Damned Heretics

Condemned by the established, but very often right

I am Nicolaus Copernicus, and I approve of this blog

I am Richard Feynman and I approve of this blog

Qualified outsiders and maverick insiders are often right about the need to replace received wisdom in science and society, as the history of the Nobel prize shows. This blog exists to back the best of them in their uphill assault on the massively entrenched edifice of resistance to and prejudice against reviewing, let alone revising, ruling ideas. In support of such qualified dissenters and courageous heretics we search for scientific paradigms and other established beliefs which may be maintained only by the power and politics of the status quo, comparing them with academic research and the published experimental and investigative record.

We especially defend and support the funding of honest, accomplished, independent minded and often heroic scientists, inventors and other original thinkers and their right to free speech and publication against the censorship, mudslinging, false arguments, ad hominem propaganda, overwhelming crowd prejudice and internal science politics of the paradigm wars of cancer, AIDS, evolution, global warming, cosmology, particle physics, macroeconomics, health and medicine, diet and nutrition.

HONOR ROLL OF SCIENTIFIC TRUTHSEEKERS

Henry Bauer, Peter Breggin , Harvey Bialy, Giordano Bruno, Erwin Chargaff, Nicolaus Copernicus, Francis Crick, Paul Crutzen, Marie Curie, Rebecca Culshaw, Freeman Dyson, Peter Duesberg, Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, John Fewster, Galileo Galilei, Alec Gordon, James Hansen, Edward Jenner, Benjamin Jesty, Michio Kaku, Adrian Kent, Ernst Krebs, Thomas Kuhn, Serge Lang, John Lauritsen, Mark Leggett, Richard Lindzen, Lynn Margulis, Barbara McClintock, George Miklos, Marco Mamone Capria, Peter Medawar, Kary Mullis, Linus Pauling, Eric Penrose, Max Planck, Rainer Plaga, David Rasnick, Sherwood Rowland, Carl Sagan, Otto Rossler, Fred Singer, Thomas Szasz, Alfred Wegener, Edward O. Wilson, James Watson.
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Many people would die rather than think – in fact, they do so. – Bertrand Russell.

Skepticism is dangerous. That’s exactly its function, in my view. It is the business of skepticism to be dangerous. And that’s why there is a great reluctance to teach it in schools. That’s why you don’t find a general fluency in skepticism in the media. On the other hand, how will we negotiate a very perilous future if we don’t have the elementary intellectual tools to ask searching questions of those nominally in charge, especially in a democracy? – Carl Sagan (The Burden of Skepticism, keynote address to CSICOP Annual Conference, Pasadena, April 3/4, 1982).

It is really important to underscore that everything we’re talking about tonight could be utter nonsense. – Brian Greene (NYU panel on Hidden Dimensions June 5 2010, World Science Festival)

I am Albert Einstein, and I heartily approve of this blog, insofar as it seems to believe both in science and the importance of intellectual imagination, uncompromised by out of date emotions such as the impulse toward conventional religious beliefs, national aggression as a part of patriotism, and so on.   As I once remarked, the further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge.   Certainly the application of the impulse toward blind faith in science whereby authority is treated as some kind of church is to be deplored.  As I have also said, the only thing ever interfered with my learning was my education. My name as you already perceive without a doubt is George Bernard Shaw, and I certainly approve of this blog, in that its guiding spirit appears to be blasphemous in regard to the High Church doctrines of science, and it flouts the censorship of the powers that be, and as I have famously remarked, all great truths begin as blasphemy, and the first duty of the truthteller is to fight censorship, and while I notice that its seriousness of purpose is often alleviated by a satirical irony which sometimes borders on the facetious, this is all to the good, for as I have also famously remarked, if you wish to be a dissenter, make certain that you frame your ideas in jest, otherwise they will seek to kill you.  My own method was always to take the utmost trouble to find the right thing to say, and then to say it with the utmost levity. (Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt for Life magazine) One should as a rule respect public opinion in so far as is necessary to avoid starvation and to keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny, and is likely to interfere with happiness in all kinds of ways. – Bertrand Russell, Conquest of Happiness (1930) ch. 9

(Click for more Unusual Quotations on Science and Belief)

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Science has its own, bigger Bernie Madoff

Interviewing by Frontline suggests similarities with Tiny Tony (Anthony Fauci) of NIAID, who is more lethal

Pseudo religious impulse is source of sway of swindlers large and small, preventing questions

Billion dollar bricks sold to the public by those in the know in HIV/AIDS

The key lesson for whistleblowers in science in all this? Good luck!

(WARNING: LONG POST. EXPAND FONT TO LARGE SIZE AND ASSEMBLE 100 MULES AND BEARERS)

Book vs cover: Who wouldn't trust this man and wife team?  With Madoff (pron. Madeoff) languishing in jail awaiting delayed sentence at the end of June (June 29, 10 am), the PBS Frontline program on Bernie Madoff of May 12 (repeated June 2) recently offered an hour filled with witnesses of the way the discreet Jewish swindler worked his game, with key feeders insisting they were as surprised by the scam as the more than 9000 victims who have now filed claims (move cursor over pic for caption).

This may strike some viewers as incredible, given that Bernie and his operation had fake written all over them for years in neon signs. Yet it does seem that the only ones who wised up to his Ponzi play before the Fall were Harry Markopolos, now famous as the whistleblower whose thoroughly demonstrated tip offs were ignored by the sleepy watchdogs of the SEC, the reporters at MAR/Hedge and Barrons who wrote skeptical articles as early as 2001, and some professional investors with operating neurons who recognized that Madoff’s unwillingness/inability to explain his mathematically impossible feat was a blazing sign of wrongdoing in itself.

High priests don’t get questioned

2005: Michael Bienes and his wife of 32 years, DianneEven the reporters with those excellent early pieces didn’t quite convince themselves that massive skulduggery was afoot, it seems. So the question becomes, why not? Why did so many of the financial elite blindly trust Madoff to such an extraordinary high level – not just his unfortunate investors but even his original ‘feeders’? The first answer seems to be that the world of financial formulae was all mumbo jumbo to them. Frontline asks one early feeder, Michael Bienes, who is a trained accountant, albeit clearly not a very bright one, why he believed that his great benefactor was a genius not a crook:

“I don’t know. How do I know? How do you split an atom? I know that you can split them; I don’t know how you do it. How does an airplane fly? I don’t ask..”

Did you ask him?

Never. Why would I ask him? I wouldn’t understand it if he explained it. Something with arbitrage between bonds and stocks and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

But when I went downtown for the first time to deliver some papers to Bernie, … he walked in, Bernie, and it was like you were subsumed by him. He had an aura about him. Not charisma, an aura about him — a confidence the way he was set up, the way he looked, the way he spoke. The self-confidence — he just evoked confidence in you, that he knew that he was in control, and if he was around, everything was fine. And then when he moved to his new office building, I used to go down there, One Wall Street. He had a whole floor. Wow. Wow. Wow.
(see Michael Bienes’s extended Frontline video interview clips at PBS)

In other wprds Bernie was a high priest of an arcane science that the congregation didn’t understand, a miracle worker that people wanted to believe in, and given the trappings, they did. Here we have the religious or general social phenomenon, which like compound interest feeds upon itself. Success begets success, and trust fosters trust in ever widening circles. The more people believe, the more people believe.

In Wall Street or politics, religion or science, generally once a person climbs high enough in any organized human ideological system (in this case the gimme Wall Street of stock and bond market traders and their institutions) he/she enjoys not just the trust and confidence of those close to him, but soon enough, like any successful leader, the blind faith and imposed devotion of his or her followers.

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Congress says they’re looking into the Bernie Madoff scandal. So the guy who made $50 billion disappear, is being investigated by the people who made $750 billion disappear! (ICIS Chemicals Confidential)
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While few if any know what he is actually up to, no one risks questioning the great man. The pseudo-religious impulse of blind faith kicks in and there is a sort of billowing group trust in something that may make no sense at all, if questioned. (Which phenomenon is precisely why this blog exists, by the way – to counter in some small way that unprofessional impulse in HIV/AIDS and wherever else it enters into science, or any other social system of money, power and ideas, where it has no business being present, but is often found, abetting mis-leadership and tyranny.)

The skulduggery is perceived unconsciously and it is secular religion that enables denial. Thus Bienes, one of Madoff’s core feeders admits he did nothing much to earn his millions:

Q. So is this easy money, would you say, that you’re making with Madoff?
A. “Easy, easy-peasy, like a money machine. I always said I never lifted any heavy weights. People have said to me, even recently, “Oh, you must have worked very hard.” I said, “No, I didn’t.” “Oh, come on.” I said, “No, I didn’t.” I never worked hard, except when I was working as an accountant when I was young, yeah. But I never worked hard.”

And when pressed whether he ever questioned how he deserved millions just for passing money along to Bernie, he answers:

“I asked myself Why am I so lucky? My wife and I came up with the answer. God wanted us to have this, God gave us this.”

So the money was manna from heaven, with a semi divine Bernie as the angel Gabriel, a heavenly servant of Destiny for those lucky enough to be chosen, and no need to ask any further questions.

Which is the key: no questions can be asked of Heaven. Self deception and denial are at work, and trust and fear gell into the rationalizing belief that divine providence is at work. Any strong leader (eg Obama, see our last worshipful post on our Presidential Savior) engenders and benefits from this psychology, although if death is involved, there is more of it. Stalin was able to order the deaths of tens of millions, including his close supporters, and still die in bed. The characteristic of the pseudo-religious impulse in operation in society is that no one retains the ability or desire to question. The religious guru benefits from the unquestioning faith of his flock, even while he is handing them Kool Aid.

Three bricks at $150? Sold!

But there is no reason to plumb the psychology too deeply. The balance of trust and fear is the core of any successful confidence trick. This is the combination that casts the spell. Thus the New York street trickster perpetrates similar magic when he sells a sealed parcel containing three bricks to a passer by. We know one victim of this familiar scam whose very profession as a print reporter was to ask questions, yet in barely three minutes in a chance encounter he was persuaded to hand $150 to a stranger for a sealed parcel assumed to contain a “brand new VCR”. The embarrassed sucker could only report that the magic spell broke the moment the seller disappeared, after counting the cash and exchanging thanks. Only then did he, the professional reporter, rapidly place the parcel on a car roof and tear it open to see what it really contained: three bricks.

The conman as social engineer

Few of those caught in the $50-65 billion Bernie Madoff collapse asked any questions, Frontline made clear. If anyone did ask questions, Bernie acted offended at the very thought of their distrust and brusquely told them that if they felt that way he would return their money. Here again we have the conman as social engineer, fleecing the victim by dangling the carrot while making it impossible to question the price that has to be paid without breaking the social contract of mutual trust, and risk expulsion from the club.

Madoff’s resistance to questioning actually did tip some people off, it turns out. We know of a certain Bob who was one of the ten founding members of a club in the Hamptons, and an experienced businessman. Bernie was another founding member and one day approached him with an offer to let him in on his fund, saying that not much needed to start, $5 million would do to give him a taste. So Bob then reasonably asked Bernie to tell him a little about his operation. As Madoff talked Bob thought to himself, “this is not adding up.” He asked another question, and at this point Bernie backed off, saying, “You know what Bob, this is not for you!” and walked off.

But most people didn’t challenge Madoff, perhaps because added to the prospect of mutual rejection of a fellow member of the club there was also the general rejection one risked by questioning a man everyone else in one’s social circle, congregation, club or on Wall Street trusted so implicitly. At the time Barrons investigated him in 2001 Madoff was a grand old man of NASDAQ who had climbed into many high chairs over the years, including Jewish groups, charities, universities, advisory committees, and so on. In this way he acquired vast social sanction, which preserved him from official investigation even when the evidence that something was wrong was blatant and exposed to the SEC repeatedly.

(From the Wiki entry url above): Madoff was a philanthropist, who served on boards of nonprofit institutions, many of which entrusted his firm with their endowments.[13][15] He is a former National Treasurer of the American Jewish Congress. The collapse and freeze of his personal assets and that of his firm’s have had repercussions on businesses, charities and foundations around-the-world, including the Robert I. Lappin Charitable Foundation, the Picower Foundation, and the JEHT Foundation which were forced to close as a consequence.[13][31] Madoff donated approximately $6 million to lymphoma research after his son Andrew was diagnosed.[32]
Madoff served as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Sy Syms School of Business at Yeshiva University, and as Treasurer of its Board of Trustees.[15] He resigned his position at Yeshiva University after his arrest.[31] Madoff also served on the Board of New York City Center, a member of New York City’s Cultural Institutions Group (CIG).[33] He served on the executive council of the Wall Street division of the UJA Foundation of New York which declined to invest funds with him due to the conflict of interest.[34] Madoff undertook charity work for the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation and also engaged in philanthropic giving through The Madoff Family Foundation, a $19 million private foundation, which he managed along with his wife.[13] They donated money to hospitals and theaters.[15]

In retrospect this was all camouflage but the bright lights from his medals blinded those in the socio-economic system in which Madoff moved, including the watchdogs at the SEC and in the media. Maybe we should be more skeptical of generosity in this day and age. Could be that some of it is cloaking theft. More to the point, let’s be suspicious of group wisdom, especially when it acquires a religious fervor. In the grand tradition of the Roman Catholic church, religion has been the cloak for gain throughout history. The religious impulse can have the same usefulness in war and secular politics, as Bob Dylan sang:

“The First World War, boys,
It came and it went;
The reason for fighting
I never did get.
But I learned to accept it,
Accept it with pride;
For you don’t count the dead
When God’s on your side.

“The Second World War, boys,
It came to an end.
We forgave the Germans,
And then we were friends.
Though they murdered six million,
In the ovens they fried,
The Germans now, too, have
God on their side.”
(Bob Dylan, “With God on Our Side”)

Science’s very own Bernie Madoff clone

Why are we emphasizing all this at great and even repetitive length? Because we want to suggest that the same process can be discerned in some scientific fields, where conventional belief has been demolished in the journal literature but is nonetheless propped up far past its shelf date by those high up who benefit from it, and the weapons they use to impose belief are the same as any acquisitive church. Among known examples are the reigning paradigms in cancer and in HIV/AIDS.

In HIV/AIDS in particular, the Madoff pattern of trusted high level figure who misleads strangers into ruining their lives on his advice – and don’t ask questions on pain of professional or even personal death – is exemplified by the short but remarkable Anthony Fauci, director of NIAID. Yes, sir. We’d say Fauci is chiefly responsible for the successful defense of the HIV theory of the cause of AIDS against all comers for over 22 years, even though his own writings in the literature show us that he now knows very well the HIV=AIDS hypothesis had nothing to recommend it in 1984 and even less since.

The grandson of Sicilian immigrants, Fauci grew up in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn. He credits his father, a pharmacist, and particularly his mother, who died when he was in medical school, for encouraging him to strive for excellence. The thirst for intellectual achievement was fueled by his Jesuit teachers at Regis High School, where he was captain of the basketball team, and later at Holy Cross College, where he learned—as he puts it—“precision of thought and economy of expression.”

