05/12/2013 archive

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Are CIA Mockingbirds Still Nesting in Nicaragua? by Justina

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega celebrating Sandinista election victory in 2006 in the Revolutionary Plaza, Managua.

“You could get a journalist cheaper than a good call girl, for a couple hundred dollars a month.” – CIA operative discussing with Philip Graham, editor Washington Post, on the availability and prices of journalists willing to peddle CIA propaganda and cover stories. (from “Katherine The Great,” by Deborah Davis (New York: Sheridan Square Press, 1991)

Thus Davis chronicles the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) official campaign to turn American newspapers, into conduits for its anti-communist ideology which began after World War II.  It was called “Operation Mockingbird”.   Perhaps the operation would have been more accurately named “Operation Cuckoo” as the cuckoo will lay its egg in another bird’s nest and steal the original. With this propaganda operation and spying operation, the CIA effectively threw objectivity out of the nest of American journalism and put CIA denominated news in its place.  

The CIA was successful in capturing the nests of the biggest newspapers in the U.S., including the the “Washington Post”, the “N.Y. Times” , and the “Los Angeles Times”, among many others.  They all still seem to be on team.  During the years of the Contra war against the lawful Sandinista government in the 1980’s, the CIA employed similar methods here in Nicaragua.  Is it still going on here?

Rant of the Week: Stephen Colbert, N.R.A.-vana

The Word – N.R.A.-vana

As grieving families start to win the emotional argument on gun control, Senator Rand Paul reminds America that gun owners have been the real victims.

No Joy in Mudville?

Silly liberals wearing crowns

by digby, Hullabaloo

5/11/2013 03:30:00 PM

Watch Glenn Greenwald irritate the hell out of Bill Maher last night with his “silly liberal” opinion that Islam is not some kind of uniquely violent religion — and that US foreign policy might just be partly to blame for its believers’ hostility towards America.

I would love to know why Maher thinks that making this (to me, obvious) observation makes liberals “feel good.” I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but it makes me feel like shit.

Greenwald and Maher are both wrong

by thereisnospoon, Hullabaloo

5/12/2013 07:30:00 AM

People tend to see the winner of the debate as the one who confirmed their own prior views. Maher’s argument is that Islam is a uniquely violent religion; Greenwald’s is that there’s no difference between Islam and any other religion, but that U.S. imperialism is to blame for any differential blowback.

But the evidence would dictate that they’re both wrong. Both of their arguments are too simplistic to be taken seriously, and both are easily assailable.

The ease of financing a government with oil money tempts elites into creating an economy without a substantial middle-class tax base, and without a voice of the people in government. The people are free enough to be angry and act on that anger, but not free enough to succeed or create real change. This is when fundamentalist religion is most dangerous.

This is true everywhere, regardless of whether the people in question are Christian or Muslim.

And indeed, one of the more depressing dynamics in American politics is the immediate hope on both sides after any terrorist act that a member of the other tribe be implicated. Conservatives hope to see a Muslim terrorist implicated, while liberals hope it’s a right-wing terrorist extremist. This is pointless and foolish. In fact, progressives should simply note that there’s barely a breath of difference between the two.

This isn’t about imperialism or about Islam. This is about fundamentalism, and the need to uproot it in favor of a more ecumenical, open-minded progressivism wherever it exists.

No sorry David, Glenn Greenwald is not wrong

by digby, Hullabaloo

5/12/2013 09:26:00 AM

It’s interesting that David Atkins thinks that both Greenwald and  Maher are wrong since I came down heavily on Greenwald’s side just yesterday. I suppose he was being polite. But obviously David’s screed requires a response from me since he could just as easily have put my name in the title of his post.

Let me first say right upfront that I don’t dictate what anyone writes on this blog.  It’s a free forum and just because I might disagree with the thesis, in this case quite vehemently, I would never remove the piece simply on that basis. Free speech and clash of ideas and all that rot. But I do reserve the the right to respond when I think it’s necessary. So.

Unfortunately, David chose to represent Greenwald’s views as being some sort of simplistic “blaming” of all the world’s ills on imperialism. That’s not what he said. Indeed he said several times, in response to Maher’s repeated insistence, that he did not believe that. He was referring specifically to the perennial question of “why they hate us.”  He believes that the beef stems from American foreign policy of the past six decades and not out of some religious hatred for The Great Satan.  In other words, he doesn’t think they hate us for our freedoms or because Allah told them so, but rather for our insistence on interfering in the rest of the world’s business both economically and militarily.  (Yes,  that’s “imperialism” and we are an empire, which is indisputable.)

