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I find myself in possession of the December 19th, 1956 letter, signed  

THE MONTGOMERY IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION
THE REV. M. L. KING, JR., PRESIDENT
THE REV. W. J. POWELL, SECRETARY
Context, details, and a jpeg of the letter, below the squiggly:
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This is a very compelling story, told brilliantly, and it documents how the CIA discovered that torture doesn't work. It also shows how, for decades, the CIA argued against torture, not because it was wrong, but because it doesn't work. And so, when new people came into the CIA and decided after 9/11 to torture - and it was a decision that went against decades of policy, they had no idea how to do it.

Video below the squiggle...

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Just last week, I completed a two week term on a grand jury, in Brooklyn, New York, County of Kings. In light of the Eric Garner case, in which the Staten Island grand jury failed to indict David Pantaleo, here is what I can tell you about the process:

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Fri Nov 28, 2014 at 08:16 PM PST

New Adjective: "Plessy."

by David B

This is Matt Wuerker's cartoon from this morning, with a new adjective. What best describes how justice in Ferguson - and places like Ferguson -  is separate, as this cartoon illustrates, while  pretending to be equal.  My wife and I created a new adjective for this:

"Plessy."
That's it. This whole incident, from the shooting to the grand jury verdict, was just so, well, "Plessy."

That kid who got shot with the toy gun? "Plessy."

Treyvon Martin?  "Plessy."

But especially anything to do with Ferguson....

Matt Wuerker

"Plessy."
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Here's a little respite from the yesterday's heartbreak, as I turn my focus back to Washington:

Why is Congress, indeed, our entire political system broken? Two words: Epistemic Closure. But since that polysyllabic pair does not scan well, allow me this indulgence, with apologies to Meghan Traynor:

Because you know
It's all about the base
'Bout the base, more trouble
It's all about the base
'Bout the base, more trouble
It's all about the base
'Bout the base, more trouble
It's all about the base
'Bout the base

Yeah, it's pretty clear, we're party number two
But we can shake it, shake it
What else we gonna do?
We hype that "boom boom" fear so you'll carry that mace
We spew all the right junk with all the white faces

We have the graphics that
we know we have to crop
'Cause, yes that sh!t ain't real
But we know it's hard to top
Got some real beauties in Congress, just voted 'em up
And every inch of it is rotten
From the bottom to the top

Yeah, all the pollsters, they tell me don't worry about the lies
They say, "The base likes a little more bull$hit, so bold, at night."
They all are handled by six figure Silicon Valley dolls
They all have focus groups so they can get ahead and move along

Because you know
It's all about the base
'Bout the base, more trouble
It's all about the base
'Bout the base, more trouble
It's all about the base
'Bout the base, more trouble
It's all about the base
'Bout the base
Hey!

We get that booty back
Go ahead and fill my skinny britches fat
Yes, you're just paying, I just joined this frat
But I'm here to tell ya
Every inch of it is rotten from the bottom to the top

Yeah, all the pollsters, they tell me don't worry about the lies
They say, "The base likes a little more bull$hit, so bold, at night."
They all are handled by six figure Silicon Valley dolls
They all have focus groups so they can get ahead and move along

Because you know
It's all about the base
'Bout the base, more trouble
It's all about the base
'Bout the base, more trouble
It's all about the base
'Bout the base, more trouble
It's all about the base

Because you know
It's all about the base
'Bout the base, more trouble
It's all about the base
'Bout the base, more trouble
It's all about the base
'Bout the base, more trouble
It's all about the base....
[Shampoo. Rinse. Repeat.]

David Block
(c) 2014

Discuss

Wed Nov 12, 2014 at 06:03 AM PST

The Day After Veterans Day

by David B

Some thoughts on Veterans and those who need help after the parade has ended....

When I was a kid, men my age were veterans of World War Two. They became, later in life, known as "The Greatest Generation." They were also the generation of Archie Bunker. They fought the last war of morality, and they could not understand how young adults, when I was a child, could refuse to run off to fight when Uncle Sam came calling.

At one point, we had half a million - that's 500,000 - soldiers fighting in Vietnam. Most of that half a million went because they were drafted, and had no choice.

But those who went, either because they believed, or because they couldn't figure out how to dodge the draft, came home to jeers from those who, for them, it was an "unjust war," a war which - it has been established and admitted to - was fought based on provocations that were completely fabricated, in a place that they could not find on a map, for reasons that had nothing to do with them.

"The Greatest Generation" could not fathom this.

And those who fought against US involvement the war could not understand why anyone would go willingly, or at all. And those who went had a hard time with those who wouldn't.

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Really. I know you've heard that before. But seriously. What follows is information that you probably do not yet know, without taking sides. Really.

We all have been besieged recently with impassioned posts and links about the conflict from all sides, taking all sides - you may have read about how Hamas is a terrorist organization firing rockets into civilian populations, and how Israel cannot negotiate with terrorist, and is surrounded and outnumbered, and is in its "Promised Land," while also reading that Israel is an oppressive regime that is slaughtering thousands and instituting Apartheid. And everything in between.

