Living the High Life After Congress
Our Coming Theocratic Hell: Look Out, the Right’s “Religious Freedom” Push Is Just the Beginning
GOP’s Sick New Crusade: Inside the Conservative War on Poor Women
Was Tamerlan Tsarnaev an FBI Informant? Odds Say It’s Possible
Last year, attorneys for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev argued in court motions that his older brother and alleged accomplice had been encouraged to become FBI informants and report on the area’s Muslim and Chechen communities. As the trial drew near, US Circuit Court Judge George A. O’Toole limited the defense’s abilities to discuss in court Tamerlan’s role in the bombing. The discussion of whether Tamerlan was an informant was pushed to the dustbin of case files. It remains to be seen if it will once again appear in the upcoming sentencing phase.Boston Show Trial: Dzhokhar “Guilty!” on all 30 counts
. . . the most high-profile of the brothers’ friends to meet with federal officers is Ibragim Todashev, who was shot and killed in his Orlando apartment by FBI officers after allegedly admitting that he and Tamerlan killed three of Tamerlan’s friends in what appeared to be drug deal gone wrong in 2011.
Todashev’s alleged confession did not match evidence found at the crime scene, and the events surrounding his death are the subject of a $30 million suit filed by his family last month.
That the federal government has so doggedly made sure that so many of the Tsarnaevs’ friends would be unable to speak out about the events surrounding the Boston Marathon bombing only raises more questions about what these young men knew about the Tsarnaevs’ involvement.
. . . Author and journalist Masha Gessen ponders the question of a cover-up in her book about the case, The Brothers: The Road to an American Tragedy, released on April 7. According to skeptical book reviewer Kevin Canfield, writing for the "Kansas City Star:"
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's Mother: ‘My Sons Are Innocent’
Ukraine “Disappears” Opponents of the Kiev Regime. Abductions of Independent Journalists
As Colombian Oil Money Flowed To Clintons, State Department Took No Action To Prevent Labor Violations
Prince Andrew’s ‘Sex Slave’ Trade Defended by Fake Progressive, Alan Dershowitz
Political Smears Never Change: NYT’s 1967 Attack on MLK’s Anti-War Speech
Sequel to the Star-Studded Wars Between Friends of Convicted Billionaire Pedophile Jeffrey Epstein and His Jane Doe Accusers
I read Fred Branfman's book when it came out in 1972. There was so little published comment on it at that time that I almost thought that no one else had read it. Almost. Except that all my friends had, of course, but we were all politically inspired college students, so we had an excuse.
One more NYT lie exposed today.
From "The New York Times' Media Bias:"
Fuller reports that Ms. Khamvongsa “was spurred into action when she came across a collection of drawings of the bombings made by refugees and collected by Fred Branfman, an antiwar activist who helped expose the Secret War.” The drawings appear in the late Fred Branfman’s remarkable book Voices from the Plain of Jars, published in 1972, republished by the U. of Wisconsin press in 2013 with a new introduction.
The drawings vividly display the torment of the victims, poor peasants in a remote area that had virtually nothing to do with the Vietnam war, as officially conceded. One typical report by a 26 year-old nurse captures the nature of the air war: “There wasn't a night when we thought we'd live until morning, never a morning we thought we'd survive until night. Did our children cry? Oh, yes, and we did also. I just stayed in my cave. I didn't see the sunlight for two years. What did I think about? Oh, I used to repeat, ‘please don't let the planes come, please don't let the planes come, please don't let the planes come.'"
Branfman’s valiant efforts did indeed bring some awareness of this hideous atrocity. His assiduous research also unearthed the reasons for the savage destruction of a helpless peasant society. He exposes the reasons once again in the introduction to the new edition of Voices. In his words:Therefore the unused planes were unleashed on poor peasants, devastating the peaceful Plain of Jars, far from the ravages of Washington’s murderous wars of aggression in Indochina.
“One of the most shattering revelations about the bombing was discovering why it had so vastly increased in 1969, as described by the refugees. I learned that after President Lyndon Johnson had declared a bombing halt over North Vietnam in November 1968, he had simply diverted the planes into northern Laos. There was no military reason for doing so. It was simply because, as U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission Monteagle Stearns testified to the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in October 1969, ‘Well, we had all those planes sitting around and couldn't just let them stay there with nothing to do’.”
