Monday, May 20, 2013

Scandals Real and Fabricated

Right-wing political groups asked for additional information before IRS recognition of them as tax-exempt- SCANDAL!

Associated Press phone records secretly seized by the Department of “Justice:” NOT a scandal. (Yet.)

IRS “targeted” Tea Party groups requesting tax-exempt status. Actually the IRS subjected them to more careful vetting than usual, asking for more information, which delayed the granting of the status. But they're free to operate as tax-exempt while waiting. [1]

All the establishment media keeps calling it “targeting.” Yet it turns out that liberal groups were also subject to delays and lengthy questionnaires. One of them shut down as a result. I only heard or read one report about that. If you missed it, you're still being misled to believe that the right-wing was “targeted.” [2]

Not sure how one person at a desk sending out questionnaires constitutes “targeting” anyway. [See “Confusion and Staff Troubles Rife at I.R.S. Office in Ohio,” New York Times, May 18, 2013, paragraph 3.]

Meanwhile the secret rifling through the phone records of Associated Press employees last year by Eric Holder's minions at the Department of “Justice” isn't deemed scandalous. Guess because the Republicans hate the media too. Instead they're rehashing the Benghazi, Libya, attack last year by Islamists that killed the U.S. ambassador and some guards. Okay, Obama put out lies because he was afraid a “terrorist” attack would hurt his reelection prospects. Too bad the Democrats are incapable of just saying that. Instead they sent UN Ambassador Susan Rice, who's close to Obama, to FIVE- count 'em, FIVE- Sunday morning TV political palaver programs in one day to put out the agreed upon line that a mob was spontaneously inflamed by a dopey anti-Prophet Muhammed video, grabbed their AK-47s and RPGs and mortars out of their larders and expertly assaulted the guarded and fortified U.S. compound. (It only sounds ridiculous when you include details like that. So leave out the details! Brilliant plan, Barack!)

Hey, it worked. He got reelected, didn't he?

So why don't the Democrats just drop the bullshit and say Obama didn't want to jeopardize his reelection? I mean, as the inimitable Hillary Clinton says, What difference does it make?

That is to say, dead is dead.

Oh, that would be “cynical” of them, I suppose, to just come clean. That is, politicians are expected to maintain a facade of false at all times, lest their subjects- excuse me, “We The People,” lose trust in government. Wouldn't want that to happen, now would we! (Someone must be a bit out of touch if that's their concern. That horse left the barn a few years ago.)

One thing is a little sad. The ambassador who got killed, Christopher Stevens, if we are to believe the U.S. media accounts, actually was a decent guy. If the U.S. ever adopted a pro-human foreign policy, people like him would be important assets. Ironic that the sons of bitches, the John Negropontes of the world, never get what's coming to them. Instead it's the good guys who catch the karmic retribution. (That's not an endorsement of the Islamofascists who in this view are agents of that karma. I don't actually believe in karma. How about we just call it “blowback” and leave it at that.)

1] The issue is the particular tax status being sought by these Tea Party types. A political organization can have tax-exempt status, but it has to reveal its donors. These reactionaries seek to hide their donors' identities. (They should start something called the Bashful Billionaires Club.) In order to do that, they have to pretend they're “social welfare” organizations. This is what the mendacious Karl Rove does with Crossroads America, for example. The real problem with what the IRS did is that it just went after the small fry, apparently too politically weak to enforce tax law against blatant violators like GOP poohbah Rove. After all, Republicans control the House of Representatives, semi-control the Senate, the corporate media is mostly pro-GOP, and for that matter the men with the guns, the military and secret police and regular police, are overwhelmingly reactionaries and thus Republican- and that's no small thing. Oh, and most of the large corporate upper hierarchy is Republican.

There's a totally specious argument that reactionaries have trotted out at times to justify the need to hide their moneybag donors' identities. They point out that people who gave to the NAACP back in the 1950s and '60s were risking their lives. Good argument. Wouldn't want the KKK to kill the Koch brothers! (Uh, when exactly was the last time that a racist or fascist killed a rich reactionary? Oh, right, it was never.)

2] Brian Nailer, NPR Weekend Edition Sunday morning, when no one is listening, 5/19/13. A news co-op providing stories for the New York Times went out of business because of dilatory IRS tactics. Without IRS recognition of their tax-exempt status, they couldn't get necessary foundation funding to continue. So the only known actual IRS victim in the story gets ignored because it doesn't fit the “IRS targeted conservatives” script.

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Obama: Cynicism Squared

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We now return to Obama: Cynicism Squared.

