Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

For the sake of ornament and illumination.

Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Sun Dec 11, 2016 7:55 pm

Fake News, Self-Censorship and the Three Stupid Monkeys
by Charles Carreon
December 10, 2016

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“See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.” This formulation was first declared to me by some peer at the age of three or four – a veritable wise man he seemed to me – revealing the meaning of the mysterious three-monkey tableux so often encountered among the knick knacks adults accumulated in those days. It was a big revelation: the three monkeys, the first covering his eyes, the second his ears, and the third, his mouth – were a visual representation of the concept. Oh, now that I understood, how wise and virtuous those monkeys seemed. I understood in a flash why they were venerated by so many of the great and powerful big people. They were not taking in, or spreading “evil.” These monkeys were definitely on the right side of the game, since everybody knew “evil” was the worst thing of all.

So I was really surprised when I told my dad that I’d realized how important the wisdom of the three monkeys was, and he told me it was a bunch of crap. Nobody, he explained, should keep their mouth shut about evil. If there was evil going on, we needed to find out about it. We needed to see it, hear it, talk about it, and put an end to it. My namby-pamby see-no, hear-no, speak-no-evil pose went up in flames that day, and I’ve held a grudge against those cowardly monkeys ever since for leading me to make an ass out of myself in front of my dad.

Recently, I heard that an anonymous website had just come up with a list of suspect websites proliferating “fake news” to advance a Russian agenda, and the Washington Post elevated this website to the status of a genuine news-origin certifying authority. I did not bother to be concerned. People who will avoid the blacklisted news outlets are engaged in proactive self-censorship. By supporting the list, they tell everyone in earshot that they aren’t hearing or seeing fake news, so it’s impossible that they will speak it. Their minds won’t be contaminated by fake news, and no one can blame them for spreading it. If the thought police look in their heads, they will find them empty.

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Three-monkey relief carving (hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil) on Shinkyusha. Nikko, Japan

Fake News (To the tune of “Downtown”)
by Charles Carreon
12/10/16

Turn on the TV
Hear the things that they’re saying
Well it sounds a lot
Like News

Pick up the paper
Read the things that are written
Well it surely looks
Like News

But now the “Prop or Not” List
Has landed in my Twitter
And Huff-po, WaPo, Daily Beast
They all are in a flutter –
What to Believe?
The Rooskies are under the Bed
The Chinese are here to be fed
This is
Fake News!
Let’s see if it’s on the list
Oh dear, Look at it right here,
Fake News!
Straight from the Kremlin, they say!

Power’s corrupting
And media has power
To sell Fake News!
Now who do you think
Might be in a position
To buy Fake News?

I mean the news is spozed to
Give you all the skinny
The straight dope and the lowdown
And the truly on the level.
Good luck with that!
Citizens United took over your head
Now the screaming liberals
Say Conservatives are Red
This is Fake News
Don’t try to sell me this
Fake News
I know this shit’s on the list
Fake News
Just stick this right up your ass.

Truth is expensive,
So they use it quite sparingly in
Fake News
Like the sun’s in the sky
And there’s a base on the moon
You call that Fake News?
Your mind is just a playground
For thoughts of other’s making
Your choices like a baby’s candy
Right there for the taking.

They have to lie, too
The Rooskies are under the Bed
The Chinese are here to be fed
This is
Fake News!
Let’s see if it’s on the list
Oh dear, Look at it right here,
Fake News!
Straight from the Kremlin, they say!
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Sun Jan 22, 2017 4:55 am

The Royal Hunt of Donald the Terrible
by Charles Carreon
January 21, 2017

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THE PLEASURES OF SHOOTING. AFTER LUNCHEON THE "BEATING" IS A LITTLE WILD.
[Michael J. Morell, Michael V. Hayden, James Clapper, Hillary Clinton, John Brennan, Hunters; Donald Trump, Tiger]


Washington loves nothing so much as a hunt, and the hunt started by the CIA, that set CNN and the rest of the press to croaking like a swamp full of bullfrogs, has been a Royal Hunt, indeed. Built of purest innuendo, the “intelligence dossier” that gave room for full-bore accusations of treason against the President Elect, has been elevated to the level of “credibility” by circuitous statements that hang from nothing but their own brazen assertions. Take this sampling of tautological statements that attempt to turn the “intelligence dossier” into something other than naked slander:

Jesus fucking Christ. This gun isn't smoking. It's burst into flame. "The memos describe several purported meetings during the 2016 presidential campaign between Trump representatives and Russian officials to discuss matters of mutual interest, including the Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee and Mrs. Clinton's campaign chairman, John D. Podesta." This is the evidence that the election was corrupted by the Trump team's collusion with a foreign power, and it seems very very very likely Trump knew. Treason.
-- Rebecca Solnit (Tweet), The New York Times

“Look, don't take anything in this dossier as gospel. But it's definitely evidence in favor of some pretty extraordinary claims.”
-- Zack Beauchamp @zackbeauchamp

Stunning and believable narrative in leaked docs describing alleged rift in Kremlin over meddling in US elections … Bombshell if true: Trump lawyer @MichaelCohen212 & Kremlin reps allegedly held clandestine August meeting in Prague
-- Borzou Daragahi @borzou

With CNN confirming that intelligence chiefs consider this report credible, it's about time to start using the word "treason."
-- Markos Moulitsas @markos

The evidence is questionable, but the idea looks entirely plausibleUnverifiable sensational details aside, the Trump dossier is a good reflection of how things are run in the Kremlin … with methods borrowed from the KGB … [so] whatever the truth of Putin’s connections with Trump, [it’s all] pretty scary.
-- Andrei Soldatov, The Guardian

Regardless of truth or falsity, I can see why they thought the president-elect should know.
-- Former CIA Director Michael Hayden


The New Journalism: Believing Double-talk From People Who Lie for A Living

Using weasel-words like “alleged,” “purported,” and “not-Gospel,” to describe the “intelligence dossier,” while simultaneously citing it as “evidence of treason” is just doubletalk. Journalists used to help us make the distinction between allegations and evidence, but that’s not the approach they’re taking here – urging readers to believe for the sake of believing whenever the story is good enough to believe. That a narrative is “stunning and believable” is a description of good fiction, not an indication of its accuracy. That an idea is “plausible” does not commend it to the wise for acceptance, but merely for consideration. That intelligence agents sometimes pass on information “regardless of truth or falsity” does not suggest that, by being passed along, false information becomes true.

But the authors of these words are all urging us to jump to another conclusion, not so tediously weighed down with logic: “When an ‘intelligence agent’ says something, even without a witness or anything more than their own words to support it, we must all stand up and salute it as ‘evidence’”. Well, for those of us with a memory longer than, say, 18 months, we can remember all the way back to when a spook was a spook, and his word, without evidence, was the worthless doubletalk of people who would have to kill you if they told you the truth. How times have changed.

