Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Hoaxing -- or: The surrealist conspiracy



Yes, I've been away from blogging for a while -- which means that fewer readers will see these words. That is probably all to the good. I plan to be discursive and informal today; only my intimates will plow through to the end.

Part of my leave of absence was devoted to the art of being sad. Having lost the closest thing to a child that I've ever had, I felt a sadness that weighed like a suit of concrete. During this period, I made a pathetic attempt to resurrect my irretrievably corrupted draftsmanship chops. When you fire up the non-verbal part of your brain, the verbal part goes dormant, and pretty soon you turn into the Feral Kid from The Road Warrior. The Feral Kid don't blog.

Now I'm back -- and I'm almost ready to face a world brimming with war and rumors of war.

(A lot has been going on in the news. For some reason, CNN is devoting all of its airtime to the tale of an airline pilot who went crazy and crashed his plane. Yes, this is a horrifying incident -- but does it really deserve that kind of obsessive coverage?)

Tomorrow, this blog will (probably) return to politics and other horrors. Today is the day of the Fool, a day that many writers, including this one, have used to pay homage to Loki, god of mischief.

This post is not an April Fool's Day hoax. I want to write an essay about hoaxes -- with emphasis on one important example of the genre.

Despite my penchant for the odd and the outre, this blog has (mostly) avoided all mention of Rennes-le-Chateau and its attendant mysteries. You know what I'm talking about: Holy Blood, Holy Grail, The Messianic Legacy, The Da Vinci Code. Books like that.

I have avoided this topic because I don't like the kind of people it attracts.  In my experience, the "Rennes-le-ChaToadies" are the most twisted toons in Toontown. They make flying saucer buffs and 9/11 wackadoodles seem like the apostles of sweet reason. 

The skeptics and scoffers can be as nutty as the wild goose chasers. One particular bah-humbugger is named....well, let's call him "Peter Jones." (That pseudonym is as transparent as I dare.) "Peter" spent years gazing into the abyss. The abyss gazed back, just as dear old Friedrich predicted it would. Then the abyss pissed bile and acid into poor Peter's skull. My advice: Don't talk to that guy, don't email that guy, don't get on his radar in any way.

(If you're looking for a good skeptical view of the mystery authored by a couple of non-crazy investigators, invest in The Treasure of Rennes-le-Chateau: A Mystery Solved by Putnam and Wood. Though not the last word on this topic -- see here -- this is an excellent book which deserves to be better-circulated in America. One should also mention the French historian René Descadeillas, who did some remarkable field work many years ago.)

This post is not the place to bring newbies up to speed. Let's presume that you heard the basics of the Rennes-le-Chateau story during the brouhaha engendered by the release of Dan Brown's book. That was -- egads! -- twelve years ago.

Here is my take, in brief:

I think that far-right plotters entrusted Abbé Bérenger Saunière with monies intended to pay for a planned reactionary revolution against the Third Republic. I think that he got into the habit of dipping into the till. This secret fund is how he got rich. The simony racket was a cute way to disguise the donations to the rightist cause.

Unless you get up to speed on the "war" between the Republicans and the Monarchists in that era, you'll never understand the Saunière story. You also won't be able to comprehend a lot of other weirdness that went down in France in this period. Alas, many conspiracy-crazed Americans refuse to learn the basics of French history. We prefer to read claptrap about Freemasons and Templars and the shocking uses which Jesus found for The Holy Wee-Wee. 

The foremost provider of red herring was, as most of you know, a pretentious French occultist named Pierre Plantard. He was a disciple of a bizarre fellow named Georges Monti. Monti, in turn, had been an associate of Aleister Crowley, the subject of a previous Cannonfire post written on this date.

In the 1950s, Plantard formulated a secret society called the Priory of Sion, which claimed to be very powerful and very ancient. It was neither.

Unfortunately, Plantard's deceptions took in some early writers -- including Henry Lincoln, subject of this absolutely delightful interview. (You can't help but love the guy.)

People unfamiliar with the history of occult societies don't know that members of that twilight world often like to pretend that their newly-minted groups are venerable and puissant. Imagine a garage band that tries to pass itself off as the Stones.

Leading occult writers (Crowley, Blavatsky, Plantard, etc.) also have a tendency to make false claims of an aristocratic lineage. These affectations don't fool most other occultists, although they rarely mount a challenge. One simply learns to play along with the bullpuckey, the way vinyl LP collectors learn not to hear all of those scratches and pops.

Poor Henry Lincoln! He stumbled into this milieu without knowing the ropes. Or, rather, the tropes.

As it happens, Plantard's partner, Philippe de Cherisey, really did come from an aristocratic family. For some reason, de Cherisey has attracted much less attention than has Plantard. De Cherisey created the fake "treasure" documents which play such a massive role in this tale, and I'm pretty sure that he wrote or compiled much of the "secret dossier" material which was wittily deposited in the Bibliotheque Nationale. It should be noted that de Cherisey was a literary man -- a humorist with a strong inclination toward surrealism.

Many people think that the Priory was always a two-man operation. Personally, I suspect that more players were involved, although not many more.

When they founded the Priory, Plantard and de Cherisey did not talk about the alleged treasure of Rennes-le-Chateau. Why? Because few people knew about it. The Saunière affair was a purely local story, and the person who told it most often was a restauranteur named Noel Corbu (who has, I think, gotten an undeservedly bad rap from some recent writers). There was a local news write-up in 1958, based on Corbu. This led to a chapter in a book by one Robert Charroux (who, it must be noted, said nothing about Jesus' wee-wee or similar concerns.) That book led to a 1961 television documentary, which made Rennes-le-Chateau famous, at least in France.

Originally, the story was framed purely as a "treasure trove" mystery, similar to the tales one hears about the Lost Dutchman Mine and Cocos Island. In the early 1960s, books about lost treasures enjoyed a certain vogue in France.

Along came Pierre Plantard. Nobody is quite sure when Plantard made his first journey to the mystery village, but it was around the time that Charroux published. When Plantard and de Cherisey decided to make use of the Rennes-le-Chateau story, they amped up the "weirdness factor." No longer was it a mere tale of lost treasure; we were now told that Saunière possessed Hermetic secrets that could change our view of all history.

In the 1960s, a respected journalist named Gérard de Sède fell under Plantard's sway -- much to de Sède's later regret. In 1967, he wrote a popular paperback titled L'Or de Rennes, a.k.a Le Trésor Maudit de Rennes-le-Château, a.k.a The Accursed Treasure. This was the book that sent Henry Lincoln on his merry way.

Lincoln and his co-authors produced a bestseller titled The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, shortened to Holy Blood, Holy Grail for the American audience. The book offers a riveting version of the Saunière tale, followed by a precis of the strange "secret" papers which de Cherisey deposited in France's national library.

Readers then learned about the Templars. The Cathars. Secret societies. Clues hidden in famous paintings. Secret bloodlines. And, finally, weird Jesus shit. If you want your book to capture the attention of Americans, include some weird Jesus shit in the final chapters. Americans love that stuff.

Later books about Rennes-le-Chateau brought in Atlantis, the Illuminati, Jules Verne, Victor Hugo, J.R.R. Tolkein, the tarot, flying saucers, P2, Oak Island, and lord-knows-what else. We really can't call the Rennes-le-Chateau story a hoax anymore. It has become a phantasmagoria of the fringe, a lint trap for cultural detritus.

Plantard wrote an essay in which he claimed that his father had been personally involved in the Rennes-le-Chateau mystery back in the day. Another lie. Plantard did not know about the mystery until Charroux wrote about it.

Most Americans don't know that earlier, in the late '50s and early '60s, Plantard had focused all of his attention on another lost treasure mystery.

This tale concerns a fabulous horde (32 massive caskets filled with gold!) buried beneath the ancient castle of Gisors. The Gisors affair is an enchanting yarn in its own right, although anyone who tries to explore this territory will soon detect the aromas of red herring and wild goose. Gisors was the topic of the first Plantard/de Sède collaboration -- a book titled Les Templiers sont parmi nous (The Templars Are Among Us). If memory serves, that book was published in 1961; I don't think that it has ever been translated into English.

Tellingly, the work contains no mention of Rennes-le-Chateau.

It does, however, have much to say about the Knights Templars, who supposedly compiled the treasure and secreted it beneath the castle when the King of France dissolved the order. Plantard's theory has one big problem: The Templars never owned that castle. In fact, at the time of the order's dissolution, the castle was linked to the King.

This documentary (embedded above) on the Templars and their fabulous treasure forced me to rethink the implications of the Rennes-le-Chateau affair, the grandest of all occult hoaxes. The documentary does a fair job of dramatizing the Gisors business, although it never mentions the lack of evidence linking the Templars to that castle. The film goes on to connect the treasure to the Oak Island enigma. I love the Oak Island story, but I don't see any hard evidence of Templar involvement.

The documentary gives the last word to a wild-haired mage named Gino Sandri, the grandmaster of the post-Plantard Priory of Sion. (I don't know how many other people are in his little club these days. Not many, I'd wager.)

Sandri de-bags a cat roughly the size of a saber-tooth tiger:
Myths and legends are at their most interesting when they remain undeciphered. When they have been created for that purpose. This is more common than you would imagine.
"This is more common than you would imagine."

Indeed.