My big black dog-

tins is a straight out apparatchik for the institutional Democratic Party and has been since his first days at dK.  He has no special intuition or skill, and I’ve worked enough of my life in actual consumer research (where you get fired when you’re as egregiously wrong as he always is) to know that.

digby is a willing shill for the lesser of… experiencing buyer’s remorse.

Boo who?

Without dday the place is an empty shell hardly worthy of notice except as a justification for my tendency to quote sources extensively (what digby says).

I assume some of you are anticipating my death match with TheMomCat but outside the inherent ugliness of 2 struldbrugs covered in goo we mostly disagree about who radicalized who and our disputes are as interesting as a Boca Raton early bird dinner argument over the tip.

On This Day In History May 12

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

Click on images to enlarge

May 12 is the 132nd day of the year (133rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 233 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1937, George Denis Patrick Carlin was born in the Bronx. He was raised by his mother in Morningside Heights which he and his friends called “White Harlem” because it sounded tougher. He was raised Irish Catholic and educated in Catholic schools. He often ran away from home. After joining the Air Force while stationed in Louisiana, Carlin became a DJ in Shreveport starting on his long career in entertainment. Carlin rose to fame during the 60’s and 70’s, generating the most controversy with his famous “Seven Dirty Words”:

Shit, Piss, Fuck, Cunt, Cocksucker, Motherfucker, and Tits. Those are the heavy seven. Those are the ones that’ll infect your soul, curve your spine and keep the country from winning the war.

His arrest and the subsequent FCC rulings ended up in the Supreme Court which upheld the right of the FCC to regulate the public airways. In the ruling it called the routine “indecent but not obscene”.

In 1961, Carlin was also present in the audience the night that Lenny Bruce was arrested in San Fransisco for obscenity. He was arrested, as well, after the police, who were questioning the audience, asked Carlin for ID. He said he didn’t have any because he didn’t believe in government-issued ID’s.

We all know the rest. His popularity as a comic and “commentarian” on politics, religion and social issues made him a popular guest on late night talk shows. His death in  June 22, 2008 saddened many. He left behind his second wife, Sally Wade, whom he married after his first wife Brenda died of liver cancer in 1997. He left a daughter by his first marriage, Kelly.

Happy Birthday, George, you are missed.

Punting the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition

Punting the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

The Sunday Talking Heads:

Up with Steve Kornacki: Steve’s guests on Sunday’s show are: Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, Executive Director, CEO and Co-Founder,  MomsRising.org; Celinda Lake, Democratic Pollster, President, Lake Research Partners;  Stephanie Schriock, president of Emily’s List; Maya Wiley, Founder and President of the Center for Social Inclusion; former Sen. Sheila Frahm (R-KA); Thomas Frank, author, What’s the Matter With Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America, columnist, Harper’s Magazine; Urvashi Vaid, currently Director of the Engaging Tradition Project at the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School; Pat Brady, former Chairman, Illinois Republican Party; Rachel Stassen-Berger, political reporter, The Star Tribune; and State Sen. Kelvin Atkinson (D-NV).

This Week with George Stephanopolis: Guests on “This Week” are  Sen. John McCain (R-AZ); and Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI).

On a special Foreign Policy Roundtable: George Will, Washington Post, former Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chair Gen. James Cartwright, Ruth Marcus, columnist Washington Post; and Jonathan Karl, ABC News contributor.

At the political roundtable: George Will; Democratic Strategist Donna Brazile; GOP Strategist Mathew Dowd, former Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-NH) and Jonathan Karl.

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer: Mr. Schieffer’s guests are former Defense Secretary William Gates; Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL); Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH); and Poet Maya Angelou.

His roundtable guests are: David Sanger, New York Times reporter, Bobby Ghosh, TIME; David Rohde, Reuters; and Sharyl Attkisson, CBS News.

The Chris Matthews Show: This week’s guests are  Howard Fineman, Huffington Post; S. E. Cupp, MSNBC; Joe Klein, TIME; and Kelly O’Donnell, NBC News.

