Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

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FTR #829 Fireside Chat about Eddie the Friendly Spook and the Ukraine Crisis

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Listen: MP3

Side 1  Side 2

Edward Snowden, unplugged

Introduction: Two recent political developments serve as bookends with which to illustrate our view that the Snowden/Wikileaks “op” and the Ukraine “op” are part of the same gambit.

A controversy ensued when it emerged that House majority whip Steve Scalise had attended a meeting of David Duke’s European-American Unity Organization.

The newly-seated GOP-dominated congress which Scalise will help to guide began attacking Social Security on its very  first day. Specifically, the GOP began attacking the Social Security disability program.

These developments serve as a point of entry into our discussion. (Our coverage of “the Adventures of Eddie the Friendly Spook” is massive and must be accessed to appreciate and understand this admittedly long and complicated analysis. We suggest using the search function on this website to conduct relevant keyword searches, in addition to pursuing some of the links included in this description.)

Part of the analysis notes that the superficial appearance of the Snowden/WikiLeaks “op” doesn’t make sense, if one takes the time to scrutinize the affair carefully.

Snowden is a strong advocate of eliminating Social Security.

The fascist OUN/B heirs in Ukraine are pursuing a program of “Von Clausewitzian economics” by eliminating the pensions and entitlements of people in Eastern Ukraine, not unlike what the Republicans are moving to do to elderly, disabled in this country.

Program Highlights Include:

  • Highlighting some of the many, fundamental discontinuities that characterize the Snowden/WikiLeaks “op.”
  • Noting the operational continuity between WikiLeaks and the Snowden “op.”
  • Highlighting the links between David Duke and elements of the Snowden/WikiLeaks “op” including: Carl Lundstrom, financier of the Pirate Bay website which hosted WikiLeaks; Joran Jermas, the key Assange aid who arranged for WikiLeaks to operate through Pirate Bay; Ron Paul, Snowden’s Presidential candidate of choice and a political idol of Julian Assange.
  • Glenn Greenwald’s financial angel Pierre Omidyar and his role in financing the Maidan coup.
  • Greenwald’s work as a Nazi-fellow traveler, representing Nazi killers pro-bono and running legal interference for the leaderless resistance strategy.
  • The fact that the Snowden/WikiLeaks “op” was viewed by 70% of Americans under the age of 34 as a heroic act. This appears to have contributed substantially to the low voter turnout that brought the GOP-dominated 114th Congress to power.
  • The fact that the fundamentals of Snowden’s so-called disclosures have been on the public record for years.
  • The strong affinity of the Ron Paul-linked Ludwig von Mises Institute and Lew Rockwell (who edited Ron Paul’s racist newsletters) and the Hapsburg dynasty.
  • Review of the links between the Hapsburgs (Otto von Habsburg in particular) and the OUN/B milieu of Yaroslav Stetsko.
  • Links between the Swedish fascist milieu to which Carl Lundstrom belongs and the international neo-Nazi contingent fighting in Ukraine.
  • The fact that Snowden is a trained spy.

1a. A controversy arose from the news that house majority whip Steve Scalise attended a meeting of David Duke’s EURO organization.

“White Suprema­cist Ban­ners, Racist Talks at Later Events of Group Steve Scalise Pre­vi­ously Addressed, Civil Rights Group Says” by Mark Schleif­stein; The Times-Picayune; 12/30/2014.

Ban­ners pro­claim­ing “White Power” and “White Pride World­wide” plas­tered the walls, and speak­ers gave racist speeches at later con­fer­ences in Ken­ner of a white suprema­cist orga­ni­za­tion that U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise says he had addressed in Metairie in 2002, an inves­ti­ga­tor with the South­ern Poverty Law Cen­ter civil rights group said Tuesday.

The law cen­ter didn’t have an inves­ti­ga­tor at the 2002 con­fer­ence of the European-American Unity and Rights Orga­ni­za­tion at which Scalise has acknowl­edged that he spoke. But Heidi Beirich, direc­tor of the center’s “Intel­li­gence Project,” said EURO events she attended in 2004 and 2005 in Ken­ner left no doubt about the group’s racist agenda.

“The con­fer­ences were a full day of peo­ple giv­ing speeches rep­re­sent­ing the worst in racism or anti-Semitism,” said Beirich.

For­mer Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke founded EURO, a con­nec­tion the law cen­ter said should have made it clear the group’s racist agenda. The nature of the events EURO put together left no doutb, Beirich said.

At one of the con­fer­ences she attended in Ken­ner, a fea­tured speaker “spoke about how evil Mus­lims are,” Beirich said. “He described a Mus­lim woman as a ‘hag in a bag.’”

Other speak­ers at the 2004 and 2005 con­fer­ences gave talks deny­ing that World War II’s Holo­caust — the exter­mi­na­tion by Nazis of mil­lions of Jews and oth­ers in con­cen­tra­tion camps and mas­sacres — actu­ally occurred. Other speak­ers told audi­ences that Jews and non-whites were tak­ing con­trol of the United States.

“It was almost held like an aca­d­e­mic con­fer­ence, but the top­ics were so hor­rific that it’s shock­ing,” Beirich said.

Beirich said she did not attend the May 2002 con­fer­ence at which Scalise spoke and has no infor­ma­tion on what talks were given or whether sim­i­lar ban­ners were used.

The Mont­gomery, Ala.-based cen­ter on Tues­day called on Scalise to step downas house major­ity whip because of his par­tic­i­pa­tion in the 2002 con­fer­ence, and ques­tioned Scalise’s insis­tence that he did not know EURO was a white suprema­cist organization.

In a Tues­day state­ment, Scalise said his deci­sion to appear at the con­fer­ence to talk about state tax­a­tion issues was a mistake.

“One of the many groups that I spoke to regard­ing this crit­i­cal leg­is­la­tion was a group whose views I whole­heart­edly con­demn,” Scalise said in a state­ment. “It was a mis­take I regret, and I emphat­i­cally oppose the divi­sive racial and reli­gious views groups like these hold.”

But offi­cials with the South­ern Poverty Law Cen­ter argue that it would be dif­fi­cult for Scalise not to know the kind of group he was address­ing, espe­cially since The Gam­bit reported ahead of the 2002 con­fer­ence on an announce­ment by the Iowa Cubs minor league base­ball team that they were can­celling their stay at the Metairie hotel where the EURO con­fer­ence was being held. The Gam­bit also reported on a state­ment by the hotel, then called the Best West­ern Land­mark, say­ing it did not sup­port the con­fer­ence but was con­trac­tu­ally oblig­ated to host it.

The Gambit’s arti­clesaid EURO offi­cials decided to close the con­fer­ence to the pub­lic and require those attend­ing to be EURO mem­bers or local orga­niz­ers and pay a fee after the hotel con­tro­versy sparked rumors that pro­test­ers might show up.

“I think it is sim­ply not cred­i­ble that Steve Scalise, a Louisiana-based politi­cian with national aspi­ra­tions, could not have known at that time who David Duke was and what EURO was,” said Mark Potok, a senior fel­low at the law cen­ter and edi­tor of its Intel­li­gence Report inves­tiga­tive journal.

“There was an immense amount of pub­lic­ity, and espe­cially in Louisiana. David Duke then and today was the most noto­ri­ous white suprema­cist in the United States of Amer­ica,” he said.

Potok also was crit­i­cal of the Repub­li­can Party for back­ing Scalise to remain as Major­ity Whip when Con­gress re-convenes on Jan. 6.

“The Repub­li­can Party has made a lot of noise recently about reach­ing out to minori­ties in this coun­try,” he said. “It’s very hard to under­stand how the party is going to do that when it turns out that one of their most impor­tant lead­ers has been giv­ing speeches to an openly white suprema­cist group.”

1b. Duke has networked with other politicians and has threatened to “name names.” He might well have named names of the Snowdenista milieu, who are joined at the hip with Duke.

“David Duke Threatens to ‘Name Names'” by Alexandra Jaffe; CNN; 1/3/2015.

Rep. Steve Scalise may have attended a gathering of a white supremacist group, David Duke, the former Klu Klux Klan leader who founded the group said on CNN Saturday.

“I’ve got conflicting reports,” Duke told CNN’s Michael Smerconish. “One person said that he was a no-show, that he was scheduled to come — one person said that he did come. I just don’t know what the truth is.”

Duke added that “it seems that Mr. Scalise thinks he may have. That’s why he’s — he’s covering himself.”

Duke was in Russia at the time of the 2002 conference of the European-American Unity and Rights Organization, considered by many civil rights groups to be a hate group. The event in question has drawn intense scrutiny after a local Louisiana political blogger uncovered comments on an online forum suggesting Scalise spoke there in 2002.

The controversy surrounding Scalise’s appearance has sparked calls for the Louisiana Republican to resign from his House Republican leadership position and created unwanted headaches for the GOP as they prepare to take over full control of Congress next week.

While he said he remains murky on the actual details of who spoke at the event thirteen years ago, Duke threatened to “name names” of lawmakers with whom he’s “had relationships” if they continue to attack Scalise. . . .

2a. In keeping with the views of Eddie the Friendly Spook Snowden, the GOP began attacking Social Security and its disability program.

“New GOP Con­gress Fires Shot At Social Secu­rity On Day One” by Dylan Scott; Talking Points Memo DC; 1/6/2015.

With a little-noticed pro­posal, Repub­li­cans took aim at Social Secu­rity on the very first day of the 114th Congress.

The incom­ing GOP major­ity approved late Tues­day a new rule that experts say could pro­voke an unprece­dented cri­sis that con­ser­v­a­tives could use as lever­age in upcom­ing debates over enti­tle­ment reform.

The largely over­looked change puts a new restric­tion on the rou­tine trans­fer of tax rev­enues between the tra­di­tional Social Secu­rity retire­ment trust fund and the Social Secu­rity dis­abil­ity pro­gram. The trans­fers, known as real­lo­ca­tion, had his­tor­i­cally been rou­tine; the lib­eral Cen­ter for Bud­get and Pol­icy Pri­or­i­ties saidTues­day that they had been made 11 times. The CBPP added that the dis­abil­ity insur­ance pro­gram “isn’t bro­ken,” but the pro­gram has been strained by demo­graphic trends that the real­lo­ca­tions are intended to address.

The House GOP’s rule change would still allow for a real­lo­ca­tion from the retire­ment fund to shore up the dis­abil­ity fund — but only if an accom­pa­ny­ing pro­posal “improves the over­all finan­cial health of the com­bined Social Secu­rity Trust Funds,” per the rule, expected to be passed on Tues­day. While that lan­guage is vague, experts say it would likely mean any real­lo­ca­tion would have to be bal­anced by new rev­enues or ben­e­fit cuts.

House Democ­rats are sound­ing the alarm. In a memo cir­cu­lated to their allies Tues­day, Demo­c­ra­tic staffers said that that would mean “either new rev­enues or ben­e­fit cuts for cur­rent or future ben­e­fi­cia­ries.” New rev­enues are highly unlikely to be approved by the deeply tax-averse Republican-led Con­gress, leav­ing ben­e­fit cuts as the obvi­ous alternative.

The Social Secu­rity and Medicare Boards of Trustees esti­mated last year that the dis­abil­ity insur­ance pro­gram would run short of money to pay all ben­e­fits some time in late 2016. With­out a new real­lo­ca­tion, dis­abil­ity insur­ance ben­e­fi­cia­ries could face up to 20 per­cent cuts in their Social Secu­rity pay­ments in late 2016 — a chit that would be of use to Repub­li­cans push­ing for con­ser­v­a­tive enti­tle­ment reforms.

“The rule change would pro­hibit a sim­ple real­lo­ca­tion! It will require more sig­nif­i­cant and com­plex changes to Social Secu­rity,” Social Secu­rity Works, an advo­cacy group, said in a state­ment Tues­day. “In other words, the Repub­li­can rule will allow Social Secu­rity to be held hostage.”

Pol­icy wonks who fol­low Social Secu­rity saw the GOP rule change as a play for leverage.

“Everybody’s been talk­ing about enti­tle­ment reform. Mr. Boehner and Pres­i­dent Obama were pretty close to com­ing up with some kind of grand bar­gain, which ulti­mately fell apart,” Tom Hunger­ford, senior econ­o­mist at the lib­eral Eco­nomic Pol­icy Insti­tute, told TPM. “Maybe this could be used as a hostage to try to get back to some­thing like that.”

For their part, con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans were fairly trans­par­ent about their think­ing. Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY), who has been out­spo­ken on the dis­abil­ity pro­gram, co-sponsored the rule amend­ment. The dis­abil­ity pro­gram has been a favored tar­get for the GOP; mem­bers were warn­ing last month that the pro­gram could be vul­ner­a­ble to fraud.

“My inten­tion by doing this is to force us to look for a long term solu­tion for SSDI rather than raid­ing Social Secu­rity to bail out a fail­ing fed­eral pro­gram,” Reed said in a state­ment. “Retired tax­pay­ers who have paid into the sys­tem for years deserve no less.”

Lib­eral ana­lysts counter, how­ever, that the retire­ment fund, which pays out $672.1 bil­lion in ben­e­fits per year ver­sus $140.1 bil­lion for the dis­abil­ity fund, is more than healthy enough to allow for a real­lo­ca­tion, as has his­tor­i­cally been done. CBPP’s Kathy Ruff­ing wrote that, if a trans­fer was made before the 2016 dead­line, both funds would be sol­vent until 2033.

2b. More about the GOP’s assault on Social Security, a policy wholeheartedly endorsed by Snowden:

“Inside The GOP’s Long Game To Ignite A New Bat­tle Over Social Security” by Dylan Scott; TPM DC; 1/9/2015. 

Repub­li­cans are seiz­ing a once-every-20-years oppor­tu­nity to force a cri­sis in the Social Secu­rity dis­abil­ity pro­gram and use it as lever­age to push through reforms, a long game that they have been qui­etly lay­ing ground­work for since tak­ing con­trol of the House in 2010.

In less than two years, the Social Social dis­abil­ity insur­ance pro­gram will start being unable to pay its full ben­e­fits and House Repub­li­cans saidthis week that they aren’t going to sim­ply give it more rev­enue from the retire­ment side, as has been done his­tor­i­cally. It’s the lat­est episode in a pro­tracted cam­paign over the dis­abil­ity pro­gram — and it raises the ques­tion of what exactly Repub­li­cans plan to do now.

The last time this hap­pened was 1994, and lib­eral ana­lysts say that another sim­ple real­lo­ca­tion between the dis­abil­ity and retire­ment funds, as has been done 11 times in the past, would keep both funds sol­vent until 2033. That meant that con­ser­v­a­tives had to act now if they wanted to squeeze the cri­sis for all it’s worth. For the last few years, they’ve been high­light­ing instances of fraud and other prob­lems with the pro­gram, set­ting the stage for the big move this week.

Democ­rats are sound­ing the alarm, warn­ing that Repub­li­cans have taken a “hostage” and will lever­age it to pur­sue broad changes to Social Secu­rity as a whole. With mem­o­ries still fresh of their failed effort to pri­va­tize Social Secu­rity in 2005, con­ser­v­a­tives wonks are less sure that the new GOP Con­gress would have the polit­i­cal will to do that, though they wouldn’t nec­es­sar­ily mind if it did.

“I wasn’t sure that they were going to be will­ing to take it up. I’m heart­ened that the rule was put in place. It forces us to start hav­ing a debate on this issue today,” said Jason Ficht­ner, senior research fel­low at George Mason University’s Mer­ca­tus Cen­ter who has been called by House Repub­li­cans to tes­tify on Social Secu­rity. “What I sus­pect is this allows for a con­ver­sa­tion not just on (dis­abil­ity), but the whole sys­tem com­bined. But the hur­dle of dis­abil­ity insur­ance is high enough. You start adding in try­ing to retire­ment reform at the same time, that just makes it a higher hur­dle. I’m not sure there’s the polit­i­cal will or the pub­lic will to tackle both sys­tems at the same time right now.”

The hostage in this metaphor is the dis­abil­ity insur­ance pro­gram and a late 2016 dead­line, at which point it won’t be able to pay its full ben­e­fits to its 11 mil­lion ben­e­fi­cia­ries. The new Repub­li­can House has approved a rule that says Con­gress can’t just trans­fer tax rev­enue from the Social Secu­rity retire­ment fund, as it has been done rou­tinely in the past, to cover the loom­ing short­fall. If noth­ing is done, ben­e­fi­cia­ries would face an esti­mated 20 per­cent cut.

Most mem­bers on both sides pre­sum­ably wouldn’t want to see that hap­pen, espe­cially dur­ing a crit­i­cal elec­tion cycle, giv­ing Repub­li­cans pow­er­ful lever­age to bring Democ­rats to the nego­ti­at­ing table. One of the co-sponsors of the rule change, Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY), saidthat his inten­tion was to “force us to look for a long-term solu­tion” to the dis­abil­ity program.

But the rule itself says it will allow a rev­enue trans­fer if the “over­all health” of Social Secu­rity, encom­pass­ing both the retire­ment and dis­abil­ity pro­grams, is improved. That’s what Democ­rats are warn­ing about, but some con­ser­v­a­tive ana­lysts who have con­sulted with House staffers are also hop­ing that the GOP uses the threat of ben­e­fits cuts to go big.

“It’s encour­ag­ing that the rule actu­ally says we could do real­lo­ca­tion if it’s accom­pa­nied by improve­ments in over­all Social Secu­rity sol­vency. Our pref­er­ence has always been that the deple­tion of the DI trust fund become the impe­tus for com­pre­hen­sive Social Secu­rity reform,” Ed Loren­zen, senior advi­sor to the Com­mit­tee for a Respon­si­ble Fed­eral Bud­get, told TPM. “For the most part, the prob­lems fac­ing DI are really just a symp­tom of the larger prob­lems for Social Secu­rity as a whole.”