“Less Here Than Meets the Eye”

Americans have been given a choice: to believe that Russia has its hand up Trump’s butt, and is running him like a puppet, or to deny that this is a proven fact. Those of us who are less than convinced that we are facing a commie takeover by Donald the Terrible don’t get a second chance to believe. We’re out of the discussion, exiled from “liberal” society, that has somehow decided to believe whatever the CIA has to say about the guy who was headed for, and now is sitting in, the White House. When we try to run down the facts behind the “intelligence dossier” that has been adopted as true by the same crowd that told us to watch out for “fake news,” we discover there are none. It’s all conjecture. As Tallula Bankhead famously observed, “There is less here than meets the eye.”

The Goal? To Imprison the President in Failed Policies

But the lack of evidence never sways the faith of believers. The beaters in this Royal Hunt have dedicated all of their firepower and noisemaking ability at flushing the President out of his lair and straight into the policy prison where the entire Establishment is now wailing that all Presidents must reside. Or what? There is a possibility of what? A rupture with past policies? An overturning of existing relationships? The reordering of relationships?

All those briefing books Trump refuses to read – they’re full of catechism, not knowledge. They are the latest advice from a cadre of pinheads who haven’t done anything particularly right in US foreign policy as far back as they’ve been an influence. Their catechism teaches that military expansionism is good foreign policy, and their dominance of all Washington thinking has now metastasized into the giant boil of pissed-off spies erupting on the forehead of official Washington in a grotesque, pulsing tumor. The only thing more grotesque than the CIA's resort to McCarthy-era propaganda tactics is the convulsive Seig-Heiling of the media lackeys as one body, thrilled at last to be part of the "liberal agenda."

Mistake me not for a Trumper, on this day or any of the remaining days of his administration. Nevertheless, the McCarthyite clamor now resonating the echo-chambers of the media regarding Donald Trump and the “Russian hacking scandal” is mere journalistic flatulence occasioned by gluttonous consumption of fact-free propaganda. What effect it will have on the policies of a man who seems to be hell bent on driving his motorcade through the front yard of the approved political habitation has yet to be seen.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Mon Jan 23, 2017 5:24 am

A Brief Introduction to Jaynesian Bicameralism
by Charles Carreon
January 22, 2017

Image

Julian Jaynes didn’t quite convince Richard Dawkins that the theory of mind proposed in his 1976 psych-classic, “The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind” was correct – Dawkins remains on the fence about whether it’s pure bullshit or pure genius – but Jaynes certainly won first prize for Most Provoking Title for A Serious Book. Jaynes was competing in the burgeoning post-Freudian psych-theory market where Szasz, Laing, Leary and Lilly had already pitched their tents, so he undoubtedly wanted to cut through clutter and get people to hear his idea. The only drawback to his strategy is that, to the pedestrian ear, Jaynes’ dramatic declaration sounds a little like, “We Come From Crazy Ancestors Who Had A Breakdown, and Became Us.”

Bicameralism, Split-Brain Syndrome in Pre-Iliadic Humanity

Jaynes argues that our ability to cognize ourselves as human beings results from the linguistic integration of the two hemispheres of our brain. Jaynes further argues that for millennia, our human ancestors possessed a “bicameral mind,” in which the two brain hemispheres collaborated without the medium of self-conscious awareness, before the activity of naming events, objects and living beings blossomed into the magic of individual consciousness. If you were equipped with a bicameral mind living in the Indian subcontinent in 4000 BC, according to Jaynes, you literally could not think “I,” much less, “I should pick these mangos to eat later.” You’d just pick the mangos, eat as many as you could, and save some for later, because of learned responses generated by your nervous system, that he calls “aptic” systems, i.e., systems that make us apt at performing certain actions, what used to be called “instinct.”

The above illustration presumes that mangos are familiar, and thus no stress is created when they are seen. The person sees the mango, knows it is food, eats and stores it. But suppose the same person discovers an unfamiliar fruit outside of their usual domain. Now the bicameral mind might kick into action. The right brain might manifest as a voice, emanating from a haze around the fruit tree, and that voice might say, “Eat of this tree, for it is good.” Why? Since the idea of the self does not exist in the bicameral mind, the idea of aiding the self to survive cannot arise. Jaynes’ vision of these type of people includes even the heroes of the Iliad, such as Achilles, Hector, and Menelaus, all of whom ascribe what seem like rash, passionate actions to the irresistible power of the gods, whose voices drive them to act in ways that modern humans would call intemperate.

The bicameral condition of pre-Iliadic man, is therefore one of unconscious action, directed by forces either automatic or hallucinated. The automatic forces are the “aptic systems,” and the “divine” hallucinations are provoked by the untethered right hemisphere. Jaynes supports his interesting theory with evidence derived from split-brain research that proves that, in cases where the physical mechanism of hemispheric interconnection is physically damaged, the right brain and the left brain fail to integrate two things: perceptions and concepts. The integration of perceptions and concepts is a metaphor-fueled activity that occurs due to the interaction of brain hemispheres and the speech centers of the brain. Self-awareness and self-interest then supplants the visionary hallucinations.

Bicameralism in Westworld

A modern Jaynes fan, Marcel Kuijsten, head of an Institute dedicated to his theory, was recently interviewed on the topic of bicameralism after the term was uttered on the current TV series, “Westworld.” Kuijsten described the bicameral mind as what humans have “after language develops, but before we learn consciousness [so that instead] of an introspective mind-space, we’re hearing a commanding voice when we have decisions to make [until eventually humans] develop the ability to have introspection and little by little, the hallucinations are suppressed.”

“The hallucinations” that are associated with the “voices of the gods” must be understood to be quite different from something like “the voice of conscience,” which is a conscious structure constructed of concepts, that couldn’t exist in a bicameral mind. Unlike Jehovah, these “gods” perform no miracles, command no one to do the impossible, and exert a pure authority. By “pure authority,” I mean that when their inner voices speak, the bicameral people act. Bicameral minds cannot ponder the “influence of the divine” upon the “self,” nor can they choose by an act of “free will” to behave as “a sinner” or “a saint.”

Submission, Not Anarchy, Is the Bicameral Condition

So far, so good, but without a coordinating authority, would not all of these “gods,” shooting off their mouths in everyone’s head, create chaos? How can it be that, as Jaynes argues, bicameral minds operated the first agrarian societies, managing vast irrigated fields and timed harvests, gathering all the grain into central granaries, and operating complex administrative systems? As Kuijsten helpfully explains, summarizing Jaynes’ idea – bicameral people tended to hear the boss’ voice:

“You would hear the voice of the chief of the tribe, or the king, and then as the leader died, what would happen was that followers would still hear his commanding voice. So that’s why you see all around the world, the dead are treated as living, and fed, and propped up, and worshiped. So in the death of the leader, we see the birth of the concept of the gods. In ancient Egypt, for example, each king that dies becomes the God of Osiris.”