Why did de Cherisey and Plantard get up to these tricks? Why did they write up those "secret dossiers" and deposit them in the Bibliotheque Nationale? They put a great deal of effort into their masquerade, and they even got themselves into legal hot water. Plantard was never as affluent as he liked to pretend, yet he refused to capitalize on the "mystery" -- even though there was a time when a book bearing his byline could have been an international bestseller. If money did not motivate him, what was the motive?

Some theorists argue that the answer lies with a literary movement called oulipo, which grew out of surrealism. Both de Cherisey and de Sède are reported to have been part of the surrealist movement.

Oulipo writers sought to discover new ideas by working within arbitrary constraints, such as creating literary works patterned after the "Knight's Tour" chess problem. An acrostic poem may be considered a kind of oulipo work.

The ultimate surrealist literary endeavor would be to create an entirely new national history -- and to make that history stick in the public's mind, using every possible stratagem. A surrealist who pulled off that trick could rise to no greater heights.

Re-read Sandri's words, and then consider the outlandish alternate history of the Obama years concocted by Ed Klein. Millions of people actually believe those fabrications. People pay good money to be told the lies they want to hear.

Consider the hoax documents which caused the flying saucer buffs to lose their ever-tenuous grip on rationality.

Consider Bill O'Reilly's fanciful tale about George de Mohrenschildt.

Consider the "proof" that Russia shot down that Malaysian airliner.

Consider the "proof" that Assad used sarin on his own people.

Consider the "proof" that Saddam Hussein had WMDs.

Consider all of the other hoaxes -- and I'm not talking about wrongheaded theories; I'm talking about deliberate hoaxes -- which have circulated on the fringe. The Protocols. Report From Iron Mountain. Silent Weapons. These japes have had a cumulative impact on our culture.

This blog has documented scores of these fabrications. Our entire culture feasts on them -- and we are what we eat. Hoaxes used to be a side dish; now, they are the steak. In a society so devoted to lying, anyone who feels cocksure about his ability to sort hoax from reality is a pretentious, arrogant ninny.

Many have declared that "You are entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts." The surrealists dared to say au contraire. No-one, as far as I know, has created a conspiracy theory in which the surrealists assume the "Illuminati" position, but such a theory would explain a lot.

You want to call on Occam's Razor? Fine. The simplest explanation for the mess we're in is the theory that the world has been taken over by a cabal of mad surrealists, and we are now living in a surrealist mind screw.

Reports of Pierre Plantard's death were in error. Under the name "Roger Ailes," he controls Fox News. Using a wide variety of other aliases, Plantard regularly contributes editorials to The New York Times and The Washington Post. I'm pretty sure that he also writes the President's Daily Brief.

Today is not April Fool's Day. Every day is April Fool's Day.
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Comments:
Good to see you back, Joe. Great article.
Consider the 'proof" that an airline pilot went crazy and crashed his aeroplane.
 
I haven't got time to write a novel in response to this post, and most of my relevant books remain in storage, but just some quick points.

What was the political activity of Pierre Plantard's family members, going back say 1-4 generations, through synarchy, the Cagoule, Action Française and back into the 19th century? Without asking this question, it's impossible to get a proper handle on how much the guy made up in the 1950s. Picknett and Prince touch on the question only very lightly, but substantially enough to suggest that the answer shouldn't be null.

Gisors - ah! Not a red herring if Jacques du Molay really was imprisoned there, which my limited reading suggests he may have been. At least André Malraux was into the ‘mystery’. (What drugs he was taking I don't know. There’s great scope for someone to publish an esoteric interpretation of his works, even today.) It’s remarkable that nobody has yet focused in print on who had the castle built at Gisors in the first place. It was William II of England, known as Rufus, son of the conqueror and brother of crusader Robert. Rufus died a remarkable death in the New Forest in England, the subject of much speculation and several competing theories - not just now but at the time. (Curiously, certain ideas about his demise were caused to surface to a large public around two-thirds of the way through the 20th century, in a way that was similar to developments at the same time in the Jack the Ripper story. I make this observation not to suggest any strange connections but to delight those who are interested in how such stories play out structurally.)

Ah, the New Forest and Rufus. Many connections. Margaret Murray. You want Gerald Gardner, or Aleister Crowley? You got them. Arthur Conan Doyle? Sure! Symbolic strands coming down to the present day, through ancient institutions which at the moment I care not to name? Be my guest. Suggested starting-point for those with whetted appetites: Minstead.

Oulipo, though, probably is a red herring. But my attitude is partly shaped by anger at how surrealism (and as far as I'm concerned, the French surrealists were good guys, and their scene remains on the good side of the street even to our own time) never managed to get its antibodies working against such right-wing fuckers as Salvador Dali or to send out resistance elements against parties such as, say, Mircea Eliade. What the fuck? Pope André, mate, you should have travelled forward in a time-machine and asked me! I'd have helped you out!

A new national history? Sounds awfully like Julius Evola...or even 'Prince' Charles, dimwitted mashed-potato-brained pal of his fellow Cambridge Trinitarian, the late John Michell, who was Evolist to his mystical nationalist far-right scumsucking core. (Some morons can't even get their heads around that idea - even when Michell had a column as a "Radical Traditionalist", was happy to write a piece for inclusion in a limited numbered edition of Evola's Men Among the Ruins, and for fuck's sake also wrote a pamphlet in which his main concern was to praise Adolf Hitler.) By 'radical tradition', these types don't mean William Blake. William Blake was our boy. View over Atlantis was on the other side of the social war entirely! See also Evola's 'holy grail', but Michell's work invites a more contemporary comparison with the PS effort across the Channel.

Some of the Priory of Sion stuff was still-born. It may have spawned the best-selling novel of all time, but in political culture it hardly got off the ground.
 
Good to have you back Joseph. Excellent piece. I read Holy Blood, Holy Grail some years ago, and was fascinated by it. Of course, the more I dug into the "information" in it, the more skeptical I became. Once Dan Brown jumped into the fray, I knew something was not on the up and up. Thanks for the added info.
 
I flicked through the 2015 documentary and will watch it later. Richard Kemp is full of it - when he was at Shugborough he made a lot of shit up and then launched his PR career on the back of it. I've dealt with him. He's not serious.

First time I'd seen a picture of Gino Sandri. Is there a visual resemblance to Pierre Plantard, or is it me?

Pictures of the two of them are side by side here.
 
I don't like hoaxes, I don't see the point. I'm particularly unfond of April Fool's Day. Looking at Slashdot has been awful today. Objectionable.

There was a satirical group called The Yes Men who did hoaxes by pretending, for example, to be spokesmen for Dow Chemical, and then went to the BBC and announced Dow would be compensating the victims of the Bhopal disaster. It's nice, but I don't see the point. They ended up publishing a New York Times with stories they would like to be true. "Nuclear Disarmament Announced", "Maximum Wage Law Passes", that sort of thing. Would that not have been better as a political manifesto?

Regarding Rennes le Chateau, I once read a book about it called "Rat Scabies and the Holy Grail", by a Melody Maker journalist who chronicled the investigations of one-time punk drummer Rat Scabies as he investigated it.

On the whole I'm not really into the Templars, Rosslyn, Rennes thing, but I do have a very slight personal connection to the whole arrangement. When the English Templars were eventually rounded up they were taken off to various dungeons around the place, including one beneath a castle I used to be able to see out of my window. The dungeons are normally locked but I got to have a look around one day and the guide told an odd tale about a member of the royal family turning up just before the first world war and smashing a hole in the wall to recover some unspecified hidden object. I can't say if that was true, but there was a hole in the wall revealing what appeared to be a hiding place suitable for an unspecified object.

The last Grand Master of the English Templars was arrested, and earlier inducted, at Temple Bruer preceptory, which is now a tiny heathland hamlet. I remember when I was young being taken there, for no obvious reason, and being told that the place has exactly seven roads and seven houses, neither of which seem to be true.

Everyone likes lost treasure. Hopsicker has recorded seemingly CIA types running money-related scams as laundering their proceeds through companies supposedly organised to search for sunken shipwrecks. Gold and such. There was recently a BBC documentary about a man searching for several chests of gold coins dispatched by the Spanish to aid bonnie Prince Charlie. There are also various legends about buried treasure: that it causes Will O' The Wisp, that it can be spotted by a white dog with blue eyes, that is attracts dragons. At the other end of the aforementioned castle from the dungeon of the Templars is the room where King John died, poisoned by a monk. Or, possibly the room may be upstair from the dungeon, stories differ. Not long before he had been forced to dump all his treasure in the Wash, where it was never seen again.

I don't like surrealists either.
 
b, I should quickly7 say that a leg-puller and a yarn-spinner may well have serious beliefs and serious connections. Those who try to study the great occultists of yesteryear often have a hard time coming to grips with this contradiction. Dear old Uncle Al told many a wild yarn, yet he really believed in what he wrote. Hubbard was one of the most obnoxious and outlandish liars in history, yet there was a level on which he believed in his own line.

You all know of my obsession with J.J. Angleton. I am tempted to call him an occultist, although doing so stretches the definition a little too far. He was, in my opinion, the most important hoaxer in all of history. Yet he was taken in by his own hoax.

To paraphrase Friedrich: Don't try to prank the abyss, for the abyss will prank YOU.
 
Let me add a few more points regarding what b wrote, although I don't have the time or energy to address the main stuff.

I would like to know more about Richard Kemp.

