A man will be imprisoned in a room with a door that's unlocked and opens inwards; as long as it does not occur to him to pull rather than push. ~ Wittgenstein
Democracy is the problem the corporate elites need to overcome to ensure their dominance is this information age we live in.
There are more of US. The workers. regular folks- you and me. That 'special interest group' I think of as "We the People". Legislators need us to be elected into office. the corporate elite need us to make the crap they sell us, yes, they need us to consume consume consume, while of course not overly digging into their profits with the money they pay us for our time and our expertise.
There are more of US. Our problem? A predatory system we are inculcated with since birth, Capitalism. Just as a slave growing cotton was not a farmer, we are not Capitalists. We are subject to Capitalists. We may even aspire to become Capitalists.
Free enterprise is not synonymous with Capitalism. Capitalism is about exploitation. Domination. Nor are our best interests in accord with those who seek to dominate our lives, the totality of our being- our short span of time here, the culture we collectively create and live in, our very 'inner life' even, is what they seek to control for their ends.
People hear the pundit drivel, hear Palin in her leather coat and hair in a bun- and never it seems examine the meaning of what is being said. Kneejerk reaction keeps us separate and in thrall to the powers that seek to nullify the validity of our time and experience, our loves and the legacy of being we wish to pass down to our children. Or 'should' wish. It seems a loud minority has internalized the will of the corporate machine over their inner knowing, that sensible ethical part of us that most people have. The following offers up how 'they' nourish this.
Consider how the ethical and decent get lost in the shouts of the larger media herd.
Here is a lengthy bit of food for thought:
Decoding the Language of Social Control
By MANUEL GARCIA, Jr.
"Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem" -- Ronald Reagan, First Inaugural Address, 1981.
"It’s not the government’s money, it’s the people’s money" -- George W. Bush, stump speeches, 2000.
"I don't want to pay for somebody else's..." "problems" (welfare), "kids" (public schools), "medical" (health care).
The social programming language of capitalist authoritarianism seeks to activate personal greed, intellectual insecurity and visceral racism as motivators of guided popular political reaction. The Pavlovian logic to this scheme of social manipulation is that all human beings are possessive, gullible and fearful.
Don't think this last generalization too extreme. Rare are the people who are as unconcerned about their survival and possessions as were Diogenes of Sinope, the Greek "cynic" philosopher of the 4th century BC, and Ry?kan Taigu (1758-1831), the hermit Zen monk poet and calligrapher. Similarly, rare are the people, without organic brain disorders, who do not have some fear of being made fools of when matching wits with more polished, more educated, more experienced, more charismatic or simply a luckier class of people. Lastly, we are all racists. As highly evolved monkeys, we instinctively identify with our monkey troop of people with similar appearance, existential outlook, language, culture, place of origin, the economic neighborhood we imagine we deserve a place in, and the socio-political fantasy we have been imprinted with and trained to take as the thread of history that expresses us.
As we become more self-aware, more experienced and better educated, we can see through many of the racist concepts and attitudes of the past. But, it is self-deception to imagine that we have ever individually "gone beyond racism" in our visceral responses to the instants of daily life that erupt before us, or that we will never have a sudden emotion, thought or fear that is completely above the muck of primordial racist reaction. It is intellectual pride, and false, to assume we can consciously will ourselves to transcend the psychological reactions of our paleo-mammalian brains. Instead, it is psychologically much healthier to realize that our common human nature assures that any behavior humanly possible, remains humanly possible for each of us as well. C. G. Jung made this point about Nazism, that those people least likely to act like Nazis and Nazi collaborators were those who knew they had no special immunity to Nazi psychology (not assuming they were too "intellectual", "moral", or "religious" to be swayed), but instead actively countered its influences to their behavior. A similar attitude operating out of the cerebral cortex is needed to manage the unthinking motivations arising out of our deeper-set limbic system, our reptilian brain. Racism is a burst of raw emotional energy whose emergence is to be detected and redirected intelligently, while within the individual.