Thus, argues Jaynes, when the Chief died, people continued to get advice from him, a lot like the Clooney character showing up to help out the Sandra Bullock character in Gravity, described in this review:[1]

“[T]he scene in question involves the return of Clooney’s veteran astronaut, Matt Kowalski. Late in the game, Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) has reached her breaking point. She thinks that she has exhausted every possible opportunity to return home. She shuts down the oxygen the capsule that contains her, and prepares to asphyxiate. But she’s woken out of her stupor by her supervisor (Clooney), who reminds her of one last option she hadn’t explored. Only the catch is, Kowalski’s still dead, and Stone was – what? Imagining him? Envisioning him? Conjuring his essence? The scene is open to multiple interpretations.”


Well, if you were about to pull the plug on your ventilator because you couldn’t figure out how to save yourself, it might push you right back into a bicameral condition. Note the Bullock character has exhausted all of her conscious resources. This is a situation that, however good it is for the rest of her life, is just not being adequately addressed by “consciousness,” and so, she reverts to bicamerality long enough to get that “aha” experience, and rediscover what is beyond the known. But how would she explain it to the folks back at home? So she would quickly revert from bicamerality to consciousness, as soon as the danger was over.

Brain Plasticity and Post-Conscious Humanity

How did humans graduate from bicameralism to “consciousness?” As best I can tell at this stage of the reading, through language. By learning to attach names to perceptions, to discrete objects, to persons, and then, to the self. Having cognized the self, we can begin to experience it, to use it, and to recognize it in others.

Because Jaynes was arguing that human brains now operate differently from those of our ancestors with the same cerebral hardware, he also had to argue that this change in function was possible, thus throwing in his lot with the newly-emerging paradigm of brain plasticity. Today, we have plenty of evidence that the brain repurposes its neural resources with great flexibility, and can thus agree that the functioning of the brain has evolved as linguistic capacities developed, causing newer brains to be wired more efficiently as generations have grown up with ever-more sophisticated speech resources, including of course, the Internet.

So one must ask: if our consciousness arose from the “breakdown” of the bicameral mind, due toits inability to handle the stress of ambiguous situations as efficiently as a “conscious” interface, what could lead to the “breakdown” of consciousness? Could it be the labor of keeping up with machine intelligence? Could it be the overtaxing of consciousness by loading it with too many alternatives for a single mind to process? And if so, what would the next evolutionary stage be?

_______________

Notes:

[1] http://www.cinemablend.com/new/George-C ... 39723.html
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Thu Feb 16, 2017 6:25 am

Has It Happened Here?
by Charles Carreon
February 15, 2017

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Each Night & Day I Pray for the Fall of the U.S.A.
[Trump] SWAMP … TOO BIG. TRUMPTHOR DESTROY EVERYTHING!
— by Tara Carreon


The nation’s self-image has suffered a blow from which it will never recover – the President’s weird hair flip is the new logo for “USA” on every TV in the world, pushing aside the Stars and Stripes. Trump’s flip is as recognizable as a Coke can, and far more menacing to the world’s governing elite. President Donald has put the world on notice that the U.S. Presidency is his job to do as he pleases.

Campaign slogans like “drain the swamp” have been traded for “buy Ivanka’s stuff.” What swamp? Damn Nordstrom! Of course the Goldman guys are in charge of the gold! Must we talk about women again? Look, the good old days at Studio 54 are forgotten – abortions are verboten. Energy? The national parks are being carved up for immediate exploitation in a big way. Criticism? Those who don’t like our program will be acquainted with the business end of a pitchfork. None of this is what you’d expect from a man who ran as the sworn enemy of Washington corruption. He seems born to it.

Who’da thunk it? He lied. But I don’t hear a swelling rebellion from the trailer parks, the suburbs, the Walmart parking lots. Those angry white guys wanting a fair shake aren’t worried about the swarm of Wall Street bankers pouring into the Trump Administration. Why?

The entire ship of state is listing backwards into the past, the far past, like Reconstruction. Under Republican rule, realities can change very quickly. A little nudge with controlled demolitions, and the dominoes started falling after 9/11: Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, NSA domestic spying, all metastasized during the Cheney Years. Now, thanks to the incredibly stupid children’s crusade that passed for Hillary Clinton’s campaign, the USA is once again trussed up like a submissive at a BDSM party, ready to provide complete satisfaction for plutocrats now dressing without shame as total Nazis.

A lot of people are sure that there’s going to be a great big rebellion. Kathleen Parker gives Trump’s impeachment an ETA of 2018, at the latest, when she predicts a protest vote more powerful than a soccer mom’s backhand will give Democrats a Congressional majority in both houses, and remove all vestiges of Trump from the Oval Office, if the occupant is not by then already President Pence.

I’m not so sure. I note that sales of “It Can’t Happen Here” have surged 12,000% since Trump took office. Sinclair Lewis’ demagogue is Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip, a homespun, straight-talking politician with the confidence of a carnival barker, who rises to power on a populist platform, and implements a corpocratic dictatorship with brownshirts, clubs, and all the good stuff. There are uncannily close parallels between Buzz Windrip and Donald Trump, and many of us have been waiting all of our lives to see how it would play if an economically devastated white, male voting public were given the chance to vote for Buzz – or Donald. Since we now have the answer to that question, we move to the next one.

Might it be possible to organize all the bigots now polishing rifles in anticipation of defending their homes against rampaging hordes of illegals? Perhaps they could be offered jobs policing and transporting illegals and other undesirables out to the border wall? And running the internment camps that will have to be set up in every community to manage the outbound migration. Since there are large numbers of Americans who believe that the country is under threat, and who are familiar with the use of weapons and security equipment, they actually stand ready to be recruited to imprison their fellows.

In a relatively plausible scenario, these people could be recruited anonymously and secretly, and organized into neighborhood cells. Before launch day, their neighbors wouldn’t know what was being already prepared. One day, the neighborhood cell would all get emails, and in unison, begin patrolling the neighborhood as a security force, and assist in the immediate arrest and deportation of illegals and other undesirables.

If this scenario were in force, it would be logical to take it all the way up the chain of command, and take over power stations, government offices, and transportation facilities. It would be a flash Blitzkrieg. Hitler would be impressed with the efficiency, at how the communication system could be used to take over the system it was intended to serve.

Anyone can see that implementing these scenarios is well within the realm of the possible, and could be used to establish paramilitary, dictatorial rule with the active participation of a minority of citizens to procure the surrender of the majority. We tend to think that so long as a majority of the people would not approve of such a shift in power, it could not happen, but that is not correct. All it requires is for people with strong, malevolent intent to work diligently to spring the trap, using the power of surprise and state-sanctioned lethal force.

