And Benghazi Story Comes Full Circle: No Al Qaeda, Yes Video

NYT commits old fashioned journalism to find out the one story that was immediately thought to be the cause for the attack on our diplomatic mission in Benghazi, and then just as quickly abandoned, was true: the attack was unrelated to Al Qaeda and mostly a reaction to a propaganda film that insulted Islam.

Months of investigation by The New York Times, centered on extensive interviews with Libyans in Benghazi who had direct knowledge of the attack there and its context, turned up no evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault. The attack was led, instead, by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO’s extensive air power and logistics support during the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi. And contrary to claims by some members of Congress, it was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.

Just don’t expect Darrell Issa or any of the Benghazi-thumpers in the GOP and the denizens of Bullshit Mountain or their handy idiots in the mainstream media to apologize to Susan Rice, Hilary Clinton or President Obama. As always they’ll say the NYT made it up to forward their liberal agenda of gay marrying all Americans in order to kill us all and restore the Muslim Caliphate or something.

The entire GOP message machine lives for big bullshit stories like Benghazi because it’s all about creating the idea that where there’s smoke there’s fire. Keep repeating falsehoods and even if nobody rational believes you there are plenty of irrational people, and they vote.

The real question for anybody who tossed the Benghazi smoke bomb was where were you when the 13 Benghazi’s that took place during the Bush years happened without 1 peep from the right wing?

P.S.  with this Hilary Clinton can run and nobody can say shit! Benghazi wasn’t going to be much of an impediment, but without it all the haters have to dine on is their pure, irrational, hate salads.

Those Classic Holiday Commie Propaganda Movies We All Love

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All you need to know about the coarsening of America is that Die Hard is now considered a Christmas classic along with It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol and Miracle on 34th Street. One of these things is not like the other, no? I love Die Hard, but the kind of giving spirit that involves automatic weapons is an ill fit with good will towards men. Yippie-ki-yay Jesus.

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One of the forgotten facts of 20th century history is how much the Christmas spirit was mistrusted by a great cigar chomping horde of laissez faire capitalists during the heyday of finding Communists under every bed. It’s a Wonderful Life was suspected by uber-American cross-dresser J. Edgar Hoover of being Communist propaganda. The website Aphelis has the story derived from John Sbardellati’s book J. Edgar Hoover Goes to the Movies: The FBI and the Origins of Hollywood’s Cold War.

Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life (RKO, 1946) pivots on the clash of values between the populism of George Bailey, played of course by James Stewart, and the bottom-line ethics of Henry Potter, played so memorably by Lionel Barrymore. The film is now a perennial holiday classic, and has earned distinction with its inclusion, in 1998, on the American Film Institute’s list of the top one hundred American film (ranking number eleven). But modern-day viewers might be surprised to learn that at the time of its release, It’s a Wonderful Life appeared on another, secret, list of films maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Such distinction was earned not because of popularity or artistic merit, but rather because of the bureau’s suspicion that Capra’s movie contained Communist propaganda. (New York: Cornell University Press, 2012, pp. 1-2)

What we’ve learned is that playful minx Ayn Rand was part of the analytical team that analyzed the film for the FBI. Rand had a famous hard-on (and having seen pictures of her I totally believe that’s literal, not figurative) for Communists. Having emigrated from Russia, Rand (neé Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum) was the go to expert on rooting out the boogie man wherever he might be plotting to be kind to his fellow man.

From the FBI files “FBI Investigation of Motion Picture Industry”:

With regard to the picture “It’s A Wonderful Life”, [REDACTED] stated in substance that the film represented a rather obvious attempt to discredit bankers by casting Lionel Barrymore as “scrooge-type” so that he would be the most hated man in the picture. This, according to these sources, is a common trick used by Communists.