People whose self-awareness, of the type described, is weak and under-developed can be manipulated more easily. "There's a sucker born every minute" (pre-1898, attribution uncertain). People who are keenly aware of this psychology, and devoid of moral principles, like the fictional Elmer Gantry and the all-too-real Joseph Goebbels, can manage the herding of a mass of people to give up their power -- in every sense of the word -- to a driving elite. The few rule the many by persuasion. The levers of direction are the popular flaws of character.
We the People.
In theory, the many governments (federal, state and local) in the United States of America are democracies: assemblies of elected representatives of populations of citizens, and officials appointed by the elected representatives to execute specific tasks in the public interest. In this model, government is the apparatus designed to implement the popular consensus about the management of the shared material existence of the citizenry. Identifying and prioritizing the specifics of the popular will are supposedly accomplished by the concentrating and winnowing effects of competitive electioneering, and parliamentary debate. The regulation of markets and trade, the upkeep of public infrastructure, the provision of emergency services against natural disasters, and the prudent maintenance of defense forces are all examples of publicly shared concerns governments are created to manage. The education of children till they reach adulthood, intellectual maturity and a self-sustaining professional competence, as well as the health care of the citizenry are enduring publicly shared concerns that are ideally suited for management by functionally dedicated government apparatuses.
When Ronald Reagan said "government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem," he was saying that we the people were the problem, since our government is the democratic abstraction of our shared existence. So, if we are "the problem," then whose problem is this? Why would "our" President disown the apparatus of our common will, whose implementation he had been entrusted to lead? Certainly, one could understand "our" President saying that there were problems in the government apparatus limiting its responsiveness to our needs, and effectiveness in achieving our goals: "my purpose as your President is solving the problems our government has in meeting all its obligations to the public." Note however, this last quote is fictional.
On the 20th of January, 1981, the new President of the United States was telling us that "we the people" were in somebody's way, a somebody who actually was represented by the power and authority he now held, and which he intended to use to destroy the deposed government that was "us." A coup. In the light of subsequent history, a reasonable characterization. Twenty-nine years and one day after Ronald Reagan came to power, the U.S. Supreme Court made it plain, by issuing its Dred Scott decision of the 21st century, elevating corporate rights above those of individual flesh-and-blood human beings. Now, every legally recognized person -- real or corporate -- is equally entitled to spend as much as they have, to influence political debate. Clearly, because political access is so precious, it must be metered out on the basis of wealth.
"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread." (Anatole France: Jacques Anatole Francois Thibault 1844-1924)
"It is true that liberty is precious, so precious that it must be rationed." (Attributed to Lenin: Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov 1870-1924)
Yes, we the people are certainly in somebody's way, unless our consumption, labor or demise lards a corporate bottom line. Think of yourself as a unit in a statistical ensemble of metabolic form virtual property, an advanced concept of slavery that transcends the 13th Amendment and the unitary static materialist concept of the lump-of-flesh slave; a human herd whose collective activity in a spectrum of markets exudes profitability like the methane clouds that flatulate up from bovine concentrations. The free market system strikes a match to the gas, charges you for the heat and leaves you with the ashes, if not a scorched rump. We are herded by the owners of the markets we are counted in.
One example is health care; our medical needs are not the prime concern, but instead preserving the profits of the parasitic medical financing business carried on by the insurance industry, which is interposed between medical providers and patients. So, our medical market owners, the insurance industry, must herd us to its best advantage, not ours. When we the people try to fashion a public health care system that does meet our needs, by cutting out the middleman (the essence of good business practice), we immediately find that "government is the problem." In fact democracy is the problem. If democracy is not strictly rationed, the whole herd might stampede and any number of markets tossed over and sunk, like the bales of tea dropped into Boston Harbor on December 16, 1773.
It's All About The Money
When George W. Bush said "It’s not the government’s money, it’s the people’s money" during his campaign speeches in 2000, he was broadcasting coded programming language designed to activate resentment over personal inadequacies, and have the resulting shame-based anger projected onto a victim population. The purpose of such social programming is to train the indoctrinated population to maintain its unthinking visceral obedience to the directing ideology, and so provide political support to an oligarchy that simply exploits its trained masses shamelessly.