I did not know about John Michell's dark side. I've read a couple of his books. Fun stuff.

If de Molay was imprisoned at Gisors, how the hell could the Templars have conducted a massive underground excavation/construction project there? Literally under the noses of their persecutors?

Sandri really does look like Plantard...with Jean Markale's hair. Markale was the coolest looking dude of all time. I'd cultivate that look, but head shaving is more comfortable.

Nobody really knows the full story about Plantard's connections and family history. But SOMETHING must have been going on there. He could not have published "Vaincre" during the Petain years unless he had (as the Israelis like to say) "a horse" pulling for him.
 
(Part 1 of 2)

My Michell-PS linkage may have been too obscure for some. I should maybe have mentioned that Gerard de Sède's early book Les Templiers sont Parmi Nous ('The Templars are Among Us') featured Venusians. Either that or another early book by him also featured a big hexagonal alignment on a map of France.

@Stephen Morgan - Interesting story about a member of the 'British' royal family before WW1. May I guess? Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn. Am I right? (Or if it was prior to the ascension of Edward VII in 1910, then him.)

Those guys were heads of an English masonic order called the Knights Templar. I jest not. Sometimes the way this stuff is handled reminds me of the Finbarr Saunders and his Double Entendres strip in the British cartoon magazine Viz. I mean there actually is a fucking English Knights Templar order, which has been headed by members of the royal family. All 'serious' English freemasons have heard of it. It's one of the biggest orders outside of the mainstream craft. But AFAICR it doesn't even get mentioned in either Holy Blood, Holy Grail or any of the followups.

And the word 'Templar' refers to...? And in 1917 Jerusalem fell to...? There's a massive lacuna here. We hear of complex and long-lived strands of symbolism attached to the Crusades and to the eventual defeat of the Christians when the Muslims conquered Jerusalem, and we hear of the obsession among some of the elite Scottish families with the Templars. And it's all very interesting. But the British Christian conquest of Jerusalem in 1917 (even if the Holy Places were respected) doesn't get a look-in. The Brits were in East Jerusalem until the 1950s. I've always meant to figure out how they were pushed out. The British Army's Jewish Legion didn't leave much of an imprint in the military structures of Israel, but the same isn't true of its Arab Legion in Jordan. Anyhow, the Brits were gone by the time the Jews took East Jerusalem in 1967. Poor old Christians - they held the city even more briefly the second time than the first :-)

Just to add to the atmosphere: the first big excavations of the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount were carried out by...? The answer is Charles Warren, the 'Juwes'-graffiti-wiping Ripper cop, who resigned just before the murder of Marie Kelly in 1888. Incidentally the British Order of 'St John' (which runs a lot of ambulances in Britain and an ophthalmic hospital in Jerusalem) was chartered in that same year. I've long had a hunch that that's important in the Ripper story.

Nowadays the activity of the KT - the English order of that name - overlaps a lot with the activity of the OSJ. For example, a lot of the 'charitable' work of the KT helps the eye hospital.
 
Part 2 of 2

@Joseph - I don't know enough to answer about the possibility of underground work by the Templars at Gisors. How does the cutting of the elm connect? Referenced in artwork by René d'Anjou if I recall. Thomas Becket spent a lot of time at Gisors. His murder was extraordinary. Among other things it set Canterbury up as a major pilgrim site. (Hat tip to the Wikipedia author who references the Korean axe murder incident in the article on the cutting of the elm. That association came to my mind too. The US general made himself a swagger stick out of that tree. I wonder where any relics of the Gisors elm might be.) I suspect the importance of Gisors predates the Templars.

Richard Kemp was the general manager at Shugborough (a large estate) who got an aged couple who had worked at Bletchley Park in earlier life to have a go at 'cracking the code' on the Shepherds Monument and who then sold the 'Holy Grail at Shugborough' idea to the world's media. He was only doing his job. He did it well, and he also introduced (or made into a bigger thing) the employment of staff wearing period dress, so if you visit Shugborough you can see and hear people dressed in period costume making cheese, looking after chickens and doing all sorts of other things, not behind ropes but working and talking and walking about in the same space as you. From memory, their reference date is in the first decade of the 19th century. Kemp put a few backs up, probably mainly because he had some new ideas and was successful in implementing them, making a splash not in the local idiotic rag but in the national and world media (hello local government resentment) rather than because his 'holy grail' story was bullshit. It wouldn't surprise me if snobbery played a part in the acrimony against him too, Britain being what it is. He then managed to set himself up as a PR man on the back of his success. How successful he has been in that venture I don't know. But I wouldn't believe any assessment he comes out with of anyone's 'theory' about the Shepherds Monument inscription or anything else at Shugborough. He’s not really interested.

Maybe Sandri and Markale have the same barber? :-)

Agreed with your point about Vaincre. The ‘PP made it all up in the 1950s’ idea causes wise heads to nod, as they move on from interest in the Priory of Sion business to concerns with other things in life, but it doesn’t even get off the ground...

BTW @Stephen, didn’t you use a Marcel Duchamp image once upon a time as your profile pic, or am I getting confused?
 
@b: I believe it was before 1910 and was Edward VII, but I heard this many years ago.

Off the top of my head I don't even know who du Champ is, and I think my current profile picture is the only one I've had.
 
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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Back soon...

Probably tomorrow.
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Comments:
Been there, done that, more times than I can count…& though I don't believe in death anymore, it still hurts like hell.

So--give yourself a couple of months to grieve your beloved Bella, and then go out and get yourself a baby dog and start all over again.

And give up this silly idea that physical death is the end of anything. It ain't--not even close.
 
Ready for some really good conspiracy-mongering?

Check this story out >
http://rt.com/usa/244969-texas-martial-law-army/
 
Thinking of and worrying about you, Joe. Please take care. Heading to Philly tomorrow. I'll throw you a wave as I pass Baltimore.

Peggysue
 
Please take care of yourself.
 
Hang in there, friend. We enjoy seeing you back but take the time you need.
 
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Monday, March 23, 2015

No blogging

I knew this day was coming but it still hurts. I buried the most important member of my family. She was a fighter to the end.

It's National Puppy Day.
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Comments:
Very sorry to hear that. Nothing can ease the sting, but time.

syborg
 
<3 I don't know how to create a broken heart icon, so just a heart. So sorry for your loss.
 
SO sorry to hear this Joseph. I only became a dog lover in the past couple years, thanks to the love of my life being one (I was heading that way anyway.......I had been afraid of dogs growing up, but as I got older and more friends and relatives had dogs, I became more comfortable with them). Now I can't imagine life without my dog. Bella will be missed, even by those of us who never met her, but feel like we know her well from your posts about her.
 
Sorry man.
 
Sorry for lost Joseph
 
So sorry, Joe. I know you loved Bella like crazy and it hurts like hell. In fact, it's the bad part about having puppies--they're always gone too soon.

Take care,

Peggysue
 
very sorry to hear that
 
Sorry, Joe. I thought I'd lost my old dog last night but he pulled through.
 
I'm so sorry, Joe. One of the great injustices of nature is that our best and most loyal friends are so short-lived.
 
It's a bit sappy but google "Rainbow Bridge". Every time I lose a member of my pet family, I have unfortunately, read it several times in the last 8 years and it makes me feel that I'm not alone. Many of us share this unbearable grief but are left knowing we loved and were loved unconditionally. My heart goes out to you.
 
Bob: I'm so glad that your dog made it. That makes things better. What happened?

Everyone, thanks is too small a word. I don't know what else to say though. The vet's assistant didn't believe me when I told her that this dog was semi-famous.

Rainbow Bridge? Will do. I've gone through the vodka.
 
So sorry.
 
So sorry.
 
I had to say goodbye to my sweet lady - also named Bella - this past November, so I can empathize with your pain and sorrow. Hopefully you can find some solace in the knowledge that you treated her well and she loved you unconditionally.
 
sorry for your loss joe.. she would want you to be happy. keep that in mind.. she brought you an incredible amount of happiness and although she is gone, she would still want you to be happy. right now you're grieving, but be kind to yourself in the meantime. - james
 
So sorry for your loss.
Purenoiz
 
It hurts so bad, and when I lost Tony it was at least as hard as when I lost my parents. It took me eight months before I got a second dog to keep the chihuahua company.

The chi has congestive heart failure and has been on medication for over a year. I believe he has had this disease for about two years. Right now he is doing fine. I just hope I can keep him around for another couple of years at least. He is about 11 years old now.


 
Very sorry for your loss. Make sure to take care of yourself.
 
Joseph, I'm the idiot who many years ago very irresponsibly suggested that you try to treat one of Bella's ailments with garlic. You very rightly and righteously chewed me out. That was many years ago. Take comfort in your knowledge that Bella had a long and blessed life the likes of which few beings on this earth achieve.
 
This comment has been removed by the author.
 
“Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts.” Charles Dickens
 
That's terrible news, Joe. I've felt that I knew Bella from all you've written about her. Bummer.
Jerome
 
sorry for your loss. my son was just reading a poem for school from the perspective of a dog, the dog wondering if his master truly appreciated how short his dog-years life would be.
 
Joseph, I am very sorry.
 