What follows is admittedly very incomplete, because books can be written on this subject, and several have. But what you will find in here is the root of the conflict.

WITHOUT TAKING SIDES.

The first question, really, is this:

 Why was Zionism suddenly invented in the latter part of the 19th century?

Why did Jews start heading for what was then known as Palestine at that time, instead of centuries earlier? What was the impetus for the Zionist movement? Why did Jews decide, at THAT specific point in time, to go to Israel, and not earlier, or later?

The answer is below the squiggle.

Poll

What will come first?

25%11 votes
18%8 votes
56%25 votes

| 44 votes | Vote | Results

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There was a cease fire, brokered by Egypt. Israel kept it for 24 hours, while Hamas ignored it. Why? Because Hamas knows that it is to their political advantage to have Israel slaughter their children. They sacrifice their children for that political advantage. And Israel is only too happy to oblige.

So here's what you need to know about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict:

"The enemy of your enemy is not your friend."

What does that mean? Think about it. Stalin and Churchill had a common enemy: Hitler. But they were not friends. And so it is in the Middle East.

Those of you who oppose the actions of Israel, you share a common enemy with Hamas. But Hamas is not your friend.

Those of you who oppose the actions of Hamas, you share a common enemy with the Netanyahu Administration, but the Netanyahu Administration is not your friend.

Those who choose to destroy Jewish homes and businesses in France and throughout Europe, well, you simply were looking for an excuse to act on your hatred for Jews from the last war. Hamas is not your friend either.

In fact, Hamas, and the Netanyahu Administration, both have the same common enemy:

Peace.

But they are not friends.

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It was tragic that 3 Israeli teens were killed. When Schwerner, Chaney and Goodman were killed, however, we didn't bomb Mississippi - even though we knew the KKK did it, that the KKK was a known terrorist organization, and that it was supported by the civilian population.

Personally, as a Jew and a strong Zionist, there is a huge difference between defending Israel's right to exist at all costs, and supporting the actions of Netanyahu. Netanyahu used the murders as an excuse not only to scuttle peace talks, because he despises the concept of peace talks, but also to kill hundreds of Palestinian civilians. Killing civilians is a great way to foment hatred and animosity, and counter-attacks, which he will use as an excuse to kill hundreds more civilians.

You can argue that Mississippi was part of the US. Yes, and Netanyahu believes that the Occupied Territory is part of Israel (Mississippi, too, was once Occupied Territory, after the Civil War). The difference is that we saw Mississipians as Americans, KKK members or not, while Netanyahu appears to see Palestinians as the "other," whose deaths to avenge killings are interchangeable, and so he creates people who crave vengeance of their own, who can then be killed for wanting vengeance, and visa versa.

When restraint was called for, Netanyahu called for bombs. When bombs were responded to by rockets, he sends more bombs. And to what purpose? More civilian deaths? More people on both sides to crave vengeance and revenge? That's the price the Prime Minister of Israel is paying for his opportunity to prevent peace.

UPDATE: 7/12/2014:  Chris Hayes linked to this article from his Twitter account.  Netanyahu announced that, as long as he is Prime Minister, there will be no two-state solution, and that the Israeli Army will remain in the West Bank forever.
.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday put to rest any lingering speculation or hopes that the long-comatose two-state solution might ever be revived.

All of a sudden, the prime minister’s refusal to discuss borders or maps in negotiations with the Palestinians makes sense. After all, why negotiate over a map you have no intention of ever compromising on?

“I think the Israeli people understand now what I always say: that there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan,” Netanyahu said in a televised statement about the current Gaza military operation, the Times of Israel reported.

Yes. You read that right. Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister for the coming years (unless he is unseated by a political opponent who outflanks him from the right) said that there is no way he would ever pull the Israeli army out of the West Bank.

It’s official. Not that this should really surprise anyone, as long as Netanyahu is the Israeli prime minister the occupation is forever and there will be no sovereign Palestine.

This kinda proves my point. Netanyahu will do whatever it takes to prevent public opinion from forcing him to do otherwise
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If you look carefully at the stationary on this note to me from Pete Seeger, you will see a monster on the left, labeled "pollution," and what could only be the Good Sloop Clearwater coming to the rescue.

The backstory is under the squiggles:
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Disclaimer: THIS IS NOT A CONSPIRACY THEORY.  I don't want to see any comments claiming that it is.  It is not.  A conspiracy involves premeditated planning.  There was none in this case.  

We are in the month of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of JFK.  And, conspiracy theories abound, because many people believe that the official story is flawed. When any "official" story appears to have logical inconsistencies, conspiracy theories sprout up to attempt to explain the discrepancies.  

There is a movie now out on the Reelz network, called, JFK: The Smoking Gun, based on the book Mortal Error, by Howard Donahue and Bonar Menninger (St. Martin’s Press, 1992), which asserts that Oswald acted alone, without help, - but - that the bullet that actually killed the President came from an AR-15 held by a Secret Service Agent, George Hickey, in the car behind him.  

