Sunday, August 31, 2014

Happy Labor Day? (No, Not Really . . . Not At All In Fact) The USA Con Was A Very Long One - And Deep - One of the Greatest Causes of the Ever-Widening Income Gap:  A Bridge Straight to the 19th Century (Without Social Security or Security of Any Type)

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When I read any of Thomas Frank's books and essays I always marvel that his subject has also been mine for the last 30 years. And he's organized the arguments mathematically to back them up.

If you stopped watching Jim Cramer and the rest of CNBC's money/politics shills long ago, it was probably because you became aware of their long con game.

It's never changed.

And has only increased in velocity and acceleration.

Sunday, Aug 31, 2014

The 1 Percent’s Long Con:  Jim Cramer, the Tea Party’s Roots, and Wall Street’s Demented, Decades-Long Scheme

(TF's intro) Happy Labor Day. A few years ago, Eric Cantor used this holiday as one more occasion to celebrate business owners. To a lot of people, that sounded crazy. But in truth, it came straight out of the bull market ideology of the 1990s, a time when the nation came to believe that trading stocks was something that people in small towns did better than slicksters in New York, and when Wired magazine declared, in one of its many frenzied manifestoes, that “The rich, the former leisure class, are becoming the new overworked” and that “those who used to be considered the working class are becoming the new leisure class.” We were living in a “New Economy,” Americans said back then, and the most fundamental novelty of the age was an idea:   that markets were the truest expression of the will of the people. Of course the Beardstown Ladies were better at investing than the Wall Street pros; they were closer to the humble populist essence of markets. Of course the Millionaire Next Door was an average Joe who never showed off; that’s the kind of person on whom markets smile. And of course bosses were the new labor movement, leading us in the march toward a luminous economic democracy. Ugh. I got so sick of the stuff that I wrote a whole book on it:  One Market Under God, which was published by Doubleday just as the whole thing came to a crashing end. Here is an excerpt:

The DowJones Industrial Average crossed the 10,000 mark in March of 1999, a figure so incomprehensibly great that it was anyone’s guess what it signified. The leaders of American opinion reacted as though we had achieved some heroic national goal, as though, through some colossal feat of collective optimism, we had entered at long last into the promised land of riches for all.
On television, the rounds of triumphal self-congratulation paused for a nasty rebuke to the very idea of financial authority brought to you by the online brokerage E*Trade, a company that had prospered as magnificently as anyone from the record-breaking run-up:  “Your investments helped pay for this dream house,” declared a snide voice-over. “Unfortunately, it belongs to your broker.” And behold:  There was the scoundrel himself, dressed in a fine suit and climbing out of a Rolls Royce with a haughty-looking woman on his arm.
Go ahead and believe it, this sponsor cajoled:  Wall Street is just as corrupt, as elitist, and as contemptuous toward its clients as you’ve always suspected. There should be no intermediaries between you and the national ATM machine in downtown Manhattan. You needed to plug yourself in directly to the source of the millions, invert the hierarchy of financial authority once and for all. “Now the power is in your hands.”
In the rival series of investment fairy tales broadcast by the Discover online brokerage (a curious corporate hybrid of Sears and J. P. Morgan) a cast of rude, dismissive executives, yawning and scowling, were getting well-deserved payback at the hands of an array of humble everymen.
Again the tables of traditional workplace authority were rudely overturned by the miracle of online investing:  The tow-truck drivers, hippies, grandmas, and bartenders to whom the hateful company men had condescended were revealed to be Midases in disguise who, with a little help from the Discover system, now owned their own countries, sailed yachts, hobnobbed with royalty, and performed corporate buyouts — all while clinging to their humble, unpretentious ways and appearances just for fun.
And oh, how the man in the suit would squirm as his social order was turned upside down!