Just as it has been revealed that the Obama regime secretly obtained the phone records- for both the business and personal phones- of one hundred Associated Press reporters and editors for a two month period last year, allegedly as part of a “leak investigation,” Obama is making a show of introducing a reporter's shield law in Congress, which he knows damn well will be dead on arrival.

Think that's cynical? Wait, there's more!

Obama's bill contains a "national security" exception! So it wouldn't even make the slightest difference in cases like the AP one!

How's that for cynicism!

But Obama wants to con us into thinking he's a First Amendment protector with his "shield law" stunt. (I'd like to see Congress actually pass it, just to see if Obama would veto his own law. Don't laugh, it's possible he would. Remember his backflip on the law to immunize the telecoms for helping the NSA illegally spy on us?)

If Obama is so concerned that the media be free of government interference (and persecution, for that matter), he'd do better to practice what he chooses to preach only at convenient moments. Like his Democratic predecessor Clinton, he's an slippery con man adept at deceptive feints and verbal tap-dancing. Much more dangerous than a tongue-tied simpleton like Bush II, because more complex and better at fooling people. [1]

One of the most important deleterious effects of this type of repressive activity is that it intimidates whistle-blowers from going to the media with information. That is probably the main intent here. This strategy works in tandem with the Obama regime practice of criminally persecuting whistle-blowers like Thomas Drake, William Binney, John Kiriakou, and others. (Complete with FBI terror raids on their homes. Hyperbole, you say? Imagine being at home with your wife and children when a dozen or more men in flak vests carrying automatic assault rifles kick in your door and swarm into your home, screaming commands at you and your family. Bet your wife and kids would be terrified, if not you too, tough guy. The terror may not always be achieved, but it is certainly intended.) [Go to and to learn more about these and other cases.]

Obama's Attorney General, the professional oppressor Eric Holder, claims that he had nothing to do with the spying, because he recused himself from the “case,” oddly. Therefore he played dumb when asked by Congress why his minions issued a secret subpoena, which prevented the AP from knowing what was happening and thus being able to challenge the search. [“Due process” Obama-regime style.] He played dumb on lots of things during his Congressional appearance, in fact. [2]

Holder is defending this outrageous spying by saying that in all his years as a lawyer, this is one of the worst leaks he's ever seen. Naturally, he claimed that American lives were put at risk by the “leak.” (They always say that.) He refused to be specific. However...

NPR's secret police tool, Dena Temple-Raston, yesterday dutifully passed along the story the Obama regime wanted passed along. (Anonymously- hey a “leak!” Actually an authorized plant. So presumably they won't be secretly seizing her phone records. But that's ok, the NSA has the actual calls, just in case.) [Temple-Raston's current official title at NPR is “Counterterrorism Correspondent.” That highly ideological designation tells you quite a lot right there. She's part of what NPR calls its “national security team.” She- and NPR- are completely in bed with the secret police and military in their “war on terror.”]

Supposedly this terrible terrible leak that endangered all our lives concerned stopping Al-Qaeda from using- a nuclear weapon! A dirty bomb! A sarin gas plot! Uh, no, actually it was nothing like that. It was the story about the guy the CIA (and MI6 and the Saudis, but Temple-Raston didn't mention them) infiltrated into Al-Qaeda in Yemen, and got ahold of one of their suicide bombs by posing as a willing suicide dupe. After duly delivering the bomb to his actual masters, the secret police apparently couldn't help boasting about their great coup to their media stooges- or so it seemed to me at the time. If we believe Holder (and there's no reason on earth to take anything that man says on his word alone) it wasn't that at all, but some nefarious leak that was not authorized. (Or maybe both; you see the two explanations are not mutually exclusive. Some secret policemen might have decided to boast, and another level or rival organization might have been miffed by this.) MI6 was reportedly (at the time) bent out of shape over the Americans squandering the “asset” (the infiltrator) in order to score PR points with the U.S. public (anonymously of course) by boasting of their exploit. Just as “drug war” “warriors” like to parade the grass and drugs they seize in front of the media in order to keep the “war” going, U.S. “terror” warriors need to make it look like they're “winning” their war too.

I suspect the “leak investigation” was undertaken at least in part to mollify the British.

The part of Holder's bleating that is clearly false is the “American lives were endangered” part. All that happened was that their mole became useless and had to be relocated with his family with new identities, and with a fat payoff of course. If anything, you can say that the “leak” protected lives, namely the life of the infiltrator, and possibly his family and friends, because they were going to put him back inside Al-Qaeda after he'd pretended to be a willing suicide bomber and stole one of their bombs. No doubt Al-Qaeda would have gotten suspicious of the guy.