David Hinkley wrote in his review:

McLaren doesn’t come off as a conspiracy theorist or an agenda-crazed obsessive. He comes off as a detective building a case.
Here is McLaren making his case, on KTLA-5. Before you dismiss this, take a look at this video.

Bill James, of baseball fame, wrote a terrific book, Popular Crime: Reflections on the Celebration of Violence (Scribner, 2011). One of the many crimes he looked at was the assassination. He, too, dismisses the craziness of the CT's that claim that Oswald had help:

President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963. Obviously it is beyond the scope of this little book to sort out the facts of the Kennedy assassination. If you were to read one book a month about the Kennedy assassination, you could read them all in about twenty years—you could, at least, if the assassination buffs would stop writing them. The two books that I would recommend to you—not having read them all, obviously—are Case Closed, by Gerald Posner (Anchor Books, 1993) and Mortal Error, by Howard Donahue and Bonar Menninger (St. Martin’s Press, 1992).
 

Citing Posner's definitive book, which James calls "a systematic rebuttal of the specious material which forms the bulk of the other 200-plus books," James convincingly argues that Oswald acted without help. There was NO conspiracy.  After summarizing Posner's main points, James writes:

I think it’s a wonderful book, and I feel that Gerald Posner has accomplished a public service in putting it together, granting that in my case he is preaching to the choir. But although I have the highest regard for Case Closed, and a genuine appreciation for Posner’s effort in writing it, that book ultimately does not win the contest to convince me. It finishes a strong second. The winner is Mortal Error, by Bonar Menninger, which is based on the work of Howard Donahue. [emphasis mine]

After meticulously going over the material that McLaren has made into this movie, James continues:  
On first hearing this theory, almost no one believes that it could be right. It sounds like just another helium balloon by someone who watched too many Mission: Impossible re-runs as a child. But I have read Mortal Error carefully, and I have to tell you, if there’s a flaw in his argument, I don’t see it. Unlike the conspiracy theories, which are almost universally based on conversations which took place in Russia in 1961, in New Orleans in 1962, or in Tampa in 1972, the Donahue analysis is based primarily upon a detailed, careful study of what happened in Dealey Plaza on November 22. The key points of his argument can be sorted into three classes:
1) Ballistics.
2) Circumstantial observations of the critical ten seconds.
3) Circumstantial observations after the fact.Donahue is a ballistics expert who has testified in many criminal cases in that role.
James notes that when he first read Mortal Error,
"Well, he could be right, he could be wrong, I’m not a ballistics expert, and I don’t see how anybody can really claim to know.” Later, however, after reading Posner’s book, after watching a couple of documentaries which include copies of the Zapruder film, I returned to the analysis, and my reaction was different: not merely that Donahue could be right, but that he actually was.The situation is not as complicated as the language in which it must be stated. If you can wade through the math until you get an intuitive feel for what the argument is about, you can figure things out.
You may not agree with this, but it does explain a lot.  It would explain why a call to Washington to report the assassination called it an "accident."  It would explain why within seconds, people at street level smelled gunpowder, when Oswald fired from 4 floors up.  It would explain why Oswald is recorded as having said "I did not kill the President," and "I'm a patsy."  Why?  Because, if this is correct, he was looking through his telescopic sight, attempting to line up a shot, when he saw the President's head blow open.

You, the reader, are welcome to roll your eyes, and dismiss this all as yet another CT, when, in fact it is not.  I will just add that the 3 most dangerous words in the English language are "I know that." When we say "I know that," we cut ourselves off from any learning.

As Wallace Baine notes:

The Hickey theory is not a conspiracy theory. It is the opposite. And, on a larger scale, it tells us something entirely different about how the world works. That sometimes, stuff just happens for no good reason, and unspeakable tragedy is a result, that there is no grand design, for good or ill. Most of the things that happen to us, good and bad, are the function of random dumb luck and cosmic accidents.
Poll

Who do you believe killed JFK?

30%38 votes
0%0 votes
45%56 votes
4%5 votes
3%4 votes
7%9 votes
0%0 votes
0%1 votes
8%10 votes

| 123 votes | Vote | Results

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Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 11:35 AM PDT

"But not Miranda...."

by David B

In the bar we're gin and scotching
While the FBI is watching
They are tape recording every other word
The bartender is bleeding
Pardon me, I just was leaving
as another clever voice repeats absurd
But not Miranda
No, that Phil Ochs lyric is about a fictitious woman, not Ernesto Miranda or the eponymous rights that have been bestowed upon us all, were we ever to be arrested. Well, almost all.

A college roommate of mine once pointed out to me what should have been obvious: the McCarthy Era wasn't insidious and destructive because it destroyed innocent lives of people who were not Communists. Some of them WERE Communists. What was most destructive was its use of fear to create fear, perpetuate fear, and use it for political gain, and to clamp down on civil liberties. So too with the "War on Terror...."

All murderers and bombers have the right to remain silent, because anything they say can, and will, be used against them. All bombers and murderers have the right to an attorney. When we grant Constitutional Rights selectively, we reduce the probability that you or I will be protected by the same rights, if ever we have the misfortune of needing them, guilty or just accused.

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