In the commercials for his online brokerage, Charles Schwab appeared in honest black and white, informing viewers in his down-home way how his online brokerage service worked, how it cut through the usual Wall Street song and dance, how you could now look up information from your own home. “It’s the final step in demystification,” he said. “This internet stuff is about freedom. You’re in control.”
To illustrate the point other Schwab commercials paraded before viewers a cast of regular people (their names were given as “Howard,” “Rick,” and “Marion”) who shared, in what looked like documentary footage, their matter-of-fact relationship with the market — the ways they used Schwab-dot-com to follow prices, how they bought on the dips, how they now performed all sorts of once-arcane financial operations completely on their own. The stock market was about Rick and Marion, not Charlie Schwab.
In another of the great stock market parables of that golden year, the Ricks and Marions of the world were imagined in a far more insurgent light. Now the common people were shown smashing their way into the stock exchange, breaking down its pretentious doors, pouring through its marble corridors, smashing the glass in the visitors’ gallery windows and sending a rain of shards down on the money changers in the pit — all to an insurgent Worldbeat tune.
As it turned out, this glimpse of the People Triumphant in revolution — surely one of the only times, in that century of red-hunting and labor-warring, that Americans had ever been asked by a broadcasting network to understand such imagery as a positive thing — was brought to you by Datek, still another online trading house. What the people were overthrowing was not capitalism itself but merely the senseless “wall” that the voice-over claimed always “stood between you and serious trading.”
Exactly! As the century spun to an end, more and more of the market’s biggest thinkers agreed that “revolution” was precisely what was going on here. Thus it occurred to the owners of Individual Investor magazine to send gangs of costumed guerrillas, dressed in berets and armbands, around Manhattan to pass out copies of an “Investment Manifesto” hailing the “inalienable right” of “every man and woman . . . to make money—and lots of it.”
Meanwhile, the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts ran ads in print and on TV in which a casually dressed father and his young son capered around the towering office blocks of a big city downtown. “Do we own all this, Dad?” queried the tot. “In a way we do,” answered his father. This land is their land — not because they have bought it outright, like Al, the country-owning tow-truck driver in the Discover spots, but in a more intangible, populist, Woody Guthrie sort of way:   Because they have invested in REITs.
Not to be outdone by such heavy-handed deployment of 1930s-style imagery, J. P. Morgan, the very personification of Wall Street’s former power and arrogance, filled its ads with hyper-realistic black and white close-ups of its employees, many of them visibly non-white or non-male. Literally putting a face on the secretive WASP redoubt of financial legend, the ads reached to establish that Morgan brokers, like Schwab brokers, were people of profound humility.
“I will take my clients seriously,” read one. “And myself, less so.” The ads even gave the names and e-mail addresses of the Morgan employees in question, a remarkable move for a firm whose principal had once been so uninterested in serving members of the general public that he boasted to Congress that he didn’t even put the company’s name on its outside door.
Faced with this surprisingly universal embrace of its original populist campaign against Wall Street, E*trade tried to push it even farther:  The changes in American investing habits that had brought it such success were in fact nothing less than a social “revolution,” an uprising comparable to the civil rights and feminist movements. In its 1999 annual report, entitled “From One Revolution To the Next,” E*trade used photos of black passengers sitting in the back of a bus (“1964: They Said Equality Was Only For Some of Us”) and pre-emancipated white women sitting in the hilarious hairdryers of the 1960s (“1973: They Said Women Would Never Break Through the Glass Ceiling”) to establish E*Trade itself as the rightful inheritor of the spirit of “revolution.”
The brokerage firm made it clear that the enemy to be overthrown on its sector of the front was social class:   Next to a photo of a man in a suit and a row of columns, a page of text proclaimed, “They said there are ‘the haves’ and the ‘have-nots.’” But E*trade, that socialist of the stock exchange, was changing all that: “In the 21st century it’s about leveling the playing field and democratizing individual personal financial services.” The company’s CEO concluded this exercise in radicalism with this funky rallying cry:   “Bodacious! The revolution continues.”
Whatever mysterious forces were propelling the market in that witheringly hot summer of 1999, the crafters of its public facade seemed to agree that what was really happening was the arrival, at long last, of economic democracy. While the world of finance had once been a stronghold of WASP privilege, an engine of elite enrichment, journalist and PR-man alike agreed that it had been transformed utterly, been opened to all.
This bull market was the götterdammerung of the ruling class, the final victory of the common people over their former overlords. Sometimes this “democratization” was spoken of as a sort of social uprising, a final victory of the common people over the snobbish, old-guard culture of Wall Street. Sometimes it was said to be the market itself that had worked these great changes, that had humiliated the suits, that handed out whole islands to mechanics, that had permitted little old ladies to cavort with kings. And sometimes “democratization” was described as a demographic phenomenon, a reflection of the large percentage of the nation’s population that was now entrusting their savings to the market.
However they framed the idea, Wall Street had good reason to understand public participation as a form of democracy. As the symbol and the actual center of American capitalism, the financial industry has both the most to lose from a resurgence of anti-business sentiment and the most to gain from the ideological victory of market populism.
For a hundred years the financial industry had been the chief villain in the imagination of populist reformers of all kinds; for sixty years now banks, brokers, and exchanges have labored at least partially under the regulations those earlier populists proposed.
And Wall Street has never forgotten the melodrama of crash, arrogance, and New Deal anger that gave birth to those regulations. To this day Wall Street leaders see the possibility of a revived New Deal spirit around every corner; they fight not merely to keep the interfering liberals out of power, but to keep order in their own house, to ensure that the public relations cataclysm of 1929-32 is never repeated.
This is why so much of the bull market culture of the Nineties reads like a long gloss on the experience of the 1930s, like a running battle with the memory of the Depression.
Take the stagnant-to-declining real wages of American workers, for example. A central principle of “New Economy” thought is that growth and productivity gains have been severed from wage increases and handed over instead to top management and shareholders.
Since the redistributionist policies of “big government” are now as impermissible as union organizing, stocks of necessity have become the sole legitimate avenue for the redistribution of wealth.
In other eras such an arrangement would have seemed an obvious earmark of a badly malfunctioning economic system, a system designed to funnel everything into the pockets of the already wealthy, since that’s who owns most of the stock.
After all, workers can hardly be expected to buy shares if they can’t afford them.
But toss the idea of an ongoing financial “democratization” into the mix, and presto:  Now the lopsided transformation of productivity gains into shareholder value is an earmark of fairness — because those shareholders are us!
Sure, workers here and there are going down, but others, through the miracle of stocks, are on their way up. Furthermore, ownership of stock among workers themselves, an ideologue might assert, more than made up for the decade’s stagnant wages. What capital took away with one hand, it was reasoned, it gave back with the other — and with interest.
This idea of stock prices compensating for lost or stagnant wages had long been a favorite ideological hobbyhorse of the corporate right, implying as it did that wealth was created not on the factory floor but on Wall Street and that workers only shared in it by the grace of their options-granting CEO.
What was different in the 1990s was that, as the Nasdaq proceeded from triumph to triumph, economists and politicians of both parties came around to this curious notion, imagining that we had somehow wandered into a sort of free-market magic kingdom, where the ever-ascending Dow could be relied upon to solve just about any social problem.
Now we could have it all:   We could slash away at the welfare state, hobble the unions, downsize the workforce, and send the factories overseas — and no one got hurt!
Naturally the idea was first rolled out for public viewing in the aftermath of a serious public relations crisis for Wall Street.
One fine day in January, 1996, AT&T announced it was cutting 40,000 white-collar jobs from its workforce; in response Wall Street turned cartwheels of joy, sending the company’s price north and personally enriching the company’s CEO by some $5 million.
The connection of the two events was impossible to overlook, as was its meaning:   What’s bad for workers is good for Wall Street.
Within days the company was up to its neck in Old Economy-style vituperation from press and politicians alike. Then a golden voice rang through the din, promoting a simple and “purely capitalist” solution to “this heartless cycle”:  Let Them Eat Stocks,” proclaimed one James Cramer from the cover of The New Republic.
“Just give the laid-off employees stock options,” advised Cramer, a hedge fund manager by trade who in his spare time dispensed investment advice on TV and in magazines, and “let them participate in the stock appreciation that their firings caused.”
There was, of course, no question as to whether AT&T was in the right in what it had done:  the need to be competitive” justified all. It’s just that such brusque doings opened the door to cranks and naysayers who could potentially make things hot for Wall Street.
Buttressing his argument with some neat numbers proving that, given enough options, the downsized could soon be — yes — millionaires, Cramer foresaw huge benefits to all in the form of bitterness abatement and government intervention avoidance.
He also noted that no company then offered such a “stock option severance plan.” But the principle was the thing, and in principle one could not hold the stock market responsible; in principle the interests of all parties concerned could be fairly met without recourse to such market-hostile tools as government or unions.
And in ideology all one requires is principle. Thus it turned out to be a short walk indeed from Cramer’s modest proposal to a generalized belief in the possibility of real social redress through stocks. After all, since anyone can buy stocks, we had only ourselves to blame if we didn’t share in the joy.
The argument was an extremely flexible one, capable of materializing in nearly any circumstance. In a November, 1999 think-piece addressing the problem of union workers angered by international trade agreements,New York Times writer found that they suffered from “confusion” since even as they protested, their 401(k)s were “spiking upward” due to “ever-freer trade.” 
To Lester Thurow, the answer to massive and growing inequality was not to do some kind of redistribution or reorganization but to “widen the skill base” so that anyone could “work for entrepreneurial companies” and thus have access to stock optionsFor lesser bull market rhapsodists the difference between “could” and “is” simply disappeared in the blissful haze.
Egalitarian options were peeking out of every pocket. The cover of the July, 1999 issue of Money carried a photo of a long line of diverse, smiling workers — a familiar populist archetype — under the caption, “The employees of Actuate all get valuable stock options.” Inside, the magazine enthused about how options “are winding up in the shirt pockets of employees with blue collars, plaid collars and, increasingly, no collars at all.”
By decade’s end the myth of the wage/stock tradeoff was so widely accepted that its truest believers were able to present it as a historical principle, as our final pay-off for enduring all those years of deindustrialization and downsizing.
In a January, 2000 Wall Street Journal feature story on how the good times were filtering down to the heartland folks of Akron, Ohio — a rust belt town that had been hit hard by the capital flight of the Seventies and Eighties — the soaring stock market was asserted to have gone “a long way in supplanting the insecurity of the 1980s, when the whole notion of employment for life was shattered, with something else: a sense of well-being.”
Yes, their factories had closed — but just look at them now! The Journal found a blue-collar Akron resident who played golf! And an entrepreneur who drove a MercedesWho needed government when they options?
The actual effect of widespread use of stock options in lieu of wages, of course, was the opposite. Options did not bring about some sort of New Economy egalitarianism; they were in fact one of the greatest causes of the ever widening income gap.
It was options that inflated the take home pay of CEOs to a staggering 419 times what their average line-worker made; it was options that unleashed the torrent of downsizing, outsourcing, and union busting. When options were given out to employees — a common enough practice in Silicon Valley by decade’s end — they often came in lieu of wages, thus permitting firms to conceal their payroll expenses
In any case, the growth of 401(k)s, even in the best of markets, could hardly be enough to compensate for declining wages, and it was small comfort indeed for those whose downsizing-induced problems came at age 25, or 35, or 45. Options were a tool of wealth concentration, a bridge straight to the Nineteenth century.
And yet the fans of the bull market found it next to impossible to talk about options in this way. Only one interpretation, one explanatory framework seemed to be permissible when speaking of investing or finance — the onward march of democracy.
Anything could be made to fit:  The popularity of day trading, the growth of the mutual fund industry, the demise of Barings bank, the destruction of the Thai currency. The bubble being blown on Wall Street was an ideological one as much as it was anything else, with succeeding interpretations constantly heightening the rhetoric of populist glory. It was an “Investing Revolution!” It was all about “empowerment”!
And there were incredible prizes to be won as long as the bubble continued to swell, as long as the fiction of Wall Street as an alternative to democratic government became more and more plausible. Maybe the Glass-Steagall act could finally be repealed; maybe the SEC could finally be grounded; maybe antitrust could finally be halted.
And, most enticingly of all, maybe Social Security could finally be “privatized” in accordance with the right-wing fantasy of long standing.
True, it would be a staggering historical reversal for Democrats to consider such a scheme, but actually seeing it through would require an even more substantial change of image on Wall Street’s part.
The financiers would have to convince the nation that they were worthy of the charge, that they were as public-minded and as considerate of the little fellow as Franklin Roosevelt himself had been.
Although one mutual fund company actually attempted this directly — showing footage of FDR signing the Social Security Act in 1935 and proclaiming, “Today, we’re picking up where he left off” — most chose a warmer, vaguer route, showing us heroic tableaux of hardy midwesterners buying and holding amidst the Nebraska corn, of World War II vets day-trading from their suburban rec-rooms, of athletes talking like insiders, of church ladies phoning in their questions for the commentator on CNBC; of mom and pop posting their very own fire-breathing defenses of Microsoft on the boards at Raging Bull.

This was a boom driven by democracy itself, a boom of infinite possibilities, a boom that could never end.

Excerpted with permission from “One Market Under God” (Doubleday Books).

Thomas Frank

Thomas Frank is a Salon politics and culture columnist. His many books include What's The Matter With Kansas, Pity the Billionaire and One Market Under God.  He is the founding editor of The Baffler magazine.


That privatization of Social Security is a done deal in Obama's last two (but astonishingly productive) years.

Enjoy the riches, peasants.

(Or get organized and stop that train!)

Big Dan and Bill Moyers and Paul Krugman are also awaiting your attention.

Big Dan:  You Can Be Assured That Agent Provocateurs Are "LOOTING" And Throwing "MOLOTOV COCKTAILS" In Ferguson

Bill Moyers and Paul Krugman:  What the 1% Don’t Want Us to Know

I'm not here.

How about you?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The ISIS Panic Dynamo (Gunter Grass Was Right) Militarist Lunatics In Charge At Price of Decent Civilization?

Does the link below sound familiar?

It should.

Seems we all live in our cars now.

They had nice plans for our country back in the good ole days (of the amiable Reagunites), didn't they?

And it took 30 years to go into full effect.

Progress - our most important product.


Woman Dies in Her Car While Taking a Nap Between Working Four Jobs

Various people were quite upset when probably the most famous living German novelist, poet, playwright, illustrator, graphic artist, sculptor,  Günter Grass (Die Blechtrommel (The Tin Drum), The Danzig Trilogy and Die Rättin (The Rat)), the recipient of the 1999 Nobel Prize in Literature, condemned the Israelis in 2012 in a pithy poem "What Must Be Said" (where he also outed the Germans for selling them submarines with nuclear warhead capability).

Israel banned Grass from Israel (actually declared him persona non grata).

For telling the truth.

How's that for a Truther*?

Gunter Grass Was Right

With his controversial poem on Israel and Iran, Günter Grass has irritated, provoked and outraged people everywhere. As Germany’s greatest living writer and a Nobel laureate in literature, he has also raised a question both inconvenient and impolite. How can decent people support a preemptive war against Iran for moving ever closer to a limited nuclear capability and, at the same time, turn a blind eye to Israel’s extensive arsenal of existing atomic bombs?
Especially in a country with so much Jewish blood on its hands, this is – or was – a question that no Good German should ask in public. It was even more verboten when asked by someone who had belatedly admitted that as a teenager he had served, however briefly, in the Nazi paramilitary unit, the Waffen SS. But the 84-year-old Grass dared to break the taboo. He spoke out and said “What Must Be Said.”