The Jesuit order of the Roman Catholic Church “is driven by intellectual curiosity—rigorous academic pursuits, openness and honesty without having any intellectual constraints put on you,” Fauci explains. The training prepared him well for life in Washington, where “you only have a very short time to express what it is that you need to express (and) to make it very, very clear,” he says.

Medicine was a natural career path for Fauci, as it balanced his love of science with his need to be involved with people. He attended Cornell University Medical College (now the Weill Medical College of Cornell University), and as a young resident there, already was displaying strong leadership skills.

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SIDENOTE FOR NEWBIES
As all long time readers here know well from our posts, and as we incessantly repeat for the benefit of newcomers, the theory that AIDS is caused by a virus and that it is infectious has been thoroughly demolished in the best scientific journals since 1987, and by all the accumulating evidence since, and this is obvious to anyone who takes off the distorting spectacles of the standard trope and looks into it with clear gaze. But the strenuous efforts of those who benefit from this belief have managed to sweep the correction under the carpet, while they pretend it is refuted, and marginalize the reviewers, especially the exceptionally brilliant Berkeley scientist Peter Duesberg, who within two years (1987 on) wrote the major reviews concluding that the claim was impossible.

So contrary to the best science the prevailing belief of almost everybody around the globe is still, after all these years, that AIDS is caused by an infectious virus, labeled self servingly as Human Immunodeficiency Virus, or HIV. On this basis billions have been spent, and $55 billion more will now be dispensed by PEPFAR as the national budget permits, not to mention many other billions by those who believe they are helping supposed AIDS patients by ensuring they are fully supplied with the damaging drugs prescribed.

The kingpin of this intellectual and social scheme, perpetrator of one of the greatest scams of medical science ever, is none other than Anthony Fauci, director of NIAID for over twenty years.
END SIDENOTE

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Meet Dr. Fauci, the man of science who would curb free speech

Yes, despite his fine upbringing and avowals, we are sorry to say that this notoriously dapper modern bureaucratic medicine man has been the chief enabler of the ongoing survival of the unlikely, and still entirely undemonstrated, belief that HIV=AIDS, and its adamant protector from independent review, ever since his not too subtle edict in print twenty years ago, in an AAAS newsletter, to the effect that any reporter who asked him or anyone else at the NIH why the high level reviews rejecting the AIDS paradigm were being ignored in public would be counted incompetent, and never again receive any call back from him, his PR staff or any scientist under his sway.

No questions, in other words.

The net result has been that the funding and social politics of AIDS, which by 1987 had already turned the HIV claim into a belief supported with religious fervor by gays, who have always comprised the overwhelming share of victims in the US, but who are terrified of being blamed for it as a consequence of their “life style”, have relegated any questioner lay or scientific to social and professional Siberia.

HIV=AIDS is now a religion, in other words, in which questioning of the dogma is ruled out on penalty of excommunication, whether you are in the media, in medicine, in science or in the public at large. This religion has been successfully led by the suppressive Fauci for twenty years, with the cooperation of Robert Gallo and other top AIDS researchers, and senior scientific statesmen such as David Baltimore and Harold Varmus.

The many people – several thousand at least – who oppose the standard thinking on HIV/AIDS, who include over thirty authors who have written good and sometimes brilliant books on the topic, as well as the best scientist in the field, Peter Duesberg of Berkeley, are left in the position of Harry Markopolos, the man now famous for questioning Bernie Madoff and trying to bring the attention of the authorities to his crime in vain.

In other words, they are ignored and brushed off, or in the case of the scientifically qualified HIV critics, smeared, attacked as heretics dangerous to the body politic and the health of the believers, marginalized and ostracised.

A classic case of this political counter attack is the fate of Celia Farber, the exemplary investigative journalist and poetic writer of our last post, who even after publishing an excruciatingly well fact checked article in the leading liberal magazine, Harpers, three years ago, was not even then able to win the respect she deserves, such was the counter attack from the paradigm leaders, who like threatened octopuses filled the water with ink to obscure the truth.

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The Obama Administration rolled out its much-awaited foreclosure-prevention plan on Wednesday nicknamed “The Ponzi Policy”, saying if it could work for Bernie Madoff, it could work for the United States. The plan asks those facing foreclosure to simply send a cheque for a thousand dollars to the first name on the list, “Fannie Mae”, then place their name at the bottom of the list, and ask 275 million friends to do the same. (ICIS Chemicals Confidential)
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Actually, the more apt analogy is to say that the scientific and lay defenders of HIV=AIDS behave like skunks, who when kicked emit a stink so unpleasant that one leaves them alone rather than continue to try and cage them and transport them somewhere where they can do no damage, such as the federal jails where they deserve to be for robbing the public purse to support their personal religion, and endangering the health of gays and Africans in the process.

Those who wish to catch up with Celia Farber’s story can read other posts in this blog, starting with the latest one below, and the excellent article in Harpers which failed to win the Pulitzer it deserved. For our point here is simply this. Bernie Madoff may have achieved lasting fame by perpetrating the biggest ripoff in the history of Wall Street Ponzi schemes, but in science we have our own Bernie Madoff, and he is still going strong, and the billions in spending from the public purse that he has misdirected now amount to far more than the billions involved in the better known Bernie Madoff’s scheme, which are probably as low as $20 billion.

Why Fauci’s scheme won’t implode like Madoff’s

But surely, you may say, Anthony Fauci won’t survive very long with so many critics (see the “Accurate/Helpful” section of the blogroll on the right hand side of this blog for thousands of them) and a new President whose budget is so strained now that the White House talks up a saving of $20 billion? If $50 or $100 billion is to be misdirected by the officials who run PEPFAR and other HIV/AIDS programs, surely Mr Obama will be alerted, intervene and order an investigative review?

Sadly, we don’t think so. Take the wave of propaganda the paradigm enjoyed a recent weekend on CSPAN. Not only did Luc Montagnier visit the University of Maryland and appear with Bob Gallo at a seminar, but at that seminar it became clear that the recent award of the Nobel to Luc for discovering the supposed cause of AIDS, HIV, has had the predicted effect of at long last getting the Pasteur hero aboard the bandwagon, and he never will again suggest as he has so often that HIV is insufficient to cause AIDS, that you need a co factor, and that by itself HIV is easily dispensed with by any healthy human immune system.

Added to this revelation was the appearance on CSpan as well of Harold Varmus, once director of the NIH and now atop the highest perch at Cornell Medical Center here in New York. Harold and his life time mustache happily discussed his great career in the charming terms for which he is renowned, once again reminding us that he is the most agreeable man in science. He also said that when he was given the role of deciding the name for the new virus, and decided it would be Human Immunodeficiency Virus, thus ending all discussion about its role, this was a great triumph of nomenclature which was, he said, his first exposure to the politics of science. Reaping his reward for mastering that skill set, Harold is now the chief science adviser to Obama.

Harold Varmus likes boats and bicycles, and won a Nobel from his friends on a basis which Peter Duesberg had demonstrated led cancer research up the garden path for thirty yearsAll this was part of the theme of his CSPAN Q and A, which was the content of his new book, The Art and Politics of Science, as well as his new position at the right hand of the new president of the United States. To those au fait with the internal politics of this issue, it was all once again a reminder that the chances of the Champion of Change in the White House sniffing enough of the malodorous politics of HIV/AIDS science to order a review seem somewhat low, to say the least. Harold Varmus is another highly trusted figure at the top of science:

[A] unique work by a remarkable global leader: a brilliant scientist with the sensibilities of an artist and the leadership skills of a consummate politician. Harold Varmus has done it all—Nobel Prize–winning breakthroughs in cancer biology, masterful leadership of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) during its period of greatest expansion, statesmanship of the highest order in global health, and cheerful trench warfare to bring biomedical publications to the open-source Internet age. [This] book is captivating, fascinating, and ever instructive. It will be read the world over with enormous delight and benefit. (Jeffrey D. Sachs, director, The Earth Institute)

Where can activists turn in trying to get past this palace guardian of ruling wisdom in HIV/AIDS? Once again we at Science Guardian offer the not necessarily facetious suggestion that if anyone can manage to run into Michelle Obama and turn her on to this betrayal of science, sense and humanity, which has a particular relevance to the community in which she is rooted, the black community of America, perhaps they should try to tip her off discreetly to the necessity of reading a good book on the topic, now that there are over thirty (see blogroll on right) for her staff to choose from, including ones by for example Celia Farber and Christine Maggiore, that anyone can follow.

Of course the problem then becomes which book, and sadly we have to say that in our opinion that no one has written the right book yet. For that book would be have to a direct answer to Randy Shilts’ uninformed best seller, And the Band Played On, written by an author that died of his ignorance (we did warn him). It would describe not the fanciful bill of goods Shilts was sold, poor fellow, back in the early days of the supposed pandemic, but the realpolitik of HIV/AIDS, and why and how so much damage has been done and so many lives lost under a pseudo-religious belief that without the ministrations of its bureaucratic high priest, the fine-suited Anthony Fauci, would have been demolished by the brilliant commentary by Duesberg that thoroughly scotched it 22 years ago, and since.

Of course, the only reason Madoff’s castle in the sky came crashing down at last was simply that in the serious recession people needed to pull their money out rather than get by on the handsome dividends Madoff was paying out. In the case of HIV/AIDS the meltdown seems to make it less likely that Obama will play the white knight, since the AIDS money at stake is nothing compared to a total Wall Street and Main Street bailout now estimated at $13 trillion.

In such circumstances, what’s a $100 billion here or there?

Madoff wasn’t so bad – in comparison

How do Madoff and Fauci compare? One point in Bernie’s defense that no one seems to be making is that, for all the calumny that has been heaped upon his head, Madoff didn’t actually steal $65 billion, or $20 billion, or maybe even $2 billion, at least for himself. For a Ponzi scheme by definition is robbing Peter to pay Paul, not oneself, except for what one skims. You take the money that comes in from new suckers and pay it out in generous annual percentages – in this case 18 or 16 or 14 per cent – to all the old suckers, and the new.

Why the heck didn't I jump ship and hole up in Latin America?  Those that rode with him for years did very well indeed, making far more than they “lost” when it finally exploded. For example, we have the sad tale in Time of How I Got Screwed by Bernie Madoff:

All we knew was that my wife’s entire family had been in the fund for decades and lived well on the returns, which ranged from 15% to 22%….My wife’s family’s combined losses are close to $30 million.”

Decades of 15-22% returns on $30 million? Depending on how much was left in, a net gain of probably well over a hundred million, not much to complain about – unless you are the later investor whose money was transferred to this happy family.

Waiting for the clawback

Given that legally when a Ponzi scheme collapses, all participants are called upon to return all that they have ever withdrawn from the fund, in what is known as a “clawback”, a pile of money should in theory be reclaimed from all the funds and people that Madoff had paid out the :interest” to over the years. That will all be put into a pot, and shared out among the 9000 or so investors according to what they put in,

If this entire process is done thoroughly and perfectly, going all the way back to the beginning in 1959 or whenever Madoff began the process, everyone would be made whole, at least as far as their initial investment is concerned. They will miss out on the interest they would have been earned over the years from some other investment, of course, which could be sizable. That loss, and whatever Bernie took out over the years to support his company – which ran into trouble in some years, and only survived on this theft, according to the prosecutor – or to spend on houses and other possessions, including a nice Aston Martin, would be the total missing. The family seems to have done most of the living it up, though their circumstances have changed rather dramatically now. His sister is driving an airport taxi, reportedly. Attempts to secrete some of the loot were noticeably late, and at least some were blocked.

Madoff the conservative (non)investor

It appears, however, that Madoff did not ever invest any of it in stocks and therefore lost nothing in the market. Moreover, his possessions – $11 million Palm Beach mansion, $2.2 million 55-ft yacht “Bull”, 24 ft motor boat etc – have been seized by the authorities and as much as $1 billion or so may be realized by their sale, possibly not a great deal less than he took from the monies entrusted to him.

So is Bernie the vast villain that so many feel he is, ruining so many people? Perhaps not, or he wouldn’t be if the clawback is done fully. However, there are indications that many of those who took money back from Bernie are going to conceal the fact if they can, rather than allow it to be clawed back. Moreover the clawback is not going to go very far into the past, it is clear from news reports. So perhaps the small investors will never get much back, although many will be paid something from the insurance fund and be allowed to take taxes off their income, if they have any left. The outcome remains to be seen. But they should realize that most of their their money isn’t in Madoff’s pockets, but in the bank accounts of their fellow investors, who are busy trying to conceal the fact.
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“It looks like more than 13,000 people were caught up in that Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme. You know what a Ponzi scheme is? That’s where you throw good money after bad, or as the government calls it, a stimulus package.” — Jay Leno
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The big problem, in other words, comes from the longevity of the Madoff scheme, which prevents a full clawback. One wonders if Madoff ever expected it to last so long. Perhaps he imagined that he would be able to escape the trap if his business made enough money. Of course he should have cut it short. But since prison loomed for a certainty if he did so, he was forced to continue year by year. It is hard to imagine that Madoff ever contemplated a number as high as $65 billion, but it must have had its own momentum from which he could not escape.

Why Fauci cannot escape his own trap either

A similar process has taken place in HIV/AIDS. Every year that passed without review and reform, the greater the difficulty of reversing course. It is now virtually insurmountable. The number of pages of Nature and Science, not to mention the New York Times, that would have to be torn out, the reputations destroyed, possibly even a mountain of legal suits for sickness and death, now render it virtually inconceivable that this globally metastasized tumor will be torn from the body politic in the current generation, of ever.

Again, it is hard to believe that Madoff could manage to run the operation without a lot of knowing office and backroom help. Similarly, it is impossible to believe that those who help Fauci maintain the impossible paradigm in HIV/AIDS against review don’t know they are wrong to do so. If the snappiest dresser in NIAID is ever brought to the witness chair, it should be in the company of all the clever scientists who by their own writings demonstrably are aware of the complete absence of theoretical foundation for their well funded research.

So perhaps until all the facts are in and who did what and participated in what and where all the money is and how much is clawed back and returned to investors, one should hold off from totally vilifying the genial, treacherous but really not so gigantic Bernie, who may have done little more in his distasteful crime than transfer savings from one acquisitive group to another, using a relatively small portion for himself. For this he became his own first and last victim, and given the largely empty satisfactions of riches in New York, those he personally betrayed in this sickening manner can be sure he is sorry he ever made such a bargain with the Devil, now that he will endure what in most ways is the worst punishment of all, life in a cell the size of his one of wife’s clothes cupboards.

Who is the bigger snake?