Let us now see how these revelations are transmuted into New York Times Newspeak: “The targets were North Vietnamese troops — especially along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, a large part of which passed through Laos — as well as North Vietnam’s Laotian Communist allies.”
Compare the words of the U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission, and the heart-rending drawings and testimony in Fred Branfman’s cited collection.
True, the reporter has a source: U.S. propaganda. That surely suffices to overwhelm mere fact about one of the major crimes of the post-World War II era, as detailed in the very source he cites: Fred Branfman’s crucial revelations.
We can be confident that this colossal lie in the service of the state will not merit lengthy exposure and denunciation of disgraceful misdeeds of the Free Press, such as plagiarism and lack of skepticism.
The same issue of the "New York Times" treats us to a report by the inimitable Thomas Friedman, earnestly relaying the words of President Obama presenting what Friedman labels “the Obama Doctrine” – every President has to have a Doctrine. The profound Doctrine is “‘engagement’, combined with meeting core strategic needs.”
The President illustrated with a crucial case: “You take a country like Cuba. For us to test the possibility that engagement leads to a better outcome for the Cuban people, there aren’t that many risks for us. It’s a tiny little country. It’s not one that threatens our core security interests, and so [there’s no reason not] to test the proposition. And if it turns out that it doesn’t lead to better outcomes, we can adjust our policies.”
Here the Nobel Peace laureate expands on his reasons for undertaking what the leading US left-liberal intellectual journal, the "New York Review," hails as the “brave” and “truly historic step” of reestablishing diplomatic relations with Cuba. It is a move undertaken in order to “more effectively empower the Cuban people,” the hero explained, our earlier efforts to bring them freedom and democracy having failed to achieve our noble goals.
The earlier efforts included a crushing embargo condemned by the entire world (Israel excepted) and a brutal terrorist war. The latter is as usual wiped out of history, apart from failed attempts to assassinate Castro, a very minor feature, acceptable because it can be dismissed with scorn as ridiculous CIA shenanigans.
Turning to the declassified internal record, we learn that these crimes were undertaken because of Cuba’s “successful defiance” of U.S. policy going back to the Monroe Doctrine, which declared Washington’s intent to rule the hemisphere. All unmentionable, along with too much else to recount here.
Searching further we find other gems, for example, the front-page think piece on the Iran deal by Peter Baker a few days earlier, warning about the Iranian crimes regularly listed by Washington’s propaganda system. All prove to be quite revealing on analysis, though none more so than the ultimate Iranian crime: “destabilizing” the region by supporting “Shiite militias that killed American soldiers in Iraq.”
Here again is the standard picture. When the U.S. invades Iraq, virtually destroying it and inciting sectarian conflicts that are tearing the country and now the whole region apart, that counts as “stabilization” in official and hence media rhetoric. When Iran supports militias resisting the aggression, that is “destabilization.” And there could hardly be a more heinous crime than killing American soldiers attacking one’s homes.
All of this, and far, far more, makes perfect sense if we show due obedience and uncritically accept approved doctrine: The U.S. owns the world, and it does so by right, for reasons also explained lucidly in the New York Review, in a March 2015 article by Jessica Matthews, former president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: “American contributions to international security, global economic growth, freedom, and human well-being have been so self-evidently unique and have been so clearly directed to others’ benefit that Americans have long believed that the U.S. amounts to a different kind of country. Where others push their national interests, the U.S. tries to advance universal principles.”
But the official lies never do.
Comments:_ _ _ _ _ _ _
# reiverpacific 2015-04-09 11:20
En précis, the self-assumed and entirely hubristic status of American Exceptionalism, permits the "Homeland-Reich " to treat the rest of the world as a series of self-aggrandizing social experiments and/or cannon-fodder entirely to "Serve and protect" the interests and ever-swelling cash and assets of the Corporate/Military/Extractive industry totalitarian behemoths ultimately aimed at world domination (sound familiar yet), with a Militarized police dedicated to the same task at home, whilst it denies many millions of it's own citizens and residents basic human rights like Affordable Housing, Universal Healthcare, Free Public Secondary and Higher Education, unhampered voting rights and usurpation of the Public Airwaves and the remaining Broadsheet News Media - such as the NYT - by the same commercial interests and their subsidiaries which "massage" truths, trivialize or suppress significant issues, causes and promote the monopolist/gove rnment stances.