Joseph, I am so sorry. I don't know anything much harder than loosing your best friend.
A few years ago I had this dream about dogs that has helped me through much.
Dream: I am walking down a street. I enter a house through the front door. I go through the house and exit the back door. The landscape that I see is hills and valleys, all is covered by very green grass. There is a path through the hills and valleys. I am met at the beginning of the path by all the dogs I have ever lived with, who have died. I am over joyed, just all love and happiness. But then I realize it is not time to walk the path. I tell my friends I will be back, but it's not time yet. I leave and go back through the house and exit the front door and I'm "back on the street again".
I became religious that day and no longer fear death.
I think we do meet again.
Blessings to you and Bella.
 
Sorry to hear that joseph,
bella must have had a good life with you.
 
Thank you is too small to express my gratitude. I still can't write much. If you don't drink often, polishing off a bottle of vodka can be a weird experience. I should either never do that again or learn how to do it properly.

OTE, I know how you feel about Tony, and I am very sorry. James, same for your Bella. You'll meet them again one day in doggie Valhalla. For some reason, everyone we know uses the term "Valhalla" to describe where dogs go.

Sandro, we did go to the vet. The anticonvulsant pills helped, but were not enough.

Hildy, your dream (which may have been more than a dream) reminds me of something I once said to a reader. Heaven is where you meet all the dogs you've ever loved. And they follow you into the movie theater where the 1975 Filmex Science Fiction Film Marathon is playing. And everyone -- including the people on screen -- remarks on how well-behaved your dogs are. Even Robbie the Robot says that he would give them a thumbs up -- if he had thumbs.
 
Sorry for you loss, Joesph.

 
Bon voyage Bella! She will be remembered beyond your household Joseph. So sorry for you, take care.
 
I'm sorry, too.
 
Sincerest sympathies Joseph.
 
Awww no!....I've just seen this, am away from home. So, so sorry, Joseph. When you feel more able, will you please post a photo or two of Bella? (Hugs.)
 
Dear Joseph: I am so sorry for your loss of Bella. Even though it hurts so much, you are better off having had her to love you unconditionally, and you her, for the time you did than not at all. I just got a new puppy after having lost my last dog 12 years ago and this puppy has come in and completely changed my life for the better. Hearing about Bella just makes me cherish her more. Take care.
 
Sorry Joe
Margie
 
Damn...ben
 
So sorry Joseph! I have lost a few of my furry friends over the years, and what has always helped me was recognizing their pain was too great to live with any longer-to take the focus of pain of their loss away from me and look at the pain they had living.

I had an amazing cat that really only loved me and no one else- he stayed on as long as possible- but as soon as things got to that point of no return, I could see, he was just trying to be there for me and that just wasn't fair to him. I hope that makes sense....and I hope you will find peace in letting go.

Animals are far more than our pets, they are guardians of our hearts. They watch over us and nurture us and open us up to all that is right with our hearts. kc
 
Ooooooh. I hope you can feel our sympathy across the miles.
Your best friend will never leave you!!


 
Did you ever made it to the vet? If no, I find that aspect disappointing as you had a chance to do a low cost vet session involving vitamin and mineral replenishment and you would have had an experience to share for others who might want to squeeze out extra time with their canine friend.
If you did make it to the vet, then you did all you could.
 
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Sunday, March 22, 2015

A sick land. Plus: How the Matt DeHart mystery links to a UFO story

I had intended to write something fun today, but there's no fun to be had. Just look at what's happening...

California drought. My old home state is -- was? -- the breadbasket of America. A staggeringly large proportion of this country's veggies and fruits come from farmlands located in California's astounding central valley. But now, man-made climate change -- that great unmentionable -- has destroyed the snowpack and plunged the state into megadrought.

Near as I can see, desalination is the one great solution. A new desalination technology, driven by solar power, looks very promising. But implementing that technology would require massive government action, and our libertarian overlords will not countenance that approach. Libertarians would rather destroy America than tweak their ideology

(If you want a grim laugh, check out the libertarian-approved "solution," which is truly horrifying. So is nearly everything else on the site at the other end of that link.)

Ted Cruz has formally entered the Republican race. His one great disadvantage, craziness, may hinder him in the general election, although it may prove helpful in the primaries. Tellingly, Cruz chose to announce his candidacy at Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA -- a.k.a. Nutsville, USA.

Cruz opposed John Kerry's nomination as Secretary of State on the grounds that Kerry seeks to undermine our sovereignty, apparently because the guy is suffused with hatred of Amurrka. Although I've been very disappointed by the performance of our current SOS, it should be noted that Kerry served with distinction in Vietnam, while Cruz refused to volunteer for military service during the first Gulf War.

Cruz also claimed that he had nothing to do with the government shutdown which he, in large measure, caused.

Speaking of craziness: This piece by Michael Goodwin in the NY Post is concentrated madness. No, it's worse than that: It's the concentrate from which they make concentrate.
First he [Obama] comes for the banks and health care, uses the IRS to go after critics, politicizes the Justice Department, spies on journalists, tries to curb religious freedom, slashes the military, throws open the borders, doubles the debt and nationalizes the Internet.

He lies to the public, ignores the Constitution, inflames race relations and urges Latinos to punish Republican “enemies.” He abandons our ­allies, appeases tyrants, coddles ­adversaries and uses the Crusades as an excuse for inaction as Islamist terrorists slaughter their way across the Mideast.

Now he’s coming for Israel.
Virtually every charge here is pure hallucination. Okay, so the "spies on journalists" bit may be valid -- but then again, Goodwin is probably referring to the Sharyl Attkisson story, which is questionable.

About that military budget: Somehow, despite sequestration, it has grown outlandishly massive. "First, Obama comes for the banks": This claim is fair only if you use the verb "to come" in its sexual sense. In the same sense, one can say that he has been coming for Israel. Despite the ravings of many right-wing mythologists, no conservative Obama critic has had to face an IRS audit. Your religious freedoms remain as unfettered as ever. As for that bit about nationalizing the internet: Say what? What the hell is this guy talking about?

I could go on, but there is little point in offering a logical refutation of a lunatic's howls and snarls.

There are, God knows, plenty of legitimate grounds for criticizing our president. This humble blog has lambasted Obama's policies on numerous occasions, and will continue to do so. But one hesitates to attack this president, or his party, when doing so might give political aid to freakazoids like Goodwin.

The Democrats insist on a course that is foolish and dangerous -- while the Republicans, chasing a series of schizy hallucinations, insist on a course that is ultra-foolish and ultra-dangerous. You, the voter, are free to choose between arsenic and cyanide. That's democracy.

The Matt DeHart mystery. I trust that you all did your homework reading from yesterday. Marcy Wheeler has more.

It's clear to me that, although DeHart obviously has psychological issues, the pedophilia accusation is nonsense. Did DeHart offer his services to the Russians as a spy? I doubt it. Then again, if the guy is a manic-depressive, he may have cooked up some inane scheme along those lines during his "up" phase. (If so, he should have watched Burn After Reading.)

The most important aspect of this case concerns the files that DeHart allegedly obtained from someone who had gone floating through Uncle's computers.

DeHart says that he found a document in which the FBI blames the CIA for the anthrax letters. Supposedly, the anthrax letters were a covert op designed to drive the country into the kind of frenzy that made the Iraq invasion possible.

You may or may not be inclined to believe that such a scenario is possible. Even if we grant (hypothetically) that the anthrax scare was a covert op, I doubt that the perps were CIA, operating with the full knowledge of the Director. The Agency was not on board with Dubya's war plans.

But the great question I want to ask here is not "Was the anthrax thing a covert op?" What I'm asking is this: How likely is it that this shocking scenario would be laid out in one all-too-convenient document?

Let's go to Marcy:
According to Buzzfeed, the anthrax investigation came in one unencrypted folder with the ag document and a document on drone targeting the source of which he thinks he knows (it would like have been a former colleague from the ANG).

How would it ever be possible that the same person would have access to all three of those things? While it’s possible the ag admission ended up in the government, even a DOJ investigation into such an admission would be in a different place than the FBI anthrax investigation, and both should be inaccessible to the ANG people working on SIPRNet.

That is, this feels like the Laptop of Death, which included all the documents you’d want to argue that Iran had an active and advanced nuclear weapons program, but which almost certainly would never all end up on the same laptop at the same time.

And, given DeHart’s belief reported elsewhere this was destined for WikiLeaks, I can’t help but remember the Defense Intelligence Agency report which noted that WikiLeaks might be susceptible to disinformation (not to mention the HB Gary plot to discredit WikiLeaks, but that came later).
In other words, the whole thing was bullshit. Perhaps it was bullshit based on a certain degree of underlying reality: All of the best bullshit has some real stuff in it. Nevertheless: Bullshit.

I'll add this.

As I was getting up to speed on the DeHart mystery, I immediately flashed on a similar conundrum involving another famous hacker. Do you recall the strange case of Gary McKinnon?

(If you can't place the name, you may want to listen to this entertaining podcast from the Thinking Sideways crew.)

McKinnon was an unemployed Scotsman who, in 2001, hacked into computers used by NASA and other governmental agencies. While traipsing through that digital playground, he found documents which allegedly revealed a secret space program based on UFO technology. According to those documents, the United States possesses a fleet of interstellar spaceships manned by human officers.

That's right: Star Trek is real. Allegedly.

(For what it is worth, the "Star Trek is real" meme has been circulating on the fringe since at least the late 1980s. In 1989, I heard a loon solemnly spout this nonsense during a lecture in a Santa Monica library. Squelching a belly laugh nearly gave me a hernia.)