We are merely suggesting a little perspective, however big a snake Madoff was on the personal level. After all, from society’s point of view he did not threaten the health and lives of millions, as Anthony Fauci has. Furthermore, Madoff is far from the only untrustworthy money manager on Wall Street. Indeed from some points of view it is difficult to distinguish his behavior from those who knowingly sold toxic assets, or the speedy pocketing of the public’s cash by the managers of some of the biggest banks in recent months, in which there seems to be plenty of sleight of hand quicker than the eye can see, facilitated by the lack of overview.

In fact,, if you accept that the Wall Street wizards and institutions who traded and insured worthless assets are responsible for the global crisis, then according to the World Bank they are responsible for 100-150 million people falling into poverty, not just 9000 investors, and 200,000 to 400,000 infant deaths this year.

So is Bernie really in the world league of bad guys? Here’s some food for thought along those lines: What Makes Bernie Madoff Tick – Insights from the Criminal Mind of Sammy Antar. But Madoff’s smirk always suggested to us not arrogant psychopathy but a small time Wall Street thieving insider caught in his own trap, who knew he would be exposed one day and was probably surprised it didn’t happen earlier, and also that he had company in his moral quagmire, for whom he was taking the fall.

However, all those who wish Madoff everlasting purgatory can contemplate his fate as predicted in Inside Bernie Madoff’s New Home… for the Next 150 Years. Sentencing is now set for the end of this month, and currently predicted at 150 years incarceration for Madoff, who is 71 years old. We wonder how long he will survive such cramped quarters.

A system always ignores warning signals from outsiders

But what’s the take home lesson in all this for public policymakers? We think the important public lesson of the Madoff thievery is the way whistleblowers are resolutely ignored if the system they inhabit is large enough, and their targets high enough, even when everybody knows that by nature money trumps everything for many players in the game, and if they troubled to read the whistleblower file properly they would easily have seen that something was very wrong.

Markopolos and others saw what was up, once they studied and analyzed the data available on Bernie’s operation. Markopolos went to the SEC and it is now notorious how his fully explanatory memos were ignored year after year:

SANBORN, N.Y. (March 12, 2009) — Harry Markopolos, a 30-year veteran of the financial industry and Bernie Madoff whistleblower, will discuss “Blowing the Whistle on Bernie Madoff: Gift Wrapping & Delivering the Truth about the Largest Ponzi Scheme Ever” at Niagara County Community College April 21 at 12:30 p.m. in the Arts and Media Theatre on the Sanborn campus. Admission is free and open to the public and is sponsored by Niagara County Community College Student Government.

Markopolos blew the whistle on Madoff and his $50 billion Ponzi scheme, unearthing what is believed to be the largest financial fraud in history.

For over 10 years, Markopolos, a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), diligently pursued the truth in the numbers of Madoff and his unbelievably huge profits. Figuring out the Madoff fraud before anyone else, Markopolos waved red flags and delivered detailed documentation to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 2000, 2001, 2005, 2007 and again in 2008.

“It took me five minutes to know that it was a fraud. It took me another almost four hours of mathematical modeling to prove that it was a fraud,” Markopolos said.

(From his written testimony):
“I studied the Broyhill document and within 5 minutes suspected it was a fraud since the strategy as described was not capable of beating the typical percent return on US Treasury Bills less fees and expenses. Once fees and expenses were included, the Split-Strike Conversion Strategy as depicted in the marketing document would have had trouble beating a 0% return…

BM said he was earning 82% of the S&P 500’s return with less than 22% of the risk. More alarmingly, his returns only had a 6% correlation to the S&P 500 Stock Index when I would have expected to see something like a 50% correlation and wouldn’t have questioned any correlation figures between 30% – 60%. A 6% correlation was so low as to signal “FRAUD” in flashing red letters. The easiest explanation for why a 6% correlation is so low as to be wholly unbelievable is that if your returns are coming from the S&P 100 stock index, you had better at least partially resemble that stock index’s performance. Having only a 6% resemblance in a situation where, due to the price limiting performance of the put and call options, one would expect a 30 – 60% correlation, was outside the bounds of rationality.”

The difference in HIV/AIDS is that the whistleblower was Peter Duesberg, the best scientist in the field, and the watchdog was Anthony Fauci, whose political interest was in preserving a paradigm that had already elevated his career to the White House level.

All observers of the scene in AIDS and its science are familiar with this phenomenon and the way the established system suppresses any critique that threatens its rulers. An example which is more widely appreciated and accepted, however, is the resistance in NASA to explicit warnings from its own engineers that small pieces of the shuttle might fail and cause disaster for Challenger and Columbia.

The Challenger explosion revealed a culture where not only was the lethal disaster foreseen by engineers but the head of the investigating commission, Bill Rogers, pressured the panel not to detract from NASA’s reputation by revealing management problems. It was left to the totally independent minded physicist Richard Feynman to ignore politics and demonstrate on a table top with a glass of iced water how an O ring must have failed.

More broadly, the report also considered the contributing causes of the accident. Most salient was the failure of both NASA and its contractor, Morton Thiokol, to respond adequately to the design flaw. The Commission found that as early as 1977, NASA managers had not only known about the flawed O-ring, but that it had the potential for catastrophe. This led the Rogers Commission to conclude that the Challenger disaster was “an accident rooted in history.” (Rogers Commission, Wiki)

Hello, can anybody hear us?

In other words, there is systematic deafness to whistleblowers. This is the true lesson of Madoff and Duesberg both. Those in high positions in any social system will easily defeat any internal or outside attempt to bring correction to bear. Even the relatively investigative editors of the Wall Street Journal fell under this spell of reputation in Madoff’s case, as Markopolos informed us in his House testimony:

[Pat Burns, communications director at Taxpayers Against Fraud] put me in contact with John Wilke, senior investigative reporter for the Wall Street Journal’s Washington bureau. Mr. Wilke and I would become friends over the next three years. Unfortunately, as eager as Mr. Wilke was to investigate the Madoff story, it appears that the Wall Street Journal’s editors never gave him approval to start investigating. As you will see from my extensive e-mail correspondence with him over the next several months, there were several points in time in which he was getting ready to book air travel to start the story and then would get called off at the last minute. I never determined if the senior editors at the Wall Street Journal failed to authorize this investigation.

In his appearance Markopolos added that “I believe that senior editors of the Journal respected and feared Mr. Madoff” and wouldn’t let a reporter “get on the plane” and meet with him on the fraud.

The ineffectuality of whistleblowers

All those interested in repressed reform in science should be aware that whistleblowing of any kind faces this kind of handicap wherever it is attempted. Only if there is intense media coverage, or committed support from people of influence, does it have a chance of success. The Madoff scam was exposed only because it blew up in the fear and panic of the recession. The Fauci scam does not have the same internal time bomb, short of the death of its main players.

Individual whistleblowers have proved ineffective so far, despite impeccable scientific credentials (Duesberg), peer reviewed publication in the leading journals (Duesberg with others), established academic positions (Duesberg, Lang) and membership of the National Academy (Duesberg, Lang), very good books (Bialy, Bauer and more than thirty academic, professional, journalistic and lay authors), blogs (Bialy, Liversidge), websites (see blogroll on the right), and highly competent magazine articles (Discover, SPIN, London Sunday Times, and innumerable others, see blogroll), and groups (Rethinking AIDS, HEAL) have likewise made no significant progress.

The one glimmer of hope might be that if Fauci retires, the discussion over his replacement might trigger a review by the White House, and just perhaps open the door to some adjustment. But after 22 years wholesale replacement of HIV in AIDS science and policy now seems socially impossible without a political earthquake of some kind.

Time killed reform in AIDS, as in Madoff

In 1987 and 1988, however, this wasn’t the case, and for a short time the discussion was lively, and it seemed that only the naive would credit the brazen reassurances of Anthony Fauci and the other top scientists in the field that the distinguished, honest and highly critical reviewer of their favorite hypothesis, Peter Duesberg of Berkeley, and his endless expert peer reviewed critiques in the leading journals were wrong in the face of “overwhelming evidence” that HIV is the cause of AIDS, evidence that no one cared to parade in the same journals in direct answer to Duesberg.

For anyone familiar with Duesberg’s papers, the reverse was and still is obviously true. The claim that HIV causes AIDS was and is simply wishful thinking from those that knew to exploit a belief which turned on the spigot of federal funding to a level no one had imagined.

But Anthony Fauci in combination with Robert Gallo led the powerfully effective political suppression of Peter Duesberg’s clear explanations of why, according to its own findings, the paradigm was faulty. The media came to heel, impotent in the face of expertise that exceeded reporters time and attention span. And the media are now key, as Fauci has shown, to maintaining nonsense in place at the policy making level. If whistleblowers can’t win wholesale media support, they are done for. Neither Markopolos or Duesberg did.

That over two decades this carbuncle on the nose of science grew to become the cancerous football sized lymphoma that cannot be surgically removed without killing the patient dead is more than anyone else the fault of Anthony Fauci, director of NIAID and the man who, it turns out, is willing to sacrifice the health and lives of gays and Africans so that he can buy expensive suits.

Wait! How can an outsider credit such a lurid statement about a man widely respected by everybody from Ronald Reagan, who called him a hero, to Charlie Rose, who interviews him worshipfully whenever AIDS or flu is the topic?

Short of asking them to actually read some of this blog and the literature of the scandal written by over thirty authors from Harvey Bialy, Henry Bauer and Peter Duesberg to Celia Farber and Christine Maggiore (please see the blogroll on the lower right of the front page, the section entitled Accurate/Helpful), all we can say is this:

The wholesale evasion of Duesberg’s critique is the best evidence in terms of human behavior that he is correct, just as Madoff’s black box unwillingness to reveal his investing secret screamed silently at one and all that he was running a Ponzi.

Updates: June 26 Fri:Updates: ABC talks to Bernie’s secretary, who says his little black book contains co-conspirators and sexual masseuses. One principle noted: antisocial personalities tend to be control freaks.

146 Responses to “Science has its own, bigger Bernie Madoff”

  1. Baby Pong Says:

    Tony Perkins was so gentle in Psycho that he wouldn’t hurt a fly, as he mused to himself at the picture’s end. We seriously think there isn’t much difference between having Norman Bates as President, and having Obama. Bates likes to kill people in the shower, and Obama prefers to shower people with bombs, in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and maybe soon in Iran, where the demonstrations have “CIA-staged” written all over them, though nobody in the media will mention this.

    Perkins also easily surpasses Obama with his sophisticated musical tastes. We enjoyed Perkins’s appearances on the “Ben Bagley’s Rodgers and Hart Revisited” albums, where he gave charming renditions of several little-known R&H gems.

    As for us, when we kill mosquitoes in our bathroom, which we do frequently and with great determination, we see it as self defense. The mosquito could be carrying Hiv/Aids or some other terrible malady in his salivary glands. (We’ve been meaning to investigate the explanation that the experts give for why you can’t get Hiv/Aids from a mosquito. Has anyone here done a BS check on the science of that? We suspect it will turn out to be about as convincing as the experts’ explanations about why people with Aids become very thin — as we recall, the experts say that it is probably because there is evidence that Hiv raises body temperature. We could google it if you like. The real answer to why you can’t get Hiv-Aids from a mosquito, we suspect, is that the Machiavels behind Hiv-Aids want people to be scared of sex, they don’t want them to be scared of going to work everyday in their mosquito-filled sweatshops, where their tiny salaries mean large profits for David and the other elitists)

    When Obama kills a fly, on the other hand, one must take into account the character of the swatter before determining if it’s an act of aggression or self defense. In this case, the swatter is a known homicidal maniac and pathological liar posing as a compassionate colored person in order to divert the eye from the unseen Bilderberg globalists who are pulling his strings. So his behavior deserves the strongest condemnation.

  2. Truthseeker Says:

    where the demonstrations have “CIA-staged” written all over them, though nobody in the media will mention this.

    Stop having fun satirizing a loony Web paranoid, Pong, otherwise newcomers to this site might think you actually are one.

    Bernard Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison half an hour ago, which he took like a man, with a stiff upper lip, as he should. So far in 35 minutes there are 6,032 stories on the event.

    Since there is really only a need for one story, really, and maybe two comments, perhaps this indicates the amount of attrition we could stand in the traditional media without much loss.

  3. Celia I. Farber Says:

    BP, what is it about the mass street demonstrations in Iran that have ‘CIA written all over them?’

    It is one thing that you may suspect CIA of such activities abroad but what, exactly, is written, in your estimate, onto the surface of the situation, the surface of these immense and (seemingly organic) crowds? (Where’s the ital command?)

    How could the CIA do such things, logistically, as get hundreds of thousands of people out into the streets chanting??????

    Please please be specific, as specific as it is possible to be. I don’t want a boomerang answer. I just want you to be crystal clear.

    Is it like Manchurian Candidate stuff, is that what you mean?

    TS: You are the third British person in as many days who has expressed bafflement over M.J.

    I am writing about it at The Truth Barrier. Will post tonight, I hope.

    Is something wrong with your ears? I ask lovingly.

  4. Celia I. Farber Says:

    I just ran into my friend Tommy, who I would describe as a brilliant and wounded radical–ex Vietnam Vet and artist. I suppose one could either call him conspiratorial or wide awake or both. Vietnam is itself a medium for looking at this country real close up.

    He is more interested, for example, or more fluent, in what ‘they’ have done to me for my AIDS heresy than I am. We’re at loggerheads about it. It does not interest me, how things actually are run in the basement of the Almighty Toad Kingdom. Just want to keep swishing through the sea… So I heard someone shout “Celia!” and there he was on his black bicycle with the chains wrapped round his torso.
    “T! Hi. I’m so glad it’s you. Listen, did you love Michael Jackson? I did. I’m in a reverie T. But lately it seems one has to explain it.”
    Tommy, being more political by far, than I said this: “Are you kidding? He was a GOD. He was a black God. And they had to castrate him and destroy him, because it was a multi-million dollar business to do so. Listen, there is a book written by a woman I can give you a copy, she pays out chapter and verse the $20 million plot to destroy Michael Jackson. To charge him with something that would f– him and then take it to the media where it becomes a f–fest and then he’s done for. He’s been taken out. Just like they did with you. Same thing. Like they do with everybody who is alive. It’s jealousy. OK? Envy. Because they can’t even see their own d– when they look down. So they have to castrate the black Gods. And women too. Everything they can’t be and can’t control. This is all in my novel.”

    I was sipping my apple juice and thinking what a nice breeze there was and how happy I was to see T.

    “And now the media acts like they always loved him,” I said.

    “Oh that. Don’t get me started. The New York Post, man. Every single f–ng day, during his trial, the headlines were Wacko, Jacko, Jacko Wacko, this and that. And now a 16 page memorial spread.”

    He looked at me and said, before he departed: “Keep breathing, right here.” He pointed to the kidney area.

    “Yup,” I said.

    “I’ll call you,” he shouted as he sped off.

  5. Truthseeker Says:

    Nothing wrong with my ears, Celia, judging from the fact that surveying all of Western music throughout history, my favorites pretty much match the judgment of history ie Beethoven, Bach and Mozart, Schubert and Chopin at the top, the rest also rans on varying strata.