Yet why do I hesitate to name
that other land in which
for years — although kept secret —
a growing nuclear power has existed
beyond supervision or verification,
subject to no inspection of any kind?
Predicting he would be branded an anti-Semite, as he has been in full measure, Grass named Israel and called its atomic power a threat to “an already fragile world peace.” Nor did he stop there. He berated his own country for complicity by selling the Israelis “yet another submarine equipped to transport nuclear warheads.”
Germany had already given Israel two Dolphin-class submarines, and subsidized one-third of the $540 million cost of another. The Germans are planning to similarly subsidize the sale of the latest submarine.
Nuclear arms and submarines are enough to drag down any poem, and “What Must Be Said” lacks elegance and grace, at least in the English translation by Breon Mitchell. But as a poet, Grass risks even more in suggesting a political solution.
Our leaders should renounce the use of force, he writes, directly countering Obama’s insistence on keeping a military option on the table. And they should “insist that the governments of both Iran and Israel allow an international authority free and open inspection of the nuclear potential and capability of both.”

No other course offers help
to Israelis and Palestinians alike,
to all those living side by side in enmity
in this region occupied by illusions,
and ultimately, to all of us.
Will any significant world leader take up the challenge and publicly support such an even-handed and common-sense approach? Not if the Israeli government of Bibi Netanyahu and his defenders in Europe and the United States have their way. Their purpose in reviling Grass as a Nazi and anti-Semite is precisely to silence anyone who might even consider following his lead.
Odds are that their campaign of vilification will succeed, at least in the short term. But they may be overplaying their hand. In Germany, most of the great and good came down against Grass and his breaking of the old taboo against attacking Israel. But once Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai banned Grass from entering the country, German politicians of all stripes have criticized Israel for its “absurd overreaction.” Even more encouraging, few leaders in the rest of Europe have picked up the cudgels against Grass, while several prominent Israelis have publicly rejected any suggestion that he is an anti-Semite.
One might see in all this evidence that growing numbers of people, Jews as well as non-Jews, are growing sick and tired of the old smear. Europe, the United States and several Muslim countries have enough instances of real Jew-hating that crying wolf just to stifle debate has become reckless and counter-productive. One might also see in the current furor signs that both Israel and Germany are becoming “normal countries,” though Grass would be the first to insist that he and his fellow Germans are “tarnished by a stain that can never be removed.”
But, “What Must Be Said” has little time to act as a brake on a dangerous military catastrophe, as Grass still hopes it will.

For all the Obama administration’s diplomatic efforts through Turkey and others, the Israeli-American war on Iran kicked off covertly years ago with the training of dissident Mujahideen-e-Khalq terrorists and their targeted killings of Iranian scientists and engineers, as well as with the Struxnet cyberattacks on the Iranian centrifuges.

Open war appears almost certain (to) follow, and the only thing likely to stop it would be for hundreds of thousands of voices to call on world leaders to heed Grass’ warning.


Gunther Grass was writing about the policies of the State of Israel. A "state" is a political artifact; Judaism is a religion; the Jewish people are a "nation," or more accurately, several nations. These are three separate entities.
Israel is a multi-national state composed of immigrant Ashkenazim from Europe and Sephardim from North Africa and the Middle East, Beta Israel from Africa and Temanim from Yemen, apostates from Russia, expatriates from America and autochthonous Palestinians: Jews, Samaritans, Druze, and Arabs, both Christian and Muslim.
Managing a muli-national state is difficult. Ask the Romans, Ottomans and Hapsburgs who had to do it for centuries.
Nazi is short for NSDAP, Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterspartei, National Socialist German Workers Party. It is a political party, which for a time formed the government in Germany. Calling every German soldier a Nazi is like calling every American soldier who served in Iraq a Republican, or Repug for short, because that war was initiated by a Republican administration.
If Israel, the state, cannot be criticized because to do so would instantly call into question the charge of racism, then that response becomes a non-falsifiable proposition and there would be no point in having any discussions whatsoever. However, Israel is a "state," which has policies with international ramifications, and like all political states, those policies can and must be under review by the world community with which it shares physical space.

*On 26 April 2012, Grass wrote a poem criticizing European policy for the treatment of Greece in the European sovereign-debt crisis. In the poem, called "Europe's Disgrace," Grass accuses Europe of condemning Greece into poverty, a country "whose mind conceived, Europe."[19][20]

Essentially, this (an economy based on the constant funding of war and greedy domestic manipulators) is the ongoing price the citizens of the U.S. pay for not having a managed economy that ensures the creation of good jobs, which enhance the lives of all citizens (and supplies stable government support for those who need it), instead of just allowing certain designated wealthy people to control the economy (outside of the military budget) in order to enhance only their (and their friends' and representatives') lives. (Thank you, Raygunistas!)

From never-ending terrification media blitzes about babies pulled from isolettes and killed before the Iraq Invasion to beheadings of USAID-CIA-funded journalists before the next round of middle-eastern mayhem . . .

From my buddy, Chuck Dupree at Bad Attitudes:

August 26, 2014
Our Economy Needs Global Conflict

I understand why some folks think it’s cynical to impute motive to action, especially when doing so reflects poorly on them or those they admire. But explain to me if you would the problems with this formulation:  we sell weapons to countries who shouldn’t have them because (1) it keeps our economy humming (along the lines of what Chomsky calls the Pentagon system), and (2) Congress consistently manages to find a way around its own laws prohibiting the sale of arms to human rights violators because (1).
Once these high-powered weapons are in such questionable hands it’s only a matter of time before they’re used. No, I’m not talking about Ferguson, Missouri, but about the United Arab Emirates (UAE), currently bombing Libya using weapons we built and sold to them. They did not, in the event, feel it necessary to notify the US, let alone seek support, possibly indicating how much they fear America’s wrath.

The first air strikes took place a week ago, focusing on targets in Tripoli held by the militias, including a small weapons depot, according to the [New York] Times. Six people were killed in the bombing. A second round was conducted south of the city early on Saturday targeting rocket launchers, military vehicles and a warehouse, according to the newspaper.

Those strikes may have represented a bid to prevent the capture of the Tripoli airport, but the militia forces eventually prevailed and seized control of it despite the air attacks.

The UAE — which has spent billions on US-manufactured warplanes and other advanced weaponry — provided the military aircraft, aerial refuelling planes and aviation crews to bomb Libya, while Egypt offered access to its airbases, the paper said.
Somehow that feels weird to me. A country the size of South Carolina with a population less than that of North Carolina has aerial refuelling planes and the expertise to pull off a combat mission using them, though admittedly there were probably few air defenses to contend with.
In light of such disarray, some will argue, we can’t afford to pull out of the Middle East conflict. Just as the weapons dealers wanted, we’ve sold too many weapons there to walk away now; it’d be a bloodbath. But it’s politically impossible to do the only useful thing, which is pressure the Israeli government until it begins to attend to the popular will. That, however, would set a bad precedent that might be recognized here at home.

Posted by Charles D on August 27, 2014:

Quite true, Chuck. This works here at home too. We declare a phony war on drugs making a product people desperately want illegal, then we refuse to take any rational steps toward gun control, then we of course have to militarize our police because the crazed druggies have access to heavy duty firearms.
One of the great Pentagon spending critics referred to this phenomenon as the "self-licking ice cream cone". He was referring to the fact that big "defense" contracts are split up among subcontractors who just happen to be in key Congressional districts around the country. Even if the generals decide that a weapons system is unnecessary, the people's alleged representatives in Congress fund the damn thing anyway because otherwise they would lose jobs in their district.
The military/industrial/national-security complex has this nation by the short hairs.

And speaking of "threat inflation," we learn minutely why it's seen by some as time to induce ISIS panic (including nightmare reporting and suspicious beheading photos/videos (which have been utilized very successfully for this same purpose in the past)).

For a supposedly civilized country you'd think beheadings wouldn't be leading our now mostly tabloid newscasts.

And you'd think "they'd" think more of our memory and our reasoning ability, wouldn't you?

But, wait.

