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Saturday, May 21, 2005

Sex under the Moon: Was Brock meant to be a Gannon?

The recent revelations about the sublimely-named Neal Horsley -- noted fundamentalist, Republican propagandist, and anti-abortion crusader -- have prompted me to take another look at the hypocritical sexual mores of the far right. (Horsley, as you probably know, recently came out as an aficionado of sex with "consenting" mules.)

My thoughts went back to the Gannon scandal. As long-time readers may recall, Gannon's phony-balony news organization had subterranean ties to the Reverend Moon. Aside from Gannon's propaganda, GOPUSA ran primarily UPI copy (Moon owns UPI), and GOPUSA front man Bobby Eberle was known only for his work for other Moon publications, such as the Washington Times and Inisight. Gannon also worked for the Moon-linked group Frontiers For Freedom.

Many (including yours truly) have wondered whether Gannon's unusual overnight White House stays indicate that he provided the administration with non-journalistic services. Those familiar with the Koreagate scandal know that Moon has a history of using prostitutes to compromise politicians.

Something about this scenario has always sounded eerily familiar to me. Where, I wondered, have these elements (fake journalism, hidden gays, Moon) appeared before? Then I re-read the early chapters of David Brock's Blinded By the Right.

Take another look at those pages, and ask yourself: Was Brock being groomed to be an early-day Gannon?

Brock makes clear that, at the age of 22 -- and despite the lack of impressive writing credits, an advanced degree or the usual journalistic apprenticeship -- he was hired fresh out of college to write for Moon's publications. He received rapid promotion within that milieu, as did a number of other young men who were gay or presentable. Everyone in Moon-world knew full well that Brock was gay, despite his reticence to discuss his sexuality.

Moon's formula for success involves outrageous contradiction and hypocrisy. Moon considers Jesus pathetic, yet he funds fundamentalist preachers such as Jerry Falwell and Tim LaHaye. Moon decries promiscuity, yet his sect began as a sex cult. Moon thinks Jews brought the Holocaust on themselves, yet he is closely linked to Jewish neocons and funds a group allegedly devoted to resolving differences between Israelis and Palestinians.

So perhaps we should not be surprised to see that Moon, a man who denounces homosexuality in no uncertain terms, owns publications noted for -- how to put it? -- their unusual staffs.

In his book, Brock paints an interesting portrait of Insight editor John "Pod" Podhoretz, son of famed Jewish conservative Norman Podhoretz and Midge Decter. Brock pictures Pod as a man opposed to homosexuality, who nevertheless once wrote an effusive essay praising Sylvester Stallone's "pectorals" and Don Johnson's "manliness." Pod also wrote a column under the name "Tiffany Midgeson." One needn't acquire many more pieces of the jigsaw puzzle to comprehend the picture.

The Washington Times briefly hired John Lofton, a twice-born fire-and-brimstone screecher who charged that the paper's staff was riddled with "homosexuals, adulterers and fornicators." While one must consider the source for this claim, one must also admit that Brock's sojourn with the Moonie right introduced him to a little-known world populated largely by barely-closeted conservatives. Brock makes telling references to Terry Dolan of NCPAC, Republican lobbyist Peter Maletesta, and Marvin Liebman of Young Americans for Freedom (a group which has a stranger history than most know).

Peter was only one of the many closeted gay right-wing Republicans I would come to know in my years in Washington. Perhaps because they were trying too hard to fit into GOP ranks, they often embodied the worst attributes of the extreme right -- racism, sexism, and anti-Semitism. While I was well-acquainted with the hidden subculture of conservative gay life, as a journalist I was never brought fully into the closely guarded fold. And I was never sure I wanted to be, either. The secretiveness, not to mention the binge drinking and the common use of male prostitutes, lent a disturbing quality to it all.
Brock's natural reticence, his one-step-removed attitude, may have deflected his mentors -- his would-be puppet-masters -- from making the offer that I suspect was made to Jim Guckert/Jeff Gannon.

The wonders of the net never cease

I just discovered that someone has apparently tried to interfere with my site via a Japanese porn site. (I believe this site features the sort of material nicknamed "etchie.")
Not to be confused with "etchie homo," no doubt.
It just looks like somebody over there has an ear fetish.

Pretty funny, actually.... Besides, it could bring you some new readers.
I should have made clear: "Etchie" or rather "ecchie," is a common way to pronounce the letter H in Japan. H is code for hentai, which, if memory serves, means perverted. In other words, fetish stuff.

I once saw what was considered the grandfather of animated hentai films, "Urotsukidoji." Thought it was rather good, actually, despite the gross parts. But don't tell anyone I said that.
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Playing hooky

Never forget the virtues of hooky.

Despite thinning wallets and onerous work schedules, my lady and I granted ourselves the gift of a perfect outing last night. Nothing special, nothing expensive: A twilight feast of fast-food Chinese take-out in Chatsworth Park, that magical landscape known to Charlie and Squeaky and other fun couples. After that, a moonlight walk along our favorite dog-friendly beach in Ventura. Then a long drive along the California coast while listening to a broadcast of Fritz Reiner's old performance of Beethoven's Ninth. Take it from someone who's heard 'em all: If you're shopping for a superb Ninth, get the Reiner (which comes on a budget CD). Even though I must have heard that piece 1500 times in my lifetime, my eyes moistened; the work was new.

(Be warned! The Ninth is, in my household, the ultimate sing-along, and my voice is nothing like what it used to be.)