I can hear the huffing and puffing from people who reject all such scenarios as utterly absurd, an impossibility. One question? Did you predict that Hillary would win?


Burn
by Rancid

13 red and white stripes flying
White for skin and red for dying
Why can't i
Walk on through
And not feel like
One is in hell
We don't need no water
Let the motherfucker burn
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Sun Feb 19, 2017 7:15 am

The Art of War: How Will Team Trump Fare on the Field of Battle?
by Charles Carreon
February 18, 2017

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Sun Tzu, author of the Chinese strategy classic, The Art of War, observed that if you take a proper accounting of the strengths and weaknesses of an army, you can forecast how it will fare in armed conflict. Five factors must be assessed to determine which army will win an armed engagement: philosophy, climate, terrain, leadership, and military methods. Sun Tzu commends those who would engage in armed conflict to the consideration of these factors:

“Which government has the right philosophy?”
“Which season and place have the advantage?”
“Which commander has the skill?”
“Which system has strong incentives and effective punishments?”
“Which forces are strongest?”


Analyzing the Factors That Lead to Victory

The most effective organizational philosophy unites owners, managers and workers behind a common goal. The best managers promote the right philosophy, choose the right season for action, and fight only when it makes sense. When does fighting make sense? Only when, after having made the assessment, they know they will win. Indeed, the first step in successful warriorship is analyzing one’s own forces and those of the adversary before engaging in war. As Sun Tzu observes:

“Some commanders perform this analysis.
If you use these commanders, you will win.
Keep them.
Some commanders ignore this analysis.
If you use these commanders, you will lose.
Get rid of them.”


Like military commanders, business leaders should take stock of their chances in the market by performing a similar analysis. A business will thrive if its workers share a group purpose, are coordinated, have the equipment needed to do their work, apply sound business methods, and enjoy good leadership. Looking at the Trump administration’s first actions, we can see that this organization does not score well in this analysis.

Philosophies That Lead to Victory

First, let us consider the administration’s stated philosophy -- to make America great, as it once was, before terrible things began happening sometime after Reagan left office, and the nation’s spirit was darkened by an evil emanating from the liberal media. Trump’s philosophy blames outsiders for America’s lost greatness, and seeks to restore it by erecting protective barriers. He will build a wall to keep out job-stealing immigrants entering from the south. He enacted the now-defunct travel ban to keep out terrorists from seven Islamic countries. He wants to tax imports to keep out cheap goods from China and elsewhere.

This philosophy has the capacity to unite only what is, on a good day, a slim majority of white male voters to preserve their advantages as against encroaching “minorities” that are rapidly moving into the majority. This union of disaffected white men was sufficient to win one election against a very poorly-chosen Democratic candidate who withered in the heat of Trump’s white-hot incitements. Whether this narrow philosophy can carry Trump farther will depend on what the other factors contribute to his administration’s performance, because Trump’s plan to Make America Great appeals only to a small portion of the electorate, and negatively motivates a wide swath of opposition.

Consider the Climate

Second, let’s consider the climate in which the Trump administration is operating. Climate is driven by timing, seasonal changes, and weather, that can be hostile or accommodating to one’s military or business plans. Even the Wehrmacht could not defeat a Stalingrad winter while dressed in summer clothes. Consider the significance of the numerous indications that climate catastrophe is much closer than previously predicted. Trump’s “drill, baby drill” approach to energy policy is poorly-timed, and his rejection of renewables -- wind, solar, conservation, and the smart grid -- pivots the nation away from technological strategies that will bring the most value to the nation during the impending planetary heat wave. Trump’s plans for the nation would be better suited to that time when the USA seemed to have limitless resources from which to draw and endless room in which to discharge waste. Those times are gone, and enshrining wasteful technology as “American” will not make it economically viable.

Now let us consider the economic climate. Trump rode in on a wave of discontent among the formerly middle-class, who have watched their advantages swept away by economic devastation due to financial excesses, governmental disinterest, and the all-devouring thinking machines. Trump made promises to the emerging underclass, and is now expected to deliver. Many people will give Trump a few years to deliver the bacon to their front door, but they won’t wait forever. Eventually, unless of course an actual war blows up to distract us from our domestic poverty, Trump will be judged by those holding bags of student loan debt that they are unable to service due to lack of gainful employment. At that point, the climate could turn truly nasty.

Skillful This Is Not

Third, let us consider what kind of skill the President has demonstrated, which I define as the ability to accomplish your purpose. Trump’s first act of authority was to enact the travel ban. On the plus side, it was bold, decisive, and a lot of people thought it would be successful. Putting it into sales-speak, Trump treated his Executive Order banning immigration from seven countries as a new product that would sell well with his target market, and he was right. It was a hit with Trump’s base. Encouraged by what he knew would be mass approval from his adulating crowds, Trump was confident, and therefore he thought he was ready to launch.

Trump believes that launching the product tells the public you’re confident of success, and since confidence breeds success, you must launch quickly. Trump was in such a hurry to launch that no one had time to review the constitutionality of his Executive Order. Trump’s team didn’t call anyone to play “Devil’s Advocate,” and went to market with a vulnerable product. Then the competition pounced.

The opposing team highlighted all of the travel ban’s bad consumer features: people locked out of the country, people stranded in foreign airports, people blocking airports in support of detained foreign nationals locked in the TSA offices, and lawyers besieging the courts with the assistance of two state governments – Washington and Minnesota -- that claimed their sovereign interests, their state educational institutions, and their citizens, were injured by the travel ban. Trump is not intimidated by judges -- perhaps in the course of filing 3,000 lawsuits, he has come to view them as mere functionaries whose will is usually an extension of his own. And it’s not been long since Trump impugned the impartiality of the Hispanic Federal District Judge presiding over the Trump University lawsuit. So when the travel ban was held unconstitutional by Seattle Federal Judge Robart, Trump’s caustic tweet was hardly surprising:

The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!


Bad enough, you say, but a day later, the President had focused his 140-character assassination weapon directly on Judge Robart, proactively making him the fall-guy for the terrorist attacks that Trump is trying to prevent:

Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!


A few days later, the Ninth Circuit panel agreed with Judge Robart, putting the Executive Order on hold indefinitely, turning Trump’s predictions of victory into a further source of embarrassment, and fueling further Twitter attacks on the judiciary, as the President tweeted his defiance:

SEE YOU IN COURT!


The phrasing was not inspired, but his meaning was clear. Screw that liberal Ninth Circuit panel, he was marching right up the street to visit SCOTUS and straighten this out. But a few days later, Trump’s Department of Justice announced it would not appeal the President’s loss to the 8-member Supreme Court. Instead, Trump would issue a new, improved Executive Order to accomplish the same purpose that had already been found unconstitutional. None of this was skillful.