When you hear people say "I don't want to pay for somebody else's..." "problems" (welfare), "kids" (public schools), "medical" (health care), you hear the internalized programming. With blissful obliviousness these political automatons will allow their economy to wither, and dispatch their tax dollars to fund the gold-plated war-waste of the Pentagon system and the many outrageous corporate subsidies ("bonuses") that remain protected by the "tax cuts" that are so liberal to corporate wealth, so measly for the suckers, but do bump those "welfare cheats" off the dole most satisfactorily to both the duped and the malevolent.
The great con-job here is in training a large population into accepting that property has more rights than people. Since under democracy there is always the threat that popular consensus could place some restrictions on "property" (the "right" of money to do as it pleases), then property -- as it is understood today: wealth protected by the legalistic über-persona of corporate structure -- must destroy democracy. Democracy is communism.
A History Of Social Control
How did the corporate ideology social programmers manage to peel back a million years of human evolution to produce the "Tea Party" sideshows where people act at their limbic level, like monkey troops howling over the invasion of their banana groves? Let's skip through history to piece together an answer.
The European white man used a divide-and-rule strategy to control the native populations of the many countries he colonized in the Western Hemisphere, Asia, Africa, the Pacific and the Middle East. Tribal rivalries stoked by the white overlords could keep the natives distracted from coordinating a united opposition to colonialism. Selected native groups and individuals could be educated and trained to become the local managers and enforcers of the white man's rule. They internalized the white man's culture up to a point, sufficient they hoped to "elevate" them out of native society and into some respectable place in the white man's social hierarchy, and along with that add to their wealth and prestige. These were the compradors, native-born agents of colonial interests in Asia, and the native troops deployed by white colonial management to control the native masses. Successors in the role of native collaborators with white social control are the racial and ethnic tokens deployed by U.S. corporate and political management today; some are quite polished, prominent, and well-paid.
The management of today's masses in the United States evolved out of the mechanisms for managing the natives that began with Christopher Columbus and the European Conquest of the Americas. Native and slave management in early colonial times evolved into race management after the Civil War, and then to the economic and social class management of the present day. The entire mentality of social control is that of colonialism.
The most significant Civil Rights legislation since the end of the Civil War was enacted during the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson (Democratic Party):
-- The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (extended voting rights and outlawed racial segregation in schools, at the workplace and by facilities that served the general public),
-- The National Voting Rights Act of 1965 (outlawed discriminatory voting practices that had caused the widespread disenfranchisement of African Americans),
-- The Civil Rights Act of 1968 (the "Fair Housing Act" prohibited discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing).
The combined tensions of desperation by white racists at losing overt social control, and the pent up rage of blacks over the slow pace of authentic relief of oppression and the opening of economic opportunities, erupted into many urban riots during the 1960s. Very prominent ones were: the Watts Riots of 1965 in Los Angeles; the 1967 riots in Newark and Detroit; and the 125 cities that erupted into riot during April and May of 1968 in response to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4th.
In 1968, Richard M. Nixon (Republican Party) used a "Southern Strategy", a "law and order" play on Southern white racist resentment, to win the presidential election. Johnson likely assumed that Civil Rights legislation would bring a flood of black votes to the Democrats nationally, and perhaps compensate somewhat for the certain loss of Southern white racist votes; but, blacks are only about 12% of the population, and Nixon counted on there being more than 12% white racist resentment within the 75% white population -- both in the South and nationally. He won by a landslide.
In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan tapped into the submerged bigotry that exists coast-to-coast, to call forth the resentful inner white Southerner (the inner Confederate) within much of the national electorate, and win the presidency. Reagan's managers had learned from Nixon, and devised an expanded form of the Southern Strategy.
During George W. Bush's 2000 presidential campaign (as well as his two terms in office) economic class and "race" codewords were euphemisms for each other. The decoded programming message was: poor and unworthy people, like wasteful and lazy blacks, and dirty and ignorant Mexican (Latino) immigrants are taking "your" (deserving inner whites') money by creating social welfare burdens that "your" government is now forced to pay, because of bad "give-away" legislation foisted on it by wrongheaded liberals (white snobs and non-white agitators). Your undeserved (because of your inner whiteness) increasing poverty is directly attributable to the drain on taxes by these unworthy, non-white-centered, strange-language populations. In voting for George W. Bush (and obeying his managing oligarchy), you put money "back" into the pockets of people like you, who deserve it.
