Links 6/15/13

Secret life of the cat: What do our feline companions get up to? BBC (Lambert). Just like the NSA can do to us! But still interesting.

What makes good people do bad things? The mere smell of money, study finds Daily Mail (May S)

Ancient Roman Concrete Is About to Revolutionize Modern Architecture Bloomberg (Richard Smith)

Nuclear Plants, Old and Uncompetitive, Are Closing Earlier Than Expected New York Times

France lifts block on EU-US trade talks Financial Times. As predicted, they were just looking for a bribe.

Profile: Wendi Deng Murdoch BBC

Iain Banks: squeeze a Tory, Blairite or Lib Dem and Thatcherite pus oozes out Guardian (Richard Smith)

Tucker will be a ‘huge loss’ for the BoE Telegraph. Done in by the Barclays smear job. And they won. He would have been much tougher on banks than Mark Carney.

IMF denounces US over fiscal tightening Financial Times

Why Obama is Declaring War on Syria CounterPunch (Carol B)

Heavy Pressure Led to Decision by Obama on Syrian Arms New York Times

Big Brother is Watching You Watch:

On PRISM, partisanship and propaganda Glenn Greenwald

NSA snooping: Facebook ‘receives 1,500 data requests a month’BBC

The Sickening Snowden Backlash Daily Beast

Hong Kong lawmakers urge Obama to ‘tread very carefully’ on Snowden case South China Morning Post

Charles Pierce to Edward Snowden: “Your work here is done. Go away and quietly plan your legal defense.” Corrente

The Real War on Reality Peter Ludlow, New York Times. Be sure to read this.

Jailed Qwest CEO claimed that NSA retaliated because he wouldn’t participate in spy program Daily Caller (May S)

Retired Federal Judge: Your Faith In Secret Surveillance Court Is Dramatically Misplaced ThinkProgress (Lambert)

The ‘secrecy industrial complex’ David Rodhe (Richard Smith)

NSA gets early access to zero-day data from Microsoft, others ars technica. Explains one of the key takeaways of an important Bloomberg piece yesterday in a concise manner.

The influence of spies has become too much. It’s time politicians said no John LeCarre, Guardian (Richard Smith)

U.S. Chamber of Commerce drops Yes Men lawsuit, avoids Discovery Process cgibson, Firedoglake (Carol B)

10 years in prison for exposing Steubenville? UltraViolet (Richard Smith)

Drug War Makes It Frighteningly Easy to Frame Someone Jon Walker, Firedoglake (Carol B)

Offshore Tax-Haven Data Made Public As Companies Brace For Scrutiny Huffington Post. Link to the actual database in the post. Reader Chris E: “I was playing around with it using some search terms, and if, for example, you enter the word “China” you can get an idea of the scope of the entities escaping tax offshore. It’s absolutely huge.”

Finra Regulator Resigns After 1993 Bingo Fraud Is Leaked Bloomberg (Richard Smith)

Kickstarter almost enabled a $120,000 fraud, and it’s not the first Quartz. Quelle surprise!

IT FINALLY COMES OUT: Elite Traders Are Getting Access To Data Before Everyone Else Clusterstock (May S)

BofA Gave Bonuses to Foreclose on Clients, Lawsuit Claims Bloomberg

Time to Buy a House? Not on Your Life! CounterPunch

Clay Shirky guest-bleg: How do you describe bad economics reporting? Crooked Timber (Richard Smith)

Antidote du jour (bob):


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  1. Stephen Nightingale

    The Real War on Reality: In their view, the private intelligence industry is effectively engaged in Psyops against American public., engaging in “planned operations to convey selected information to [us] to influence [our] emotions, motives, objective reasoning and, ultimately, [our] behavior”?

    Isn’t this what Hollywood and the advertising industry have been pumping at us since the dawn of broadcast media? As has the god-propaganda complex, since even earlier.

    1. colinc

      Precisely! The vast majority of humanity is programmed, pigeon-holed and played, convinced of their own superiority as they scurry around in their short, pointless lives. “Choice” and “free-will” are merely illusions based on “beliefs” which diverge further from reality with every passing moment. Savvy pollsters phrase questions/statements and multiple-choice responses to skew the results to a specific, predetermined objective. The euphemisms of “politically-correct speech” dictate confused communication and false equivalencies. Alas, attempting to deprogram the utterly assimilated is a grand waste of time, energy and effort. Kick back and enjoy the free-fall toward extinction.

      1. from Mexico

        Well that certainly is the viewpoint proselytized by conservatives. Because if the people are nothing but putty in the hands of the “manufacturers of consent,” then democracy is doomed. As Daniel Yanelovich put it in Coming to Public Judgment: Making Democracy Work in a Complex World, this position concerns “nothing less than the ability of Americans to govern themselves in keeping with the principles of democracy.”

        So the enemies of democracy always trot out the argument that the people are mere sheeple, despite overwhelming historical and scientific evidence to the contrary.

    2. from Mexico

      The “god-propaganda complex”?

      This sounds like one of the catchphrases issuing from the New Athesits and the notorious Four Horsemen — Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens.

      The reality, of course, is very different from this. Religion has certainly been employed as a tool of the establishment. But it has also played a revolutionary and subversive role, as anyone who knows anything about early Christianity or Christianity during the 14th to 17th centuries knows.

      So religion is Janus-faced, just like the secular mythologies which became dominant post-17th century.

      1. spooz

        Sorry, but as a wishy-washy-agnostic parent whose atheist son spends a lot of time debating religious zealots, I just don’t get your bashing of Dawkins, Dennett and Hitchens. I’ve read Dawkin’s and Dennett’s work and found it very convincing, and always enjoyed Hitchens contributions, other than his support of the Iraq war after 9/11, a trap many good people fell into. I don’t follow Harris, so can’t say anything about him. You keep hammering on this “four horsemen” bs. Your intolerance speaks volumes.

        1. from Mexico

          Your intolerance speaks volumes?

          Well before you get too carried away in your orgy of pious self-righteousness, you might want to give these three articles a glance:

          ~~Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens: New Atheists flirt with Islamophobia
          A Twitter rant by Richard Dawkins re-exposes a disturbing Islamophobic streak among the New Atheists

          Scientific racism, militarism, and the new atheists: Leading figures in the new atheist movement are heirs to the disreputable scientific racists of the past, argues author.

          ~~Sam Harris, the New Atheists, and anti-Muslim animus: A long overdue debate breaks out about whether rational atheism is being used as a cover for Islamophobia and US militarism

          Richard Dawkins is a pseudoscientist par excellence. Instead of the wicked old religious superstitions, we have a a whole new outfit of equally misleading secular ones.

          1. from Mexico

            Trust me, spooz, I’ve read plenty of the irrational prejudices and pathological hatreds of Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens, along with all the rationales and excuses they use to justify them. But this changes nothing, their hate-filled rants end up being exactly the same thing they started out being: expressions of irrational prejudices and pathological hatreds.

          2. spooz

            I believe the arguments in my links are stronger than those in yours. You stand by the material you have digested. Everybody is entitled to an opinion. I just get tired of hearing yours over and over and over again. It finally gets to the point where I am inclined to post.