    In pop, Beatles at the top, and scored of people more melodic, original, and aesthetically more interesting and satisfying than Michael Jackson, an inventive dancer in a robotic style whose highpoint is the Moonwalk, which everyone should master, but whose songs are mostly rhythmic repetition of the usual inarticulate pop pap which reflects the lack of education and world experience of all pop songsmiths since the mostly Jewish professionals were sidelined by rock and other earthier styles which match the genital presentations of various kinds favored over the earlier fun or ballroom styles which emphasized stylish and challenging dance patterns without thrusting the pudenda or the crotch in the eyes of the beholder.

    However, the rhythmic beat of the Jackson classics are a great melding of tight discipline and gut appealing sexual riffs which match his dance initiatives perfectly, and in a way he was a transition between earlier less sexual dance modes and the exciting disco drama of the post Beatles era, because he was so tightly controlled and explosive in gesture.

    That said, however, it is a boost every now and then but it shows the paucity of imagination which his legions of followers have shown that it still rules over so much dance, and a pity it does so when the whole brilliance of really great dance is that it isn’t so close to robotic, it expands into a more expressive human dimension.

    The fact that people in droves seem to think that Michael Jackson was such a wonderful performer is to us just a symptom of the slow loss of imagination in pop which has drained it of really good melody, in rap of course all melody, and left us with poetry without music (rap) except for rhythm, and pop by such essentially unoriginal minds as Madonna which counter girls at Duane Reade can sing along to but anyone who looks for melody who has listened to jazz from the twenties on and rock from the fifties through the sixties or all the thirties to fifties pop from Cole Porter and other inhabitants of Mount Olympus will not even bother with.

    Pop was informed by genius in those days, and rock was too in the sixties and maybe seventies, but since then it has been a mess, presumably due to the corporate catering to teeny bopper audiences and the difficulty people brought up in the current era have being their own songsmiths on a level competitive with the professionals who ruled before the Beatles.

    Music is always a cultural thing of course so it will always be rooted in whatever people have heard as they grow up, but if you use recordings to get a longer perspective as we do you end up rating Michael jackson as a prominent star who swung terrifically as a child and applied a lot of talent and dedication to creating unique contributions to stage and club dance, and was a creative child and not a pederast as far as we are concerned, but he was way behind the Beatles in creativity and artistic stature.

    But Hey, play one of his great tracks and we would fight anyone who wanted to take it off. And we consider black music in pop and jazz a huge contribution to the music library we are all lucky enough to be able to hear as we walk down the street with our D2+s.

    Here’s a fact from ABC news to contemplate in the wake of his drug induced death:

    More people died from prescribed drug effects last year than from heroin and cocaine combined.

    Kind of them to tell us, since half their ad support comes from drug ads tonight.

  6. Celia I. Farber Says:

    TS:

    You are kidding. You must be.

    When you write:

    “…Michael Jackson, an inventive dancer in a robotic style whose highpoint is the Moonwalk, which everyone should master, but whose songs are mostly rhythmic repetition of the usual inarticulate pop pap which reflects the lack of education and world experience of all pop songsmiths since the mostly Jewish professionals were sidelined by rock and other earthier styles which match the genital presentations of various kinds favored over the earlier fun or ballroom styles which emphasized stylish and challenging dance patterns without thrusting the pudenda or the crotch in the eyes of the beholder.”

    BALLROOM styles? Challenging dance patterns????

    …I assume you are doing your best imitation of a clay-eared Colonial Brit looking down spectacles at native curioso.

    But I beseech you to listen, and watch, and think again. Try to imagine America…without….aaah…ghastly thought…without Berry Gordy.

    PLEASE UNDERSTAND THAT BERRY GORDY SAVED THIS COUNTRY FROM DAMNATION and surefire cultural death.

    I am getting upset, against my better judgment. We’ve known each other since 1987. Do you love Obama because he is white? Is that what’s going on? Like Joe Biden, who calls him “clean cut” and “articulate.”

    Please understand that this country IS a black country. In the ways that are significant.

    OK, I’m gonna try to save you from damnation now. Ready?

    For proof of MJ’s fantastic singing, meaning conveying infinite range of emotion and subtext, I guess I would say just listen to “Billie Jean.” Listen to it as a tragic pop song. Try to imagine the meaning of the bassline.

    For proof of early staggering talent and infinite charisma, Google “The Jackson Five on Ed Sullivan.” For proof of MJ’s otherworldly dancing fluidity, (not your “robotic”) watch the video: “You Rock My World,” (has Marlon Brando in it) Also interesting is: “They Don’t Really Care About Us,” which proves that MJ was gorgeous even when he was just kind of darting about and also that his political views were fairly subversive. “Black or White” has a long intro to FF past, but once you’re into it it’s great. Wildly kitschy, bound to cause dyspepsia among the lofty, but I love the cowboys and Indians and kossacks, and the way seems to become part of the wind, motion wise, the way he moves through the landscape. His dancing is just SO ecstatic. I mean it produces ecstasy, as Deeprak Choprah put it.

    And yeah, Beatles were great. But the only MJ songs that really blow are the ones with Paul McCartney on them. They’re banal and syrupy.

  7. Truthseeker Says:

    God, now there is an unhappy Madoffed couple whining on Charlie Rose about how Mr Picard the man in charge of sorting out the Madoff billions (only $1.2 billion rescued so far out of $13.2 billion lost since 1995, says the WSJ today) is not going to give them back any appreciation on their investment of a million and a half, that they scrimped and siphoned off from every other asset they had eg their house, on which they took a second mortgage to get more money to Madoff.

    Apparently despite the fact that they have had since Dec 11 to reassess they don’t seem yet to understand what a Ponzi scheme is, and how it is wound up. Rose of course has nothing intelligent to contribute and doesn’t comfort them in any way, being only interested in how much money they have lost and why they trusted Madoff so much. Seems they had no reason to trust him that reflected any research on their part at all, they just trusted the official watchdogs to do their jobs, and assumed that everyone else had done their due diligence. Just no need for them to do it, even though their life’s savings were in his hands.

    Absolutely no willingness to think or take responsibility for themselves in this respect, double checking their financial trustee. The poor husband has to get back to work, not that that would necessarily be a bad thing, since their idea of retirement is probably to do nothing but visit the doctor. We would never be anything but sympathetic if we met them in person, but privately it is hard to cheer on their whining when they do it on TV.

    There are millions and billions of people who are starving and ill on this planet, and plenty in their own social circles who have lost out in the lottery game of life. There are also plenty of people who will help them, and show them that material security is not everything, and life usually brings back on the roundabouts what it loses on the swings. This psychological collapse because their money has gone seems to ignore the fact that people can be happy on very little money as long as nobody they know is better off, since money based pride and joy is almost all relative.

    Someone should tell them that their money went into the pockets of their fellow investors and that’s who they should look to for reimbursement, making sure that the clawback is as near 100% as possible. Picard is busy suing for more than $10 billion withdrawn in recent years. $142 million in checks has already been mailed to reimburse victims. 10,000 claims have been filed, most of them asking rather insanely for the balance they were shown on their November 2008 accounts. He has said very sensibly he will pay the difference between what people put in and what they took out.

    Now Bernie has got his symbolic 150 years all these folks are very happy, but one wonders if they would be so vengeful if all the money was retrieved and given back to its owners. That is what the clawback should achieve if everyone was honest and sent back everything they drew from Madoff over the years.

  8. Truthseeker Says:

    Justification of MJ worship with examples is fine, Celia, if only we could hear them as you speak. But you ignore what we wrote about black music – the great cultural contribution of America, let’s face it.

    It’s impossible not to put Billie Holliday on music’s Mt Olympus, and Louis Armstrong, and Lester Young, but then you suggest that Michael Jackson should join them? … Give us a break. You seem to be confusing your personal joy in Michael’s moves and music with whether he deserves to be up there with these giants. He is not a pygmy by any means, and achieved great things, but he is not by any stretch of enthusiasm on the right hand of God, as they are.

    On the other hand you are surely right is saying we probably underestimate the joy his dance moves give you and other people who appreciate them more. But we weren’t implying they were not a great success in their own right when we say robotic. We were just referring to the mechanical style, as in man playing machine, which is certainly implied by his jerky movements, as in pause, slide, whiplash, freeze, etc.

  9. MacDonald Says:

    We are amazed that you’ve gotten through this without mentioning James Brown even once. Or Prince. We might be decadent, but his music is sexier in our opinion than Michael Jackson’s. Fortunately Rodgers and Hart and the CIA have all received their due thanks to Pong.

    We kinda like Dirty Diana, though, and we love MJ’s version of Lennon’s Come Together, featured at the end of the movie Moonwalker, where it is also revealed that the Moonwalk, like almost every spectacular dance move, was invented by a black tap dancer in the first half of the last century.

    However, folk songs, both black and white, and what happened to the genre in the sixties, remains closest to the soul.

    TS, in the sphere of art one must be careful to distinguish the essence. The essence of Michael Jackson’s dancing is not robotic, or “man playing machine”. His achievement was to squeeze maximum expression out of every single isolated movement, and his style and choreography evolved to show off that ability. The dance routine became a series of perfect “snapshots”. All great performers have this talent. Is there an implicit nod from MJ to the boogie boys? Sure, this was dance music for the 70s-90s. But there was much more than a nod in Jackson’s style to people such as James Brown and even Elvis Presley. Elvis, being no stellar dancer or singer, in terms of range or volume, nevertheless also had that talent; he could force everything into a single move or note. As Hermes Pan, we think, said of MJ once, “he can do it and you can’t help looking at him” – and loving him one might add.

    Bruce Lee did the same thing with martial arts choregraphy, and practically everything since has been dull.

  10. Truthseeker Says:

    We looked forward to reading two posts by MacD on this topic, only to find they were duplicates. Given the quality of the first, this is disappointing. However, to our sensibilities James Brown is a non starter in almost every parameter of good music, bless his intrepid soul, though he deserves his renown for his star quality and high level of sheer oomph. His music stuttered, more than flowed, with the appeal more percussive than is bearable for a whole LP, or even one side, even though the backup riffs are always excitingly apt and dare we say it, just a teeny bit tongue in cheek, because these guys knew so exactly what they were doing. Let’s face it, black music in America leads the way in inventing rhythmic interest and it must be because its roots in Africa feed it a rich resourcefulness whites cannot often equal, and we thank God for it, since the rhythm is always in the forefront of our attention in popular music.

    We bow to the judgment of anyone who can quote MJ’s version of Come Together, which exposes our ignorance of his music, which comes from not being particularly attracted to even his best work, except briefly. A lot of all our musical responses depend on cultural framing, let’s admit it, and in our case, we never experienced much of the culture which celebrates Brown or Jackson or even Ray Charles, so we are talking from the viewpoint of a visitor from Mars, ie someone who is mainly reacting to the music itself. All we can report is that from this viewpoint Little Richard in Lucille or even Good Golly Miss Molly is still a thousand times more thrilling and satisfying than James Brown’s breathless jerking, and Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On grabs our ears with its sinuous subtlety in a way which leaves poor Michael Jackson outside the brain rather than in it. But then we’ve always thought that Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder were the princes of individual blues/rock who have yet to be dethroned, and that Elvis and Ray Charles are examples of rock/pop greats who just are not worth listening to if you can’t see them.

    But this is a purely musical viewpoint which leaves aside the cultural context and the part of performer personality which doesn’t come through in sound alone. It may explain why we never understood why Prince’s music hasn’t been more celebrated.

    Thanks for the Moonwalking correction, but didn’t Michael Jackson take this to a level that it had never seen before? Who was the original figure? Hard to imagine he did it as well as MJ, who did seem to turn the whole stage into a giant Moon rolling away from his feet as he “walked”.

  11. Celia I. Farber Says:

    See, now the conversation is flowing the right way–toward what IS and away from what is NOT. Mac’s take on it all is as good (ie, to my ear, absolutely true) as anything I’ve read, and expanded my own mind on the matter. And TS’s take on the moonwalk has real moony fluidity and creativity. Don’t think we’re not dwelling on James Brown and Prince btw. I just didn’t want to reveal my late night YouTube solo party, wherein I watched this three times, with escalating marvel:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CoxNzOOoQU

    (It’s James Brown, MJ AND Prince, and all three are simply to die for.)

    Also: “The Ascension of Michael Jackson” is up, at http://www.thetruthbarrier.com, if anybody is interested in more on this subject.

  12. Celia I. Farber Says:

    And what’s so brilliant, as the Brits would say (great bent word which we lack in the US) is that a post that began as another series of cries against the White Man’s World of Madoff, Fauci, Varmus and whoever else it was…winds up at the Apollo with Prince stripping from the waist up and all of us finally abandoning those lofty miseries and talking about things that actually MATTER.

    TS, the thing to do is get your video camera and join us outside the Apollo this afternoon/tonight. You’ll see first hand the MJ phenomenon, and meet great people, and let your hair down a little. We’re also going tomorrow. Seem to have abandoned all our other priorities…

    Just cross the park, to 125th st. I’m waiting for Priscilla and some other Brazilians, and then we head up. Come on, man. SHOE LEATHER.

  13. Celia I. Farber Says:

    I mentioned the video of “You Rock My World,” which you can see here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TtFn424lJyI

    I think the mesmerizing quality of this, admittedly kitschy, yet wonderful, video, is the thin or non existent line between “dance” and not dance. As you can see in movies like The Godfather, which this video pays homage to– some people, in some settings, seem to be moving in a fluent choreographed way that contains (as per MacD) more meaning, more compression. So much so that you have to say it is closer to dance than to ordinary motion.

    (Women today are hard pressed to admit we long to witness a good barfight but are perpetually denied.)

  14. Celia I. Farber Says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8k0GZaPPkf4&feature=channel

    Not sure why some versions of this have 12 million view and others have 100, but on the off chance there’s a reason, here it is again. (above)

  15. Truthseeker Says:

    The vulgar (with implied quick screw) You Rock My World (official full intro version, the rest ruin it with cuts) may rock yours, which establishes its high worth for sure, but the only thing we dig about it is the heart thumping bass line. MichaelJ’s dance moves remain as sterile as ever to our eye, same same same, shoulder shifts, head shifts (like some chicken back and forth), endless spins (seen one seen ’em all), moving one from cocky sihouette to another, hat touching pose after pose, the lack of emotional meaning almost blaring at you after a while, all posture and no content.

    But we love the bass player. Bring him on again, he adds all the atmosphere is the world. He is bad. He is funky. He rolls. On and on and on – that’s the mesmerizing heartbeat of this video for us. The staging is just hokey fun.

    Actually we think the bass line in You Rock My World is better than the great steam locomotive one in Billy Jean, which he himself said was the reason he wrote the whole song – to get one with a really good bass line.