Why describe this perfect night in a blog devoted to politics? Because I haven't played hooky in months, and I want to give my readers the reminder someone should have given me: Be gentle on yourselves, and, on occasion, be indulgent. Take a night-time drive along a lake. Toss a baseball with your nephew. Cook up some farm-fresh green beans with almonds. Kiss a beautiful lady while standing beside a moon-lit sea. Remind yourselves of your humanity, and you can better confront these days of fear and rot. As a wise fellow once wrote: "What is a man, if his chief good and market of his time be but to sleep and feed?"

My lady and I used to take midnight strolls on the UCLA campus. The sculpture garden there has one of Deborah Butterfield's magnificant horse statues -- which our dog has also been known to, er, appreciate. While the pooch would show her appreciation, we would sit back and study the stars. They're all different. You don't notice the differences until you take the time to look.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Democracy gets the Boot (updated)

Max Boot is one of the oddest neocon columnists, as his latest proves. He calls for real democracy in Egypt -- a worthy goal anywhere, of course. Oddity sets in when he affects outrage because the electoral process in that country has shut out -- get this! -- the Muslim Brotherhood.

Members of the Kifaya (Enough) movement and the Muslim Brotherhood, the most notable anti-government groups, have seen their peaceful public demonstrations broken up by riot police. Protesters have been arrested and roughed up.
Boot neglects to mention that the dangerous, fascist-linked Muslim Brotherhood stoked the fire which brought Al Qaeda to the boiling point. Does Boot believe that the Adenauer government of West Germany committed a grave offense against democracy by disallowing Nazi participation?

Odder still:

Even Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazief, on a charm tour of the United States this week, has to admit that Egypt won't see a truly contested election until 2011 at the earliest.

Nazief justifies this go-slow approach with soothing talk about how "democracy is an evolutionary process," and you can't go too fast lest Islamic extremists take control. But that's what the shah of Iran said in the 1970s. It turned out that his opposition to democratic reform made an Islamist takeover more, not less, likely. Same with Egypt: The less access that fed-up people have to the political process, the more likely they are to be seduced by the hard-line mullahs' siren song.
Obviously, Boot presumes that his younger readers don't know much about what really happened in the 1970s. I was around then, and I well recall the domestic controversy over Iran.

When the world's press trumpeted the atrocities committed by the Shah, conservatives of Boot's stripe insisted that President Carter stand by an ally no matter what. (Foolishly, Carter heeded this advice). When the Shah fell, conservatives blamed Carter for providing insufficient support. When Iran's people voted for an Islamic Republic, conservative columnists and the rising religious right argued that Islamic nations simply were not ready for democracy -- a sentiment you can find expressed (for example) in one of Hal Lindsey's books from that period. When Khomeini's regime took American hostages, the Rush Limbaughs of that day routinely accused Carter of bringing about the debacle by subverting the Shah.

Alas, members of the under-40 crowd who read Boot's version of history will come away with the impression that the American right had politely requested the Shah to leave power earlier. Here's a fact, Jack: At that time, the only people in America who demanded the Shah's ouster were Iranian refugees and Pacifica-listening, tree-hugging lefties.

It's cheeky of Boot to bring up the Shah in the first place. In 1953, the CIA ended Iran's brief democratic experiment by subverting Mossedegh and placing the Shah back in power. That nation would be a democracy today, if not for the meddling of American reactionaries.

A similarly sad history afflicts other states in the region. Both Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his predecessor Anwar Sadat are known to have come to power as a result of covert American string-pulling (just as the CIA helped Saddam Hussein's Baath party rise to power in Iraq). To balance out Boot's revisionism, scan this piece by Eric Margolis:

Some $1.3 billionUS in annual U.S. military aid keeps the armed forces and security apparatus loyal to Mubarak. CIA, DIA, FBI and NSA run major operations in Egypt to protect Mubarak's regime from domestic opponents. The U.S. tightly controls the military's communications and limits stocks of spare parts and munitions.

When Mubarak goes, Washington will discreetly install a new leader from the pro-U.S. elite -- unless there is a massive uprising against foreign domination by nationalist-Nasserites and Islamists ("terrorists" in Bush-talk). But if nationalists somehow oust U.S. influence, how will they feed Egyptians?

The Bush administration's "crusade for freedom" in the Mideast has reportedly already selected intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, defence minister Muhamed Tantawi or another senior army general to be Egypt's next "democratic" ruler. But, as Iraq shows, things can go terribly wrong.
Here, perhaps, we find the real reason for Boot's piece. The puppet has, for whatever reason, displeased the master. Time for a new puppet.

All in the name of democracy.

Additional note: In the original version of this post, I forgot to mention Boot's ultra-bizarre sign-off gesture, in which he demands that America act in the spirit of the revolutions of 1789 and 1848. The latter date was particularly striking to me, since not long ago I helped to translate some Socialist documents from that period in German history. Pretty extreme stuff.

Conservative rhetoric really has changed, hasn't it? Then again, perhaps we should have expected this sort of thing after David Brock revealed that Grover Norquist idolizes Gramsci and keeps (or kept) a majestic portrait of Lenin in his living room.
Ironically, it is when political repression is LESSENED that revolutions occur. Why this is so has never been properly explained by theorists, but attention to history shows it to be true. Mr. Friedman is obviously no student of history. If Egypt tries to open its arms to its critics (a la "glastnost"), it will end up with a violent civli war and, in the end, an Islamic theocracy similar to Iran's. I am no fan of repressive governments. I am merely making an observation.
A violent civil war is what the neocons have ALWAYS wanted.