Trump should have at least been advised not to tweet his final brazen boast. He should have listened to someone who could have told him that the 8-member Supreme Court hasn’t delivered a right-wing win since the conservative majority lost its enfant terrible, Justice Scalia. Surely someone could have told Trump that the evenly-balanced Court would probably not overrule this Ninth Circuit decision in a month of Sundays, especially after all the anti-judicial hate-tweets emanating from the White House. Instead, he didn’t get this news until he’d already stuck his foot in it.

“Sad!” as the President is fond of tweeting. If Trump’s legal team had just waited for Congress to approve Trump’s ninth Supreme Court Justice, the grateful new appointee would have swung the decision over to Trump’s side. Through bad timing, Trump logged a loss where he could have notched a victory. To head straight for a judicial conflict without suitably establishing favorable conditions at SCOTUS was a dunderhead move.

To translate this sad tale into marketing-speak – after the product was rejected by consumers, retailers, and wholesalers, team Trump pulled the defective travel ban off the market with the promise to release a new, improved version really soon! Unfortunately for Team Trump, when a product fails, the market remains ready to reject all similar products from the same manufacturer, unless it can roll out something like “Classic Coke.” Unfortunately, “Classic Bigotry” doesn’t have that type of built-in market appeal, even with those prone to nostalgia.

A Slack System of Discipline

Fourth, we should consider whether the the Trump administration is improving team performance with proper rewards and punishments. Looking at the rewards, they appear to be distributed despite bad performance. Kelly Conway goes out and plugs “Ivanka’s stuff,” ends up looking like an ethics dunce, and is rewarded for her ethical gaffes with continued praise. Trump is apparently the kind of leader who doesn’t care if his players play by the rules, which assures they will not.

However, this slackness seems to be motivating “whistleblowers,” as national-intelligence leakers are now known, to subject Team Trump to a little discipline of their own. Many DC spooks are unfriendly to the Trump team, and this is producing dangerous fruit. It must have been very disturbing news to the President that the FBI had tapped General Flynn’s phone and was accusing him of breaking the law by talking to Putin’s man about Obama’s sanctions against Russia.

General Flynn is receiving swift punishment for activity that, in past administrations, would have been swept under the rug by an accommodating national security state. After all, both Nixon and Reagan had secret communications with North Vietnam and Iran, respectively, signaling the enemy that they’d get better deals from incoming Republicans than they would from outgoing Democrats. That didn’t get anybody fired!

These modern “intelligence agencies” seem to have a mind of their own. Trump and his team are wrapped in a Laocoön with fractious government agencies that bodes ill for him. If Trump doesn’t have control over the covert security apparatus of government, and cannot prevent it from striking at his minions, he is going to wield considerably less power than Presidents who can. Just imagine if someone at the FBI had tried to pull a similar number on Dick Cheney. A faceful of buckshot, literal or figurative, would have certainly been the upshot.

Mistaking the Source of Presidential Strength

Fifth, let us ask ourselves, how strong is Team Trump? In a group enterprise like representative government, strength comes from the ability to aggregate power to your position. Momentum takes a long time to build, moves swiftly when it is finally engaged, and makes things look inevitable once it has worked its magic. Strength must be cultivated in such an environment. It cannot be exercised before its basis has been established.

Trump may have most miscalculated in this area. He appears to believe that the office of the President comes with an inherent grant of authority, an illusion created by the skill that we call “looking Presidential.” Looking Presidential means never over-investing yourself in a single gesture, like the travel ban, so your prestige will not suffer if the gesture is rejected. Looking Presidential means not giving orders if there is any doubt they will be obeyed, because the appearance of impotence corrodes the mystique of power. Looking Presidential means showing grace when things do not go your way, acknowledging that being sporting means losing a hand now and then.

Prognosis: More of the Same, At Higher Speed

If Team Trump were a startup, I would have to give it next to no chances of survival as a profitable entity. This doesn’t mean that the entire Trump Administration will be ineffective in accomplishing desirable results for the clique of billionaires who have the President’s ear. Tremendous things could occur, because of course, the US government is not a startup. It does not operate under economic imperatives that demand that its products provide some saleable benefit. It can operate at a deficit, generating more credit to avoid making cost-benefit decisions, while carrying on with sentimental policies that provide psychological comfort to a shrinking cohort of backward-looking voters.

Ironically, the President most identified with the “businessman” mind-set in our entire history is now sitting in the Oval Office, pursuing policies that business leaders who turn a daily profit would instantly recognize as a sure path to failure. In a further irony, Trumps’ policies will blend well with the wasteful, failure-rewarding culture that dominates the military establishment, to which the largest proportion of national revenue is allocated. The revolving doors that enrich private persons and corporations at the expense of the nation will likely begin to rotate at speeds sufficient to generate turbine power and gale-force winds. Hold on to your hat.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Mon Jun 12, 2017 6:12 am

A Short Review of “The Water Knife” by Paolo Bacigalupi
by Charles Carreon
June 12, 2017

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I live in Tucson, Arizona, a town that has basically already dried up and blown away by the time the action goes down in this Climate-Catastrophe dystopian thriller. The action kicks off in the lush arcology of Las Vegas, where the protagonist, Angel Velasquez, works for the Southern Nevada Water Authority as a “water knife,” a hit man who works to keep himself living in an air conditioned Vegas arcology. A cool drink of water he’s not.

Angel works for Catherine Case, whose job it is to keep Vegas supplied with the water it needs to continue its existence in the parched American Southwest. Angel’s first mission is to lead a Blackhawk raid on the little town of Carver City, Arizona, a misbegotten burg that Case has targeted for annihilation by water-deprivation. Angel gets his score, and moves on down to Phoenix in his yellow Tesla roadster to investigate why his fellow-assassin, Julio, has gone silent when he’s supposed to be destroying lives and acquiring water rights.

Angel finds Julio, and they head down to the Phoenix morgue to look over the corpse of a man name of Vosovic. We don’t know it at this point, and neither does Angel, but Vosovic has been hideously tortured to death by Julio, who is pretending to be scared out of his wits, but is actually colder than a can of Coors, ready to get back to work on anyone who might be able to answer those difficult questions that water knives always have to be asking – who’s got the water rights? Torture for fun and profit is a topic that Bacigalupi enjoys exploring. He gets into the details, the modus operandi, and it may not make good bedtime reading if your sleep is easily disturbed.

At the morgue, Angel meets Lucy, a journalist who is always a little too curious for her health. Lucy is at the morgue looking for the corpse of one of her sources, James, a water-rights lawyer who thought he had found his ticket out of Phoenix somewhere in a stack of old paperwork. Digging through old, dusty water rights on an Indian reservation, James found some rights so old they’d been forgotten by everyone, so senior that only God could assert a claim of priority. Not surprisingly, James has been tortured to death in a manner identical to Vosovic – so relentlessly that he’s bitten off his tongue in an effort to end the ordeal.