    But we would take the Motown styled 1970 One More Chance from the Ed Sullivan Show (with ABC) or ABC over all of these because the singing soars to the heavens instead of being mostly panting and high pitched whining, cos Michael as little kid really belted it out, and the dancing is much sexier and more fun by all of them because it is isn’t jerky but genuinely rhythmic – like the bass lines were later – and aimed more at connecting with the audience rather than being essentially narcissistic in flash poses. Good example of how all the good values were replaced by weak substitutes is the update of the same song, One More Chance At Love

    But we realize that saying that Michael Jackson has any flaws is like standing in from of a herd of stampeding buffalo suggesting they go in the opposite direction.

    And saying that any music is not supreme when millions of people love it is probably wrong by definition. We happen to think the same kind of thing about the bombastic Wagner – that he is thin on harmonic interest and people who stand on chairs at home conducting his operas are a little screwy – and it can’t be completely true, can it? Or that Gershwin’s orchestral works are worth less than his pop songs? That’s the view from Mars, anyway.

    But hey, as we said, we are not going take Bad off unless it repeats more than once. We always like the rhythms.

  16. Baby Pong Says:

    Celia and TS,

    I think the two of you, certainly TS but I don’t know about Celia, are under the impression that the only thing the world media lies about is Hiv/Aids. Not true. About as far from the truth as it’s possible to be. The media lie about everything that could negatively affect the power elite. When they don’t outright lie, they limit revelations so as to limit damage.

    Here are a few stories that you won’t find in the pop media, detailing how US covert agencies play a hidden role fomenting events such as Iran’s recent demonstrations; also in the similar scenarios that played out in Ukraine and other countries:

    Has the U.S. Played a Role in Fomenting Unrest During Iran’s Election? http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=14095

    Ahmadinejad Won: The Real Source of Interference in the Iran Elections was the US http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=14141

    Iranian Elections: The ‘Stolen Elections’ Hoax
    http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=14018

    Color Revolutions, Old and New.
    http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=14168

    Iranian Interior Minister: Western Intelligence Behind Riots And Unrest http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=14091

  17. Baby Pong Says:

    TS wrote: “But you ignore what I wrote about black music – the great cultural contribution of America, let’s face it.”

    We don’t think we will face this. Black music was one of the great cultural contributions, but not the only one. Musical comedy was also a great contribution.

    As for Michael Jackson, we have managed to ignore him for the last 30 years or so, though we were aware of the Jackson 5 when we were younger, and liked some of what they did. Viewing some of these old videos on the net now, we can see that MJ was indeed talented, and entertaining. But one video of “Dangerous” perhaps pointed to his shortcomings: the dancing was wonderful and funny, reminiscent of Bob Fosse’s dances in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” but melody seemed missing. All we heard was rhythm, until finally, after several minutes, a forgettable melody occurred. Perhaps if MJ had had Rodgers and Hart writing for him he might have done better.

    What’s more interesting about the recent celebrity deaths, and more relevant, is the fact that both MJ and Farrah Fawcett presumably had health insurance, or enough money that they didn’t need it, and died, most likely, from the effects of allopathic pharmaceutical drugs that our government is now trying to force us all to consume.

    Abaham Linculm the 2nd, as TS views him, Obama the Terrible as perhaps the rest of us will soon view him, promised that, unlike Hillary, he would never “force” citizens to buy health insurance. He is now about to break that promise, according to recent indications. He says that his thinking on that issue has “evolved.” (perhaps he could have also said it “mutated” like some unnamed virus). Obama is poised to sign a bill that “mandates” that every citizen buy health insurance, including those citizens who don’t believe that dying from chemotherapy and radiation, in the process giving most of their life savings to the medical-pharma-insurance industry instead of to their beloved heirs, is such a hot idea.

    People who believe in treating ills with Chinese, Ayurvedic, Homeopathic or Naturopathic medicine will be forced to spend a large part of their incomes on insurance that only covers toxic pharma drugs that destroy the natural immune system and damage the liver, heart and other organs, in the process killing hundreds of thousands (millions, if we talk internationally) of people every year. After they pay for their mandatory health insurance they will have little money left to buy the gentle medicines and vitamins that they prefer — if they are even available, which is unlikely, as Pharma is also using its influence to increasingly make them illegal and unavailable, making heavy use of rigged research by its flunkies in the “research community” to convince people that they are ineffective, even dangerous.

    The media abet these efforts with their continuous censorship of contrary information and opposing viewpoints, and repeat the big lie that “the medical system” has to be reformed. But medicine isn’t a system, it’s a business. And stealing away people’s freedom of choice isn’t “reform,” it’s tyranny.

    Meanwhile, there are natural cancer cures, as simple as Vitamin D, sodium bicarbonate, laetrile, hydrogen peroxide, but they are made illegal and information censored because they threaten Pharma profits.

    Teddy Kennedy likely had a brain tumor because of the side effects of anti-cholesterol medication he was taking, according to Byron Richards, nutritionist. How ironic that Kennedy, who we used to respect, now wants to “mandate” that the rest of us meet a fate similar to his.

    Lots of celebs die every year. If you look more deeply at their deaths, in many or most cases you find that Pharma treatments that were supposed to save them, didn’t, in fact might very well have done them in.

    That’s the lesson we should take from MJ’s death. We need mass demonstrations here against our own rigged elections — rigged by the Bilderberg elite who hand-pick all the candidates, and who are now trying to force us all into the arms of the Pharma killing machine that they are major shareholders in. All in the guise of “liberal compassion.”

  18. Truthseeker Says:

    Hold on, Pong, let’s pause for reassessment here, a balanced perspective, even though we share your suspicions that pharma drugs have gone way over the line in being delivered in excessive and damaging amounts to the US population, examples of which we see every day on the television set, culminating in the death of Jackson, in all probability, something which the media, who you say mislead us constantly on this topic, are onto, by the way, and constantly mention. In his case, his painkillers were surely mandated by his insane attempts to change his features into white from his originally rather splendid black ones, in which he wrecked his face and amazingly drained it of plumpness as he reduced it to a crumbling ruin sometimes masked by a flu mask but always our chief concern when we watched him – there seemed to be a chance that it would all fall off on camera – so that it was almost impossible to enjoy his music.

    Yes, the drug delivery system has evidently gone way overboard in marketing drugs in this land, helped by the health insurance scheme and Medicare. When we see on the evening news, for example, a picture of how a certain elderly couple can’t pay their bills, as we did last night, catching up on ABC for the last month, it is astonishing how a sum of $360 or somesuch will be included in their monthly expenses, nondiscretionary, of course. They can hardly scrape together the money to buy food and they spend $360 on drugs.

    On the other hand, we also saw a remarkable account of how a little boy’s legs slowly became stiff for some unknown reason that put him in braces and eventually in a wheelchair, and all the docs concluded he was incurable, but his frantic and determined mother scoured the Internet and found mention of a very rare ailment, persuaded the chief medical authority in the specialty to give the medicine to her boy even though he didn’t have all the symptoms, and wouldya believe it, the little terror is now running around sinking shots in basketball hoops with the best of his schoolmates, who when he arrived back in school walking were amazed, in fact, he was the sensation of the first day of school – “he’s walking! He’s walking!”

    I saw all this on TV, which you will surely agree, is media.

    So where is the dividing line between good and bad in pharma drugs? That is the question. And how to draw it. At the moment we are inclined to avoid all of them. We believe that food probably contains all the restoratives most people need. Oprah recently featured David Duncan, the billionaire who believes in eating nothing but fruit and vegetables, with a little cheese and fish, and is a very spry 85.

    I saw that on TV too. I don’t know why you think the media isn’t onto this. There is a lot of propaganda against drugs on the main networks.

    We just received a copy of Noreen Martin’s book “Perfect Immunity Against Disease: Nature’s Secrets to Health and Longevity – You Can Live to be 100!”, which is a very thorough compendium of alternatives in food and action to commercial substances of the pharma kind, written up with the sweeping conviction and dedication of someone who speaks from personal experience in liberating herself from the system with great success.

    It is one example, and a good one, of how this alternative information is readily available all over to anyone who cares to listen and read, enlivened by enthusiasts who have found it answers basic needs while drugs often cause more problems than they solve. Michael Jackson’s fate will help bring home this lesson, particular the problem of unpredictable side effects caused by using too many at the same time. All the expert commentators are making this point on screen.

    No, the media are carrying quite a lot of propaganda against the pharma industry now, not just PBS or Harpers.

    But if Obama forces us to get medical insurance to pay only for pharma drugs, we will no longer be dazzled by his halo. This is a free country, and all threats to free choice in medicine are unAmerican by definition. How about the international trade agreement being ratified which will disallow free purchase of vitamin supplements? You mean Obama won’t interfere with that? Surely he will. Michelle is growing vegetables – we assume organic.

    As far as musical comedy goes, to imagine that it rates on the same level as black music, particulkarly jazz by the greats, seems wrong. Perhaps you mean Cole Porter, Alec Wilder, George Gershwin et al and their songs, which we can see are celestial classics, long may they live. But to say they are the greatest contribution is like saying Chopin is the equal of Beethoven in achievement. Jazz is a river Amazon of creativity that will flow ever wider and deeper into the sea of the History of Music (block that metaphor – Ed.) whereas these producers of musical jewels have Alas! never spawned progeny, which is one of the greatest sadnesses of music. What a horrifying possibility it is that the young brought up on JZ and Beyonce will never even hear these works.

  19. cervantes Says:

    TS, I am flabbergasted with your opinion that the mass/mainstream media gives fair coverage to the side(s) of nutrition and rejection of all the hundreds of promoted, synthesized, poisonous drugs broadcast endlessly on TV/radio/newspapers.

    For instance, who has ever read anything in the New York Times, or heard on National Public Radio, NPR (a shill for Herr Fauci if there ever was one), or anything close on mainstream media the thoughts of Dr. Gary Null, and the plethora of worldwide, eminent scientists that denounce the “hiv” hypothesis of “Aids?”

    Obama clearly has no clue as to Big Pharma guiding and misleading the People and Himself; and his new personal pick of health adviser in the White House, Dr. Harold Varmus, tells all.

    Obama is clearly ignorant of how Pharma Industry has taken over in grand style – in complete contrast to the solitary example of the only national leader of sanity (in the concocted World of Aids), the very recently former President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki.

    TS, or anybody, is there any hint that Obama is not in bed (or ignorant) of Big Pharma’s endless productions of poisons – and their $Hundreds of $Billions revenues per year?

  20. Truthseeker Says:

    Not sure we said “fair” coverage, but the topic of the dangers of drug prescriptions is often in the headlines these days, and once again Jackson brings it to the fore. What is interesting is the psychological wedding of doctors and their female congregation, such that one can point out to an intelligent, older woman suffering severely under drug prescriptions that maybe she should get a second and third opinion, and look into healthy nourishing foods as more beneficial a priori than most drugs, and she simply exhibits the Arthur Ashe syndrome ie “what you say I am sure is true, but I have entrusted myself personally to my doctor, and he has taken responsibility for my care, I have to trust him.”

    In other words, there is a certain priestly element in a doctor’s care which ties patients to them, and anyway patients can’t really sort out modern medicine on their own. If they just read the list of possible side effects of almost any drug they realize how dependent they are on the expertise of the doctor, and that they have no way of finding their own way short of rejecting drugs completely. Medicine is drowning in complexity and information no practitioner has time to absorb, but patients cant really do it on their own any better on the Web. They have to get a second opinion, and choose their care carefully, or go alternative. HIV/AIDS is an excellent litmus test of how enlightened and well researched a doctor is, and in our experience it reveals that almost all of them aren’t, however expensive they are.

    Harold Varmus may have no clear idea why HIV/AIDS is incorrect, since our impression is that he and his peers are not really up to grasping the arguments fully for reasons including they do not think they are worth grasping, a priori, and secondly, they really don’t seem intellectually up to it, at least not while they are in a condition of social mental paralysis, and probably even when out of it. You can judge that for yourselves by reading the embarrassingly weak arguments they advanced against Duesberg in Science, where the exchange was cut off before he could properly defeat them. Varmus is an incredibly agreeable man but not a very sharp analyst by any means, which you can judge by reading his book, partly because he is such a very agreeable man. Disagreeably skeptical men don’t get to be head of NIH, they get marginalized, like Duesberg, for making everyone uncomfortable.

    It is up to those who think Obama is not wise to the questionable virtue of the megapharmacy that US medicine has become outside surgery to get through to him or his staff. But we very much doubt he doesn’t see generally what is going on, since the headlines have often featured the danger of drugs in the past year.

    Whether he will ever be made aware of the tumor the drug industry has become on AIDS is another question, since it is internal to the system, and endemic. We fondly believe the world awaits a memo, Op Ed piece or book that will do the political job, but the question is who is going to write it?

    Who will put his head in the lion’s mouth, when thirty predecessors have been eaten alive?

  21. Celia I. Farber Says:

    First thing I want to say is that I don’t think one can “know” anything for sure via The Internet. One must experience directly, to know something. I do not know the truth about Iran. I am not there and don’t have access to the dozens or hundreds of Iranian people from all factions of society I would need to listen to before I could even begin to form a picture. CIA foments unrest, and meddles to shocking degrees, clearly, in international strategic interests. Bien sur.

    But one must also permit other nations to be something other than US puppets. This is my problem with the “it’s the CIA” argument. It actually erases everything that is “not us,” just like an infant grasps only its own body, feels its toes, etc, until it develops further and realizes there is world and other people outside its own body.

    In Hungary ’56, a genuine street revolution broke out against Soviet occupation. It was led by workers and students. Cast as a “white fascist coup” by the Western communist left, it was also NOT exploited by the anti-communist CIA. Instead, the US refused to send in help of any kind and left the Hungarians to be slaughtered in the streets by the Soviets. And Soviet satellite communism held up for another 43 years in Europe. So what does this prove? We stand for nothing, obviously, except self-interest. Kind of like every other nation I can think of. In addition, we’re sissies. Our foreign policies are beyond incoherent but if you want to start to make heads or tails out of it, the two operative words are BUFFERS and RESOURCES. The latter is what drives HIV/AIDS. Actually both.

    Pong, does your rightful and profound suspicion of CIA preclude mendacity on the part of Iran’s leaders? Are they like…great guys, misunderstood, and I just don’t know it?

    Does our abjection of Oogo Chavez mean that in fact he’s not the megalomaniacal thug suggested by his actions? Does it mean that the millions of Venzualans who hate him are part of the elites and/or influenced by the CIA? But then how is it that the ALL these “democracy” movements (the quotation marks are for you, not for me) are driven by primarily students, and what seems to be…ordinary people?

    I’m talking about binary argumentation. If this then that. The hopelessly choking leftist tradition of sanctifying and blessing any US enemy. I am an anarchist so I don’t have this kind of wiring in my brain. I look at left wing fascism and right wing fascism as being of identical moral depravity. Ditto Islamic fascism, which I know little about, as I have not traveled in the regions that would help me to know anything first hand.