August 27, 2014

The Latest Round of Threat Inflation

The ISIS Panic

by Michael Brenner

The grotesque beheading of James Foley is stirring passions in Washington policy circles.  From the highest levels of the Obama administration to the media pundits, emotions are flaring over what the United States should/could do. The act in itself has changed nothing insofar as ISIS’ threat to the United States and its significance for Middle East politics are concerned. It is the mood that has been transformed. Irresistible impulse is displacing cool deliberation.
The flood of commentary, as usual, reveals little in the way of rigorous logic but much in the way of disjointed thinking and unchecked emotion. Also as usual, tactics eclipse strategy. Secretary Hagel pronounces IS the gravest threat from Islamist militancy “beyond anything we have seen….an imminent threat to everything we have….a 9/11 level threat.” 
General Dempsey asserts that IS poses an “immediate” threat and cannot be “defeated without addressing that part of the organization that resides in Syria and use all means at our disposal. General John Allen who commanded American forces in Afghanistan, calls on President Obama to wipe out ISIS – whatever it takes. That is to say, a feat neither he nor his nine fellow commanders never came close to achieving in Afghanistan
Rick Perry, as headlined in the NYT, warns that the immediate danger is not on the Euphrates or Tigris but the Rio Grande where IS infiltrators already have entered the United States (presumably disguised as Honduran teenagers).
Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, the self-appointed joint chiefs  of “bomber command,” vociferously demand that we hammer IS – although it is not clear where IS stands on the priority list of the many bad guys the hawkish duo insist we must bomb.
These bits of fragmentary diagnosis and prescription – even the sober ones – are not very helpful.
Let’s get down to basics:  national interests, threat assessment; measures of a successful policy. We cannot interpret what it means to “defeat” IS until we specify exactly what it is we are worrying about. Is it terrorism launched against the United States (a la 9/11) from the territories they control? Is it toppling the Baghdad government? Toppling the Kurdish government? Invading Jordan or Saudi Arabia? Presenting a long-term terrorist threat in the region that will destabilize governments we want to be stable?
These variations of the threat present very different kinds of challenges. They affect American interests in different ways in different magnitudes. They are susceptible to different types of action – by the U.S. or by others.
Airstrikes are only pertinent to threats 2, 3 and 4, with the likelihood and degree of their effectiveness still highly uncertain. “Boots on the ground?” Well, we had a very large force in Iraq for eight years and that did not prevent the emergence of IS from the wounded body of al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia. This enemy is even more formidable.
Nor could a new invasion protect the United States from direct terrorist acts.
Complete elimination of IS from the territories they occupy is a near impossibility; moreover, to eliminate it permanently as General Allen demands is even more improbable. That is the dilemma we’ve faced with the Taliban in Afghanistan and which for more than a decade we have refused to recognize much less try seriously to solve.  Moreover, territorial control for training bases, indoctrination centers, planning cells, etc. is greatly over-rated.  Al-Qaeda did not need very much to set in motion the 9/11 attacks. The operational planning and coordination was done in Hamburg and the tactical execution managed from New Jersey.
There is a more general lesson to be learned from this latest exercise in ad hoc policy-making by press conferenceThe insistence of senior officials to speak at length in public on these complex, sensitive matters when there is no set policy is inimical to serious planning and diplomacy
If they feel compelled to react to events to satisfy the media and an agitated populace, they should just say a few well chosen words and then declare themselves on the way to an important meeting – preferably not in Martha’s Vineyard.
Silence, though, is taken to be tantamount to death in the egocentric media age where image is all – confusing random motion with focused action.  The ensuing storm of static in our public space is invasive.  It destroys the ability to reflect, to assess, to ponder, to imagine.  We have come to ‘think’ in sound bites as well as to talk in sound bites. 
This is the ultimate endpoint of a political culture where we spend more time trying to sort ourselves out than actually doing anything.
To put it bluntly, there is a persuasive argument to be made that the country would be well served if our leaders observed a moratorium on public statements for several days – ignoring the vain media, the not very knowledgeable or insightful pundits, and the blow-hard politicians – and devoted themselves to some concentrated hard thinking.  Serious governments, especially that of a super power, do not conduct their foreign relations in a state of histrionics.
We should be able to do (a) better job of policy analysis than what we have seen to date re: IS – and what we have seen during the entire GWOT era. The failure to meet a reasonable standard of sound deliberation and skillful execution has produced a national tragedy. That is an embarrassing commentary on the state of the American government.

(Michael Brenner is a Professor of International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh.)

Are the people in control of this country (no matter the nuance) just bomb-bomb-bomb militarist lunatics?

Funded deeply by greedy interests who will make another pile of money as the world is blown into bits?

What became of the American thinkers/scholars/philosophers?

Have they been anesthetized?

Or banned in the USA USA USA?

From my buddy at :

Why I Follow the Right

Every couple of years I try to explain why I take such an interest in a seemingly small group of right wing lunatics. Motivated by a request from Sammy, here's what I have to say now:

I first began to take an interest in deviant political, religious and scientific beliefs in the late 1960's. I was a university student at the time, and in the course of studying medieval manuscripts I found myself spending a good deal of time in the university's rare book collection.  One day I discovered that someone had left them what was believed to be the world's largest collection of fringe literature.

I started to read this material, and found myself fascinated. I made a discovery there:  in the course of my studies I had taken quite a few philosophy courses, and eventually found that, when a person believes something for a rational reason, it tells you very little about the person, except that he is rational.  But when a person believes things for irrational reasons, that reveals all sorts of things about not only that person, but about human nature in general, and not the good side of human nature.

As an adjunct to that reading, I discovered that I could receive at night the signal from radio station KXEL in Waterloo, Iowa, a 50,000-watt clear channel station which had been entirely religious in its content, but was in the process of developing right wing political broadcasting, with such early figures as the Reverend Carl McIntyre, Reverend Stuart Mc Burney, and the overtly political and very right wing Voice of Americanism with Melvin Munn, a show financed by the Hunt Brothers, oil men who were the sixties equivalent of today's Koch Brothers.

At the same time, I began to become involved in left-wing politics.  I participated in and helped to organize many marches, and was present for a couple of the big Washington protests.  I saw a real movement, which could mobilize tens or hundreds of thousands of people in cities all across the country in days, with hardly any sort of backing.  I felt what it was like to be a part of a real political phenomenon like that, to feel the power in the air.

Well, the days of Vietnam and civil rights protests died away, but the crazy people on the right never did.  Though they represented, during the seventies, the eighties and the nineties, a laughably small group of lunatic haters, they still survived in some way. It was in the nineties that one of our political parties, seeing perfectly well what our nation's demographics held in store for them, made a devil's pact with these people, and began fun(n)elling money and professional organizational skill into their movements, in the very mistaken belief that they could control the creature they created, and bend it to their wills.

But the craziness and fanaticism proved so much stronger than the wills of the Republican political elite, and step by step, the Republican party was forced to act as though views that were in fact an abhorrent aberration were perfectly legitimate; and in far too many cases the Republicans themselves adopted these attitudes.

One of the worst of these views is not explicitly political at all.  It comes from the false religion which is Evangelical Christianity, and consists in the belief that, because they are following the will of God, any tactic, no matter how disgusting to outsiders, is justified. This is hardly a view unique to evangelicals, as we can see in the Middle East today, but it is no more acceptable on this side of the Atlantic than it is there.  Through this licensing of bad behavior, which the right granted itself, the malign tactics of the far right worked their way into the mainstream along with their malign views.

I continued, as the years went by, to pay what attention I could to this phenomenon, which accelerated massively when the internet came into being. Here, the most vicious racism, hatred and greed could be given a cheap veneer of rationality, so that websites proliferated that catered to the worst in human nature, very often funded by wealthy groups and individuals who would never admit their role, and who did not realize what a monster they were creating.

I took an interest in the Tea Party in particular, and began attending their rallies from the very beginning.  Here is what I found:   I felt not one shred of the immense power that was palpable at the great Vietnam and Civil Rights marches; instead, I saw a small, pathetic group of people who had been conned into participating in activities they did not understand, and who were serving as pawns for the financiers of their activities.

I have spent my working life in film and television production, and because of that, here is something else I saw:   I saw these rallies systematically packaged to appear to be mass events, exactly the way we create illusions on the screen.  I saw the result of huge sums of money spent to create the false impression that these small events were manifestations of a national movement that spoke for a large segment of the American people, when of course they really spoke for little more than the will of the rich, with nothing they said or did being more important than lower taxes and deregulation.

I saw something else, too.  I saw the mainstream press, which had, through Reagan administration deregulation, come to be owned almost entirely by huge corporations, collaborate in this spectacle.

Activities like the last Washington anti-war march, which attracted somewhere around 350,000 people, were entirely shut out of the news, while, for example, the pathetic spectacle surrounding the fate of Terry Schiavo, which, as far as I have ever been able to tell, never attracted more than a few dozen protesters at any one time, were for years portrayed as  proof of the existence of a mass national movement, dedicated, as always, to the issues of tax cuts for the rich and deregulation for their companies - the only real goal this movement has.

The Tea Party remains, at this point, the apex of this representation of a virtually nonexistent movement as a great political force, whose desires must be honored. Yet, over and over again, as I have documented for years now, when given the opportunity to demonstrate their presence and their power, the events they hold have been miserable failures, culminating in three highly publicized mass marches on Washington in the last year to force Obama from office, none of which managed to draw more than a few hundred people.

Yet Republicans in Congress continue to cite this imaginary mass movement as an excuse to destroy our government unless it caters to the interests of the super-rich, which the movement, they claim, exists to support.  And in recent years, a new phenomenon has emerged - many Republican leaders and spokesmen openly inciting violence against the government.  
This has come close to a mass gun battle at the Bundy Ranch, and as long as these malicious officials continue their promotion of right wing hatred, the day cannot be far off when a really apocalyptic scene will take place, which has the potential to make the Branch Dividians look like small timers.  At that point, who knows what Ted Cruz, Louie Gohmert and Sarah Palin will deliberately do to damage our country, but it certainly has the likelihood of being the worst thing to happen to us since the Southern treason of the Civil War.

Well, enough.  That's why I take this phenomenon seriously, although I continue to demonstrate that it is not a mass movement.  It is a potential rebellion financed by a few ultra-rich would be dictators, and it needs to be revealed for what it is.
Magpie said...
I really enjoyed this post. I just want to add that while all these things may have their American particularities (and I am reminded of the quite hysterical fear US conservatives have of statism) - and that’s where the focus of your concern is... the malevolent Right or its analogues are found all over the world. In groups large and frightening to redneck thugs pathetic and small, from individuals stupid and ignorant to individuals cunning but corrupt, there is always someone who has decided that someone else must suffer so that they might feel powerful, or someone else who must be kept poor so that their own undeserved privileges might never end. The reason I am wary of the Right is that even their less lunatic stalwarts will climb into bed with the most vile forces in society if it suits them. By and large, the Left is self-aware and self-policing. Doesn’t matter how liberal I am… none of you will forgive me for being a racist, or a war criminal, or a religious nut or even not paying my taxes. The Right will excuse or justify all if it’s useful to their own aims, and then rewrite history to say they were nice ones. August 28, 2014 at 2:49 AM
Anonymous Anonymous said...
"Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice." BS, look how the extremists are ruining the country. August 28, 2014 at 3:23 AM

Today's laugh RIOT (as if this shouldn't become a permanent blog fixture):

A Panda Pretended To Be Pregnant To Get More Food

For two months Ai Hin, a panda living in a Chinese zoo, managed to trick her caretakers into thinking she was pregnant — startling behavior that suggests the bear knew she would be getting extra food and an air-conditioned room all to herself. She accomplished this all by just eating more, moving less, and raising her hormone levels. You might say that this panda (that) *puts on sunglasses* is smarter than your average bear.

China! Panda!

Now there"s a truther.