        2. thesystemoftheworld

          Mexico, there are reasonable arguments to be made, but dismissing one of the most distiguished living evolutionary bilogists as a “pseudoscientist” makes you look like a ridiculous zealot. Same goes for the Greenwald hit job and the ridiculously defamatory Hussain piece. Have a read of Sam Harris’ respone to controversy:

          And his newest essay:

          1. from Mexico

            thesystemoftheworld says:

            …dismissing one of the most distiguished living evolutionary bilogists as a “pseudoscientist” makes you look like a ridiculous zealot.

            It does?

            Well somebody needs to tell that to Stephen Jay Gould, who called Dawkins a “Darwinian Fundamentalist” and Dennett “Dawkins’s Lapdog.”

            Dawkins staked his entire career on an empirical claim — the self-interest axiom — that turned out to be false. But when that claim was demonstrated to be untrue, instead of revising his theory, he doubled down and became an acolyte of the greed-is-good doctrine. With his pathological egotism and ego-centricism, it wasn’t possible for him to admit that he was wrong.

            Dawkins, just like Lord Kelvin, is an example of what can go wrong with the scientific method when combined with an arrogant, highly dogmatic personality.

          2. thesystemoftheworld

            Mexico, what could a “Darwinian Fundamentalist” even mean? Do you not believe in Darwinian evolution? And where on earth are you getting that greed is good stuff? Are you really one of those badly misreading the title of “The Selfish Gene” and then failing to read the actual book? To quote Inigo Montoya, “I do not think it means what you think it means.”

            You really think a two word quote from Gould proves your case? Look, if you really do think the appleation “pseudoscienctist” accurately captures the sum of the man and his career, then you are just absolutely bonkers.

            You can dislike the man because he is a big meanie to the religious, but pretending he isn’t a well respected scientist, becasue you say he isn’t, is silly.

          3. Yalt

            Are you suggesting that Gould, who used the term at least a dozen times in an essay with the title, does not believe in Darwinian evolution?

          4. from Mexico

            @ thesystemoftheworld
            @ Yalt

            It is obvious that neither of you read the article by Stephen Jay Gould, because if you had you would know what he meant by “Darwinian fundamentalist.” As he explained of Dawkins and Dennett:

            Since the ultras are fundamentalists at heart, and since fundamentalists generally try to stigmatize their opponents by depicting them as apostates from the one true way, may I state for the record that I (along with all other Darwinian pluralists) do not deny either the existence and central importance of adaptation, or the production of adaptation by natural selection.

            Later Gould goes on to elaborate:

            I am no psychologist, but I suppose that the devotees of any superficially attractive cult must dig in when a general threat arises. “That old time religion; it’s good enough for me.” There is something immensely beguiling about strict adaptationism—the dream of an underpinning simplicity for an enormously complex and various world. If evolution were powered by a single force producing one kind of result, and if life’s long and messy history could therefore be explained by extending small and orderly increments of adaptation through the immensity of geological time, then an explanatory simplicity might descend upon evolution’s overt richness. Evolution then might become “algorithmic,” a surefire logical procedure, as in Daniel Dennett’s reverie. But what is wrong with messy richness, so long as we can construct an equally rich texture of satisfying explanation?

            And it’s hardly just Gould that has drawn a bead on Dawkins’s pseudoscience, even though he was one of the first. The scientific literature is now replete with criticisms of Dawkins’s nonsensically reductionist and simplistic theories.

            All this may help to explain why Dawkins withdrew from the scientific community and opted instead to become one of the leading evangelists of anti-religious bigotry.

          5. thesystemoftheworld

            And there it is, the b word gets unsheathed:

            “All this may help to explain why Dawkins withdrew from the scientific community and opted instead to become one of the leading evangelists of anti-religious bigotry.”

            Look, it’s unfortunate that Dawkins criticism of religion causes your psyche pain and discomfort. But that doesn’t give you carte blanche to say silly things. I know you hate him, and I won’t change that, so I’ll end with this:

            Think long and hard about the types of people who would (and do) vehemently denounce Dawkins as a pseudoscientist who doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and a viscious bigot. Maybe do some googling. And then think about whether you really want to be counted among their number.

          6. spooz

            Sheesh, you trot out some Oooold stuff to support your positions. A 2005 Huffpo article, a 1997 New York Review of Books on Dennett’s “Darwin’s Dangerous Ideas”. Personally, I’ve never read much Gould, only read criticism of Gould’s punctuated equilibrium theory in Dennett’s and Dawkin’s books, but in general, it seems the only difference between Dawkins and Gould is the relative contribution of environment and genes to evolution. I don’t think think any respected scientist, including Gould, would call Dawkins work pseudoscience. Got any references for THAT? Did you read Steven Pinker’s response to Gould’s book review?

            If anybody is coming across as a fundamentalist, its YOU.

          7. bob

            It’s amazing how quickly the “atheists” turn into vicars, shouting down judegment from the altar-

            “Look, it’s unfortunate that Dawkins criticism of religion causes your psyche pain and discomfort.”

            You are weak.

            “But that doesn’t give you carte blanche to say silly things.”

            Who gave you the right to decide A) what someone else can say, and B) that it’s “silly”

          8. spooz

            If somebody can call evolution a pseudoscience, I can call their buy bull a fairy tale. And I’m not an atheist, I just find Darwinism’s arguments more compelling than the “good book”. If I were going to pick a religion, it would be Buddhism. I just can’t make up my mind.

          9. bob

            The deeper meaning? Argued as the “over-analysed” reading above?

            Which is it? How am I supposed to know? Is george still alive to ask?

            I see a lot of “empathy” for an elephant. I see a lot more disdain for the people surrounding him and place in which he finds himself.

            So horrible is this place and its people that george has to shoot an elephant, as referred to in the title. I don’t think I’m having reading difficulties. It’s quite literal. He, being the presumed narrator, literally shoots an elephant.

            There’s some name dropping. Some other, unrelated facts. A body. A few more worldly observations, but it’s a very simple story.

            Pimpin’ ain’t easy.

        3. spooz

          Like I said, I don’t know anything about Harris, so I am mainly defending Dawkins and Dennett, whose works I have read, along with Hitchens. So, all these guys get thrown into the same basket in your opinion, because of some Huffpo piece by Harris?

          1. from Mexico

            Oh I don’t think any of the Four Horsemen were spared in the articles I linked.

            Reading, obviously, is not a strong suit of the New Atheist faithful.

        4. spooz

          Hey, Mexico, found some good Stephen Jay Gould quotes for ya (link below). Here’s one:

          “2.Since we proposed punctuated equilibria to explain trends, it is infuriating to be quoted again and again by creationists — whether through design or stupidity, I do not know — as admitting that the fossil record includes no transitional forms. The punctuations occur at the level of species; directional trends (on the staircase model) are rife at the higher level of transitions within major groups. [Stephen Jay Gould, Evolution as Fact and Theory Science and Creationism, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1984), p. 124.]”