All the language publicly broadcast by "conservatives" is pure lying to induce visceral obedience to the corporatist oligarchy's political control, and allow it to continue bleeding the public like a swarm of elephant-sized ticks. Following are generalized decodings of the core instructions and their imprinted reflection.
The Hypnotic Message ("watch the watch..."):
You lack... stuff (money, brains, looks, youth, education, a nice location, a desirable mate, successful children), so you resent paying for others who get it free; others who are inferior, threatening, strange, unclean, unwholesome, wasteful, disrespectful of your importance (as a real American), and of your precedence in "our" traditional system of social rank. You resent these others polluting and degrading the system you expect to provide for you, to profit you, to honor you, to hold still and not progress beyond your capacity to understand, and to preserve the order of social rewards so no unworthy others pass you by and push you back. You must fight back, don't let them have free things which your work has paid for, don't let them have advantages that makes it easier for them to advance ahead of you, and makes it harder for you to maintain your superiority without learning anything new, without becoming smarter or richer on your own. Don't let these others have advantages that crowd the places you expect to occupy as you move on in life; crowd them with more unwholesome unworthy competitors, whose increasing number threaten to diminish your standing, and end your way of life.
The Internalized Message:
I lack stuff, and it is these unclean others who have degraded the system that previously would have moved me up faster and more comfortably. So, I want to exclude these others, keep them from crossing "our" borders, and taking our advantages without paying as much as I did; even worse, creating problems my tax dollars have to pay for and which wouldn't even happen if those people weren't here, so I would have more of my own wealth. I have to stand up for the people like me who run for office and are willing to get the government to take care of the real Americans, who deserve the benefits that they paid for, and their parents and grandparents paid for; that will push out the unclean ones and ensure there are no extra moochers sapping our wealth, and bringing me down. Because I lack stuff, I don't want to pay for other people to have stuff, and because I don't want the government to take more of my money, I'm voting for the people who want to cut down the government, and cut down taxes. I'm voting to stop the give-aways, because the politicians who will do that care about me, a real American who makes a real contribution to the country, and deserves not to have it pissed away on wasteful others.
You didn't get mad when the Supreme Court stopped a legal recount and appointed a President.
You didn't get mad when Cheney allowed Energy company officials to dictate energy policy.
You didn't get mad when a covert CIA operative got outed.
You didn't get mad when the Patriot Act got passed.
You didn't get mad when we illegally invaded a country that posed no threat to us.
You didn't get mad when we spent over 600 billion(and counting) on said illegal war.
You didn't get mad when over 10 billion dollars just disappeared in Iraq.
You didn't get mad when you found out we were torturing people.
You didn't get mad when the government was illegally wiretapping Americans.
You didn't get mad when we didn't catch Bin Laden.
You didn't get mad when you saw the horrible conditions at Walter Reed.
You didn't get mad when we let a major US city, New Orleans, drown.
You didn't get mad when we gave a 900 billion tax break to the rich.
You didn't get mad when the deficit hit the trillion dollar mark.
You finally got mad when the government decided that people in America deserved the right to see a doctor if they are sick. Yes, illegal wars, lies, corruption, torture, stealing your tax dollars to make the rich richer, are all okay with you, but helping other Americans...oh hell no.
"The American corporate media does not serve the truth. It serves the government and the interest groups that empower the government. America's fate was sealed when the public and the anti-war movement bought the government's 9/11 conspiracy theory. The government's account of 9/11 is contradicted by much evidence. Nevertheless, this defining event of our time, which has launched the US on interminable wars of aggression and a domestic police state, is a taboo topic for investigation in the media.
It is pointless to complain of war and a police state when one accepts the premise upon which they are based."