Staff for the House’s big play­ers on Social Secu­rity — Ways and Means Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Social Secu­rity Sub­com­mit­tee Chair Sam John­son (R-TX), who co-sponsored the new rule with Reed — weren’t ready to reveal their plans for what comes next. But asked if their pro­pos­als would address just the dis­abil­ity insur­ance fund or Social Secu­rity in its entirety, an aide to Reed told TPM: “Just DI for the moment.”

Those on the right weren’t sur­prised that the new GOP Con­gress took an aggres­sive stance on Social Security’s dis­abil­ity pro­gram on its very first day. “Over the last year, it started becom­ing clear that there’d be a lot of resis­tance to (a clean real­lo­ca­tion) and a desire to have real­lo­ca­tion tied to some reforms,” Loren­zen said. “We were sort of antic­i­pat­ing that this would happen.”

The hostage in this metaphor is the dis­abil­ity insur­ance pro­gram and a late 2016 dead­line, at which point it won’t be able to pay its full ben­e­fits to its 11 mil­lion ben­e­fi­cia­ries. The new Repub­li­can House has approved a rule that says Con­gress can’t just trans­fer tax rev­enue from the Social Secu­rity retire­ment fund, as it has been done rou­tinely in the past, to cover the loom­ing short­fall. If noth­ing is done, ben­e­fi­cia­ries would face an esti­mated 20 per­cent cut.

Most mem­bers on both sides pre­sum­ably wouldn’t want to see that hap­pen, espe­cially dur­ing a crit­i­cal elec­tion cycle, giv­ing Repub­li­cans pow­er­ful lever­age to bring Democ­rats to the nego­ti­at­ing table. One of the co-sponsors of the rule change, Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY), saidthat his inten­tion was to “force us to look for a long-term solu­tion” to the dis­abil­ity pro­gram.

3a. The fascist Sweden Democrats have become the third largest party in Sweden. Financed, in part, by Carl Lundstrom, the Sweden Demcrats are driving the national agenda in important respects. Despite their official proclamation to the effect that the party had abandoned fascism, it retains its political character, touting the “anti-immigrant” sentiment as the main plank in its political platform.

Lundstrom is also the primary financial backer of the Pirate Bay site, through which WikiLeaks operated. The Snowden “op” is an extension of WikiLeaks.

As discussed in FTR #’s 725, 732, Lundstrom financed a Scandinavian speaking tour for David Duke.

“Rightwing Populists in Europe Make Mischief” [Editorial]; The Financial Times; 12/08/2014; p. 10.

. . . . Howeve the priority now must be to expose the Sweden Democrats as a party with a reckless approach and an array of intolerant, socially divisive policies wholly out of keeping with Swedish political culture. . . .

. . . The Sweden Democrats abandoned [superficially–D.E.] their neo-Nazi doctrines more than 10 years ago, making it inaccurate to label them a far-right party , but most Swedes correctly regard the party’s aggressive line on immigration as unpalatable. . . .

3b. Pirate Bay sugar daddy Lundstrom has discussed his political sympathies. [The excerpt below is from Google translations. The Swedish sentence is followed by the English translation.]

“The Goal: Take over all Piracy” by Peter Karlsson; realtid.se; 3/10/2006.

. . . Lundström har inte gjort någon hemlighet av sina sympatier för främlingsfientliga grupper, och förra året fanns hans namn med på kundregistret hos det nazistiska bokförlaget Nordiska Förlaget. Lundstrom has made no secret of his sympathy for the xenophobic groups, and last year was his name with the customer code of the Nazi publishing house Nordic Publishers.

– Jag stöder dem genom att köpa böcker och musik. – I support them by buying books and music. Ni i media vill bara sprida missaktning om olika personer. You in the media just want to spread contempt for different people. Ni i media är fyllda av hat till Pirate Bay, avslutar en mycket upprörd Carl Lundström. You in the media is full of hatred to the Pirate Bay, finishing a very upset Carl Lundström.

Nordiska Förlaget säljer vit makt musik och böcker som hyllar rasistiska våldshandlingar. Nordic publishing company sells white power music and books that celebrates the racist violence. Förlaget stöder nazisternas demonstration i Salem och bjöd in Ku Klux Klan ledaren till en föredragturné i Sverige. Publisher supports the Nazi demonstration in Salem and invited the Ku Klux Klan leader [David Duke–D.E.] for a lecture tour in Sweden. . . .

4. In that same context, it is worth noting that the quasi-populist ideological rhetoric surrounding Pirate Bay dovetails nicely with the sort of “fascist populism” marketed by the political parties financed by Lundstrom.

Again, Lundstrom is part and parcel to the Snowden/WikiLeaks “op.”

“The Pirate Bay trial Is the Collision of ‘Can I?’ and ‘Should I?’ Cultures” by Andrew Brown; The Guardian; 2/26/2009.

. . . The money man, Carl Lundström, on whose servers The Pirate Bay [and WikiLeaks–D.E.] was housed, is straight out of the crime novels of Stieg Larsson. He inherited a fortune built on crispbread, and has a long history of involvement with extreme rightwing politics. In the 1980s, he was a member of “Keep Sweden Swedish”, an anti-immigrant fringe group; he has financially backed the Sweden Democrats, a would-be populist and anti-immigrant party; and only this month the managing director of one of his companies was charged with a robbery in a small west-coast town, part of a feud within a neo-Nazi group. Lundström told the Metro news­paper (http://bit.ly/metro) after he sacked the man that he had known he was a party member, but not that he had gone to collect another member’s computer with a submachine gun.

Gottfrid Svartholm Varg and Frederik Neij, the nerds who run The Pirate Bay itself, have also been accused by the prosecutor of tax evasion, but deny that they were making any money from their business. Their attitude of sneering entitlement towards the government is all of a piece with their attitude towards the big content companies. . . .

. . . I know that a little bit of the rhetoric around The Pirate Bay sounds leftwing – the idea that it is wrong for “international capital” to push Sweden around – but that’s just populist, and could be found in the rhetoric of the kind of parties that Carl Lundström has supported too.

The overwhelming impression is of a clash between two rightwing views, one that says it is all right to steal from the state, and one which says it is sinful to steal from corporations. . . .

5. More about Lundstrom’s financing of the Sweden Democrats. We will discuss the anti-Muslim/anti-immigrant rallying cry of the Sweden Democrats and other neo-fascist parties such as the French National Front when we discuss the Muslim Brotherhood and the recent carnage in France.

“Pirate Bay’s neo-Nazi Sugar Daddy” by Andrew Orloski; The Register [UK]; 2/26/2009.

 . . . . Lundström was linked to a gang of skinheads that attacked Latin American tourists in Stockholm in the mid-1980s. [Expo.se report (Swe) – 2005]. Over the years, Lundström has switched his support from Keep Sweden Swedish to the far-right headbangers party New Democracy – but was thrown out for being too right wing. He’s currently bankrolling 100 candidates for the Swedish equivalent of the BNP.  [The party is the Sweden Democrats–D.E.]. . .

6a. Young people seem to have been particularly affected by Snowden’s actions. Snowden being regarded as a hero is truly grotesque, though understandable, given the insufficient nature of the media coverage.

It is a safe bet that the resulting alienation of the young, idealistic voters who rallied to Obama in 2008 contributed to the low voter turnout in the 2014 off-year elections. That low voter turnout, in turn, contributed to the election of the pro-Duke, anti-Social Security GOP. They are part and parcel to the political forces to which Eddie the Friendly Spook belongs.

“Snowden among Nominees for a European Human Rights Prize” by Dan Bilefsky; The New York Times; 9/18/2013.

. . . . In an online New York Times opinion article on Sunday, Peter Ludlow, a professor of philosophy at Northwestern University, wrote that Mr. Snowden had exposed a gap between members of the younger “WikiLeaks generation,” who regard him as a role model, and older commentators in the traditional news media, who believe he needs to be brought to justice. Mr. Ludlow cited a recent poll showing that 70 percent of Americans ages 18 to 34 believed that Mr. Snowden “did a good thing.” . . . . .

6b. Snowden’s “disclosures” are not new, nor is the vacuum-cleaning of electronic communications by NSA/GCHQ unusual in the world of global electronic espionage.

[Notice when this was published–9/6/2001.–D.E.] . . . The United States-led spying system known as Echelon can monitor virtually every communication in the world — by e-mail, phone or fax — that bounces off a satellite, the European Parliament was told. But in reporting on a yearlong study of the system that was prompted by concern that American companies were using data from the system to gain a competitive edge, Gerhard Schmid, a German member of the Parliament, said that many European countries had similar abilities . . .

7. Exemplifying the marrow-deep hypocrisy of Citizen Greenwald, we examine his defense of of Nazi murderer Matthew Hale. Notice that Greenwald didn’t give a flying F* about the internet privacy of Judge Lefkow and her family.
THIS is the real Glenn Greenwald, whom we strongly suspect is a BND operative.
  • Convicted of solicitation of the murder of Judge Joan Lefkow, whose husband and mother were murdered in her home a few weeks after Cobb exercised what Greenwald would characterize of his right of free speech on the internet, Greenwald’s client Hale characterized his organization as being at war with Judge Lefkow. (See text excerpt in linked post.)
  • Cobb posted Lefkow’s name and address on the internet. Her mother and husband were murdered a few weeks later. Cobb was overtly, explicitly pleased by that fact” . . . What was I feeling? Emotions are not yet illegal. I was just fine with it. I think it was well done.”[1] (See text excerpt in linked post.)
  • Cobb’s actions epitomize the “leaderless resistance strategy,” for which Greenwald ran legal interference in his law practice.
  • Greenwald’s client Hale was taped by an undercover FBI informant who provided; ”  . . . . an email from Hale soliciting Lefkow’s home address, and a tape recording of a discussion between the two about Lefkow’s murder. On the tape, Evola said, “We going to exterminate the rat?” Hale replied, “Well, whatever you want to do basically.” Evola said, “The Jew rat.” Hale then said: “You know, my position has always been that I, you know, I’m going to fight within the law… but that information has been provided. [by Cobb]… If you wish to do anything yourself, you can.” Evola replied, “Consider it done,” and Hale responded, “Good.” . . . . (See text excerpt in linked post.)
  • Greenwald’s comments on the case are very, very revealing. “. . . . . Attorney Glenn Greenwald, representing Hale, says he believes the charge against Hale stems from what he calls a misinterpretation of Hale’s statement that “we are in a state of war with Judge Lefkow.” Greenwald says: “They are probably trying to take things he said along the lines of political advocacy and turn it into a crime. The FBI may have interpreted this protected speech as a threat against a federal judge, but it’s probably nothing more than some heated rhetoric.” During Hale’s incarceration, special administrative measures will be imposed to reduce his ability to communicate with his followers. . . .” (See text excerpt in linked post.)

8. Pierre Omid­yar–Glenn Greenwald’s finan­cial angel–helped finance the Ukrain­ian coup, along with AID. The lat­ter is a fre­quent cover for U.S. intel­li­gence activities.We note that Oleh Rybachukthe recip­i­ent of Omidyar’s funds, was the right-hand man for Vik­tor Yuschenko in the Orange Rev­o­lu­tion.

“Pierre Omid­yar Co-funded Ukraine Rev­o­lu­tion Groups with US gov­ern­ment, Doc­u­ments Show” by Mark Ames; Pando Daily; 2/28/2014.

On Feb­ru­ary 28, 2014 Just hours after last weekend’s ouster of Ukrain­ian pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych, one of Pierre Omidyar’s newest hires at national secu­rity blog “The Inter­cept,” was already dig­ging for the truth. Marcy Wheeler, who is the new site’s “senior pol­icy ana­lyst,” spec­u­lated that the Ukraine rev­o­lu­tion was likely a “coup” engi­neered by “deep forces” on behalf of “Pax Amer­i­cana”:

“There’s quite a bit of evi­dence of coup-ness. Q is how many lev­els deep inter­fer­ence from both sides is.”

These are seri­ous claims. So seri­ous that I decided to inves­ti­gate them. And what I found was shock­ing. Wheeler is partly cor­rect. Pando has con­firmed that the Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment – in the form of the US Agency for Inter­na­tional Devel­op­ment (USAID) – played a major role in fund­ing oppo­si­tion groups prior to the rev­o­lu­tion. More­over, a large per­cent­age of the rest of the fund­ing to those same groups came from a US bil­lion­aire who has pre­vi­ously worked closely with US gov­ern­ment agen­cies to fur­ther his own busi­ness inter­ests. This was by no means a US-backed “coup,” but clear evi­dence shows that US invest­ment was a force mul­ti­plier for many of the groups involved in over­throw­ing Yanukovych. But that’s not the shock­ing part. What’s shock­ing is the name of the bil­lion­aire who co-invested with the US gov­ern­ment (or as Wheeler put it: the “dark force” act­ing on behalf of “Pax Amer­i­cana”). Step out of the shad­ows…. Wheeler’s boss, Pierre Omid­yar. Yes, in the annals of inde­pen­dent media, this might be the strangest twist ever: Accord­ing to finan­cial dis­clo­sures and reports seen by Pando, the founder and pub­lisher of Glenn Greenwald’s government-bashing blog,“The Inter­cept,” co-invested with the US gov­ern­ment to help fund regime change in Ukraine. * * * * When the rev­o­lu­tion came to Ukraine, neo-fascists played a front-center role in over­throw­ing the country’s pres­i­dent. But the real polit­i­cal power rests with Ukraine’s pro-western neolib­er­als. Polit­i­cal fig­ures like Oleh Rybachuk, long a favorite of the State Depart­mentDC neo­consEU, and NATO—and the right-hand man to Orange Rev­o­lu­tion leader Vik­tor Yushchenko. Last Decem­ber, the Finan­cial Times wrote that Rybachuk’s “New Cit­i­zen” NGO cam­paign “played a big role in get­ting the protest up and run­ning.” New Cit­i­zen, along with the rest of Rybachuk’s inter­lock­ing net­work of western-backed NGOs and cam­paigns— “Cen­ter UA” (also spelled “Cen­tre UA”), “Chesno,” and “Stop Cen­sor­ship” to name a few — grew their power by tar­get­ing pro-Yanukovych politi­cians with a well-coordinated anti-corruption cam­paign that built its strength in Ukraine’s regions, before mass­ing in Kiev last autumn. The efforts of the NGOs were so suc­cess­ful that the Ukraine gov­ern­ment was accused of employ­ing dirty tricks to shut them down. In early Feb­ru­ary, the groups were the sub­ject of a mas­sive money laun­der­ing inves­ti­ga­tion by the eco­nom­ics divi­sion of Ukraine’s Inte­rior Min­istry in what many denounced as a polit­i­cally moti­vated move. For­tu­nately the groups had the strength – which is to say, money – to sur­vive those attacks and con­tinue push­ing for regime change in Ukraine. The source of that money? Accord­ing to the Kyiv Post, Pier­rie Omidyar’s Omid­yar Net­work (part of the Omid­yar Group which owns First Look Media and the Inter­cept) pro­vided 36% of “Cen­ter UA”’s $500,000 bud­get in 2012— nearly $200,000. USAID pro­vided 54% of “Cen­ter UA”’s bud­get for 2012. Other fun­ders included the US government-backed National Endow­ment for Democ­racy. In 2011, Omid­yar Net­work gave $335,000 to “New Cit­i­zen,” one of the anti-Yanukovych “projects” man­aged through the Rybachuk-chaired NGO “Cen­ter UA.” At the time, Omid­yar Net­work boasted that its invest­ment in “New Cit­i­zen” would help “shape pub­lic pol­icy” in Ukraine:

“Using tech­nol­ogy and media, New Cit­i­zen coor­di­nates the efforts of con­cerned mem­bers of soci­ety, rein­forc­ing their abil­ity to shape pub­lic pol­icy. “… With sup­port from Omid­yar Net­work, New Cit­i­zen will strengthen its advo­cacy efforts in order to drive greater trans­parency and engage cit­i­zens on issues of impor­tance to them.”

In March 2012, Rybachuk — the oper­a­tor behind the 2004 Orange Rev­o­lu­tion scenes, the Ana­toly Chubais of Ukraine — boasted that he was prepar­ing a new Orange Revolution:

“Peo­ple are not afraid. We now have 150 NGOs in all the major cities in our ‘clean up Par­lia­ment cam­paign’ to elect and find bet­ter parliamentarians….The Orange Rev­o­lu­tion was a mir­a­cle, a mas­sive peace­ful protest that worked. We want to do that again and we think we will.

Detailed finan­cial records reviewed by Pando (and embed­ded below) also show Omid­yar Net­work cov­ered costs for the expan­sion of Rybachuk’s anti-Yanukovych cam­paign, “Chesno” (“Hon­estly”), into regional cities includ­ing Poltava, Vin­nyt­sia, Zhy­to­myr, Ternopil, Sumy, and else­where, mostly in the Ukrainian-speaking west and cen­ter. * * * * To under­stand what it means for Omid­yar to fund Oleh Rybachuk, some brief his­tory is nec­es­sary. Rybachuk’s back­ground fol­lows a famil­iar pat­tern in post-Soviet oppor­tunism: From well-connected KGB intel­li­gence ties, to post-Soviet neolib­eral net­worker. In the Soviet era, Rybachuk stud­ied in a mil­i­tary lan­guages pro­gram half of whose grad­u­ates went on to work for the KGB. Rybachuk’s murky over­seas post­ing in India in the late Soviet era fur­ther strength­ens many sus­pi­cions about his Soviet intel­li­gence ties; what­ever the case, by Rybachuk’s own account, his close ties to top intel­li­gence fig­ures in the Ukrain­ian SBU served him well dur­ing the Orange Rev­o­lu­tion of 2004, when the SBU passed along secret infor­ma­tion about vote fraud and assas­si­na­tion plots.