Oh, to be here.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Obama Drafted To Expand BushWar to Syria (Only the Palest Background Is Acceptable to NeoLibs?  NPR/PBS Robbing/Nooners Alert) Please Stop Electing Morons! (Bob Woodward:  Terrorist for the Old Guard?) Gaza's Moral Perversity (The Body In What Street?)

Contributions to this blog's operation are always welcome. Thanks for your support!

Sorry today's essay is sooo long, but stupid stuff keeps happening.

And happening.

And happening.

A tall, cool one should suffice.

Maybe two.


Obama Declares War on Syria

by Stephen Lendman

The Islamic State is the pretext. Syria is the target. At issue is regime change.

It's replacing its sovereign independence with pro-Western stooge governance. It's wanting unchallenged regional control.

It's wanting Big Oil exploiting its resources. It's wanting Iran isolated. It's aiding Israel's Greater Middle East agenda.

It's making the world safe for war profiteers. It's about colonizing nations.

It's advancing America's imperium. It's about carving up whole continents belligerently. It's doing so for dominance and profits.

It's about justifying might over right. It's about destroying nations to save them.

It's about calling imperial exploitation economic development. It's about glorifying war in the name of peace.

It has nothing to do with democratic values. It's not about humanitarian intervention or responsibility to protect.

It's expanding Obama's Iraq aggression cross-border. It's violating core international law.

No nation may attack another except in self-defense. None may do so without Security Council authorization.

None exists. Obama added more crimes to his rap sheet. He's a war criminal multiple times over.

Washington uses the Islamic State, Al Qaeda and other extremist groups as both allies and enemies. It does so in different war theaters. At times simultaneously.

Morning headlines reflect what's likely. Obama authorized surveillance flights over Syria. He did it lawlessly.

Violating another country's air space without permission is illegal. Doing it as likely precursor for airstrikes reveals Obama's real intention.

According to The New York Times:

"(D)rones and possibly U2 spy plane (surveillance) flights are a significant step toward direct American military action in Syria…"

"Administration officials said the United States did not intend to notify the Assad government of the planned flights."

"(T)he Pentagon is drafting military options…" On Monday, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki justified unilateral US action, saying:

"(W)hen American lives are at stake, when we're talking about defending our own interests, we're not looking for the approval of the Syrian regime."

"(W)e're not going to be restricted by borders…And certainly we would not view (confronting the Islamic State in Syria) as being on (its) side just because there is a common enemy."

The so-called "common enemy" has been Washington's ally throughout many months of conflict. Regime change remains official policy.

Washington won't work jointly with Syria against the Islamic State. According to deputy national security advisor Benjamin Rhodes:

"It is not the case that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Joining forces with Assad would essentially permanently alienate the Sunni population in both Syria and Iraq…"

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said "entire wings" of the Pentagon are "dedicated to making sure the president has a range of plans and options that they can present to him when - if and when necessary.

"(A) lot of cross pressures (are in play) here. There's no doubt about that."

"But our policy as it relates to pursuing American interests in this region of the world are actually really clear, that we want to make sure that we are safeguarding American personnel."

False! Official US policy prioritizes regional dominance. It's resource control. It's eliminating independent governments.

It's replacing them with pro-Western ones. It's waging wars of aggression to do it.

It's ravaging and destroying one nation after another. It's America's dark side writ large.

It has nothing to do with "safeguarding American personnel" or protecting national security.

It has everything to do with advancing Washington's imperium.

Earnest falsely claimed Obama has constitutional authority to violate another nation's air space or territory to protect US citizens or interests.

No such authority exists. Or international law authorization.

On Tuesday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said his government "is prepared to cooperate and coordinate on the regional and international levels to combat terrorism as per Security Council resolution no. 2170 within the framework of respecting Syria's sovereignty and independence."

On August 15, 2014, SC Resolution 2170 was unanimously adopted. It "condemn(s) gross, widespread abuse of human rights by extremist groups in Iraq (and) Syria."

It "called on Member States to take national measures to prevent fighters from traveling from their soil to join (terrorist) groups…"

"It expressed readiness to consider putting on the sanctions list those who facilitated the recruitment and travel of foreign fighters."

It left unexplained Washington's direct responsibility. That rogue NATO partners, Israel, Saudi Arabia, other Gulf states and Jordan share it.

Al-Moallem correctly called "any violation of Syrian sovereignty (by) any party (an act) of aggression."

At the same time, he welcomed all countries willing to fight terrorism in Syria cooperatively with the Assad government.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow supports Syrian and Iraqi efforts against Islamic State terrorists.

Washington claims a unilateral right to operate extrajudicially. To target any country for any reason. To violate international law unaccountably.

Lavrov said "each military effort cannot be granted without the consent of the country concerned."

"We will be fully prepared to work together and coordinate efforts with the countries which came under direct terrorist threats, and here I particularly mean Iraq and Syria, which we will be helping to consolidate their capabilities against armed terrorism."

"We will stand firmly for all anti-terrorism operations to be conducted in agreement with the country concerned and in full respect to its sovereignty."

The White House declined comment on its strategy. According to National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden:

"We're not going to comment on intelligence or operational issues. As we've been saying, we'll use all the tools at our disposal when it comes to the protection of our people."

Other US officials said US policy doesn't make Syria an ally.

On August 25, Washington Post editors headlined "The Obama administration must put boots on the ground to stop the Islamic State," saying:

Kerry calls it an "evil" that must "be destroyed. Chuck Hagel says it's "as sophisticated and well-funded as any groups that we have seen."

Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey says it "will have to be defeated" by attacking it cross border in Syria.

Unexplained is US support for Islamic State fighters and likeminded extremist groups. It's been US policy throughout three and a half years of Obama's proxy war on Syria.

It includes importing death squad killers from dozens of countries. It's about funding, arming, training and directing them.

It's using them to pursue regime change. It's doing so without Security Council or congressional authorization.

It's without popular support. It's at a time when the vast majority of Americans want peace, not war.

They want popular needs addressed. They want long neglected social justice.

They want what they've long been denied. They want what they won't get.

Obama is the latest in a long line of warrior presidents. Permanent war is official US policy. So is waging it preemptively.

Rule of law principles don't matter. Or democratic values. Advancing America's imperium is longstanding official policy.

Millions of lost lives are a small price to pay. So is unspeakable human misery. America's so-called war on terror is a war of terror.

It rages extrajudicially. It does so against largely defenseless populations. Direct US intervention against Syria appears likely. War on humanity may follow.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at

His new book as editor and contributor is titled Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.

Obama Drafted to Fight Bush's War

By Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast

24 August 14

Let’s remember who got us into this mess in Iraq, despite plenty of warnings — from Republicans, even — that this is where it would all lead us. Blame Bush? In this case, absolutely.
picture is coming into focus now, is it not? As I write the United States has launched more than 80 air strikes against the Islamic State. As the strikes have already expanded — and in my view properly so — beyond the original goals of saving the Yazidis and protecting American people and property in Erbil, there’s no clear telling of where and when they will end.

So let me run this depressing thought by you: They have every chance of ending with Barack Obama, and undoubtedly his successor as well, having to prosecute the war that George W. Bush and his geniuses made inevitable with their lies and errors and perversions of law and criminally irresponsible fantasies about this Iraq that they promised us would reveal itself before our eyes as painlessly and quickly and even beautifully as a rose coming to bloom in time-lapse photography.

Conservative readers are already tweeting: Here we go, blame Bush again. Well, in a word, yes. I’m afraid these dots are preposterously easy to connect. But first, we have a date with the wayback machine.

I have been looking back over a few predictions about the Iraq War from back in 2002 and 2003. Recall Dick Cheney:  “Weeks rather than months.” Also “we will be greeted as liberators.” Paul Wolfowitz: “There's a lot of money to pay for this. It doesn't have to be U.S. taxpayer money. We are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.” Wolfowitz again, since he was to my mind the most Satanic of the bunch: “It's hard to conceive that it would take more forces to provide stability in post-Saddam Iraq than it would take to conduct the war itself and to secure the surrender of Saddam's security forces and his army. Hard to imagine.”

Well, you know the rest. I could fill a book with these little memories. I could also fill another book — but a slenderer one, since so many of our “leading intellectuals” and so much of our foreign-policy establishment types noted the prevailing winds and hyped themselves into a pro-war frenzy — with grim predictions. But I’ll limit myself to two.

The first: “Possibly the most dire consequences would be the effect in the region. The shared view in the region is that Iraq is principally an obsession of the U.S. The obsession of the region, however, is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There would be an explosion of outrage against us. We would be seen as ignoring a key interest of the Muslim world in order to satisfy what is seen to be a narrow American interest.”

And second: “While we hoped that popular revolt or coup would topple Saddam, neither the U.S. nor the countries of the region wished to see the breakup of the Iraqi state. We were concerned about the long-term balance of power at the head of the Gulf. Trying to eliminate Saddam, extending the ground war into an occupation of Iraq, would have violated our guidelines about not changing objectives in midstream, engaging in mission creep, and would have incurred incalculable human and political costs.”

A jihadist organization unlike any we’ve seen before that was birthed (as al-Qaeda in Iraq) in the chaos of post-invasion Iraq around the time when the Iraqi people, we were told, were going to be tossing rose petals at our soldiers’ feet.
Pretty good, that first one. Hold up. Noam Chomsky? A Nation editorial? Nope. Brent Scowcroft, writing in The Wall Street Journal. The second is a bit of a giveaway, what with that first sentence, but the mordant irony of it is still delicious:  That was Scowcroft writing with none other than George W. Bush’s father.

George H.W. Bush and Scowcroft could not have known, writing in 1998, what those “incalculable human and political costs” would be. But they were on the right track, and now, we know. A jihadist organization unlike any we’ve seen before that was birthed (as al-Qaeda in Iraq) in the chaos of post-invasion Iraq around the time when the Iraqi people, we were told, were going to be tossing rose petals at our soldiers’ feet.