          1. charles sereno

            I wish I had noticed this debate earlier. You dug up a nice quote from S J Gould. Now I’m no (fill in the blank)-ist, but I couldn’t help notice how Stephen outdid himself here with his superb essayist stylistics (he, dare I say, was a master equal to any writer in English in the post-Darwinian era). But it’s fun to poke fun at the great ones. Notice how testy he becomes when anyone meddles with his venerable punctuated equilibrium! How nice it would be if he were here to calm the turbulence of the preceding arguments with a paragraph or two. I was so impressed with his very first column for Natural History that I collected all of his subsequent, monthly pieces as readings for my children. Over the years, especially as computational linguistics gained a foothold, I thought what a wonderful research project this would make — his series of periodic essays, all of the same length, over a period of many years. Scholars have attempted to date some of Plato’s works by subtle, evolutionary changes in “style” in the broadest sense. Here we have a fossil record of several hundred well thought out opinions in the process of development. Very few thinkers and writers have left such a tempting trail.

      2. Stephen Nightingale

        >The “god-propaganda complex”?

        It’s my own coinage. I’m so pleased you like it. I believe the “nani-nani-complex” collocation was originated by President Eisenhower well before anyone heard of Dawkins, Dennett, Harris and Hitchens.

          1. Lambert Strether

            That’s an excellent takedown of both Hitch (ugh) and Orwell (sigh).

            That said, does anybody remember the Bush administration? That was a “god propaganda complex” for the ages, and every so often I read something in the papers that suggests it hasn’t quite died.

          2. spooz

            I always learn so much in reading the comments sections, as I did in this link. The Orwell defenders suggest the author read Orwell’s novel “Burmese Days” and his essays “Homage to Catalonia” and “Road to Wigan Pier”, along with his political essays to get a more accurate picture of Orwell.

            “DC Resident” remarks:

            “Your attack on Orwell is just nonsense. Orwell was 24 years old when he LEFT Burma. In other words, the brunt of your argument is based on the political opinions and actions of an Orwell between the ages of 21-24.

            If you take the time to read Orwell’s works [with a clear mind, that is], it’s both clear and fascinating to see his progression as a writer and as a human being. The Orwell of age 24 was not the Orwell of 34, and most certainly not the Orwell of 44.

            Orwell actually learned and grew from his experiences, reassessed his former prejudices, and wasn’t afraid to call a spade a spade, even if that meant alienating the British Communists and doctrinaire liberals.

            Your essay screams “I haven’t read all (or even most) of Orwell’s works.” Absolutely screams it.”

          3. Stephen Nightingale

            I never read “Shooting an Elephant” that way. What I read is Orwell’s empathy for the elephant, and his fear of the crowd that compelled him to shoot it. But then I never over-analysed the text, I picked up the feeling from it. Probably some deficiency in the way I learned the English language.

          4. optimader

            …Putting an elephant above people. Empathy?… = Putting an elephant before rule of the mob.

            Try reading it before commenting about it

            LS, the ideological journey of GO over a relatively short life span is fascinating actually.

  2. rcyran

    Fun to see what cats are up to, but the story shows why they shouldn’t be let outside. Nearly all the cats killed multiple animals every week. :(

    1. AbyNormal

      Two recent studies suggest that the killing does matter. Kitty Cam studies, in which lightweight camera were attached to cats, were carried out by the University of Georgia and showed that 30% of house cats kill an average of two animals per week. With about 80 million pet cats in the US, this is a heavy toll: about 520,000,000 kills a year. I know in warm months Zelda kills many more than two a week because some days she brings me three or four dead animals. There are an estimated 80 million feral cats in the US — this is more a wild-ass guess than a true estimate — so the real number of birds and mammals killed may be higher.

      A recent study in “Nature Communications” by a trio of scientists tried to estimate the total numbers of animals killed by cats per year. They arrived at an estimate of at 1.4 billion to 3.7 billion bird victims and 6.9 billion to 20.7 billion mammals per year. The problem is that nobody knows how many feral cats there are in the country, so the estimates in this study have a huge potential error.

      fafafafafa fafa fafa fa

      1. Yalt

        The premise here seems odd to me–is all killing bad? Do squirrels and mice have a right to a predator-free environment?

        One of the changes I’ve noticed, on my return to suburbia after a 30-year absence, is that the density of small animals is quite amazing, far greater than I would ever see in a rural environment and also far greater than I remember from before. The former can be explained by the amount of food provided by human waste, but I don’t think the latter can, and I find myself wondering if what’s changed isn’t that we used to allow our cats and dogs free run of the neighborhood.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          To Yalt’s point, in the concrete jungle of NYC, where you don’t have indoor/outdoor cats, we have an impressively large rat, mouse, and pigeon population.

          1. Ned Ludd

            When I was young, we always had cats to live in our barn and kill mice. This used to be common among farmers. I have no idea how many birds they killed, but small mammals – like mice and chipmunks – made for easier prey.

  3. Jim Haygood

    Ten years ago, when it was Saddam’s WMDs rather than Assad’s WMDs provoking U.S. intervention, the heavy hand of the Lobby was very publicly apparent: Perle, Feith, Wolfowitz, Libby, et al. This time round, those pushing the U.S. into a proxy war against Israel’s archenemy Iran are being much more discreet. Neither the NYT editorial nor the Counterpunch article linked above even mention Israel, which shares a border with Syria and has occupied Syria’s Golan Heights since 1967.

    Franklin Lamb’s Counterpunch article leads with a quote from
    ‘Congressional sources’: “The Syrian army’s victory at al-Qusayr was more than the administration could accept.” In his own Counterpunch commentary, Gilad Atzmon points out that Assad’s victory at al Qusayr is unacceptable to Israel:

    Debka maintains that senior IDF officers criticized the Israeli defense minister who “misled” the Knesset a few days ago estimating that “Bashar Assad controlled only 40% of Syrian territory.”

    It reports, “the massive Israeli bombardment of Iranian weapons stored near Damascus for Hezbollah, turned out a month later to have done more harm than good. It gave Bashar Assad a boost instead of weakening his resolve.”

    Israel, Debka concludes, will soon find itself “face to face for the first time with Hezbollah units equipped with heavy arms and missiles on the move along the Syrian-Israeli border and manning positions opposite Israel’s Golan outposts and villages.”

    Another factor is the withdrawal of Austrian peacekeepers from the occupied Golan Heights:

    Austria’s decision to pull out its troops from the U.N. peacekeeping force at the Golan Heights has opened up the possibility of drawing Israel into the Syrian conflict, which has already become deeply internationalised.

    Austria is withdrawing 380 peacekeepers — more than one-third of the total strength of the 1000 strong U.N. force — leaving a gaping hole in the international security cover required to avoid the spillover of Syrian conflict into Israel.

    Pro-Israel lobby groups in the U.S. are already claiming that the Austrian withdrawal is posing an “existential threat” to Israel, as it could weaken vigilance around Quneitra, the only border crossing that exists between Syria and Israel.

