack against Sony...
American officials have concluded that North Korea was “centrally involved” in the hacking of Sony Pictures computers, even as the studio canceled the release of a far-fetched comedy about the assassination of the North’s leader that is believed to have led to the cyberattack.
Here's my problem: Remember when John Kerry assured us that there was no doubt that Bashar Assad launched those chemical weapons attacks in Damascus? And then those damnable doubts crept in...
While intelligence officials have concluded that the cyberattack was both state-sponsored and far more destructive than any seen before on American soil, there are still differences of opinion over whether North Korea was aided by Sony insiders with knowledge of the company’s computer systems, senior administration officials said.

“This is of a different nature than past attacks,” one official said.
Why would Sony insiders help Kim Jong-un's hired guns? That's suspicious. (If true.)

By contrast, Wired says that the evidence against North Korea is weak.
It’s easy for attackers to plant false flags that point to North Korea or another nation as the culprit. And even when an attack appears to be nation-state, it can be difficult to know if the hackers are mercenaries acting alone or with state sponsorship—some hackers work freelance and get paid by a state only when they get access to an important system or useful intelligence; others work directly for a state or military. Then there are hacktivists, who can be confused with state actors because their geopolitical interests and motives jibe with a state’s interests.
Nation-state attacks aren’t generally as noisy, or announce themselves with an image of a blazing skeleton posted to infected computers, as occurred in the Sony hack. Nor do they use a catchy nom-de-hack like Guardians of Peace to identify themselves. Nation-state attackers also generally don’t chastise their victims for having poor security, as purported members of GOP have done in media interviews. Nor do such attacks involve posts of stolen data to Pastebin—the unofficial cloud repository of hackers—where sensitive company files belonging to Sony have been leaked. These are all hallmarks of hacktivists—groups like Anonymous and LulzSec, who thrive on targeting large corporations for ideological reasons or just the lulz, or by hackers sympathetic to a political cause.
There's an argument against this: Kim Jon-Un is really just a potato-shaped spoiled kid, as are many hackers. Maybe he told his hackers to behave like the ones he has read about.

Wired goes on to posit that the threat against "places" showing The Interview could be a red herring, designed to make the Norks into the fall guys. The real perpetrators could be someone pissed off at Sony for other reasons.

Or maybe there is another political agenda at work here. Guardians Of Peace? One can derive a very amusing set of initials from that name.

Let's ignore, for the moment, those threats against The Interview, which may or may not have been mere window dressing. The evidence against North Korea comes to this:

1. Language.
Four files that researchers have examined, which appear to be connected to the hack, seem to have been compiled on a machine that was using the Korean language.
But a computer can, of course, be set to any language. By this standard, one might launch a "North Korean" attack from Columbus, Ohio.

2. Wiping software. The hackers used an app called RawDisk to wipe away data on Sony's computers. The same app was used in previous attacks against Saudi Arabia and South Korea. But were state actors involved in those attacks...?
The 2012 attack in Saudi Arabia, dubbed Shamoon, wiped data from about 30,000 computers belonging to Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil conglomerate. Although U.S. officials blamed Iran for it, researchers found that malware used in the attack contained sloppy code riddled with errors and attributed it to hacktivists with political motives rather than a nation-state.
And really, that's it. That's the evidence.

At least, that's the evidence available to the public right now (according to Wired). Maybe the government insiders who spoke to the NYT have some actual proof. I certainly hope so.

I don't want to be one of those screwballs who screech "False flag! False flag!" every time something unpleasant happens. And yet...just because North Korea is one majorly screwed-up country doesn't mean that they are the perps in this case. Both good people and bad people can be framed, although it's a lot easier to frame bad people.

Here's another obvious point: Making The Interview unavailable for release tells every would-be cyber terrorist (maybe a state actor, maybe a snotty kid in his uncle's basement) that powerful people will do whatever they are told to do. We have just witnessed the biggest buckle since the heyday of pilgrim headgear.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

This, that and the other thing

This. Nate Silver asks if Jeb Bush is too liberal to win the Republican nomination. Silver has devised a conservatism scale, which you can study if you follow the link.
Bush scores at a 37 on this scale, similar to Romney and McCain, each of whom scored a 39. He’s much more conservative than Huntsman, who rates at a 17.

Still, Bush is more like his father, George H.W. Bush, who rates as a 33, than his brother George W. Bush, who scores a 46. And the Republican Party has moved to the right since both Poppy and Dubya were elected. The average Republican member in the 2013-14 Congress rated a 51 on this scale, more in line with potential candidates Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan and Mike Huckabee.

So, would you rather see a 30-something Republican or a 50-something Republican win the nomination? Remember, the 30-something stands a greater chance of winning in the general, but if the 50-something sneaks in a win, he is much more likely to start Total Thermonuclear War Against Everything Everywhere because Jesus told him to.

If Jeb is considered too liberal for his party and Hillary is considered too conservative for her party, is that a good thing or a bad thing? More importantly: In a match-up between the more-liberal-than-Hillary candidate and the more-conservative-than-Jeb candidate, who would win?

That. Sony pictures made a comedy called The Interview, which apparently makes fun of Kim Jong-un. In apparent retaliation, hackers targeted Sony's head honchos and revealed some embarrassing emails. (There was some shit about Angelina Jolie. I haven't really followed that stuff. Not my bag.)

Then things got serious. The same hackers (allegedly) issued threats of 9/11-style retaliation against any theater showing The Interview. Cowed theater owners now say they won't show the movie.

It gets weirder.
The Daily Beast has unearthed several emails that reveal at least two U.S. government officials screened a rough cut of the Kim Jong Un assassination comedy The Interview in late June and gave the film—including a final scene that sees the dictator’s head explode—their blessing.
No, I am not quoting The Onion.
The claim that the State Department played an active role in the decision to include the film’s gruesome death scene is likely to cause fury in Pyongyang. Emails between the Sony CEO and a security consultant even appear to suggest the U.S. government may support the notion that The Interview would be useful propaganda against the North Korean regime.
A series of leaked emails reveal that Sony enlisted the services of Bruce Bennett, a senior defense analyst at the RAND Corporation who specializes in North Korea, to consult with them on The Interview. After he saw the film, including the gruesome ending where a giant missile hits Kim Jong Un’s helicopter in slow-mo as Katy Perry’s “Firework” plays, and Kim’s head catches on fire and explodes, Bennett gave his assessment of it in a June 25 email to Lynton.

“The North has never executed an artillery attack against the balloon launching areas. So it is very hard to tell what is pure bluster from North Korea, since they use the term ‘act of war’ so commonly,” wrote Bennett. “I also thought a bunch more about the ending. I have to admit that the only resolution I can see to the North Korean nuclear and other threats is for the North Korean regime to eventually go away.”

He added, “In fact, when I have briefed my book on ‘preparing for the possibility of a North Korean collapse’ [Sept 2013], I have been clear that the assassination of Kim Jong-un is the most likely path to a collapse of the North Korean government. Thus while toning down the ending may reduce the North Korean response, I believe that a story that talks about the removal of the Kim family regime and the creation of a new government by the North Korean people (well, at least the elites) will start some real thinking in South Korea and, I believe, in the North once the DVD leaks into the North (which it almost certainly will). So from a personal perspective, I would personally prefer to leave the ending alone.”

That same day, Lynton responded saying that a U.S. government official completely backed Bennett’s assessment of the film.
Wow. Where to start?

In the first place, we must always keep in mind the possibility that at least some of what we are seeing may be nothing more than a publicity stunt.

Second: Any theater that backs down due to a threat from North Korea is acting in a very cowardly fashion.

Third: Any secret interaction between a big movie studio and The Gummint is very, very troubling.

Yes, I know that the target here is Kim Jong-Un, who is universally unloved outside of North Korea. Kim is genuinely unhinged, genuinely dangerous and genuinely ludicrous. I can think of no-one more deserving of a place in the annals of dark humor. If film-makers want to blow raspberries at the guy -- great.

But they should not do so with the secret assistance of anyone in the State Department, the intelligence agencies, or Rand.

No. That shit is out. Under all circumstances. No matter what the purpose or who the target might be.

Jim DiEugenio's Reclaiming Parkland has a chapter which details the increasingly close ties between Hollywood and the government. Remember all of those films from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s which cast a critical eye on the CIA? When was the last time you saw a movie like that? True, there was Killing the Messenger, the film about Gary Webb which you probably did not see. Most people didn't even know it was playing. The studio obviously wanted that thing to leave the theaters as quickly as possible.

The most politically radical popular film of recent times was Captain America: The Winter Soldier, a movie which carefully (and colorfully) hides its message in a Marvel comics metaphor. 

If the studios are in bed with the government on any project (even a project about Kim Jong-Un), then we have to ask: What's really going on behind the scenes? How often does this sort of thing happen?

The Other Thing. Here's a test for advanced students only: How does this video clip link up to the JFK assassination? It is possible to figure out the answer without watching the video (although you really should watch it, because you'll see a remarkable performance by one of the greats). Googling may help.

I spent all of last night following the various by-ways of that particular research trail, and I have to tell you -- I went wandering into some very bizarre places. Mad Magazine. American Nazis. Sleazy paperback books of the 1960s. Hypnosis. Flying saucers. What a wild story! One of these days, I may tell you all about it.

Oh...what the hell. Let's just make things simple and embed the clip...

Heard Jeb Bush the other day, maybe last week, say that he would test the theory of losing the primary but gain the nomination. Which seems audacious at best because it means that he's depending on the Big Money donors to hand him the prize. Or the Republican party to shred itself to oblivion [one can only hope]. Tend to think a civil war might break out. But what do I know.

I have read consistently that Jeb is considered 'too liberal,' a joke and a half. This is the same Tea Party meme touted in terms of Chris Christie. Because he believes in climate change, limited gun control and doesn't believe every Muslim on earth is an enemy. Beyond that, the man is damaged goods and New Jersey will be lucky to be rid of him

Could get very interesting, particularly since Jeb has the same problem as Romney--lots of questionable financial deals and history to explain. If he survives 'immigration is an act of love,' I'll be amazed.

On NPR yesterday They mentioned Jeb saying that he was willing to take a big hit in the primaries in order to have legitimate standing in the general election, as Peggysue mentions. Jeb says that he's releasing all his emails from the last several years in the interest of transparency.

I wonder how the recent torture revelations will hurt Jeb by smearing the Bush brand name? Even the unscrupulous Karl Rove is talking dirt about GW now. But Americans have such short memories.
The outcome of presidential elections in the United States is about as random as the outcome of professional wrestling matches. The winner has been chosen by the powers-that-be long before the votes are ever cast. The sooner we all figure that out, the sooner we can go about finding a real solution.

Obama was installed because he was the candidate who could placate the nation by providing the illusion of voter control. The system still maintained a 41 seat minority for the GOP to insure that nothing productive happened and that the status quo was maintained, but that's all our elections are: an illusion.

That's how the Illuminati (or whatever you want to call our ruling class) maintain power: by always rigging the game while convincing us they haven't.
The person who may be the greatest threat maybe Rand Paul. He says one thing and then does another. With 24 ranking for Public Issue Statements and 98 ranking for Congressional Voting Record, he can easily adjust to meet the middle while still appealing to both extremes. I do not believe his Libertarian (Ayn Rand) views would be good for the country.
Greatly appreciate your opeds - reminds me of the thoughtful comments Eric Severide(Sp?) use to make during Cronkite news years...I went to my 2nd movie of the year "Interstellar" (thumbs down)and saw the review of "The OInterview" - I remember being instantly struck by the audacity of it's plot. When did it become acceptable to make fun of assassinating a foreign leader? Yeah, I agree eliminating Kim would be effective in eliminating his inhumane regime; but to juxtapose stupid slapstick comedy against the reality of the inhumanity taking place is kind of sick. Of course, our stupid populace will laugh & love it when it eventually is released. Knowing that North Koreans have been reduced to cannibalism because of famine, the whole movie seems inhumane.

"When did it become acceptable to make fun of assassinating a foreign leader?"

I dunno. I'm still trying to figure out when it became acceptable to film a comedy in which a girl uses a wad of cum as hair gel.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A man named Jeb

Jeb's in.

And suddenly I don't want to piss on Hillary anymore, since she has the better shot of defeating him. On the other hand, do we really want to see politics devolve into a competition between the Bush and Clinton dynasties? Apparently, quite a few Republicans are less-than-enamored of the idea of another Bush run.

Here's where I think I'll come down: While Hillary may be the stronger candidate against Jeb, we still desperately need someone who will articulate a truly different vision for this country. We need a "nix on neocons" voice. In terms of foreign policy, there's not much space between Hillary Clinton and the Bush clan. Years ago, I would never have written the preceding sentence, but her disastrous turn as Secretary of State was infuriating.

You know, there's an argument to be made that another Bush presidency might destroy the Republican brand name once and for all...

Hate to see Cannonfire casting glances at the "heighten the contradictions" bandwagon.