    I know what went down in former Czechloslovakia in 1989 because I was there. I know what happened in Hungary 56 because our close family friend was stationed there, a North Korean, and led a faction of the uprising, before fleeing to Austria and finally coming to the US. Through him, I know two more North Koreans who also escaped and lived to tell. They (all three) reunited at my father’s home two years ago. Their reasons for joining the Hungarian students were not entirely altruistic. They knew that just for having WITNESSED this, they’d be sentenced to labor camps for life in North Korea, so they made quick decisions.

    I know we betrayed and abandoned the Hungarians. I know their fight was necessary and just and brave. It laid the cornerstone for the final collapse of communism.

    Can a stopped clock be right twice a day?

    Can the US be a moral sinkhole AND at the same time, can democracy movements that happen to coincide with US interests be organic and real?

    This is my question.

    BP, I checked out the Global Research link. Much to ponder. Who are they funded by?

    You’re not right that I think media distortion is limited to HIV/AIDS. It’s comprehensive, as far as I can tell.

  22. Truthseeker Says:

    Another whistleblower, an agency lawyer in the SEC, warned that Madoff was probably a scam but was ignored in 2004. Her superior subsequently married in the Madoff family:

    SEC Investigator Warned of Madoff – Agency Lawyer Noticed Irregularities As Far Back As 2004, but Was Told To Focus on Mutual Fund Probe – (Washington Post) This story was written by Zachary A. Goldfarb
    Genevievette Walker-Lightfoot, a lawyer in the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations, sent e-mails to a supervisor, saying information provided by Madoff during her review didn’t add up and suggesting a set of questions to ask his firm, documents show. Several of these questions directly challenged Madoff activities that much later turned out to be elements of his massive fraud.

    But with the agency under pressure to look for wrongdoing in the mutual fund industry, she wasn’t able to continue pursuing Madoff, according to documents and two people familiar with the investigation, and her team soon concluded its work on the probe.

    Walker-Lightfoot’s supervisors on the case were Mark Donohue, then a branch chief in her department, and his boss, Eric Swanson, an assistant director of the department, said two people familiar with the investigation. Swanson later married Madoff’s niece, and their relationship is now under review by the agency’s inspector general, who is examining the SEC’s handling of the Madoff case.

  23. Sadun Kal Says:

    Hmm… I didn’t get that decision to remove my comment Truthseeker. Was the problem the first part, the second part or the third part of my comment? It’s probably not the MJ part, but I hope it wasn’t the first part either. That would’ve been kind of ugly I guess.

  24. Truthseeker Says:

    Sadun the Comment was removed in error in a too rapid erase counterattack against the Amoxycillin spammer. Very regrettable. Unless you care to put it up again, we will replace it as soon as the slow feed of Comments to our email brings it through. Many apologies.

    Celia has written two broadsides against Michael Jackson myopia at The Truth Barrier, which we have yet to read through properly, but hope she mentioned the disgraceful treatment he got from the grubby Fleet Street grad Martin Bashir who now heads ABC Nightline.

    Interviewers who win the trust of people they interview and win some ruinous confidence from, who know every well what they are doing when they then put the damaging quote in headlines, are very low creatures.

    The oily Martin Bashir was a scoundrel of the first order for broadcasting Michael Jackson’s innocent enthusiasm about sleepovers with young children and bringing the media mob and the lynch mob onto him, including the court case which actually exonerated him. Of course no one behaves as if that was a valid judgment, and condemns Jackson anyway. The quote was enough to condemn Jackson in the eyes of most of the world.

    Bashir must have known better but his career came first, of course. Meanwhile, in schools all over America there is condemnation of hugs – even between children themselves!!

    Say No to Hug Nazis! Enough of Hugsteria!

  25. Truthseeker Says:

    The 1996 They Dont Care About Us sounds like a piledriver rhythm section success in a short clip from Jackson’s last rehearsal, on Tuesday afternoon, two days before his death, and his dancing seems as good as ever, if not better. The prison version of They Don’t Care About Us shows how his singing became so truncated and excised of any extended notes that all was subsumed in the rhythm section.

    There are two more albums and a documentary which will come from the 200 hours of video shot, they say.

    Meanwhile the sheer nastiness of the media comes out in the snake like bitterness of the announcer who spits out the introduction to a Sky News update. The Brits are totally without compunction in painting a sorry portrait of human weakness among stars and celebrities if they possibly can.

    The drug involved was Propanol (CH3CH2CH2OH, “Propofol (2,6-diisopropylphenol, Diprivan) is a very popular intravenous agent used both for the induction and the maintenance of anaesthesia in human and veterinary patients as well as in laboratory animals”), which he used as a sleeping draught. His nurse tried to block him using it. She showed him the PDF entry on Diprivan (its trade name) and said he might not wake up if he used it to knock himself out.

    Maybe she should have shown him the patent application Short-acting sedative hypnotic agents for anesthesia and sedation United States Patent 7514425:

    Propofol, 2,6-diisopropylphenol, (Diprivan® Injectable Emulsion, AstraZeneca) is an injectable anesthetic that has hypnotic properties. It can be used to induce and maintain general anesthesia and for sedation. Although propofol is a widely-used anesthetic, its usefulness is somewhat limited due to its long and unpredictable post infusion duration of action. This unpredictable duration of action leads to irregular and often long patient recovery times that are undesirable.

    It is a sad thing that the most energetic performer and dancer of our time, perhaps any time, suffered an infinite patient recovery time of maximum undesirability, courtesy of Abbott Labs.

  26. Truthseeker Says:

    CSPAN2 reveals by carrying a Nashville book reading that Marvelyn Brown a charmingly beautiful and (HIV) positive black girl is going around as the (co) author of The Naked Truth: Young Beautiful and (HIV) Positive and giving advice to the public about how to handle being HIV positive.

    “It’s really about self love, ” she says. “I am really happy that HIV came into my life. Not having self love is a disease in itself. A lot more worse things come into your life than HIV.” However, she admits that “I have to take seven horse pills each day of my life. That’s what they are, horse pills, very large. They really do make me sick to my stomach. Diarrhea. Everything you can imagine.”

    “Peer to peer education is very important, ” she says, in warning young people against HIV and how to avoid it. Abstinence is unrealistic. “Sex has been around for ever. We are sexual beings. I wasn’t told about the dangers of getting HIV. Abstinence is great but they are having sex.” She gives talks to schools and “they come to me afterwards and said You made HIV real for me. And that’s all I want to do.

    “One of my ultimate dreams is to go back to school. Education is key, people. I didn’t mean to make you all cry.”

    How about dating and sex? she is asked. She never stopped dating, she says, and always tells a man upfront she has HIV. She gets emotional very fast, she says, and would be hurt if a man rejected her later. “As far as sex,” she says, “this is my theory of sex. People with HIV stress is the killer. And sex relieves stress. I do protect myself. You can get herpes, and other diseases. Sex is a dangerous thing,”

    Marvelyn now lives in Brooklyn, where you can “blend in.” Estimate her shiny lipped beauty and learn that 14,000 people get infected with HIV every day in the world and more at her site. She is a CEO and consultant for Marvelys Connections, a consulting firm.

    The audience is entirely African American except for a couple of middle aged white gay men. A fat mama in the audience with orange hair says “I just want to congratulate you for being a big strong mama and I dont know if I could do what you do every day just remember it is not over till God say it’s over.”

    Question for knowitalls who are aware that the best science would inform her that she should stop taking horse pills that make her sick to her stomach, scrap her book tour and write another, indignant complaint that she was misled by profiteering white men.

    Would you give in to the urge to enlighten her at her book reading, when would you speak up, and what would you say?

    “In addition to being a public speaker, advocate, author and CEO, Brown is an avid fan of Trader Joe’s frozen shrimp primavera, prefers to wear True Religion denim and has a slight addiction to stilettos, with over 100 pair.”

    “Marvelyn Brown, a 25-year-old native Tennessean, was diagnosed with HIV at the age of 19. Since then, she has moved both live and television audiences around the globe with her compelling personal story. In the past five years, Brown has spoken at hundreds of colleges, universities, churches and conferences worldwide. Her autobiography The Naked Truth: Young, Beautiful and (HIV) Positive (Amistad/HarperCollins, $14.95), which chronicles these times, was published in August 2008 and currently has 25,000 books in print. Not too shabby for a paperback. The success of this book has prompted her to continue writing as she is currently working on her second non-fiction book.

    Brown has also made a huge impact on television shows, radio programs and print media— The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Tyra Banks Show, CNN’s Black In America, America’s Next Top Model, CBS’s The Early Show, numerous BET Rap It Up and MTV’s Staying Alive programming, The Tavis Smiley Show, The Tom Joyner Morning Show, The Michael Baisden Show, Newsweek, U.S. News and Report, Fortune 500, Ebony, Black Beat and Essence. She has even graced the covers A&U, POZ and The Ave. In 2007, Brown’s hard work was awarded—she, along with directors Joel Schumacher and Elizabeth Rohrbaugh won the Emmy for Outstanding National Public Service Announcement for MTV Think. In addition to these accomplishments she was featured in the ambitious woman section of savvymiss.com and the National Association of People With AIDS presented Marvelyn with the Tarsha Durhant Positive Youth Leadership Award and she also received the Courage Under Fire Award from Choice USA.”

    This is mentioned as merely an example of how far and deep and well watered the roots of the misapprehension have penetrated the foundation of society, and how absurd it is even to attempt to counter it on an individual basis.

    In this case, even if Marvelyn became convinced that HIV was not after all the key to her (ill) health, would she have any motivation at all to change the topic of her speaking tours?

    It would not, after all, supply any dollars to add to her collection of 100 high heels.

  27. Carter Says:

    Truth,
    Speaking of Marvelyn here just goes to show that she’s just one among the hundreds of believers, or rather as I call them, lost souls, who are so ever entrenched in a dead and dying paradigm. Take for example, Justin B. Smith; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7xQqFqWwEo whom I’ve been following for a couple of years. It never ceases to amaze me why such people want to so desperately cling to such crap. AIDS as a social cause, i.e., “I’m sick and dying, so therefore, I must inform” is the real disease.

    In the case of Justin’s youtube HIV journal, the gathering of dissenters on youtube have many times tried to get through to him, but to no avail and I’m duly amazed as to why this happens. The only plausible answer I can come up with is it’s got to be that HIV is now and ever shall be, a religion.

  28. Baby Pong Says:

    Celia, certainly we don’t think the Iranian leaders are swell guys. Although we used to be a leftist, we don’t think the communists are virtuous altruistic heroes either, with possible exceptions like Ho Chi Minh, who apparently lived a life of self denial, but we haven’t studied him enough to even be sure of that.

    We intensely dislike Islam, but then, we also intensely dislike Judaism and Christianity. They are all just systems by which the elite control the masses and keep them focused on having treasure in the afterlife, so that they can steal all their money in this meaningless earthly existence. The only true religion, in our view, is Wicca, which worships nature, the only thing worth worshipping.

    There’s an expression we’ve been meaning to publish for some time, so we may as well do it here. “There is no communism. There is no capitalism. There is only corruptionism.”

    Whatever ideals world leaders of either stripe might actually possess (or simply profess), once they achieve power, move into their mansions, and start eating those five-star dinners every night, their ideals quickly mutate into simple personal ambition, and they start socking away taxpayers’ money, kickbacks, etc. into their Cayman Islands bank accounts. We think this is pretty universal, although details differ. In the US, actual embezzlement and kickbacks are probably rare, but what ex-health secretary with any sense is going to turn down the directorships that are offered to him by the Pharma companies that he directed massive business to when he was in public service?

    As for CIA and democracy movements driven primarily by students, Cia has a long history of infiltrating student movements so they could direct them. In the US they did it with the National Student Association and through sponsored “leftists” like Allard Lowenstein and Gloria Steinem. They have a habit of taking control of fledgling movements so they can influence them toward their own aims.

    Many leftist intellectuals and organizations are suspected of being run by the agency, through conduits such as foundations. These include ZNet, Pacifica, and others. There used to be a website that gave detailed info about their suspicious funding, but it seems to have disappeared. But we just found some of the info that used to be on the “left gatekeepers” site, on another site: http://www.freedomfightersforamerica.com/yahoo_site_admin/assets/images/left_gatekeepers.145152655_std.gif

    The purpose of the agency running supposedly independent “left” organizations and intellectuals is to set acceptable parameters of debate for leftists, much the way the pop media do the same thing for the sheeple. And to exclude certain points of view as unthinkable. By focusing on a lot of the blood and gore that Uncle Sam and the pop media sweep under the carpet, they gain credibility when they deny even worse crimes — crimes and lies so atrocious that they could lead to world revolution — Hiv-Aids being a prime example. The left intellectuals censor the Hiv dissident point of view totally.

    We often link to Global Research stories but frankly we are quite suspicious of the site. Who funds them, indeed? Of course they incessantly ask readers to “donate.” That’s a standard part of the act for such organizations. There are a lot of left gatekeepers writing articles there. Recently they even published an unedited press release from the notorious Rockefeller Foundation. http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=14192 Still, a lot of interesting points of view can be read there.

  29. Baby Pong Says:

    TS, we hardly think that the media’s pointing out that MJ died from pharma drugs constitutes criticism of pharma. At best, it constitutes endorsement of the principle that you should always take pharma drugs only as prescribed by doctors and obey their instructions — hence it is an endorsement of the med establishment. MJ may have been going way overboard with the drugs. But our criticism is that hundreds of thousands of people apparently croak every year, from properly prescribed and administered drugs. And why did the FDA wait several decades before acting on the liver toxicity of low, easily exceeded doses of acetominophen, when this information has been known and discussed by the alternative health people for many years?

    Where is the investigation by the supposedly pharma-criticizing media of Farrah Fawcett’s properly prescribed and medically supervised treatment and its results?

    TS, ever since you adjusted your security settings, we usually cannot login or post with our favored browsers, Opera and Firefox. We can only seem to post with IE, which we detest, strive to boycott, and which crashes our computer. Can’t you do something about this?

  30. Truthseeker Says:

    Humble apologies, Pong, we will have to update the WordPress software and see if that will cure the problem you are having, though it doesn’t seem likely to be related to us, since the adjustment was only small, and as you can see, utterly useless in combating the amoxycillin spam bots.

    So McNamara died and even though he saw the errors of his ways they still condemn him utterly for sacrificing the lives of young and bewildered Americans for plans based on ignorance of other nations, especially those we fought against. The sheer stupidity of sacrificing so much in an unexamined cause is astonishing – would McNamara have taken up selling Fords in Peru without finding out something about Peruvians?

    This is one huge asset of Obama’s – experience living abroad.

  31. MacDonald Says:

    The Beltway Blog Host’s parsimonious journalistic style reassures us that every rational person reading this blog knows that by “they” is always meant the liberal mainstream media and other endlessly grudge-holding leftists.