In 1992, after the col­lapse of the Soviet Union, Rybachuk moved to the newly-formed Ukraine Cen­tral Bank, head­ing the for­eign rela­tions depart­ment under Cen­tral Bank chief and future Orange Rev­o­lu­tion leader Vik­tor Yushchenko. In his cen­tral bank post, Rybachuk estab­lished close friendly ties with west­ern gov­ern­ment and finan­cial aid insti­tu­tions, as well as proto-Omidyar fig­ures like George Soros, who funded many of the NGOs involved in “color rev­o­lu­tions” includ­ing small dona­tions to the same Ukraine NGOs that Omid­yar backed. (Like Omid­yar Net­work does today, Soros’ char­ity arms—Open Soci­ety and Renais­sance Foundation—publicly preached trans­parency and good gov­ern­ment in places like Rus­sia dur­ing the Yeltsin years, while Soros’ finan­cial arm spec­u­lated on Russ­ian debt and par­tic­i­pated in scandal-plagued auc­tions of state assets.) In early 2005, Orange Rev­o­lu­tion leader Yushchenko became Ukraine’s pres­i­dent, and he appointed Rybachuk deputy prime min­is­ter in charge of inte­grat­ing Ukraine into the EU, NATO, and other west­ern insti­tu­tions. Rybachuk also pushed for the mass-privatization of Ukraine’s remain­ing state hold­ings. Over the next sev­eral years, Rybachuk was shifted around Pres­i­dent Yushchenko’s embat­tled admin­is­tra­tion, torn by inter­nal divi­sions. In 2010, Yushchenko lost the pres­i­dency to recently-overthrown Vik­tor Yanukovych, and a year later, Rybachuk was on Omidyar’s and USAID’s pay­roll, prepar­ing for the next Orange Rev­o­lu­tion. As Rybachuk told the Finan­cial Times two years ago:

“We want to do [the Orange Rev­o­lu­tion] again and we think we will.”

Some of Omidyar’s funds were specif­i­cally ear­marked for cov­er­ing the costs of set­ting up Rybachuk’s “clean up par­lia­ment” NGOs in Ukraine’s regional cen­ters. Shortly after the Euro­maidan demon­stra­tions erupted last Novem­ber, Ukraine’s Inte­rior Min­istry opened up a money laun­der­ing inves­ti­ga­tion into Rybachuk’s NGOs, drag­ging Omidyar’s name into the high-stakes polit­i­cal strug­gle. Accord­ing to a Kyiv Post arti­cle on Feb­ru­ary 10 titled, “Rybachuk: Democracy-promoting non­govern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tion faces ‘ridicu­lous’ investigation”:

“Police are inves­ti­gat­ing Cen­ter UA, a public-sector watch­dog funded by West­ern donors, on sus­pi­cion of money laun­der­ing, the group said. The group’s leader, Oleh Rybachuk, said it appears that author­i­ties, with the probe, are try­ing to warn other non­govern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions that seek to pro­mote democ­racy, trans­parency, free speech and human rights in Ukraine. “Accord­ing to Cen­ter UA, the Kyiv eco­nomic crimes unit of the Inte­rior Min­istry started the inves­ti­ga­tion on Dec. 11. Recently, how­ever, inves­ti­ga­tors stepped up their efforts, ques­tion­ing some 200 wit­nesses. “… Cen­ter UA received more than $500,000 in 2012, accord­ing to its annual report for that year, 54 per­cent of which came from Pact Inc., a project funded by the U.S. Agency for Inter­na­tional Devel­op­ment. Nearly 36 per­cent came from Omid­yar Net­work, a foun­da­tion estab­lished by eBay founder Pierre Omid­yar and his wife. Other donors include the Inter­na­tional Renais­sance Foun­da­tion, whose key fun­der is bil­lion­aire George Soros, and National Endow­ment for Democ­racy, funded largely by the U.S. Congress.”

* * * * What all this adds up to is a jour­nal­is­tic conflict-of-interest of the worst kind: Omid­yar work­ing hand-in-glove with US for­eign pol­icy agen­cies to inter­fere in for­eign gov­ern­ments, co-financing regime change with well-known arms of the Amer­i­can empire — while at the same time hir­ing a grow­ing team of soi-disant ”inde­pen­dent jour­nal­ists” which vows to inves­ti­gate the behav­ior of the US gov­ern­ment at home and over­seas, and boasts of its uniquely “adver­sar­ial” rela­tion­ship towards these  gov­ern­ment insti­tu­tions. As First Look staffer Jeremy Scahill told the Daily Beast

We had a long dis­cus­sion about this inter­nally; about what our posi­tion would be if the White House asked us to not pub­lish some­thing…. With us, because we want to be adver­sar­ial, they won’t know what bat phone to call. They know who to call at The Times, they know who to call at The Post. With us, who are they going to call? Pierre? Glenn?

Of the many prob­lems that poses, none is more seri­ous than the fact that Omid­yar now has the only two peo­ple with exclu­sive access to the com­plete Snow­den NSA cache, Glenn Green­wald and Laura Poitras. Some­how, the same bil­lion­aire who co-financed the “coup” in Ukraine with USAID, also has exclu­sive access to the NSA secrets—and very few in the inde­pen­dent media dare voice a skep­ti­cal word about it. In the larger sense, this is a prob­lem of 21st cen­tury Amer­i­can inequal­ity, of life in a billionaire-dominated era. It is a prob­lem we all have to con­tend with—PandoDaily’s 18-plus investors include a gag­gle of Sil­i­con Val­ley bil­lion­aires like Marc Andreessen (who serves on the board of eBay, chaired by Pierre Omid­yar) and Peter Thiel (whose pol­i­tics I’ve inves­ti­gated, and described as repug­nant.) But what is more imme­di­ately alarm­ing is what makes Omid­yar dif­fer­ent. Unlike other bil­lion­aires, Omid­yar has gar­nered noth­ing but uncrit­i­cal, fawn­ing press cov­er­age, par­tic­u­larly from those he has hired. By acquir­ing a “dream team” of what remains of inde­pen­dent media — Green­wald, Jeremy Scahill, Wheeler, my for­mer part­ner Matt Taibbi — not to men­tion press “crit­ics” like Jay Rosen — he buys both silence and fawn­ing press. Both are incred­i­bly use­ful: Silence, an absence of jour­nal­is­tic curios­ity about Omidyar’s activ­i­ties over­seas and at home, has been pur­chased for the price of what­ever his cur­rent all-star indie cast cur­rently costs him. As an added bonus, that same invest­ment buys silence from expo­nen­tially larger num­bers of des­per­ately under­paid inde­pen­dent jour­nal­ists hop­ing to some­day be on his pay­roll, and the under­funded media watch­dogs that sur­vive on Omid­yar Net­work grants. And it also buys laugh­able fluff from the likes of Scahill who also boasted to the Daily Beast of his boss’ close involve­ment in the day to day run­ning of First Look.

“[Omid­yar] strikes me as always sort of polit­i­cal, but I think that the NSA story and the expand­ing wars put pol­i­tics for him into a much more promi­nent place in his exis­tence. This is not a side project that he is doing. Pierre writes more on our inter­nal mes­sag­ing than any­one else. And he is not micro­manag­ing. This guy has a vision. And his vision is to con­front what he sees as an assault on the pri­vacy of Americans.”

Now Wheeler has her answer — that, yes, the rev­o­lu­tion­ary groups were part-funded by Uncle Sam, but also by her boss — one assumes awk­ward fol­low up ques­tions will be asked on that First Look inter­nal mes­sag­ing sys­tem. Whether Wheeler, Scahill and their col­leagues go on to share their con­cerns pub­licly will speak vol­umes about First Look’s much-trumpeted inde­pen­dence, both from Omidyar’s other busi­ness inter­ests and from Omidyar’s co-investors in Ukraine: the US government.

9. It turns out one of the key fig­ures in the Poroshenko admin­is­tra­tion, who was also heav­ily backed by Pierre Omidyar’s pro-Maidan out­fits, was the per­son in charge of push­ing the lus­tra­tion laws. Of particular significance is the fact that Svitlana Zalischuk, the recipient of Omidyar’s funding, was a key player in coordinating the activities of the so-called “respectable,” “moderate” pro-EU political cadre with the overtly fascist parties such as Svoboda and the Radical Party.

“Omidyar-Funded Can­di­date Takes Seat in New Ukraine Parliament” by Mark AmesPando Daily; 10/30/2014.

Ukraine just held its first post-revolution par­lia­men­tary elec­tions, and amid all of the oli­garchs, EU enthu­si­asts, neo-Nazisnepo­tism babies, and death squad com­man­ders, there is one newly-elected parliamentarian’s name that stands out for her con­nec­tion to Sil­i­con Val­ley: Svit­lana Zal­ishchuk, from the bil­lion­aire president’s Poroshenko Bloc party.

Zal­ishchuk was given a choice spot on the president’s party list, at num­ber 18, ensur­ing her a seat in the new Rada. And she owes her rise to power to another oli­garch besides Ukraine’s pres­i­dent — Pierre Omid­yar, whose fund­ing with USAID helped top­ple the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment. Zalishchuk’s pro-Maidan rev­o­lu­tion out­fits were directly funded by Omidyar.

Ear­lier this year, Pando exposed how eBay bil­lion­aire and Inter­cept pub­lisher Pierre Omid­yar co-funded with USAID Zalishchuk’s web of non­govern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions — New Cit­i­zenChesnoCen­ter UAAccord­ing to the Finan­cial Times, New Cit­i­zen, which received hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars from Omid­yar, “played a big role in get­ting the [Maidan] protest up and run­ning” in Novem­ber 2013. Omid­yar Network’s web­site fea­tures Zalishchuk’s pho­to­graph on its page describ­ing its invest­ment in New Cit­i­zen. Zal­ishchuk was brought into the NGOs by her long­time men­tor, Oleh Rybachuk, a for­mer deputy prime min­ster who led the last failed effort to inte­grate Ukraine into the EU and NATO.

Zalishchuk’s pho­tos also grace the Poroshenko Bloc’s web­site and twit­ter feed, as she emerged as one of the pres­i­den­tial party’s lead­ing spokesper­sons. The Poroshenko Bloc is named after Ukraine’s pro-Western pres­i­dent, Petro Poroshenko, a bil­lion­aire with a lock on Ukraine’s con­fec­tionary indus­try, as well as own­ing a national TV sta­tion and other prized assets. He came to power this year thanks to the rev­o­lu­tion orig­i­nally orga­nized by Zalishchuk’s Omidyar-funded NGOs, and has rewarded her with a seat in the Rada.

The president’s party tasked Zalushchik with pub­licly sell­ing the highly con­tro­ver­sial new “lus­tra­tion law” — essen­tially a legal­ized witch-hunt law first pro­posed by the neo-fascist Svo­boda Party ear­lier this year, and sub­se­quently denounced by Ukraine’s pros­e­cu­tor gen­eral and by Human Rights Watch, which described a draft of the law as “arbi­trary and overly broad and fail(s) to respect human rights prin­ci­ples,” warn­ing it “may set the stage for unlaw­ful mass arbi­trary polit­i­cal exclusion.”

The lus­tra­tion law was passed under a wave of neo-Nazi vio­lence, in which mem­bers of par­lia­ment and oth­ers set to be tar­geted for purges were forcibly thrown into trash dumps.

Zal­ishchuk, how­ever, praised the lus­tra­tion law, claim­ing that the legal­ized purges would “give Ukraine a chance at a new life.”

Shortly before the elec­tions, on Octo­ber 17, Zal­ishchuk used her Omidyar-funded out­fit, “Chesno,”to orga­nize a round­table with lead­ers of pro-EU and neo-fascist par­ties. It was called “Par­lia­ment for Reform”and it brought together lead­ers from eight par­ties,includ­ing Zalishchuk’s “Poroshenko Bloc” (she served as both NGO orga­nizer and as pro-Poroshenko party can­di­date), the prime minister’s “People’s Party” and lead­ers from two unabashedly neo-Nazi par­ties: Svo­boda, and the Rad­i­cal Party of Oleh Lyashko, who was denounced by Amnesty Inter­na­tional for post­ing YouTube videos of him­self inter­ro­gat­ing naked and hooded pro-Russian sep­a­ratist pris­on­ers. Lyashko’s cam­paign posters fea­tured him impal­ing a car­i­ca­tured Jew­ish oli­garch on a Ukrain­ian trident.

Mean­while, Zalishchuk’s boss, Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko, has led a bloody war against pro-Russian sep­a­ratists in the east of the coun­try that left at least 3700 dead in a half year of fight­ing. Human Rights Watch recently accused Poroshenko’s forces of “indis­crim­i­nate” use of clus­ter bombs in heav­ily pop­u­lated areas, that “may amount to war crimes.” Poroshenko’s forces include neo-Nazi death squads like the noto­ri­ous Azov battalion.

Last month, Poroshenko fur­ther cemented his ties to the extreme right by hail­ing Ukraine’s wartime Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors, the vio­lently anti-Semitic UPA, as “heroes.” The fas­cist UPA par­tic­i­pated in the Holo­caust, and were respon­si­ble for killing tens of thou­sands of Jews and eth­nic Poles in their bid to cre­ate an eth­ni­cally pure Ukraine. Many UPA mem­bers filled the ranks of the Nazi SS “Gali­cia” Divi­sion. The neo-Nazi Right Sek­tor, which spear­headed the vio­lent later stages of the Maidan rev­o­lu­tion, sees itself as the UPA’s con­tem­po­rary suc­ces­sors; Right Sektor’s leader, Dmitry Yarosh, believes that any “eth­nic minor­ity that pre­vents us from being mas­ters in our own land” is an “enemy.” Yarosh was just elected to the new parliament.

This week, Omidyar Network’s “investment lead” for Ukraine, Stephen King, accepted an award for Omidyar Network’s role in a major new USAID-backed project, Global Impact Investing Network. . . .

10. Lew Rockwell–the editor of Ron Paul’s racist newsletters, and deeply involved with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, manifest an unqualified admiration for the Habsurg dynasty. Otto von Habsburg, eulogized by Rockwell, worked closely with Yaroslav Stetsko in the genesis of the European Freedom Council.

Stetsko, of course, was Stephan Bandera’s administrator of the Nazi satellite state in Ukraine during World War II, and the overseer of the Nazi-style extermination programs there.

“Otto von Habsburg, RIP” by Llewellyn H. Rockwell,Jr.; LewRockwell.com; 7/4/2011.

The classical liberal scholar, who should have been emperor of Austria-Hungary, has died at 98. . . . It was an honor for the Ludwig von Mises Institute, though controversial in the Beltway, to welcome him to Auburn in 1999 as the first recipient of the Schlarbaum Prize. . . .

11a. Excerpt­ing some of Snowden’s 2009 online musings–crafted dur­ing the same time period in which he decided to leak NSA documents–gives us insight into his true nature. We’ve men­tioned Snowden’s embrace of the gold stan­dard, belief that we should elim­i­nate Social Secu­rity and deep affin­ity for Ron Paul. Per­haps exam­in­ing his actual pro­nounce­ments will prove educational.

EXAMPLE:  . . . Snow­den wrote that the elderly ‘wouldn’t be fuck­ing help­less if you weren’t send­ing them fuck­ing checks to sit on their ass and lay in hos­pi­tals all day.’ Yeah, if ONLY those 75 and 80-year-olds lying in hos­pi­tal beds would get up and find jobs like every­body else, right Eddie? Snow­den is a nasty lit­tle fas­cist and peo­ple should care­fully con­sider the rest of his behav­ior in the con­text of his ide­o­log­i­cal pronouncements.

“Would You Feel Dif­fer­ently About Snow­den, Green­wald, and Assange If You Knew What They Really Thought?” by Sean Wilentz; The New Repub­lic; 1/19/2014.

[Snow­den is post­ing under the moniker “The True­HOOHA”] At the time the stim­u­lus bill was being debated, Snow­den also con­demned Obama’s eco­nomic poli­cies as part of a delib­er­ate scheme “to devalue the cur­rency absolutely as fast as the­o­ret­i­cally pos­si­ble.” (He favored Ron Paul’s call for the United States to return to the gold stan­dard.) The social dis­lo­ca­tions of the finan­cial col­lapse both­ered him not at all. “Almost every­one was self-employed prior to 1900,” he asserted. “Why is 12% employ­ment [sic] so ter­ri­fy­ing?”In another chat-room exchange, Snow­den debated the mer­its of Social Security:

<TheTrue­HOOHA> save money? cut this social secu­rity bullshit

<User 11> hahahayes

<User 18> Yeah! Fuck old people!

<User 11> social secu­rity is bullshit

<User 11> let’s just toss old peo­ple out in the street

<User 18> Old peo­ple could move in with [User11].

<User 11> NOOO

<User 11> they smell funny

<TheTrue­HOOHA> Some­how, our soci­ety man­aged to make it hun­dreds of years with­out social secu­rity just fine . . . .

<TheTrue­HOOHA> Mag­i­cally the world changed after the new deal, and old peo­ple became made of glass.

Later in the same ses­sion, Snow­den wrote that the elderly “wouldn’t be fuck­ing help­less if you weren’t send­ing them fuck­ing checks to sit on their ass and lay in hos­pi­tals all day.”

11b. Over a month ago, Kiev began imple­ment­ing a new strat­egy in the civil war: cut off East Ukraine’s pen­sions and social ser­vices entirely:

“Cash Cut to Ukraine Rebel Areas in Risky Strat­egy” by Peter Leonard and Balint Szlanko; AP Big Story; 11/25/2014.

For hours, small crowds in Donetsk hud­dle hope­fully in the cold around cash machines that never get filled, as artillery rum­bles in the distance.

Money is run­ning short in the rebel heart­land since the gov­ern­ment announced this month that it will sus­pend bank­ing ser­vices as it piles on the pres­sure. Almost all ATMs have stopped work­ing and the remain­der are expected to stop oper­at­ing over the next two weeks.