There would be too much collateral damage in allowing another Bush presidency, even if it did blow up the Republican party.
What difference does it make?
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Syrian Girl, Ferguson, Elizabeth Warren, and a 9/11 hoax

The video embedded above shows Maram Susli (Syrian Girl) being interviewed by a mainstream morning news show in Australia. She does quite well! Of course, she benefits from being interviewed by Australian newsolk who are rather better behaved than your average American newsbimbo.

Still, I was miffed by the way they kept asking Susli about her credentials and sources of information. No-one ever asks those questions of men. And they don't ask such questions of rightwingers of either sex.

Had Susli done a show like this in America, the only permissible topic would have been Israel Israel Israel! How dare you ever say anything bad about Israel? There would have been a relentless effort to picture her as an anti-Semite and a probable member of Al Qaeda.

Pushing Warren. Okay, it's official: There is a concerted effort to push Elizabeth Warren into the presidential race. See here.
In what has perhaps been the most significant piece of the draft movement puzzle so far, the liberal group recently launched a $1 million effort to persuade Warren to entire the race and is in the process of establishing a presence in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Partnering with Ready for Warren, is hosting its first “Draft Warren” rally at a coffee shop in Des Moines on Wednesday -- an event that will be closely watched for indications of enthusiasm for her candidacy among progressive activists in the nation’s first voting state.
The real question: Is the "draft Warren" movement entirely the work of people who like Warren and her progressive message?

When a mainstreamer like David Brooks say things like this, should we worry?

Liz and Ayn? Matt Taibbi says that Warren's opposition to the mighty CROMnibus bill was actually rooted in her conservative instincts:
...Warren's opposition to the Citi provision wasn't a left-leaning move at all. It was very much a conservative position. Ayn Rand herself, dragged from the grave and lashed to a chair on the floor of the Senate, would have argued the same thing.

All the Dodd-Frank rule says is that if you're a federally-insured depository institution – if you're an FDIC-guaranteed bank, where real people have real bank accounts that are guaranteed by the federal government – you can't also be gambling with swaps and other dangerous derivative instruments.

Think of it in terms of a workman's compensation law. If you're going to be insured against injury by the state, the state should get to demand that you don't engage in fire-eating or base-jumping during work hours.

There's no logical argument against the provision. The banks only want it because they want to use your bank accounts as a human shield to protect their dangerous gambling activities.
I'm not sure that Taibbi is right to bring Ayn Rand into this. At any rate, why use that whack job as the cultural touchstone? 

Other than that, Taibbi makes a lot of sense:
Meanwhile, on the other side, we have "liberals" in the White House and in the lame-duck Senate leadership who are nakedly whoring for big business in this affair, unashamedly doing favors for banks like Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase that in recent years have racked up tens of billions of dollars in penalties for a smorgasbord of corrupt practices. Establishment Democrats like Harry Reid almost certain to cave and wave through the Citigroup provision, foregoing a filibuster-type standoff.
Police state watch. Bill Clinton says that Eric Garner didn't deserve to die. Well, duh.

More important is this CNN story on Ferguson. The headline conveys the impression that McCulloch was right: "One challenge for Ferguson grand jury: Some witnesses' credibility."

But then we get into the meat of the piece. Confirmation: McCulloch got exactly the outcome that he intended.
"It's no surprise that some people did not tell the truth in this or any other grand jury," says CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

What is unusual in the Ferguson case is that prosecutors chose to call so many witnesses, including some whose credibility they doubted.

"Usually, a prosecutor applies her own screen to the witnesses -- and only introduces evidence that she believes will be credible and believable," says Toobin.
If McCulloch wanted a trial, he could have shown only the most important witnesses to the grand jury. As for the conflicting testimony offered by other witnesses: That's what trials are for -- to work out conflicts in testimony.

The CNN piece also discusses a factor which has received little play in print pieces, although I've heard it discussed on MSNBC:
In later testimony, Witness 40 changed her story about some of what she saw and admitted to having gathered some details from news reports. She also gave a different reason for having allegedly been in Ferguson that day, and shared part of a journal that she claimed to have kept.

On the day of the killing, she posted a comment online saying, "They need to kill the f---ing n-----s. It is like an ape fest," the grand jury documents say. (CNN is redacting the "f" and "n" words, but she used them in full.) She also organized a small group helping raise money for officers, including Wilson -- a group she said was created as a result of this incident.
Did Atta go to Prague? Apparently not! The torture report was the Big Spook Story this week, but let's not overlook this shocking revelation, which comes to us by way of Michigan Senator Carl Levin. Do you recall when American newsfolk revealed that 9/11 aviation enthusiast Mohammed Atta had met an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague before the attacks? We now the official confirmation that the whole yarn was bullsquat.

Director John Brennan still refuses to declassify a document (known to Senator Levin) which tells the whole story. You have to ask yourself: Why on earth is Obama's choice to head the Agency covering up Bush-era disinfo?

I'm going to take the liberty of quoting Levin's piece at some length, because this material is important. Indeed -- as I'll make clear in my final comments -- this story is very relevant to today.
On March 6, 2003, just two weeks before U.S. troops would cross the Iraqi border, President Bush held a prime-time televised press conference. In that press conference he mentioned the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks eight times, often in the same breath as Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. There was a concerted campaign on the part of the Bush administration to connect Iraq in the public mind with the horror of the Sept. 11 attacks. That campaign succeeded. According to public polls in the week before the Iraq war, half or more of Americans believed Saddam was directly involved in the attacks. One poll taken in September 2003, six months after we invaded Iraq, found that nearly 70 percent of Americans believed it likely that Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the Sept. 11 attacks. Americans who believed in a link between Iraq and 9/11 overwhelmingly supported the idea of invading Iraq. Of course, connections between Saddam and 9/11 or al Qaeda were fiction.

America’s intelligence community was pressed to participate in the administration’s media campaign. Just a week after the President’s prime-time press conference, on March 13, 2003, CIA field staff sent a cable to CIA headquarters, responding to a request for information about a report that Mohammad Atta, the leader of the Sept. 11 hijackings, had met in 2001 with an Iraqi intelligence official in the Czech capital of Prague. In stark terms, this CIA cable from the field warned against U.S. government officials citing the report of the alleged Prague meeting.

Yet the notion of such a meeting was a centerpiece of the administration’s campaign to create an impression in the public mind that Saddam was in league with the al Qaeda terrorists who attacked us on 9/11. On multiple occasions, including national television appearances, Vice President Dick Cheney cited reports of the meeting, at one point calling it “pretty well confirmed.” Officials from Donald Rumsfeld’s Pentagon, who set up a sort of rogue intelligence analysis operation, briefed senior officials with a presentation citing the Prague meeting as a “known contact” between Iraq and al Qaida.

Now, why am I bringing up a CIA cable from more than a decade ago? Isn’t this old, well-covered terrain? No, it isn’t. This is about giving the American people a full account of the march to war as new information becomes available. It is about trying to hold leaders who misled the public accountable. It is about warning future leaders of this nation that they must not commit our sons and daughters to battle on the basis of false statements.
Here is what the Vice President said on December 9, 2001, in an interview on “Meet the Press:” “It’s been pretty well confirmed that he [Atta] did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April, several months before the attack.”

Far from “pretty well confirmed,” there was almost no evidence that such a meeting took place. Just a single unsubstantiated report, from a single source, and a mountain of information indicating there was no such meeting, including the fact that travel and other records indicated that Atta was almost certainly in the United States at the time of the purported meeting in Prague.
Levin coes on to quote Jiri Ruzek, who was the head of Czech intelligence in 2001:
Mr. Ruzek writes, “It was becoming more and more clear that we had not met expectations and did not provide the ‘right’ intelligence output.” Mr. Ruzek goes on: “The Americans showed me that anything can be violated, including the rules that they themselves taught us. Without any regard to us, they used our intelligence information for propaganda press leaks. They wanted to mine certainty from unconfirmed suspicion and use it as an excuse for military action. We were supposed to play the role of useful idiot thanks to whose initiative a war would be started.”

That’s chilling. We have a senior intelligence official of a friendly nation describing the pressure that he and other Czech officials were under to give the Bush administration material it could use to justify a war.
This is not just a historical matter. As you read these words, keep in mind the current whelps for war in Syria and Ukraine.

Remember the 2013 sarin attacks in Damascus? People scoffed when I said that those attacks were probably the work of the rebels, not Bashar Assad. They stopped scoffing months ago. Nobody believes the "Assad did it" lie anymore.

And that is why this adminstration doesn't want to expose the intelligence lies of yesteryear. The warmongers don't want to call into question the credibility of those who tell similar lies today.

(Actually, the "Prague" disinfo tale is a rich, complex affair. I may go into some of the tributary issues later on today.)
Lying us into war
On the one year anniversary of 9-11, GW Bush suddenly stopped mentioning the name of Osama Bin Laden and filled this void with Saddam Hussein. It was then that I knew we were going to war. The propaganda techniques of using inference and word associations were rife, but nobody called them on it. The origin of the forged Niger yellow cake uranium documents which provided a basis for the "mushroom cloud" warning, were never investigated. The corporate press went along with the fraud, just as they did under GHW Bush when the Kuwaiti ambassador's daughter testified before congress about newborns being dumped from incubators onto the hospital floor. It is an old game they play and the American public is easily gamed.

Regarding the current drive for war, and the present lull in Ukraine; the airports are closed to allow American transport planes anonymity to land with loads of military equipment.

Russian author and state adviser Mikhail Delyagin discusses the evidence that a false flag nuclear detonation is planned for the very near future in Ukraine, to be blamed upon Putin. This would allow the most severe banking sanctions possible to be placed upon Russia.

Russia was planning to test their new currency trading system on May 15 but moved that date to yesterday. This will allow states to conduct financial transactions outside of the American dollar system.

Webster Tarpley had a great rant on his Saturday show; Elizabeth Warren will probably serve as Hillary's left flank much as Huntsman served as Romney's left flank. Predictably installed for a reason, to be pushed aside as Neo-con backed Hillary steamrolls through.
- I'm afraid there is no light at the end of the tunnel and it's gonna get worse...(Jeb)...
You have to ask yourself: Why on earth is Obama's choice to head the Agency covering up Bush-era disinfo?

Simple really, if jeb becomes potus he'll cover for 0. On it goes.
I. Who is Syrian Girl? {] "A self-described member of the former bourgeois ruling-class that was deposed from power during the Bathist coup, she would like to run Syria herself one day. Her grandfather was in government and she believes that the only path for Syrian sovereignty is through diplomatic reform, believing that her country will become another Afghanistan if left to the desire of outside forces (NATO, Israel and the United States)." She is just a knowledgeable person who sees what is really happening in Syria.
II, What happened in Ferguson is not not just happening to blacks.See your posted videos about the police. Also see how the police dealt with the Occupy Movement. The emphasis on the racial aspects is to divide the 99% along racial lines instead of rich verses the rest of us.
III. I am fearful that an Elizabeth Warren candidacy would turn out like George McGovern's. Remember that Richard Nixon and the Republican party secretly supported George McGovern in the primaries.
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Webber: You are right -- police abuse is not just a black "thing." I think police KILLINGS are much more likely to happen to black people, but the problem of cops-as-robbers is one that directly affects everyone.

As for Syrian Girl: I know her mom has said that she should be running Syria one day! Personal ambition certainly insulates her from the charge that she is merely an Assad hireling. When you think about it, Syria could do worse: A modern, westernized Sunni -- someone with anti-American credentials, yet who knows how to work the American media -- yet who came to the support of the Alawite regime when it was challenged from without. That might serve to bring the country together.

I've jokingly said before that if I were a young man, I'd drop everything and devote myself to making Maram Susli queen of Syria, or any other country she wanted to be queen of.
With Warren I see 2008 allover again. If Hillary wants to run (something seem off to me there) should have a concrete assurance from the party that's not going to happen other wise let them that what I would do
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Monday, December 15, 2014

Many stories, one theme: Us Versus Them

The above video from Max Blumenthal is important for a number of reasons. In the first part, he talks about his travels in Germany, where he had to deal with being called an "anti-Semite" by the offspring of Nazis. Later in the presentation, he talks about the Weisenthal Center's opposition to a law which would have forbade American aid the neo-Nazi organizations.

Re-read the preceding sentence over and over until the full implications sink in.

You can read more about the matter on Alternet. It all has to do with Ukraine, of course. Apparently, the New Cold War against Russia trumps all other concerns.

Why are Israelis fighting with the neo-Nazis? There was a time when I would have considered the preceding sentence to be unthinkable, yet there it is in Ha'aretz...