# Shades of gray matter 2015-04-09 11:29
Carnegie ENDOWMENT for International PEACE. That sounds even better than the Ministry of Truth. Maybe James Rison should do an investigative expose of the NYTimes. Give the Times credit, though. They own up to 1 in every 10,000 of their lies. Love you, Noam. You help us hang on to our sanity.
# MidwestTom 2015-04-09 13:29
We have ELECTED dictators, they do not hang around because they make so much money during and after leaving the Oval office why maintain the worries of running the world. Washington continues to operate totally free of any responsibility to ordinary citizens. We are expected to go fight and die in their contrived wars; paratroopers in Ukraine; bombing in Yemen, Troops in Israel; war games along Russia's borders. Does anyone really think that the majority of US taxpayers support any of these actions?
Words to the wise?
Or from them?
Our friends at Stealthflation warn us again.
For what it's (or they're) worth:
Submitted by David Stockman – The Contra Corner Blog
At some point 15 years ought to count for something. After all, it does amount to one-seventh of a century. And during that span we have encompassed several business cycles, two financial crises/meltdowns and nearly a non-stop blitz of “extraordinary” policy interventions. To wit, a $700 billion TARP, an $800 billion fiscal stimulus, upwards of $4.0 trillion of money printing and 165 months out of 180 months in which interests rates were being cut or held at rock bottom levels.
You’d think with all that help from Washington that American capitalism would be booming with prosperity. No it’s not. On the measures which count when it comes to sustainable growth and real wealth creation, the trends are slipping backwards — not leaping higher.
So here’s the tally after another “Jobs Friday”. The number of breadwinner jobs in the US economy is still 2 million below where it was when Bill Clinton still had his hands on matters in the Oval Office. Since then we have had two Presidents boasting about how many millions of jobs the have created and three Fed chairman taking bows for deftly guiding the US economy toward the nirvana of “full employment”.
When you look under the hood it's actually worse. These “breadwinner jobs” are important because its the only sector of the payroll employment report where jobs generate enough annual wage income—about $50k—- to actually support a family without public assistance.
Moreover, within the 70 million breadwinner jobs category, the highest paying jobs which add the most to national productivity and growth — goods production — have slipped backwards even more dramatically. As shown below, there were actually 21% fewer jobs in manufacturing, construction and mining/energy production reported last Friday than existed in early 2000.
Then take the matter of productivity growth. If you don’t have it, then incomes and living standard gains become a matter of brute labor hours thrown against the economy. In theory, of course, all the business cycle boosting and fine-tuning from fiscal and monetary policy, especially since the September 2008 crisis, should be lifting the actual GDP closer to its “potential” path, and thereby generating a robust rate of measured productivity growth.
Not so. Despite massive policy stimulus since the late 2007 peak, nonfinancial business productivity has grown at just 1.1% per annum. That is just half the 2.2% annual gain from 1953 until 2000. Washington engineered demand stimulus is self-evidently not pulling up productivity by its bootstraps.
Indeed, if you go back to the 1953-1973 peak-to-peak period, which also encompassed several business cycles, the annual productivity growth rate averaged 2.7% or two and one-half times the recent outcome.
But here’s the thing. That sterling outcome occurred during those allegedly benighted times under Eisenhower, who believed in balance budgets and delivered several of them. It also encompassed the “new economics” era of the Kennedy-Johnson Keynesians, who dismissed a calendar-bound balanced budget approach, but to their credit did believe in balanced budgets over the business cycle. And they made good on that theory by getting LBJ to raise taxes and cut spending when the guns and butter economy got over heated in 1968.
And most importantly, it was also the time of the “light touch” monetary policies of William McChesney Martin who presided at the Fed during most of this period. Unlike the Bernanke/Yellen Fed that can’t gets its hand off the stimulus button 70 months after the Great Recession ended, Martin once took the “bunch bowl” away only 4 months after a business recovery commenced because he believed his job was done. Growth was up to capitalism, not the FOMC.
The same picture occurs on real median household income. During the same 1953-1973 interval, real median family income grew at 3.0% annually, rising from $26k to $46k during the period.
By contrast, over the course of the next 27 years, and after Washington ended both the Bretton Woods gold standard anchor on money and the practice of balanced budgets, real median incomes grew by only 0.8% annually, rising to $57k by the year 2000.
Needless to say, its been all downhill since then. Real median income was $53k in 2014. That means median living standards of US households have been falling at a 0.5% annual rate since the turn of the century. There is no prior 15 year period that bad, including the 15 years after the 1929 crash.