The move is part of Ukraine’s plan to suf­fo­cate its sep­a­ratist foe, now that its costly mil­i­tary cam­paign has foundered. Author­i­ties say they are also with­draw­ing all state ser­vices from rebel areas, although hos­pi­tal and school work­ers in the rebel strong­hold of Donetsk say it has been a while since they last saw fund­ing anyhow.

Yet if the gov­ern­ment of Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko hopes to turn peo­ple in east­ern Ukraine against the sep­a­ratist lead­er­ship, evi­dence on the ground sug­gests the strat­egy may only be hard­en­ing their resolve.

“What Poroshenko is say­ing to us is: ‘You are no longer Ukraini­ans. You won’t get pen­sions, you won’t get social pay­ments. When you croak, then we’ll stop this war against you,’” said Donetsk retiree Georgy Sharov. “But I don’t want to go to Ukraine and beg for their mercy.”

The lines have typ­i­cally formed in front of cash machines belong­ing to state sav­ings bank Oshchad­bank, which han­dles pen­sions and social sup­port payments.

“Even they don’t always have money,” said Donetsk res­i­dent Sergei Smo­tovsky, stand­ing out­side a branch of the bank. “The worst thing is that not only can you not get social pay­ments. You can’t even with­draw money that you earned, your salary.”

Even though cash machines don’t work, account-holders wait from early morn­ing until lunchtime in the hope that bank work­ers will top them up, but the doors to the banks often remain firmly shut.

Despite the unremit­ting fight­ing tak­ing place across Donetsk and Luhansk, the two regions affected by the armed sep­a­ratist con­flict, large super­mar­kets are still rea­son­ably stocked.

Sup­plies come from other parts of Ukraine and cus­tomers often use bank cards to pay for shop­ping. Ukraine’s gov­ern­ment is now about to block bank cards, cut­ting off another means of sustenance.

Hard-pressed recip­i­ents of state ben­e­fits have for months turned expec­tantly to the rebel gov­ern­ment for cash. Crowds of pen­sion­ers and sin­gle moth­ers assem­ble daily before the sep­a­ratist head­quar­ters. When any­body in the crowd becomes espe­cially vocal, one of the gun­men guard­ing the build­ing rushes to bun­dle them away, accus­ing them of being “provocateurs.”

The brunt of the rage, how­ever, is still directed at the Ukrain­ian government.

“Ukraine says Donetsk is Ukrain­ian ter­ri­tory, and yet they came here with tanks and weapons instead of pay­ing pen­sions prop­erly,” said Donetsk retiree Ana­toly Visly. “I am a dis­abled vet­eran and I haven’t received my pen­sion for three months.”

Many pen­sion­ers have re-registered in towns out­side rebel zones, mean­ing pay­ments have still accrued to their accounts. The chal­lenge for those peo­ple will now become mak­ing the monthly trip to banks in government-controlled areas, which can be costly and dif­fi­cult, espe­cially for the most infirm.

Prospects for the rebels to set up a wel­fare sys­tem any time soon are bleak.

Anna Kharzhevskaya, an offi­cial with the rebel social affairs and labor min­istry, said sep­a­ratist author­i­ties have only a crude notion of how many peo­ple are eli­gi­ble for social payments.

Ukraine’s gov­ern­ment has been block­ing access to state records and is try­ing to spirit away hard copies of data­bases still in rebel-held areas, Kharzhevskaya said.

Sep­a­ratist author­i­ties say mili­ti­a­men are under instruc­tions to stop any unsanc­tioned removals of gov­ern­ment records by Ukrain­ian authorities.

With­out a prop­erly func­tion­ing tax sys­tem in place, there is no imme­di­ately obvi­ous and trans­par­ent way for money to be raised. As a result, Kharzhevskaya said she could not esti­mate when her depart­ment would begin pay­ing reg­u­lar pensions.

11c. Note that, accord­ing to the arti­cle below, the cut off pen­sioner accounts are report­edly still accru­ing value. Pen­sion­ers just won’t be able to access those accounts unless they can leave the rebel-controlled regions or the war ends.

“Retirees Starve in Rebel-Held East­ern Ukraine” by Tatyana Gory­a­chova and Hal Fos­ter; USA Today; 12/25/2014.

Retirees in Donetsk, the largest city in east­ern Ukraine held by pro-Russian sep­a­ratists, are dying of hunger because their pen­sions have been cut off by the national gov­ern­ment, rebel offi­cials and res­i­dents say.

Though Ukraine has not pub­licly dis­cussed star­va­tion deaths, it acknowl­edges there is a human­i­tar­ian cri­sis in the east­ern region because of the con­flict and blames the sep­a­ratists and Rus­sia for sup­port­ing the rebels.

The gov­ern­ment cut off pen­sions this month to peo­ple in all areas of east­ern Ukraine con­trolled by sep­a­ratists to under­cut sup­port for pro-Russian rebels.

The num­ber of star­va­tion deaths in Donetsk is hard to pin down, largely because the con­flict between Ukraine and sep­a­ratist forces has crip­pled gov­ern­ment func­tions in the east, includ­ing med­ical and coro­ners’ offices that record causes of deaths.

The siege of the city that began in August has led to 40% of the city’s 1 mil­lion peo­ple fleeing.

Dmitry Pono­marenko, pas­tor of the City of Light Protes­tant church, said he believes the star­va­tion toll is in the hun­dreds, per­haps thou­sands. His assess­ment is based largely on accounts from parish­ioners and 300 seniors who come to his church daily for a free meal. In one month, they reported more than 100 star­va­tion deaths of pen­sion­ers in Donetsk, he said.

The Ukrain­ian Inde­pen­dent Infor­ma­tion Agency, cit­ing aid work­ers, reported that 22 seniors in Donetsk, mostly sin­gle men, died of hunger in September.

The aver­age Ukrain­ian pen­sion is mea­ger — $107 a month — but it can be the dif­fer­ence between life and death for many.

A num­ber of aid groups are fight­ing hunger in Donetsk and other cities in the war zone, includ­ing the United Nations Food Pro­gram and the char­i­ta­ble foun­da­tion of Rinat Akhme­tov, Ukraine’s rich­est man, who fled to Kiev when sep­a­ratists threat­ened to kill him. These efforts are spo­radic and lim­ited to a few thou­sand peo­ple at a time. They don’t come any­where near replac­ing the pensions.

The sep­a­ratists and Rus­sia have decried the pen­sion cut­off as inhu­mane. Kiev says rebels and crim­i­nals have taken much of the money it sends to the east­ern region.

The cut­off, announced Nov. 5, means pay­ments will no longer “be stolen by pro-Russian ban­dits,” Prime Min­is­ter Arseniy Yat­senyuk said.

Donetsk’s mayor in exile, Alexan­der Lukyanchenko, who fled to Kiev in August after receiv­ing sep­a­ratist death threats, has crit­i­cized the gov­ern­ment for the cutoff.

The only way for res­i­dents of neigh­bor­ing Donetsk and Luhansk provinces to get their pen­sions back is to go to a city out­side the war zone to re-register for ben­e­fits. Many retirees lack the health or money to travel so far from their homes, Lukyanchenko said.

Yat­senyuk, the prime min­is­ter, said the pen­sions the gov­ern­ment with­holds are accru­ing for the ben­e­fi­cia­ries and will be paid once the east­ern region is free of sep­a­ratist control.

Pono­marenko, the pas­tor, and oth­ers who help the retirees fear a lot more will suc­cumb to starvation.

“We have only enough money to help a few pen­sion­ers who are able to walk to our church each day,” he said, adding that’s a small frac­tion of the retirees going hungry.

12. Swedish and other neo-Nazis from other parts of Europe are stream­ing into the Ukraine to join with the Swo­boda and Pravy Sek­tor fas­cists. The Swedish fas­cists are part of the same milieu as Carl Lund­strom, the finan­cial angel of the PRQ server on which Wik­iLeaks was hosted.


“Neo-Nazis Pour Into Kiev” by Michael Moyni­han; Daily Beast; 2/28/2014.

In early Feb­ru­ary, Fredrik Hag­berg stood at the ros­trum in Kiev’s City Hall, offer­ing fra­ter­nal and com­radely greet­ings from Swe­den to the sweaty, bruised, and exhausted Ukrain­ian insur­rec­tion­ists scat­tered through­out. The place was fes­tooned with flags—some celtic crosses, a stray Con­fed­er­ate ban­ner, a stan­dard for the polit­i­cal party Svo­boda, whose mem­bers essen­tially con­trolled the building—reflecting the dubi­ous pol­i­tics of its occupiers.

Rev­o­lu­tion­ary tourists, thrill seek­ers, and para­chute jour­nal­ists suf­fused Kiev. Sen. John McCain, actress Hay­den Panet­tiere, and French intel­lec­tual Bernard Henri-Levy roused mas­sive crowds with paeans to free­dom and national sov­er­eignty, while offer­ing moral sup­port to the oppo­si­tion forces led by for­mer box­ing cham­pion Vitaly Klitschko.

But Hag­berg, a square-jawed and baby-faced mem­ber of the Swedish armed forces, had a darker message.

“I stand before your forces of rev­o­lu­tion to tell you about what your future might be if you fail your glo­ri­ous endeav­our,” he said in fluid-but-clipped Eng­lish. “I stand here as a Swede. How­ever where I come from is no longer Swe­den.” Hag­berg warned Ukraini­ans that a suc­cess­ful rev­o­lu­tion must chart a path that care­fully avoided the evils of abor­tion and eth­nic mon­gre­liza­tion, one that harshly pun­ished wel­fare abuse and rejected the nor­mal­iza­tion of homo­sex­u­al­ity. “Offi­cials in Swe­den like to calls us the most mod­ern coun­try in the world. I say to you, broth­ers, this is what awaits you if you choose to fol­low our exam­ple. You now have the oppor­tu­nity to choose and cre­ate your own future. Do not accept the trap of choos­ing either the West or Russia.”

It’s unclear who, if any­one, invited him, but Hag­berg was speak­ing as a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Nordisk Ung­dom (Nordic Youth), a Swedish neo-Nazi group that cel­e­brates “a tra­di­tional ideal of a bet­ter man, striv­ing for some­thing greater and more noble than his own per­sonal ben­e­fit; an ide­al­is­tic man who fights for Europe’s free­dom.” Vis­i­tors to the group’s English-language web­site are met with with a Bar­bara Kruger-like adver­tise­ment beseech­ing vis­i­tors to “help us to help the rev­o­lu­tion! Sup­port a free Ukraine! Donate Now…” Because Hag­berg is try­ing to pro­voke his fel­low neo-Nazis into trav­el­ling to Kiev to help shape a new, fascist-friendly Ukraine.

Amongst the fas­cists, ultra-nationalists, and racists in Europe, there has been much grip­ing that the revolt in Ukraine has been over­taken, if not con­trolled from the out­set, by “CIA/ZOG [Zion­ist Occu­pied Government]/Soros-sponsored” forces. The Euroscep­ti­cism of the continent’s far-right move­ments has pro­duced a skep­ti­cism of the uprising’s much-discussed Europhile mainstream.

But Pro-Yanukovych forces and the for­mer president’s Krem­lin allies have heav­ily pro­moted an alter­na­tive narrative—one that Hag­berg and his allies hap­pily embrace—suggesting that the protest move­ment is in fact hon­ey­combed with dan­ger­ous neo-Nazis affil­i­ated with the extrem­ist Ukrain­ian polit­i­cal par­ties Svo­boda and Right Sec­tor. There­fore, West­ern sup­port­ers of the protests, like John Mccain, are agi­tat­ing on behalf of vio­lent Ukrain­ian fascism.

It’s a mod­i­fied ver­sion of the Kremlin’s argu­ment against West­ern sup­port for Syr­ian rebel groups, which it says has amounted to mate­r­ial sup­port for al-Qaeda-sponsered ter­ror­ism. And like with Syria—and the Span­ish Civil War before it—sympathetic Euro­pean extrem­ists are trav­el­ling to pro­vide sup­port to their ide­o­log­i­cal brethren.

“We just got boots on the ground and are dis­cussing with Svo­boda rep­re­sen­ta­tives and other nation­al­ists what we can assist with,” Mag­nus Söder­man, the neo-Nazi orga­nizer of the Swedish Ukraine Vol­un­teers (Sven­ska Ukrainafriv­il­liga), told me. “Our mes­sage to them is that we will assist with what­ever; clear­ing the streets, secu­rity, making food.”

On the group’s web­site, stuffed with hack­neyed neo-Nazi pro­pa­ganda, poten­tial vol­un­teers are told that “we do not orga­nize any para­mil­i­tary force because our involve­ment is of a civil nature, as aid work­ers. Of course, should vio­lence break out we will make use of our right of self-defense.” (The site advises recruits to “improve your phys­i­cal fit­ness” before trav­el­ling to Kiev.) Ukraine, the group says, is fac­ing an exis­ten­tial threat and “we must secure the exis­tence of our peo­ple and the future of our white children!”

Accord­ing to the group’s newly con­sti­tuted Face­book page, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Swedish Ukraine Vol­un­teers recently “vis­ited the par­lia­ment and estab­lished ??impor­tant con­tacts” amongst local politi­cians, pre­sum­ably those affil­i­ated with ultra-nationalist par­ties Svo­boda and Right Sec­tor. The idea of for­eign vol­un­teers is “a good ini­tia­tive,” said one mem­ber of a fas­cist mes­sage board in Swe­den, “and I give my full sup­port to Mikael Skillt and other party com­rades who are trav­el­ling down to help our broth­ers in the east.”

Mikael Skillt is well-known in Swedish neo-Nazi cir­cles. A spokesman for the vig­i­lante group Stop the Pedophiles and a vet­eran of var­i­ous now-defunct fas­cist orga­ni­za­tions, Skillt is cur­rently affil­i­ated with the Party of the Swedes (SvP), a neo-Nazi group founded by mem­bers of the less camera-friendly National Social­ist Front. Accord­ing to its web­site, SvP “has good con­tact with [Svo­boda] who were guests at our con­fer­ence Vision Europe just under a year ago.”

When I con­tacted Skillt he was in Moscow, on his way to agi­tat­ing in Kiev. So why does Ukraine need a fas­cist inter­na­tional brigade? “We are scan­ning the needs of the Ukraini­ans, but we will be offer­ing [them] our help in what­ever they need,” he told me. “We have mem­bers with expe­ri­ence in most fields, rang­ing from mil­i­tary to truck dri­vers to journalists.”

When I asked if he had can­vassed the opin­ions of Russ­ian neo-Nazi groups while in Moscow, Skillt told me, with pre­dictable oblique­ness, that he had “heard some [Russ­ian] nation­al­ists who have spo­ken of a rev­o­lu­tion inspired by Ukraine.”

So how large is the inter­na­tional brigade of ultra-nationalists? A Euro­pean jour­nal­ist who fol­lows the move­ment of Euro­pean jihadists to Syria—and now fas­cists migrat­ing towards Kiev—told me that there was indeed scat­tered evi­dence that neo-Nazi groups out­side Swe­den were mak­ing pil­grim­ages to Ukraine. When I asked Mag­nus Söder­man if there was a net­work of other Nazis on the ground, he told me that “com­rades from other Euro­pean coun­tries are also prepar­ing to assist if it is needed.”

13. Edward Snowden is a spy. Those who have been taken in by his superficial persona are victims of a relatively obvious intelligence “op.”

Inside the Mind of Edward Snowden” by Tracy Connor [Interview with Brian Williams];  NBC News; 5/28/2014.

. . . .“I was trained as a spy in sort of the traditional sense of the word, in that I lived and worked undercover overseas — pretending to work in a job that I’m not — and even being assigned a name that was not mine,” Snowden said. . . .



18 comments for “FTR #829 Fireside Chat about Eddie the Friendly Spook and the Ukraine Crisis”

  1. The following is satire. One hopes:

    The Washington Post
    Steve Scalise episode shows how far we’ve come
    By Dana Milbank Opinion writer January 9

    I like a feeding frenzy as much as the next shark. But I can’t get a taste for Rep. Steve Scalise’s blood.

    The Louisiana Republican, newly elected No. 3 in House leadership, was recently discovered to have spoken to a group of white supremacists. Democrats see his offense as a scandal to be exploited. In a typical press release this week, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee trumpeted trumpeted “the bombshell news” that a House Republican leader “chose to speak at a white supremacist rally organized by former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke.”

    But the Democratic attack conveniently omitted the date of Scalise’s offense: 2002. And that is ancient history, given the sea change that has occurred in national politics since then.

    Actually, the Scalise episode — and his instant apology and disavowal of racism — is an occasion for some pride and an indication of how much progress has been made in marginalizing the hateful, even in conservative politics and even in the Deep South. A decade ago, it was still common for overt racism to be tolerated within the GOP and for members of Congress and state officials from the South to address racist groups such as the Council of Conservative Citizens and Duke’s European-American Unity and Rights Organization.

    “We’re in a different place entirely than we were even 10 or 20 years ago,” Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center who runs the Hatewatch blog, told me. “It is extremely rare now for national politicians or state politicians with national aspirations to interact with these groups at all. It’s become absolute poison.”

    Potok still thinks Scalise should quit his leadership role, but he acknowledges that, in 2002, the Louisianan “was operating, obviously, in a different atmosphere.”

    Scalise’s decision to speak to the group even back then is deplorable, and his assertion that he didn’t know who his listeners were isn’t entirely plausible. It’s embarrassing for Republicans that the leader who faced a rank-and-file rebellion this week was not Scalise but the very decent House speaker, John Boehner. Scalise isn’t helped by Duke, who claimed the lawmaker “echoed a lot of my ideology

    But Scalise, rather than attempting to excuse his appearance (others tried to argue that he had addressed a different group at the same location), made a statement disavowing “bigotry of all forms” and urged reporters to talk to those who “know what’s in my heart.”

