Archive for September, 2009

September 30th, 2009

For What It’s Worth:
Police shoot students in Pittsburgh during G20

Rubber bullets, it seems. Tear gas. No demo or other untoward behavior in sight. Reminiscent of the 80s on the Lower East Side.

Something’s happening here

Not Change We Need.

September 30th, 2009

Who’ll Stop the Rain?
China?

Posted in China by ed

This may prove a milestone.

Or perhaps the marker of a great top?

September 30th, 2009

Handy Death Clock

Posted in Death by ed

Tick, tick, tick

The Grim Reaper is indeed grim, he smokes and he likes nacho chili dogs.

Round and round she goes …

Yow. October 2016.

And here I was worrying about my retirement account — this thing’s great!

September 30th, 2009

General Krulak, son of Brute,
blasts Cheney re Torture.
Very interesting! But …

On September 11 (weeks ago), two high-ranking generals came out of retirement to hit Cheney on the head about torture. Interesting but odd.

Their Op Ed was published in The Miami Herald: “Fear was No Excuse to Condone Torture.”

Well and good. But also a bit odd. Is there nothing current behind it? Torture, per se, is no longer an issue. Cheney seems history.

And note that one of the generals — former Marine Commandant Charles Krulak — bears a name that rings in the annals of American postwar history.

In the 1960s (and maybe 50s, under CIA auspices), Marine General Victor “Brute” Krulak was involved in the energetic effort to win in Vietnam. Air Force Colonel Fletcher Prouty worked closely with him, and has written a lot about him.

Relevant bits in a nutshell: Prouty says that Brute, atop the Marine staff in the Pentagon in the early 60s, became a close ally and advisor to JFK in the effort to turn the Vietnam policy around.

The McNamara-Taylor of October 2, 1963 — supposedly the findings of the Secretary of Defense and JFK’s special advisor General Maxwell Taylor on their grand tour of Vietnam — was principally authored by Krulak, Prouty & co, working closely with the White House — and then placed in McNamara & Taylor’s hands, for the sake of the cameras, as they returned from their mission.

That is: The policy change this much publicized report effected was sold using Taylor’s and McNamara’s names, but was actually the thinking and initiative of JFK’s narrow circle, which at this moment included, on the brassy side, Brute and his assistant Fletch. (Thus spake Prouty.)

1. Is Marine Gen. Charles C. Krulak the son of Marine Gen. Victor Krulak? Shouldn’t be hard to find out, I guess.

Uh yes — that’s a roger. Charles is the son of Victor.

2. Why is Charles coming out of retirement to hit the retired Cheney on the head now?

3. Are you playing the Preakness pool?

seven

September 29th, 2009

Joseph Trento:
Privatizing the CIA

boilingfrogs

Check out — at Sibel Edmonds website 123Change — the Boiling Frogs podcasts, probing the National Security Apparat.

For example: An INTERVIEW with Investigative journalist Joseph J. Trento, author of, among others, The Secret History of the CIA and Prelude to Terror: The Rogue CIA and the Legacy of America’s Private Intelligence Network.

From the interview:

On All Hallows Eve, 1977 [President Carter and CIA Director Stansfield Turner] fired 800 people in the clandestine services, which was the old boy club of the CIA.

And after they did that it basically started a revolution against the Carter government. Jimmy Carter never got any intelligence of any value after that as president.

Interview tidbit text continues here.

Or click the Trento link above for the full podcast, which helps explain the decline of the civilian government in D.C. since the war, and goes best with sipped sour mash.

prelude

September 29th, 2009

Sibel Edmonds
Gagged no more (?)

Wow.

magcover

She whom Bush-Cheney repressed for seven years — “the most gagged person in the history of the USA” according to the ACLU — testified in a court case re Turkish and Israeli espionage in August.

And now has a big interview re Marc Grossman — alleged Israeli spy atop the State Dept in the 90s — and other spooks and influence peddlars she’s stumbled across, in the current American Conservative magazine.