I suspect that what happened to DeHart is pretty much what happened to McKinnon. I suspect that, whenever the government's computers are "tickled" by an outsider, certain extremely compelling documents are placed before the eyes of the intruder. The intention is to seduce the intruder into revealing himself -- to cajole him into telling the world: "Look! Everyone look! Look at what I found!"

It's easy to find a hacker when the hacker outs himself. It's also easy to build a legal case against a hacker who outs himself.

(Although I'd rather not get into it in any detail, I've long felt that certain "spectacular" flying saucer documents that have been floating around are fakes originally created during the Cold War, for use in counterintelligence operations. Molehunters need bait, right? To paraphrase an old anti-war chant: Hey, hey, JJA -- how many dupes did you fool today?)
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California's water problems can't be solved by desalination. No matter how efficient a solar powered desalination plant is, and I wouldn't be optimistic, it won't be as efficient as just living in a place where waer freely falls from the skies. Property rights are a non-starter as a solution. After all, most of the water comes from government programmes. State Water project, California's share of the Colorado river, various projects by Reclamation and the Corps of Engineers. It's dirty pinko water.

The best way is to conserve water. Acreage limitations on irrigation, as there were under the Reclamation Act. Replacing the most water-intensive crops. Getting rid of crops that are grown with subsidised water while farmers elsewhere are paid not to grow them, like cotton. An increase in water prices for farmers would probably be a good idea, as the current heavily subsidised rates were designed to support homesteaders and not to subsidise the various big farmers, half of which seem to be oil companies, who grow California's cash crops and run it's tax and subsidy farms.

Gary Mackinnon didn't really hack into anything, he just put in the default password no-one had bothered to change. Evidence it was a honey-pot, maybe. Poor bastard. Supposedly that did millions of dollars of damage and harmed US national security. Perhaps those Starfleet documents were even forge specifically for him, he had certainly been poking around for some time before he found them so people watching a honey-pot for intruders could well have found out what he was after and given it to him.

 
Yes, maybe it was disinfo meant to bait a hacker into revealing himself....but.

Who benefits?

The anthrax bs was so obviously meant to horrify Americans into a war-mindset that the targets themselves have been overlooked for the most part. The very first victim killed by that anthrax was a photography editor at a tabloid! Not just any old tabloid, but the tabloid that published pics of Jenna Bush falling down drunk and kissing girls.

Whether it was a favor to Papa Bush or some kind of warning shot to connect the Bushes to the attacks can be left to serious conspiracy buffs to argue, but either way....there you go.






 
Here. Have some fun.

http://www.slashfilm.com/does-back-to-the-future-predict-911/

 
Ted Cruz is exactly the sort of Republican who makes Scott Walker look sane, despite the fact that Walker if the biggest, most cold-blooded sociopath of the bunch. Look deeply into his eyes and tell me what you see? Nothing.
 
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Saturday, March 21, 2015

More stories

Woah! Just seconds before I was going to hit the "publish" button for this post, someone slammed this story against my eyeballs.
The government says Matt DeHart is an online child predator. He says that’s a ruse created because he discovered shocking CIA secrets and claims he was tortured by federal agents.
I haven't really read the piece yet, but so far, it seems to be very much up my alley. (Do people still say "up my alley"? That expression seems a bit quaint...) Let us discuss this matter later on. I mention it now simply by way of handing you your homework assignment.

Another Republican fishing expedition. Now we know why the Republicans are making such a big stink over Hillary's use of a private email server, even though Colin Powell and other Republicans did the same thing. They want to go fishing.

Once again, they have decided to use the services of Larry Klayman -- who is a staunch proponent of using the FOIA, but only when doing so serves the interests of the right wing, or a faction thereof. (Notice that the guy never uses the FOIA to, say, ask for the release the still-hidden JFK files.)
Clinton has turned over 55,000 pages of emails that she believed could be considered official government communications, but she deleted 30,000 emails that she considered to be personal.

The Justice Department describes Klayman’s call for a subpoena as “speculation” in its brief.

“Plaintiff provides no basis, beyond sheer speculation, to believe that former Secretary Clinton withheld any work-related emails from those provided to the Department of State,” the agency says.
The faux-hip presumption of malefic intent works well when right-wing nutjobs talk to other right-wing nutjobs, but it is not a sufficient argument in a legal filing.

Steve King makes it official: He says that American Jews are betraying Judaism if they vote Dem.
The president’s policies throughout the Middle East have been a disaster. I would say to them, name a country where we have better relations today than we had when Barack Obama took office?’ And I gave that in speeches in about six weeks until some lad stood up and said, ‘I can name you two, they are Cuba and Iran.’”
Let me ask a cognate question: Can you name a country with whom we had better relations thanks to the Dubya administration? I don't think you can.

Obama's Middle East Policies have indeed been a disaster -- but only because Obama (until very recently) would not stand up to Israel, and because he has continually kowtowed to the Saudis. The region is a disaster because we've taken sides in a Sunni-Shiite conflict which has nothing to do with us. It's a disaster because Dubya's Iraq invasion was one of the biggest upfucks in all of human history. It's a disaster because we twisted the "Arab spring" to our own selfish purposes.

Every Republican this side of Ron Paul has signaled a desire to make the exact same mistakes -- and to make them even worse. A Republican president would have had us fighting against Assad in 2013, resulting in a Syria ruled by ISIS or the Nusra front. A Republican president probably would have ginned up war against Iran years ago.

Hate to say it, but thank god for Obama. The difference between Obama and Romney has been the difference between small-D disaster and capital-D-and-italics Disaster.

King must be insane if he thinks that America has warmed up to Iran in recent years. Is King really operating under the delusion that Stuxnet and our support for MEK somehow improved relations with Iran? Seriously? Does King really, really, really think that way? Is this guy taking massive amounts of hallucinogens or is he trying to create a work of surrealist literature?

As for Cuba: For more than a decade, American spooks have been secretly meeting with, making deals with, seducing and paying off various "next generation" Cuban officials. This outreach program is a simple function of Fidel Castro's advanced age, and of the (usually justified) presumption that everyone has a price.

One final word about Steve King: He is, of course, one of the biggest clowns in Congress. In fact, I would say that King exemplifies the reason why most American Jews (at least the ones I've known) would rather eat vomit than pal around with the teabaggers.  

Windows 10:
I look forward to the new operating system. Although Windows 8 had a few good things happening "under the hood," the horrific design of that OS transformed my computer into a hellscape which I had to wipe off of my C drive before two days had passed. For some insane reason, Microsoft decided to make things as annoying as possible for standard desktop users.

Win-Ten-Ten looks like a much more obedient puppy. And -- surprise! -- it'll be a free upgrade, even if your copy of Win 7 kinda sorta "fell off a truck."

But there's a catch. Win-Ten-Ten is already out there as a technical preview -- and it has a built-in keylogger. The preview version of W10 also captures your voice commands. Nothing you do is private. Absolutely nothing nothing nothing.

I don't care how innocuous your online habits are: Anyone who uses such an OS, even as part of a temporary testing program, is an indefensible idiot.

So the big question is: Will the regular release of Win-10 contain a keylogger? If so, no go.

The presence of a keylogger goes a long way toward explaining why they are making the thing available for free, even to pirates. The company has to make money somewhere. If they aren't getting it from the consumer, they may be getting it from the illimitable coffers of the American spook community.

Look at it this way: It's not as though W7 is broken. It still works fine. It's what we all know. Win-Ten-Ten isn't even worth the investment of $0 if your privacy concerns are met with Joe Isuzu smiles and slick-and-slimey assurances: "Hey, you can trust us."

Update: This video says that the keylogging isn't nearly as bad as some other sites have claimed. I'm skeptical. When it comes to privacy, I tend to presume the worst. Still, the video does show you how to turn off the keylogging. 
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Windows 10 ought to be Windows 9. 3.1, 95, 98. ME, Vista, 7, 8. 8.1, 10. Doesn't make sense.

As for making money, very few copies of Windows are sold separately, most are sold to vendors an then included with hardware. Microsoft are also trying to make the system "Freemium", then make money on the "ecosystem", by selling things through their version of the App Store, by converting Office to a subscription service rather than a piece of software for sale.

They're also likely to save money on support and such things if they can get everyone onto Windows 10 and off Windows XP and Vista.

That's the modern software market.

 
https://www.emptywheel.net/2015/03/20/is-matt-dehart-being-prosecuted-because-fbi-investigated-cia-for-the-anthrax-leak/

More from Marcy

Thanks for the info on ten, I'll ask my computer guy next week about this.
 
Well, mainstream support for windows 7 has already ended, as of January. Meaning no more service packs or enhancements. Extended support goes until 2020, after that, no more security updates. So 5 more years of Windows 7 being viable. Of course, by then, we'll have another Windows operating system either released, or close to release. I also wonder, can you actually pay for Windows 10 so as not to have the logging, or is that not going to be an option?
 
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Friday, March 20, 2015

Two stories (including the part they're not telling you)

A strange day, this. The first day of spring, yet snow blankets all.

I want to thank readers for the outpouring of sympathy I received following the previous post. For now, my dog is resting, comfortably and perpetually confused -- and the big problem is getting her to take her phenobarbitol. I'll have more to say about that soon.