    Irish journalist Maidhc Ó’Cathail points out that McCain’s trip to Syria was organized by a group with ties to the Lobby:

    The Syrian Emergency Task Force appears to have close ties to one foreign government and its powerful American lobby. Not only is [its executive director] Mouaz Moustafa listed as one of the WINEP’s “experts,” he recently addressed the AIPAC-created think tank’s annual Soref symposium on the theme of “Inside Syria: The Battle Against Assad’s Regime.”

    Another bloody proxy war for Israel (Pentagon planners have “budgeted” 50,000 additional fatalities, according to Franklin Lamb) is an existential threat to what’s left of American democracy. Now Congress doesn’t even bother with holding a vote. The Decider has spoken, and that’s that.

    1. skippy

      And some wonder why the ideological history of this patch of earth has always managed too go boom…

      Skippy… imagine a house on a block acting as such…

    2. from Mexico

      Jim Haygood says:

      Ten years ago, when it was Saddam’s WMDs rather than Assad’s WMDs provoking U.S. intervention, the heavy hand of the Lobby was very publicly apparent: Perle, Feith, Wolfowitz, Libby, et al.

      I wonder how “heavy” the “hand of the Lobby” really is. I know it is very convenient for others in the neocon/neoliberal universe to project blame for its criminal and immoral activities on “the Lobby.” But in this loose-knit coalition, just how influential is “the Lobby”?

      The conspiracy theorists cast the Jews as being all-powerful. For instance, this article linked by an NC commenter the other day has this to say about “the Lobby”:

      [T]he neoconservatives, as a result, sabotaged Bush’s chances for a second term and supported Democrat Bill Clinton. After eight years of Clinton, they finally completed their victory by having Bush’s son George W. elected and forcing him into the second Irak war.

      You got that? “The Lobby” is a deus ex machina, a deus absconditus and potentia absoluta whose sureptitious maneuverings explain everything, all the way from the outcome of US elections to why we went to war in Irak. “The Lobby” says “Jump!” and the US electorate and US president say “How high?” And if one reads the entire article, we are led to believe that all neocons are Jews, and of course that all Jews are neocons. The article is quite revealing in this regard, because what it shows is that this is a fiction promoted by both Jewish neocons and by those who don’t like Jews. The proof of the Jewish neocons’ all-powerfulness? Why the claims of the Jewish neocons themselves. What more proof is needed?

      In my way of thinking, the Israel Lobby is only a bit player in the neocon/neoliberal coalition, and George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, and Dick Cheney had their own reasons for going to war in Irak. (Can we say Halliburton?) And polls show that American Jews were more opposed to the Iraq war — both in the lead-up to it and after it began — than any other religious group out there, including those who profess no religion at all.

      1. Hahahasbara

        So, ONCE AGAIN, I guess I shouldn’t call this post hasbara as ONCE AGAIN fM weakly attempts to play down or “explain” away the power of AIPAC and other Z****t entities in the US.

        Gee, why would someone do that?

        Why would someone hang onto a story linked to weeks ago just to bring it up again to again “explain” away – hasbara means “explaining” in Hebrew, btw – the Jewish/Z****T roots of neoconservativism.

        Playing the old “Jews are all powerful” rebuttal, eh, fM?

        How about we read the rest of the paragraph you selectively quoted and which contains verifiable quotes from HW et al. which you – oops! – so selectively forgot to include in your little “explanation”, huh?


        Oh, and let’s also remember fM’s greatest idol is rabid Christian Z****t Reinhold Neibuhr who called for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

        “With the end of the Cold War, the national interest of Israel changed once again. Their primary objective became not the fall of communism, but rather the weakening of Israel’s enemies. Thus the neoconservatives underwent their second conversion, from anti-communism to islamophobia, and created new think tanks such as the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) led by Richard Perle, the Middle East Forum led by Daniel Pipes (son of Richard), the Center for Security Policy (CSP) founded by Frank Gaffney, and the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). President George H.W. Bush, however, cultivated friendships with Saudi Arabia and was not exactly a friend of Israel; he resisted in September of 1991 against an unprecedented pro-Israel lobbying campaign that called for $10 billion to help Jews immigrate from the former Soviet Union to Israel. He complained in a televised press conference on September 12th that “one thousand Jewish lobbyists are on Capitol Hill against little old me”, thereby causing Tom Dine, the Executive Director of AIPAC, to exclaim that “September 12, 1991, is a day that will live in infamy”. Bush also resisted the neoconservatives’ advice to invade Iraq after Operation Desert Storm. Finally, Bush’s Secretary of State James Baker was too receptive to Arab proposals throughout the Madrid Conference in November 1991; the neoconservatives, as a result, sabotaged Bush’s chances for a second term and supported Democrat Bill Clinton. After eight years of Clinton, they finally completed their victory by having Bush’s son George W. elected and forcing him into the second Irak war.”

        Gee, I can’t seem to recall the last time ANY sitting President openly called out AIPAC since that incident, huh?


        1. from Mexico

          I would just point out that two wrongs don’t make a right. They never have and never will.

          For instance, in the article linked above it warns of a “Pax Judaica“, a “dream instilled by the biblical God to His chosen people.” This vision of a new world order with Jerusalem at its center “will come only when ‘all the nations shall flow’ to the Jerusalem temple, from where ‘shall go forth the law’.” The Likud strategists and their neoconservative allies “intend to forge their legacy as those who waged and won the global annihilation of the Islamic civilization.” The inspiration for the extirpation of the Muslims comes from the Bible, we are told, citing the following scripture:

          And this shall be the plague with which the Lord shall smite all the peoples that waged war against Jerusalem: their flesh shall rot while they are still on their feet, their eyes shall rot in their sockets, and their tongues shall rot in their mouths… Then every one that survives of all the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King…

          This is presented in contradistinction to “the nonviolent ethics of Jesus.”

          Two can play this game of irrational prejudices and pathological hatreds, however, and the New Atheists do it very well. Sam Harris, for instance, tells us that “Islam contains specific notions of martyrdom and jihad that fully explain the character of Muslim violence.” He then goes on to elaborate as follows:

          While the other major world religions have been fertile sources of intolerance, it is clear that the doctrine of Islam poses unique problems for the emergence of a global civilization… The only future devout Muslims can envisage—as Muslims—is one in which all infidels have been converted to Islam, politically subjugated, or killed. The tenets of Islam simply do not admit of anything but a temporary sharing of power with the “enemies of God.”… In Islam…the basic thrust of the doctrine is undeniable: convert, subjugate, or kill unbelievers; kill apostates; and conquer the world.


          It is time we admitted that we are not at war with “terrorism”; we are at war with precisely the vision of life that is prescribed to all Muslims in the Koran.

        2. Dr. Brian Oblivion

          It seems to me “the lobby” has as much power and influence as how neatly its wants line up with those of the domestic ownership class, no more and no less. There is the tendency for those who presume that the US is a client state of Israel and not the other way around to filter out those instances where reality doesn’t satisfy their preconceptions.

          I suppose having an all powerful absolute evil cabal that comes from without to play the role of scapegoat also helps to deflect criticism from domestic elites who have the last word where their interests are concerned.