    The “unexamined cause” is of course freedom, democracy and self-determination, which McNamara’s ignorance of other nations’ self-evident ignorance prevented him from realising they weren’t prepared for yet, just as the Peruvians might not be prepared for the blessings of Ford.

    Ah, the sheer well-meaning stupidity of overestimating the perpetual savages! Will Noble Nations ever receive the gratitude of equals? We used to doubt it. Fortunately, the Free World now has a Preznit who is above and beyond all that; who is living proof that savages can be noble and still understand the mind of other savages. Obama’s transcendent strategy in Afghanistan, coupled with his merciful and forgiving attitude towards American war crimes still in progress, is assuredly the Pearly Gate to the Age of Aquarius, where the Noble shall lie himself down with the savage in all his splendid otherness, and neither shall eat the other.

  32. Truthseeker Says:

    MacD, we discern a significant lack of respect and trust in your uncomprehending dismissal of the great qualities of mind and character of our multicultural and multiracial Leader, especially his courageous effort to keep the Taliban from retaking Afghanistan and once again providing a launching platform for more 9/11s against the Great Democracy which is lucky enough to have him as Leader. Is not the splendidly thoughtful and charismatic Obama the one man we can count on in finding our way in the Fog of confusion and complexity that is modern domestic and international politics, now that the Pandora’s box of individual empowerment in information and arms has been opened, and the demons of nuclear spread and terrorism have been unleashed, unstoppable by conventional soldiers and weapons?

    Clearly it is time for a post on the remarkably swift progress made to date under his hand on almost every front. But before we do, let’s be clear on one point. You suggest that the United States should withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, and leave it to the anti democratic religious tyranny of the worst gang of thieves ever to blight that fair nation, the cretins who demolished the great statues of Bamiyan (Taliban-destroyed Buddhas may never be restored)? The same ignorant numbskulls who attack schoolgirls with acid on their way to school?

    We prefer to think of our brave soldiers in Afghanistan as holding back the tide of tyranny and exploitation of Islamic primitivism in the hope that one day the country can breathe free as a true democracy where religious and cultural foolishness is prevented from imprisoning half the nation and miring the rest in squalor. We don’t really think that Osama Bin Laden needs the Taliban to launch 9/11s against the US, but anything that crimps his style is OK with us.

    Are these attitudes too red blooded for you? Are you honestly suggesting that the United States be allowed to use almost a third of the world’s natural resources annually and not do its bit in policing the world and kicking out tyrants wherever they are found?

    While we admire your distaste for violence and collateral damage involving the lives of families who have nothing to do with the fighting, surely you must agree that there is a point where violence must be met with violence if the whole facade of civilization is not to crumble into a new era where every other nation is taken over by gangs who will get their hands on nukes? This is the 21st Century problem. How are you suggesting we solve it?

  33. MacDonald Says:

    You have quite misunderstood me, Sir!

    I think the US should use 1/3 of the world’s resources and 2/3 of the world’s nuclear arsenal to wipe off the map every other nation that is taken over by rogue hill tribes propped up by.. ermm well, the US. But never mind, we trust Obama’s radically new approach to freedom bombs will achieve just that.

    So far His radical new approach to civil liberties has established that He has the power to imprison indefinitely anyone accused of terrorism even if s/he has already been found not guilty in a court of law.

    That is definitely a step in the right direction. The next would be to declare there is no such thing as collateral damage in any nation that allows rogue hill tribes to take them over. It’s just like rape; can we really believe it was entirely involuntary? I’m sure you agree, where there is doubt, throw the acid.

  34. Truthseeker Says:

    You misunderstand us, Sir. We are asking your advice in a genuinely humble manner, since we are embedded not in the Beltway but in the Beltway manner of thinking, still, after all our efforts over the years of trying to free ourselves from the brainwashing induced by British prep and public schools, rigorous Scottish economic and philosophical training, Fleet Street financial rags and later Time Inc. a very fine institution of privilege and decency in the oligarchical tradition that unfortunately allowed itself to be taken over first by a Hollywood jackass and then by a Internet jackass, and only got rid of that financial tumor recently ie far too late to revive the proper elitist values of yore, including button down shirts, tweed coats etc.

    For example, in the last few hours in the Pakistani region South Waziristan American drone missiles killed at least 45 militants and in the Swat valley the Pakistani army managed to wound an obnoxious Taliban commander of the interesting name Baluna Bazoola (sp?) known for burning down girls schools and decapitating rivals in an attempt to impose extreme Shariah law there.

    Are you suggesting that this goes too far in attempting to impose Western values on this ancient civilization and its recent rogue takeover specialists who are trying to take it into a different direction? Should we meekly accept this hijacking of a fine population, one of the best looking in the world, which is an important criterion by the way, and its descent into female slavery and barbarism?

    If so, what on earth are all these expensive weapons for? Presumably not for prolonging the Cold War, which is officially over despite Mr. Putin’s childish petulance at not being taken sufficiently seriously by Clinton and Bush.

    Drones are for surgical strikes against nut cases who try to take over vulnerable undeveloped nations in our care before we can teach them how to be democracies in the proper manner prescribed by the most successful democracy of all, the United States of America, of which we are very proud, since sooner or later we prosecute and imprison any person who interferes with our voting system, or tries to take over in some unconstitutional way.

    Our example inspires billions around the world to look forward to the day when their own tyrants can be overthrown in the American manner, and the whole point of drones and other armaments is to give them a foretaste of this delightful experience where arms are put in the service of the political dream of Everyman, and rescue them from any uppity local brigands who might use violence and religion to halt the flow of Progress.

    Are you saying that you agree that America should not have intervened in the Rwanda massacre? If so, do you have any idealism left in you which has survived the cowardly terror of standing up for what is right ie freedom and democracy?

    It is time to agree that America’s role in the future should be activist in holding back the barbarian tendencies in the human soul which are so easily twisted by demagogues into genocide and terrorism in which innocent people get killed because the international community will not intervene.

  35. MacDonald Says:

    And on that note we agree that surgically striking drones, indefinite imprisonment and a voracious appetite for state propaganda are Democracy’s most important assets. But now we must turn to Sean Hannity for a less simplified and caricatured picture of reality than the one presented on this political blog. We hope to return with renewed insight into the heart and soul of the Afghan and Pakistani hill tribe nut cases, as well as the immense importance of swatting them in the valley of same name, now part of the sadly undeveloped nuclear nation of Pakistan, whose previous military dictator was once our bestest friend in the whole wide world.

  36. Truthseeker Says:

    We will challenge Sean Hannity anytime on the sublime goals of simplification and caricature, which are the only way any point can get across in this great democracy with all its cacophony of individual viewpoints on almost any topic, however trivial, which the ten year reign of the Web has now revealed as largely worthless, because mostly narrow, thoughtless, spontaneous, emotional and uninformed and unable to comprehend the totality of war in the 21st Century, which Robert McNamara has told us is too complicated for any of us to understand.

    War is so complex it’s beyond the ability of the human mind to comprehend. Our judgment, our understanding, are not adequate. And we kill people unnecessarily.”

    So once again you are unable to commit yourself to any stand of any kind even on genocide? Stand up, and stand for, or you stand still.

    We would be for intervening in genocide, but we have the advantage of having see Hotel Rwanda, a film which as yet may not have reached the jungle outpost from whence you write, MacD.

    However, we would pay each soldier handsomely, ie a special duty bonus of at least $550,000 to compensate for the dangers involved, and attract the toughest men.

    Even Gandhi had to admit he would not have tried lying in front of Nazi tanks.

    However, we realize that even discussing the bad things that happen when violence is met with violence disturb your equilibrium, MacD, and we apologize for it.

    The conflict between efficient killing and restraining soldiers from murderous excess is well exhibited in the New York this week, with the article on The Kill Company:

    ABSTRACT: A REPORTER AT LARGE about the fatal shooting of eight Iraqi men during a U.S. Army-led mission called Operation Iron Triangle in May of 2006. Writer tells about Army Colonel Michael Dane Steele, a veteran of actions in Somalia and Bosnia and the commanding officer of Operation Iron Triangle. When Steele landed in Iraq, he was the only brigade commander there to have experienced sustained urban warfare before 9/11. He arrived with a clear sense of purpose: to subdue violence with violence, to hunt down and kill insurgents. A number of soldiers, among them General Peter Chiarelli, the Army’s Vice-Chief of Staff, believe that Steele set the conditions for a massacre by cultivating aggressiveness in his soldiers, and by interpreting the rules of engagement in a way that made the killing of noncombatants more likely. Steele has since entered Army folklore as a cautionary figure. The debate over Steele’s leadership touches on larger questions about modern warfare: about the distinction between killing and murder on the battlefield. As Major General Michael Oates told the writer, “The story of Colonel Steele and Operation Iron Triangle is about a fundamental difference of opinion about how to prosecute the war in Iraq.” Tells about the third brigade of the 101st Airborne Division, which Steele commanded. Its members are known as Rakkasans, and have a reputation for aggressiveness and individual initiative. Describes how Steele prepared his men for combat in Iraq. Steele believed that since the end of the Cold War the Army had placed too many nonmilitary burdens on soldiers. He wanted to make his men skilled at killing but also capable of restraint. He told his men to think of themselves as apex predators (“If you mess with me, I will eat you.”), but also called them “sheepdogs”—creatures bred to protect the defenseless. Discusses how Steele’s ideas ran contrary to those of Chiarelli, who placed an emphasis on civil outreach and reconstruction in Iraq. Describes the difficulties faced by U.S. soldiers in the Salah ad Din province where Steele and his men were deployed. Tells about Steele’s most daring unit, Charlie Company, its commanding officer, Captain Daniel Hart, and its ranking non-commissioned officer, First Sergeant Eric Geressy. After a few months in Samarra, Charlie Company became known to some soldiers as the Kill Company. Some of the company’s own soldiers were disturbed by the emphasis on killing. Discusses the Army’s rules of engagement in Iraq and the use of status-based targeting by Steele’s men. Tells about Steele’s obsession with the idea of killing Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his preparations for Operation Iron Triangle, an assault on an area near the Al Muthanna chemical-weapons complex where, intelligence suggested, insurgents were operating. Describes the assault in detail and relates the conflicting accounts of how the eight Iraqis came to be killed. Tells about the findings of Brigadier General Thomas Maffey’s investigation into the operation and the hearings convened for the soldiers involved in some of the killings. Steele was formally reprimanded by General Chiarelli. Describes Steele’s devotion to his men and his focus on their safety in combat. Quotes from a speech about the Army given by Steele earlier this year at the Georgia Farm Bureau.

    A sickening piece, especially you see the portraits of the prisoners sitting quietly and clearly innocent of any moral guilt who were then killed.

    Word spread among Girouard’s squad that Geressy had said the detainees should have been killed. “Everybody got a kick out of it,” Lemus later recalled. “I laughed, too.”

    Luckily this was followed by an excellent piece by Malcolm Gladwell reviewing Chris Anderson’s (Editor of Wired) silly book “Free: The Future of a Radical Price” (Hyperion; $26.99), about how Free is going to make everyone who gives everything away rich, PRICED TO SELL- Is free the future?.

    And there’s plenty of other information out there that has chosen to run in the opposite direction from Free. The Times gives away its content on its Web site. But the Wall Street Journal has found that more than a million subscribers are quite happy to pay for the privilege of reading online. Broadcast television—the original practitioner of Free—is struggling. But premium cable, with its stiff monthly charges for specialty content, is doing just fine. Apple may soon make more money selling iPhone downloads (ideas) than it does from the iPhone itself (stuff). The company could one day give away the iPhone to boost downloads; it could give away the downloads to boost iPhone sales; or it could continue to do what it does now, and charge for both. Who knows? The only iron law here is the one too obvious to write a book about, which is that the digital age has so transformed the ways in which things are made and sold that there are no iron laws.

  37. Robert Houston Says:

    Topics are being switched so much on this thread that it’s easy to become disoriented and discouraged from commenting. Nevertheless, a few points re war and music.

    First, war is terrorism of the cruelest and deadliest type, and the worst possible way to solve problems or promote ideals. The arguments displayed above were the same ones used justify perpetual war in Vietnam.

    Second, a top counter-insurgency expert, Australian Lt. Colonel David Kilcullen (Ph.D.), who was chief architect of the U.S. surge in Iraq, has publicly denounced Obama’s policies in Afganistan and Pakistan as “totally counterproductive”. In particular, the use of drone killer aircraft should be stopped due to the high carnage of innocents and resultant backlash and increased support for insurgents, according to Dr. Kilcullen.

    With regard to Michael Jackson, we owe thanks to Celia Farber and Truthseeker for providings links to such wonderful music videos as Jackson’s mini-film noir masterpiece, You Rock My World (full version), and One More Chance at Love. The latter is a montage of various Jackson videos; despite the elitist put-downs by TS it’s one of the most incredibly beautiful pieces of popular music ever put on video and worthy of more than one viewing if an origin from Mars or the UK makes one insensitive to American pop music. (It was written by Robert Kelly; the earlier song of similar title that was on the Sullivan show was a different song written by Jermaine Jackson.)

    It should be noted that Jackson was a capable songwriter who wrote several wonderful songs, including You Rock My World, Beat It, and Billie Jean, and co-wrote “We are the World”.

  38. MacDonald Says:

    We do hope Mr. Houston will come back and continue detailing Obama’s already atrocious record on civil liberties, war crimes, the Constitution, and transparency and accountability in government.

    In the meantime we note that not only are the arguments above the ones that have always been used to justify more than half a century of continuous armed aggression, we are also delighted to see that TS has executed a classic Hannity; the entire thing is now subsumed and reduced to a question of taking a stand on genocide. If one is against Obama’s (the US’) wars, one is for genocide. Excellent!

    Next, we fully expect to be charged with undermining the troops, pallin’ around with terrorists and being complicit in the deaths of 365,000 AZT-deprived South Africans.

    Might we suggest that the Blog Host apply specificallly for a job at Fox’s morning show, Fox and Friends, perhaps as an understudy for Steve Doocy? The delightful mix of pre-chewed Right-wing talking points, jingoism, hockey mum gossip and blondes seems to be his perfect match.

  39. Truthseeker Says:

    The topic of this thread is abuse of power, and how to dislocate those who wield it unscrupulously for their own benefit and against the interests and lives of the public they pretend to serve. Unscrupulous especially includes the unwillingness to think through policy and its consequences so that America does not end up a moral hellhole.

    In this regard we protest that we are being tarred with the brush of extremism for merely pointing out the trivially obvious, which is that there is a point at which the meek take up arms against takeover thugs. Apparently this is new to some here, who assume like all the peaceniks of yore (Bertrand Russell, for a start, Noam Chomsky, for an end) that you have to be Rush Limbaugh to want to use force to combat evil violence, physical and political.