Meet the Press with David Gregory: On this week’s MTP:  Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA); Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA); and Former Ambassador Thomas Pickering.

The roundtable guests are: Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), David Brooks; columnist for The New York Times; Katty Kay, reporter for the BBC; and Author Wes Moore.

State of the Union with Candy Crowley: Ms. Crowley’s guests are Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL); Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI); GOP Strategist Alex Castellanos; Democratic Strategist Mo Elleithee; and Karen Tumulty , Washington Post.

Formula One 2013: Circuit de Catalunya

I really can’t think of anything I’d like less to do this weekend than write about Formula One.  I could be getting a good nap for instance, the insides of my eyelids miss me.

Frankly the only new news is tires (again) and I’m tired of them.

The developing story line is that Pirelli has strengthened the steel belts in its steel belted radials (remember when those were going to save the world from random boards with nails sticking out?)  to the point that under stress huge chunks of rubber fly off leaving you to drive on square wheels and rims.  So they’re forced to re-formulate which throws out all your testing (which was done at this very race track by the way).

It’s mildly amusing that the silver arrows (f1 hip speak for Mercedes) are in the Front Row (Bob Uecker, which really is hip) and McLaren’s champion, Jenson Button, didn’t make it out of Q2 despite all the aero tweaks (which many teams are sporting, they must be bored).

Massa and Gutierrez both have 3 grid penalties for impeding during Qualifying.

For you GP2 enthusiasts (c’mon, there must be some)-

There’s No Clear Path for Racing Drivers on the Way Up

By BRAD SPURGEON, The New York Times

Published: May 10, 2013

Although there are probably more racing series lower down the racing ladder than ever before, these training grounds are not only inadequate, but there are far too many and they are too disparate to form an authoritative route to the pinnacle of world auto racing.

As a result of several recent complaints by team directors and drivers that they haven’t any time to adapt, Formula One decided to act. Starting this weekend, as the series begins its season in Europe at the Spanish Grand Prix outside Barcelona, the teams have an extra set of tires for the Friday morning practice session to allow drivers to spend more time driving on the track rather than sitting in the garage.

In fact, the rookies were not the only consideration. In the first four races this season, there was little track action in the first session of the weekend, which meant a failure to provide a show for the spectators.

In July, the former Formula One driver Gerhard Berger was assigned by the International Automobile Federation, or FIA, the series’ governing body, to create a clear-cut system that would take drivers all the way from karting up to Formula One.

“People are complaining that the best drivers are now all spread out and so you cannot look at the British Formula 3 Championship, for example, and say that he is certain to get to Formula One,” Berger was quoted as saying in an article in an FIA publication. “These days the best drivers are all over the place: one in Formula 3, one in GP3, one in Formula Renault and one in Formula Abarth. The system no longer does what it is supposed to do, which is to give a highly talented driver a C.V. he can use to progress to Formula One.”

The rookie who was probably the best prepared this season is Valterri Bottas at the Williams team, who was carefully groomed and given track time last year during Friday practice sessions when he was a back-up driver for the team.

“For how it is nowadays in Formula One, I really got the best development for my first races,” Bottas said, “and even with that I would have preferred to drive more.”

“Testing is one thing, the racing is another,” said Daniel Ricciardo, who is in his second year as a driver at Toro Rosso. “Testing is definitely going to help you 80 percent, and that 20 percent you can only learn on the track out there Sunday.”

Williams is no more competitive this season than it was last, perhaps less.

Pretty tables below.

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

Sharif ‘set for Pakistan poll win’

12 May 2013 Last updated at 07:14 GMT

Former Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif is celebrating with his supporters, amid early signs that his party will be the largest after parliamentary elections.

Media projections based on partial results suggest a big lead for Mr Sharif’s Muslim League, and he has already claimed victory.

The election should lead to the country’s first transition from one elected government to another.

The turnout was huge but the poll was marred by violence.

In Karachi, the Pakistan Taliban said they planted a bomb which killed 11 people and wounded 40 others.