Count me among the thirteen percent. In a new Gallup poll, thirteen percent of Americans think that the United States of America is the world's biggest threat to peace.
Thirty-seven percent of Mexicans and 17 percent of Canadians view their neighboring country with suspicion on the world stage. A surprising 13 percent of American respondents rated their own nation the biggest threat to world peace as well.
Ed Snowden's lawyer. The lawyer's name is Wolfgang Kaleck, and he thinks Europe should embark on a new aggressive effort to prosecute US officials involved with torture.
“If these people enter European territory, they need to know that they’ll run into severe trouble,” he told the Guardian.
“We have to talk about command responsibility. It’s not about the rotten apples, the Lynndie Englands and agents on the ground only,” he said, referring to the former US army reservist who was one of 11 – low-ranking service people convicted over abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

“Those who came back from interrogation sessions with blood on their hands have to be prosecuted, but if it’s only them, then it would be a late victory for the Bush government. We need to investigate the architects and planners of this systematic torture,” Kaleck said.
Coalescence. Here's an excellent piece by Mark Bittman in the NYT on the conjunction of the income inequality movement and the black lives matter movement.
The root of the anger is inequality, about which statistics are mind-boggling: From 2009 to 2012 (that’s the most recent data), some 95 percent of new income has gone to the top 1 percent; the Walton family (owners of Walmart) have as much wealth as the bottom 42 percent of the country’s people combined; and “income mobility” now describes how the rich get richer while the poor ... actually get poorer.

The progress of the last 40 years has been mostly cultural, culminating, the last couple of years, in the broad legalization of same-sex marriage. But by many other measures, especially economic, things have gotten worse, thanks to the establishment of neo-liberal principles — anti-unionism, deregulation, market fundamentalism and intensified, unconscionable greed — that began with Richard Nixon and picked up steam under Ronald Reagan. Too many are suffering now because too few were fighting then.
I've made this last point many times. Whenever libertarians make their case to the younger generation, they always focus on the social and cultural issues. I call this GLIT -- the Great Libertarian Infiltration Tactic: Here's the deal, prole: You can have your pot and your gay marriage -- just let Jeff Bezos do whatever the hell he wants. He is GOD ON EARTH.

A growing number of people see GLIT as the gimmick it is. It's a way of distracting us from the simple fact that America worked better in the 1950s and 1960s, when we were less libertarian and more "socialist." (The "S" word was not used then, but that label is now routinely applied to anyone who wants to go back to the old system.)
Meanwhile, the credibility of those who argue that employers “can’t afford” to raise pay — McDonald’s paid its C.E.O. $9.5 million last year — is nil. For one thing, there are examples of profitable businesses that treat their employees decently, and even countries where fast-food workers can make ends meet. And for another, underpaying workers simply shifts the cost of supporting them onto public coffers. As Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont says, “In essence, taxpayers are subsidizing the wealthiest family in America.” That would be the Waltons. (Incredibly, many Republicans still want the working poor to pay more taxes.)
Those would be the libertarian wing. Libertarianism is the single most murderous, most brutalizing, most destructive force in the world today.

Unbelievable! Ferguson opened the eyes of many to the systematic robbery being perpetrated by the cops in many parts of the country. And now they plan to step it up...
For the current year, the city is budgeting for higher receipts from police-issued tickets.

“There are a number of things going on in 2014 and one is a revenue shortfall that we anticipate making up in 2015,” Blume said. “There’s about a million-dollar increase in public-safety fines to make up the difference.”

Revenue from violations, which already represents the city’s second-largest source of cash after sales taxes, will rise to 15.7 percent of receipts in fiscal 2015, from a projected 11.8 percent this year, he said.
This, too, is libertarianism in action.

The riff-raff. The one percenters are coming up with plans to strip-mine, and ultimately dispose of, those annoying poor people...
A study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition concluded that an average American renter would need to earn $18.92 per hour -- well over twice the minimum wage -- to afford a two-bedroom apartment. "In no state," their report says, "can a full-time minimum wage worker afford a one-bedroom or a two-bedroom rental unit at Fair Market Rent." Over one-eighth of the nation’s supply of low income housing has been permanently lost since 2001.

Little wonder that so many people are homeless: over 600,000 on any January night in the U.S., tens of thousands of children, tens of thousands of veterans, and one of every five suffering from mental illness.
The poor half of America is victimized by the banking industry, which takes an average of $2,412 each year from underserved households for interest and fees on alternative financial services; by rental centers that charge effective annual interest rates over 100 percent; by payday lenders whocharge effective annual interest rates of over 1,000 percent; and by the burgeoning prison industry, which charges prisoners for food and health care and phone calls and probation monitoring and anything else they can think of.
The U.S. court system is flooded with cases for minor infractions, including loitering charges reminiscent of the infamous Black Codes of post-slavery years. The buildup of arrests has added one out of every three U.S. adults to the FBI's criminal database.

The poor are criminalized for lying down or sleeping in public; for sharing food; for simply having nowhere to go.
Krugman on the end of Dodd-Frank. Krugman argues the regulation of insured banks is not the real issue, since AIG and Lehman were not insured. But
After all, even if you believe (in defiance of the lessons of history) that financial institutions can be trusted to police themselves, even if you believe the grotesquely false narrative that bleeding-heart liberals caused the financial crisis by pressuring banks to lend to poor people, especially minority borrowers, you should be against letting Wall Street play games with government-guaranteed funds. What just went down isn’t about free-market economics; it’s pure crony capitalism.

And sure enough, Citigroup literally wrote the deregulation language that was inserted into the funding bill.
"This, too, is libertarianism in action."

About as much as Obama's drive into Syria is progressive in nature.
While you caught the Citigroup derivative deregulation provision in the Cromnibus bill, you missed the Kline-Miller amendment that guts ERISA protections for already-earned pension benefits. Once Obama signs it (and you know he will, because he's got his own retirement to think of, suckers), retirees will lose statutory protection for current benefits (meaning their pensions can be cut unilaterally, with no recourse).

Another fine piece of "bipartisan" legislation brought to you by the Uniparty!
JB: Oh yes it IS Libertarianism in action!
Exactly Joseph, i didn't want to go find the link; and Obama calls himself progressive too, right before asking to invade Syria. A naming of oneself doesn't make the identity real, or the extrapolation concrete.
You think the current writers at Hit and Run would say, "yea, great idea" there? Hell no they wouldn't. It's right there in the article. And yet something gets pulled up from 30-40 years ago in association is supposed to be some sort of damning evidence of all things libertarian? It's just lazy pedestrian slander with tribalisitic partisan flavors of meme to enhance the crowd.
Just some feedback on the terror incident here in Oz.

Manteghi Bourjerdi (AKA Sheik Man Haron Monis) was a sick individual, on bail despite being charged with accessory to the murder of his ex wife and setting her on fire, hand delivering offensive letters to widows of fallen Australian soldiers calling into question their role in Iraq and Afghanistan, and 40 counts of sexual assault. He was an Iranian refugee, a Shia who would have been killed on sight by Sunni ISIS. This was about a disturbed nut job, not an Islamic terrorist.

There has been one very good outcome. Someone started a hashtag and a social movement called I'll ride with you, offering to travel with Muslims who may feel under threat from popular backlash. It's good to see ordinary people have their heads screwed on right when it counts. Generally, the nation -- Muslims and non-Muslims -- have closed ranks. Nice to see.
Lucy Steigerwald with a nicer response than I can manage:
And much more representative of modern day libertarians than some reason article from 40 years ago.

She says something that is spot on too, I think of you too Joseph, and that is:" The problem is top-down and bottom-up, but since libertarians (and some conservatives) tend to mention the federal connection, progressives feel threatened and need to undermine them."

Not a comment, but a question. If Israel is the most vile, despicable country that exists, why is that? Is it A. Because Jews as a race are inherently evil and inferior (the Hitler approach), B. Because Judaism itself is inherently evil (the Shahak approach), C. The culture of Israel is evil as a result of the persecution visited upon them throughout history, sort of an abused child syndrome theory (in which case, of course, it should not ever allow Palestinians power over them since the Palestinians, having been tormented by the Jews, would no doubt be overly cruel to them) or D. Something else, which would be...what?
Polling tends to reveal that the majority of Americans support "socialist" economic policies. But neither of the two political parties care a whit about the voters, they are beholden to their funders. Libertarian nostrums on economics are promoted by the funders of the two political parties, they do not represent mainstream thinking in the public at large.

Past that, progressive candidates have to become sharper in their analysis and less defensive in response to typical criticism (i.e. "tax and spend"). But, even if they do, the message can be easily lost in a flood of attack ads. The Supreme Court's campaign spending rulings are the ultimate trump card.
"Libertarianism is the single most murderous, most brutalizing, most destructive force in the world today."

Saying it don't make it so. To make the claim it's the worst force in the world you have more explaining to do. Explain to a Libyan whose university was burned down by Al Qaeda why Ron Paul is worse than Hillary.-
"...Israel is the most vile, despicable country that exists...". I re-read this entire post joseph, and I couldn't find this statement anywhere.
The workforce in the country was also half of what it was now with most women working (and not having their labor taxed) in the home. I wonder what your thoughts are on this, Joseph, and I say that as someone that fully believes women should have the opportunity to work if they so wish. I'm not sure that it's an ideal situation, but I don't think it's possible to put that genie back in the bottle either.
@Propertius 1:37

We're headed for a world of hurt. Banks can inflate the housing bubble to gamble with derivatives using our savings and pension funds. With new laws the casino banks can harvest our pensions and savings to cover their losses. The US insurance of depositor savings can only cover billions while the deposits to be covered amount to many trillions. If the banks crash then everybody loses everything... pensions and savings. What a dark distopian future lies ahead, a very near future it seems.
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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Tech question (Plus: An art joke. And sea urchins.)

So, my nice big monitor has gone totally blackscreen on me, and I do not have the funds to replace it. It's a little annoying to do Photoshop work the dinky backup monitor, but, like whatever.

Here's the thing: A number of YouTube videos convey the impression that monitor repair is easy. Just open 'er up, look for the bad capacitor (the cylindrical thingies), remove and solder a new one in place.

But what if all the capacitors look fine? Anyone out there know what to do next? (I know that the power supply is bad because I could see a very faint image on the lcd screen when I held a light right up next to it.)

Someone out there must be savvy enough to tell me what to do next. Thanks in advance!

The art joke: Actually, this is a true story. Salvador Dali and an artist friend attended an exhibition of abstract paintings. After a while, the friend asked Dali: "Why do you keep looking at that door over there?"

Dali answered: "Because it's the best-painted thing in here."

Salvador Dali tells this story in a book titled 50 Secrets of Magic Craftsmanship, which is full of useful, practical information for anyone in the trade. Some of his secrets are a bit odd, as you might expect. For example, he says that the oil painter's medium should include three decomposing wasps. I've never met anyone who has followed that advice, so I can't tell you if the wasps help. But Dali's paintings are in good condition, so I guess the wasps don't hurt.

He also says that dogs must be banished from the artist's studio; instead, the painter must keep a pet spider. Yeah, well...screw that.

The first secret is a bit complicated...
To begin with, you will eat three dozen sea urchins, gathered on one of the last two days that precede the full moon, choosing only those whose star is coral red and discarding the yellow ones. The collaboration of the moon in such cases is necessary, for otherwise not only do you risk that the sea urchins will be more empty but above all that they do not possess to the same degree the sedative and narcotic virtues so special and so propitious to your approaching slumber.* For the same reason these sea urchins should be eaten preferably in the spring—May is a good month.
It goes on and on like that. According to Dali, this meal puts one into a special slumber, and incredible dreams will come, and those dreams will inspire great paintings.Unfortunately, I don't know where one finds urchins around here, so I'm going to have to make do with Gorton's fish sticks. I'll let you know how it works.

And seriously, I need advice from someone who knows how to repair monitors. Can I do the job without a sea urchin...?

I repaired a Samsung TV myself. It was just a matter of searching for a YouTube video showing how to do it and then ordering the resistors and soldering gun from Amazon. Never buy a Samsung TV.
(Long - in 3 parts.)

Unfortunately, monitors can go black for a number of reasons; a bad capacitor is only one. That said, it's definitely worth looking into, as a dollar part and an hour's hassle could save you the cost of a replacement.

For a while, there was a very good chance your trouble was caused by a bad capacitor, as millions of monitors, televisions, computers, and other electronic devices ended up being damaged or destroyed as a result of perhaps the costliest instance of industrial espionage to date. (TL;DR version: Scientist steals a secret formula for electrolyte used in fluid-filled capacitors from his Japanese employer and takes it to China; later, his staff steal the formula from him and defect to Taiwan, where Taiwanese manufacturers use it to manufacture tens of millions of capacitors. Unfortunately, at some point the formula was mis-copied, leaving out an ingredient or two; the resulting capacitors are prone to bursting.) The resulting capacitor plague spread throughout all sectors of the electronics industry in the mid- to late-2000s, resulting in billions of dollars in damage and repair costs. (Dell alone spent $420 million to repair or replace motherboards.) Most devices manufactured after 2007, though, are unlikely to contain any of the faulty electrolyte, and a number of vendors transitioned to using only more-expensive solid capacitors in their designs. For the past few years, capacitor plague-related failures have been few anbd far between.

If your monitor dates from the plague years -- roughly 2003 through 2007 -- then you should definitely look into replacing your capacitors. (If yours is a plagued machine, you should go ahead and replace all of them.) You can probably find a kit containing all the capacitors your make and model of monitor requires, along with instructions, schematics, and an alligator clip heatsink, somewhere in the $12 to $20 range. Search eBay or the web for "[make] [model] capacitors." The last I checked, there were hundreds of such kits available.