Yes, others deserve blame too — Obama (which I’ve written before) because of his Syria policy; the Iraqis themselves, chiefly Nouri al-Maliki, for freezing the Sunnis out of the government; and Bashar al-Assad, who’s been busy killing innocents and until recently winking at ISIS. But the group sprang to life because our invasion uncorked these sectarian forces in precisely the way Scowcroft (and others) predicted — only, in all likelihood, with more violence and vehemence than even he could have foreseen.

So this war, the one we’re starting now against the Islamic State, is the direct descendant of the Bush war. In fact, they’re not even different wars; just different chapters in the same war, precisely as if, after Hitler shot himself, an even more extreme and fanatical menagerie of Nazis arose out of Croatia or somewhere, and we needed another few years, another few trillion dollars, and another few thousand war dead to knock them down.


Don't remind me.

More N.C. stoopid stuff abounding.

And abounding.

Art Pope has accomplished his worst, and the "new guard" (ilk replacing ilk) has been appointed.

And you thought Cokie Roberts might disappear into the Mittering mists?

Or at least her litter?

Dream on.

New NC Budget Director Has Banking Background, Heritage of Politics and Journalism

By Ben Brown

August 6, 2014

RALEIGH — A former community bank director and recent appointee to the N.C. Banking Commission will take over as state budget director next month.

Gov. Pat McCrory on Wednesday announced Lee Roberts – son of journalist and political commentator Cokie Roberts and grandson of the late Democratic Rep. Lindy Boggs of Louisiana – would succeed Art Pope, head of the Variety Wholesalers retail chain, whose government service McCrory praised at an executive mansion press conference.

Roberts, 45, is the former managing director of Piedmont Community Bank Holdings in Raleigh and was executive vice president and chief operating officer of VantageSouth Bancshares.

Roberts also founded a real estate investment and advisory firm called Coley Capital and has worked for Morgan Stanley & Co., Cherokee Investment Partners and as an associate with Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld.

“His experience in the global marketplace will provide a useful and original perspective, and his leadership skills will further our administration’s goal of thoughtful, deliberate stewardship of taxpayer dollars,” McCrory said.

The state’s budget director oversees the development of the spending and revenue plan the governor presents to the N.C. General Assembly. The plan recently agreed upon by both legislative chambers totals more than $21 billion.

Roberts told reporters that his experience underwriting loans connected him deeply with North Carolina, taking him across the state. “I’ve been to a lot of places that most people have yet to,” he said.

But he did not clarify how he arrived at his new role.

“I was delighted that the governor asked me to serve,” he said, deferring to McCrory’s office on a question about the hiring process. Asked whether he pursued or applied for the position, Roberts said only: “I think with all these things, it’s just a process of getting to know each other and understanding how I can come in and make a contribution.”

A governor’s office spokesman would not comment on whether Roberts competed with other applicants or whether he was hand-picked by McCrory.

Said Roberts: “I don’t think I was a name out of the blue, but I can’t speak to the process.”

Roberts’ salary will be $154,836, which according to the Office of State Human Resources is the same as former governor Bev Perdue’s last budget director, Andy Willis.

“Lee has a terrific sense of fiscal responsibility, and I’m excited to have him join our team,” McCrory said in a statement. “North Carolina state government will thrive under his oversight.”

Unaffiliated Voter

According to the N.C. State Board of Elections, Roberts is not affiliated with any political party. He has contributed to Republican and Democratic causes on the state and federal levels. In 2012, he gave $4,000 to McCrory’s campaign and $1,000 to the re-election campaign of Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper, who is expected to challenge McCrory in 2016.

Roberts grew up in the Washington, D.C., area, earned a degree in political science from Duke University, then a law degree from Georgetown University. He has lived in Raleigh for eight years. He is on the board of Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy and has also served on the Board of Trustees for the Ravenscroft School and is vice president of the Duke Alumni Association.

The governor appointed Roberts to the Banking Commission in April 2013.

Roberts said Wednesday it “probably does make sense” for him to leave the banking commission because of his new role as state budget director, but did not express a commitment.

It will be his first salaried government position, he said, though he noted he worked as a congressional page as a 16-year-old in 1985. There, he met his future wife, Liza Roberts, who is editor and general manager of Walter Magazine, which is owned by The News & Observer. They have two daughters and a son.

Roberts said he was honored to follow Pope.

We’re different people, but I think you can’t argue with the effectiveness he’s had on behalf of the governor and his agenda, so I think he’s done a pretty good job,” Roberts said of Pope. “If I can be half as effective as he’s been, I feel like I’d be doing pretty well.” Staff writers John Frank, David Raynor, and Rick Rothacker contributed.

(Ben Brown writes for The Insider,, a government (paid-subscription) news service owned by The News & Observer.)

Fwowing up now.

So glad to have my tax money go to another Third Wayer(?) who contributes to both parties so they're available for any quick pick.

Although Cokie's scion could never ever be a quick pick as her platform is priceless.

And I'm not saying anything, not a word, but I believe this writer is one of my daughter's past suitors.

I see you finally found a comfy home, Ben.

Good luck rubbing shoulders with that crowd.

Someone Check Her Aricept Levels

Posted by constitutional mistermix

Aug 25, 2014

Benen Captures a Noonan Classic:

More than a week after Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) was indicted on two felony counts, the Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan shared her concerns about the case on national television yesterday. The exchange was one of my favorite of any Sunday show this year.

NOONAN: I think, yes, it was local Democratic overreach. It’s just a dumb case. I don’t think it should have been brought. Naturally he looks like someone who is…
STEPHANOPOULOS: But the prosecutor is a former Republican, I think.
NOONAN: That may be. But when you look at this case, it just looks crazy.
[...]For the record, Democratic officials in Travis County recused themselves from the case, and the prosecutor in this case, Michael McCrum, worked in the Bush/Quayle administration. What’s more, McCrum, who enjoys a solid reputation as a credible attorney, was appointed to oversee this case by a Republican judge. [...]
It’s the ability to soldier on after her main talking point was completely refuted that marks Peggy as a true Sunday show regular.


Frankensteinbeck says:  August 25, 2014 at 9:32 am

It’s the ability to soldier on after her main talking point was completely refuted that marks Peggy as a true Sunday show regular.
It has been said before that the job of pundits like Noonan is propaganda, to make Republican talking points palatable. This is true, but it’s to make those talking points palatable to other pundits. You have a bunch of rich bigots hiring other rich bigots and talking to each other about how great they are and how poor people and minorities earned their abuse. Contrary voices are few and far between, and denounced as immature and unserious. That’s how an echo chamber works.
. . . the narrative is that Perry is presidential material and his glasses prove it. The narrative will not be stopped until praising Perry becomes embarrassing again. Mere scandals don’t count.

EDIT – @Amir Khalid:

Bullshitting, in the sense that she doesn’t care what’s actually true. She knows what MUST be true.

danielx says:  August 25, 2014 at 9:45 am

It’s the ability to soldier on after her main talking point was completely refuted that marks Peggy as a true Sunday show regular.
Our Lady of Stolichnaya is a pro, and well understands Republican and show business rules.

1. Never get off point, no matter whether your point is contradicted by the facts. Wingnuts are not interested in facts, they’re interested in red meat.
2. Never let ‘em see you sweat.

Cacti says:  August 25, 2014 at 10:37 am

Reminds me of the Katrina reporting where black survivors “looted” supplies from the swamped grocery stores, while white survivors “found” them.

beth says:  August 25, 2014 at 10:41 am


Fuck the NYT
The kid is being buried today – don’t they have any fucking shame? They couldn’t wait till tomorrow to tell everyone just what a thug they think he was?

Another Holocene Human (now with new computer) says:  August 25, 2014 at 10:44 am

@lamh36: NYT is disgusting. From their op-ed page to their lifestyles for millionaires features to their reporting on “kidz today” which is all about hyper wealthy mostly white scions of the lucky duckies who read NYT. It’s all terrible.
But their reporting on Ferguson reminds me of their attitude towards “The Negro” 100 years ago when they posted “funny” stories about rural Southern black men. It’s not ironic or hipster racism, it’s just racism. NYT’s total disregard all along for the truth in this case has been heinous.

kindness says:  August 25, 2014 at 10:45 am

Speaking of Republican Snake Oil Salespersons…

This morning I lasted 5 minutes on NPR. I left for work just in time to get Cokie Roberts' latest slam of the Obama Administration. Within the span of her segment I found myself yelling at my radio twice and before she even finished her piece I switched over to the i-pod.

NPR is dead to me.

Comrade Dread says:  August 25, 2014 at 10:46 am

@PatrickBeing a Villager in good standing means no one else from the tribe ever remembers when you were completely, utterly, stupidly, hopelessly wrong. Even if it happened to end up costing a few hundred thousand people their lives and wrecked a country or two.

Roger Moore says: August 25, 2014 at 10:57 am

@Amir Khalid:

I wonder, is Peggy Noonan lying here, or bullshitting?
I think the main thing she’s doing is repeating the conventional wisdom. The Village has decided that this is Democratic overreach, so that’s what she’s going to say, even when somebody points out that it’s incorrect. I don’t know if that counts as lying or bullshitting or some third category like parroting.

Jim, Foolish Literalist says:  August 25, 2014 at 11:02 am

I would like to force the G-Steph and whoever makes the casting decisions on these clown car shows to read Peggy’s Magick Dolphins column (and the “is it irresponsible to speculate…”) aloud and then tell me that those words are in no way a reflection of her intellect and her fitness to discuss politics and current events.