Sunday’s Headlines:

Shadow threatens anti-trafficker’s greatest moment

Chinese move on from snapping up fine wines, to buying the whole vineyards

Extremism in Nigeria: Africa’s great unreported bloodletting

Red Bull runs into criticism over extreme sports

CO2 at historic high, paves way for ‘prehistoric’ climate

What We Now Know

In his “What We Know Now” segment, Up host Steve Kornacki notes that Sen Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is proposing legislation that is aimed at lowering the rate students pay on their loans to the same rate that banks get when borrowing from the Federal Reserve. Steve is joined by his guests Jared Bernstein, former economic advisor to V.P. Joe Biden; Sarah Kliff, health policy reporter for The Washington Post; Perry Bacon, Jr., TheGrio.com and MSNBC contributor; and former Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA), now MSNBC contributor, to discuss what they have learned this past week.

Elizabeth Warren: Student Loans Should Have Same Rate Big Banks Get

by Ryan Grim and Will Wrigley, Huffington Post

WASHINGTON — Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) unveiled her first bill Wednesday, designed to set student loan interest rates at the same level the Federal Reserve offers to big banks.

With some student loan rates set to double on July 1 — from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent — Warren’s bill would reduce student loan interest rates to 0.75 percent, opening the Fed’s discount window to students.

“Every single day, this country invests in big banks by lending them money at near-zero rates,” Warren told The Huffington Post. “We should make the same kind of investment lending money to students, who are trying to get an education.”

Working Families Flexibility Act Passes House Over Opposition Of Democrats, Labor

by Dave Jamieson, Huffington Post

WASHINGTON — As part of their efforts to rebrand the GOP as a more caring party, House Republicans passed a hotly debated bill Wednesday that would loosen federal overtime laws, allowing for “comp” time instead of pay for private-sector employees who work more than 40 hours in a week.

Although GOP legislators made a strong public-relations push for the bill as worker-friendly legislation, the measure is not expected to go anywhere in the Democrat-controlled Senate, and the White House said Monday that the president would be advised to veto such legislation on the grounds that it would weaken protections in the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Pentagon: Estimated 26,000 Sexual Assaults In Military Last Year

by Hayes Brown, Think Progress

Just one day after the Air Force’s chief of sexual assault prevention was arrested for sexual assault himself, a new Pentagon report shows a sharp increase in the estimated number of assaults in the military annually.

The report from the Department of Defense’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office for Fiscal Year 2012 found a 6 percent rise in reported assaults over the last year, for a total of 3,374. But much more troubling is the estimated number of sexual assault incidents that were never officially reported. In last year’s report, there were an estimated 19,000 instances, but this year the number has jumped to an unprecedented 26,000 instances of assault, leaving thousands unreported.

Environmentalists seize on Biden’s Keystone XL remarks to launch new attack

by Juliet Eilperin, The Washington Post

Environmentalists have seized on a comment Vice President Biden made while working a rope line in Columbia, S.C., on Friday, in which he told an activist he is “in the minority” within the administration when it comes to opposing the Keystone XL pipeline.

Elaine Cooper, who serves on the executive committee of the Sierra Club’s South Caroline chapter, said in an interview Wednesday that Biden shared his thoughts with her during Rep. James Clyburn’s (D-S.C.) annual fish fry.

Buzzfeed first reported the vice president’s remarks late Tuesday, based on an e-mail a colleague of Cooper had sent to fellow environmentalists.

Electoral Victory My Ass

Democratic strategist: Party ‘in decline’


5/10/13 5:05 AM EDT

“Since Obama was elected President, the Democrats have lost nine governorships, 56 members of the House and two Senate seats,” Doug Sosnik, the political director in Bill Clinton’s White House, writes in a new memo.

While Republican branding problems get the lion’s share of attention, the Democratic Party’s favorability rating has declined by 15 points since Obama took power. A Pew Research Center survey this January showed that the Democratic Party was viewed favorably by 47 percent of Americans, down from 62 percent in Jan. 2009.

With the likelihood of gridlock and near-record-low confidence in public institutions, Sosnik expects 2014 to bring the fourth change election in the past eight years.

Obama neither directly campaigned nor raised money for down-ticket Democrats last year. The post-election creation of Organizing for Action to push his own agenda has upset party regulars because it makes the Democratic National Committee less relevant than ever, squeezes fundraising for other Democratic groups and emphasizes issues that put moderates in a bind.

“Obama not only got elected by running against the party establishment, but he has governed as a President who does not emphasize his party label,” writes Sosnik. “It’s hard to be a change agent if you are lugging around a party label in an era where voters are so strongly disaffected from our institutions.”