    Rep. Cedric Richmond, an African American Democrat from Louisiana, stepped forward as one such character witness, telling the Times-Picayune newspaper of New Orleans that Scalise doesn’t have “a racist bone in his body.”

    Fellow Republicans defended Scalise not for his 2002 appearance (which Boehner called “an error in judgment”) but as a man who “absolutely rejects racism in all forms” (as Bobby Jindal, Louisiana’s Republican governor and an Indian American, put it.)

    Reactions weren’t always this way. In the late 1990s, Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.) provoked an uproar when their ties to the Council of Conservative Citizens (successor to the racist White Citizens’ Councils) were unearthed. Yet little changed at first. In 2004, the Southern Poverty Law Center published a report documenting that 38 federal, state and local elected officials then in office had attended CCC events since 2000. Among them: Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) and Rep. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), now a senator.

    Since then, however, a transformation has occurred. Consider the reaction last year when Chris McDaniel, who had been running a tea party challenge to Sen. Thad Cochran in the Mississippi Republican primary, was found to be listed as keynote speaker at an event that included a seller of “white pride” merchandise. McDaniel backed out of the event but was nevertheless roundly denounced by fellow conservatives and Republicans.

    Keep in mind that Chris McDaniel’s 49% to 51% primary loss to Senator Thad Cochran probably wouldn’t have happened if Cochran wasn’t the incumbent. It also didn’t hurt Cochran that he was able to directly appeal to Democratic-leaning African American voters to take advantage of Mississippie’s open primary system following reports of McDaniel speaking at a neo-Confederate event. And finally recall that Mississippi’s Tea Party was super pissed that McDaniel’s neo-Confederate ties were made into an issue at all (it might sound familiar?).


    Likewise, Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy got broad support from Republicans for his tax rebellion against the federal government last year. But when he wondered aloud whether “the Negro” was “better off as slaves,” he was instantly abandoned by the Republican officials who had supported him.

    Racism still exists, not just in the South and among conservatives but, as this season of police shootings has showed, across America. Still, it’s worth celebrating that the overt racism tolerated by public officials just a decade ago has been banished from civilized discourse.

    Was Dana Milbank intentionally engaging in deadpan irony throughout that entire piece? Let’s hope so because otherwise we’re apparently supposed to believe that Steve Scalise saying he abhors bigotry and other members of congress vouching for a lack of racism (when faced with questions about a David Duke event) somehow signifies something other than political spinning to detract from the reality of political pandering to racist sentiments (whether or not the politicians themselves are personally racist).

    We’re also apparently supposed to believe the GOP’s sudden rejection of Cliven Bundy, after Bundy shared his view on slavery and “the Negro”, is indicative of a reformed party that has genuinely rejected dog-whistle politics. Unless that was snark.

    And this was snark, right?

    Reactions weren’t always this way. In the late 1990s, Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.) provoked an uproar when their ties to the Council of Conservative Citizens (successor to the racist White Citizens’ Councils) were unearthed. Yet little changed at first.

    That has to be snark. Yeah, little changed at first when video of then Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott went public showing him at a Council of Conservative Citizens event saying “we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years” if pro-segregationist Thurmond had won the presidency in 1948. Little changed for two weeks and then Lott stepped down as Senate Majority Leader.

    So what’s changed now? Oh yeah, Scalise is still the House Majority Whip. Nothing’s changed. That’s what’s changed.

    Behold the new and improved GOP! Scalise has nothing to worry about.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 11, 2015, 10:38 pm
  2. Ooooo…a mystery: Is a new “diversity = white genocide” billboard complements of the League of the South or just the work of some random racists:

    TPM Livewire
    ‘White Genocide’ Billboard Appears On Alabama Highway

    By Catherine Thompson
    Published January 12, 2015, 11:32 AM EST

    A billboard displaying a message tied to a segregationist “mantra” popular with white supremacists has cropped up outside of Birmingham, Alabama, a city that has seen several racially charged, separatist signs posted in recent years.

    AL.com reported Sunday that a billboard reading “Diversity means chasing down the last white person #whitegenocide” was posted on I-59 in St. Clair County.

    The news website noted the similarity between the billboard and one posted within Birmingham city limits in June 2013 reading “Anti-racist is a code word for anti-white.” AL.com reported that both phrases are attributed to the White Genocide Project, a group composed of white supremacists and segregationists.

    The “anti-racist is a code for anti-white” phrase is part of a creed known as the “Mantra” that was written by segregationist Robert Whitaker in the mid-2000s, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

    The “white genocide” billboard is apparently owned by Dyar Signs. No one with the company was available to comment to AL.com on the sign.

    The president of the neo-Confederate group League of the South, Michael Hill, claimed responsibility last fall for the 2013 billboard, according to the news website. Hill said last year that the removal of another of the group’s billboards reading “SECEDE” on a highway near Montgomery, Alabama was a Stalinesque move to squash dissent.

    Yep, that sure is a mystery. If only there was someone to help us solve it…

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 12, 2015, 2:40 pm
  3. “He also hinted at privatizing Social Security”:

    TPM Livewire
    House Budget Chair Signals Big Social Security Reforms A-Coming
    By Dylan Scott
    Published January 12, 2015, 3:54 PM EST

    The new House Budget Committee chairman hinted Monday that he had big plans for Social Security reform in the next two years, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

    A week after the House voted on a rule that critics say could force a manufactured crisis in the disability program in late 2016, a potential leverage point for Republicans aiming for changes, Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) told a conservative audience that he wanted his committee to tackle Social Security.

    “What I’m hopeful is what the Budget Committee will be able do is to is begin to normalize the discussion and debate about Social Security. This is a program that right now on its current course will not be able to provide 75 or 80 percent of the benefits that individuals have paid into in a relatively short period of time,” he said at a Heritage Action for America event in Washington, D.C., according to AJC. “That’s not a responsible position to say, ‘You don’t need to do anything to do it.’”

    Price, whose predecessor Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) never put forward major reform proposals in his otherwise ambitious budgets, offered means-testing and increasing the eligibility age as possibilities. He also hinted at privatizing Social Security.

    “All those things ought to be on the table and discussed,” he said.

    It’ll be interesting to see how the GOPers on the Budget Committee attempt to “normalize the discussion and debate about Social Security”, especially with the 2016 electoral starting season creep up on the calendar. At the same time, there’s no reason to assume they aren’t serious. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 12, 2015, 7:15 pm
  4. A group of black lawmakers is pushing for Steve Scalise to do an apology tour over his appearance at a David Duke event. Good luck with that:


    Steve Scalise voted against apology for slavery in 1996
    Newly uncovered report underscores House Majority Whip’s disturbing racial history
    Luke Brinker
    Tuesday, Jan 13, 2015 09:20 AM CST

    Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise, the third-ranking House Republican who faced fire after it emerged that he spoke before a white supremacist group in 2002, voted as a state legislator against a resolution apologizing for slavery, according to a 1996 report discovered by The Hill newspaper.

    The report, from the New Orleans Times-Picayune, states that Scalise was one of two legislators on the Louisiana House Governmental Affairs Committee to oppose the resolution, which sought to atone to African Americans for Louisiana’s part “in the establishment and maintenance of the institution of slavery.”

    “Why are you asking me to apologize for something I didn’t do and had no part of?” the Times-Picayune quoted Scalise as saying. “I am not going to apologize for what somebody else did.”

    Scalise instead supported a resolution that merely expressed “regret” for slavery.

    The revelation of Scalise’s 1996 vote underscores the congressman’s troubled history on racial issues. Louisiana blogger Lamar White dropped a political bombshell last month when he exposed Scalise’s 2002 speech before the European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO), a group founded by former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke. According to Louisiana political reporter Stephanie Grace, during his days in the state legislature, Scalise once described himself to her as “David Duke without the baggage.” Duke shocked observers around the world when he pulled off a disturbingly strong showing in Louisiana’s 1991 gubernatorial race.

    Although Scalise allies, including House Speaker John Boehner, adamantly maintain that the congressman’s heart is in the right place, his votes and public statements depict a politician who has repeatedly dabbled in sordid racial politics. In 1999 and 2004, Scalise was part of a small group of Louisiana legislators who voted against making Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday a state holiday. Those votes came under renewed scrutiny following reports of his 2002 speech before EURO.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 13, 2015, 10:02 am
  5. Here’s a reminder that the “dynamic scoring” scheme the GOP is trying to force the Congressional Budget Office to use only applies the “voodoo” magic to tax cuts but not government spending. In other words, while it might seem like the the GOP is secretly praying to voodoo spirits to work their economic magic, voodoo spirits would never be that consistently unfair. The GOP is actually worshiping vampires. Very wealthy vampires. Now you know:

    The New York Times
    The Conscience of a Liberal
    Selective Voodoo

    Paul Krugman
    Jan 13 9:19 am

    House Republicans have passed a measure demanding that the Congressional Budget Office use “dynamic scoring” in its revenue projections — taking into account the supposed positive growth effects of tax cuts. It remains to be seen how much damage this rule will actually cause. The reality is that there is no evidence for the large effects that are central to right-wing ideology, so the question is whether CBO will be forced to accept supply-side fantasies.
    Meanwhile, one thing is fairly certain: CBO won’t be applying dynamic scoring to the positive effects of government spending, even though there’s a lot of evidence for such effects.

    A good piece in yesterday’s Upshot reports on a recent study of the effects of Medicaid for children; it shows that children who received the aid were not just healthier but more productive as adults, and as a result paid more taxes. So Medicaid for kids may largely if not completely pay for itself. It’s a good guess that the Affordable Care Act, by expanding Medicaid and in general by ensuring that more families have adequate health care, will similarly generate significant extra growth and revenue in the long run. Do you think the GOP will be interested in revising down estimates of the cost of Obamacare to reflect these effects?

    The point is that we’re not just looking at a possible mandate for using voodoo in budget estimates, we’re talking about selective voodoo, which incorporates some supposed dynamic effects while ignoring others for which there is if anything stronger evidence. Tax cuts for the rich: good! Spending that makes ordinary workers more productive? Bad!

    In other news, vampire worship clearly induces low blood sugar levels. Now you know.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 13, 2015, 7:18 pm
  6. Wow, has the GOP really spent the last 80 years trying to throw granny off a cliff? That means when today’s 80 year olds were born, the GOP was already planning for their elderly poverty. Well, that’s our GOP: trying to smother the joy out of life, from cradle to grave:

    TPM DC
    The 80-Year Conservative War On Social Security Is Back For More

    By Dylan Scott
    Published January 14, 2015, 6:00 AM EST

    A new battle is brewing over Social Security in 114th Congress. The House passed a rule last week that critics say could hasten a crisis on the disability side of the program in late 2016, allowing Republicans to use the looming threat of benefit cuts as leverage in negotiations. New Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has hinted at his hopes for a grand bargain on entitlements, and House Budget Chair Tom Price (R-GA) signaled Monday that he too had big ambitions for Social Security reform.

    Social Security, in more ways than one the mother of all U.S. entitlement programs, has been the dragon that conservatives have succeeded in slashing, but never slaying, over its 80-year history. Their opposition has morphed from outright ideological grounds as the program was being debated during the New Deal era to a campaign masked in careful rhetoric once Social Security became virtually untouchable as a political animal.

    Republicans know they have a new opportunity with the disability trust fund and a leverage point that comes along once every 20 years, and they’re seizing it. Price floated some favorite proposals like means-testing, increasing the eligibility age, and individual accounts (otherwise known as privatization). He described it as the GOP’s effort to “normalize the discussion and debate about Social Security.”


    FDR began advocating for an old-age insurance program shortly after taking office in 1933. While the debate among Democrats largely centered on what form the program should take, whom it should cover and how it should be paid for, Republicans warned that the program would “impose a crushing burden on industry and labor” and “establish a bureaucracy in the field of insurance in competition with private business.”

    Republicans petitioned for the old-age insurance program — what became Social Security — to be struck from the House’s bill entirely, leaving a much smaller version of welfare for the elderly. “Never in the history of the world has any measure been brought here so insidiously designed as to prevent business recovery, to enslave workers and to prevent any possibility of the employers providing work for the people,” Rep. John Taber (R-NY) said, arguing against the program.

    In the Senate, Sen. Daniel Hastings (R-DE) also moved to strike the program from the legislation, warning that it would “end the progress of a great country and bring its people to the level of the average European.”


    Despite the passage of Social Security, conservatives still believed that they could undo the new program. In the 1936 presidential campaign, Republican candidate Alf Landon, governor of Kansas, described Social Security as “a fraud on the workingman” and “a cruel hoax.”

    “The Republican party will have nothing to do with any plan that involves prying into the personal records of 26 million people,” Landon said in one address. The Republican National Committee sent out mailers campaigning against it.

    But FDR trounced Landon, and the Roosevelt administration, his successor Truman, and Democrats in Congress started working on ways to expand the program toward its goal of universal coverage. When the disability program was up for debate in 1949, Republicans criticized it. They also petitioned against an increase in benefits, arguing that Social Security was intended to provide only a income floor for older Americans.

    Some still pushed for the program to be repealed entirely. “The old-age and survivors insurance program is a grossly unsound and ineffective tool for the social-security purposes it attempts to accomplish,” Rep. Carl Curtis (R-NE) said when the 1949 amendments were being debated. He lobbied to replace it with a program with much smaller benefits.

    But by 1955, with the notable assistance of Republican President Dwight Eisenhower, who called those who wanted to abolish Social Security “stupid,” the program as it exists today — with near-universal coverage, better benefits and a disability component — was effectively in place.


    As Social Security cemented itself as a fixture of the American safety net, Republicans faced something of a crisis about how to discuss the program. As late as 1962, conservatives like Ronald Reagan were saying that the program had put the United States “down the road in the image of the labor Socialist Party of England.”

    The debate largely subsided with the program solvent and other issues dominating the political discourse for the next two decades. But, coincidentally, as Reagan took the White House, demographic trends were putting a squeeze on the program. Reagan appointed Rep. David Stockman (R-MI), who had once called Social Security “closet socialism,” to oversee his budget office.

    Publicly, Reagan warned that the program was “teetering on the edge of bankruptcy,” but Stockman’s private remarks suggest that the administration saw the crisis as an opportunity for cuts. The White House pushed through an elimination of a “frozen” minimum benefit and student benefits without much Democratic support in 1981.

    The crisis “will permit the politicians to make it look like they’re doing something for the beneficiary population,” Stockman said, “when they are doing something to it which they normally wouldn’t have the courage to undertake.”


    Behind the scenes, though, conservative thinkers were dismayed that the Reagan White House had come nowhere close to dismantling the program as had once been hoped. Wonks at the conservative Heritage Foundation warned that they must work to “prepare the political ground so that the fiasco of the last 18 months is not repeated” and they could achieve the “radical reform of Social Security.”

    Privatization — called “individual accounts,” which had people investing their money, eliminating the base benefit that Social Security had been conceived as — was the goal. They considered young people “the most obvious constituency for the private alternative” and pondered ways “to detach, or at least neutralize” the older Americans who were or would soon be benefitting from the program in its current form.

    Again, however, Republicans seemed to recognize the political realities that the last few decades had solidified and what that required of their public rhetoric.


    Conservatives finally made their play for privatizing Social Security during the second Bush administration.

    George W. Bush told conservatives in the midst of the 2000 campaign that Republicans “have to find a way to allow people to invest a percentage of their payroll tax in the capital markets” — a new incarnation of the individual accounts or privatization concept.

    But the GOP was getting sharper with its rhetoric. The libertarian Cato Institute renamed its existing Project on Social Security Privatization to the Project on Social Security Choice in 2002. The overall effect of the Bush-era proposals was the same, turning a guaranteed benefit into something else entirely, but they had figured out what they thought were better ways to talk about it.

    “BANISH PRIVATIZATION FROM YOUR LEXICON,” read a memo that Republican pollster Frank Luntz gave Bush during the 2004 campaign. But while Bush made Social Security a top priority at the onset of his second term and undertook a national tour to discuss the issue, those who support the traditional program rallied against it.

    The effort — which TPM covered extensively; long-time readers might recall the Fainthearted Faction — proved to be a debacle for Bush. Formal legislation never even got a full vote in Congress, and in 2006, Democrats took control of both chambers. Republicans appeared to be so scarred by the episode that the notion of major changes to Social Security was rarely broached in the following years.

    But now, nearly a decade later, conservatives think they have another shot.

    80 years. Boy, time sure flies, even when nothing changes. Granny, unfortunately, doesn’t fly so well.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 14, 2015, 12:58 pm
  7. Well, it’s a good thing Rand Paul is in favor of legalizing marijuana and making its pain-killing medicine available for all, given the insane world of hurt he’s trying to inflict on everyone:

    The Los Angeles Times
    Rand Paul steps up the GOP attack on Social Security

    Michael Hiltzik
    Los Angeles Times

    Travel obligations kept me from addressing until now the attack on Social Security disability recipients made last week by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), but it was too outstandingly ignorant and cynical to go unanswered.

    Long story short: If Paul’s words truly represent the Republican Party’s approach to Social Security, then not just the disabled but everyone else with an interest in the program — taxpayers, retirees and their survivors and dependents — should start panicking now. We reported on the first shot fired at Social Security by the new GOP Congress here. Paul has now raised the stakes.

    Here are his words, delivered to an appreciative audience on Wednesday in the key presidential primary state of New Hampshire:

    “The thing is that all of these programs, there’s always somebody who’s deserving, everybody in this room knows somebody who’s gaming the system. I tell people that if you look like me and you hop out of your truck, you shouldn’t be getting a disability check. Over half the people on disability are either anxious or their back hurts. Join the club. Who doesn’t get up a little anxious for work every day and their back hurts? Everyone over 40 has a back pain.”

    Paul thus associates himself with a slander of disability recipients favored by Republican conservatives abetted by ill-informed journalists, who include the staffs of NPR and “60 Minutes.” (We reported earlier on the latter’s abandonment of journalistic standards in its disability coverage.