Like a negative Grail, James’ water rights are deadly to anyone who touches them, and the bodies keep piling up. Amidst a landscape crowded with Texans dying of thirst, paying whatever the market will bear for water, we meet street trash like Maria and Sarah, whose daily existence is to be stalked by gangsters working for "the Vet," a psycho who keeps jackals as pets and feeds them people – people like Maria and Sarah, or anybody who doesn’t pay rent to him for the privilege of selling water or skin on his dusty gang turf.

You can guess that Angel and Lucy are going to get hooked up, and that either Sarah or Maria, or both, will get dispatched by the Vet’s gangsters, but you’ll never anticipate all of the twists and turns as these characters orbit the black hole of greed that surrounds the water rights James died for. Embedded in the book is another book – Mark Reisner’s “Cadillac Desert,” a serious work about the feckless exploitation of the rivers and aquifers of the Southwest by rapacious farmers and bureaucrats, the ancestors of Angel’s boss, Catherine Case. A first edition of Cadillac Desert is found on the bookshelf of every educated person who has the misfortune to inhabit the pages of Bacigalupi’s sad and prescient tome. I think he is suggesting that it’s high time we all read it. But I must admit, I started Cadillac Desert a few years back, and never finished it, opting to watch a rental copy of the multi-part PBS series that, somehow, hasn’t yet made it into DVD format.

I don’t know if The Water Knife will get turned into a movie, but it would be educational if it didn’t just devolve into a splatter-fest. After all the blood and the dust settles, the lesson that Bacigalupi is trying to get across is simple: there are two types of people. The first group of people see the ugly truth that humans have badly fucked up, and we are all going to pay the price. The second, much larger group, keeps believing the happy horseshit shoveled our way by the politicians and the media. I’m not sure we have a choice in what group we are in, but you could always kill your TV if you don’t want to be in the second group.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 20, 2017 9:39 am

Spy vs. Spy: Pan Am 103 -- To Be Onboard Was Not to Be Onboard
by Charles Carreon
August 30, 2009

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Do spies kill spies? The answer seems self-evident -- spies killing spies is the raison d'etre of spy fiction and spy movies, from 007 to the Good Shepherd. However, what is readily believed when cast as fiction, seems just as readily rejected when proposed as an explanation for real-life events. Take the Pan Am 103 bombing -- can the fact that five secret agents were on board, accompanying a DEA drug mule, on a flight that was mysteriously half-full, a mere four days before Christmas -- be devoid of significance? When the Soviets downed KAL 007 in 1984, the presence of Larry McDonald, President of the John Birch Society, among the dead, was considered to have great significance. But five dead spies aboard Pan Am 103 provoked no similar concern. When Pan Am was sued for "willful misconduct" by the families of their dead passengers, its lawyer James M. Shaughnessy subpoenaed the CIA and DEA to obtain information relevant to the case, but never obtained a single page of evidence or a word of testimony, because the Department of Justice argued, and the trial judge agreed, that disclosing the information would endanger national security. The official investigators thus had no access to those sources of information either, and completely ignored the presence of these five international intelligence and security agents, i.e., spies, in attempting to determine the purpose, method, and perpetrators of the bombing. Here are their names and occupations:

Gannon, Matthew Kevin, foreign service officer, 34 years, born August 11, 1954, Los Angeles, California, seat number 14J. (Beirut CIA Station Chief)

McKee, Charles Dennis, army major, 40 years, born December 3, 1948, Arlington, Virginia, seat number 15F. (Defense Intelligence Agency)

LaRiviere, Ronald Albert, 33 years, born November 19, 1955, Alexandria, Virginia, seat number 20H. (Special Agent, U.S. Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service)

O'Connor, Daniel Emmett, U.S. diplomatic service, 31 years, born September 22, 1957, Dorchester, Massachusetts, seat number 25H. (Special Agent, U.S. Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service)

Curry, Joseph Patrick, army captain, 31 years, born March 21, 1957, Fort Devens, Massachusetts, seat number 44K. (Captain, U.S. Army Special Forces)


The presence of these five men aboard a doomed aircraft becomes more puzzling when we know that several other apparently better connected spies and diplomats, and their children, had canceled or "missed" the flight. These people were:

Steven Green, Acting Administrator of the DEA, had a reservation on the flight. Green has described being on the Heathrow tarmac, watching the doomed plane take off. Green later testified falsely before Congress, denying under oath that there were any controlled drug deliveries through Frankfurt Airport in 1988, even though Virginia court records document the deliveries, and a DEA agent has testified being at Frankfurt Airport in 1989, by which time drug traffic was so heavy, DEA liaison agent, Thomas Slovenky, was permanently posted at the airport.

Tom McCarthy, U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon, who, like Gannon, was returning from Lebanon to the U.S., and was booked on Pan Am 103, cancelled his flight.

Pik Botha, South African Foreign Minister, Gen. Mallon, Defense Minister, and Gen. Van Tonda, head of the South African Secret Service, and another twenty (20) delegates on their way to New York to sign the tripartite peace pact between Angola, Cuba, and South Africa, cancelled and took an earlier flight. South African Secret Service had close ties to the Israeli service and also to the Central Intelligence Agency.

The son of Oliver "Buck Revell," FBI Head of Lockerbie Investigation, "missed" the flight. Mr. Revell stated, "My son was in the army stationed in Germany and was due to come back to the United States on that particular flight."


If, unlike the official investigators, you are curious about these "coincidences," you will want to be aware of what the spies were doing on board, and who had booked their flights. One person who is curious, to the point of entertaining deep suspicions, is McKee's mother, Beulah McKee, who told Time Magazine in 1992, "For three years, I’ve had a feeling that if Chuck hadn’t been on that plane, it wouldn’t have been bombed. I know that’s not what our President wants me to say. I’ve never been satisfied at all by what the people in Washington told me.” Lest you think grief has twisted her perspective, consider another curious person, who has a more professional interest. The following quote is from the same article, entitled, "Did the Secret Team Bring Down Pan Am 103 to Silence Heroin Trade Whistleblower?" in April 1992. "Victor Marchetti, former executive assistant to the CIA's deputy director and co-author of 'The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence,' believes that the presence of the [five-man intelligence] team on Flight 103 is a clue that should not be ignored. His contacts at Langley agree. 'It's like the loose thread of a sweater,' he says. 'Pull on it, and the whole thing may unravel.'"