Rabbi Fischmann, member of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, declared in his testimony to the U.N. Special Committee of Enquiry on 9 July 1947: "The Promised Land extends from the River of Egypt up to the Euphrates, it includes parts of Syria and Lebanon."
read on
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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

When in doubt, lie

The right lies. You know that; I know that. But we never cease to be outraged by the most recent examples.

Example 1: Jive F. Turkey. This is from John Conyers' wonderful piece on the GOP movement for "voter identification" (which is just another term for keeping poor people out of the polling place):

6: The number of days the American Center for Voting Rights, a new, "non-partisan," "voting rights" organization, had been in existence before it was called to testify by Republican members of Congress before a House Administration Committee hearing on March 22. The American Center for Voting Rights was formed by a lawyer for the Bush-Cheney campaign and the notoriously anti-voting rights Sen. Kit Bond of Missouri, who described the group as a non-partisan, voting rights advocacy group. He testified and submitted a report on Ohio election irregularities, which highlighted the Mary Poppins Conspiracy in this country. If you haven't heard about it, the Mary Poppins Conspiracy consists of many, many ineligible voters -- using the names Mary Poppins, Dick Tracy and Jive F. Turkey -- fraudulently voting in elections.

Unfortunately for advocates of this conspiracy theory, a precinct has yet to report that a citizen by the name of Mary Poppins showed up on Election Day and voted. Searches for Dick Tracy votes and Jive F. Turkey votes have also come up empty.
If the Republicans are not trying to disenfranchise the poor (who often lack two forms of identification), then why do they make up these lies?

Example 2: The Koran in the toilet. Rush Limbaugh and the dittohead legions insist, in the loudest possible tones, that Newsweek concocted this story because the powers-that-be at said magazine hate America. Conservative propagandists insist that Newsweek admitted the story to be fraudulent, and that the story sparked riots.

But, according to the Columbia Journalism Review:

Consider the central question of the story about the story: What exactly has the magazine retracted? Most reporters, particularly on television, are reporting that Newsweek has retracted the allegation that U.S. interrogators desecrated the Koran at Guantanamo Bay. But that's wrong: The magazine has said only that it no longer stands by its claim that allegations of Koran desecration appear in a forthcoming report from U.S. Southern Command. That's a very different point. There have been numerous other reports -- mostly from detainees -- suggesting that U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo did abuse the Koran. We don't know exactly what happened, but we do know that there's a significant difference between what Newsweek said -- that its source can no longer be sure that the allegations appear in an upcoming military report -- and what the press is reporting the magazine said -- that no desecration of the Koran ever took place.

But since the press has largely ceded control of the story to the White House, administration spinners have been able to twist it. Consider another central issue: whether Newsweek's premature report actually spurred the riots. Thanks to the White House spin, and the media's lazy reporting, the conventional wisdom is now that it did. But the reality is that it probably did not, at least in any significant sense. According to a statement last Thursday by General Richard Myers, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, after hearing from commanders on the scene in Afghanistan, the "rioting was related more to the ongoing political reconciliation process in Afghanistan than anything else."
Molly Ivins lists a number of stories about abuse of the Koran -- stories which preceded Newsweek's.
I find it totaly amazing that more people have not noticed that effort by the republicans to form and then accept as valid information from a group that is so clearly a fake.


not amazing, or even suprising, just depressing.
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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Vote fraud: Invention of the "reluctant Bush responder" theory -- in 2000

A reader at Democratic Underground made a great catch, and I just had to pass it along.

As you know, the quasi-official explanation for the exit poll/"actual" disparity in 2004 is the "reluctant Bush responder" theory. Turns out Mitofski used the exact same formulation to explain away some uncofortable poll results in 2000 -- in a Bush-vs-Buchanan primary race. (Since we are dealing with a primary, Elizabeth "Febble" Liddle can't claim that this early reliance on the rBr mythos resulted from an alleged oversampling of Dems.)

First go to cited DU page, then check out the original piece -- which includes these key paragraphs:

Here is a quote from page 88 of Plissner's "The Control Room." In the below passage, VRS is another name for Voter News Service, the exit polling arm of the 4 Big TV networks; Mitofsky is the sinister Warren Mitofsky, longtime mystery man behind Voter News Service. Here's the quote from page 88:

"By early afternoon on the computer screens of the member networks, history seemed to be in the making. In the New Hampshire Republican primary, George Bush led Pat Buchanan by a puny 48 percent to 42 percent. (For some of us with long memories, those numbers seemed spookily familiar. Six New Hampshire primaries back, Lyndon Johnson had edged out Eugene McCarthy by 49 to 42 percent, and a few weeks later Johnson abandoned his bid for re-election.) Those early Bush-Buchanan numbers were never broadcast, but they circulated throughout the day among the coterie of politicians and reporters with access to news unsafe for public consumption. As it turned out, the public in this instance was well served by the embargo. When the real votes came in, Bush had won not by a piddling six but by a solid sixteen percentage points. This was the first appearance of the "Buchanan Bias" in exit poll responses for which Mitofsky in later primaries would try to make adjustments. (In polling usage, it should be noted, the term 'bias' has nothing to do with the politics of the pollster. Survey experts define 'bias' as error -- unlike sampling error, which can be plus or minus – that errs in only one direction. When you find it, it's not always easy to explain. Mitofsky’s best guess is that Buchanan's voters were prouder of what they had done and, hence, more prone to respond, than Bush's were.)"