( Me? I’m a socialist, or would be if there was a party to speak of stateside. But I like Pat Buchanan (of AmCon mag). He’s got a basic respect for discourse that’s rare among pundits raised on and trained for television. )

See Sibel’s website — 123 Real Change — for more about Grossman and other alleged Israeli spies from John Cole, former FBI Counterintel and Counterterror fellow, who has a book out this fall on the subject.

Edmonds is not yet impressed with Team Obama on these issues. From the AmCon interview:

First of all, Obama’s record as a senator, short as it was, spoke clearly. For all those changes that he was promising, he had done nothing. In fact, he had taken the opposite position, whether it was regarding the NSA’s wiretapping or the issue of national-security whistleblowers. We whistleblowers had written to his Senate office. He never responded, even though he was on the relevant committees.

As soon as Obama became president, he showed us that the State Secrets Privilege was going to continue to be a tool of choice. It’s an arcane executive privilege to cover up wrongdoing—in many cases, criminal activities.

And the Obama administration has not only defended using the State Secrets Privilege, it has been trying to take it even further than the previous terrible administration by maintaining that the U.S. government has sovereign immunity.

This is Obama’s change: his administration seems to think it doesn’t even have to invoke state secrets as our leaders are emperors who possess this sovereign immunity. This is not the kind of language that anybody in a democracy would use.

Also check out — at 123 — the Boiling Frogs podcasts, probing the National Security Apparat.

Eg, an interesting interview with investigative journalist Joe Trento, author of Prelude to Terror: The Rogue CIA and the Legacy of America’s Private Intelligence Network and The Secret History of the CIA. Here’s a tidbit.

boilingfrogs

September 29th, 2009

Larry Franklin was not alone

Former FBI Counterterror official John M. Cole confirms there was strong evidence that Marc Grossman (formerly of the State Dept) was spying for Israel, and says that over a hundred espionage investigations of same profile were turned off for no good reason during his time at the tiller.

Cole has a book out on the subject in November: While America Sleeps. (Echo of Churchill’s While England Slept …)

And here’s an extensive podcast interview with him. Very interesting. Robert Mueller at FBI did everything to keep this story from coming out.

See SIBEL EDMONDS’ website — 123 Real Change — for updates through time.

September 29th, 2009

Case-Shiller housing index rises in July across 18 of 20 cities

Posted in Money by ed

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — The market value of U.S. homes in 20 major cities rose by 1.6% in July compared with June, the third monthly increase in a row, according to the Case-Shiller home price index released Tuesday by Standard & Poor’s. In July, prices rose in 18 of 20 cities. In the past year, prices are down 13.3% in the 20 cities. The figures are not seasonally adjusted. The figures indicate a “stabilization in national real estate values,” said David Blitzer of S&P, who cautioned that the expiration of the first-time home buyer tax credit and increased foreclosures could put more downward pressure on prices.

September 28th, 2009

Daily Shakespeare sonnet
delivered fresh

Posted in Reading by ed

One can sign up here to have one of Shakespeare’s sonnets delivered daily. Sometimes works to dispel clouded days, or seed them with perspective.

But perhaps you protest: Some of the sonnets are inpenetrably personal and … well, whiny. But even so, I find, the dish often serves, for one without a wife, to flesh out an automated day.

September 28th, 2009

Support your Local Insurer

Protect Insurance Companies PSA from Will Ferrell

Courtesy of: http://www.funnyordie.com/

September 27th, 2009

General who built & ran Gitmo prison says it was lousy idea

Worth reading and filing:

CAMP PENDLETON — Saying the United States lost the moral high ground, the outgoing Marine general who built and ran the Guantanamo Bay military prison in early 2002 said he quickly concluded that it was the wrong path and that the cells he constructed should be emptied.

Retiring Maj. Gen. Michael Lehnert …

September 26th, 2009

Painter: David Dalla Venezia

Posted in Painting by ed

MMMMMM

MMMMMM

Redecorating an old post I was reminded how much I like the magic mirrors of David Dalla Venezia.

Years ago in Italy a friend and I stumbled upon an exhibit of them, and shook the painter’s hand.

Hope he’s well.