    Leaving aside Paul’s contempt for people suffering from these conditions (“Join the club”), his numbers are flagrantly wrong. The actual figures can be found in this table from the Social Security Administration. Start with “anxiety”: The Social Security Administration classifies anxiety as a subset of mental disorders and places it in the catch-all category of “other,” which constitute a total of 3.9% of all disability claims — and that’s all otherwise unclassified mental disorders, not just anxiety.

    Social Security doesn’t regard anxiety as lightly as Paul. According to its definitions, which can be found here, the category includes post-traumatic stress syndrome and phobias or compulsions that result in “marked difficulties” with working or living in society, or “complete inability to function independently outside the area of one’s home.” Paul wants his audience to think of “anxiety” as the mild sense of dread you might experience when contemplating a bad day at work, or perhaps an unpleasant visit with your family. He’s lying about it.

    As for back pain, no one gets disability for the kind of mild stiffness that Bayer aspirin claims to relieve in its TV ads. That’s the condition Paul tries to evoke by saying “everyone over 40 has a back pain.” But he shows no empathy whatsoever for the real sufferers of this condition — those who get it not from laboring in a physician’s office or in Congress, as Paul has, but from years of hard physical toil or workplace injury.

    Social Security classifies back pain as a “disease of the musculoskeletal system.” Some 30.5% of disabled workers fell into this category in 2013, according to the latest available figures. But that category covers a lot more than “back pain.” It also comprises amputations, joint failures, leg and arm fractures, spine disorders and burns.

    These are the official figures; no one has documented any others. Paul didn’t cite a single source for his assertion that “over half the people on disability are either anxious or their back hurts,” so it’s reasonable to conclude that he has no sources. But that’s all right, because his goal isn’t to offer a considered analysis of the pressures facing Social Security in general or its disability component in particular, but to rationalize an attack on the whole program by ridiculing disability recipients as a step toward legislating their benefits out of the system. Fabricated statistics are more than useful for that purpose.

    The disability program is facing a fiscal crisis that could force a cutback in disability payments of about 20% starting next year; Paul and other Republicans have signaled that they won’t accept the customary remedy for similar situations, which involves reallocating some payroll tax revenue from the old-age fund to cover disability’s near-term shortfall. Instead, they’re demanding a full-scale fiscal rebalancing of Social Security, which in practice means benefit cuts for everyone — disabled, retirees and their families.

    The most cynical aspect of this attack is that it comes from some lawmakers who were helped by Social Security in their own lives. The roster includes Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who received Social Security benefits during his college years, after his father’s untimely death, and now thinks that the nation can’t afford to keep paying them as currently scheduled.

    Another is Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), the sponsor of the House rules change, whose father died when he was 2 and then was raised by a single mother on Social Security and veterans benefits. Now he talks about Social Security going “bankrupt,” which is flatly incorrect, and promotes a measure aimed at cutting benefits for all. This is known as climbing the ladder and pulling it up behind you. If Reed, Ryan and Paul get their way, the only option left to the rest of us will be to hold tight.

    And that concludes this exciting premier episode of “Saying Nice Things About Rand Paul”. Hopefully you enjoyed it. It was probably the finale too.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 19, 2015, 8:04 pm
  8. If Steve Scalise thought this whole ‘David Duke thing’ was going to blow over without a fight, he’s in for a nasty surprise: Steve Scalise just might end up facing off against a familiar face on the campaign trail. A familiar face with a lot of baggage:

    David Duke Says He Might Run For Congress Against “Sell Out” Steve Scalise

    “He elected supposedly David Duke without the baggage but he is not David Duke, he’s certainly—he’s basically, condemning the people of his district who voted overwhelmingly for me to be their US senator and voted to be their governor.”

    posted on Jan. 29, 2015, at 12:59 p.m.

    Andrew Kaczynski BuzzFeed News Reporter
    Megan Apper BuzzFeed News Reporter

    Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke says he might run for office against Republican Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana.

    Scalise faced questions earlier this month about a 2003 appearance he made as a state representative before the European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO) — a white supremacist group founded by Duke.

    Scalise called the appearance “a mistake I regret” and condemned the sort of views groups like EURO hold.

    Now Duke, who initially was supportive, calling him a “nice guy” to the Washington Post, says he is a “sellout” for apologizing for speaking to the group over a decade ago.

    “Steve Scalise, let me tell you something, this is the way I view it now: I mean this guy is a sellout. I mean he’s a sellout. He’s not David. He used to say that he was David Duke of course without the baggage, whatever that means,” Duke told Louisiana radio host Jim Engster of the Jim Engster Show Wednesday.

    The New York Times admitted that the Republican Party won office and got control of the United States House of Representatives, essentially on my political issues. Opposed to the massive illegal immigration, the issues of welfare reform, so many other issues that I’ve talked about, and but the difference is with someone like me Steve Scalise, or David Vitter, you know the prostitution king. The difference between myself and those guys is that I did not sellout. I’ve never sold out…”

    Duke said he took offense to Scalise’s apology and repudiation of the views held by the group.

    “He said specifically that he shouldn’t have gone to the European American Unity and Rights Organization. That he shouldn’t have done it, it was a terrible mistake. He shouldn’t…what he’s basically saying is that 60% of his district, the same people by the way who voted for him that they’re just nothing but a bunch of racists. You know, I’ve said nothing at that conference any different that I ran for office on. It wasn’t a klan meeting. It wasn’t any sort of a radical meeting, it was a meeting that said there was European American rights, right? So he is a sellout, right? Because, you know he can’t meet with members of his own district who have opinions like I have but he meets with radical blacks who have total opposite political positions than him.”

    Duke said Scalise’s condemnation of him made him consider challenging Scalise for his congressional district.

    “I am not registered to vote right now. I have legally been able to vote for years but I haven’t registered right now and I’d be able to vote for, but I might just register. Just so, I might have to run against Steve Scalise because you know, I really might. I mean, I’m definitely going to consider it because its so disgusting to me to see…he got elected on false pretenses.”

    “He elected supposedly David Duke without the baggage but he is not David Duke, and he certainly doesn’t —he’s basically, condemning the people of his district who voted overwhelmingly for me to be their US senator and voted to be their governor. He’s insulting every one of the members who actually voted for him because he is suggesting to they’re racist because they supported my views. So that’s the thing, again I call on him to step down. He should step down because he has betrayed, he has betrayed his people. that’s the difference between, see they always talk about the fact that the Republican Party’s issues are my issues. The difference with me in the Republican Party is that I didn’t betray them when I got elected.”

    With all of the similarities between Scalise’s and and Duke’s platforms, The House Majority Whip is going to need to find a way distinguish himself. Two words of advice: Avoid goatees.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 2, 2015, 8:25 am
  9. http://www.geekwire.com/2015/sap-opens-coffee-shop-for-those-who-share-a-passion-for-technology-in-silicon-valley/

    SAP opens coffee shop for those ‘who share a passion for technology’ in Silicon Valley

    by Molly Brown on March 17, 2015 at 9:40 am
    Photo by Mónica Guzmán.Photo by Mónica Guzmán.

    If the tech world is fueled by anything, it’s caffeine and ideas. So it was only a matter of time until a tech company officially merged the two.

    German software maker SAP is opening a cafe in Silicon Valley to “draw a walk-in crowd of techies,” according to the AP. The software maker wants to provide a friendly space for networking and sharing ideas — with gourmet coffee and free Wi-Fi, of course — for likeminded tech workers and aspiring startup founders.

    The HanaHaus cafe is opening in the former New Varsity Theater in Palo Alto, a location close to Stanford, Facebook, Hewlett-Packard and several venture capital firms and startups. According to the website, “the new 15,000-square-foot facility is designed to encourage community, connection and creativity.”

    According to AP, “SAP’s Sanjay Shirole says he wants to foster a creative environment where anyone can sip coffee, swap ideas or pound their computer keyboards alongside others ‘who share a passion for technology.’ ” The cafe will sell Blue Bottle refreshments, offer rental space for events and meetings, and a desk with SAP engineers and independent consultants who will offer free advice.

    No word on whether SAP will bring this concept to the Seattle area. The company also owns Bellevue-based Concur.

    The HanaHaus cafe is open to the public March 19.

    Posted by Tiffany Sunderson | March 20, 2015, 3:03 pm
  10. Booz Allen Contractor, 2 Other Americans Die in Airbus Crash
    “Booz Allen Hamilton Inc contractor Yvonne Selke and two other U.S. citizens were among 150 people killed when a Germanwings Airbus crashed in a remote Alpine region in France, the U.S. State Department said on Wednesday.”

    Germanwings Pilot Was Locked Out of Cockpit Before Crash in France
    ““The guy outside is knocking lightly on the door and there is no answer,” the investigator said. “And then he hits the door stronger and no answer. There is never an answer.”

    He said, “You can hear he is trying to smash the door down.”
    While the audio seemed to give some insight into the circumstances leading up to the Germanwings crash on Tuesday morning, it also left many questions unanswered.

    “We don’t know yet the reason why one of the guys went out,” said the official, who requested anonymity because the investigation is continuing. “But what is sure is that at the very end of the flight, the other pilot is alone and does not open the door.”

    Posted by Mother Muckraker | March 25, 2015, 5:37 pm
  11. More about the American killed in the Germanwings crash


    “Yvonne Selke was a contract employee of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which produces maps and interprets satellite imagery for U.S. intelligence operatives and special operations missions. It is the agency that produced models of Osama bin Laden’s house in Pakistan to help Navy SEALs in the raid that killed the Al Qaeda leader.

    “Every death is a tragedy, but seldom does a death affect us all so directly and unexpectedly,” NGA Director Robert Cardillo said in a statement. “All of us offer our deepest condolences and will keep her family and her colleagues in our thoughts.”

    Selke worked for the intelligence agency through Booz Allen, the management consulting firm, which said she was a “dedicated employee” who had been with the company for nearly 23 years.”

    Posted by Mother Muckraker | March 25, 2015, 7:29 pm
  12. Dave;
    I think this guy provides a few pieces of the puzzle re: Snowden, John Perry Barlow and the EFF, Omiydar, Wikileaks and more. Seems to dovetail with your info and pile on some more:

    Podcast and show links



    Porkins Policy Radio episode 26 Peeling the onion behind Tor, EFF, and John Perry Barlow


    Download PPR episode 26

    On this week’s episode we peel back some of the layers behind the TOR Project, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and a man at the center of both, John Perry Barlow. We take a look at Tor’s longtime government funding and how this has helped shape the project. We investigate some of the project members such as Jacob Applebaum and Runa Sandvik, both of whom have played up their techno-activist street cred while simultaneously receiving massive salaries from the US government. Lastly, we take a critical look at the founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, John Perry Barlow, and make the case for his integral partnership in the Snowden/NSA psy-op. This is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what is really going on with the NSA scandal, but hopefully this will open up the door for you to begin investigating for yourself.

    Show Notes:

    Almost everyone involved in Tor was (or is) funded by the US government

    EFF press release on Omidyar network and Tor Project

    EFF annual report for 2009-2010 (the most up to date annual report available online)

    Q&A marathon with Jacob Applebaum and Roger Dingledine

    Snowden’s first move against the NSA was a party in Hawaii

    Why Spy?

    Freedom the Press Foundation

    Posted by Swamp | April 8, 2015, 9:31 pm
  13. I am probably one the the few “right wingers” that frequents your website and listens to your podcasts.

    You do impeccable research.

    Posted by Interested Reader | May 17, 2015, 7:57 pm
  14. With John Boehner stepping down as the Speaker of the House and Kevin McCarthy, the House Majority Leader, looking like the probable replacement, the scramble over McCarthy’s soon-to-be-open spot as Majority Leader has already commenced. And that means, yes, we all get to wait and see if Steve “I’m David Duke without the baggage” Scalise, the House Majority Whip, becomes the new House Majority Leader. He’s reportedly interested in the job:

    Resignation triggers all-out leadership scramble

    Republican Kevin McCarthy is strongly favored to become speaker, but jockeying is intense for other leadership posts.

    By Anna Palmer, Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan

    09/25/15 12:58 PM EDT

    Updated 09/25/15 05:18 PM EDT

    Speaker John Boehner’s resignation has set off an intense round of jockeying for all four House leadership slots, setting up what’s expected to be a hypercompetitive internal party battle in the middle of a key stretch of the legislative session this fall.

    House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is expected to run for speaker, and no other Republican has come forward to challenge him yet. The most formidable potential rival for the top spot, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), said Friday he will not run.

    Though McCarthy is the heavy favorite to succeed Boehner, who announced Friday that he would step down at the end of October, it’s unlikely he’ll be unopposed.

    Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) said Friday he plans to run for speaker, though he faces redistricting problems back home. Webster was nominated for speaker by hard-liners at the start of the current Congress and received a dozen votes.

    The real competition, though, may be for the leadership jobs directly under the speaker.

    Among those who are expected to run for majority leader, or are at least thinking about it, include Georgia Rep. Tom Price, chairman of the Budget Committee; Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the current majority whip; House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington; and Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas, who runs the Rules Committee and is former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

    “There are still a lot of names floating around. We’ve just been having a lot of conversations with members,” Scalise said. “Everybody is just dealing with the shock of what happened this morning. We’ll make an announcement at an appropriate time.”

    Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), who lost a leadership race in 2014, is eyeing the landscape, and could make a run for one of the open posts, possibly even majority leader, according to sources. Roskam was handily defeated by Scalise last year in a contest for whip after Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.) shocking primary loss. Roskam scored major points with fellow Republicans for his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal, and Scalise has not overwhelmed members with his performance as whip.

    Scalise is a former chairman of the Republican Study Committee and has strong ties with conservatives throughout the conference. But he suffered political damage last year when it was revealed that he had spoken to a white supremacy group in 2002.

    But Boehner and McCarthy stood by him, and Scalise has worked hard to rebuild his public standing. He also works hard and is a shrewd political infighter, and would be a tough opponent in any leadership race.

    McMorris Rodgers, the highest-ranking woman in the House GOP leadership, is a good fundraiser and has been working in recent months to try to craft a “mission statement” for Republicans. The project has put her in touch with dozens of members.

    But McMorris Rodgers has liabilities. She already passed on one leadership race — forgoing a run for whip last year — and may not want to risk losing her spot at the leadership table if she doesn’t win this fight.

    Oklahoma Rep. Markwayne Mullin is running for House majority whip, according to multiple sources. Chief Deputy Whip Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) will likely run for that post as well, and his current role in the leadership could give him a major advantage. A third contender is Rep. Dennis Ross of Florida, who sent a “Dear Colleague” letter Friday saying that he plans to “spend the next few days personally reaching out to members of our conference to discuss my intentions to run for Majority Whip.”

    Current NRCC Chairman Greg Walden of Oregon, who is close to Boehner, gets good marks from other Republicans and will remain in his current post.

    The maneuvering within GOP ranks has been ongoing for weeks as rumors swirled that Boehner would step down before the end of this Congress. .Scalise and McMorris Rodgers have been laying the groundwork for the majority leader contest, making calls to other members for support “if some opportunity to move up appeared,” according to one Republican who spoke to both of them.

    As we can see, Scalise has been laying the groundwork for the leadership contest, but he’s got competition:

    Among those who are expected to run for majority leader, or are at least thinking about it, include Georgia Rep. Tom Price, chairman of the Budget Committee; Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the current majority whip; House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington; and Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas, who runs the Rules Committee and is former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

    Yes, Scalise’s competition includes Pete “the Taliban is ‘a model’ for the GOP’s opposition to Obama” Sessions, “Shutdown Cathy” McMorris Rodgers, and Tom “let’s privatize social security” Price.

    And, unfortunately for Scalise, his competition just picked up two major endorsements:

    TPM Livewire
    Two Top House GOPers Throw Their Support To Tom Price For Majority Leader

    By Caitlin MacNeal
    Published September 28, 2015, 2:07 PM EDT

    Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) gained two big endorsements in the race for House majority leader, the number two slot in House leadership, on Monday, according to Politico.

    Both Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) said they will back Price, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, over House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) and House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA).

    “Tom Price is a committed conservative and a good friend,” Ryan, chair of the Ways and Means Committee, said in a statement, according to Politico. “He and I have served for years together on the Budget and Ways and Means Committees, working to pay down our debt, fix our tax code, and grow our economy. Tom has a proven record of advancing conservative solutions and principles. He has the knowledge and skills needed to be an effective Majority Leader, and I’m proud to support him.”

    Price, the former chair of the House Republican Study committee, did not run for a top leadership position in 2014 after former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) lost his seat, and instead sought out the position of Budget Committee chairman.

    And with those two big endorsements it’s looking like Tom Price might be the leading the race for Majority Leader. This might not be the year for David Duke without the baggage.

    But it’s worth keeping in mind that the real winner of the GOP leadership fight is probably anyone that wants to see the GOP self-implode while it enthusiastically attempts to drive itself, and the country, into a ditch while yelling “you can thank us at the ballot box!”:

    TPM Editor’s Blog
    Gaming Out Boehner’s Departure

    By Josh Marshall
    Published September 28, 2015, 2:02 PM EDT

    With a weekend for the dust to settle, we now have a clearer idea of what led to the dramatic and unexpected departure of House Speaker John Boehner. He wasn’t pushed exactly. Not exactly. Perhaps best to say that the pressure was getting him closer and closer to the precipice and rather than be pushed he decided to jump on his own terms. Pope Francis’s visit to Capitol Hill appears to have played a genuine role in determining precise timing, though not the decision itself. So what does it mean for the House, the GOP caucus and more globally the progress of national politics over the next year?

    Three points are worth noting.