In addition, [REDACTED] stated that, in his opinion, this picture deliberately maligned the upper class, attempting to show the people who had money were mean and despicable characters. [REDACTED] related that if he had made this picture portraying the banker, he wold have shown this individual to have been following the rules as laid down by the State Bank Examiners in connection with making loans. Further, [REDACTED] stated that the scene wouldn’t have “suffered at all” in portraying the banker as a man who was protecting funds put in his care by private individuals and adhering to the rules governing the loan of that money rather than portraying the part as it was shown. In summary, [REDACTED] stated that it was not necessary to make the banker such a mean character and “I would never have done it that way”.

Famous dramaturg [REDACTED] shows why he/she is wasting their talent as an informant for the FBI rather than working in Hollywood or Broadway. The dramatic sense that informs such critical analysis is right on. Capra blew it. If he had made a rousing documentary about how banks make loans the movie would not have suffered.

If he had drawn banker Potter in shades of grey, showing him to be a wise exemplar of capitalism, who maybe carried a puppy with him everywhere, that would have made the film so much more complex and satisfying. He didn’t have to be a “scrooge-type”. What did Dickens know about drama?

Maybe if George Bailey had been an alcoholic suffering from PTSD after having witnessed Soviet atrocities during WWII causing him to mishandle his clients funds in order to lasso the moon for Donna Reed (keep her in the style she’d become accustomed to) because he was afraid that if the spigot of Crystal and diamonds stopped she’d leave him.  George was a post-war Madoff whose dastardly Ponzi scheme was foiled by the kindly old banker (and his puppy) who helps the authorities put George in jail forever (where he hangs himself).

Of course, Potter still has to foreclose on all the homeowners of Bedford Falls because business. They could have bettered themselves and owned a bank but they chose not to and they must be shown to suffer for their lack of discipline.

And this whole guardian angel business was a bit of tripe anyway. Scorcese doesn’t use guardian angels. No guardian angels in the Godfather films. Serpico doesn’t pray silently and have a guardian angel help him root out corruption. Capra was a supernaturalist sap like that red Dickens and his commie ghosts of Christmas.

Rand would have loved that more rationalist approach.

P.S. In the sequel Mary and Zusu would have moved in with Potter and while Mary may not love the old man, she is loyal to him and they found a philanthropic foundation where they take money away from the poor to incentivize them to better themselves (maybe open a bank!). Rand writes the screenplay.

The Human Cost of Prejudice – Genius Alan Turing Pardoned 60 Yrs After Suicide

There’s no end to the stupid, says the cynical side of me. Although we evolve and grow, I am afeared that as we grow past some destructive forms of stupid, we just develop bright shiny new forms of stupid and it’s a zero sum game with the bottom line for humans being immense stupid with intermittent and rare relief through love. The stupid may change but it carries on and can rarely be fixed afterward. 

Nearly 60 years after his death, Alan Turing, the British mathematician regarded as one of the central figures in the development of the computer, received a formal pardon from Queen Elizabeth II on Monday for his conviction in 1952 on charges of homosexuality, at the time a criminal offense in Britain.

NYT Article on Turing Pardon

60 years ago Alan Turing ate cyanide after being convicted of the crime of gross indecency and chemically castrated by the British government because he was homosexual. The gross indecency was on the part of the British authorities and given Turing’s groundbreaking work in computers and code we may well have all lost out because if it. This man was a huge part of our victory over Hitler’s army in WWII because he broke the unbreakable Enigma code. And he was repaid by judgment, ridicule and torture. 

The biggest joke is that just last year the British government denied a pardon for Turing and only did it now because of a petition and worldwide pressure by scientists. Under the rules of pardons he was not actually eligible and thus the massive stupid perpetrated by the authorities just went on without apology for 60 years.

How much greatness and love has been snuffed out by the stupid is truly incalculable.

How Delicious the Irony for Anti-Gay Mormons

The Mormon Church were the key players in the Proposition 8 push in California sending hundreds of volunteers and spending millions to make gay marriage unconstitutional in the Golden State. Ultimately the courts said they wasted their time and money.