Even if your monitor isn't of the right vintage, it's worth checking for a failed capacitor, as they aren't that uncommon even at the best of times. Fortunately, they call them 'blown capacitors' for a reason: A failed capacitor will often bulge, rupture, leak, or actually explode, making visual identification relatively simple. (Check your manual, though; if your monitor boasts 'all solid caps,' you won't be able to tell a bad capacitor by looking. Of course, if it boasts 'all solid caps,' you probably aren't dealing with capacitor failure.)

How easy they are to replace is another matter. If you're fortunate, the caps will be attached to the circuit board using what is known as 'through-hole soldering.' That's your standard, old-school PCB manufacturing technique: traces terminate in circular copper pads with a hole in the center; the component's leads are fed through the hole, soldered in place, and clipped. To replace such a component, you'll first need to desolder the old one. The easiest way to do so is to touch a piece of desoldering wick -- think of a tennis shoe lace woven from copper wires -- against the pad and then use a soldering iron to heat the solder joint through the wick; once the solder melts, it will be, um, wicked into the wick, freeing the old component and leaving the pad free of solder.

Almost forgot.

Tutorial on replacing surface-mount components.
Dali's art always seemed pretty trippy to me. I was thinking maybe mushrooms, but sea urchins never occurred to me (who knew?). The fish sticks could work if they were served with a side dish of fresh mushrooms of the proper variety.
As for sea urchins...get the to your nearest sushi bar and order uni. I think it tastes ghastly, myself, but it's a small sacrifice to make for the sake of art. Besides, the Japanese believe it's an aphrodisiac.
hmmm... did parts 2 and 3 not come through, or were they simply clipped for space? If the former, let me know and I'll re-up. Thanks.
Your monitor is dead because the backlight is dead. That's why you can see images on it when you aim a light at it.

Capacitors can hold a serious charge, in TVs and amps you don't dick around for fear of a serious shock.. tube amps'll kill you if you dick it up.

Unless you have some sort of stellar giant screen, it's probably not worth the expense. Sorry, but they're basically disposable.
"Your monitor is dead because the backlight is dead. That's why you can see images on it when you aim a light at it."

Yes, but it's probably *not* the light itself (often -- especially in larger monitors, as Joe has -- there are actually two backlight panels, so to have both go out at the same time is unlikely). Instead, it is probably either the power supply or the secondary power supply for the backlight -- which in turn could easily be caused by a blown capacitor or fuse.

"Capacitors can hold a serious charge, in TVs and amps you don't dick around for fear of a serious shock.. tube amps'll kill you if you dick it up."

The voltages in flat-screens are typically far lower than those for CRTs or plasma TV sets. LCD monitors with LED backlights *don't* have capacitors that would possibly hold dangerous voltages after the monitors is disconnected from mains power; ones with CCFL (cold-cathode fluorescent lamp) backlights *might* hold a charge after being disconnected, especially in sizes > 32". Even then, though, most flatscreen power supplies have drain resistors to bleed off the stored charge within minutes, and the ones without resistors will typically discharge after a few hours. If Joe has been using his backup monitor for days, with the main, now-dead, monitor unplugged, he'd be at little risk.

Of course, he could also play it safe and bleed the caps using a discharge resistor or bulb. There's information available on on how to do so.

"Unless you have some sort of stellar giant screen, it's probably not worth the expense. Sorry, but they're basically disposable."

Um, the cost for me to repair three $300 monitors was $1.80 apiece -- well, actually about $5 each, factoring in the cost of spare components and shipping. Yes, they're essentially disposable (and I can hear component manufacturers laughing all the way to the bank) *if* your only other option is to pay a service professional to make the repair---

---but, then, so are a lot of things.

I'm typing this on a Dell Dimension that for several years was my most powerful PC, with a Core 2 Duo processor and 4 Gb of RAM. I found it sitting on the curb at the end of the block. I booted it up and learned why the original owner most likely had dumped it: It was so painfully slow as to be essentially unusable. The fix? Install XP instead of the Vista it came with. (I assume it was probably heavily virus-laden, as well, but I didn't have the patience to find out.)

The repair took me all of 20 minutes (well, I probably did a full format of the drive, so the process took longer than 20 minutes, but I probably burned no more than 20 minutes of brain time), and it cost me nothing. (Over the years, I'd purchased 5 or 6 XP licenses; I reused the activation code from a P4 machine I had decommissioned in 2004.)

To the original owner, his PC was disposable. For me, it was a valuable secondary system that's given me a number of years of solid service.
maz, thank you so much, and I am sorry that I didn't respond earlier today. It's been kind of a busy day.

I don't see much reason to be fearful of capacitors, as long as the power is disattached. I've handled all sorts of mobos and graphics cards -- switching cases and that sort of thing.

Alas, all of those old caps in my monitor have not the slightest whisper of a hint of a bulge or anything else amiss.

Oh, and you are definitely right about the fact that folks are too quick to toss old equipment away. Some folks down the street trashed their entire system. I took it home and stripped the parts. Turned out the hard drive was beset my one nasty virus. I kept it well away from my own system. Wiped the drive and "washed" it with some heavy-duty anti-virus and anti-rootkit apps. Result: An extra 750 gigs.

Alas, I just don't think I can save this monitor. Well, I'm stuck in the 17-inch world until I can earn enough for something new.

Oh, and parts 2 and 3 did NOT go through, maz. Sorry!

One other thing I forgot to add: That "trashed" computer I found was later transformed into a nice duo-core system for a lady I know. Just popped in her old hard drive and loaded up the RAM and off she went. I can't imagine her ever needing more power.
How can I "wipe" my hard drive? I replaced a dead hard drive in my laptop and like a fool immediately picked up a persistent virus trying to download an overpriced book for free (sucker). Since there's nothing critical I need on that barely used drive I'd like to erase it completely so that I can just redo the clean install of Windows 7 and start over. But it can't reformat the entire disk because a partition needs to be reserved for enough of the operating system to run the computer to do the task. Only thing I've seen that would work is to get a second hard drive to run the system while the first is wiped. But if I'm buying another hard drive I'd probably just use it instead and toss the viral laden one.
Easy, CBarr. Install the drive as the only drive in a computer with an optical drive (CD, DVD). Then run a windows installation disc. There will be an option to reformat everything.

You can borrow an installation disc if you don't have one. Or, you know, the darker areas fo the net....
The windows installation disk I bought is supposedly for new installations only. I'd read that I couldn't run it and do a clean install if there was already an operating system on my hard drive. But I guess there's nothing to lose by trying. Thanks.
for completeness' sake...


If you aren't lucky, you'll be dealing with surface-mount technology, which is as literal a term as 'through-hole.' In such a case, component leads are attached to, not through, the pad -- which not only means they need to be clipped to a precise length before being attached, but component placement and clearance are likely to be tight, as surface-mount designs are usually intended to be assembled by an automated device rather than by hand. Fortunately, though, if you do need to replace a blown cap, there are limits to how small a capacitor can be and still be able to carry sufficient charge, so even surface-mount components tend to be human-scale. (More on that in a moment.)

You can find a lot of information on capacitor diagnosis and repair at; they also sell capacitors and capacitor kits and offer a repair-by-mail service.

You should also search the web for information on your monitor make and model, just to see if there are known common failures. For instance, ten years ago I bought four 19" ViewSonic VX900 monitors. (I think I paid $280 apiece for two and, liking them, went back to Fry's the following weelk (after the sale had ended) and bought two more at $320 a pop.) They came with a one-year warranty, but I later learned for some reason ViewSonic had decided to extend coverage to three years. Had I known, that might have helped me some when, thirty-five months later, one monitor went dark; at the time, though, I was only using three of them, so I swapped in the spare -- only to lose a second monitor six months later, and a third a month after that.

Not wanting to toss $900 worth of what had recently been perfectly good monitors -- especially as all were seemingly suffering from the same malady, I boxed them up and dragged them with me through my next couple of moves. (Had I been in a position to replace them, financially, I wouldn't have had to move.) Once I'd finally found some sort of fiscal equilibrium, thaks to the convergence of rent control and a DoD contact, I started to see if there was anything I might do to revive them.

I quickly learned the VX900's had a design flaw that often resulted in one or both of a pair of fuses blowing on the secondary power supply that feeds the fluorescent backlight. (Like most flatscreen monitors, the VX900 consists of an LCD panel lit from behind by a cold-cathode fluorescent panel.). This was well-known enough of a problem that third-party vendors were offering replacement invertors that could be swapped with the original boards with no soldering required. At about $50 each, they were a bargain compared to the cost of replacing a monitor -- but still a bit rich for my blood.


Fortunately, one of the companies that offered such replacements also hosted detailed, step-by-step instructions on repairing the original power supply. (Most likely this was in hopes that, once you saw what was required, you'd go ahead and buy their module.) At the time having more time than money (or brains), I decided to try my hand at repair, figuring if I couldn't get the originals to work, I'd still have the option of replacing them.

From a forum discussion at another site, I learned what amperage fuse was required and who sold them in small quantities. (Since surface-mount components are intended for use by robotic assemblers, they typically come packaged on reels of perforated tape, each component affixed to the tape individuallly, with anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 components per reel.) I found a place offering them at $0.79 each. I ordered ten; with shipping, the total cost was around $15.

Remember how I said capacitors, at least, were constrained by the laws of physics as to how small they could become? Well, I wasn't dealing with capacitors, I was dealing with fuses -- and while I expect they, too, are limited to a minimum functional size, that minimum is several orders of magnitude smaller than those for capacitors. Just how small are we talking about? Take a look. That is a standard, unaltered Lincoln penny; the little green thing beside it the fuse. At each end of the fuse is a C-shaped area of silvery (white, in this photograph) metal: Those are the leads.

So, in order to repair a monitor, all I had to do was desolder the old, blown fuse and replace it with a new one, attaching each end to its own soldering pad, without overheatinjg the fuse or allowing solder either to touch the green part of the fuse or bridge the space between the two pads.


For each monitor.

As I recall, it took me about 15 hours, total: disassembling the monitor, replacing the fuses, reassembling the monitor, testing it, and repeating as necessary until all three were again functional. In the process, I lost one fuse and destroyed two more, leaving me with one to spare.

...which is a good thing, as one of my repaired monitors -- or perhaps it was the one that hadn't needed to be fixed -- recently went once more to black. It seems the problem with repairing, not replacing, the ViewSonic power supply is that doing so does nothing to alleviate the inherent design flaw, leaving the replacement fuses vulnerable to failure....

cbarr, if you just want to wipe the drive, you can use an old XP disc. Or you can make a system disc using any functioning Windows 7 system.

maz, I haven't read all of that yet, but...THANK YOU!
The IT support folks at my company use freeware KillDisk to wipe hard drives clean. I've also used it on my own PCs when they've become infected or just too bogged down with crap. KillDisk overwrites all the sectors with zeroes, which prevents recovery of any data. Then you just start again by installing the OS.
Fixing my Samsung didn't take 15 hours. Don't be discouraged by some of these horror stories.
Anonymous - My 15 hours wasn't a horror story; in fact, I was pretty damn pleased with myself. But mine wasn't a case of swapping out a blown, through-hole capacitor; instead, I had to replace two SMD fuses, each far smaller than a grain of rice, on each monitor. (To do so, I used one of those 'helping hands' jigs from Radio Shack with a mounted magnifying glass and a small LED flashlight in its claws pointed at the fuse. On top of that I wore a pair of 2x [3x?] reading glasses -- and even then I had to take regular breaks to rest my eyes.)

That 15 hours was to repair three monitors, as well -- and included the time it took to desolder and replace several fuses I'd managed to destroy.

I'd done some electronics repair work prior to attempting this repair -- oh, a total of maybe two dozen times in fifty years. Maybe three of those two dozen times my work didn't suck: I was an astoundingly crappy solderer. (I'm much better at it now.)

The important message to take away is this: If I managed to pull this off, *anyone* could do so.
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Liz, lies, war and more

Lizmania. Talk of an Elizabeth Warren candidacy is getting serious. This piece in the New Republic is obviously designed to push her into taking the plunge. I'm not sure, though, that the psychological buttons which work on other people will also work on her.

One thing's certain: Elizabeth Warren is now the official Democratic Not-Obama. One can point to her and say: "This president does not represent this party, at least not all of this party." Warren has come to stand for something that Hillary Clinton should stand for -- but, alas, does not.

(The Christian Science Monitor discusses the perception that Warren may be the Ted Cruz of the left. No. That is so wrong. The left has nothing this.)

Although I would love to see Warren in the White House, I think that it is even more important to see her lead a movement to restore the Democratic party to its core values. As I mentioned in last night's post, this new movement needs a name.

(It also needs a clear statement of goals. A manifesto. A narrow focus. A plan. And, dare I say it, a hierarchy. Let's have no more otiose "Occupy"-style pseudo-movements which flail around without aims or leadership. That shit has been tried and it failed.)

Fake news story of the day. This one's hilarious: The New York Post wants us to believe that "Sexy Russian spy Anna Chapman tried to seduce whistleblower Edward Snowden on orders straight from the Kremlin, according to a defector."

Why? Why on earth? Is she supposed to convince him to defect to Russia? He's already in Russia.