    One is that Boehner’s resignation effectively ended talk of a government shutdown. In part this is because the fire-breathers in the House have no cudgel over him now. He’ll avoid a shutdown with Democratic votes if he needs to. Threatening to depose him if he does doesn’t really cut much now. .But on a broader level – and the second point – House right wingers seem basically okay with this or resigned to it. Because dethroning Boehner is a far bigger scalp or accomplishment than yet another shutdown. Finding out precisely what went into Boehner’s decision to jump now is largely beside the point. The House hardliners wanted him gone and he’s gone. Their power has gone up dramatically.

    And why was it so important for Boehner to go (and McConnell, too, as they’re now demanding)? The answer is as clear as it is disconnected from reality. Because in their minds it was Boehner who was preventing them from getting a clean shot at President Obama. This take is even echoed in DC echo chamber publications like The Hill which says that even though Boehner’s departure avoids a shutdown, “it will almost certainly complicate life for President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky).”

    This is a basic misunderstanding of the dynamics of the situation, actually a fundamental one – based again on the assumption that the only thing standing in the way of the House “Freedom Caucus” and right wing glory is that they haven’t shut the government down enough, or haven’t voted to repeal Obamacare enough. Was John Boehner really running interference for President Obama, shielding him from the ferocious fury of the right wing of the House caucus or was he frequently bending over backwards to find ways to avoid House nutballs from inflicting even more damage on the party’s national standing?

    The House is the House because a mixture of demographic trends and effective gerrymandering make it almost impossible for the Republicans to lose it until after 2020. So House flamethrowers can do almost anything they want without consequences any time soon. But the same doesn’t apply to the Senate and certainly not the presidency – where the concentration of Democratic votes in major cities has little effect.

    So in terms of headaches and high-wire acts and legislative hostage taking, Boehner’s departure may create some more work for the Obama White House. But if you expand your field of vision out beyond the Washington Beltway, the picture looks rather different. And here’s where we get to point three. If the right wing of the House GOP caucus really gets to run the show in the House and begins doing things that overwhelming majorities of the public are against, that’s actually not a good thing for the GOP. That’s especially so during a presidential race since presidential candidates will inevitably get drawn into bidding wars over how much they support the latest quixotic primal scream from the House Republicans, which will in term give them extra baggage to carry into the general election.

    Remember, as with the Cruz/Obamacare shutdown of a couple years ago, the firebreathers believe that it’s just that they’ve never shut the government down long enough. If Boehner and McConnell and the rest of the ‘establishment’ weren’t constantly unilaterally surrendering to Obama right when they had the President where they wanted him, they would have finally broken the guy. They just need these appeasers out of the way to get a clean shot. It’s a handy logic since it’s inherently disprovable. Whenever you finally decide to give up since you’re obviously losing, someone can always say that holding out just a bit longer would have brought victory.

    We can leave that discussion for an Ab-Psych seminar. The relevant point is that the House firebreathers just got stronger. But contrary to making life more difficult for the White House it actually makes it easy, if perhaps more time consuming. A two term president in his final year in office is not looking to pass new legislation. He or she is also largely indifferent to their own personal standing. Their focus is legacy and the preservation of existing legislative accomplishments. In other words, the focus is on the 2016 election. By that measure, while Boehner’s departure may not be good for the country, it is quite good for Democrats. Because it leaves the folks focused on maximizing the self-inflicted injuries to the GOP in charge of the show.

    As President Obama once said, please proceed.

    So whether or not “David Duke without the baggage” ends up leading the new agenda as a Majority Leader or Whip, welcome to the political theory that he’s about to unleash in the halls of Congress…Pete “let’s follow the ‘Taliban model’” Sessions may not become Majority Leader, but he’s pretty clearly won in spirit:

    And why was it so important for Boehner to go (and McConnell, too, as they’re now demanding)? The answer is as clear as it is disconnected from reality. Because in their minds it was Boehner who was preventing them from getting a clean shot at President Obama

    Remember, as with the Cruz/Obamacare shutdown of a couple years ago, the firebreathers believe that it’s just that they’ve never shut the government down long enough. If Boehner and McConnell and the rest of the ‘establishment’ weren’t constantly unilaterally surrendering to Obama right when they had the President where they wanted him, they would have finally broken the guy. They just need these appeasers out of the way to get a clean shot. It’s a handy logic since it’s inherently disprovable. Whenever you finally decide to give up since you’re obviously losing, someone can always say that holding out just a bit longer would have brought victory.

    “It’s a handy logic since it’s inherently disprovable.”
    Now that’s leadership!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 28, 2015, 12:37 pm
  15. The race for the House Majority Leader had a couple more twists today following the high-profile endorsements of Tom Price by Paul Ryan and Jeb Hensarling yesterday: Cathy McMorris-Rodgers dropped out. But House Majority Whip Steve ‘David Duke without the baggage’ Scalise isn’t going down without a fight:

    Scalise officially announces majority leader bid

    By Jake Sherman
    09/29/15 08:40 AM EDT

    House Majority Whip Steve Scalise made his bid for majority leader official, branding himself an inclusive leader who gets things done.

    The Louisiana Republican, who has been the House’s top vote counter since the summer of 2014, wrote in a letter to colleagues that both the country and House Republican Conference are at “a crossroads.” After one year in leadership, Scalise said that “whenever you’ve called on me, I’ve delivered.”

    “Together, we’ve confronted many challenging issues, and each time I’ve worked to bring all parts of our conference together to pass legislation that reflects our values and moves our country forward,” Scalise wrote in the email entitled “Together.”

    Scalise’s team hand-delivered this letter to every House Republican on Monday night.

    “It’s time to unite behind a strategy that lets us make the case for our conservative governing vision, and empowers you to drive the public policy narrative in your own district,” he wrote. “That’s why as Leader I’ll work with our committee chairmen to set clear policy goals for our conference, and advance a principled, practical agenda we’ve built together from the bottom up.”

    It remains to be seen if this is enough for House Republicans. Scalise is facing Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) for the No. 2 slot in the GOP leadership. Even those two choices don’t seem to be pleasing the GOP. Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah) endorsed Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) Tuesday morning, and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said the Benghazi committee head would be “heaven-sent” as majority leader.

    But Gowdy isn’t running for the position.

    Uh oh. Scalise’s chances of become the House Majority Leader are looking a little shaky…

    It remains to be seen if this is enough for House Republicans. Scalise is facing Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) for the No. 2 slot in the GOP leadership. Even those two choices don’t seem to be pleasing the GOP. Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah) endorsed Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) Tuesday morning, and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said the Benghazi committee head would be “heaven-sent” as majority leader.

    But at least Scalise still has his current Majority Whip position to fall back upon if things don’t work out…assuming the rules aren’t changed. They might change:

    The Washington Post
    GOP whip race shapes up: McHenry vs. Sessions vs. Ross

    By Mike DeBonis and Paul Kane
    September 29 at 1:19 PM

    The repercussions of House Speaker John A. Boehner’s resignation thundered down the Republican leadership ladder Tuesday, with three members telling colleagues they intend to seek the majority whip post that may be vacated by Steve Scalise (R-La.), who is pursuing a run for majority leader.

    The whip hopefuls include two Republican conference heavyweights — Chief Deputy Whip Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) and Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas) — as well as a conservative outsider, Dennis Ross (R-Fla.), who pledges to “draw a stark difference to the failed policies” of President Obama.

    A key issue in the whip race, however, is Scalise’s hold on that position. The early signals from his camp are that he intends to retain his position as majority whip should he lose the race to fill the majority leader post, a move that would short-circuit the bids by McHenry, Sessions and Ross.

    According to a veteran lawmaker and former leadership staff, some junior Republicans are considering pushing an internal rules change that would forbid someone from running for an elected leadership post while not giving up the other slot.

    This last became an issue in Republican politics when Tom DeLay (R-Texas) resigned as majority leader in 2005, and an early 2006 race to replace him pitted Boehner, chairman of the Education Committee, against Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who was the majority whip looking to move up a rung on the leadership ladder. Blunt, who now serves in the Senate, narrowly lost to Boehner and remained as the House GOP whip through 2008.

    It’s unclear if the rules change will come to a vote, though it is a likely topic of discussion at a conference meeting scheduled for Tuesday evening.

    “According to a veteran lawmaker and former leadership staff, some junior Republicans are considering pushing an internal rules change that would forbid someone from running for an elected leadership post while not giving up the other slot.”
    Poor Scalise with his lack of support. He’s David Duke, but without Duke’s baggage or base of support! It’s almost surprising, all things considered.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 29, 2015, 2:38 pm
  16. Steve “I’m like David Duke without the baggage” Scalise may have competition in the race to become the new House Majority Leader. But in one key area of leadership – raising money and giving it to your fellow party members – there’s no real contest because, as the article below points out, “Scalise has a natural fundraising advantage as the No. 3 Republican. His contributions this year are, however, historically high, even when compared with other majority whips“:

    Roll Call
    In Majority Leader Race, Scalise Lapping Price in This Key Measure

    By Matt Fuller Posted at 9:45 a.m. on Oct. 2

    While there’s no definitive favorite in the majority leader race — especially with lingering questions about Select Benghazi Chairman Trey Gowdy’s interest — Majority Whip Steve Scalise has one distinct advantage over Budget Chairman Tom Price: Scalise has spread around a lot more cash.
    According to Federal Election Commission documents reviewed by CQ Roll Call, Scalise has given roughly $700,000 to fellow Republican members and candidates over the course of the first three quarters of 2015. (The third quarter data, which is not yet public, was supplied by Scalise’s office.) In contrast, Price has transferred at least $139,000 to members and candidates through the third quarter.

    (Price’s office supplied CQ Roll Call with his contributions to members for the first three quarters from his leadership PAC — $84,000 — but would only give CQ Roll Call his campaign committee contributions for the first two quarters, roughly $55,000.)

    By another comparison, Scalise has raised approximately $1.5 million for the National Republican Congressional Committee over the first three quarters, according to his office. That includes contributions to the general fund, the recount fund and the building fund. Meanwhile, Price has transferred $175,000 to the NRCC this cycle over the first two quarters. (Again, Price’s office would not give CQ Roll Call his third quarter totals for NRCC contributions, if he made any.)

    Asked Thursday how the disparity between their contributions would play into the majority leader race, Price said he didn’t think it would. “I think folks are interested in picking the best person they think can bring us together,” he said.

    A Price aide told CQ Roll Call the Georgia Republican has raised millions over the years to support Republicans. “He’s traveled to dozens of districts across the country to personally campaign for candidates,” the aide said. “And, he looks forward to continuing to help our members in this capacity in the months to come.”

    While the disparity between Scalise and Price’s member contributions may seem considerable, their different positions in the conference hierarchy make an apples-to-apples comparison difficult. Scalise has a natural fundraising advantage as the No. 3 Republican. His contributions this year are, however, historically high, even when compared with other majority whips.

    Regardless of the comparison problems, this much is clear: Scalise’s financial support for Republican colleagues won’t hurt him.

    Price may be right that this race won’t be won or lost on contributions to members, but Scalise’s edge speaks to his general advantage as whip. The Louisiana Republican has had a whip team from the very beginning of the race, and he won a leadership contest only 16 months ago. One Republican, who said he’s supporting Price, said his impression was that Scalise currently had the lead just by virtue of his superior operation.

    But Scalise’s position also comes with drawbacks, namely an association with some of the frustration members feel with leadership.

    That discontent seemed to materialize Tuesday, when Gowdy’s name was floated as a potential alternative to Price and Scalise.

    Price told CQ Roll Call Thursday the Gowdy boomlet “speaks to the frustration that exists in the conference.”

    “What we need as a conference,” Price continued, “is to find a way to unify and come together for common purposes, and whether that’s me or whether that’s somebody else, that’s what the conference needs to decide.”

    So it sounds like Steve “I’m like David Duke without the baggage, and lot of money” Scalise is actually isn’t a sure bet for House Majority Leader, but still in the lead.

    It raises the question: Is Scalise aiming too low here? After all, the guy Scalise is trying to replace, Kevin McCarthy, is already seeing his support collapse for his bid to become Speaker of the House after McCarthy made clear to the world that the endless string of House “investigations” into the Benghazi incident was basically all about eroding the political support for Hillary Clinton. And if “David Duke without the baggage” can become the new House Majority Leader, why not Speaker of the House:

    TPM Livewire
    Laura Ingraham: The GOP Establishment ‘Needs To Pull The Plug’ On McCarthy

    By Allegra Kirkland
    Published October 2, 2015, 12:10 PM EDT

    Conservative radio host Laura Ingraham said Thursday night that the Republican establishment should “pull the plug” on House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) bid to become House speaker.

    Ingraham posted a tweet calling for GOP leaders to intervene after McCarthy boasted that the House investigation into Benghazi hurt Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton politically.

    The beleaguered majority leader, who is running to replace outgoing Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), stumbled on Thursday night as he tried to walk back his comments in a Fox News interview.

    Other conservative pundits, including RedState editor Erick Erickson, have suggested that McCarthy’s gaffe should disqualify him for the speakership.

    And note that it’s not just the right-wing punditocracy that’s starting to turn on McCarthy following his Benghazi mega-oops. Even the outgoing Speaker John Beohner had to engage in some clean up work:

    Washington Post
    John Boehner just tried to clean up Kevin McCarthy’s Benghazi mess. Which says a lot.

    By Amber Phillips
    October 1

    House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) probably didn’t want to spend his final days on the job cleaning up drama caused by his heir apparent. But that’s exactly what he did Thursday when he was forced to issue a statement.

    “This investigation has never been about former secretary of state Clinton and never will be,” Boehner said. “The American people deserve the truth about what happened in Benghazi. That’s always been our focus, and that’s going to remain our focus.”

    He didn’t mention House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) by name, but he didn’t have to.

    Boehner was just one of a few House Republicans to publicly rebuke the majority leader (and likely next speaker) for his comments Tuesday linking Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton’s poll numbers to Republicans’ investigations of the deadly 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, when she was secretary of state. (Boehner’s office said Thursday night they coordinated with McCarthy before releasing the statement.)

    Also Thursday, House oversight committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) — whose committee has handled some Benghazi matters — called on McCarthy to apologize for his "inappropriate" comments. (That’s not good when it comes from your own party — and from a chairman, no less.) Tea party Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) made similar comments, as did tea party Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.).

    What’s particularly interesting about McCarthy’s comments is that what he said probably didn’t surprise many people.

    A Washington Post-ABC News poll in May found that 55 percent of Americans (including 51 percent of Democrats) think Clinton’s handling of the Benghazi issue is a legitimate issue in the presidential election. But here’s the rub: A 2014 Fox News poll found that 63 percent of Americans thought Republicans were investigating Benghazi mostly for political gains (compared to 30 percent who said it was mostly to get to the truth).

    Either way, though, it’s a mess, and it’s certainly not how you want to waltz into what already promises to be a hugely stressful job that involves not only fending off Democrats but also many members of your own party. McCarthy will need every ounce of political capital, trust and respect he can get just to avoid a potential shutdown in December.

    “This investigation has never been about former secretary of state Clinton and never will be.”
    Yikes. That’s probably not the kind of absurdist nonsense the House Speaker wants to have to be spewing out at a time like this when polls are indicating that American’s see the investigation as mostly for political gains by a 2-1 margin. And it’s all thanks to the GOP’s putative next top leader. What a fun conundrum:

    The Washington Post
    What’s next in the Kevin McCarthy-Benghazi-Hillary mess?

    By Greg Sargent
    October 2

    Politico is reporting that GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz is now expected to challenge Rep. Kevin McCarthy in the battle to succeed Speaker John Boehner. While Politico reports that this is a “long shot,” it is an indication that McCarthy’s open boasting about how the Benghazi probe drove down Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers may have weakened his standing among fellow Republicans, some of whom have been openly critical of his screw-up — or, if you prefer, of his candor.

    As Politico notes:

    Chaffetz’s planned run comes just a few hours after he called on McCarthy to apologize for his remarks this week that the Benghazi panel’s work has hurt 2016 Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton in the polls. Those remarks were seen as bolstering Democrats’ long-running argument that the committee has as much to do with politics as it does investigating the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attacks.

    Whether this ends up meaning anything in the battle to replace Boehner remains to be seen. But it raises another question: What comes next in the battle over McCarthy’s comments?

    A House Democratic aide tells me that some Democrats are considering a next step: Offering a “privileged resolution” on the McCarthy comments — a resolution that would basically ask for House recognition of the idea that McCarthy admitted that taxpayer funds are being used for political purposes. The details are technical, but in essence, if the privileged resolution is drafted correctly, it would probably force the House of Representatives to deal with it and hold a vote on it, no matter who introduces it.

    So basically, House Republicans would be forced to vote on whether they stand behind the McCarthy remarks. They would probably vote to “table” the resolution, putting an end to action on it. But Democrats would then try to point to that vote as evidence that Republicans support his comments, i.e., as evidence that they support the notion that the Benghazi probe has morphed into a tool to drive up Clinton’s negatives.

    The interesting thing to consider here is how that could impact a race for Speaker. Just when the jockeying is intensifying among Republicans over who they should support for Speaker, GOP members would be asked to go on record on McCarthy’s comments.

    Another option being considered by Democrats, according to the House Democratic aide, is a request for action by the House Ethics Committee. At her presser yesterday, Dem leader Nancy Pelosi suggested that McCarthy’s comments may have revealed an “ethics violation of the rules of the House,” adding that McCarthy had “clearly, gleefully claimed” that the Benghazi probe “had a political purpose and had a political success.” To my knowledge, however, no Democrat has publicly said that he or she would actually appeal to the House Ethics Committee.

    Indeed, one way to think about this is that McCarthy drew back the curtain on how everyone knows Congress really functions: a lot of activities reside in a kind of gray area where the use of Congressional power and taxpayer funds can plausibly be seen as overtly political, but still not illegitimate. This is what makes McCarthy’s comments so interesting: he revealed more than you are supposed to reveal about just how murky and, well, how gray this gray area really is. You could argue that he hinted at a level of politicization that crosses a hidden line into abuse. But it’s hard to say exactly where that line resides, and his comments, by themselves, are far from conclusive on that score at any rate. As Ornstein puts it, this was “a violation of political ethics.”