September 26th, 2009

Dylan’s poem for Woody Guthrie

Posted in Death, Music, Reading by ed

Dylan’s first (only?) reading of this lovely thing is on the first Bootleg Series CD (where every track’s a winner).

But I’ve never seen the poem in print before. Came to my attention by way of this gent.

Worth filing away for rainy days.

September 25th, 2009

Western powers speak publicly
of underground Iranian nuclear fuel plant

Posted in Mideast & Oil by ed

A stepped-up ultimatum is issued to Iran re a heretofore non-public underground nuclear fuel facility near Qum.

Western intelligence knew about it before, but they’re going public, they say, because their sources have now been … “breached.” (More like the opposite? Put to death?)

It’s also worth noting (acc to mideast websites) that during an air show in Iran this week, 9/22, a midair collision destroyed Iran’s only AWACs plane. Speculation: they are now more vulnerable to Israeli airstirkes.

September 24th, 2009

Societal Acrimony: Census worker hung in Kentucky

Associated Press – A U.S. Census worker found hanged from a tree near a Kentucky cemetery had the word “fed” scrawled on his chest, a law enforcement official said Wednesday, and the FBI is investigating whether he was a victim of anti-government sentiment.

September 23rd, 2009

Team Obama debates Pakghanistan in big confused way

Today in the Times: an excellent followup to the Sunday-Monday explosion of Team Obama’s Pakghanistan policy debate into public view.

Clearly: The Administration is alarmed. And has nothing like a consensus within its walls. And seems to have no good practical options.

Biden’s notion is perhaps the best (of those detailed). But amounts to advocating terrorism plain and simple: more mass murderous smart bombs and special force attacks in Pakistan, while giving up any hope (good idea) of dominating the fearsome land and diverse tribal powers of Afghanistan.

September 22nd, 2009

Ye Olde Retirement Account update

Posted in Money by ed

As a followup to my musings toward the end of this recent brood about my own retirement account:

Today I sold half the gold fund (FGLDX) money to cash. Continuing however to hold China and energy.

Why sell half the gold?

Tomorrow the Fed speaks. And there are hints, it seems to me, that they might adjust their language a bit to the Tight side. Just a smidgen.

But it would be enough to juice the sorely depressed dollar, and thus kick King Gold in the pants. He’s been feeling the resistance of that magic $1000 an ounce level and is

gld

looking a bit ragged. The slightest juice to the dollar would send him tumbling down the hill a while.

It will also hurt US stocks in general. Financials. Tech. Industrials (which have been roaring the past month). It might even be the thing to set off the big correction every trader on the planet has been waiting for since the Fourth of July.

But China stocks should benefit from the juiced dollar, grossly speaking.

And energy … mixed, re the dollar juice — but the current supposedly positive macro environment (everybody on TV says so!) bodes well for energy, and the charts here are looking rather smart.

oih

Then again — I may be wrong to think the Fed will drop any Tight hints.

In that case, I may have some regrets a few weeks hence to have let some gold go. But it’s come a long way, and that chart is looking toppy.

The euphoria of the moment is strong. So if the Fed is entirely Loose tomorrow (as it has been for a while now), US stocks should continue to appreciate for a while. Or at least a week until the quarter ends on Sept 30. Or …

But take a gander at the last three charts in the Hussman piece linked in the 1930s post directly below.

September 21st, 2009

The 1930s look familiar

Posted in Money by ed

Re what to do, what to do, about those Retirement Account Blues — check out the charts in this piece, particularly the last three, by a respected fund manager.

September 21st, 2009

Obamarama: Pakghanistan
policy coming to a head?

ED NOTE: See comments below to continue following events into 2010.

Since February I’ve been filing news bits and meditations on our mess in Pakghanistan here (and in the comments). The discussion reaches back a full year, to late August 2008 — when the Americans started dropping mass murderous smart bombs in Pakistan.

Now things seem to be coming to a head, as Obama yesterday for the first time expressed public doubts about the Gates-Mullen-Petraeus policy that he’s been cheerleading since spring 2008.

