Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Another war prevented accidentally by electing a Democrat

Posted by Charles II on October 1, 2014

As much as I criticize Barack Obama for his overuse of military force, I am pretty sure it would be a lot worse if John McCain or Mitt Romney were in charge. Here’s a bit of history that should scare us all:

Washington, DC, October 1, 2014 — Secretary of State Henry Kissinger ordered a series of secret contingency plans that included airstrikes and mining of Cuban harbors in the aftermath of Fidel Castro’s decision to send Cuban forces into Angola in late 1975, according to declassified documents made public today for the first time. “If we decide to use military power it must succeed. There should be no halfway measures,” Kissinger instructed General George Brown of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during a high-level meeting of national security officials on March 24, 1976, that included then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. “I think we are going to have to smash Castro,” Kissinger told President Ford. “We probably can’t do it before the [1976 presidential] elections.” “I agree,” the president responded.

The story of Kissinger’s Cuban contingency planning was published today in a new book, “Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations Between Washington and Havana,” co-authored by American University professor William M. LeoGrande and Peter Kornbluh, who directs the National Security Archive’s Cuba Documentation Project.

The Cubans, you may recall, were in Angola to resist the brutal South African invasion of that country, an invasion intended to squelch any resistance to apartheid.

Our leaders are insane. Especially, most especially, the Republicans. Ironic that both Kissinger and Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize. Maybe next year we can award it to Vladimir Putin.

Posted in abuse of power, Africa, Cuba, Richard Nixon | 1 Comment »

Ben Golnik, The Artful Dodger

Posted by Phoenix Woman on October 1, 2014

Words fail me:

We were patiently researching independent expediture mailing by Republican operative Ben Golnik’s MN Jobs Coalition and/or its political fund companion, the Minn Jobs Coalition Legislative Fund, when an email came in earlier today from the Jobs Now Coalition.

Seems that the JOBS NOW coalition gets the calls the very similarly-named (but much more recently created) MN Job Coalition does because it doesn’t have a phone number on its website. Just google it, gentle readers, and you see why those citizens wishing to get off the newbies’ mailing list might get confused.

Even better: The physical address given doesn’t actually exist.

Hey, no phone number and no real address means no accountability, something that Ben the Artful Dodger Golnik apparently prizes.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

“… the lovechild of Franz Kafka and Monty Python…” –Charlotte Heath

Posted by Charles II on September 29, 2014

Jason Edwards Harrington, former airport security agent, writes in the Guardian that laughter is the only proper response to a “War on Terror” that has replaced “the Axis of Evil” with “The Network of Terror”:

It’s hard not to see the funny facets of a never-ending campaign against a nebulous enemy (Axis of Evil a decade ago, Network of Death today) in which you are issued a terror intelligence memorandum detailing the standard operating procedure for the confiscation of cupcakes. (“Cupcakes have got to have a reasonable level of icing to be allowed onto a plane,” one TSA manager advised us.)

My former co-workers and I are not the only ones who found some of this stuff funny. In 2012, the international relations scholar Charlotte Heath-Kelly argued in a paper in the European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research that the War on Terror can be viewed as the lovechild of Franz Kafka and Monty Python as much as that of any vice president and foreign minister.

Not so funny: the creation of terrorists due to incompetent policy, the waste of resources desperately needed to keep the US from decomposing into a Second World country, and the level of corruption required to keep a nation of 300 million terrified of maybe 30,000 bad guys.

One interesting link in Harrington’s story. Seems we may have bombed a group that doesn’t exist. Imran Khan, Al Jazeera:

A few days ago I began to see news reports quoting US ‎military and government officials talking up a group called Khorasan. This piqued my interest. In 14 years of covering this region this was a new name for me. Then the reports began to paint them as a shadowy super group of hardcore terrorists that are experimenting with technology and new, ever more fiendish ways of attacking civilians in the US. Then the group became the target of US airstrikes in Syria and suddenly the name was on every news outlet’s lips.

Except something, to me, wasn’t right.

I began to make some calls to contacts across the Middle East and South Asia. To say I drew a blank would be an understatement. Reactions ranged from a hearty laugh to confusion. The name was new.

Khorasan is almost certainly a term that the US government has coined

Posted in wrong way to go about it | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

How the financial crisis happened: The contribution of regulatory failure

Posted by Charles II on September 27, 2014

Michael Lewis’ piece (via Truthout:

The reporter, Jake Bernstein, has obtained 46 hours of tape recordings, made secretly by a Federal Reserve employee, of conversations within the Fed, and between the Fed and Goldman Sachs. The Ray Rice video for the financial sector has arrived.

First, a bit of background — which you might get equally well from today’s broadcast as well as from this article by ProPublica. After the 2008 financial crisis, the New York Fed, now the chief U.S. bank regulator, commissioned a study of itself. This study, which the Fed also intended to keep to itself, set out to understand why the Fed hadn’t spotted the insane and destructive behavior inside the big banks, and stopped it before it got out of control. The “discussion draft” of the Fed’s internal study, led by a Columbia Business School professor and former banker named David Beim, was sent to the Fed on Aug. 18, 2009.

It’s an extraordinary document. There is not space here to do it justice, but the gist is this: The Fed failed to regulate the banks because it did not encourage its employees to ask questions, to speak their minds or to point out problems.

ProPublica’s article by Jake Bernstein.