So let's give that string a tug, and see what unravels. Gannon and McKee were aboard a connecting flight in Frankfurt, as the personal companions of Nazzie Jafaar. He needed to be watched, because his personal companion was a load of pure Lebanese heroin, that he was delivering to Detroit for the DEA, per the long-standing arrangement between the Agency and his family, whose fine product had been killing Americans for 50 years. In utilizing the Jafaars to procure heroin for use in "sting operations," the DEA had followed the example of Lucky Luciano, the Mafioso who had established an exclusive dealing relationship between the Sicilian and Lebanese criminal families. Gannon's body was found next to Jafaar's, even though Gannon's official seat was in First Class, and Jafaar's assigned seat was in row 53 at the very rear of the plane. A large quantity of heroin and $500,000 cash was found in the wreckage, as were six pistols, which even in 1988, could only be carried aboard commercial aircraft by special authorization, i.e., as the personal sidearm of a spy.

Now, assuming that you were a spy wanting to kill Gannon and McKee, what would your motive be? To answer that question, it helps to know what Gannon and McKee had been doing prior to the bombing, and what they were intending to do had they not been blown out of the sky. Gannon and McKee were working on the unending Lebanese hostage crisis that continued all through the 80's, as a series of Americans and other foreigners were kidnapped and held by Syrian and Palestinian forces in Beirut safehouses. The attempt to recover these hostages led to several U.S. foreign policy disasters, including Carter's failed commando raid and Oliver North's drugs for weapons for hostages deal, that encompassed bartering missiles from the Israelis, hostages from the Syrians and Palestinians, cocaine from Central America, and heroin from Lebanon. North's main man in the middle east was Monzer al-Kassar, a dealer in drugs, weapons, and counterfeit money whose wife was the sister of the Syrian Intelligence Chief, and whose mistresses were the daughter of Syria's president Rifat Assad, and a former Miss Lebanon who had previously been serially married to notorious terrorists, one an associate of Abu Nidal. When Gannon and McKee discovered that the CIA was in bed with an omnivorous snake like al-Kassar, they were furious and bound for Washington with the intent to blow the whistle on what they considered a rogue operation that had put their lives and official rescue mission at risk. Little did they know how right they might have been.

Assuming that the foregoing scenario provides a basis for concluding that other spies wanted to kill McKee and Gannon, who would have had the power to direct them into harm's way? That would have been Micheal T. Hurley, the DEA agent in charge of the Nicosia Cyprus operation, who coordinated his activities with the CIA Special Action Group in Weisbaden, Germany. Despite the fact that the itinerary was communicated through a secure link, Hurley revealed McKee and Gannon's itinerary to the CIA Directorate of Operations in Washington, to MI-6, the British Secret Service, and to SPAG, the CIA Special Action Group. That's a lot of potential enemies knowing the whereabouts of two men who had conceived objections to a plan that, as we know from the Iran-Contra hearings, was planned at the highest levels of U.S. government, in blatant violation of U.S. law.

Next we must ask whether anyone has ever asked Hurley if he targeted McKee and Gannon, and if so, whether he denied it? The answer to the first question is, "yes," because Hurley, apparently not under any secrecy restrictions, posed the question to himself in his book, "I Solemnly Swear." The answer to the second question is, "no," he does not deny it, and merely blusters that those who have questioned his role in the bombing "have a lot of gall." In support of his vitriolic non-denial, Hurley claims that the drugs-for-weapons-for-hostages deal with al-Kassar never existed. Since that claim is a lie, his statement stands as what we call, in the law, a "tacit admission."

One man who knew Hurley, and was well-positioned to judge his professional acumen because he worked for all three of the U.S. intelligence agencies -- the DEA, CIA and DIA -- was Lester Coleman, Defense Intelligence Agent, fluent Arabic speaker, and longtime handler for numerous middle eastern intelligence assets. Coleman, who lived with his family in Cyprus, was so disturbed by Hurley's willingness to traffic in information with virtually anyone, regardless of their lack of trustworthiness, that he withdrew from the operation in May, 1988. The death of Gannon, McKee, and Jafaar on the same airplane also put Coleman on guard for his own safety, because as is recounted in his book, "Trail of the Octopus -- From Beirut to Lockerbie -- Inside the DIA," Coleman knew Gannon and McKee had "switched to Flight 103 through RA Travel Masters of Nicosia, the DEA's travel agents on Cyprus." For making this, and similar observations, Hurley sued Coleman in England, and got "Trail of The Octopus" suppressed by settling with his publishers, who agreed to take the book off the shelves.

"Trail of the Octopus" was recently published for the first time in the United States in August 2009. In the book, Coleman wondered whether his supervisor Bill Donleavy, whose true name he had never known, might in fact have been Matthew "Kevin" Gannon, because his password/countersign combination had always been to tell his contact "Hello, I'm a friend of Bill Donleavy's," which would be reciprocated with "I don't know any Bill Donleavy," whereupon he would reply, "His friends know him as Kevin." Then after an old-time spook walk involving trips on random subways, double-backs, and trips through hotel laundry rooms, he would be ushered into Donleavy's presence. These charming routines were disrupted forever after the downing of Pan Am 103. The next time DIA "control" reached out to him was after Coleman appeared on the NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw, talking about the bombing. It wasn't Donleavy calling, but a new contact who called himself "Miller," who reprimanded him for speaking out of school, and gave no explanation for why Donleavy hadn't made the call.

Finally, in addition to Hurley, another spy has been identified who passed information about Gannon and McKee's itinerary to persons who shouldn't have had it. That was David Lovejoy, an arms-dealing CIA-agent with many other aliases, who might also have been an Iranian double-agent, and was definitely an associate of Monzer al-Kassar, and aided Oliver North's efforts to supply illegal arms to the Contras. James M. Shaughnessy, Pan Am's defense lawyer, has said that four investigative journalists told him they had listened to surveillance tapes garnered from phone taps on the Iranian embassy in which Lovejoy gave the Iranian charge d'affaires details on the movement of the five-man CIA/DIA team that planned to fly home on Pan Am 103. Lovejoy's status within the CIA, and the damning events, cannot be doubted. He was a member of the CIA Special Action Group, and in that capacity, met Nazzie Jafaar upon his arrival in Germany, and transferred him to other CIA Special Action Group agents, who shepherded him through Frankfurt airport security and delivered him to Gannon's custody.

In summary, several spies were killed on Pan Am 103, and a large number of people with connections to the security establishment caught other flights, after being initially booked on 103. Can you imagine if Gannon, McKee, LaRiviere, O'Connor and Curry had known that Green, McCarthy, Pik Botha and his entire entourage, had changed their reservations at the last moment, that they would have flown on that half-empty plane, three days before Christmas?