      1. from Mexico

        The program paints a picture of the intelligence and security agencies in the United States and the UK populated by competent and conscientous people on the lower levels. But the people who run these agencies are dissimulators, prevaricators, and outright liars.

        Here’s the money quote:

        What I do know is that intelligence sources do not always tell the truth.
        –General Sir Mike Jackson, Britain’s senior soldier in Iraq

    3. JohnDT

      First, quoting Israeli conspiracy theory/pessimistic Debka website must be part of unbiased research into facts (I wonder where they get their info from…).
      Second, arguing the Austrians are on the occupied Golan Heights, while they are 100% on Syrian land, fearing the militias there. (Does anybody remember what started the 48 war? How many times did Israel request Assad to stop cross-border fire before 67? Who started the 73 war and lost? Who has killed tens of thousands of civilians (more than all civilians throughout ALL Arab-Israeli wars combined?!).
      Third, is Obama (or for that matter anybody) happy with the results of his lack of intervention in Syria? Perhaps it is good that the Administration and the Israeli Lobby and others are finally realizing that the Russian-Iranian-Assad-Hezbollah coalition is not about to help bring peace, security, human rights or enlightenment of any kind to that part of the world, while further undermining the US standing, interests, allies, etc.?
      (Of course, who needs Mid Eastern oil and partners? who cares about a buffer around Europe and who runs it? Who gives a **** about those people killed by their own governments?)
      Balanced analysis, undoubtedly.

    4. charles sereno

      I’m grateful for the chance to insert myself into this thread. SANCTIONS & AUSTERITY WORK (in mysterious ways). It’s happening before our very eyes. The political outcome in Iran makes that point!
      PS Is it the intention of this website that respondents have to register anew on each occasion?

        1. charles sereno

          Double sorry. I was replying in response to Richard Kline (below) which did appear in its proper location. I beg NC not to banish me from its commentariat. I promise I’ll double check every time I’m permitted to make a squeak.

  4. dearieme

    “Heavy Pressure Led to Decision by Obama on Syrian Arms”: as I said yesterday, O is in no position to resist pressure from whoever it is who knows what he’s been hiding about his personal circumstances.

    1. Jim Haygood

      USA Today profiles Obama and McCain’s new rebel buddies:

      A Syrian rebel group’s April pledge of allegiance to al-Qaeda’s replacement for Osama bin Laden suggests that the terrorist group’s influence is not waning and that it may take a greater role in the Western-backed fight to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad.

      The pledge of allegiance by Syrian Jabhat al Nusra Front chief Abou Mohamad al-Joulani to al-Qaeda leader Sheik Ayman al-Zawahri was coupled with an announcement by the al-Qaeda affiliate in Iraq, the Islamic State of Iraq, that it would work with al Nusra as well.

      Lebanese Sheik Omar Bakri, a Salafist who says states must be governed by Muslim religious law, says al-Qaeda has assisted al Nusra for some time.

      But a man from WINEP, the Israeli front group which sponsored McCain’s trip to Syria, says it’s no problem if we intervene:

      Aaron Zelin at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in Washington says al Nusra’s ability to provide security and basic needs such as bread and fuel to Syrian civilians, as well as to reopen shops and restart bus services, has won gratitude from people who would not usually adhere to its strict ideology.

      Zelin says some Syrian people have criticized al Nusra for banning alcohol, forcing women to wear a full veil and whipping men who are seen with women in public.

      This illustrates the need for American leadership in the Syrian conflict, particularly with regard to helping non-Qaeda-aligned rebels contain the growth of (al Nusra) and similar groups,” he said. “Washington should also try to take advantage of cleavages within the rebellion and civilian population, since al Nusra is outside the mainstream and more concerned with establishing a transnational caliphate than maintaining the Syrian state.”

      Oh, yeah … pit one group of shadowy rebels against another in the fog of war: all it takes is ‘leadership’ … and a few pallets of freshly-printed hundreds.

      Al Qaeda is our ally, comrades. Al Qaeda has ALWAYS been our ally.

  5. Yonatan

    “U.S. Chamber of Commerce drops Yes Men lawsuit”

    That’s outrageous. Every American has the right to sue, so by implication every American has the right to be sued. Therefore the Yes Men should take the CoC to court for infringing on their right to be sued by the CoC.

  6. from Mexico

    @ “The Sickening Snowden Backlash”

    @ “The Real War on Reality”

    It’s full court press for the “manufacturers of consent.”

    Because Obama et al are an assortment of psychopaths, sociopaths and other various characteropaths, the thought never occurs to them to cease and desist in their criminal activities. Instead, since the documentation unveiling their crimes is difficult to impeach, it’s all about plugging the leaks and attacking the messenger, making the debate about the messenger instead of the message.

    The chief value of the secret police, Hannah Arendt writes in The Origins of Totalitarianism, “is in their unsurpassed capacity to establish and safeguard the fictitious world through consistent lying.” And the bedrock of this ficticious world is the creation of some arch-enemy, or some “ficticious global conspiracy” which is out to get us, to put it in Bolshevik- or Nazi-speak. As Arendt goes on to explain in Eichmann in Jerusalem, during the war the lie most effective with the whole of the Gemman people was the slogan of “the destiny for the German people” which suggested “that it was a matter of life and death for the Germans, who must annihilate their enemies or be annihilated.” Germany “had experienced a humiliating defeat and had been assessed for huge war reparations that grievously taxed its already shaky economy,” Stephanie Barron writes in “Modern Art and Politics in Prewar Germany.” This “was blamed on a supposed international conspiracy of Communists and Jews.”

    In the Snowden drama, it looks like the professional liars have nominated China to play “arch-enemy,” as this CNN video reveals:

    “Could the NSA leaker defect to China?”

    And of course the drumbeat is on to make it all about Snowden and not about the documents he produced, as another CNN report reveals:

    “Inside the mind of Edward Snowden”

    1. don'ttasemebro

      Political manipulation of grass-root dissent and the damping down of enthusiasm by letting people know they are being observed is a by-product of the more immediate rewards of close observation.

      Creepy non-entities with handkerchief-wrapped personal weapons couldn’t be further from the focus of the spooky spooksters.

      These tools (that incidentally can be used to smote the microscopic) are primarily a new locus of gathering and exercising influence on the techno-planet.

      The patronage/graft opportunities alone granted by black budgets give a firm foundation of instant levies and congenial allies. If the technology actually works, those in control of it step up to real influence.

      It’s about power and money and they don’t care at all about bugs, they circle the waterhole in the tall grass and target the big prey.

      Blackmail of political figures and regulators/police apparatus is an immediate yield of this apparatus.

      The sharing of the fruit with aligned corporate players to advantage both market operations as well as to elicit state activities against competitors also yield daily gains.

      There are no mad gassers of mattoon – and if there were – nobody in the apparatus gives a flying f-k what they are doing compared to the opportunities to profit and control that fill a busy day of skullduggery.

    2. Jackrabbit

      Thanks for this and your many previous comments that contain quotes from historians, philosophers, etc. that have written of the painful lessons learned many years ago.