Since people do not come here expecting a dog blog, let's focus on the news. There are two stories which say much when read individually, and say much more when read in conjunction. The first concerns history; the second is all about Right Now.

Story #1: The CIA has declassified much more of their 2002 National Intelligence Estimate report on Iraq's supposed possession of WMDs. Actually, what we are getting is a later RAND summary of that NIE, but let's not get too bogged down in details.

Back in 2002, the public was told that the question was settled -- but behind the scenes, intelligence analysts knew differently. Minor portions of this report were released previously; now, we have much more.

We now have confirmed that the CIA knew early on that the administration was basing policy on evidence that was iffy or nonexistent. Reports of a Saddam Hussein-Al Qaeda link derived from defectors who said whatever they thought interrogators wanted to hear (a common problem with defectors). No intelligence linked Iraq to the anthrax letters. There were no WMDs. Those infamous aluminum tubes were for rocket motors. Saddam had no purchased ore from Niger. He wasn't planning to use UAVs to deliver WMDs.

Story #2: They're at it again. We are hearing more allegations that Assad's forces have used CBW. This time, we are told, Assad used chlorine to attack innocent civilians -- as if Assad would have any motive to commit an act of senseless evil.

After Newsweek published an opening salvo a few days ago (not directly assigning responsibility to Assad), few other news organizations wanted to touch the story. Then Reuters picked up on the theme...
The United States is deeply disturbed by reports that Syrian government forces attacked the town of Sarmin using chlorine as a weapon on Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement on Thursday.

“We are looking very closely into this matter and considering next steps,” he said. “While we cannot yet confirm details, if true, this would be only the latest tragic example of the Assad regime’s atrocities against the Syrian people, which the entire international community must condemn.”
The video adjunct to this agit-prop campaign is here. Now, Josh Rogin of Bloomberg News has published this editorial...
Yet on Monday, Assad’s military killed at least six civilians, including three children, and injured dozens with a chlorine gas bomb attack in the northwestern city of Sarmeen, according to activists on the ground and independent monitoring groups such as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
To the Syrian opposition, the attack was reminiscent of events of 2012 and 2013, when Assad used Sarin gas against his own people, according to a UN investigation. The regime began with small doses, perhaps to test whether Obama would enforce the “red line” he had set promising action if Assad used chemical weapons en masse. After an attack that killed at least 1,400 people in August 2013, Obama promised airstrikes, but then backed down in exchange for a Russian-brokered deal to remove chemical weapons from Syria’s stockpiles.
Where to start?

First, let's note that Rogin has compiled quite an impressive history as a neocon-friendly "journalist." You may recall the bullshit stories he floated about Hillary and Boko Haram.

Second: When Rogin says the "Syrian opposition" he means ISIS and the Nusra Front (a.k.a. Al Qaeda). Let's not whitewash the question of who is who in this civil war. The so-called "Free Syrian Army" is largely a fiction designed to gull the Americans.

(Rogin's fellow Israel-Firster, Thomas Friedman, came right out and said that America should arm ISIS.)

Third: Assad almost certainly did not use sarin in 2013, although the neocons tried to mislead Obama -- and the nation -- into reaching that conclusion. As Sy Hersh later revealed...
Obama’s change of mind had its origins at Porton Down, the defence laboratory in Wiltshire. British intelligence had obtained a sample of the sarin used in the 21 August attack and analysis demonstrated that the gas used didn’t match the batches known to exist in the Syrian army’s chemical weapons arsenal. The message that the case against Syria wouldn’t hold up was quickly relayed to the US joint chiefs of staff.
This humble blog pointed to a number of published accounts proving that the rebels possessed CBW, and that they had captured facilities which stored the rockets used to launch the attacks. The UN findings were based on the presupposition that the rebels did not possess sarin, but this was a false presumption. Those few who studied the actual Human Rights Watch report (as opposed to reading news summaries) encountered a map which proved that the possible launch sites included rebel-held areas. The New York Times orignally reported that the attack on Ghouta came from rebel-held territory. Actual victims of the attack blamed the rebels, not Assad.

The news media floated stories about phone intercepts proving the guilt of the Assad regime -- but since no evidence was forthcoming, we may fairly presume that these reports were mere tricks. If they were genuine, we would have heard some audio.

Above all other considerations was the question of motive. If Assad were disposed to use CBW, would he not target his actual enemies, as opposed to attacking civilians? As CNN noted at the time...
Government forces did not appear to be in imminent danger of being overrun by rebel factions in the areas concerned; in fact, many observers believe a bloody stalemate has set in around Damascus. And regime forces have also made gains recently against rebels around Homs and elsewhere. Why would it risk an action that would likely kill hundreds in a heavily-populated area and risk stirring up an international appetite for intervention?

Would it also have risked using an agent as lethal as sarin just a few kilometers from the heart of Damascus -- to both the southwest and northeast of the city -- on what appears to have been a quite windy night?
From a military standpoint, the Ghouta atrocity made sense only if considered as a false flag attack.

Similar words may be said about the more recent chlorine attacks.

Here's the part they're not telling you. The following quote comes from a LiveLeak story published last year. This piece concerns an earlier claim of a chlorine attack.
Opposition sources recently claimed Assad forces have used industrial Chlorine against rebels held area in Hama area. Big problem, back to 2012, rebels took control of Syrian-Saudi Chemicals Company (SYSACCO) factory in Aleppo area. The main activity of SYSACCO was the production of.... Chlorine. A huge quantity of Chlorine was stocked in this factory as you can see filmed by rebels. Did they try an other false flag operation to force Western country to intervene in Syrian civil war?
Oddly, our media refuses to mention the 2014 incident. That first chlorine attack came too soon and was too obvious; the rebels weren't fooling anyone. (Below, I will embed a video which, I understand, proves that the anti-Assad rebels captured chlorine in 2013. Unfortunately, the interviews are in Arabic. Perhaps a reader who knows that language can confirm that this video is what I'm told it is?)

Bottom line: We were lied to in 2002.

We were lied to in 2013.

Are we being lied to now? Very likely.

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Of course we're being lied to. The evidence is overwhelming that the western world is currently ruled by a deep-state fascist element that will stop at nothing to continue consolidating its power.

Rigged elections, manufactured "news", false-flag attacks, targeted assassinations, etc. Whether you're talking about the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, obviously Israel, or any of the other nations around the world currently under capture by the ostensibly US-dominated alliance, the power behind the throne will do whatever it needs to in order to thwart opposition and advance its agenda.

We're screwed, in short.
 
"Thanks all" doesn't pass muster as respectful reply to individuals who alerted you to mercurial poisoning. Try some genuine gratitude. Its not a killer.

Ben
 
Ben, I intend to write a great deal more about all of that after I reestablish this blog as a place where politically-minded people go. My intent here was, in fact, to refocus on politics as quickly as possible. I've written more personal thank you notes lately (some quite lengthy) than you can guess. So this is not a fair accusation.

Incidentally, I am happy to report that her problem was not Mercury. That would have left its mark (as it were) in the kidneys, which were checked and found to be in good order.


 
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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Prayers

Folks, I will have much to say about the news (including the previous post!) in good time. Right now, I would plead for those who are the praying sort to give a thought to my poor dog Bella. She has had two seizures this evening, and is doing very poorly. I know I must take her to the veterinarian tomorrow, but I am terrified of what he will do.

Bella is my family. She is all of my good memories, wrapped in one ball of fur.

I never had children. Many of you have, and I am in awe of your bravery. How do you do it? If my kid were very ill, I would be...well, a complete mess.
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In my opinion you want whatever vitamin helps your dog's heart pump stronger. You also want blood work done to see if she is low on any vitamins or minerals. That is the least you hopefully can do and waiting is a bad thing since these two procedures combined should cost around 100 dollars or maybe less and low minerals or vitamins can lead to the dogs heart just stopping.
 
((Joseph)) stay strong...there is now....and you already have the past...and Bella may brave thru. I have seen it. You send word if you need help.
 
Sometimes it seems much worse than it really is. I have spent times second guessing and reading and letting my imagination run wild. Sometimes I was right and others, I was surprised and happy. A few years ago, I lost a cat I loved beyond belief. He was a stray I rescued and nurtured. Through a careless, selfish moment, he ran off in a less than hospitable environment and I hate to think what happened to him. The person who caused this senseless act was my husband. You have the ability to make decisions and even help to heal her. You are very fortunate in that respect.
 
Joe, I have children but I can tell you I've mourned and cried over every pup I've had because they do become family, often surrogate children that we care for and laugh over and love. Once we love, we're in for heartache and grief, be it flesh or fur ball.

I know what you're going through. It's hard. It's so damn hard to let go.

Best to you and Bella. And yes, I'll say a prayer, send it into the Universe.

Peggysue
 
I am so sorry Joseph. As someone above said she could very well pull through, I too have seen such recoveries.
 
(sends positive vibes)
 
Alessandro....have you heard of CoQ10 for dogs? When I sold it, I had regular customers who got it for their dogs.
 
Mr. C., Clive Staples Lewis, best known as C.S. Lewis - the Narnia series, did a great job in delving into the subject matter of “The Problem of Pain”.

I won’t link to any particular websites less someone think I’m promulgating a particular religious theology.

In this case it is you who is suffering as a result of the pain your beloved animal-friend is suffering.

The question then, as least for me, is why should an innocent animal-creature be subjected to pain and suffering if they have no soul and will never be resurrected? Are animals just biological computer programs existing in a fourth dimension?