See also, too, Bill Kristol and “pop sociology”, Lindsey Graham and pretty much everything he said in the run up to the Iraq War, and of course John McCain and Sarah Palin.

magurakurin says: August 25, 2014 at 11:09 am

@Patrick: It was after Joe Biden’s debate in 2008 that I decided that Cookie Roberts needed to be roasted on a spit and fed to hungry pigs ala Brick Top. She slagged Biden for saying, Bosniak, the correct word in fact. Still waiting for her apology….asshole
and NPR has been dead to me since about 1998

During coverage of the October 2 vice-presidential debate on PBS’ Charlie Rose, Rose asked, “Did either of them make any mistakes that you noticed?” National Public Radio senior news analyst Cokie Roberts responded that Sen. Joe Biden “talked about the Bosniaks.” Roberts later said: “[I]f [Gov. Sarah Palin] had said ‘Bosniak,’ everybody would be making a big deal of it, you know.” In fact, Biden correctly referred to certain residents of Bosnia and Herzegovina as Bosniaks. According to the U.S. State Department, as of 2002, the population of Bosnia and Herzegovina consisted of the following ethnic groups: “Bosniak 48.3%, Serb 34.0%, Croat 15.4%, others 2.3%.”
link - video

Villago Delenda Est says:  August 25, 2014 at 11:45 am

@Jim, Foolish Literalist: In Peggy Noonan’s defense, she did call the 2008 election when she heard that Sarah Palin was the nominee: “It’s over.”

@Calouste: Cokie Boggs Roberts. The Original Luke Russert. That’s one shameful CV, or should be. Her mother took over her father’s seat in the House and was later named Bill Clinton’s Ambassador to the Vatican. Didn’t stop Cokie from turning on Bubba when his dirty, dirty sex life was exposed!

I once (late 90s) saw George Will on that CSPAN call-in show and some old crank wanted to know how poor Mr Will could stand to be in the same room with that god awful Clinton-loving Sam Donaldson. GWill told the old crank he knew of no one who believed more strongly than Sam Donaldson that Bill Clinton should have been convicted and removed from office. So throw in Russert and it was pretty much unanimous on your Beltway Sunday.

Villago Delenda Est says:  August 25, 2014 at 12:19 pm

@srv:  Well, Osama bin Laden had world class support in his efforts to muck things up in the Middle East, in the form of the deserting coward and the Dark Lord.

Charlie Pierce has some very good advice for all right-thinking voters.

This situation is not really as humorous as some very serious people believe.

Just ask Roger Waters.

Please Stop Electing Morons!

Ebola does not exist in Central America. It has never been found there. This current outbreak is the first one that's occurred outside of very remote places in Africa, for god's sake. The reason that the "public would not be surprised" is because a good piece of "the public", and almost all of "the public" to whom Tobin is pitching himself for Congress, gets its "news" from grifters and charlatans and professional hysterics. And Tobin is not alone. For example, this cluck is a physician. These guys are elected members of the Congress. And, of course, this guy is from Zontar.

"Because they see people coming across as undocumented Democrats. And so, they want to keep the surge of people coming in illegally, even though it includes a big spike in Other-Than-Mexicans, OTMs as we call them...It includes a spike in people from countries where terrorism abounds," he continued. "We have people coming in from countries where Ebola is located."
God, this election is going to suck so much pond water.

Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters:  Why Moral Perversity of U.S. Position in Gaza Is Stunning

I think it's safe to say that if U.S. neighborhoods were living under siege, folks like Rand Paul wouldn't take it

The carnage in Gaza continues after the latest collapse of cease-fire talks and over four weeks of asymmetrical bombardment by Israel. With the death of more than 2,000 Palestinians, and the displacement of hundreds of thousands more, the complicity of the American government has been exposed to the world as never before. Yet the mantra repeated ad nauseam by the U.S. government and media alike remains the same: Israel has a right to defend itself.

The moral perversity of the U.S. position is stunning. How can the U.S. government ask Israel to be more careful about civilian lives while simultaneously arming and then rearming the IDF so it can more effectively inflict such devastation on an imprisoned and occupied people?

The U.S. could act to stop the senseless slaughter but it won’t. Instead, it’s cheerleading. Members of Congress are mindlessly parroting Israeli talking points without a thought given to the Palestinian perspective or to preserving human life. Brimming with righteousness, they argue for turning Israel loose – Sen. Rand Paul in particular – and invoke Israel’s right to self-defense, despite the fact that, as the occupying power, Israel has an obligation to protect the Palestinians it rules, not massacre them.

Do congressional leaders ever stop to wonder what they would do if they were born Palestinian, had their homes and private property stolen from them, and were forced to live without freedom under an illegal Israeli occupation for 47 years? Do they know what it means to be on the receiving end of Israel’s barbaric “mow the lawn” euphemism? Scarcely a word is said about the rights of Palestinians who are being pummeled from the sky and shot dead in their neighborhoods by the region’s most powerful military. What, I wonder, would Americans do if it were their neighborhoods being invaded and if they were the ones living under siege? I think it’s safe to say Americans wouldn’t stand for it.

Despite these realities, it’s far more advantageous in Washington to come down like a ton of bricks on the Palestinians and maintain that they are the cause of their own suffering. No politician’s career has ever been hurt by blaming Palestinians or by applauding Israel’s illegal occupation, colonization and war crimes.

Pressure on American politicians to conform to the party line is abetted by skewed media coverage.  For instance, CNN, while purporting to be a news channel, relentlessly churns out Israeli propaganda.

It is easy for those of us who do not live under the tyranny of the occupation to condemn the military wing of Hamas for using randomly fired rockets that might cause civilian casualties in neighboring Israel, and I do unreservedly condemn it. Having said that, an occupied population has the legal right to resist the military of the occupier. The occupier has a legal obligation to protect the occupied. Under these circumstances the reporting on CNN is biased beyond all belief.

Numerically, one can readily see the bias. Far more pro-Israel guests than pro-Palestinian experts are invited on air to make their case.

An exception to that general rule, and obviously not on CNN, is Henry Siegman, a prominent Jewish voice and a former national director of the American Jewish Congress, who recently got the opportunity to expose the shortcomings of Israeli talking points. Siegman was interviewed fairly and in depth by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! Sadly Democracy Now! is not mainstream media. If only it were!

Contrast that appearance with the reception Yousef Munayyer received during an extraordinarily “unfair” Fox News interview by the execrable Sean Hannity. Actually, to dignify Hannity’s rude and infantile shouting and finger pointing as an “interview” would be wrong.

In case you've missed some of the past Bob Woodward enlightenment, here's one jewel you won't have to regret missing (because you can relive it now).

Remember the 2006 exposure of the ongoing Bush/Cheney stupidity by Bush Jr.'s father's coterie?


My guess is that it's because the noise level on the faux news channels was turned up to 120 decibels during the last two years of Jr.'s second term in order to impede all knowledgeable reporting before the next election.

War in Heaven:  Woodward's Book and the Establishment Insurgency

Monday, 02 October 2006

Bob Woodward has long been the voice of the American Establishment – or of certain quadrants of it, at any rate. When Richard Nixon's criminal depredations and mental instability had gone too far and it was decided to rein him in, former military intelligence officer Woodward was there as a safe pair of hands to receive the damning revelations of "Deep Throat" and help bring down the Nixon presidency.

When the Establishment decided it was best to throw in with the Bush Faction's aggressive militarism after 9/11 – lots of big money to be made out of war and fear, and those tax cuts were just too sweet to pass up - Woodward was there again, with a series of stories and books which, as Michiko Kakutani notes in the New York Times, "depicted the president — in terms that the White House press office itself has purveyed — as a judicious, resolute leader, blessed with the 'vision thing' his father was accused of lacking and firmly in control of the ship of state."

And now, when it is clear that George W. Bush is – to put it plainly – a self-deluding addlepate in the late Nixon mode (without any of Nixon's considerable intelligence, of course), and that the orgy of war profiteering and corporate welfare he has thrown for the elite has reached a level of such murderous frenzy that it threatens to kill the whole golden goose of American power – or at least seriously damage the bottom line for years to come – the Establishment has turned to Woodward once again. And the old trouper has delivered.

His new book, State of Denial, is a stinging attack on the Bush-Cheney Faction, although, as Kakutani astutely notes, there's nothing really new in its depiction of the moral nullity, rank stupidity and sheer incompetence of the Faction - beyond the usual telling anecdotes and killer quotes that Woodward garners, often second or third-hand, from his sources.

But it is those sources which clue us in to what's going on. Again, Kakutani: "The former Saudi Arabian ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan, Mr. Card, Mr. Tenet, Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage, Brent Scowcroft, the former national security adviser (to Bush senior), appear to be among the author’s primary sources." This is heavy Establishment artillery, and the presence of "Bandar Bush," the Saudi royal, and Scowcroft, the Bush Senior courtier, among Woodward's main sources tells us that Daddy Bush has reverted back to the old-line, white-bread, "Eastern Establishment" in a move against the Sunbelt oil men, crank pseudo-Christians and Nixonian diehards like Cheney and Rumsfeld that Junior Bush has thrown in with.

(Speaking of Nixonian diehards, one of Woodward's few original revelations is the extent to which Henry Kissinger has been advising Bush and Cheney, even resurrecting old memos he wrote to Nixon about "staying the course" in Vietnam and not letting the American people get a taste of peace and sanity by allowing even a partial withdrawal of troops. Such a move would “will become like salted peanuts to the American public; the more U.S. troops come home, the more will be demanded," Kissinger told Nixon – and pressed the same memo on the poltroons now polluting the Oval Office. )

So parts of the American Establishment are at last making a move against the Bush Faction. Unlike the Nixon takedown, this could be too little, too late.

For one thing, Nixon didn't have 9/11 to play with; nor did he have use of the Mighty Wurlitzer of the hard-right media juggernaut that serves Bush with Goebbelsian intensity and fidelity; nor did he have control of the Congress, with a party full of lockstep lickspittles and genuine moral and intellectual cretins willing to follow him over a cliff.
In addition, Bush doesn't face constant riots in the streets against his foolishly and murderously prolonged pointless war; the American people are infinitely more docile, distracted and servile than they were in Nixon's day, as anyone who was alive then can vividly remember.