The KGB defector in this case is one Boris Karpichkov. I hope Boris provides us with similar amusements in the future. For his next trick, perhaps he'll tell us that he's the grandson of Tsar Nicholas II. (No, wait: That's been done.)

Syrian war fakes. There have been so many that we now have a wiki-style page devoted to sorting them out. Maybe there should be a link to this image, which attributes the following bogus quote to Maram Susli: "Gas the kikes. Race war now."

Financial apocalypse watch. In a recent post, I noted that I'm keeping track of the growing number of commentators who offer dire warnings of a new economic collapse. Here's another one. It comes from one of the UK's most astute observers, Robin Ramsay:
On 21 October financial journalist, author and occasional Lobster contributor Dan Atkinson sent out an e-mail:
‘Main story headline in yesterday’s edition of City AM : “The City is back: Number of people working in London’s financial sector soars past its pre-crash peak” So how’s that “re-balanced economy” working out for you all?’
Indeed: it’s the same old same old. The City is booming, so London and the southeast is booming and migrants flock to London to service the people with the money. The global gamblers are still gambling; debt and derivative volumes are still rising. We are heading for another big crash and this time the state will not be able to bail out the UK bank.
The false confession theory. In the past, I've opined that the CIA employed torture not to produce usable intelligence but to produce false confessions -- an idea that many others have voiced over the years. This theory is gaining ground. In fact, it's far more than a mere theory.

First, we have this piece, which points out that the most telling details are to be found not in the Senate Intelligence Committee report (the one everyone is talking about) but in another report entirely, produced by the Senate Arms Services Committee.
Senator Levin, commenting on a Armed Services Committee’s report on torture in 2009, explained:
The techniques are based on tactics used by Chinese Communists against American soldiers during the Korean War for the purpose of eliciting FALSE confessions for propaganda purposes.
Next, we go to this McClatchy story from 2009 (which I think I discussed in a previous post):
The Bush administration applied relentless pressure on interrogators to use harsh methods on detainees in part to find evidence of cooperation between al Qaida and the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's regime, according to a former senior U.S. intelligence official and a former Army psychiatrist.

Such information would've provided a foundation for one of former President George W. Bush's main arguments for invading Iraq in 2003.
Former senior U.S. intelligence official familiar with the interrogation issue said that Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld demanded that the interrogators find evidence of al Qaida-Iraq collaboration...
A former U.S. Army psychiatrist, Maj. Charles Burney, told Army investigators in 2006 that interrogators at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility were under "pressure" to produce evidence of ties between al Qaida and Iraq.
Why did this 2009 story receive less publicity than the more recent Intel Committee report? For one thing, the new report is more easy shaped into a narrative that flatters American prejudices: Yes, we "tortured some folks," but we did it for the right reasons: To protect the citizens of the United States. The 2009 report, by contrast, said the unthinkable: We tortured people so that they would offer false confessions that could be used to justify a war.

The second narrative is not the one that the Powers That Be want to see preserved for posterity in high school history books.

Hey, hey, APA: How many folks did you torture today? For more on the "false confession" theory, see this Truthout article from 2011, which discusses the shrinks who helped the Agency do what it did. Take special note of this passage:
While they were still under contract to the CIA, the two men formed the “consulting” firm Mitchell, Jessen & Associates in March 2005. The “governing persons” of the company included Kearns’ former boss, Aldrich, SERE contractor David Tate, Joseph Matarazzo, a former president of the American Psychological Association...
(Emphasis added.) A few days ago, I noted that the APA condemns any psychologist who participates in torture. As a reader correctly added, that's the line which the APA takes now.

The big footnote. Sam Husseini, in a HuffPo piece published yesterday, endorses the false confession theory. He found an interesting footnote in the Intel Committee's report:
Footnote 857 of the report is about Ibn Shaykh al-Libi, who was captured in Afghanistan shortly after the U.S. invasion and was interrogated by the FBI. He told them all he knew, but then the CIA rendered him to the brutal Mubarak regime in Egypt, in effect outsourcing their torture. From the footnote:

"Ibn Shaykh al-Libi reported while in [censored: 'Egyptian'] custody that Iraq was supporting al-Qa'ida and providing assistance with chemical and biological weapons. Some of this information was cited by Secretary Powell in his speech at the United Nations, and was used as a justification for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Ibn Shaykh al-Libi recanted the claim after he was rendered to CIA custody on February [censored], 2003, claiming that he had been tortured by the [censored, likely 'Egyptians'], and only told them what he assessed they wanted to hear. For more more details, see Volume III." Of course, Volume III has not been made public.

So, while CIA head John Brennan now says it's "unknowable" if torture led to information that actually saved lives, it's provable that torture led to information that helped lead to war and destroyed lives.

Nor was al-Libi the only one tortured to try to make the case for war.
Looks like a truth which could be told in detail in 2009 is now something to be whispered in a footnote. Of course, 2009 was a rare year. Things could be said then that can't be said now.

It's amazing how hard we have to fight for our own past. The "false confession" theory is, at this point, pretty much a proven fact -- yet you can bet the rent money that this theory won't make it into your kid's American history textbook. Suggested title for said textbook: We are AWESOME!

Awesome coincidence! I wrote the preceding paragraph just a few minutes before I decided to check out Bob Parry's site. Lo and behold...
At least since the presidency of Ronald Reagan, any substantive criticism of the United States has been treated as unpatriotic.

Indeed, a journalist or a politician who dares point out any fundamental flaws in the country or even its actual history can expect to have his or her patriotism challenged. That is how debate over “how we’re not awesome” is silenced.

Fox News may be the poster child of this anti-intellectualism but the same sentiments can be found on the Washington Post’s neocon editorial pages or in the higher-brow New Republic. If you dare point out that America or one of its favored “allies” has done some wrong around the world, you’re an enemy “apologist.” If you regularly adopt a critical stance, you will be marginalized.
I'll add this: Anyone who continuously feels compelled to insist on his greatness must feel awfully insecure. That's true of individuals, and I think that something similar can be said of nations.
United Front Against Austerity (UFAA:

Do you find yourself gazing wistfully at portraits of Franklin Roosevelt?

Review the following [New Deal Democratic Party Platform] for economic reform: if you agree with most or all of these measures, you might be a New Deal Democrat. Don't panic – there are many millions like you. Please visit to learn about the symptoms and to get help.

• A 1% Wall Street Sales Tax on derivatives, stocks & bonds
• Nationalization of the Federal Reserve to issue long-term, interest-free credit for infrastructure and industry
• A nationwide freeze on foreclosures and student loans
• Bankruptcy and re-regulation for zombie banks
• A 10% protective tariff on ALL imports
• Parity – a fair price guarantee for farmers
• Medicare for All
• Stronger Social Security
I suspect Mitchell and Jessen, now that their names are known, will need to spend a large portion of their blood money on personal security.

The radical Islamists are not exactly known for their sweet, forgiving attitudes.
Dire warnings of economic collapse? David Stockman explains how we got into this mess, and why the house of cards is teetering;
There's no indication that Elizabeth Warren wants or has any plan to run for the WH in 2016. Which is a good thing because she would not win. Her strength is exactly in what she's been doing this week: stoking the conscience of the Democratic Party, reminding the sell-outs that primary representation of corporate/financial interests is in direct opposition to Party principles: supporting the country's middle-class/working class, the backbone of the Nation. Without a vital, healthy middle-class all things fall apart.

I listened to Moran [a self-defined liberal] this morning decry Warren's objections of the Wall St. Bailout Amendment as a form of grandstanding. Look at the funding for NIH, he said. Look at the funding we got for R&D and infrastructure.

What does any of that mean if we allow the banks to roll us into another financial abyss, to insist that the US taxpayer backstop risky, toxic speculation? There are some trade-offs we cannot afford to make. More shocking still is the likes of a Jamie Dimon calling legislators, whipping the vote. I don't know what the hell that is but it has nothing to do with what the Democratic Party supposedly represents.

As for lies? That appears to be the country's stock and trade right now. When crooks and liars are never prosecuted, never called out for wrong-doing, we encourage more bad actors, pushing the honest brokers to the sideline who simply cannot compete when the game is rigged. The press bangs the drum for the status quo and the public drowns in propaganda.

The Democratic Party can go with the flow or buck the corrosive elements. The President has already staked his position--with the crooks.

Something about Warren just rubs me the wrong way. I can see the word fake all over her. I am sure I will not vote for.
When you say no more Occupy movements, I hope you don't exclude street activism, because the Elite are not going to surrender as a mere result of polite parliamentary mannered arguments, not that Obama and Biden wouldn't try and squash those.
"Elizabeth Warren is now the official Democratic Not-Obama. "

And it's the same chumps that gave us Obama. At least they are in the opposition now. Fools before, maybe learned something.

Not that I am believing too much of what she says. Let's see her stop something before she's claimed for real.
"Elizabeth Warren is now the official Democratic Not-Obama. "

And it's the same chumps that gave us Obama. At least they are in the opposition now. Fools before, maybe learned something.

Not that I am believing too much of what she says. Let's see her stop something before she's claimed for real.
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Friday, December 12, 2014

It needs a name

Slate: Tea Party Democrats -- Does President Obama have a rebellion brewing in his ranks? The piece is mostly about Elizabeth Warren opposition to CRomnibus. (As mentioned in an earlier post; scroll down.)

Salon: Elizabeth Warren goes to war: Why the Democratic Party could seriously change — for real, this time. This piece says that Warren has given "the anti-neoliberal wing within the party, which has been growing in strength since the 2008 financial collapse, a direction and a voice."

Yeah, but it doesn't have a name. "Tea Party Dems" won't do. A movement can't be a movement unless and until it has a name. In the past, I've suggested "New Deal"...
Dr. Jill Stein ran on a "Green New Deal" platform in 2012. How about "Go Green in 2016"?
" anti-neoliberal wing within the party"

Maybe party definitions should begin with what they 'aren't', but I'm still skeptical.

See Craig Murray and Russel Brand being marginalized.

Anon (and by the way, YOU could use a name yourself!) what I like about "green" are the possibilities for clever rhymes. But green says "environmentalism" and I want a name that says "economic justice." Also, "green" is redolent of all things euro, and we need something 100 percent Amurrkin. Like "tea party." But not THAT.
Anybody who knows anything already knows what "New Deal Democrat" stands for. The opposition can't redefine it. And it shows that the current Democratic Party leadership has lost its way. We're now six years into the Greatest Depression. Why not use the name of the anti Bankster movement that steered us out of the previous generational financial calamity? The framing is already in place, Art Deco in fact. It's foolish not to use it. Maybe the little Monopoly Board Man will help out and run again for the Republicans.
New Deal Democrats
Has the "Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party" brand been totally debased?
It has a name, Joe. FDR Democrats and/or New Deal 2,0 Democrats.

How about ReDeal Democrats?
What if we just throw it right in their faces and call it the Union wing of the Democratic Party or even just the Union Party?
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Stephen Colbert interviews a noted conservative

Sorry, wrong monster for the times.

Considering what the neoconservative monsters are are doing--torture, Syria, Russia-- you have to wonder why they made the thing a goldbug "Rand Paul" loving "Conservative" rather than a REAL monster.
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Let's return to the bad old days...

First and foremost, let me say that I was very impressed by yesterday's walkout of congressional staffers protesting the recent outrages involving the police. An excellent first step.

CRominbus. Bravo to Elizabeth Warren for opposing a bill which will roll back the Dodd-Frank reforms and allow the Wall Streeters to go back to the situation before 2008. Those reforms were themselves hardly sufficient -- but if we can't preserve Dodd-Frank, what hope is there for something better?

Bravo, as well, to Nancy Pelosi for standing with Warren.
It is clear from this recess on the floor that the Republicans don’t have enough votes to pass the CRomnibus. This increases our leverage to get two offensive provisions of the bill removed: the bank bailout and big money for campaigns provision.
Are the Dems finally starting to act like Democrats? I'm pretty sure that Boehner is going to get his way on this in the end, but he must be fought, and Obama isn't going to fight him.

A bit more on the campaign finance part...
The bill would dramatically expand the amount of money that wealthy political donors could inject into the national parties, drastically undercutting the 2002 landmark McCain-Feingold campaign finance overhaul. Bottom line: A donor who gave the maximum $32,400 this year to the Democratic National Committee or Republican National Committee would be able to donate another $291,600 on top of that to the party’s additional arms -- a total of $324,000, ten times the current limit.
Good lord, but this bill reeks.

And speaking of things that reek: This bill also prevents the EPA from regulating methane emissions from livestock. As you know, cattle farts contribute massively to global warming.

(Not to worry. Republican Jim Inhofe, who will probably head the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, says that global warming is actually good for human beings. At least he's not denying that it's real!)

And here's another goody in this bill:
The bill stops assistance to the Palestinian Authority if it becomes a member of the United Nations or UN agencies without an agreement with Israel. It also prohibits funds for Hamas.
Of course, Israel will never allow any kind of agreement -- Israel's actions over the past few decades have made this fact very clear. Alas, I doubt very much that Nancy Pelosi will fight against this portion of the CRomnibus.