  7. Ilargi

    Five Stonking Crashes

    No matter what happens next, the chance that central banks will be able to continue to manipulate down both bond yields and interest rates is getting slimmer by the day. Nonetheless, they’ll keep on doubling down on their bets: the more they lose control (or the more it’s obvious they never had any), the bigger the losses for the financial community will get, and the more they will clamor for more stimulus.

  8. Richard Kline

    I read the article on Roman concrete some days back, I don’t recall where. The implications are fascinating, not least in once more demonstrating the technological sophistication of Classical engineers in the realms of their expertise. We still don’t understand how to build a trireme.

    It is my view that the most impactful development of technology over the next generation is likely to be a materials revolution, with better concrete, rammed earth, compressed bamboo and other fibers, bacterial-secreted silk, and foldable glass reconfiguring how we build our environment. And much more. Better energy is the big hitch, but the materials are all in the pipeline, it’s just that oil derivatives are litterally choking our product manufacturing materials. The residue of which is quite toxic into the (fouled) bargain.

    1. eeyores enigma

      Indeed a better future through technology is possible.

      The problem is that all the technological solutions are simply solving for past technological solutions while at the same time eliminating the need for labor, impoverishing the majority, eliminating profit from whole sectors of industry, and focusing wealth and power with a smaller and smaller % of the population.

      This has zero possibility of happening.

      To invasion a better future without solving the issue of humanity is delusional.

    2. charles sereno

      Great points! According to Wikipedia, the benefits of using (natural) pozzolanic materials (like the Romans did) include 1) the replacement of Portland cement; 2) the consequent reduction in greenhouse emissions; and 3) the reuse of (unnatural) waste materials (fly ash). In addition, I would add one of its special underwater qualities (as illustrated in the news story) but, possibly more importantly, its “minimazation” of weight density. Lightweight concrete uses such materials. You can imagine the structural advantages this provides. When I take a bath, I use a piece of pumice to scrub my soles (I go barefoot a lot) and file my toenails. Conveniently, “it floats” (remember Ivory soap?), and is always at hand.

  9. lakewoebegoner

    “Secret life of the cat: What do our feline companions get up to?”

    for you cat/pet lovers, go watch the accompanying BBC documentary (or iPlayer for any UKers), “the secret life of cats” it’s on youtube. interesting and fun.

    there’s also a “secret life of dogs” which is on youtube as well (i think).

  10. Richard Kline

    Oh, and the FISa court was designed to be a complete sham and is that and naught else. I was wondering what their request approval rate was. Per the cited article 99.97%. And court oversight isn’t even needed if the facility snooped is physcially offshore even if wholly American owned and operated. NSA obviously doesn’t submit for approaval anything _but what it wants ON RECORD_ as approved. Anything really sensitive is done and not reported, natch.

  11. Goin' South

    Re: The Real War on Reality–

    Another good piece tracking how private spies are disrupting the Left can be found here:

    Both pieces make it clear why this data is being collected, and it ain’t to thwart terrorism.

    Note the prominent part played by the law firm, Hunton & Williams. That’s not just another megafirm. It’s Lewis Powell’s old firm (of Powell Memo infamy). Lewis III is still a partner there.

  12. Jim Haygood

    Where is A.N.S.W.E.R. now, in response to U.S. intervention in Syria? The organization that coordinated the global 15 Feb 2003 protests against the U.S. invasion of Iraq, that is.

    Its web site headlines an incident of police violence in Miami. Only one of ten ‘What’s new’ headlines concerns a protest about U.S. intervention in Syria, from a week ago. Utter silence regarding any future protests.

    In effect, not a peep of opposition to the new bloody middle eastern war: clear sailing for Barack Dubya Obushma to escalate the slaughter.

    1. Lambert Strether

      I was pointed recently to resource mobilization theory, apparently applied successfully in Latin America by the usual suspects. Think of it as knocking out well connected actors who have the potential to cause trouble, as opposed to breaking the law or anything like that.

      Silence doesn’t mean consent but, as always, TINA.

  13. David Lentini

    Shirky Explains Why We Have a Dark Ages In Journalism

    Interesting, albeit depressing, post by Shirky. His conclusion:

    I want something that reminds students “Don’t just look at the conclusions, which can be as mechanistic as a wind-up toy. Look at the assumptions.” Any ideas? (I don’t think ‘easy knowledge’ is it, as it isn’t self-explanatory, though instant comprehension may be an unreachable goal.) Is there any label for this habit of camouflaging suspect assumptions while emphasizing obvious conclusions?

    demonstrates the enormity of our failure to teach and use the techniques of sound reasoning.

    I agree that “easy knowledge” is not a very apt label for the leaping to conclusions from an inadequate understanding of the assumptions behind a statement. But what he describes requires several labels, because they describe several different logical failures or fallacies.

    The best way to get clear is to drop words like “conclusion”, “knowledge”, etc., as a starting point. Instead look at everything first as a “statement”. Statements can be either true, false, or of uncertain validity. One then has to look at context and additional information before assigning a likelihood of validity to a statement. Highly confirmed statements are thus “true”; highly disproved statements are “false”; and statements without full collaboration are rated with a degree of (un)reliability.

    Looking at Shirky’s first example, when someone says “I own this bike”, we should use the context of that statement to assign a likelihood of validity to that statement. If you just watched the person buy the bike, then you can assign 100% truth to the statement; if you saw them rip it away from someone who just bought the bike, then you can assign 100% falsity to the statement. Under other conditions, you can’t be 100% sure, but you can assign some rough grade of likelihood the statement is true. Here, Shirky’s example just describes someone who is n$iuml;ve or jumps to a conclusion of certainty when at most a presumption of truth pending additional confirmation is warranted.

    Next, Shirky moves to the economic arguments of the neo-liberals, referring to Galbraith’s wise comment regarding debating Milton Friedman. What Friedman, and his acolytes like the authors of the paper Shirky refers to, was so famous for doing is called “Jesuit Logic”: Determining first the desired conclusion, and then carefully building a chain of logical arguments extending backwards to determine the set of assumptions necessary to support the conclusions. As Galbraith so famously noted, then the entire argument is sound but for the assumptions, which are often well hidden underneath the smoothness of the logic and strength of the conclusion. Very often, this is also an example of “begging the question”, in which the assumptions of the argument are such that the conclusion must necessarily follow, i.e, you assume what you want to prove.

    I don’t really understand Shirky’s math proof example. The only numbers for which the statement X*X=X is true are 0 and 1, which are the only integers in the “range” [0,1], so his example is a bit confusing. I think he is trying to illustrate “cherrypicking” of data, i.e., choosing specific facts to support a more general conclusion, but I think it falls flat.

    If Shirky wants a single, pithy word or expression to describe these logical failures, I suggest “bullshit”. As described by the philosopher Harry Frankfort in his book On Bullshit, bullshit describes the lack of caring about the truth or falsity of a statement. What every journalist should be on the lookout for are not just lies and liars, but bullshit and bullshitters.

    As a guide to better bullshit detection, Shirky may want to review the logical fallacies, which were complied over the ages and largely forgotten in modern times.