    In that context, there is another aspect of McCarthy’s comments that deserves further examination. If you look back at the original interview, it’s clear that McCarthy intended to make an overt, explicit case directly to conservatives that the Benghazi probe’s success in driving down Clinton’s poll numbers should reassure them that he is a fighter who has a strategy. That doesn’t mean he revealed that the whole purpose of the Benghazi probe has been political. But it does lend some support to the notion that prolonging it has become, at least in part, about building a general, inchoate impression of wrongdoing on Clinton’s part. McCarthy seemed to want conservatives to see that the probe had succeeded in this regard. As Brian Beutler puts it, McCarthy’s moment “wasn’t a gaffe; it was a talking point.”

    McCarthy apparently wanted that message, that talking point, to go out to conservatives in the context of the battle to succeed Boehner. Now his comments have indeed gotten caught up in that succession battle, but not in the way he intended.

    McCarthy’s moment “wasn’t a gaffe; it was a talking point.” And now that talking point directed to the conservative base threatens to publicly highlight the hyper-politicized nature of the Benghazi investigation heading into a 2016 election where Hillary Clinton’s high negatives in polls are probably the best thing going for the GOP.

    Yes, the lead candidate for the next Speaker of the House can’t keep his mouth shut, and now he has a challenger in the form of Jason Chaffetz. And while Chaffetz’s challenge to McCarthy is seen as mostly a symbolic long shot, what about Scalise? The guy is on track to becoming the next House Majority Leader so the GOP is clearly quite comfortable with making “David Duke without the baggage” the House GOP’s second in command. So why not Speaker? What is there to lose?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 3, 2015, 3:01 pm
  17. A number of questions have suddenly been raised about the future of the GOP’s leadership in the House following the surprise decision by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy to drop out of the race to become the next Speaker of the House on the very day that vote was to be held. And since McCarthy is planning on remaining in his position as House Majority Leader, one of those question is what happens to Steve Scalise’s bid to replace McCarthy that appeared to have more than enough support from the GOP House caucus? Well, he could remain in his spot as Majority Whip. But there are other options…:

    With Kevin McCarthy out, will Steve Scalise run for U.S. House speaker?

    By Bruce Alpert, NOLA.com | Times-Picayune

    on October 08, 2015 at 8:13 PM, updated October 08, 2015 at 9:36 PM

    WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s surprise decision Thursday (Oct. 8) to drop out of the race for speaker likely puts an end to Rep. Steve Scalise’s run for the No. 2 House leadership post. But it could lead Scalise to shoot higher, and declare his own candidacy for speaker.

    “I think he’s meeting with his supporters and weighing his options,” said Roger Villere, the Louisiana Republican Party chairman and a Scalise friend. Villere said having a speaker from Louisiana would be great for the state.

    There was no immediate comment from Scalise, 50, a Jefferson Parish Republican. On Sunday he announced he had commitments from more than half the 247-member GOP caucus to move up from majority whip to majority leader – from the No. 3 House leadership position to the 2nd highest post.

    Those expressions of support became moot Thursday with McCarthy’s announcement that he was dropped his candidacy for speaker and retaining his current post as majority leader, the post Scalise had been seeking.

    When Speaker John Boehner last week announced he was leaving, McCarthy quickly emerged as the favorite to win the House’s top job. Scalise chose not to run for speaker, running instead to replace McCarthy. Whether Scalise did that in deference to McCarthy’s more senior status, or because he figured he would be a decided underdog in the speaker race may never be known.

    One House member who would become odds-on favorite if he ran is House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisc. But Ryan, who was the Republican vice presidential nominee in 2008, reiterated again Thursday that he doesn’t want to run. Boehner asked him to reconsider Thursday afternoon, and some Republicans think he could still be persuaded to make the race “for the good of the party.” The speaker is second only to the vice president as successor to the president.

    Most House members believe Boehner chose to resign because of the same unruliness of conservatives in his caucus on display in the race to replace him.

    Scalise’s advantage in a run for speaker is that he’s generally well liked by both the more conservative and more moderate factions within the House GOP caucus. His disadvantage would be the preference by McCarthy and some other House members for an “outsider,” someone presumably not in the top GOP leadership, who could produce a fresh start and perhaps new strategies for the badly fractured caucus.

    One possible deterrent to Scalise running is the controversy generated late last year over reports that as a state legislator he spoke to a group of white supremacists 13 years ago. He apologized, said it was a mistake, and got a reprieve from Rep., Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, who said he’s known Scalise for years and didn’t think he had a racist bone in his body. But just the thought of stories mentioning that the GOP potential speaker 13 years ago might be enough to dissuade some from supporting him for the House’s top leadership job.

    In the confusion among House members Thursday, there was also talk of electing a caretaker speaker – perhaps a respected Republican member who is planning to leave Congress after the 2016 elections.

    McCarthy met with reporters Thursday after shocking some with his decision, saying he’s at peace with not getting one of the powerful government jobs. The California Republican said he didn’t want to put his colleagues into a position of casting a difficult vote. Some House members were being urged by their Tea Party supporters to back another candidate.

    McCarthy also said it’s important the GOP caucus be “100 percent united,” and that “if we’re going to unite and be strong, we need a new face to do that.”

    McCarthy had the clear backing of a majority of the GOP caucus. But Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said McCarthy dropped out because he worried whether he could get the 218 votes needed in the House to replace Boehner as speaker. Issa said neither of the other candidates – Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Fla., and Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah — could get the needed votes either. McCarthy said he thought he could get a majority, but worried a narrow victory would deny him the mandate to lead the House.

    Tea Party groups flooded the phone lines of GOP members asking them not to vote for McCarthy, linking him to Boehner. Tea Party activists believed Boehner didn’t fight hard enough against Obama administration policies.

    Boehner started the contentious leadership battle when he announced September 25 that he was giving up the speaker’s job and his Ohio House seat Oct. 30. He confirmed Thursday he’ll remain as speaker as long as it takes to select his replacement.

    Rep. Ralph Abraham, R-Alto, said it’s possible another candidate or two will emerge for speaker. He said he doesn’t know whether Scalise will throw his hat into that contest.

    “Not sure where Steve Scalise falls in all of this, but whatever course Steve chooses, I will support him,” Abraham said. “This might be an opportunity for new leaders and new ideas to emerge.”

    Rep. John Fleming, R-Minden, a leader of the 40-member conservative House Freedom Caucus, which opposed McCarthy, said there may be as many as four or five candidates for speaker.

    The Freedom Caucus endorsed Webster, the Florida Republican, for speaker, but Fleming said the caucus could choose another candidate now that McCarthy is out of the race. Fleming, too, said he doesn’t know whether Scalise will be one of the speaker candidates.

    The disarray now on display with the House Republican conference reflects the conflict among members on how to confront policies of the Obama administration opposed by most GOP members.

    The Freedom Caucus, in particular, including some members who were elected in 2010 on a promise to derail Obama policies, favors taking a tough stand against federal funding for Planned Parenthood, the Affordable Care Act, and the president’s immigration policies.

    Other Republicans argue that the GOP does not have the votes to dismantle programs supported and even developed by the president, such as the 2010 health law best known as “Obamacare.”

    A government shutdown, which would result if Congress and the president don’t agree on overall federal funding, would be blamed on Republicans, more moderate members of the party say.

    Two Republican House members, who announced plans to retire after the current session, are being mentioned as possible caretaker speakers: Reps. John Kline, R-Minn., and Candice Miller, R-Mich. Kline chairs the House Education and Workforce Committee, while Miller, the House GOP’s only female chair, heads the House Administration Committee. Oregon Republican Rep. Greg Walden, who chairs the House GOP’s campaign organization, is also mentioned as a possible candidate for a short-term speakership.

    Also getting mentioned as possible long-term speaker candidates are Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., Scalise’s deputy whip; and Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas., the House Financial Services Committee chairman. Hensarling led the fight against legislation to block large, sudden flood insurance premium increases, a bill that eventually passed with united support from the Louisiana delegation.

    McCarthy admitted that his candidacy lost support in part because of a statement he made on Fox News that the House Special Committee on Benghazi had helped sink Hillary Rodham Clinton’s poll numbers. It let Clinton, the former secretary of state and front-running Democratic presidential candidate, argue that the committee’s main goal was to hurt her presidential prospects – not find out why four Americans died in the attack.

    “There was no immediate comment from Scalise, 50, a Jefferson Parish Republican. On Sunday he announced he had commitments from more than half the 247-member GOP caucus to move up from majority whip to majority leader – from the No. 3 House leadership position to the 2nd highest post.

    Well, Scalise has the support he needs to become House Majority Leader despite that pesky “David Duke without the baggage” thing. We’ve already clearly crossed some sort of Rubicon. Why not Speaker Scalise?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 8, 2015, 7:28 pm
  18. With the House GOP’s still in turmoil after Kevin McCarthy’s surprise decision to drop out of the race to replace John Boehner (this time they got the “GOP Speaker has a sex scandal” curse out of the way in advance, all eyes are turning to Paul Ryan to be a unifying figure for the party who can end the crisis and not embarrass the party too much by revealing to the public how incredibly extreme the contemporary GOP has become.

    So we’ll see if Ryan is willing to fall on his sword and accept Mission Impossible. He certainly has plenty of support, although it’s worth noting that the support for Ryan as Speaker from the GOP’s new id is somewhat tepid:

    TPM Livewire
    Trump Is ‘Okay’ With The Idea Of Paul Ryan As House Speaker (VIDEO)

    By Catherine Thompson
    Published October 10, 2015, 12:04 PM EDT

    Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump said in an interview airing Sunday that he’s on board with the idea of a House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI).

    In a clip set to air on CBS’ “Face The Nation,” Josh Dickerson asked the real estate mogul what he thought of Ryan’s prospects for the job. House Republicans have been clamoring for Ryan to step up to the plate since House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) abruptly withdrew his name from consideration for the speakership on Thursday.

    “I think he’s somebody that could get good support,” Trump said. “I think he’s a very nice person. I think he doesn’t want it very badly but you never know. Maybe he’s playing one of the great games of all time.”

    Trump predicted that Ryan would take over the speakership if it was offered to him. He added that he’d personally be “okay” with Ryan as speaker, even though he disagrees with the congressman’s position on entitlement programs. The Wisconsin Republican has repeatedly denied that he’s considering taking the job.

    Trump then went further than his previous statement in criticizing McCarthy for taking pride in the House Select Committee on Benghazi’s political gains.

    “That was a really bad statement for Republicans and even for the nation in a sense because he so disparaged what’s going on,” he said. “I happen to believe that what they’re doing is the right thing and they’re doing it for the right reason.”

    “Trump predicted that Ryan would take over the speakership if it was offered to him. He added that he’d personally be “okay” with Ryan as speaker, even though he disagrees with the congressman’s position on entitlement programs. The Wisconsin Republican has repeatedly denied that he’s considering taking the job.”

    Yes, Donald Trump is apparently “okay” with Paul Ryan as Speaker, but he’s not really enthusiastic about Ryan’s obsession with gutting entitlements. And not only was that tepid support for Paul Ryan, that’s tepid support for a core component of the GOP’s long-term agenda. You can’t honestly call yourself the leader of today’s GOP unless you’re a fully committed granny tosser.

    Sure, while we certainly have reasons to question Donald Trump’s professed commitment to protecting entitlements, but the fact that the GOP’s current front runner just dissed the presumed savior of the party over the entitlement cuts that are a core mission of the today’s GOP raises all sorts of interesting questions about just how unpopular the GOP’s agenda really is to its base and the broader electorate once the public learns the reality of what the GOP is actually planning. And one of those key questions is whether or not Paul Ryan would actually be effective enough (or at least as effective as John Boehner was) at doing the one key thing any GOP public leader MUST do. It’s the same thing that makes it increasingly impossible to be Speaker without having your own party turn against you: project an image of moderation to the nation while you push through enough of your party’s Koch-backed fascist agenda to keep your party’s Koch-heads placated. That’s a really difficult job and, to Boehner’s credit, he did it better than just about anyone else under considering could probably do. And now he’s leaving and it’s not at all clear Paul Ryan could avoid projecting a Granny Tosser image for the party to the nation, although he still might be the best shot the GOP has at walking that strange high-wire act of downplaying and normalizing heartless far-right radicalism.

    So perhaps Paul Ryan is just the Sith Lord the GOP needs right now. Perhaps. But…there is another:

    A Modest Proposal: Donald Trump For Speaker

    Ron Elving
    September 25, 2015 7:05 PM ET

    No, seriously. Bear with us a moment while we explain.

    Donald Trump, the ultimate outsider, should be the new leader of the Republicans in the House when John Boehner steps down on Oct. 30. Trump should be elevated to the lofty perch of speaker and lead the conservative cause in its next confrontation with President Obama.

    Think about it. This could be huge. Not just for the House, which would be great again, but for Trump — who would take a long step toward his announced goal of being president. Trump would pick up some on-the-job training in Washington ways, especially the intricacies of passing a budget in a shared-power system.

    And we know his reputation for negotiating. He wrote a book called The Art of the Deal. He knows all about doing deals. He’ll make everyone forget all about that last guy who had the job.

    No, Trump is not a member of the House. But that doesn’t matter. The Constitution does not actually require the speaker to be a member, only to be elected by a majority of those who are. (It’s true! You can look it up: Article I, Section 2.)

    Of course, it is more than a coincidence that all 53 speakers up to now have been members of the House. It turns out that lots of members of this club want to be its boss. (It’s a little like the win streak that the College of Cardinals has going when it comes to electing the next pope.)

    But every once in a while, at moments of crisis in the House, there have been serious flirtations with the idea of an outsider. They elected a freshman speaker for the 12th Congress, which convened in November 1811, eager to start the War of 1812. The outsider of that day was a Kentuckian named Henry Clay. He stuck around a while and definitely got to be huge.

    And when Speaker Newt Gingrich was on his way out in the late 1990s you again heard talk of electing a figurehead speaker, someone who could class up the place just by being there. Retired U.S. Army Gen. Colin Powell was mentioned at the time. So was former Sen. Bob Dole, who had been the GOP nominee for president in 1996.

    In the end, though, after much fumbling around and a couple of false starts, the House chose Dennis Hastert as speaker. But most people continued to regard Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, as the party’s true leading man. Hastert stuck around in the speaker’s chair for eight years, the longest time any Republican has had the Big Gavel. He retired in 2007 and became a lobbyist.

    From his earliest months in office, Boehner was beset by a damnable dilemma. The so-called Tea Party election of 2010 had given him a majority, but it had also given him a sizable intraparty rebellion. Many of the Tea Party newcomers voted for Boehner for speaker but distrusted him. Soon enough, he was cutting deals with the Senate and with the Democrat in the White House.

    Boehner saw that as doing his job, and he was still doing it this week, trying to keep the government functioning into a new fiscal year that starts Oct. 1.

    But this time was different. This time, House Republicans felt ready to force a floor vote on Boehner’s leadership.

    Why now? House Republicans, since taking over the majority, had forced Congress to the brink: over Planned Parenthood, raising the debt ceiling, funding for Obamacare, spending levels for domestic programs, tax cuts, executive orders liberalizing immigration and, most recently, an international agreement regarding Iran’s nuclear program. Several of these issues remained in the mix this month.

    This time, the Freedom Caucus (formed earlier this year) and other elements of the right in the House were willing to force the showdown, not only with the White House but with their own leader as well. They came back from a five-week recess to tell Boehner they were unable to defend him back home any longer.

    Boehner felt he could win that vote, and most Hill observers agreed the rebels did not have the votes to force him out or elect someone else. They would lose, Boehner would win and his battered speakership would stagger on.

    But Boehner thought about it, prayed about it, and decided no. He did not want that ordeal, and he did not want to put the House through that ordeal. He had been planning to step down later this year anyway, he said.

    Someone else can try to lead this majority in the House.

    Why not someone like The Donald?

    Yes, shy not someone like The Donald? We already know, based on the few actual policy proposals that he’s put out, that he’s basically going to be pushing a standard GOP corporatist agenda. But when you see Trump criticizing Paul Ryan over things like entitlement cuts, it’s also pretty clear that Trump can put a populist patina on the GOP’s agenda in ways that almost no other GOPer can do these days. And that ability to project populism while pushing corporatism is exactly what the GOP needs right now in their next Speaker. Now more than ever. Plus, as the article pointed out, the last time the GOP was considering someone from outside the House to become the new Speaker they picked Dennis Hastert instead:

    And when Speaker Newt Gingrich was on his way out in the late 1990s you again heard talk of electing a figurehead speaker, someone who could class up the place just by being there. Retired U.S. Army Gen. Colin Powell was mentioned at the time. So was former Sen. Bob Dole, who had been the GOP nominee for president in 1996.

    In the end, though, after much fumbling around and a couple of false starts, the House chose Dennis Hastert as speaker. But most people continued to regard Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, as the party’s true leading man. Hastert stuck around in the speaker’s chair for eight years, the longest time any Republican has had the Big Gavel. He retired in 2007 and became a lobbyist.

    And look how that turned out.

    So, with the GOP establishment continuing of fret over what to do about The Donald taking over their party, why not give ‘the voice of the disgruntled GOPer’, the one guy that can sort of pull off the ‘I’m a populist’ scam better than probably anyone else today the most powerful job the GOP has to offer and one that could not only transform the Trump campaign but potentially help rebrand the GOP-led congress with single-digit approval ratings. Really, why not? Steve “David Duke without the Baggage” Scalise was a day away from become the new House Majority leader. And since the GOP doesn’t seem quite yet ready to make “David Duke without the Baggage” the next Speaker of the House, how about House Speaker “The Donald”? The outreach potential for the party is hard to deny. Or understand. But it is what it is. Trump for Speaker!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 10, 2015, 4:46 pm

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