Nor did the Republicans in Nixon's time possess the extensive, high-tech vote-manipulation and vote-suppression systems that they have today, which have so far ensured that the Faction retains its overwhelming power – despite the overwhelming unpopularity of almost all of its core policies. In Nixon's day, Republican Establishment members had to worry about a backlash at the polls; this is still a danger for them, of course, but not nearly to the same extent.

Today, it is possible – just – that an actual, massive landslide for the Democrats might result in a very narrow victory at the polls; it remains to be seen if the Bush Faction's vote-fixing machinery can plausibly handle anything beyond a fairly close losing vote for their side. But certainly nothing less than an historic landslide against the Republicans has a chance of bringing even a miniscule Democratic majority back into power.

So although Woodward's book clearly signals that the game's afoot, and another civil war among the American Establishment is gathering strength, the outcome is by no means assured.

We've seen signs of this before, particularly before the Iraq invasion, when again it was Scowcroft leading the way – and every time, the Bush Faction has managed to fight off – or buy off – its Establishment opponents. (Think of Sumner Redstone's craven announcement, after "Rathergate," that he, an old-time liberal Democrat, would be voting for Bush in 2004 because that would be "better for the corporation.")

Nixon was a loner, a bagman who used his own sinister savvy to scale the greasy pole, yet remained forever outside the golden circle of the Establishment (as he never stopped complaining about); but Bush Junior is to the manner born, a true scion of the predatory elite that has served as America's aristocracy for generations.

That fact alone will make it harder for the Establishment to bring Bush to heel than it was to flush the lowborn Nixon away. And that's why it will never come to impeachment or resignation; such things would reflect too badly on the elite itself, not least on Daddy Bush, one of its leading lights.

But some strong shots across the bow, some public humiliation, something to get Bush and Cheney to alter the disastrous course in Iraq – that's fair game, and that's what we're seeing today from some of the old-line Establishment factions. And as ever, Woodward is a key player, toting heavy lumber for the cause.

(Note: is not the destruction of constitutional liberties that concerns these factions and brings them out against Bush, of course. They could(n't) care less about that – in fact, it's yet another good argument to them for keeping the Bush Faction in power, albeit chastened somewhat on the military aggression front. Not that these elite players don't hold the same ideal of American domination of global affairs that drives the Bush Faction; they do, in spades. But they recognize that after a certain point you get more buck for less bang. As the Emperor Tiberius used to tell his satraps when he sent them out to govern the conquered lands: "I want my sheep shorn, not shaved.")

In the corrupted currents of our day, Woodward's book – and the factional struggle within the Establishment it represents – is to be welcomed. Anything that can mitigate some of the evil being done by the Bush Faction must been seen as a positive intervention.

But only in the sense that having an ink pen jammed through your trachea when you are choking to death is a positive intervention. For make no mistake: what we are seeing is a "war in heaven," an intramural struggle between elites, a falling out among thieves, and, literally, a family quarrel in the imperial house. It has nothing to do with the welfare of the American people, or the restoration of democracy. The "consent of the governed" will play no part in how the affairs of the state are finally ordered by the exalted ones.

The Body in the Street

By Charles Pierce, Esquire

22 August 2014

. . . they have built the electric chair and hired the executioner to throw the switch all right we are two nations America our nation has been beaten by strangers who have bought the laws and fenced off the meadows and cut down the woods for pulp and turned our pleasant cities into slums and sweated the wealth out of our people...
-- John Dos Passos, "The Big Money," USA
keep coming back to what seems to me to be the most inhumane thing of all, the inhumane thing that happened before the rage began to rise, and before the backlash began to build, and before the cameras and television lights, and before the tear gas and the stun grenades and the chants and the prayers. I keep coming back to the one image that was there before the international event began, before it became a television show and a symbol in flames and something beyond what it was in the first place. I keep coming back to one simple moment, one ghastly fact. One image, from which all the other images have flowed.

They left the body in the street.

Dictators leave bodies in the street.

Petty local satraps leave bodies in the street.

Warlords leave bodies in the street.

A police officer shot Michael Brown to death. And they left his body in the street. For four hours. Bodies do not lie in the street for four hours. Not in an advanced society. Bodies lie in the street for four hours in small countries where they have perpetual civil war. Bodies lie in the street for four hours on back roads where people fight over the bare necessities of simple living, where they fight over food and water and small, useless parcels of land.

Bodies lie in the street for four hours in places in which poor people fight as proxies for rich people in distant places, where they fight as proxies for the men who dig out the diamonds, or who drill out the oil, or who set ancient tribal grudges aflame for modern imperial purposes that are as far from the original grudges as bullets are from bows.

Those are the places where they leave bodies in the street, as object lessons, or to make a point, or because there isn't the money to take the bodies away and bury them, or because nobody gives a damn whether they are there or not. Those are the places where they leave bodies in the street.

Bodies are not left in the streets of the leafy suburbs. The bodies of dogs and cats, or squirrels and raccoons, let alone the bodies of children, are not left in the streets of the leafy suburbs.

No bodies are left in the streets of the financial districts. Freeze to death on a bench in the financial districts and you are whisked away before your inconvenient body can disturb the folks in line at the Starbucks across the street.

But the body of a boy can be left in the street for four hours in a place like Ferguson, Missouri, and who knows whether it was because people wanted to make a point, or because nobody gave a damn whether he was there or not.

Ferguson, Missouri was a place where they left a body in the street. For four hours. And the rage rose, and the backlash built, and the cameras arrived, and so did the cops, and the thing became something beyond what it was in the first place. And, in a very real way, in the streets of Ferguson, the body was still in the street.

The rage rises.

The very last march in which Martin Luther King, Jr. participated ended violently. He had come to Memphis to lend support to a strike by the city's sanitation workers. On March 28, 1968, King led a march in support of the striking workers. It did not end well.

King arrived late and found a massive crowd on the brink of chaos. Lawson and King led the march together but quickly called off the demonstration as violence began to erupt. King was whisked away to a nearby hotel, and Lawson told the mass of people to turn around and go back to the church. In the chaos that followed, downtown shops were looted, and a 16-year-old was shot and killed by a policeman. Police followed demonstrators back to the Clayborn Temple, entered the church, released tear gas inside the sanctuary, and clubbed people as they lay on the floor to get fresh air. Loeb called for martial law and brought in 4,000 National Guard troops. The following day, over 200 striking workers continued their daily march, carrying signs that read, "I Am a Man"... At a news conference held before he returned to Atlanta, King said that he had been unaware of the divisions within the community, particularly of the presence of a black youth group committed to "Black Power" called the Invaders, who were accused of starting the violence.
The backlash builds.

Whites, angered by the property damage to businesses during the aborted march, blamed blacks. The President of the Memphis Chamber of Commerce told the New York Times: "You can't take these Negro people and make the kind of citizens out of them you'd like."(sic). Rev. Lawson would later note that the nonviolence of thousands of black citizens who moved back to the church and their homes was lost in press accounts of the story.

A week or two later, Dr. King stepped out onto the balcony of his motel room in Memphis. A white man shot him through the neck and he died. They covered his body with a sheet. They did not leave it there on the balcony, blood pooling around it, for four hours.

In 1965, the editors of the National Review traced the violence of the Watts riots back to the baleful influence of Dr. King's various campaigns throughout the South.

For years now, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and his associates have been deliberately undermining the foundations of internal order in this country. With their rabble-rousing demagoguery, they have been cracking the "cake of custom" that holds us together. With their doctrine of "civil disobedience," they have been teaching hundreds of thousands of Negroes - particularly the adolescents and the children - that it is perfectly all right to break the law and defy constituted authority if you are a Negro-with-a-grievance; in protest against injustice. And they have done more than talk. They have on occasion after occasion, in almost every part of the country, called out their mobs on the streets, promoted "school strikes," sit-ins, lie-ins, in explicit violation of the law and in explicit defiance of the public authority. They have taught anarchy and chaos by word and deed - and, no doubt, with the best intentions - and they have found apt pupils everywhere, with intentions not of the best. Sow the wind, and reap the whirlwind. But it is not they alone who reap it, but we as well; the entire nation.

In 2014, the editor of the National Review traced the violence of the disturbances in Ferguson to the baleful influence of MSNBC.

You get the feeling that the enormous emotional investment in Ferguson from the left - from Eric Holder to MSNBC on down - reflects a nostalgia for the truly heroic phase of the civil rights movement. They (most of them, at least) can never be Freedom Riders, but they can write blog posts complaining that the police gear in Ferguson looks scary. They can never register voters in the Jim Crow South, but they can tweet dramatic pictures of tear-gas canisters going off. They can never march over the Edmund Pettus Bridge circa 1965, but they can do some cable hits. Ferguson is all they've got, so it must be spun up into a national crisis - our Gaza, our apartheid - to increase the moral drama.

They do not leave bodies in the street in Arlington County in Virginia, where the editor of the National Review grew up.

The story now seems to be about the "healing process" going on in Ferguson. The nights are quieter. The National Guard has pulled out. Some of the reporters have moved on to other things. There will be a funeral on Monday for the boy whose body was left in the street. It will be a dignified spectacle and it will be terrific television and it will be said to be "healing" the wounded place. Meanwhile, there are other people finding their healing in many different ways.

I support officer Wilson and he did a great job removing an unnecessary thing from the public.

An unnecessary thing.

The body they left in the street.

The body that, in so many ways, is still in the street.

An unnecessary thing.

The body they left in the street. For four hours. Ferguson, Missouri was a place where they left a body in the street. For four hours. And the rage rose, and the backlash built, and the cameras arrived, and so did the cops, and the thing became something beyond what it was in the first place. And, in a very real way, in the streets of Ferguson, the body was still in the street. What kind of place leaves the body of a boy in the street? What kind of country does that?

Dos Passos was correct.

All right.

We are two nations.

All right?