But at least she is fighting to maintain Dodd-Frank -- and yes, I'm aware of how frustrating it is to have to fight for something that was so infuriatingly insufficient to begin with. Maxine Waters has taken a strong stand against the continuing resolution...
She was aided in this by a number of impassioned speeches in the Democratic caucus, including one from civil-rights hero Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, who referenced his participation in the March on Washington 50 years ago. “I wanted to know [then] which side the federal government was on,” said Lewis. “I wanted to know 50 years later which side is the Democratic caucus on? Is it on the side of the people or Wall Street and the big banks?
But the White House still supports the bill, on the grounds that any deal made with the next (Republican-controlled) Senate will surely be much worse. Not a bad argument. But here's the counter-argument...
As Corrine Brown of Florida told The Daily Beast while almost holding back tears, “I think we care about all the people who lost their homes during the foreclosure and you giving the banks the opportunity to do it again, not one of them went to jail.”

The concern wasn’t just centered around ideological opposition but political calculus as well. As [Oregon Representative Pete] DeFazio told reporters, “You know, if I go home and say, ‘I had to vote to give new special interests to billionaires and the big Wall Street banks even though people in my district are still hurting because otherwise we would have had a [90-day continuing resolution],’ you know what they’re gonna say? What the hell is a 90-day continuing resolution? You did that for Wall Street and the rich people and we’re done with you Dems.”
Bless Pete DeFazio. Why isn't he running for President? Why isn't he President right now? He understands a fact which has always eluded Obama: If you can't stand for something, people will decide that they can't stand you.

Another crash? Dodd-Frank or no Dodd-Frank, there are those who say that we are heading toward another 2008-style crash. At this time, I consider these doomsayers to be outliers and fringe-dwellers. The doomsayers are with us always. If you keep saying "The Big Bad Thing will happen this year" every single year, eventually there will be a year when something truly big and bad happens and you will look like a prophet.

Nevertheless, I'm starting to get a bit spooked. At this writing, the doomsayers seem louder and more strident than normal.

Take this guy, for example...
In the current instance, we are not even talking about garden variety leverage. We live in a world where leverage is leveraged, leveraged again and again and again. We have personal, public, and “private” (OTC) leverage. The garden variety leverage is bad enough as is sovereign leverage, but the real problem are derivatives piled on top of derivatives with collateral which in many cases no longer even exists.
While I originally thought about talking of Venezuela and Ukraine today, and making a comparison and wondering which one will bankrupt first, it dawned on me ...the current bubble is busting right now!
Look what is currently happening. The reflation of the reflation of U.S. real estate is failing. Oil has deflated 40%+++. High yield credit is in an outright crash and already at record “wides” to Treasuries. The euro and yen have deflated drastically...even against gold. The Chinese stock market dropped over 5% last night, this is like a 900 point drop in the Dow. They changed their “collateral rules” and now only AAA and AA credits can be used as collateral. While speaking of China, let’s not forget their shadow banking system which has basically now been frozen solid. Commodities across the board have been hammered lower while growth rates across the globe (except of course the U.S. as we lie about every economic report) have either slowed drastically or turned negative. The “reflation” is clearly failing! There is no way around it, we are watching a credit contraction unfold.
Hey, do you remember when the Randroids were warning us all that hyper-inflation was right around the corner? Remember when Fox News was giving all of that air time to Jonathan Lebed and his phoney-baloney National Inflation Association? Remember when we were all told that a potato would soon cost twenty bucks? Remember all that stuff?
Quite simply, we have lived through the greatest Ponzi scheme of all time where leverage of over 100 to (probably 1,000 to one when all is said and done) has been employed for control. The recent volatility suggests that control is finally being lost. If this is true and I firmly believe it is, we are on the doorstep of the worst financial panic event in all of human history. The sad part is the humanity. Only a small percentage of the global population ever even played in this game but everyone will be affected by it!
The fellow who wrote that is named Bill Holter. He's with Miles Franklin, the precious metals firm in Minnesota. I hope he's wrong. Keep in mind: Gold bugs are always crying doom. Doom, or at least the perception of doom, is good for their business.
Nice comprehensive summary with wide-angle lens, Joseph.

We (US) are way too ethnocentric to see the wider implications. Now if Warren proves to be 'truly needy' in her angst about Banksters (Jamie Dimon lobbied Congress heavily) I will give her another look. For now, 'methinks she doth protest too much"

"(W)e have lived through the greatest Ponzi scheme of all time". This is true.

Meanwhile, the Australian government led by 'shirtfronter' Tony Abbott promises to sell uranium and coal to the Ukraine...

At least it was amusing when Abbott said that Putin, who has led Russia with a strong hand since 2000, has "an opportunity (...) to be a statesman as well as a patriot".

Here you go, Vlad, old chap, here's your chance to make something of yourself. You won't get better advice than you'll get from Tony!
The watering down of Dodd-Frank has appalling consequences for financial markets, yet it pales beside the global push for bank bail-ins.

ZeroHedge also has some interesting charts on the chances of GFC2.
Bubbles always end in crashes. The real question, in my mind, is whether a crash will result in another liquidity crisis in the financial system. If the derivatives regulations in Dodd-Frank are scuppered this is almost guaranteed, along with another bankster bailout, more money being printed and zero interest rates extending far into the future. The result will be another round of taxpayer funded speculation and new bubbles to pop.

The odds of our politicians doing the right thing, in this circumstance, by nationalizing the insolvent banks, is just about zero.
So, yesterday and probably throughout the weekend we'll have to listen to the torture apologists and now this--something like $700 trillion in derivatives of which US banks own 95% is now backed by the US taxpayer. That's about 10x the world's entire GDP and the US is on the hook because the banks rule the world.

We don't stand for anything anymore because everything's for sale: the country, the sacrosanct Constitution and . . . the soul of our people. Lock, stock and barrel, it all belongs to the highest bidder. Jamie Dimon, one of the head crooks whispers and captured pols fall in line, including POTUS, the cave-in king.

Rome is in our future. And Capitalism? It just put its greed head in the noose.

Merry Christmas!

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

The torture post

Igor Volsky has chosen what he considers the five most damning revelations from the torture report. Here's an ultra-brief summary:

1. No terror attacks were prevented.

2. The CIA claimed that torture obtained useful intel. The CIA lied.

3. Some CIA personnel questioned the use of torture. (I should hope so.)

4. It was way more brutal than most Americans thought.

5. Waterboarding did much more damage than the Bush administration admitted.

Matt Taibbi has a "top ten" list of his own. The first eight involve torture techniques...

1. "Rectal feeding" and "rectal hydration." Forced enemas. Shoving food up a man's butt.

2. Walling. Slamming someone against a wall. It seems that there was a whole art to this.

3. Sleep Deprivation. 180 hours in the case of Khaled Sheikh Muhammed.

4. Diapers. Forcing guys people to live in their own shit for days.

5. Mock executions. Nice to see that the lads at Langley have read their Dostoyevsky.

6. Confined in a very small box with insects. For days.

7. The rough takedown. Very much like running the gauntlet.

8. The cordless drill. According to Taibbi, this was more of a threat than anything else.

Taibbi, like Volsky, notes that the torture produced no actionable intelligence. He ends with the most important point of all: If there are no consequences, the whole thing will probably happen again.
Even if the Obama administration hasn't continued these policies (and who knows for sure about that), they sure didn't punish them, leaving the likes of Feinstein to simply write up what happened for the sake of posterity. That total lack of real consequence for the policymakers makes it almost certain that we will resort to the same behaviors the next time a 9/11 happens. And since the stuff we got away with (are getting away with?) this time was this weird – insects in coffin-boxes and drills and hangings and pasta-up-the-wazz weird – just imagine what the next round of innovations will bring. God help us.
Taibbi isn't the only one who considers the current administration to be complicit. Senator Mark Udall has said on the Senate floor that the CIA is still lying about what really happened.
"The refusal to provide the full Panetta Review and the refusal to acknowledge facts detailed in both the committee study and the Panetta Review lead to one disturbing finding: Director Brennan and the CIA today are continuing to willfully provide inaccurate information and misrepresent the efficacy of torture," Udall said. "In other words: The CIA is lying."
Udall, a Democrat, has already lost his seat, which explains why he is going after Obama-era officials with such gusto. What is there to lose?

Motive. For a long time, people have been asking: If torture does not produce useful intel, why do it? As near as I can tell, the only reason to employ torture is to force prisoners to "confess" to things that are not true. Taibbi on "rectal hydration":
In the case of KSM, they used the technique as a means to "clear a person's head," and believed it was helpful in getting him to talk. The report explains that KSM fabricated information during this period, leading to the capture and CIA detention of "two innocent individuals."
It seems that when a man's head is clear, he will indict the innocent.

Big Dick. The right-wingers on Fox News are throwing a tizzy fit because this report reminds the citizenry of one of the big reasons why everyone came to dislike Dubya. That's not the kind of reminder the partisans of Jeb would prefer.

I thus find it very intriguing to see Dick Cheney make things even worse for Bush. See, the report wants us to believe that the President did not know about the torture techniques until 2006, and Cheney considers that claim to be a "flat out lie."
"I think he knew certainly the techniques, we did discuss the techniques, there was no effort on our part to keep him from that," Cheney said on Fox News.

"That the president wasn’t being told is just a flat out lie."

Bush wrote in his memoir, Decision Points, that he did know about the interrogation practices.

"Read his book," Cheney said. "He was fully informed."
Can you imagine Jeb's reaction as he read this passage? 'Thanks a lot, Dick...!'

Will Dick and Dubya pay? As noted above, Senator Udall is incensed by the lack of consequence. At emptywheel's site, Jim White draws our attention to a bombshell statement from UN official Ben Epperson. You don't really have to read between the lines to see that Epperson wants to see Bush and Cheney and some high-ranking CIA personnel stand trial.
It is now time to take action. The individuals responsible for the criminal conspiracy revealed in today’s report must be brought to justice, and must face criminal penalties commensurate with the gravity of their crimes.

The fact that the policies revealed in this report were authorised at a high level within the US Government provides no excuse whatsoever. Indeed, it reinforces the need for criminal accountability.
International law prohibits the granting of immunities to public officials who have engaged in acts of torture. This applies not only to the actual perpetrators but also to those senior officials within the US Government who devised, planned and authorised these crimes.

As a matter of international law, the US is legally obliged to bring those responsible to justice. The UN Convention Against Torture and the UN Convention on Enforced Disappearances require States to prosecute acts of torture and enforced disappearance where there is sufficient evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction. States are not free to maintain or permit impunity for these grave crimes.
The United States will do nothing, of course. But could we see a situation in which Bush is subjected to arrest if leaves this country? Lovely thought, that.

Will the psychologists pay? Here's another damning revelation: Shrinks took $81 million in recompense for their participation.
This is a matter of outrage for everyone, but as psychologists, we have a particular obligation to speak out. Many of the approaches the CIA used were developed by our discipline, and by individuals who will have known about the codes of conduct by which US psychologists are bound – which include beneficence and non-maleficence, and respect for rights, dignity and integrity.
Of course, anyone who has read anything about MKULTRA knows that psychiatrists are easily cajoled into betraying the high ideals that should prevail within their profession. The obvious remedy: Guilty psychologists should be stripped of their ability to practice. In fact, the American Psychological Association's stated policy is crystal clear...
The American Psychological Association's (APA) position on torture is clear and unequivocal: Any direct or indirect participation in any act of torture or other forms of cruel, degrading or inhuman treatment or punishment by psychologists is strictly prohibited. There are no exceptions. Such acts as waterboarding, sexual humiliation, stress positions and exploitation of phobias are clear violations of APA's no torture/no abuse policy.
Their response to the Senate's report is of interest...
The new details provided by the report regarding the extent and barbarity of torture techniques used by the CIA are sickening and morally reprehensible.

Two psychologists mentioned prominently in the report under pseudonyms, but identified in media reports as James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, are not members of the American Psychological Association. Jessen was never a member; Mitchell resigned in 2006. Therefore, they are outside the reach of the association’s ethics adjudication process. Regardless of their membership status with APA, if the descriptions of their actions are accurate, they should be held fully accountable for violations of human rights and U.S. and international law.

Last month, the APA announced an independent review of the allegation by New York Times reporter and author James Risen that the association colluded with the Bush administration to support enhanced interrogation techniques that constituted torture. The review is being conducted by attorney David Hoffman of the law office Sidley Austin...
Mitchell and Jensen are referenced in this report.
Udall, a Democrat, has already lost his seat, which explains why he is going after Obama-era officials with such gusto. What is there to lose?

I do hope he reads the whole report but he better not drive on any 2 lane roads or fly in a small plane. Then again the cia doesn't really care how many die as long as the target does.
"In fact, the American Psychological Association's stated policy is crystal clear..."

Oh boy. Ten years later their policy may be clear. Google "APA and torture" and look for the older articles, not the white-washing of more recent reports. You'll see APA was 100% complicit when it mattered. Absolutely despicable organization.

Don't Let Psychologists Get Away with Torture
"Shocking evidence of the American Psychological Association’s (APA) role in the Bush-era torture program has recently come to light. Their actions are a clear violation of medical ethics and international law."