And if so, why? Who benefits?

“Bella is my family. She is all of my good memories, wrapped in one ball of fur.”

I haven’t missed the depth of that remark. There is a lot more to think about. I hope Bella recovers quickly. j
 
PS: Joe, when you're terrified of going to the doctor or vet, that's when you really need to go. For yourself and Bella, who I know you love dearly.

It's hard and awful but learning the truth, one way or the other is the only way to go. For everyone's sake.

My prayers are zooming out there. My prayers are zooming :0). For whatever that's worth.

Keep the faith and know the Universe is compassionate, that the arc leans towards the just and righteous. But sadly, there is an end to all things--you, me and everything we love and cherish.

It's the contract for living and loving and dying. It's absolute. And it's hard, so hard.

Blessings.

Peggysue

T
 
Only the body dies, Joe. She's an old dog, and possibly in pain. Don't be afraid to let her go if it comes to that. You'll see her again. You ain't gonna live forever, you know.

And when you do let your sweet pupper go, give yourself a couple of months to grieve, and then go out and get yourself a baby dog and start all over again.

There's nothing more healing, more life affirming, than a baby critter. I'm a cat person myself, but there's no difference that I can see. Puppy or kitten, life and love go on in any case.




 
If money is an issue calling local vets and asking what they would charge for a blood test for vitamin and mineral deficiencies and for a Vitamin K shot or CQ10 sometimes allows them to focus on a lower cost estimate.

Of course the vets have more knowledge and may suggest a better low cost option than the one I am suggesting.
 
As I mentioned before, seizures are very common with old dogs and often they are given medication for them. As with what happened with my 14 year old Tony, he was almost completely blind in addition to the seizures, vomiting, and pacing around and bumping into walls, and I had to make the devastating decision to have him put down. If there are other health issues, it may be time to make that decision. It's hell, let me tell you.
 
I hear you. And let me say that the dog in your profile pic is INSANELY cute. Is that Tony or another...?

Frankly, having ruled out everything else, I think we're dealing with -- well, with a word beginning with C that I hate to write because it has caused my family so much pain in the past.

Do not go gentle, and all that. I am trying some unconventional stuff. But the likely outcome is what it is. The presence of pain will be the determiner.


 
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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Would you trust an election system that allows each vote to be changed?

Despite the pre-election polls, Bibi Netanyahu has won. But how did he win? Did his last-minute bombast and scaremongering turn the tide -- or was there another factor?
It was a stunning turnabout from the last pre-election polls published Friday, which showed the Zionist Union, led by Isaac Herzog, with a four- or five-seat lead and building momentum, and the Likud polling close to 20 seats. To bridge the gap, Mr. Netanyahu embarked on a last-minute scorched-earth campaign, promising that no Palestinian state would be established as long as he remained in office and insulting Arab citizens.
The appeal to the worst instincts of the citizenry may have worked its dark magic, as often happens here in the United States. But let us not be too quick to exclude the possibility of election hugger-mugger. Take note:
The new electronic voting system is being designed and implemented by TEHILA, which is a subdivision within Israel's ministry of finance. TEHILA's original mandate was to develop Israel's government portal. The task of developing the new voting system was assigned to TEHILA by Israel's minister of interior, Meir Shitrit.

TEHILA did not make public any technical paper describing their system. This is despite their repeated promises to be transparent, and to publish technical details and code.
The voter registers his or her vote on a smart card. Interestingly, the system allows the voter to change his vote -- once. (Why isn't the voter simply told to discard the first card and take another?) These votes are then counted by another machine.
What we do know for sure is that the system is fully software based, and does not have any "physical" component. As we argue here, this is a fundamental conceptual flaw in the design of the system.
Let's take a look at the argument at the other end of that hyperlink. Don't skim; this is eye-opening stuff:
We think that the use of smart cards fails to address the heart of the problem. In fact, it makes things even worse:

The dependency on machines becomes even more acute. Not only that we depend on software, but we also have to check the smart card. Given that smart cards were designed to protect their content from outsiders, checking what is on a smart card is even harder.

For the same reasons, even though using smart cards might make forgery more complicated for an outsider, it makes forgery for an insider much easier and hard to detect.

In case of a mismatch (e.g., as in the 2006 Florida election for congress) there is no way to determine whether forgery took place.
Thus, even on the technical level the system seems to be unsatisfactorily designed. However, our main point is not this. Even if these problems will be fixed, we believe the system is inherently flawed because it is paperless and in particular not software independent.
I will add this: Since the cards and the software allow one changed vote, it is easy to conceive of a system in which even a recount of the actual, physical cards will deliver a result differing from the intention of the voters.

The new election system was implemented by the delightfully-named Meir Shitrit, who has been caught up in a sex scandal involving his housekeeper; she refused to testify after taking a pay-off. It doesn't take much imagination to see how such a situation might render a public official susceptible to blackmail.

Rigged elections are almost inevitable in a culture of dishonesty, and Israeli political society is now riddled with corruption. (This was not the case a few decades ago.) Also see here. As this account of Israeli corruption puts it:
Tamar Hermann of the IDI told Al-Monitor that the corruption issue is not expected to have much impact today. "The public does not accord special importance to this issue. They cannot take any more of this issue," he said. "We are reaching the level where corruption is so predictable that it doesn't make a dent on the voters, whose premise is that everyone is corrupt and that's just a decree of fate. So at least they should be competent. It's similar to the situation in South America, where government corruption is an integral part of the system. They say, 'He's corrupt, so he should at least be competent.' We are nearing that point."
So let's not pretend that election-rigging in Israel is unthinkable. Let's have no further blather about Israel being a democracy.

By the way: One of Bibi's political rivals said that "Netanyahu spends more on alcohol than some Israelis earn per month." Not surprising. How else could that murderous bastard ever catch a night's sleep?

How should we react? On the American left, there have always been those who argue that "The worse things get, the better things get." In other words: It's better if the most vicious right-wingers get into office, because they will eventually alienate the populace from the system.

As readers know, I don't think that way. That "hope for the worst" attitude courts disaster.

Nevertheless, that attitude is now our only solace. Bibulous Bibi's vile reign of racist genocide may have the beneficial result of continuing to alienate American Jews from Israel.

Let's give the man credit: He has done the world the great service of ending -- forever, I think -- the hallucination of a two-state solution. Europe is Israel's largest trading partner, a relationship founded on the hallucination of a two-state solution. With that hallucination popped, it becomes easier to argue for boycott, divestment and sanctions.

The day may come when we will thank Bibi -- not to mention whoever wrote the software that played tricks with those smart cards. Together, they have made the BDS movement much more viable.
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Comments:
Was the old voting and vote-counting system broken in some way? No? Right.
 
We all need to go back to pen and paper ballots, hand counted. We've known this and we keep getting further astray. So this is a new way to tamper with the vote, ugh.

Israelis were the first, before "Arab Spring" and "Occupy" to come together and petition for a better way. If they indeed, as it seems, tried to vote the bastard out, why not fight in solidarity on the issues?

Canada is also following in our footsteps and becoming more rightwing due to measures the people are not happy with.

Fighting the real problem/s will mean people have to care about conceptual problems, instead of the usual method of caring: teams.
 
The Israeli election uses paper ballots which are placed in stamped envelopes and then placed in a physically secured ballot box monitored constantly by both officials and volunteers affiliated with several different political parties.

There is no electronic system. At all.
 
So which are we to believe -- a statement without a link or citation from an anonymous hasbara coward? Or do we pay attention to the articles to which I linked?
 
There are numerous pictures of people from all groups in Israel casting ballots by putting a paper card with the party name in an envelope and then putting the envelope in a ballot box. There is no electronics involved.
 
>Or do we pay attention to the articles to which I linked?

The PDF this article links to says it is a purposed system. The post's author needs to provide proof that it is anything more than an idea. Which will be impossible as it does not exist!
 
The only thing I can find about Israeli voting methods is Wikipedia, which supports what other commentators have said...which is that Israel has a paper ballot system, not electronic (though I think the cards are counted electronically). I think maybe your post is not correct on the voting system used Joseph.
 
Troll +1
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4638032,00.html
 
So all those photos of Israelis casting paper ballots on CNN today are fake????? Wow, Joseph, you must be right about the omnipotence and omnipresence of AIPAC!


By the way, I think TEHILA ("praise" or sometimes "prayer" in Hebrew) is an amazingly silly name for a government agency. I guess that's proof that bureaucrats are the same everywhere.
 
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Monday, March 16, 2015

Fundamentalism and fanaticism: The ISIS-Israel connection



What can one do about a country that has gone mad? Israel has chosen the path of right-wing fanaticism, and has thus made itself the most dangerous county in the world. It is, not least, the most dangerously manipulative country in the world -- and the primary targets of this manipulation campaign are Jews living outside of Israel.

This article by Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic is a despicable piece of agit-prop designed to convince Jews that they are all unsafe outside of their supposed "homeland." Jews are being told that the year is still 1944. Jews are being told that all gentiles -- every last one of them -- are ruthless, mindlessly bloodthirsty Jew-haters, reared on the Protocols and anxious to break out the Zyklon B. Anyone who opposes the Israeli plan to exterminate all Palestinians must be a Jew-hater who wants to exterminate all Jews.

The people who think this way are very sick.