    If this were not the case then no intelligent debate would be necessary about where to draw the line in particular cases. However, we applaud any thinking of the kind McD illustrates above, which is to assess the consequences of all possible moves and choose the one that fits in with one’s goals.

    If you really think our new, churchgoing, family man, black and white, geeky, wonky, analytical, paternal, coolly transcendent Prez is not a man of peace you aren’t imagining how a father of two girls and the wife, oops, husband, how did we mistype that?, of a very tall and strong black woman must think. It is clear to us that this man is trying to bring the world into a new place of universal respect where every person will avoid outright armed conflict with any other, certainly not on the basis of race. creed or tribe, if only because he cannot act in any way that his family will disapprove.

    In fact if anyone can bring us through the international obstacle course of the next eight years it is Obama, and if we believed in God we would hurry to thank Him for bringing in just the right prophet and Son when nobody less would have done.

    Glory Be To God, Halle–…. (ouch!)

    (This line of reasoning is not permitted at this site, Sir. Please take five minutes to get back on the rails. – Ed (armed with sharp stick).)

    Well, fine. We have recovered from our little paroxysm of fan worship. But we stick to our main point. All these critics that come out of the woodwork to decry a truly great man when he arrives are simply not able to appreciate how many compromises one must make in a democracy if one is to achieve what Obama wants, which ultimately is what his two young daughters need to live a happy and fulfilled life instead of being blown up by Osama Bin Laden in two years, or inundated by the sea in twenty.

    We suspect that none of these wishy washy possibly once semi-Commie and now PC-knickers-in-a-twist liberals that complain he isn’t moving fast enough shutting down Gitmo etc are simply blind to the remarkable makeover he is forcing on the USA in so many arenas (economy, Wall Street, auto recovery, fuel efficiency, stem cell research, health reform, fair taxes, energy capping, union protection, environment protection, ameliorating the mess he was left in Iraq and Afghanistan, protecting Pakistan’s nukes, cracking down on credit card cheating by corporations, clamping down on tobacco, winning rights for gay partners, funding the health of children, reforming education, for starters) and the immense number of people that have to be fended off, assuaged, and persuaded in each case, inevitably resulting in compromise where opposition is too strong.

    The guy has begun to remake the world and you complain he hasn’t gone far enough.

  40. Truthseeker Says:

    The Headmaster Speaks

    PS: What is necessary probably is that those who bleat that Obama is not fulfilling their expectations engendered by his campaign should check out his G8 summit press conference from beginning to end, and reestablish for themselves just what an extraordinary piece of luck it is that the world has stumbled into a new Headmaster who has everything in hand and under control, and who when asked a question such as whether the United States or United Nations should intervene if there is internal abuse of citizens by sovereign nations, to the extent of genocide, or even the Iranian crackdown on protesters, is able to map the opposite poles of the problem, the inviolability of national sovereignty versus the universal rights of human beings everywhere, and say that there is no “clean formula”, but each case has to be dealt with on its merits, and that implied in this statement is a willingness to support intervention in some cases as a necessary action when a nation violates international “norms” that we can all agree on.

    Here we have as we said, a new world Headmaster, who can speak to the rules by which nations should abide and the values behind those rules, and act accordingly, and if necessary agree to change the rules to protect universal values, and explain all that to the press in a press conference, extemporaneously, since he grasps the whole issue, and can lead the way to resolving it.

    So what we suggest is appropriate is Silence, while the Headmaster goes off and does his work, and every now and then gives the gaping hordes a little pep talk to tell them where he is leading us, and when we will get there, so they can Shut Up for another period, instead of publishing endless complaints that they are bewildered by not having their promised presents in their anxious little hands on the instant, but have to wait patiently while things are Done for them.

  41. Robert Houston Says:

    Like a noble knight, Truthseeker has come gallantly to the defense of our President, speaking eloquently of his fine qualities and family values as evidence that Obama is a man of peace, wisdom and American ideals. The final conclusion is that progressive critics should “Shut Up.” That two-word request has in fact been the standard White House response to Democratic liberals ever since early December, when they objected to his consistently appointing center-right personnel as advisors and cabinet officers (see, for example, Obama Aide’s Rantish Message to Critics: ‘STFU’). Seven months later, with virtually no progressives appointed to key administration posts, the response to the left is the same: Obama Urges Liberal Advocacy Groups to Stop Attacks.

    Suffice it to say that, with a couple of exceptions such as stem cell research, most of the 18 or so “makeover” policy attempts by Obama that TS listed have only resulted in further disfigurement. Nearly all the Obama policies, domestic and foreign, have been a continuation or intensification of the Bush Administration policies, from Iraq and Afganistan to the Wall Street bailout and wiretapping and torture and indefinite detention. A fine personality and articulate manner, such as the President displays, is no guarantee of wise or beneficial policies; indee, the notion of such a “halo effect” is a non-rational and semi-religious act of faith.

    Regarding Michael Jackson, it should be noted that his singing remained pure and lovely in his later years, as evidenced by his beautiful rendition of You Are Not Alone. This lovely video contains artistic (i.e., semi-nude) sequences with his then wife Lisa Presley. The song was written by Robert Kelly, who also wrote the achingly gorgeous Jackson hit, “One More Chance at Love.”

    In fact, a number of the major hits associated with Michael Jackson were written by others. Most notably, the beautiful ballad “Never Can Say Goodbye” was written by Clifton Davis, a Chicago songwriter who later became a major black movie actor and now leads a choral society. A British songwriter, Rod Temperton, wrote three other Jackson classics: I Want to Rock With You, Thriller, and The Lady in My Life. (Temperton also wrote several great pop classics, such as Sign of the Times, Always and Forever, and Baby Come to Me). Michael Jackson, however, is credited as the writer of several terrific top songs, such as Beat it, Billie Jean, Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough, and You Rock My World. He also co-wrote We Are the World (with Lionel Richie) and The Girl is Mine (with Paul McCartney).

    On June 30th, TS posted a statement deprecating the concert music of George Gershwin. I think most American music critics would agree, however, that Gershwin’s concert music was among the greatest ever composed by an American. It’s doubtful that critics have ever listened carefully – if at all – to Gershwin’s Concerto in F or An American in Paris. How anyone could hear these, or the tuneful “Rhapsody in Blue” and remain unmoved is a mystery for the ages. Among American composers of concert music Gershwin’s only equals were Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein.

  42. MacDonald Says:

    The Blog Host unabashedly continues his Hannityish strategies of replacing current policy and actions with abstract principles and philosophical questions, such as “is there not a time when the meek must take up arms against oppressors?” There might very well be, but getting from there to “shut up! detractors and critics of concrete policies and events” is a leap hard to make even for the imagination.

    Mr Houston says that we have been told to shut up since December last year. Actually we have been told to shut up and blindly follow the leader for nigh on 9 nine years now; only the effigy of the leader has been exchanged with a new, fresher one. It is laughable no less to hold forth fine speeches when actions contradict them on almost every point. That said, we are interested to know just how Obama is protecting the environment other than the consequential benefits of cleaner fuel once that happens.

    For the Blog Hosts’s information, the closing of Guantanamo is an entirely symbolic gesture (the Blog Host may not know that a fine substitute for Guantanamo is already operational and operating in Afghanistan, with Obama’s blessings). The questions are indefinite detention, no habeas corpus rights, military tribunals/show trials, unchecked and unchallenged Executive Power etc. Mr. Houston has already informed you that Obama’s record makes him at least as extreme as Bush in spite of his fine words.

    Worst perhaps is the pretense, swallowed raw by the Blog Host, that Bin laden really is going to blow up all of us with Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal if we don’t continually increase the horrific collateral damage caused by the “surgical” drone strikes (and lie about it to “protect the troops”), or imprison and torture assorted characters of postulated superhuman power, cunning and influence on world events.- Now why does that make me think of a certain virus, whose genomic imprint was first found on a meteor in Murch, Australia?

  43. Truthseeker Says:

    To equate Obama with Bush and Cheney is absurd, even if you can’t see his halo. 61% of the world can, according to worldpublicopinion.org:

    Asked whether they have confidence in Barack Obama to “do the right thing regarding world affairs,” for all nations (excluding the US) an average of 61 percent say they have some or a lot of confidence.

    Obama immediately led the US into rejoining the international community and acting in concert with partners and the UN to pressure regimes who do not live up to international norms.

    Our new international community leaders acts in a discreet and sensible manner, however, in treating them with respect, instead of arousing unnecessary antagonism in the manner of Bush and Cheney – a revision of US strategy exactly in the mode otherwise approved by MacD.

    Those who cannot see that Obama is acting on a plane above Bush and Cheney are the ones who should join the Fox network surely. At the very least, they suggest they are blind to the man who stands in front of them, and instead are swayed by excessive pessimism and distaste for having faith in a leader who has graced us by stepping down from the right hand of the Almighty on high– ouch!

    (Enough of that. – Ed. (armed with sharp stick))

    Obama is a man who characteristically leads with the best methods, as he has demonstrated in his campaign, in Washington and at G8 – charming the crowd and other leaders with sense and suggestion and taking the reflexively resistant, Not Invented Here types off into the corner and persuading them with reason and not raw power, which only creates more resistance.

  44. MacDonald Says:

    The Blog Host is being very persuasive, as he knows we could never disagreee with pollsters, epidemiologists or the taste buds of the majority of flies.

    We would, however, like to back up our suspicions that Obama’s environmentally friendly speeches amount to little more than a velvet fist in an iron glove with this from Greenpeace:

    “Washington, D.C., United States — In advance of tomorrow’s vote on the American Clean Energy and Security Act in the House of Representatives, Greenpeace USA Deputy Campaigns Director Carroll Muffett issued the following statement:

    “Since the Waxman-Markey bill left the Energy and Commerce committee, yet another fleet of industry lobbysists has weakened the bill even more, and further widened the gap between what Waxman-Markey does and what science demands. As a result, Greenpeace opposes this bill in its current form. We are calling upon Congress to vote against this bill unless substantial measures are taken to strengthen it. Despite President Obama’s assurance that he would enact strong, science-based legislation, we are now watching him put his full support behind a bill that chooses politics over science, elevates industry interests over national interest, and shows the significant limitations of what this Congress believes is possible.

    “As it comes to the floor, the Waxman-Markey bill sets emission reduction targets far lower than science demands, then undermines even those targets with massive offsets. The giveaways and preferences in the bill will actually spur a new generation of nuclear and coal-fired power plants to the detriment of real energy solutions. To support such a bill is to abandon the real leadership that is called for at this pivotal moment in history. We simply no longer have the time for legislation this weak.

    “With many others in the environmental, faith and consumer rights communities, Greenpeace has expressed tremendous concern about the role of offsets in this legislation. Unless strictly controlled, the abuse of offsets could prevent real emission reductions for more than a decade. The decision to move authority over offsets from EPA to the Department of Agriculture further reduces the likelihood that such controls will be maintained and increases the likelihood they will undermine real reductions.

    This legislation sends a strong and unmistakable signal to the world that the United States is not yet ready to show the leadership necessary to reach a strong agreement at Copenhagen in December. Already, we are seeing the impact of this signal as one country after another retreats from the aggressive targets needed to avoid catastrophic climate change.

    We call on the Congress to reject this bill and begin immediate and urgent work on legislation that treats seriously the dire threat of climate change. We call on President Obama to move beyond rhetoric and deliver on his commitments to “restore science to its proper place” and to lead the world in addressing climate change.”

    http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/press-center/releases2/greenpeace-opposes-waxman-mark

    Apparently a watered down Cap and Trade bill, ignoring the Doomsday predictions of Holy Science and caving to pressure from the usual suspects.

    The credit card reform seems to be of the same type: a populistic baby step to make us swallow bailouts, government takeovers, multimillion CEO compensation and foreclosures (the promised bankruptcy reform for homeowners not manifesting)

    We remain respectfully underwhelmed.

  45. Truthseeker Says:

    Everything you say is true, gentlemen, in regard to the many reasons to doubt now that Obama will ever be as radical as the Bush mess cleanup needs; our only difference is that we imagine that organizing change in this society, riddled as it is with powerful interests that have been enabled by the Republicans to throw a spanner in the works of any move to curtail their profits or other benefits, is rather like driving with the handbrake on. Even a Ferrari can’t drive at full speed through a traffic jam.

    You rush to knock Obama’s halo over the railing but we just see him trying to get what is needed done against entrenched interests and making sure he has eight years instead of four to do it.

    The main reason we think that we are right in this regard is that all the criticism hasn’t yet gained traction, which suggests that there is nothing inside the White House to back it up. If there was it would be a footlight issue, but it’s not. Almost everybody who voted for Obama is fretting at all the indications you mention that Obama may not deliver as much as they hoped, but they still feel he is trying, and they trust him.

    So is Obama just a clever conman who knew how to get elected but really is a conservative wolf in sheep’s clothing? Or is he simply the community leader type who gets things done by seeking consensus, rather than overriding dissent and bullying people into backing down and cooperating?

    The professional skeptics and doubters tend to the first, we acknowledge that. And given the deceits that politics forces on its players, they are often vindicated. In this case, we think both sides make their point, but neither case is overwhelming on the record so far, so we are forced to retreat to examining the person himself as he acts and portrays himself in the media, how he speaks and behaves officially and unofficially, how he talks to the media and what he wrote long before he gained high office.

    But it is hard to deny that there is a lot of disappointment for anyone whose hopes blossomed in the speedy success which Mr Change won the Oval Office and tackled so many issues so early. And we grant you that he doesn’t seem to have acted as decisively to help the poor and the weak and the homeless as he should have, and the bankers and other plundering moneybags seem to have walked, as usual (current surprise cost of simply checking one’s balance at Citibank at a Chase ATM machine? $6).

    The economy is not going to go anywhere is the next six months so let’s see what happens now.

  46. Truthseeker Says:

    By the way, we may do a wrap up post on Bernie Madoff, who has now been flung into a hellhole where he is being harassed and worse by lowlifes according to the New York dailies, for no very good reason that we can see when we compare what he did with the very similar confidence game run by the bankers who taxpayers have now bailed out to the tune of hundreds of billions.

    They after all sold billions of securities under false pretences to investors round the world, lying as to their worth, and betraying the trust of those that did business with them. Their reward was not to go to jail for life in a hell hole. It was to be forgiven and made whole by the taxpayers whose money is now being doled out by the President according to his policy of making sure the banking system at some point not yet reached will resume lending the money to business.

    Compared with this, what did Bernie do? He merely lied to friends and strangers and betrayed their trust, took their money and simply transferred ownership of it from B to A – B being the latecomers and A being the ones who were involved earlier. He didn’t even lose any of it in bad investments or the stock market. He skimmed a little – maybe a billion – to give his family what they needed ie large houses, education, etc. and buy a few toys. Most of that is back in government hands.

    Meanwhile those who have lost money with Madoff – the Bs – are bust, but only until the A’s. who pocketed their money, give it back. Of course, the A’s are all busy saying Who me?

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