Now gay couples are being married in Utah right under the church’s nose. And that my friends is what we call a great big delicious irony. Num num num!

Two Really Interesting Takes on the “Welfare Queen”

One is a short comparison between what families with kids under 18 spend on average household items, families receiving government assistance spend a whole lot less on average than families not on assistance. So if your Fox addled uncle trots out people on food stamps driving Cadillacs and eating lobster at the holiday table you can hit him with this and also with this debunking of the stereotypes with inconvenient facts.

But even more interesting, though definitely a long read, is this piece from Slate where they tracked down the facts behind Reagan’s apocryphal welfare queen. Turns out she wasn’t so apocryphal, but, as you could imagine, Reagan left out most of the story

“In Chicago, they found a woman who holds the record,” the former California governor declared at a campaign rally in January 1976. “She used 80 names, 30 addresses, 15 telephone numbers to collect food stamps, Social Security, veterans’ benefits for four nonexistent deceased veteran husbands, as well as welfare. Her tax-free cash income alone has been running $150,000 a year.” As soon as he quoted that dollar amount, the crowd gasped.

Though Reagan was known to stretch the truth, he did not invent that woman in Chicago. Her name was Linda Taylor, and it was the Chicago Tribune, not the GOP politician, who dubbed her the “welfare queen.” It was the Tribune, too, that lavished attention on Taylor’s jewelry, furs, and Cadillac—all of which were real.

When I set out in search of Linda Taylor, I hoped to find the real story of the woman who played such an outsize role in American politics—who she was, where she came from, and what her life was like before and after she became the national symbol of unearned prosperity. What I found was a woman who destroyed lives, someone far more depraved than even Ronald Reagan could have imagined. In the 1970s alone, Taylor was investigated for homicide, kidnapping, and baby trafficking. The detective who tried desperately to put her away believes she’s responsible for one of Chicago’s most legendary crimes, one that remains unsolved to this day. Welfare fraud was likely the least of the welfare queen’s offenses.

Reagan used this woman to advance an agenda that scoffs at government compassion and says there are scores of people who are making you the sucker if you pay your taxes and play by the rules. It appealed to the innate greed in conservatives by saying you can save more of “your money” on taxes and actually feel superior about cutting the social safety net as well because conservatives are the ones really helping the poor, by not helping them. This sociopathology continues unabated in today’s even friskier GOP.  

But the story here wasn’t that such people defrauding the government for welfare benefits don’t exist – they did and do, but they’re rare (it’s really hard to do this today) and they are brazen criminals, not small time liars getting extra benefits they don’t deserve. This woman was a flat out menace to society on so many levels that welfare fraud was the least of it.

One of the clear differences between liberals and conservatives is on issues like this where liberals would rather have a few Linda Taylors so long as children and veterans and the elderly and those down on their luck can get the help they need to keep life and soul together and conservatives would deny the good people to keep even 1 bad guy from profiting. Attitudes towards the death penalty are a related phenomenon where cons are willing to kill innocent people in order to exact revenge on the evil and liberals would rather let everyone live than ever take an innocent life mistakenly.

So Should I Sell My Stocks Now? Former British PM Gordon Brown Sounds Warning Alarm

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, whom I believe was also a footman at Downton Abbey (Season 1)  writes in the NYT that nothing’s really changed since the last financial armageddon so the next one should be no big surprise.

Despite the subsequent decision of the Group of 20 in 2009 on the need for rules to supervise what is now a globally integrated financial system, world leaders have spent the last five years in retreat, resorting to unilateral actions that have made a mockery of global coordination. Already, we have forgotten the basic lesson of the crash: Global problems need global solutions. And because we failed to learn from the last crisis, the world’s bankers are carrying us toward the next one. 

Amazingly, on this side of the pond you still get people saying that the meltdown was all started by the poors being given home loans they couldn’t afford because liberals. The best response to that is so how come Europe also melted down if it’s about black people getting mortgages in California? Stand back, heads will explode.