Why Torture Made Me Leave the APA
"Jeffrey Kaye left the APA over its complicity in torture by the U.S. government. This is his letter of resignation."

Of course, the US is not a signatory to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICCPED).
One gets the impression that the Bush administration wanted false confessions:
"The 9/11 Commission Report was largely based on a third-hand account of what tortured detainees said, with two of the three parties in the communication being government employees. And the government went to great lengths to obstruct justice and hide unflattering facts from the Commission."

Also, I'm not sure why CIA hired Jessen and Mitchell. Didn't CIA have any old copies of the KUBARK manual lying around?
77The reports on torture itself is depraved and disgusting but then so are the torture apologists--full of crap Cheney, doing the will of the American people Hayden, the lying Brennan, the little bit of water in the nose and mouth Peter King, the 'awesome' crew on Fox et al. There's no debate on the torture question; we concluded decades, if not centuries ago, that torture was wrong, immoral and ineffective. These moral midgets won't even use the word torture or speak to the techniques themselves. According to the wise Cheney, there's nothing between 'enhanced interrogation' and kissing the enemy on the cheek.

What sort of twisted mind comes up with rectal rehydration? To 'clear the mind' was the reason/excuse. And sorry, the Dems don't get off the hook on this one--those who looked the other way, Pelosi who took impeachment off the table and Obama with his 'don't look back' attitude.

What a bleak, sad, wretched performance!

It is hilarious to watch the war criminals try to shift blame to each other now that the heat is finally on. I'm waiting for the ultimate defense: "I was only following orders." That didn't work so well in 1946. When the hangings begin, let the psychologists go first.
The World Socialist Web Site was appropriately outraged:

Responding to the UN's Emmerson, here is the article's list of senior officials who not only should, but by law are required to face trial: GW Bush, Cheney, George Tenet, Brennan, John Yoo, Jay Bybee, Jessen and Mitchell, Condoleeza Rice, Jose Rodriguez. Plus Obama, Holder, and others from the current administration as accessories.
"Udall is going after Obama-era officials with such gusto."
But how can you write that when he is going out of his way to make sure these people aren't prosecuted? See this video, isn't it clear he is helping those who perpetrated these crimes to get away with it by not calling for what is required (PROSECUTION)?
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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Awesome news!

We tortured some folks? Awesome! The witty scalawags in charge of Fox News hired a good-looking numbskull named Andrea Tantaros to be one of their hosts. (Her name, incidentally, is an anagram for tan Satan adorer.) When the Senate issued a report on the CIA's use of torture, she offered a highly erudite response:
“The United States of America is awesome, we are awesome,” she said. “But we’ve had this discussion. We’ve closed the book on it, and we’ve stopped doing it. And the reason they want to have this discussion is not to show how awesome we are. This administration wants to have this discussion to show us how we’re not awesome.”

“They apologized for this country, they don’t like this country, they want us to look bad. And all this does is have our enemies laughing at us, that we are having this debate again,” Tantaros added.
I am told that she offered similar sentiments during her job interview: "Okay, like, the CIA is like totally bitchin, okay? And there are like all these people out there who are always ragging on the CIA and stuff? And I'm like, what's up with that?" Then she held her finger in the air and chanted "We're number one! We're number one!"

Roger Ailes heard all of this and said: "Hired!"

By the way, Tan Satan Adorer and other right-wingers are blaming Obama for the release of this report. Why blame him? Did he do anything to pry it loose?

Even the classification stamp is classified. Here is the actual report. It's over 500 pages long and I'm not going to pretend to have read it. But I noticed something odd about the classification stamp: Part of it is blacked out.

Now, there are four basic levels of classification: Confidential, Secret, Top Secret, and Core Secret. (Only ultra-sensitive NSA material is stamped Core Secret.) But within the "Top Secret" classification there are further restrictions. The system is known as Sensitive Compartmented Information. The blacked-out portion may begin with the letters SAR, or Special Access Required, followed by a code name.

My sources tell me that the blacked-out portion reads "SAR-TORTUREDSOMEFOLKS." (Count the spaces. It fits! Awesome, huh?)

You probably didn't know that Barack Obama revamped the classification system not long after taking the oath of office. That's not the sort of thing one normally expects from a Democratic President, is it? I mean, most of the people who voted for Obama probably thought he'd have other priorities, right?

Told you he was spooky.

Another day, another hoax. I should have linked to this story days ago, because it was written by one of my favorite human beings on this planet, Maram Susli, a.k.a. Syrian Girl. (It still feels weird to refer to her by her real name.) This story is particularly meaningful to me because I've been paying a lot of attention to the role of "hoaxlore" in our politics.
Many mainstream media websites helped a fake video go viral this month. The video showing a young Syrian boy running through sniper fire to save a little girl, was exposed as a fake when the Norwegian producer Lars Klevberg made the fact public. One of the stated aims of the Norwegian film makers was to “see how the media would respond to a fake video.” This article examines how that experiment went.

The western press very quickly accepted the video as real and used it to support the US administration’s narrative on Syria. Many top US news sources began to spread the story. Even though the producer said he explicitly added big hints that the video was fake, like the children surviving multiple gun shots.

Propagating false stories on Syria, is nothing new for the western press. In the lead up to the conflict many stories were exposed as frauds, such as the Anti-government activist “Gay Girl in Damascus” which turned out to be a middle-aged American man in Scotland. Syrian Danny Abdul Dayem which was frequently interviewed by CNN was using fake gun fire and flames in his interviews.
Let's talk about that "Gay Girl" blog. First, an apology: I should have discussed the thing at length back in 2011, when the deception came to light.

Lemme tell ya, that bogusblog was a real piece of work. If you don't know the story, go here and then here.

Basically, the Gay Girl bogusblog told the story of a young lesbian named Amina who was being oppressed by the consummately evil Assad regime. Eventually, Amina was "kidnapped" by government thugs -- an announcement which led to international howls of outrage against Assad.

But the whole thing was bullsquat.

I can't easily believe that the author of the hoax, Tom MacMaster, was in it purely for the lulz, although that's his story and he's sticking to it.
MacMaster may have continued to use sockpuppets after the hoax was exposed. On 24 June, someone posted defensive comments on Mondoweiss from the same IP address associated with “Amina Arraf.” MacMaster denied making the comments himself but concedes that he enlisted friends to defend his reputation online.
Now let's turn to a Daily Mail story from three years ago:
In his post today MacMaster, writing from Istanbul in Turkey where he is on holiday with his wife Britta Froelicher, admitted his narrative was fictional.
Istanbul? How many Americans go to college in Edinburgh (at the age of 40) and vacation in freakin' Istanbul?

Moon of Alabama asked the right question: Who financed this guy?
A forty year old man who is still working on his master degree, married to a wife who is also yet to finish her academic degree. They both travel multiple times to Turkey, Syria and Jordan. He owns a house.

The question the WaPo reporter, and other media accounts on the story, do not answer is: Who is financing the MacMasters?

It is not normal for someone being forty to still work on a master degree. It is not normal for a pair who still are going to school to travel multiple times to Jordan, Syria and Turkey. It is not normal to become rich enough tio buy a house by being a Middle East peace activist. Unless of course one gets paid to be exactly that.
Pinky, are you thinking what I'm thinking...?

Nazi gun control. We are forever being told (by guys like this) that the Holocaust happened because Hitler instituted strict gun control. That theory has been challenged.

Recently, I went through A.J. Weberman's uploads on Scribd. If you don't recognize the name, Weberman's an old school JFK researcher. Although he's a bit of an odd duck, he has some amazing files, and I'm very grateful that he has seen fit to share his cache of strange items. (Weberman is also a strong Zionist. I mention this fact because some of my readers may feel tempted to say something inane about the image below.)

One of his uploads is a complete 1940 issue of an obnoxious little publication called Der Stürmer. I didn't know that this magazine carried ads, but it did, and one of those ads features...wait for it...guns for sale. See below.

Could one order firearms via the mail in Nazi Germany...? Awesome!

Well, the timing of the report baffles me, too. Obama blocked it when he first got into office....why now is it OK to come out?

And I don't have a TV right now but at least the radio news drumbeat is going on and on about "bracing" for violent protests around the globe, and one clip they played from overseas was "and they call us barbaric?"

All the media does is go on about bracing for "violence" from "them." I'm hoping there will be protests here against the American extremists who though force-feeding mashed garbanzo beans thru the anus was acceptable behavior.
All of the reporting I read, or as much of it as I can stand to read, starts from the assumption that torture by the U.S. is a one off, that is now blemishing our otherwise sterling reputation. Forgotten are counter-insurgency operations in Vietnam, Latin America --where we employed the 'Butcher of Leon' Klaus Barbie-- and other countries going all the way back in time to the Philippines. Torture has been a routine element of our imperial strategy. And, we don't do it to get actionable information so much as to terrorize the hell out people whose land and resources we are trying to steal. Hell, our use torture started with the damn Pilgrims.

As for A.J. Weberman, I remember when he was the country's foremost Dylanologist, the primary work of which was digging through Dylan's trash containers for used syringes and such. I had forgotten about his JFK research.
More than 40 years ago I got hold of a nice cache of "national"-"socialist" printings.
Among them "Der Stürmer"
I didn't read a lot of it, in order to secure my mental health.
BUT the advertisements.
One could argue, that the documentary value of a 1940 edition of that rubbish
is different from, let's say, a 1927 edition.
Early subscribers were early FINANCERS.
Later on, some of the advertisers would also include opportunists.
Remington, of Remington arms, if my memory can be trusted, was among the adds.
Definetly I rember REEMTSMA, a tobacco company, which, I guess, is / was a
Philip-Morris subsidiary.
And yes, my huge library I lost in a fire, ten years ago.

The Nazi goverment cracked down on tobacco smoking, though, so they can't have been that libertarian.
Good to know that when our Nobel prize winning president tortures folks he does it in an awesome manner.
I neither read nor speak German, but for me the key words in the newspaper advert are luftgewere (air gun/rifle), luftpistolen (air pistols), and startpistollen (starter pistols i.e. non-firing noisemakers used to start events in track and field). Apparently the fuehrer didn't want you ordering real guns through the mail.
Gareth: Yeah, AJ has uploaded some material he collected out of his Dylan fixation. Maybe AJ can explain why so many people were entranced by a "singer" who can't sing.

Anon 1:04: I agree that if you really want to get to know a society, study its advertising. Nothing reveals the id like an ad.

Anon 2:58: D'oh! Shoulda seen that. Even those of us who don't know German should recognize "Luft" from "Luftwaffe."
TV news report 36 hours ago
"Thousands and thousands of US marines are on maximum alert
all over the globe, because of the publication of the report
on the torture practic of the ..."
(add the video of marines entering a military plane from the back)
Question is, will the cremlin believe it?
Certain classifications reveal what type of intelligence it may be related to and to whom it can be shared. That's why certain types of classifications are considered classified themselves.
Speaking of peculiar redactions, some folks might be interested in the image of the famous August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Brief memo entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US".

Right in the middle of the footer of both the released pages is a redaction. What would be in that place but a page number? And why would a page number be secret?

Well, the German press reported that the memo in question was actually 11-1/2 pages long. "Page 11 of 12" and "Page 12 of 12" seem to fit the space pretty well.
Anon, I can't blame you for not reading my piece from April of 2004, since this blog attracted only a few dozen readers in those days. But...
Joseph, re: your 4/04 commentary on the 8/01 PDB

You're right, I was unaware of your analysis at that time. I became aware of you in the context of the 2004 election controversies. I respect your suspicion of a report that seemed maybe too good to be true, but I will point out that the redactions seem to better support a "p. 11 of 12" text than a "p. 1 of 2" text. Of course that could be a part of a very sophisticated deception.

I have long suspected that many of the mysteries of 9/11 may have been deliberately planted by the perps to create an environment of conspiracy fatigue.

I think I can reasonably speculate that if the JFK, MLK, and RFK assassinations were all done by the same people, those same people might have been sufficiently motivated to perpetrate 9/11 simply to create the conspiracy fatigue to denature the 50th anniversary re-evaluations of JFK, MLK, and RFK.

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This guy has compiled an entertaining list of "cursed" movies, but he forgot to include the most obvious example: D.W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation. Absolutely everyone connected with the production of that film...died.

Eerie, huh?

Monday, December 08, 2014

Of note...

FOIA improvement. God knows we need a better Freedom of Information Act: This administration has been about as transparent as concrete. Patrick Leahy is trying to get a "better FOIA" bill through the Senate.

It will be very telling if the Republicans try to block something like this...
The bill would require federal agencies to permanently maintain a default position that information should be released to the public, called a “presumption of openness.” It would also limit an exemption allowing agencies to keep internal deliberations secret and make other changes to the transparency law.
You know, we still don't have Lee Harvey Oswald's tax records. I'm not saying that those records would contain evidence of "spooky" payments or anything of that sort. I'm just saying that some people would like to look at those documents.

Kissinger and Bhopal. Many younger readers may not know about the horrific Bhopal chemical disaster in India, which took place 30 years ago. A toxic gas cloud killed some 25,000 people and affected over half a million others. The environmental effects persist to this day.