Well, well, well. Here we have a complete admission that exit polls by the Big TV Networks are not scientific. When they find a Buchanan --- who exit polls higher than his final vote, -- they have to suppress the exit polls as "not fit for public consumption", and then adjust their exit polls in the future based on the "Buchanan bias."

I don't know whether Plissner is a blissfully ignorant useful idiot who is focused on the surface goings on of what he witnessed in his 35 years at CBS, or if he is deliberately masking the realities here, but I have news for all of them: Buchanan BIAS is known as PUBLIC SUPPORT when it happens for any other candidate. In fact, there is no other candidate in the history of "exit polling" that has generated a "bias", according to these manipulators.

Furthermore, the earliest returns were 49% to 49%, and someone who was in the Buchanan inner circles when these results became known, heard Buchanan say, "...we could win this thing." But that’s before the strange goings on began in which Bush stayed at 49% and Buchanan dropped 3% every few hours until he was at 40% at 2 AM. THEN, the next morning, 10,000 ballots were "found" as reported by Larry King the next night – and Buchanan dropped ANOTHER 3% to 37% -- just what Bush was hoping for. In the meantime Bush allegedly rose to 53%..."
Odd, ain't it? The exit polls go nutty only when a Bush is running for high office...
Wow. Buchanan was smart, witty, and blunt. A wacko quasi-fascist, perhaps, but even I liked him for the above qualities. I don't think it's beyond credibility that Buchanan ran neck-in-neck with Bush. But if he did... God, this rabbit hole just gets deeper and deeper.
A correction and "improvement: It was actually Bush Sr. vs. Buchannan in 19992 whare Mitofsky "invented" the rBr "explanation."

[I updated with a new thread here:]
"So, it gets even MORE amazing! Voter's are not only prouder to vote for candidates BOTH to the right AND left of Bushs' running for president; but, apparently, THE TRAIT IS ALSO INHERITED!


Or, should we assume that if Jeb ever runs for President (or GW's daughters), voters who vote for them will be reluctant to admit who they voted for? [It seems we not only need statisticians on the job to figure all this out; but also geneticists?]

So the pertinent information should read (corrections in italics):
"- Buchanan vs. Bush in the 1992 NH primaries: Scenario: Buchanan very close in the early exit polls (6 points), amazingly (and mysteriously), Bush pulls it out big (16 points), and Mitofsky explains (spins?) the early exit poll discrepancies:"

"July 18, 2000 NA (Network America) e-wire
What? Buchanan Bias? What’s that?

"Mitofsky’s best guess [hypothesis?] is that Buchanan’s voters were prouder of what they had done and, hence, more prone to respond, than Bush’s were. [THE BIRTH OF rBr!]” [Hmm... so voters BOTH to the left (Kerry) AND right (Buchanan) are prouder of voting for their candidate than for the Bushs'?]"
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That darn Holocaust...!

You remember Francis Fukuyama, don'tcha? The fella who made the rather premature announcement that history had ended? He's now a member of the President's Council on Bioethics and director of the Human Biotechnology Governance Project.

His most recent statement will astonish even the most jaundiced reader. I"d say it crosses a line -- but this administration has erased all lines:

We could really speed up the whole process of drug improvement if we did not have all the rules on human experimentation. If companies were allowed to use clinical trials in Third World countries, paying a lot of poor people to take risks that you wouldn't take in a developed country, we could speed up technology quickly. But because of the Holocaust...
Poor Francis! He could do so much good for the world, playing Dr. Mengele in riff-raff land, outsourcing human experimentation the way we now outsource torture, poisoning the brown to aid the white.

But he can't perform these valuable services. All because of that silly old business with the Nazis. I guess some people consider human experimentation to be politically incorrect...

And remember: Fukuyama is Bush's point man on bioethics. Thank god we have a president who embraces the culture of life.
Mister Cannon .with all this Nazi redux taking place within our borders and especially within the White House, ..why don't you inform your readers about the gentleman you met, that met Hitler in 1962? While you'er at it, tell your readers...who are not into serious research..(most of them), that of the thirteen eye witness accounts of his death..there were thirteen different points of view as to how he suicided himself.
Self inflicted gunshot wound to the right temple, no, self inflicted gunshot wound to the left temple, no, no, he bit into a cyanide capsule as he simultaneously pulled the trigger on his pistola. no, no, no, his SS adjutant had to give him a coup d grace because his hands were trembling so badly that he could not do it to himself. etc etc etc.
Then inform your readers about all the Nazis that were staged into Amerika..secretly and illegally and behind the then Presidents create the C I A with Reinhard Gehlen..Hitlers Intell. chief of Eastern Europe.
Then it will all start making sense..You owe your unique audience and eyeful. Otherwise everything is quite puzzling as the speculations accelerate concerning our radical departure from what was America, when Tom Mix, Roy Rogers, Kate Smith, Walter Winchell, Roosevelt, Social Security, steel mills, cowboys, Joe Louis, great apple pie, and Carl Sandburg stood up and shook hands.
I heartily agree. It sounds like wild talk to say "Look out, here comes the Fourth Reich," but sober fact is not far short.
At the very least I think we can say that the Bush family learned many fundamentals from their former business associate Adolf Hitler: the Big Lie first and foremost. (If you need a reminder of the principle, it is to tell the Bald Unbelievable Lie over and over until it's believed by everybody that matters.)
More: The decision simply not to notice bad press, until the press comes around. The reaching for autocratic, would-be dictatorial control over what people are thinking, via press and TV, which is Bush's equivalent of Hitler's radio. I could go on, but Thom Hartman has made the case elegantly and damningly in his "When Democracy Failed - 2005 The Warnings of History," which should be required reading for us all. It is at:

And do not miss Orcinus' writings on fascism and totalism and what they REALLY are.
There's a wonderful quote from '30s Dorothy Thompson you may have seen; she saw the phenomenon close up and had a great eye for the real issue:

"No people ever recognize their dictator in advance. He never stands for election on the platform of dictatorship. He always represents himself as the instrument [of] the Incorporated National Will. ... When our dictator turns up you can depend on it that he will be one of the boys, and he will stand for everything traditionally American. And nobody will ever say 'Heil' to him, nor will they call him 'Fuhrer' or 'Duce.' But they will greet him with one great big, universal, democratic, sheeplike bleat of 'O.K., Chief! Fix it like you wanna, Chief! Oh Kaaaay!'"

She wrote that in 1935. 70 years later it is coming true.
Back to the Thom Hartmann has shown, Bush & Co. (with the help of Karl Rove, whose grandpa was a Nazi gauleiter) has created a corporation-crony-style Nazism that is perfectly American, and of course he has on board all the theocrats, corporatists, homegrown fascists, absolutists, good-hearted "hope-for-the-besters," muddled thinkers and couch potatoes...just as Hitler did.
How do you wake up a nation?
What scares me is that our beloved nation may actually have to go through this, all of it, till we bottom out and finally vomit, like Germany had to, and do our best to repudiate our own damaged souls.
I am sick at heart and feel helpless... just like the "Good Germans" did when they saw it happening to their country. Americans have always felt so superior to the "Good Germans" -- why didn't they get up on their hind legs and throw the bastards out? Now we're finding out how simplistic it was to think that we're the "Good Americans" and our hands are tied.
Addenda to message above. Meant to include Orcinus' url. Here it is:

He is probably the most thoughtful, fair-minded, incisive thinkers on just what fascism and totalitarianism are and what they are not, and tries to answer the question how close we are coming to it in a balanced, sensible way.
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And people hold Dr. Kevorkian in contempt for helping dying people die in peace!
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Yahoo News - Oct. 13, 2005

Yahoo Japan steps up mobile content distribution (Reuters via Yahoo! News)
Yahoo Japan Corp. said on Thursday it had launched a mobile content distribution service, in which cellphone users can buy games, ring tones, news and other entertainment and information from 59 content providers.

Microsoft, Yahoo to link instant messages ( via Yahoo! News)
Microsoft and Yahoo will make their instant-messaging programs work together, a partnership that could give the companies more power to compete against market leader America Online. The companies expect the service to start by June 2006.

Yahoo to Bar Minor-Adult Sex Chat Rooms (Washington Post)
NEW YORK -- Yahoo Inc. said Wednesday it will bar chat rooms that promote sex between minors and adults and restrict all chat rooms to users 18 and older.

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Race and the race

During his final episode of the season, Bill Maher asked if race continues to be a genuine problem in America. A fair question. One fair answer: Race is nothing like the problem it was in my childhood.

Back then, even alleged liberals (white liberals, I should add) stuttered like Porky Pig when confronted with the inevitable question: "Would you let your sister marry a non-white?" In discussion after discussion, the issue ended up as a below-the-waist concern, as ever seems to be the case in this sexually-obsessed culture.

Today, interracial couples are seen at many a mall here in Los Angeles -- and, I am happy to report, nobody cares. In 1970, even in 1980, a young black/white couple would have caused murmurs and surreptitious glances. Now, nobody gives a damn. I wonder if those lucky kids know just how hard a lot of people had to work in order to achieve this who-gives-a-damn moment.

So: Is the race issue closed?

Before you answer, take another look at a race of a different sort: The Los Angeles mayoral contest between James Hahn and Antonio Villaraigosa. That confrontation shall find its conclusion within mere hours.

This election reminds me of that old Star Trek episode (classic Trek, of course) in which Spock turns to one beautiful female robot and says: "I love you." Then he turns to her (its?) identical twin and adds: "But I hate you." The contradiction causes the robots' computerized brains to fry. That's how we all thought computers worked back in the 1960s.

Today, some Angelenos love Hahn and hate Villaraigosa, and vice-versa. But the two candidates are really twins, politically speaking. They have few real differences, if any. Hahn, the son of old-school liberal icon Kenny Hahn, may, in fact, turn out to be the more progressive of the two men, if only by a smidgen.

And yet...and yet...

The Republican party in Los Angeles has recently embraced Hahn as though he were Rush Limbaugh. Local Rovians even sent out brownshirts to harass John Kerry when Kerry spoke in favor of Villaraigosa. The harassment was quite ugly and thuggish, or so reports my ladyfriend. (See the post below.)

Why do Republicans support Hahn so fervently, when Hahn has never been identified with their interests? Why do they instinctively rail against Villaraigosa? Why do they love one twin and hate the other?

Try to think of a reason. I suspect that an answer will occur to you before your brain fries.
I'm not so sure that it is race. I think it might be the "devil they know" attitude that is having the repubs pick him. Since the right is forced to choose between two candidates falling over themselves to secure the union vote, it might seem like a no-win pick.

That said, with Hahn you get a certain amount of corruption and general inaction. With Villaraigosa, who knows? He is buyable, as the Florida campaign donation scandal showed us ( But beyond that who knows? Between those, I'd say that most repubs would go with inaction which it what it seems they are doing.
I don't know much about LA politics, but if Rove was backing Hahn, I'm relieved to heaar that the other guy won. We elected a Democratic mayor here in Pittsburgh by an overwhelming margin, and another democrat trounced the republican candidate in a special election for a seat in the state senate.