One final question you might want answered -- were there any warnings that a bomb would be placed aboard an airliner during the winter of 1988? The answer is "yes." There were at least eight. The Pan Am 103 plaintiffs submitted proof of several warnings as evidence that Pan Am was negligent in failing to take greater care when inspecting luggage. You may surmise that if the generalized warnings were that obvious, that many in the "intelligence community," especially those steeped in the eighties milieu of middle eastern guns, drugs, hostages and terrorism, would have known about the plot. If Hurley and his cohorts knew of the plan, then pushing McKee and Gannon aboard the doomed aircraft would just be a "twofer." Since a plane loaded with innocents was going to go down anyway, they might as well put a few troublemakers aboard. "Trail of the Octopus" recounts many exchanges with Donleavy and others in which it became clear that the DEA/CIA's careless style of operation had come in for criticism, and that higher-ups in the DIA wanted them shut down. These are quoted below.

"Trail of the Octopus -- From Beirut to Lockerbie -- Inside the DIA, by Donald Goddard and Lester Coleman" wrote:

'This CBN thing is getting to be a real pain in the ass.' Donleavy said. 'So is Ollie North and that whole damn bunch of kooks and weirdoes. We got this lightbird colonel running around loose, telling two and three-star generals what to do, and they're getting pissed off about it. So don't be surprised if we pull his plug. Starting with this cockeyed deal with the Hoobaka bunch. We want you to close 'em out, old buddy. Nothing sudden, nothing dramatic -- we don't want to make waves. Just let it die from natural causes, okay? Let 'em get on with it, but from now on, things should start to go wrong.'

***

Donleavy's strictures about keeping away from the embassy had focused particularly on the risks of associating with the Drug Enforcement Administration's 'cowboys', the DIA's contempt for the CIA under William Casey being exceeded only by its detestation of the DEA.

***

If Hurley asks you again if you can do something for him,' he said, 'tell him, okay. Otherwise he's going to get suspicious. But you don't tell him Condor is a DIA operation or let him think you're with DIA HUMINT. And under no circumstances do you tell him about any assets we have in place in Lebanon. If he wants to know who your contacts are over there, make 'em up.' 'Just string him along until we get things squared away. There could be a positive spin to it because now you can keep an eye on Hurley for us. We've been picking up some bad vibes on that guy. But watch yourself. That whole bunch is into cowboys and Indians. Just don't get too close.'

***

'You know, buddy, you don't have to do this if you don't want to,' Donleavy said. 'Those guys are bad news. Anything goes wrong, they'll just leave you face down in the shit.' 'The DEA, hell -- it's just one big mistake. Which is why we want you out there. To keep an eye on 'em.'

***

They WERE cowboys. Rock'n' roll cowboys, with beards, long hair, leather boots and jeans -- the embassy people couldn't stand them. Not their sort of bridge partners at all. And to see 'em hanging out upstairs with the spooks in their tennis shorts -- God, what a picture. America in action overseas.

***

But nobody could tell Hurley what to do. Not Connie, not me and certainly not anybody in Washington. They were all assholes at DEA headquarters, according to Hurley. They'd never understood him or what he was trying to do, he once told me.

***

'Okay,' said Donleavy, putting the pad away in his briefcase. 'You're all set. Now here's the national emergency.'

He produced a Mattel Speak 'n' Spell toy computer, and Coleman sat down slowly.

'What the fuck is this? Some kind of joke?'

'No joke, buddy.' Donleavy was deadly serious. 'I want you to take this out to Tony Asmar.'

'Come on, Bill. Are you kidding me? I'm risking my marriage for this?'

'Remember a year ago?' Donleavy said. 'When you pulled the plug on CBN and the Contra deal? Well, this is it. The bottom line. This is where you get to wrap the whole thing up.'

'With that?'

'Yep.' He patted the toy. 'You got a little something extra in there.'

'Great.' Coleman weighed it in his hand suspiciously. 'It's not going to blow up on me, is it?'

'Nothing like that. We put in an extra chip, that's all. When you sit down with Tony, punch in your code word, he'll punch in his, and you'll retrieve the data we loaded in. He'll know what to do with it.'

'Oh, God. Suppose I forget the code word. You know what I'm like with those things.'

'You won't forget this one. You're from the South. What's the Southern slang word for peanut?'

'You mean, goober?'

Donleavy beamed.

Next day, Coleman flew to Heathrow with the camera equipment and the Mattel Speak 'n' Spell, arriving on the morning of 6 September. From there, he took a direct flight to Larnaca, Cyprus, and after four hours' sleep, caught the midnight ferry to Jounieh. Asmar's fiancee, Giselle, Mary-Claude's sister, met him off the boat, and as it was now Sunday, they joined the family for lunch at their house in Sarba.

On Monday, 8 September, Coleman got to work with Asmar in his office at Karintina. After testing the video equipment, they sent Asmar's volunteer cameramen off to start shooting the locations Control had specified in the western sectors of Beirut, places where, Coleman assumed, the hostages were being held. They then put the Speak 'n' Spell on Asmar's desk, set it up in accordance with the maker's instructions, and punched in their code words.

Out poured a detailed account of visits made by Robert McFarlane and Lt-Col. Oliver North to Iran, traveling on Irish passports, to organize the sale of TOW missiles and launchers to the Iranian government in exchange for the release of American hostages; details of money transfers and bank accounts, with dates and places -- most of it based on incidents and conversations that could only have been known to the Iranian or American negotiators.

'My God,' said Coleman. He had known North was seriously out of favour at the Pentagon, but here was another glimpse into the pit. 'What are you supposed to do with this stuff?'

Asmar looked at him soberly, and Coleman did not press the point.

He left Beirut with the camera equipment and videotapes on 11 September, arriving back in Cyprus on the 12th. Next day, he flew to Heathrow, and after an overnight stop in London, traveled on to Montreal, and from there, as Thomas Leavy, to Baltimore Washington International airport, where he checked in, as instructed, at the Ramada Inn. Donleavy, accompanied this time by another agent, arrived there early next morning, the 15th, for a full day's debriefing, and that night Coleman headed south for Alabama to rejoin Mary-Claude at the Lake Martin cottage.

On the 23rd, he began his postgraduate studies as a teaching assistant at Auburn University, and on 2 October, also on schedule, Mary-Claude presented him with a daughter, Sarah.

Meanwhile, one of Asmar's operatives had delivered the Speak 'n' Spell material to a relative who worked for Al Shiraa, Beirut's pro-Syrian Arabic-language news magazine. When the story ran on 3 November, it was picked up at once by the Western media, touching off an international scandal of such embarrassing proportions that President Reagan was forced to act. On 25 November 1986, he fired North, accepted the resignation of Rear-Admiral John Poindexter, McFarlane's successor as National Security Adviser, and spent the rest of his administration trying to dodge the political fallout from Irangate.

'Most people assumed it was the Iranians who blew the whistle on North, McFarlane and Poindexter,' Coleman says. 'Some even said it was the Russians who leaked the story after the failure of the Reykjavik summit. But it wasn't. It was the Pentagon. It was the DIA. It was me, with my little Speak 'n' Spell.'
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