Compared to (say) blacks and Muslims, Jews have attained a protected and privileged position in both the United States and Europe. Even the new fascists in Europe have become pro-Israel, a non-intuitive lesson which Mr. Brevik taught the world in such a startling fashion. Israel is hardly a safe refuge: Just look at the history of the place.

Any writer who cannot acknowledge this reality is mentally ill.

Here's an even more extreme example of this same sick mentality. A leading Israeli newspaper has called for the nuclear annihilation of Iran and Germany. 
In the opinion article published Tuesday, the author claims that only through nuclear annihilation of Iran and Germany, with 20 or 30 nuclear bombs each, can Israelis prevent the state’s destruction.

“If Israel does not walk in the ways of God’s Bible,” author Chen Ben-Eliyahu wrote in Hebrew, “it will receive a heavy punishment of near complete destruction and doom and only a few will be saved.”
Psychopathology. Mental illness.

Moreover: This is precisely the same sort of mental illness which afflicts the fanatics who join ISIS.

The sickness is called fundamentalism. The sickness is called fanaticism. And there are plenty of "Christians" walking around the United States (particularly in our southern regions) who have caught the same disease.

A recent piece by one Alan Hart (a writer previously unknown to me) hits the right note:
What Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman actually said when as leader of the right-wing Yisrael Beitenu party he addressed an election rally in Herzliya on 8 March was the following:
Whoever is with us should give everything as they wish. Whoever is against us, there’s nothing else to do. We have to lift up an axe and remove his head, otherwise we won’t survive here.
The question those words provoked in my mind was this.

If Israel continues on its present course will the future see the emergence of a Zionist equivalent of the self-styled “Islamic State“ (IS)?
Precisely. The ISIS-Israel comparison does an excellent job of demonstrating why a staunch opposition to Israel does not equate to racism or anti-Semitism.

All people of common sense and good will must confess that ISIS and Al Qaeda are monstrosities. Yet one can make this claim without making the segue into hatred of all Muslims or all Arabs.

The people bearing the brunt of the struggle against ISIS are Muslims. They are the ones who are dying to defeat the fundamentalist fanatics.

So one can hate ISIS without hating Muslims. One may express a desire to see ISIS ended forever without hating Muslims as a whole.

Similarly, one can hate Israel without hating Judaism. One may express a desire to see Israel as presently constituted ended forever without hating Jews as a whole.

What do I mean by "as presently constituted"? Let's return to Hart's piece.
Because a two-state solution in the shape and form the Palestinians could accept has long been dead, killed by Israel’s colonisation of the occupied West Bank, an enterprise best described as ongoing ethnic cleansing slowly and by stealth, a binational state is the only hope for a political resolution of the conflict.

The creation of a binational state would put under one territorial roof the land of Israel prior to the 1967 war, the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip.

In theory and principle, a real and true binational state would be one in which all of its citizens enjoyed equal political and all other civil and human rights.

Because the day is approaching when the Arabs of Israel-Palestine will outnumber the Jews, the creation of a binational state would therefore lead to the de-Zionisation of Palestine and, to quote Meir Dagan again, “the end of the Zionist dream”.
This is my position.

This "one state" outcome may seem unthinkable today -- but when I was young, the end of apartheid in South Africa and the reunification of Germany seemed to be impossible goals. (I'm of two minds about the latter...!)

The "one state" solution which I favor is not the position of many notable critics of Israel, such as Norman Finkelstein and Noam Chomsky. I revere both men. But times are changing, and they are not changing with them.

If Norman Finkelstein continues to hold on to the unrealizable fantasy of a two-state solution, the time may come when we must regretfully say: "Mr. Finkelstein, we appreciate and applaud your writings and lectures. You have done the world a remarkable service. But your service is now at an end. You are dismissed."

(I have not yet heard the new Max Blumenthal lecture embedded above. But I am sure it is worth viewing.)
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Comments:
Netanyahu is claiming that "foreign powers" are interfering in the Zionist election campaign against him.

He can't mean Jewish interests of any description, which he wouldn't call "foreign".

Who's on the list apart from Russia and the US, probably mainly the former?

Interesting that Putin 'disappeared' for 10 days.

Betting markets are predicting a Netanyahu victory. It doesn't seem to me as though he'll go quietly. Which isn't to say the Israeli Labour Party, rebranded the Zionist Union, is any better than he is.

Don't ever forget that Netanyahu was in London when the 7/7 terror attacks were carried out in 2005.
 
This link goes straight to the probability of a Netanyahu victory as assessed by PredictIt. Their current assessment is at 54%.

PredictIt is a political betting outfit run by Victoria University in New Zealand (with a straight face, they say it's "educational" and that they are a "not-for-profit university"), in cooperation with a US outfit called Aristotle.

Aristotle looks like the CIA to me. I can't remember whether it's been covered on this blog.

Old hands will remember DARPA's short-lived effort to set up a terrorism futures market at the Pentagon. (Talk about sick!) PredictIt's markets include North Korean nuclear tests as well as election results in various countries.
 
This is getting interesting. The probability of another Netanyahu presidential term as assessed by PredictIt/Aristotle has fallen to 49% as I type.
 
Blumenthal is a national treasure for his
stance against the Israeli monsters.

Many thanks for the video.
 
Blumenthal is a national treasure for his
stance against the Israeli monsters.

Many thanks for the video.
 
Even Bibi has publicly abandoned the two-state solution (saying out loud what everyone knows he's been thinking for years now). See http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/17/world/middleeast/benjamin-netanyahu-campaign-settlement.html What's significant here is not the policy (one that's been in de facto place for ages) than the statement, and the fact that Jodi Rudoren reported it.
 
The Israeli elections are being held tomorrow. The Likud party had fallen behind the moderate/liberal party in the late polls. So, there's a chance of change coming. Netanyahu's gambit with the US Congress backfired from all accounts. By tomorrow night we should know if Israel has decided to moderate the hard right position which has not served the region well.

Btw, I'm sorry to read of Bella's continuing health problems. Wish pups lived as long as we did.

Peggysue
 
Slightly off topic (and I hope you don't mind), but have you been following the Canadian thing?...

* Turkey has just captured a spy who has been helping get Westerners into Syria and ISIS. -- he helped the three UK girls we heard about recently. It seems that Mohammed Mehmet Rashid confessed (allegedly under torture) to working for the Canadian intelligence agency and had been based in Jordan. Canada has denied he worked for them.

* The Canadian ambassador to Jordan is Bruno Saccomani, a former RCMP officer who was in charge of PM Stephen Harper's security detail until Harper appointed him almost two years ago as the envoy to Amman, with dual responsibility for Iraq. The appointment raised significant diplomatic eyebrows at the time. It's not usual for a former mountie with few skills get to be an ambassador in a politically sensitive post such as Jordan. This was Harper's personal choice.

* What I missed at the time was a Wikileaks cable expose, revealed in Nov 2014, which claimed that the 2006 election of the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) was, essentially, a coup, a direct result of activities undertaken by the International Republican Institute (IRI) to install its preferred Canadian leadership.

If the dots are joined conspiratorially then the IRI helped install Stephen Harper who repaid the favor through Canada's Jordan embassy by assisting IRI activities in regard to ISIS.

Remember, the chairman of the International Republican Institute (IRI) since 1992 is John McCain, who, on his own admission, has maintained continuous contact with ISIS agents in Syria and elsewhere. And this is the IRI with a history of supporting popular revolutions since it (along with the NED) was first created as a cover for CIA activities.

Any thoughts?
 
No Zionist government has ever genuinely accepted or pursued a two-state solution. The line that 'terror' is their reason why not, which they have spouted since the Six Day War, is purest horse-shit.

Settlement has continued not for 50 years but for 120. The way the term 'settlement' is used exclusively for east of the 1967 green line is also horse-shit. Funny how nobody calls kibbutzniks settlers. And what's Tel Aviv if it's not a settlement?

A binational state would mean what - black and white polling cards?

There must be reparations.
 
Hard to believe you even read JG's article. Either that or your level of reading comprehension is shockingly low. JG does not endorse the idea that Israel is or ever was a safe refuge for Jews fleeing Europe.

But the people you and others refer to as "new fascists" in Europe are none of them actually fascists, so I suppose you are generally little interested in truth or reality.

Your evident ignorance of the historic origin and meaning of the term "fundamentalism" in connection with religion confirms this.

Does that mean you are the one who is mentally ill?
 
This comment has been removed by the author.
 
Had Goldberg endorsed the idea explicitly, he would not have been printed in a mainstream journal. This is an old trick.

I am amused to learn that neither Brevik not his comrades are to be considered fascists. This is a novel proposition that flies in the face of everything I've read about Brevik and the faction he represents. Perhaps you should publish a book which explicates your novel conclusions...?

I think that I am not stretching the term "fundamentalist" beyond the bounds of its elasticity when I apply it to the (say) the nuke-happy editorialist quoted in my piece. Maybe you're one of those people who, when faced with the prospect of defending a weak argument, resorts to semantic gamesmanship. If that's your idea of fun, have a blast -- but don't expect to persuade anyone.

If you had actually seen Blumenthals' presentation -- which hit me every bit as hard as did my first viewing of "Night and Fog" -- then you would know that anyone who can defend the atrocities committed by Israel must have mental problems. If you tell me where you live, I can recommend a good therapist near you.
 
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