(Click on figure to view.)
The argument of the Keynesians is that capitalism is a chronic underperformer. Left to its own devices it is always leaving idle labor and capital resources on the table, and is even prone to bouts of depressionary collapse absent the counter-cyclical ministrations of the state and its central banking branch.
Yet one measure of high resource utilization most surely would be the labor force participation rate.
As shown below, however, after the one-time boost of increased female participation after 1980, the trend has been in a nose-dive. And its not due to the baby-boom getting old and retiring.
The data in the graph are for the prime labor force age 16-54. Since the year 2000 — a time when the Fed’s balance sheet soared by 9X from $500 billion to $4.5 trillion — the prime age labor force participation rate has plummeted by 10 percentage points.
The exact same underutilization trend can be seen in the measures of aggregate labor hours. Even if productivity has turned punk, it might be thought that all this policy stimulus would flush labor hours into the economy.
But despite an increase from 212 million to 250 million of the working age population since the year 2000, there has been virtually no gains in labor hours utilized by the private business economy.
Stated differently, the jobs Friday revilers are operating on the simple-minded assumption that all headline jobs are created equal.
Yet in Q4 2014 the index of non-farm labor hours utilized by the business sector posted at 109.8 — virtually the identical level recorded in early 2000.
That’s right. After growing at a 1.6% annual rate for a half-century running (1953 to 2000), labor resourced deployed have flat-lined for the past 15 years.
Rather than contributing to higher utilization of resources, the massive, chronic stimulus policies of recent years have been associated with just the opposite.
The 15-year trend in the other important input to true growth and wealth creation — real net business investment — displays the same dismal pattern. Real net investment in business fixed assets is still lower than it was in 1998.
So when it comes to the building blocks of prosperity, policy stimulus has not been stimulating much of anything — except a slide downhill. And the reason is not hard to find.
The monetary politburo in the Eccles Building ignores all these fundamentals in order to focus on the short-run “incoming data”. It actually believes it is steering the business cycle as in times of yesteryear when the credit channel of monetary transmission still functioned effectively — even if destructively in the long-run.
But that was a one-time parlor trick. As we have consistently documented, households are at peak debt and on a net basis can no longer raise their leverage ratios to supplement wage and salary based income with more borrowings.
Likewise, business borrows in response the Fed’s dirt cheap cost of debt, but the proceeds go into financial engineering, not productive investment.
So the Fed blunders forward, oblivious to the fact that it is now 2015, not 1965, maintaining the lunacy of zero or soon near-zero interest rates. That maneuver creates floods of new credits, but in the form of gambling stakes which never leave the canyons of Wall Street.
So doing, they inflate financial assets values until they reach such absurd heights that they collapse of their own weight.
The Fed has thus become little more than a serial bubble machine. Tracking the incoming data during the intervals between financial boom and bust, it mistakes short run unsustainable gains for real economic growth. But overwhelmingly, this is comprised of temporary GDP and born again jobs.
That too was on display in Friday jobs report. For the second time this century we have had a boom in the part-time economy of jobs in bars, restaurants, retail, leisure and personal services.
These jobs on average represent 26 hours of work per week and average wage rates of around $14/hour, thereby generating less than $20k on an annual basis.
Since the top 10% of households account for upwards of 40% of consumer spending it is not hard to see what will happen next. When this third and greatest financial bubble of this century finally collapses, the bread and circuses jobs will vanish in a heartbeat.
Then perhaps the truth will sink in. Fifteen years of policy stimulus and absolutely noting to show for it. On a net basis, the only jobs created during this entire century are in the HES Complex (health, education and social services).
The thing is these jobs have nothing to do with cheap interest rates and easy credit. They are a function of the entitlement state and the massive $200 billion per year of tax subsidies which support employer-funded health benefits.
Needless to say, if you spend enough public money in the HES Complex you will get some job growth. You will eventually get a fiscal calamity, too.
So, if you like the non-Keynesian thinking (or at least Stockman's), then you'll want to cut social benefits (not the rich people's, of course) when we're in an economic no-growth cycle.
Or some godlike non-empathic action - refer to usual Federal Reserve policy. (No joking about the Old Testament fearsome god, here.)
Because no one is willing to say what the continuance of this economic non-growth-of-good-jobs cycle is sure to bring.
At least publicly.
My gods wouldn't be pleased.