PRESS RELEASE March 25, 2010, 8:00 a.m. EDT · Recommend · Post: Secretary Michael Chertoff Joins BAE Systems, Inc. Board of Directors
ARLINGTON, Va., Mar 25, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- The Honorable Michael Chertoff has joined the BAE Systems, Inc. Board of Directors. As a member of the Board, Secretary Chertoff will provide oversight and strategic counsel, further ensuring that BAE Systems, Inc. is well positioned to meet current and future customer requirements in the defense and security markets.
"We are delighted to have Secretary Chertoff join our Board," said General Tony Zinni (USMC ret.), Chairman of the BAE Systems, Inc. Board of Directors. "Secretary Chertoff is uniquely well positioned to support the Company as it continues to grow in the global security market. His years of experience in the security domain will be of tremendous value to our businesses as we help our government and private sector customers develop cyber security solutions, combat terrorism and organized crime, and strengthen border and transportation security."
"I am honored to be joining General Zinni and the other outstanding members of the Board in supporting BAE Systems, Inc.'s strategic efforts to address 21st century security challenges," Secretary Chertoff said.
Michael Chertoff served as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security from 2005 to 2009, where he led efforts to advance our cyber security and to block would-be terrorists from crossing U.S. borders, working closely with global allies. Previously, Secretary Chertoff served as a federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third District.
Secretary Chertoff is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. From 1979-1980, he served as a clerk to Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, Jr.
Secretary Chertoff joins a distinguished group of outside directors of BAE Systems, Inc. They are:
-- General Anthony C. Zinni (USMC, ret.) Chairman of the Board Former Commander of U.S. Central Command
-- Chairman Lee H. Hamilton Former Member of Congress, Chairman of the House Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committees, and Co-Chair of the 9/11 Commission
-- Richard J. Kerr Former Deputy Director of Central Intelligence
-- Lt. General Kenneth A. Minihan (USAF, ret.) Former Director National Security Agency
-- Admiral Robert Natter (USN, ret.) Former Commander of Fleet Forces & Atlantic Command
-- General J.H. Binford Peay, III (USA, ret.) Former Vice Chief of Staff U.S. Army and Commander of U.S. Central Command
-- Dr. William Schneider, Jr. Former Undersecretary of State for Security, Science & Technology
The company's Inside Directors are:
-- Ian King, Chief Executive, BAE Systems plc
-- George Rose, Group Finance Director, BAE Systems plc
The company's Officers/Directors are:
-- Linda Hudson, President and CEO, BAE Systems, Inc.
-- Sheila Cheston, Executive Vice President, BAE Systems, Inc.
-- Robert J. Fitch, Senior Vice President Government Relations, BAE Systems, Inc.
About BAE Systems
BAE Systems is a global defense, security and aerospace company with approximately 107,000 employees worldwide. The Company delivers a full range of products and services for air, land and naval forces, as well as advanced electronics, security, information technology solutions and customer support services. In 2009 BAE Systems reported sales of GBP 22.4 billion (US $36.2 billion).
In his latest column for the New Statesman, John Pilger describes the increasing American war front across the world: from Afghanistan to Africa and Latin America. This is the Third World War in all but name, waged by the only aggressive "ism" that denies it is an ideology and threatened not by introverted tribesmen in faraway places but by the anti-war instincts of its own citizens.
Here is news of the Third World War. The United States has invaded Africa. US troops have entered Somalia, extending their war front from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Yemen and now the Horn of Africa. In preparation for an attack on Iran, American missiles have been placed in four Persian Gulf states, and “bunker-buster” bombs are said to be arriving at the US base on the British island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.
In Gaza, the sick and abandoned population, mostly children, is being entombed behind underground American-supplied walls in order to reinforce a criminal siege. In Latin America, the Obama administration has secured seven bases in Colombia, from which to wage a war of attrition against the popular democracies in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Paraguay. Meanwhile, the secretary of “defence” Robert Gates complains that “the general [European] public and the political class” are so opposed to war they are an “impediment” to peace. Remember this is the month of the March Hare.