  14. Skeptic2

    Naomi Wolf has suspicions about Snowden.

    Don’t worry, folks, Gawker and others have already HILARIOUSLY adopted the term Snowden “truther”!!


    More speculation about Snowden and Poitras – recipient of a MacArthur grant.

    On Snowden’s magic flash drive and his hiring by the NSA.

    Is Snowden CIA and was he given the NSA files?

    1. Skeptic2

      From the Rappaport piece:

      “Well, they’ve solved the riddle. Ed Snowden was able to steal thousands of highly protected NSA documents because…he had a thumb drive.

      This is the weapon that breached the inner sanctum of the most sophisticated information agency in the world.

      This is the weapon to which the NSA, with all its resources, remains utterly vulnerable. Can’t defeat it.

      NSA bans thumb drives, but certain special employees are allowed to use them.

      Would Snowden have been in that elite circle? He was an outside contractor who’d been assigned to the NSA, and he was only there for four weeks, on his latest tour, when he did the infamous deed and then departed, never to return.

      Not only did Snowden stroll into NSA with a thumb drive, he knew how to navigate all the security layers put in place to stop people from stealing classified documents.

      Far more likely? As I described in my prior article, Snowden was really working for his former employer, the CIA. People at the CIA were able to steal those NSA documents, and they handed them to Snowden. All part of the endless turf war between the CIA, NSA, and other intelligence agencies.”

      1. Propertius

        To my mind, it’s far more likely that Snowsen is the public face for multiple leakers in various positions.

    2. Jesse

      I felt like the Naomi Wolf piece was poorly thought out. Several of the initial points seemed to be along the lines of “he was too practiced and rehearsed, focused on messaging etc”… It’s more likely he was aware of how they’d come for him and the importance of getting his message out there in a coherent way. And it’s worked beautifully.

      1. hunkerdown

        So you can’t be taken seriously as a dissident leaker if you’re too scruffy, and you can’t be taken seriously as a dissident leaker if you’re too neat and prepared.

        One just can’t win against an Establishment that claims absolute authority to write the rules.

      2. Lambert Strether

        I don’t think Wolf is irrational; Rove pulled a similar maneuver with the Killian memos, so for Dan Rather read Glenn Greenwald. And HB Gary tried a similar entrapment scheme against Greeenwald. He didn’t fall for it then, so I don’t think he’d fall for it now.

        1. Jesse

          If Wolf had written this on Monday it’d be one thing to say she’s not being irrational, but it looks like she wrote this yesterday. Considering the (somewhat surprising) uproar that has continued to grow all week, she’d have to admit that the government had *dramatically* miscalculated if it intended these revelations as some sort of in-your-face intimidation tactic. And it’s also not difficult to come up with reasons the government would find value in keeping this program secret. Smart woman, unpersuasive theory.

          1. Expat

            I agree with you, Jesse. I find the Grayson presentation compelling in that the NSA’s legal justification is so thin. The FISA court is what should really be taking a shellacking in this enterprise, since the order it approved, based on statute and court rulings, is the most unquestionably ultra vires action I have ever heard of. The court’s authorizing statute is clearly within the constraints of the 4th amendment, and this order clearly is not. So there is either a pile of secret law we haven’t been told about or the law has been secretly suspended. Neither option is good for the country or our democracy. But for the rest, this is confirmation of what we’ve all suspected ever since Poindexter announced Total Information Awareness capabilities.

          2. charles sereno

            I just saw the N Wolf piece and was so disappointed. Why spend so much tortuous effort on a hunch? It won’t help either way, whether she’s right or wrong.

  15. MIWill

    Edward Snowden has now been fired, which makes him a disgruntled former employee, which by definition equals liar, so everything is really ok.

    1. optimader

      lol.. that’s it MilWil

      The veracity of the disclosed info is relevant
      Parsing the inner Snowden, maybe not so much
      If he is a Cia construct to damage the NSA, so what?

  16. Herman Sniffles

    “Time to Buy a House? Not on your life!”

    That’s right. The time to buy a house was about two years ago when idiocy like this was a bit less shrill. Now it’s time to just sit back and watch your profits acrue. Oh well, I tried!

  17. Jesse

    Yves, am I wrong or have you not posted any stories on the unpaid internship ruling from a few days ago? Seems like something that would resound across NC.

  18. Paul Niemi

    What to make of Snowden personally? To me he is Hamlet, and he broadly represents the betrayal of an entire generation of young people from the rot at the top.

  19. Herman Snitfles

    My god, look at all the potential exploding heads!

    By the way, if you find a fisherman who is not catching any fish he’ll be basing his angling activites on “fundamentals” and ignoring the stream bubbling at his feet. But find a fisherman cathing lots of fish and he’ll be watching the world around him very carefully and changing what he’s doing continually until he succeeds. Just like investing, 10% of fisherman catch 90% of the fish that are caught. Creel studies prove this over and over. Ask the fisherman who didn’t catch anything how to catch fish and he’ll talk for hours. Ask the succesful one how he did it and he’ll just shrug his shoulders. Life is art, not fundamentals.If it was the other way around engineers would be the richest people on earth.

  20. down2long

    Re: The Charles Pierce posting. It does seem that Charles really is in a tizzy lately. He actually said last week regarding some other journalist writing about Obomba “He likes this president a lot more than I do.” Charles Pierce was one of the last of the blindly cheerleading obots to wake up.

    It seems like in the last two months the banal oligarch complicity that is Obomba is sinking in, and poor Charles seems like someone who has just discovered their beloved is cheating on them, stole all the money, and murdered someone as well. His grief is palpable.

    Re: The lawsuit against B of A. That really is a doozy of testimony from Simone Gordon I think it was, posted by someone here, about the incentives to foreclose.

    I just got a call from ASC (Wells) regarding a loan I have which Wells services for B of A as Trustee on Morgan Stanley CDO that they have been refusing my payments for three years. Having all these satans on the opposition is eye opening. They didn’t even know I’d been BK, or so they say. I alerted them than I ready to go to jury trial. Three years worth of returned checks of a court ordered payment are pretty tough to refute.

    Having just settled my lawsuit against Deutsche for the same exact shit (preparing the lawsuit against ASC, able to use the same lawsuit literally, checks mailed the same day, the only change is replacing Ocwen/Deutsche with ASC/B of A.)

    The revilement I feel for Obeyme and AG “Place” Holder, the Debevoise/Covington subsidiary The SEC, etc., that this shit continues, and that Place is in high dudgeon against Edward Snowden, and will bring all possible charges against him, just makes me furious.

    Yes, just yesterday I got a call from Green Tree Servicing trying to get me to pay them for a second that was discharged in bankruptcy five years ago, on which I paid them the deficiency judgement literally YEARS ago.

    William K. Black is right: If you do not throw people in jail, and just do little wrist slap fines, nothing changes. Like Revlon’s Perlman’s little $850K fine from Debevoise/Covington The SEC for screwing his minority stockholders when he took Revlon private. $850K from Revlon when the billionaire skates free. Mind boggling. No fraud there.