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Monday, May 16, 2005

Kerry on the mystery bulge...?

I had hoped that my lovely ladyfriend could write this post, but her college load -- five tough classes, heading toward finals -- prevents her from doing any blogging.

You may recall that in a previous post, I talked about an appearance made by John Kerry on behalf of the man who is sure to be the next mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa. (I'm still kind of hoping Hahn wins, if only because his name is easier to spell.) I could not attend that rally, but my beloved one did.

Long-time readers will recall that this very same lady sparked a national controversy when she remarked, during a rebroadcast of the second debate, "What's that thing on Bush's back?" Her observation prompted me to write a post on what I called "promptergate." Next thing I knew, this 200-reader-a-day blog turned into a 60,000-reader a day blog. (That number has dampened considerably since the election.)

Thus it was that my lady love, the obscenely-nicknamed "Bulge Girl," showed up at the event at San Fernando Valley College. She heard Kerry speak, and then heard out know...the candidate. At rally's end, Kerry signed autographs.

Bulge Girl tried her damnedest to hand the man who should have won a piece of paper bearing these words:

"After the second debate, when you patted Bush on the back, did you feel anything unusual?"
Kerry would NOT take the paper. Bulge Girl got the distinct impression that he wanted to avoid even glancing at it, even though he signed blank pieces of paper thrust toward him by everyone else standing nearby.

But Vila...uh...Antonio (I'll vote for him if we can be on a first-name basis) did try to snatch the paper out of her hand in order to sign it!

Lord knows what he would have made of the message. Bulge Girl prevented him from taking a look at the words meant for Kerry; her actions may have miffed Antonio.

Well, folks...she tried.

She tried to get confirmation from the one objective observer who has felt Bush's back. She tried to prove, once and for all, that there really was something odd between our beloved President's shoulder blades during those debates. (By "something odd," I mean something other than the skewed view of reality bouncing around in W's cranium.)

If John Kerry makes an appearance in your area any time soon, perhaps you would care to repeat the experiment...?
Brilliant idea. Public figures love to be seen surreptitiously pocketing notes handed to them by strangers.
Response to Perry Logan. Unless of course the pieces of paper are six figure checks signed by Bush supporters and lobbyists. :-)
She wouldn't be the girl that... nah. It'd be gauche to even ask.
Why wouldn't a famous politician refuse to touch anything but a blank piece of paper?

She could have been offering him a Subpoena and I'm sure Kerry handlers give out very strict lessons on avoiding pieces of paper with text on them.

If this piece of paper like the Republican Talking Points bulliten then Kerry gets framed.
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Sunday, May 15, 2005

Must-read article

Tom Paine has published a powerhouse piece by John Conyers: "The GOP's Attack On Voting Rights." So why are you still here? Go there! (Then come back here and read my lovely new piece on Iran and atom bombs. Pleasant dreams...)

More on Corsi, Ledeen, Iran, Israel and atom bombs

You may recall our previous discussion of Jerome Corsi and his unnerving prediction that Iran would set off an atomic device within a major American city. This atrocity, Corsi insists, will be aided and abetted by such alleged Iranian "appeasers" as John Kerry, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and Ted Kennedy -- four Democratic politicians whose pro-Tehran activity has so far remained invisible to all rational observers.

Corsi's foresight does not derive from any claimed parapsychological abilities. Rather, he presents himself as a conduit of "inside the beltway" dope.

Who is this man, and who are his associates?

As mentioned previously, he first came into view as one of the key authors of the "swift boat" smears against John Kerry. At that time, William Hare wrote the following:

A simple Google search under the name Jerome Corsi reveals a treasure trove of information, particularly one productive link through This reputable site has compiled comments of Corsi and others from his Free Republic site. Their discourse reads like a Skinhead seminar. Corsi has revealed himself to be an unmitigated Neo-Nazi bigot with an unquenchable thirst for hateful commentary, with special emphasis on degrading Catholics, Jews and Muslims. The Pope is senile; Catholicism and Islam are routinely referred to as actively condoning "buggery" while Hillary Clinton is a fat lesbian without hair.

Kerry is referred to as a "Jew boy" who cannot be trusted for that reason...
(One wonders when conservative Jews and Catholics will wake up and take note of just how strange a bedfellow Corsi truly is.)

Corsi's incessant emphasis on the "appeasement" bogeyman forces us to ask: By what standards are Kerry, Clinton, Kennedy and Biden labeled "appeasers"?

A closer look reveals a startling double-standard. Those pushing for action against Iran often invoke Ronald Reagan. The propaganda film "An Atomic 911," linked to Corsi's effort, was produced by Tim Watkins, previously involved with the making of "In the Face of Evil: Reagan's War in Word and Deed." The makers of this documentary offer this summary:

The film presents Ronald Reagan's forty-year campaign against Soviet communism as a blueprint for fighting evil in the world.
Translation: Dubya's crusade against Islam is just like Saint Ronnie's crusade against the bolshies.

One could counter this notion on any number of levels, not least by noting that Democrats made anti-communism official policy when Reagan was still an alleged actor and a corrupt Screen Actor's Guild president. But I would call your attention to one special irony:

Ronald Reagan's administration illegally sold arms to Iran!