According to an American general, the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan is not so much a real war as a “war of perception”. Thus, the recent “liberation of the city of Marja” from the Taliban’s “command and control structure” was pure Hollywood. Marja is not a city; there was no Taliban command and control. The heroic liberators killed the usual civilians, poorest of the poor. Otherwise, it was fake. A war of perception is meant to provide fake news for the folks back home, to make a failed colonial adventure seem worthwhile and patriotic, as if The Hurt Locker were real and parades of flag-wrapped coffins through the Wiltshire town of Wooten Basset were not a cynical propaganda exercise.
“War is fun”, the helmets in Vietnam used to say with bleakest irony, meaning that if a war is revealed as having no purpose other than to justify voracious power in the cause of lucrative fanaticisms such as the weapons industry, the danger of truth beckons. This danger can be illustrated by the liberal perception of Tony Blair in 1997 as one “who wants to create a world [where] ideology has surrendered entirely to values” (Hugo Young, the Guardian) compared with today’s public reckoning of a liar and war criminal.
Western war-states such as the US and Britain are not threatened by the Taliban or any other introverted tribesmen in faraway places, but by the anti-war instincts of their own citizens. Consider the draconian sentences handed down in London to scores of young people who protested Israel’s assault on Gaza in January last year. Following demonstrations in which paramilitary police “kettled” (corralled) thousands, first-offenders have received two and a half years in prison for minor offences that would not normally carry custodial sentences. On both sides of the Atlantic, serious dissent exposing illegal war has become a serious crime.
Silence in other high places allows this moral travesty. Across the arts, literature, journalism and the law, liberal elites, having hurried away from the debris of Blair and now Obama, continue to fudge their indifference to the barbarism and aims of western state crimes by promoting retrospectively the evils of their convenient demons, like Saddam Hussein. With Harold Pinter gone, try compiling a list of famous writers, artists and advocates whose principles are not consumed by the “market” or neutered by their celebrity. Who among them have spoken out about the holocaust in Iraq during almost 20 years of lethal blockade and assault? And all of it has been deliberate. On 22 January 1991, the US Defence Intelligence Agency predicted in impressive detail how a blockade would systematically destroy Iraq’s clean water system and lead to “increased incidences, if not epidemics of disease”. So the US set about eliminating clean water for the Iraqi population: one of the causes, noted Unicef, of the deaths of half a million Iraqi infants under the age of five. But this extremism apparently has no name.
Norman Mailer once said he believed the United States, in its endless pursuit of war and domination, had entered a “pre-fascist era”. Mailer seemed tentative, as if trying to warn about something even he could not quite define. “Fascism” is not right, for it invokes lazy historical precedents, conjuring yet again the iconography of German and Italian repression. On the other hand, American authoritarianism, as the cultural critic Henry Giroux pointed out recently, is “more nuance, less theatrical, more cunning, less concerned with repressive modes of control than with manipulative modes of consent.”
This is Americanism, the only predatory ideology to deny that it is an ideology. The rise of tentacular corporations that are dictatorships in their own right and of a military that is now a state with the state, set behind the façade of the best democracy 35,000 Washington lobbyists can buy, and a popular culture programmed to divert and stultify, is without precedent. More nuanced perhaps, but the results are both unambiguous and familiar. Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck, the senior United Nations officials in Iraq during the American and British-led blockade, are in no doubt they witnessed genocide. They saw no gas chambers. Insidious, undeclared, even presented wittily as enlightenment on the march, the Third World War and its genocide proceeded, human being by human being.
In the coming election campaign in Britain, the candidates will refer to this war only to laud “our boys”. The candidates are almost identical political mummies shrouded in the Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes. As Blair demonstrated a mite too eagerly, the British elite loves America because America allows it to barrack and bomb the natives and call itself a “partner”. We should interrupt their fun.
I was just the other day thinking I was happy to not have seen this fucker's face for a while, then he pops up, doing this. A satirist really couldn't do better painting a portrayal of an out of touch, rich asshole.