Holder is the same guy who says that his boss, Obama, can secretly order executions because due process does not mean judicial process, an utterly absurd, Alice In Wonderland type statement. The very concept of due process is that an accused is notified of charges or allegations and has the chance to contest them before penalties are imposed. The accused can also contest the punishment. Due process evolved in opposition to the arbitrary and capricious whims of Kings who could do whatever they wanted without challenge and without having to justify their actions. The point of due process is to restrict the power of the state (those in power) to punish people, even kill them, without having to prove just cause. Secretly ordering someone's execution is the diametrical opposite of due process.

Just as John Yoo, Alberto Gonzales, and Jay Bybee, among others, wrote legal opinions for their master, Bush II, as if they could make law themselves, so Eric Holder has arrogated to himself the power to make his own binding Constitutional interpretations. (“The Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process,” he said in his infamous speech declaring that a secret kill list constitutes due process for those condemned to death.)

When the public rumblings of unease over this self-authorized murder program reached a certain noise level, Obama and Holder caused to be planted all kinds of stories in the media about how carefully the faceless Imperialist apparatchiks who add names to the death list do the vetting. [And eventually Holder gave his chilling speech in March 2012, at a law school. More and more, U.S. law is coming to resemble the law of the Third Reich. I pity the fools who voted for Obama thinking he'd reverse that trend which began under Bush II.] We're told that King Obama personally approves or disapproves of each one he secretly sentences to death. Well that's awfully reassuring!

Of course, no one can challenge the alleged “intelligence information” that is the basis for the King ordering death sentences. The whole point of courts is to allow the accused to defend themselves.

Say that, and they pull another bit of flimflam. This is war, they say. So why the prattle about “what we do in secret is due process,” and “we're very careful about who we kill”? (And what about the hundreds of civilians killed in Pakistan and Yemen, for example? And why did you blow the 16 year old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki and his friends into pieces sitting in a restaurant? Never mind, I guess the answer is “classified,” i.e. a secret.)

They disingenuously skip back and forth between a “legal” paradigm and a “war” paradigm, depending on what sophistry works best for them politically at a given moment. The Bush regime did the same.

Obama frequently pulls cynical stunts like the one he's pulling now with his “media shield” law. He also has a habit of totally mendacious public rhetoric, as in his blather about “transparency.” He runs a hyper-secretive regime, worse than the Bushes, Reagan, even Nixon. Under Obama, the number of documents classified yearly has skyrocketed. In his first year in office (2009), Obama doubled the number of classifications, to almost 55 million. Bush in his last year classified over 23 million. And Bush was no slouch himself. As you can see from this chart, the number has been rising inexorably, from under 6 million in 1996. So under Obama there's been about a nine fold increase since then. Incredible. At the same time, the number declassified- what they'll allow us to see, if we can find them, in the National Archives, has been shriveling over time. [See CHARTS here.]

Another example of how what Obama tells us “marks,” as con men call their victims, the opposite of what he does: He breaks new records every year for deporting people, while posing as a friend of immigrants.

It would fill a book to list all the particulars of his two-faced deceits. Just compare his mendacious campaign promises, especially in2008, with his actions as President.

One classic example bears repeating, since the corporate media has thrown it down the memory hole.

Back in 2008, when he was first running for President, Obama promised to filibuster a bill pending in Congress to grant immunity from private lawsuits for the telecom companies that cooperated with an illegal NSA eavesdropping program that collected all the phone calls, emails, faxes, and texts that passed through the telecoms networks. [3]

Well, he didn't filibuster it. In fact, he didn't even vote against it. He hurried back from the campaign trail to vote for it. Who could vote for a sleazy con man like that, a totally untrustworthy liar who is hostile to human rights? They wouldn't even let people sue the phone companies at the victims' own expense. (The Federal courts had already declared that the NSA had sovereign immunity to do whatever it wants with complete impunity, so the government couldn't be sued.)

So no one should be surprised by Obama's further depredations on human rights and civil liberties as President. Except maybe by his personal assassination program. Probably no one guessed he'd go that far- the guy who promised to close Guantanamo Bay- and within a year! (Oops!)

There is much more to say about the assault on the AP, in context of attacks on the media (including actual military attacks, as the bombings of Aljazeera) and the American establishment media's complacency and assumption of privilege for itself. I will take all that up in further essays.