Odd, isn't it, that the current anti-Iran crusaders would invoke Reagan's name in order to fire up the troops against the Tehran regime (which is, arguably, a bit more moderate now than in RR's day)?

But that's not all, irony fans...!

One of the web sites affiliated with the current crusade is Regime Change Iran, which supports, and is supported by, ultra-neo-con Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute. (As Ted Koppel once put it: "Michael Ledeen is a Renaissance the tradition of Machiavelli." Of course, Ledeen lives in a world where a comparison to Machiavelli is considered complimentary.)

Ledeen, as you will recall, remains a die-hard supporter of the disgraced Iraqi exile leader Ahmed Chalabi. And why did Chalabi fall into disgrace? In large part because he was routing intelligence to Tehran.

Ledeen is also strongly linked with the mysterious Iranian arms dealer Manucher Ghorbanifar. Even though the CIA had dismissed Ghorbanifar as a prevaricator, Ledeen insisted on arranging a series of meetings between the Iranian and a number of likeminded Defense Department bigwigs.

All of which brings us to one simple question: How can Corsi accuse Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Ted Kennedy and Joe Biden of "appeasement? None of them ever sold weapons to Iran; none of them ever palled around with Iranian arms merchants of inscrutable loyalties; none of them ever helped funnel intel to Tehran. In short: None of them have demonstrated any link to Iran. Yet we are supposed to believe that these four Democrats are hand-puppets of the Iranian mullahs -- while Reagan, Ledeen and Chalabi must forevermore remain free of all such accusations.

The road to war. Ledeen and his defenders became angry when the Times of London described him as "the prominent neo-conservative who has led calls for an attack on Iran." As the Regime Change blog puts it:

Ledeen has long been an advocate of regime change in Iran. Perhaps they [the Times] drew the false conclusion he was referring to militarily forcing a regime change. But he has not led calls for an attack on Iran, but rather advocates supporting of a regime change in Iran using similar methods as were used in Romania, the Ukraine, Lebanon and elsewhere.
If that were the end of it, I'd have no overwhelming disagreement with Ledeen's position -- although I strongly doubt that the Iranians will soon rise against the mullahs the way the Romanians rose against Ceausescu.

Ledeen, however, obviously wants to sneak war through the back door -- indeed, this goal seems to have been the entire purpose of his more recent dalliances with Ghorbanifar. From the Sydney Morning Herald of August 9, 2003:

Administration officials said at least two Pentagon officials working for the Undersecretary of Defence for Policy, Douglas Feith, have held "several" meetings with Manucher Ghorbanifar, the Iranian middleman in United States arms-for-hostage shipments to Iran in the mid-1980s.

The officials who disclosed the secret meetings said the talks with Mr Ghorbanifar were not authorized by the White House and appeared to be aimed at undercutting sensitive negotiations with Iran's Government.

A senior Administration official said the US Government had learned about the unauthorized talks by accident.

The senior official and another Administration source said the ultimate objective of Mr Feith and a group of neo-conservative civilians inside the Pentagon is change of government in Iran.

The immediate objective appeared to be to "antagonise Iran so that they get frustrated and then by their reactions harden US policy against them"
(Emphasis added by me.) Later, we read: "It is understood Mr Ledeen reopened the Ghorbanifar channel with Mr Feith's staff."

All very telling -- especially when we recall that there had been, not long before, a brief thaw in relations between Tehran and Washington, due in part to mutual antipathy toward the Taliban.

Perhaps more telling still is this paragraph from Rightweb's profile of Ledeen:

Michael Ledeen, the neocons' point man on regime change in Iran (and in Syria, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia), is apparently capable of viewing diplomacy only through the barrel of a gun, arguing in a November 2003 piece for the National Review Online that the "appeasers" in Congress and the State Department "don't want to know about Iran, because if they did, they would be driven to take actions that they do not want to take. They would have to support democratic revolution in Iran, and they prefer to schmooze with the mullahs." He concludes, "I guess some top official will have to die at the hands of (obviously) Iranian-supported terrorists before the Pentagon is permitted to work on the subject."
(Emphasis added by me.) Notice the recurrent motifs: Anyone who disagrees with Ledeen's position is an "appeaser," and we won't get action until the Iranians do something drastic and terrible -- and better that day come sooner than later. The entire purpose of the Ghorbanifar meetings apparently revolved around a scheme designed to goad Tehran into taking an incautious step.

Corsi and Ledeen are obviously singing from the same songbook.

Unfathomably strange bedfellows: As others have previously noted, Corsi had demonstrated on the Free Republic site a Goebbels-esque penchant for insulting Jews and Catholics, and allegedly referred to John Kerry a "Jew boy." Although I have yet to see confirmation of the "Jew boy" remark, he did once write of Kerry: "After he married TerRAHsa, didn't John Kerry begin practicing Judaism? He also has paternal grandparents that were Jewish. What religion is John Kerry?"

To put that remark in context, here's Corsi on Catholics: "Boy buggering in both Islam and Catholicism is okay with the Pope as long as it isn't reported by the liberal press." (If the mainstream media ignored the church's sex scandals, why did I read so much about it in the Los Angeles Times?)

And while we're at it, here's Corsi on Islam: "a worthless, dangerous Satanic religion." These words will not convince Mr. Average Iranian that Jerome Corsi has his best interests at heart.

Despite these unfunny "jokes," Corsi claims to be both a Catholic and a supporter of Israel. Many would argue that the Iran war he promotes would serve Likud interests.