The gas leak emanated from a pesticide plant owned by Union Carbide. There are two theories as to what caused the disaster: Union Carbide blames worker sabotage, while most others believe that the company had enacted cost-cutting measures which compromised safety.

The government of India originally asked for $3 billion in restitution. The company eventually agreed to a settlement of $470 million, a figure which many activists in India considered outrageously low.

We now know that Henry Kissinger played a role in the negotiations which led to the acceptance of the lower figure.  He was a Union Carbide adviser.
A letter released under freedom of ­information legislation reveals that the late Indian steel magnate JRD Tata wrote secretly to the Indian prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi, in May 1988 conveying ­Kissinger's concern about the delays in reaching agreement on the compensation to be paid to victims.
This has since been widely derided as completely inadequate given the horrendous scale and persisting legacy of the disaster on December 3, 1984. Crucially, as part of the deal, all charges against Union Carbide and its managers were dropped - though this was subsequently overturned by India's Supreme Court in 1991.
Kissinger had helped Union Carbide secure the bank loan for the initial construction of the plant.

Ukraine. When I published my last piece on the shady background of Ukraine's new Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko -- who was, until recently, a US citizen (in fact, she was a US diplomat) -- I didn't know that Robert Parry was already on the case.

As noted in the earlier piece, Jeresko ran an investment fund backed by AID and funded to the tune of $150 million by American taxpayers. The fund lost a lot of money, and Jaresko has been accused repeatedly of insider dealing and other improprieties.

In a delightful twist, one of her main accusers is her former husband, a man named Ihor Figlus.
But his whistle-blowing was shut down by a court order issued at Jaresko’s insistence.
If this blog had a soundtrack, this is the point where we would be hearing catfight noises.
Figlus had reviewed company records in 2011 and concluded that some loans were “improper,” but he lacked the money to investigate so he turned to Mark Rachkevych, a reporter for the Kyiv Post, and gave him information to investigate the propriety of the loans.

“When Jaresko realized the beans were spilling, she sent Figlus a reminder that he had signed a non-disclosure agreement” and secured a temporary injunction in Delaware on behalf of Horizon Capital and EEGF to prevent Figlus from further revealing company secrets...
When Victoria Nuland revealed that the US had spent $5 billion on "influencing" Ukraine, some people scoffed at the figure. A few even muttered something about Russian disinformation. (Wasn't dear Victoria recorded...?) As Parry notes...
But if one looks at the $150 million largesse bestowed on Natalie Jaresko, you can begin to understand the old adage that a hundred million dollars here and a hundred million dollars there soon adds up to real money.

Those payments over more than two decades to various people and entities in Ukraine also constitute a major investment in Ukrainian operatives who are now inclined to do the U.S. government’s bidding.
Israel and ISIS. Washington's Blog wonders why Israel is functioning as an air force for ISIS.
Israel has repeatedly bombed Syria over the last couple of days.

The attacks have been close to the Syrian capital Damascus, and have reportedly taken out agricultural facilities and warehouses.

As we’ve asked for years, why are we and our allies fighting on the same side as terrorists?
I'll say it again: The US and Israel should always be considered de facto supporters of ISIS until such time as we decide to back Bashar Assad in his civil war. Such an alliance would be very temporary and filled with mistrust. It would be an alliance in which the parties speak to each other through scowls and gritted teeth. That would be fine. It is nevertheless the case that Assad's army is the only viable counterforce to ISIS in Syria.
For a long time now I detested Alassad. But now I am forced to think someone who is hated so much by Isis,Israel and the right wingers they can't see straight must be on to something
Not sure what the problem is with Natalie Jaresko........she seems to have perfect credentials to be the finance minister of a US puppet fascist regime. Obviously the US prefers completely corrupt regimes, as they are easier to get to do your bidding.
Whatever else one can say about Natalie Jaresko she certainly keeps good company. Mind you, it's not as though they don't possess a sense of humor.
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Some hoaxes are considered important, and some are not. Why?

We haven't heard from "StormCloudsGathering" for a while, but the above video is worth your attention. It seems that there is a document which supposedly proves that the Palestinians have a written policy of using human shields. This video makes the case that the document is a forgery.

There is a special irony at play here. I've been reading up (yet again) on the origins of another forgery -- perhaps the most infamous forgery of all, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. For many years, the standard guide to the Protocols has been Norman Cohn's superb Warrant for Genocide, first published in 1967.

Lately, I've been reading what some consider the new standard work on the Protocols hoax, Hadassa Ben-Itto's The Lie that Wouldn't Die, published in 2005. Compared to Cohn's work, this book is awful.

Yes, Ben-Itto (a judge in Israel) has the big picture right. She also gets many small details wrong. That's not what bothers me. What bothers me is the utter lack of scholarship.

No footnotes. In a 377 page book of history, there are no freakin' footnotes!

God, that sort of thing is frustrating. True, some French historians avoid footnotes, but those writers are usually pretty good about working their sources into the main text. Ben-Itto doesn't do that.

That's not the only problem. For no good reason, the book continually bounces back and forth across time periods. I don't mind when a movie like Momento plays narrative games, but I think that works about history should be linear: A leads to B leads to C, and so on.

Worse, Ben-Itto engages in mind-reading...
The minister of finance, Sergei Iulievich Witte, read with growing concern the typed booklet that had been hand delivered to his office. Normally he would have ignored it as he had no interest in anonymous documents...
The narrative proceeds in that fashion for quite a while. Is this a history book or a novel? How could Ben-Itto possibly know what Count Witte was thinking and feeling?

I mention all of this (in part) because the slovenliness of this work is also apparent in a lot of other books I've been reading lately, on all sorts of topics. There has been a general lowering of standards. Norman Cohn and his predecessor, Henry Bernstein, would swivel in their graves if they knew what passes for academic rigor in the 21st century.

I could go on for quite a while about the flaws of Ben-Itto's work, but such a critique will have to wait for another time. Right now, I'd like to draw your attention to a certain irony.

The Lie That Wouldn't Die has a preface by Lord Woolf:
This is a book you will find difficult to put down. When you do, you will be amazed that it is possible that there are those who have so little regard for truth that they can still publish the Protocols without placing at the start and foot of each page in red ink 'This volume is a forgery, its contents are lies....'
I'd have preferred a semi-colon instead of that last comma, but the point is well-taken. Even so, I must ask: How can one comdemn the Protocols hoax while excusing the forgery exposed in the above video?

A cognate question: How can one condemn the Protocols hoax while excusing the many deceptions exposed in the books of former Mossad agent Victor Ostrovsky? Isn't it true that the very motto of Mossad is "By way of deception..."?

Another point: Lord Woolf speaks about the problem posed by the people who "still publish" the Protocols. Who are these people? Is it really true that the hoax receives wide distribution in today's world?

Books and articles about the Protocols leave the reader with the impression that the work is almost inescapable, that gentiles everywhere tote the thing around with them.

Now, I can speak intelligently only about the publication history of that work in the English-speaking world. Readers who do a lot of foreign travel may be able to educate me about the availability and popularity of the book in other cultures.

But before the advent of the internet, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was -- in my experience -- little more than a rumor. Sure, I could find books about the book. I could find books condemning the book. But I never saw the book itself. Widespread? Nonsense. It was invisible!

As you know, I've spent much of my life in used book stores and university libraries. In the early 1970s, I read Cohn, and learned that the author of the hoax remained unidentified. (At least, Cohn couldn't identify him in 1967; we now have good reason to believe that the culprit was a Russian named Golivinski.) Intrigued by the challenge of identifying the forger, I went looking for a copy of the Protocols.

(I had to. How can one hope to identify the author of a text without possessing a copy of the text?)

There were no copies to be found in all of Los Angeles. Not in the UCLA library, not in the great downtown library, not in any used book store. I was told that I would have to ask the Library of Congress to send a copy via interlibrary loan. (Which they would do as soon as I squared some longstanding library fines, which were usually pretty steep!)

Eventually, I discovered (in the CSUN liberary) Bernstein's excellent 1935 volume The Truth About the Protocols, which includes the full texts of the Protocols and the works from which the forger cribbed. (Note to Ben-Itto: That's scholarship.) In a strange irony, Bernstein had preserved the full work, which otherwise was unavailable.

In the early 1990s, a crackpot named Milton William Cooper included the Protocols as part of his collection of crank materials. Some of you may know about this compendium: It's titled Behold a Pale Horse. Cooper told his readers that the work is really not about Jews: It's actually about space aliens. Or maybe the Illuminati. (Cooper said a lot of things like that. The man was a total loon.)

Cooper's version of the Protocols was photocopied from Bernstein's book, replete with Bernstein's critical footnotes. If Bernstein had not published the thing, Cooper probably would have been as unsuccessful as I was at finding a copy of the Protocols.

To this day, I have never seen or held in my hands a "stand alone" physical copy of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Of course, these days, you can find it on the internet. You can find anything on the internet -- including the most horrific porn imaginable.

Yet Ben-Itto leaves her readers with the impression that the Protocols are feakin' everywhere and always have been. Her book, and other books about the Protocols hoax, convey the impression that generations of gentile children have grown up with the thing. They kept it by their beds, right next to Dr. Suess and the Brothers Grimm.

And that, my friends, is the real reason why some people criticize Israel. It has nothing to do with anything Israel has actually done. It has nothing to do with the Nakba. No no no. Critics of Israel were seduced into their evil ways by reading the Protocols -- the inescapable, omni-present, ubiquitous Protocols.

Here's the first of five big questions for my readers: Have you ever seen a freestanding "hard" copy of the Protocols? Ever? Anywhere?

(Bernstein's book doesn't count. As noted above, Cooper says that the Protocols is really about space aliens. So that doesn't count either.)

My next question: Have you ever met anyone who thought that the Protocols was real?

I haven't. And as you know, I've met a lot of freaky people in my time. I've met people who believe in UFOs and the Illuminati and Goat Man. I've met people who believe that Charlie Manson is innocent. I've even met someone who thinks that Cutthroat Island is a really good movie. But in all these decades, I have never met a single person who thinks that the Protocols is anything but a hoax.

My third and fourth questions: In your estimation, how many people have been exposed to the (probably forged) document discussed in the above video? How many people would be inclined to accept that document at face value?

My fifth question: Why are some political hoaxes considered really, really important while others are thought to be inconsequential?

No, I'm not saying that the Protocols have always been inconsequential. I know the history: In the first four decades of the 20th century, the book had a very powerful and malefic influence. But now? I question the proposition that the book has any real influence in the modern world. In the English-speaking world, Pyotr Ratchkovski's monster child is no longer a real threat. It's a ghost. A ghost who can't even say boo.

And yet: In today's world, the intelligence services of various nations perpetrate all sorts of hoaxes. Those are important. One of the purposes of this blog is to identify those hoaxes.

One final point. In her author's foreword, Ben-Itto writes:
I belong to those who believe that lies and libels that set up a group of people as scapegoats, hate targets, potential victims of murder and extermination, should not be protected as free speech. This book challenges those who disagree with my view to present a viable alternative.
There are a lot of people in Israel using exterminationist, racist language against Arabs. Will Ben-Itto seek to deprive those hatemongers of their right to free speech? Or will she rationalize their hate-filled words?

Frankly, I suspect that she would prefer to categorize the video embedded above as unprotected speech.

And I can guess what she would say about my right to free speech.
"Have you ever met anyone who thought that the Protocols was real?"

Well, yeah. Of course, they would have been more believable as a character from 'Slacker' than one from 'The Bourne Enigma,' but they honestly believed the Protocols were for real. And I've certainly come across quite a few online who believed.

No, I've never seen an actual copy of the protocols. My first encounter with it was on the internet, from someone discussing it and showing some of the content. That person was convinced it was real, and that it was exactly what it says it is. I've found others on the internet who agree it's a hoax, but feel it was obviously created by someone who knows what the elite have planned for the world (or, as you mention, what aliens have planned, or shape shifting 4th dimensional creature, or whatever). I haven't actually met any of these people in person, but they certainly exist. Of course, I was 32 years old when I first read about it, and I had Jewish friends as did my brother (nearly all his friends were Jewish, now that I think about it) growing up in the 70's and 80's. Yet I never heard any mention of the thing, not even my whole 4 years in college (where I spent a lot of time in libraries doing religion research). I'm not sure any of those people knew about it either, until they got on the internet. As you say, I think in the early part of the 20th century it was much more well known, but by mid-century I think most people had forgotten it or never heard of it. Except Israel, and a few kooks.
Actually, Gus, I guess I should say that I DID once meet a Protocols believer. I met Cooper. Of course, that was in 1989, before he published his book or latched onto the Protocols. We did not exchange very many words; the perfume of psychosis surrounding that man made me feel disinclined to stay within his company.
Yes, I have seen phpycical copies of the book and have seen people reading it (them). I was a cab driver in Texas in the late 90s and once as I was walking back to my cab at the airport, Ibsaw an Arab driver reading it. I did a double--triple!--take. Over the next few weeks I saw other drivers reading the book....
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