1] The AP is more important than most people realize. A so-called “news service,” it provides news stories to other media organizations that subscribe to its services. (Originally the stories were delivered by telegraph, for speed, hence the term “wire service.”) Probably all the major U.S. news organizations use its stories, as do some news companies in other countries. Its subscribers aren't obligated to use its stories, they can pick and choose which ones to run, which they do.

In recent years the AP has covered a number of revealing stories that don't reflect well on the U.S. Government. These stories would otherwise have not become known. There is good reason to suspect this motivated the Obama regime to surreptitiously attack AP.

2] For those unfamiliar with the structure of the U.S. Government, especially my readers outside the U.S., the Attorney General is head of the Department of “Justice.” “Justice” enforces- selectively and sometimes quite arbitrarily- Federal criminal and civil laws. It also carries out persecutions of political targets, using various laws as weapons against its victims. The Obama regime has been zealous in criminally persecuting whistle-blowers and alleged leakers, for example. The FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation), the major Federal secret police agency that has a domestic purview, although it does and has long operated overseas also, is part of “Justice.” However in practice it operates as an independent fiefdom most of the time. (An Agency is an organizational unit that is part of a Department)

Heads of Departments are dubbed Cabinet Secretaries. The Cabinet is the level of authority in the Federal Government below the President and Vice President. Another example of a Department is the Department of “Defense” (which was more honestly named the Department of War prior to 1949, when in a Cold War propaganda move it was renamed).

However, authority and power aren't necessarily the same thing in the U.S. Government. In recent decades, real power has been increasingly concentrated in the White House (the President's official headquarters), whose staff frequently gives orders to the Cabinet Secretaries in the name of the President. This has given rise to the phrase “Imperial Presidency,” among people who find this concentration of power ominous. (“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,”-Lord Acton's famous aphorism, not an original idea with him, but well put.)

Another example: sometimes the President's so-called “national security adviser,” controls foreign policy, not the Secretary of State (“Foreign Minister” in most countries), as happened during the Nixon regime, when Henry Kissinger, a notorious serial mass murderer, was the “adviser” (chief henchman of foreign crimes) before he officially took over the State Department as Secretary of State.

3] NSA: National Security Agency, a Pentagon agency that is a gigantic global spying agency that collects all the electronic, radio, and other communications it can in the entire world. It even tapped an undersea military communications cable of the Soviet Union- a Navy submarine placed a special device on the cable.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

U.S. Media As Foreign Policy Players, Not Journalists

Much of the bad reportage of the U.S. media seems to stem from its hunger to play foreign policy games instead of reporting news.

For example, Syria keeps attacking NATO ally Turkey. The evil Assad regime has shelled Turkish villages (killing Turkish citizens), shot down Turkish fighter jets over the Mediterranean sea, and set off terrorist car bombs in Turkey, at a border crossing and just a few days ago in the city of Reyhanli, which killed scores of people and devastated the town.

[See "New York Times Confers Legitimacy On Taliban Terrorists"]

NATO is allegedly a collective defense alliance. When a member nation is attacked, the other members are supposed to intervene on their side. Of course, that's crap. In reality, NATO is nothing but a tool of U.S. Imperialism. The lackey member nations get to feel like the U.S. will protect them. That may or may not be the case, depending on how the managers of the U.S. Empire perceive U.S. "interests" in the particular situation.

NATO is used by the U.S. as a vehicle for pursing its own policies, with subordinate NATO members dragged along to help carry the load.

As the U.S. has made clear it has no intention of intervening in the rebellion in Syria, that means NATO is going to continue to ignore Syrian aggression and terrorism against Turkey.

Hence, the U.S. media downplays Syria's crimes. The media doesn't want the public wondering why the U.S. is doing nothing in one situation, while claiming it has to attack other nations, nations that aren't attacking a NATO ally, a nation like, say, ohhh, IRAN.

So dual car bombings in Reyhanli, Turkey, that killed at least fourteen times as many people as were killed in the Boston Marathon "terrorist" bombings, are not recognized as terrorist in the U.S. media. Because terrorism is the new communism, the blackest evil that must be fought anywhere and everywhere.

See the link above for detailed examples and discussion.

[By the way, I'm often asked, "Is there an easy way to find out when there are new essays on your website, without having to go there and check?"

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Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Police State Noose Tightens Another Notch Around Our Throats

California has long been a leader in pioneering new methods of police state repression. The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) in particular has long spearheaded the drive to put police in control of society. Over the years its infamous chiefs, such as Parker and Gates, have been driven by ideological fanaticism.