    It is all starting up again in the foreclosure mess, just like nothing ever happened. (It is refreshing to see Schneiderman slowly crawling out of HIS Obomba love haze, I do think his butt hurts more than a little bit.

    But Lawsky is truly a hero – going after the insurance cartels. ) But I digress.

    The difference between me and Pierce: I have been in terrible relationships, sought help to avoid them in the future, and I can smell a skunk a mile away. (Obomba was good, and I warmed up, but I never crawled in bed with him)

    At this point, as Charles would say of someone else in a similar position, Charles’ feefees are hurt. Buck up Charles. It’s gonna get worse. Whereas Nixon used to say, “Run like hell to the right in the primary, and run like hell to the center in the general.” Obomba is running like hell to the right, HIS feefees are hurt, he knows we don’t love him anymore, and he’s pissed. And he’s running around, like all good sadists and sociopaths saying “Now look what you made me do [for your own good.]”

    So we’ll arm Al Qaeda in Syria, get some weapons smuggled cross border into Iraq, facilitate an Al Qaeda loony in Syria (thanks John McCain you sinkhole of a cesspit), keep up the distractions from the disastrous Oligarchy/Stasi state in the U.S, do that old “war president” thing again – Oh it’s just to damn infuriating.

    I do know now why Obomba and Bush got along so well at the first Obomba inauguration: Obeyme was whispering in W’ ear as W got on Marine 1: “Don’t worry. I got it covered.”

  21. down2long

    I just read the piece in NY Times about Obama being dragged into sending arms into Syria, by all the allayed forces of Israel, the NeoCone, and the Neoliberals, the strongest basis for sending weapons being that there was (ostensibly, presumably, perhaps) a use of sarin gas by Assad’s troups. This crosses the “red line” Obeyme iterated once, and if he doesn’t do SOMETHING now, he will “lose all credibility” according to the Times’ reporter.

    I have an excellent memory, and I recall just last week the Times’ editorial board said in their editorial on the NSA that Obama had already lost all credibility – and then, later stealthily “on this issue,” after they realized they had accidentally spoken more truth than they intended.

    Obomba lost all credibility years ago. It just goes to how high the b.s. is that he can be persuaded by interested parties that he has any more credibility to lose. Those con men in D.C. are good, always working on the egos and superegos of narcissistic fools

    1. scraping_by

      Barry’s supporters and handlers have a series of excuses why his words are liberal American mainstream (yes, we are) and his actions are fascist corporatist elite.

      The NYT is trotting out a variation of Barry the weak, timid, gutless groveler who gets bullied by louder and more dynamic advocates. Barry has so many big bad bullies picking on him he just can’t stand up to them. This is a plea for pity, by the way.

      I was looking for Barry the not real bright pretty boy who doesn’t grasp simple realities and can’t project into the future. But they went with the Barry-on-a-leash story.

      So, who are we going to believe, what they tell us or our lying eyes?

  22. Pelle Schultz

    RIP Iain Banks, a remarkably clever and creative writer. Much the same could be said of “Reaganite pus” in the US. That could be a good band name…

  23. jest

    “Time to Buy a House? Not on your life!”

    A little tidbit from an insider in the DC market (to get a degree of the bubblicious insanity, read this or this):

    Apparently there has been any sales of foreclosed homes in DC for years. They aren’t on the market either, people are just living mortgage free.

    The major reason is the council passed a foreclosure mediation bill (Saving DC Homes from Foreclosure Emergency Act) that requires lenders to prove they have provided the proper paperwork to proceed on a foreclosure. Obviously, this is a problem for the banks.

    Because of this, title companies were refusing to take on foreclosure sales, so the banks didn’t even bother to foreclose. Even if they did, they can’t sell them without title insurance.

    It’s kind of a cluster, and it’s restricting supply on the market, which may be driving prices even higher in the city.

  24. Hugh

    Neoconservatives basically believe in an imperial militarized foreign policy which maintains American hegemony through war. Neocons apply their view not just to the Mideast but to the whole world. It’s true that in the run up to the war with Iraq there were several prominent Jewish neocons involved like Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, Scooter Libby, and Richard Perle, but the ones calling the shots were non-Jewish like Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld.

    AIPAC is an organization made up of older, wealthy, conservative Jews. They do not represent the view of most Jews in the country. As Glenn Greenwald as pointed out for years, the views of American Jews as regards Israel and the Palestinians are similar to those of most other Americans. I suppose we have to distinguish between the Jewish Lobby made up of AIPAC and the Anti-Defamation League, etc. and the Israel lobby which is made up of these plus Evangelicals plus the neocons recognizing that there is overlap between neocons and these groups.

    1. charles sereno

      I agree. I think Norman Finkelstein has made many of the same points. I fondly recall many ‘old’ New York jews from the lower East Side who were definitely not ‘conservative.’

      1. Jim Haygood

        So do I. And then there are neocons like Jeffrey Goldberg, a former prison guard at Ktzi’ot, Israel’s largest detention camp for Palestinian political prisoners, who writes for Bloomberg and the Atlantic.

        Now that Obama foolishly has committed to arming Syrian rebels, Goldberg is already preparing the ground to hang him out to dry when the obvious consequences occur:

        It will take time to build a proper pipeline to “vetted” rebels, which is to say, rebels who promise not to one day kill Americans with these weapons. Anti-tank weapons may be of help, but at the moment these don’t appear to be forthcoming, and portable surface-to-air missiles will most definitely not be forthcoming.

        That’s because we don’t actually know who we’ll be helping. Will these small arms find their way to al-Qaeda-associated groups, like the Nusra Front? We don’t even know who owns guns in the U.S. — how are we going to know for sure who owns our taxpayer-supplied firearms in Syria? Recent history in Afghanistan is very much on President Barack Obama’s mind: The weapons the U.S. supplied to mujahedeen fighters there to battle the Soviets three decades ago eventually were used against the U.S. and its allies.

        Who says Israel can’t have its cake and eat it too? Free arms, free money, and a setup to damn with false solicitousness a U.S. president who wasn’t sufficiently accommodating.

  25. GLB Rules

    Concerning Pierce: I read Greenwald and never thought of myself as an “acolyte”, whereas Pierce really owes us an explanation for his “Greatness of Barack Obama” post. He could start by telling us just what his man even stands for. I have no clue after five years — other than that he seems profoundly establishmentarian. Pierce is welcome to use all the references to old Church fathers that he wants, since that seems to be his shtick (or one of them).

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  27. scraping_by

    The ‘too practiced’ snark is not that effective.

    The best way to come across well is the work by the media you’re coming across in. That is, it’s an actual skill to make someone look good or bad, and one can assume Snowden’s media opposite was sandpapering the grit and lighting the shine.

    And of course, there’s the equal and opposite criticism, that lack of polish shows lack of intelligence, lack of sincerity, lack of factual knowledge, etc. This might be media types bragging about their own ease in the spotlight, but it’s a shot taken daily.

    In any case, we’ve all long since seen thousands of hours of people coming across well in the media. We all know how it’s done, at least from the outside.

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