Not only that. One portion of the afore-cited 2003 story on Ghorbanifar now carries a resonance not apparent at that time:

The senior Administration official identified two of the defence officials who met Mr Ghorbanifar as Harold Rhode, Mr Feith's top Middle East specialist, and Larry Franklin, a Defence Intelligence Agency analyst on loan to the undersecretary's office.
(Emphasis added by me.)

Rhode is a Ledeen protege who acted as a liaison between Pentagon neocons and Chalabi. But the most intriguing figure here is, of course, Larry Franklin -- the central figure in the current AIPAC scandal. You may want to read Xymphora's recent observations on that score.

Larry Franklin was passing highly sensitive information to AIPAC (translation: to Israel) in the same time period as those hush-hush meetings with Ghorbanifar. Again: While we don't know precisely what went on at those meetings, they seem to have centered on attempts to provoke Iran into giving America a causus belli.

The best piece on this imbroglio remains Laura Rozen's analysis from about a year ago:

1) The secret meetings between Pentagon officials and associates of Ghorbanifar in Europe went on for almost two years, a full year longer than the Bush administration has acknowledged. Ghorbanifar told me of three meetings. While the Pentagon originally told the Post last year that Harold Rhode, an official in Feith's office, had simply run into Ghorbanifar in Paris in June 2003, Ghorbanifar tells me that the two spent weeks planning the meeting.

2) The Italian military intelligence organization SISMI provided logistics and security at the first meeting, in Rome, in December 2001. And the head of Sismi, Nicolo Pollari, as well as the Italian Defense Minister, Antonio Martino, attended the meeting, along with Michael Ledeen, Ghorbanifar, Pentagon officials Harold Rhode and Larry Franklin. [Sismi has been in the news recently for having been reported to have used an Italian middleman to put the forged Niger docs into circulation.]

3) Ghorbanifar told me he has had fifty meetings with Michael Ledeen since September 11th, and that he has given Ledeen "4,000 to 5,000 pages of sensitive documents" concerning Iran, Iraq and the Middle East, "material no one else has received."
Since the Italians have long-standing trade ties to Iran, one can easily understand why Ledeen's faction would use SISMI to arrange the enigmatic liaisons with Ghorbanifar.

In the 1980s, a number of books and articles fingered Michael Ledeen as a member of Italy's fascist P2 "lodge," a pseudo-Masonic power group founded by former blakshirt and SS liaison officer Licio Gelli. Gelli's fascist cabal infiltrated, and largely controlled, SISMI. According to reports published in the 1980s, Gelli had created an organization within the organization, jocularly labeled "Super SISMI."

How do we reconcile the seeming contradiction between Ledeen's hawkish pro-Israeli views and his reported alliance with the Nazi-fied Gelli? I'm not sure how to answer that one. Neither can I explain why a man like Corsi, who also claims to support Israel, would spew ugly anti-Semitism on the Free Republic site.

In summary: Yes, I know that this post tosses the reader into a stew containing a very confusing array of ingredients. I apologize if this essay resembles a "brain dump," as opposed to a structured argument.

My bottom line, at least, is simple: A faction within our power establishment wants war with Iran. To that end, they will not refrain from staging a provocation. And they will use this incident both to attack that country and to assail freedom within the United States.

Forewarned is forearmed. Let us hope the forearmed can forestall.
Certainly it would seem they've been successful up to this point, inasmuch as the positions (between Iran and the US) HAVE hardened, and are probably beyond diplomatic repair. And, I can imagine the neocons setting off a dirty bomb in a US city, blaming it on the Iranians. But, Joseph--what do they do then? Iran is ten times the size of Iraq, and the US doesn't even have enough troops (or dollars!) to pacify Iraq! We can bomb Iran, true, but to actually make it part of the American Empire in the mideast, we would still have to invade afterward. So, where are the neocons headed with this "sabotage Iran detente" strategy?

A "dirty bomb" is a conventional bomb designed to disperse radioactive waste. Radioactive waste comes from all kinds of places, including your local hospital. If such a bomb were ever set off in a U.S. city, rest assured that the Bush administration would announce that the radiation levels were harmless, no worse than a chest x-ray or a transcontinental flight, etc.

No, what's being talked about here is a real nuclear weapon. That said, I don't believe even the Bush Administration would set off a nuclear bomb in a U.S. city.

The fact that these far right groups are apparently anticipating a nuclear strike doesn't mean the information is any more reliable than their other ravings.

As for their hypocrisy -- well, this level of social pathology is beyond reasoned arguments or any historical evidence.

On the other hand, it's not inconceivable that the Bush adminstration will attack Iran -- even as early as next month. However, with no troops to spare, it's more likely to be a bombing campaign.
To anonymous: After seeing that you deliberately misspelled my name, I expected a vicious post in reply. I was wrong. It was only meandering and tangential. If there are other readers out there who can sincerely answer my sincere question, let's hear from you.
Let's not fight, amigos. As for the question of how the neocons can expect to go to war with Iran when they cannot even manage Iraq -- well, that's a mighty fine dome-scratcher, as Col. Potter might have put it. Practical or no, that seems to be the direction in which we are headed.

Of course, in 1939, some might have doubted that the American military could perform the wonders of 1944-45...
Unirealist -- like most people, I write these posts too quickly and without proofreading them, no editorial comment was intended by the mistyping of your name. The post wasn't nasty, because no nastiness was ever intended.

As for rambling -- well, I was trying to address Joseph, as well as correct the error over dirty bombs, for what my comments were worth.
It's too easy to be paranoid these days. Sorry, anonymous. My original question remains, however.
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