Now NPR reports (Morning Edition, 5/7/13) that the ACLU is suing just to get access to a sample of a license plate data base the LAPD has assembling. In a secretive mass surveillance program, the LAPD has been surreptitiously recording the license plates of all cars driving down the street and creating a searchable database. Of course the LAPD refuses to talk about it- their excuse now is the standard “cannot comment because it's the subject of a lawsuit.” There's no law or rule that prevents government agencies from talking about a topic because they're being sued. For a private individual, it may be wise to refrain from comment, especially if they're being criminally charged. But governments and their arms should have to explain themselves.

Of course, this horribly repressive development will be justified as a “crime-fighting tool.” But much of its use will be to track dissidents, activists, and politicians. [See also: "FBI Used Facial Recognition Software To Identify Boston Bombers"]

For some insight into the nefarious political repression activities of the LAPD, you could start by reading the book The Glass House Tapes, an account by Louis E. Tackwood of his experiences as an agent provocateur and infiltrator of black and leftist groups for the “intelligence” division of that Department. [ has it.] He also describes various operations he learned of. (Of course the LAPD secret police unit works closely with the FBI in particular, as well as other police state agencies including the CIA, which is “banned” from domestic operations. HAH. Funny joke the establishment made when they created the CIA.)

Speaking of California police state operations, a few decades ago there was an FBI-run right-wing terrorist organization in San Diego called the Secret Army Organization. Apparently this was used to intimidate people seen as leftists, and maybe as an assassination unit. Anyway, one fine evening an undercover FBI agent and an SAO terrorist were stalking a “left-wing” college professor, and they were in their car outside his house. The terrorist shot at a woman he saw inside, hitting her in the elbow and crippling her permanently. That created a smallish problem for the FBI. But not to worry. The U.$ media always has the back of the secret police. And why not? The secret police are there to serve and protect the corporate oligarchy. “The” media is the mouthpiece, the propaganda organs, of that same corporate oligarchy. So basically they are on the same side, if occasionally there are minor conflicts or tactical differences between them. There can also be criticisms of the competence of the secret police (or of the media) in how they carry out their jobs. But no fundamental critiques, and certainly no calls for real accountability- for example criminal prosecutions for crimes committed by secret policemen, (In best Orwellian fashion, referred to as “law enforcement officers” in the case of the FBI and similar agencies. The CIA, a global mega-terrorist outfit, is called an “intelligence” or “spy” organization.)

Since the corporate media is a hegemonic system of consciousness-control in America, as long as they have the backs of the secret police, the secret police can persecute progressives with impunity. Leftists are either ignored or reviled and smeared by the corporate media. The crimes against them either go unreported or are treated as insignificant.

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Monday, May 06, 2013

Is Obama Assad's Defense Lawyer?

Here's Barack Obama after being forced to concede that Syrian tyrant Bashar al-Assad probably used chemical weapons against people in Syria:

“And what we now have is evidence that chemical weapons have been used inside of Syria, but we don't know how they were used, when they were used, who used them.  We don't have a chain of custody that establishes what exactly happened. ” [Press conference, 4/30/13, WH transcript.]

That sounds like objections Assad's defense lawyer would make, if Assad were on trial.

Obama isn't talking about “red lines” anymore. Now it's “game changers.” Specifically, IF he could REALLY REALLY prove Assad did it, and did it A LOT, why, then he'd reexamine his options.

Furthermore, "For the Syrian government to utilize chemical weapons on its people crosses a line that will change my calculus and how the United States approaches these issues," Obama said April 26th.

Uh-oh, his calculus might change! And that's not all...

"I've meant what I said."

So watch out, Assad!

Of course, it isn't irrational for Obama to try and avoid getting sucked into Syria. The problem is he was bluffing about that “red line,” and Assad is calling him on it.

And of course, the U.S. is constantly being exposed as insincere when its fine rhetoric about human rights and freedom and democracy and blah blah runs smack up against the reality of its actions, actions that reveal that it is just another power mad, greedy empire, ruled by ruthless, selfish politicians (who in the case of the U.S., do the bidding of an elite class of super-rich people).

More fundamentally, in a normal human world, people wouldn't be living under tyrants like Assad. There wouldn't be horrible torture-murder regimes like that. And if there were, other nations would fight to free the people oppressed under those regimes, especially when they rebel against their oppressors.

That all sounds so utopian, doesn't it? The fact that it does starkly reveals how how far we are from existing on a human level in this world.