1. Everybody’s jumping on Prez Karzai, even the Europeans. I take Peter Galbraith’s word on faith that the August elections were deeply corrupt. But it’s also public and clear that the american National Security Apparat and press have been working to remove Karzai since former CIA director Hayden’s declaration of war on Pakistan last December.

2. McChrystal, the new American ground commander for Afghanistan, said in August the strategy of attacking the Taliban, or is it Al Qaeda — get your lucky scorecard, the nominated Enemy has been fluctuating, month to month, all year, just like in 1984We are at war with East Asia and we have always been at war with East Asia. We are at war with Eurasia and we have always –

Taliban, Al Qaeda, whatever, big diff — McChrystal says the strategy’s history.

Instead, following Petraeus (Lansdale) he wants more troops for Community Policing in the shrinking areas — now roughly 20 percent — of Afghanistan not controlled by anti-Kabul warlord types (whose loose and fleeting alliances the press now generally call “the Taliban”).

3. But Obama yesterday — while talking about health care — suddenly said Wait a Second on the Sunday talk shows:

The president also said that he had no deadline for withdrawing American forces from Afghanistan. He said before he decided whether to send more troops, he needed to determine whether the United States was pursuing the proper military strategy.

“The first question is, are we doing the right thing?” Mr. Obama said on CNN’s State of the Union. “Are we pursuing the right strategy?”

Mr. Obama did not say whether he would send more troops to Afghanistan, but he added that the strategy had become “somewhat adrift,” and said he needed to remind Americans the war was a necessary front in the fight against terrorism.

“We’re there because al Qaeda killed 3,000 Americans and we cannot allow extremists who want to do violence to the United States to be able to operate with impunity,” Mr. Obama said. “We lost that focus for a while and you started seeing a classic case of mission creep where we’re just there and we start taking on a whole bunch of different missions.”

Now that’s talking, kinda sorta, in a way. Perhaps, one surmised, the beginning of the end is at hand.

5. But, a day later, front page New York Times, we get the Pentagon’s reaction: 60 pages of McChrystal leakage to the Washington Post saying more boots are needed now to avoid failure:

“Failure to gain the initiative and reverse insurgent momentum in the near term (next 12 months) — while Afghan security capacity matures — risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible,” General McChrystal writes.

Shades of Westmoreland, 1966.

To my ear this is another first: The Pentagon sees failure on the horizon.

McChrystal is not yet in step with his British predecessors, one of whom in 2007 said Yankees Go Home and another whom a year later, weeks before the American elections, said loudly and simply “We’re not going to win this war.” But McChrystal seems to have turned his gaze in that direction.

7. This horror story began — January thru July 2001 — as a Texas oil mafia adventure to compel those nice quiet student Taliban chaps we’d installed in Kabul in the 90s to say No to Argentina’s Bridas (oil company) and Yes to Houston’s Unocal on the Caspian basin pipeline project.

That is: Bush-Cheney called the Tali chaps to Washington in January 2001 — one of their first bits of business upon taking office — and then again in late spring. Calling them on the carpet.

Then, when they refused to knuckle, Washington told NATO (as the Brits have told the world), in midsummer, to prepare for action in Afghanistan. All this is public information.

The Unocal misadventure morphed on 9/11 and became a warm-up lap for the Likud Lobby’s Clean Break War, the targets of which since the mid 90s had been Syria, Iraq and Iran. And that’s where Bush-Cheney went, never bothering to tidy up in Afghanistan.

This ridiculous series of events left Obama and McCain speechless, in a way, during the prez debates last year — mouthing in unison vapid cheers for escalating an Aimless war.

I don’t see how Obama can continue to try to finesse this. But having endorsed the Gates-Mullen-Petraeus policy for 18 months, he now owns it.

It will be interesting to see how the White House reacts to today’s Pentagon leakage in the Times.

Would getting out require the resignations of Gates and Mullen?

Johnson gave the Pentagon what it wanted in 1965 and three years later was a broken president. And Nixon, five years later, the same. Heads on a platter. This is the War Room.

September 16th, 2009

Humor: Hitler prepares for annual Burning Man fest

Posted in Goodbye to All That, Movies by ed

I come to this late but …