As it appeared on WBEZ

536: The Secret Recordings of Carmen Segarra
SEP 26, 2014
An unprecedented look inside one of the most powerful, secretive institutions in the country. The NY Federal Reserve is supposed to monitor big banks. But when Carmen Segarra was hired, what she witnessed inside the Fed was so alarming that she got a tiny recorder and started secretly taping.

Posted in mortgage crisis, regulations | 2 Comments »

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted by MEC on September 26, 2014

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted in Alexander the Great, Friday Cat Blogging | 4 Comments »

Sunni Jihadists Are Camped Just East Of The Golan Heights. Why Hasn’t The IDF Blasted Them Yet?

Posted by Phoenix Woman on September 25, 2014

That’s the question Gary Brecher keeps asking:

Nobody ever seems to mention it, but the supposedly fearsome IS now owns the ground right under Israel’s Golan Heights fortifications, after moving in in June 2014 when the weary SAA, tired of being shelled by the IDF, moved out.

So IS has been in place right there on Israel’s border for months now—and there’s been no attack from Israel. Yes, folks, you might actually get the impression that the Israelis—who know a thing or two about threat assessment—just don’t take IS very seriously.

How can this be? Brecher has a few ideas about that:

Israel decided long ago that only the Shia are what noted Zionist Walter Sobchak would call “a worthy fuckin’ opponent.” If you look at the pattern of Israeli intervention in Syria since the Civil War began there, you find the IDF striking Assad’s SAA targets over and over , especially when the SAA might have been transferring weapons to Hezbollah—but to the best of my knowledge, not once attacking any Sunni jihadi forces like IS.

The Israeli view seems to be that only the Shia forces—the SAA, Hezbollah, and above all their patron Iran—are serious threats. Meanwhile, they’ve been treating Sunni jihadi militias like IS like de facto allies, never once attacking Sunni militias dug in just below the Golan Heights.

Most interesting.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

What the shouting is all about

Posted by Charles II on September 20, 2014

This is just another story of what is forming a pattern. Deutsche Welle did a program on The Aryans, which describes the re-emergence of Nazism in Germany. There are towns where Jews and non-whites cannot go out after dark, and where local people are afraid to talk about the extremists. We know about the neo-Nazis in the Ukraine. And now this, from Libby Brooks of The Guardian:

Six people were arrested amid angry scenes in Glasgow on Friday night as a group of young pro-union supporters clashed with pro-independence supporters who had been gathering in George Square throughout the day.

Police acted to separate a small group of pro-independence supporters from a group of skinheads believed to have marched from the loyalist pub the Louden Tavern in nearby Duke Street.

Individuals argued over the referendum result and a chorus of Rule Britannia was countered by Flower of Scotland.

As the evening wore on, and the yes supporters dispersed, more loyalists converged on the square, many of them draped in union flags.

A number were teenagers, and clearly drunk. At one point a section of the crowd broke through police lines and marched up the central shopping area of Buchanan Street, chanting the words to Rule Britannia. Some shouted loyalist slogans and racist abuse, and appeared to make Nazi salutes.

I do not think these are isolated events. I think there is an aggressive, international neo-Nazi movement, fueled by unemployment and culture change, and to some degree abetted by reactionary elements in business and government. The rest of the world should react accordingly.

____
Max Blumenthal on neo-Nazi elements in the Ukraine government.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted by MEC on September 19, 2014

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted in Alexander the Great, Friday Cat Blogging | 2 Comments »

Because we’re the good guys

Posted by Charles II on September 17, 2014

James Bamford, NYT (via Atrios):

IN Moscow this summer, while reporting a story for Wired magazine, I had the rare opportunity to hang out for three days with Edward J. Snowden. …

Among his most shocking discoveries, he told me, was the fact that the N.S.A. was routinely passing along the private communications of Americans to a large and very secretive Israeli military organization known as Unit 8200. This transfer of intercepts, he said, included the contents of the communications….

Mr. Snowden stressed that the transfer of intercepts to Israel contained the communications — email as well as phone calls — of countless Arab- and Palestinian-Americans whose relatives in Israel and the Palestinian territories could become targets based on the communications.
….
It appears that Mr. Snowden’s fears were warranted. Last week, 43 veterans of Unit 8200 — many still serving in the reserves — accused the organization of startling abuses. In a letter to their commanders, to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to the head of the Israeli army, they charged that Israel used information collected against innocent Palestinians for “political persecution.” In testimonies and interviews given to the media, they specified that data were gathered on Palestinians’ sexual orientations, infidelities, money problems, family medical conditions and other private matters that could be used to coerce Palestinians into becoming collaborators or create divisions in their society.

The veterans of Unit 8200 declared that they had a “moral duty” to no longer “take part in the state’s actions against Palestinians.” An Israeli military spokesman disputed the letter’s overall drift but said the charges would be examined.

But of course it’s ok, because we’re the good guys. Jodi Rudoren, NYT:

For a 29-year-old captain whose eight years in the unit ended in 2011, the transformational moment came in watching “The Lives of Others,” a 2006 film about the operations of the East German secret police.

“I felt a lot of sympathy for the victims in the film of the intelligence,” the captain said. “But I did feel a weird, confusing sense of similarity, I identified myself with the intelligence workers. That we were similar to the kind of oppressive intelligence in oppressive regimes really was a deep realization that makes us all feel that we have to take responsibility.”

Posted in abuse of power, israel, NSA eavesdropping | Leave a Comment »

Tony Auth dies

Posted by Charles II on September 14, 2014

One of America’s best political cartoonists has died. We will miss him very much.

Image from here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

 
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