Seventh anniversary: Fragments of writing from March 2003 (with commentary)
Image caption: Falluja/Guernica, 2004 by Rob Landeros (found at Gernika)
As we observe the seventh anniversary of the start of the current phase of the Iraq War - largely an escalation of what had already begun under George Bush I and Bill Clinton - I'm taking a trip down memory lane. In March 2003 I did not as of yet have a blog, but did post to message boards and usenet groups of one sort or another. I didn't really go out of my way to archive much of what I might have written at the time, as it was largely in the form of off-the-cuff remarks. That said, here are a few fragments that capture where I was at in late March of that year. I'll try to provide some context for these fragmentary comments wherever possible.
March 18, 2003
Note - In response to a conversation regarding the alleged accuracy of the so-called smart bombs to be used in the opening bombing raids:
Well, one way to interpret the "shock and awe" strategy is that the massive bombings will end up creating massive collateral damage. The "smart bombs" aren't that smart.
Note - I expected that the Iraq War would escalate conflict, especially in the Middle East and Central Asia:
If I were the leader of one of the so-called "axis of evil" nations, I'd be pushing to get armed to the teeth with whatever weaponry possible, including biological, chemical, and even nuclear weapons, if for no other reason than because of the realization that the U.S. won't stop with Iraq & that if one's country is on the list of nations to be invaded, at least those invasions would be more costly to the U.S.
March 20, 2003
Note - Regarding a conversation on the continuing world-wide protests as the war started:
Many of us did not ask for this waste of a war. We have a voice too. Bring on the noise. Word.
March 21, 2003
Note - The last part of the following sentence captures my thoughts about the actual motivation for the US invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq:
Makes me wonder if Bush et al ever bothered to listen to Iraqi citizens, or if (as I suspect is way more likely) they simply made the decision to impose their vision of manifest destiny in which Iraqis are viewed strictly as sharecroppers on those Oil plantations.
Note - A bit of sarcasm aimed at some of the happy talk that permeated the opening days of the war:
The U$ has made the world safe for SUV owners everywhere. The companies will be pleased.
March 23, 2003
Note - In response to the well-worn canard that the US was "fighting terrorists in Iraq to make Americans safer at home" I wanted to point out our own home-grown right-wing Christian fundamentalist terrorists:
I'd be willing to wager all 5 cents of my life savings that the vast majority of the people being "shocked and awed" are underpaid working stiffs like me, who simply could not afford to leave.
Sometimes I find it a good idea to look close to home. How many terrorists are our major cities harboring? (i.e., people who bomb family planning clinics & target staff of these clinics for assassination; people who burn crosses in front of the homes of African-Americans, who set fire to mosques & churches, and so forth).
March 26, 2003
Note - Another response illustrating my skepticism about the US government's motives for embarking on the war:
I suppose the best way to put this is that I don't buy the premise that the war has anything to do with the human rights situation in Iraq. The Reagan/Bush crowd in the 1980s didn't give a damn back then, and the current Bush crowd doesn't give a damn now. If it suited the purposes of our government, they'd gladly place another brutal dictator in power there and politely ignore the plight of Iraqi civilians (provided of course that the dictator in question cooperates with our government).
I thought that the war was an awful idea from the get-go, having at various points prior expressed skepticism about the initial rationale for the war (i.e., the alleged WMDs that turned out to be non-existent) as well as all the b.s. about democratizing Iraq, ad nauseum. I was convinced that the people who would be hurt the most were going to be low-income Iraqi civilian families, and that 21st century equivalents of Guernica and Dresden were likely to transpire before all was said and done. Indeed, if anything, the events that have transpired in the six years since the war started have been in a number of respects worse than I could have imagined. An Iraqi death toll estimated at around one million only captures part of the story. There's also the distress caused to the friends and relatives of those murdered by the "Coalition" (don't forget the mercenaries) the massive number of injured, human displacement, disease, torture, and social death experienced by those who had the misfortune of merely being in the way of the US war machine to be considered. We'll still need to come to terms with the likelihood that Iraq was yet another "laboratory" for predatory capitalist ventures, and that the chaos caused by the war is even desirable in the eyes of our ruling class.
There is no comfort to be found in being correct; only a really bad feeling at the pit of one's stomach that the various efforts to raise awareness of the lies leading up to the war as well as the likely consequences of going to war simply failed to prevent the massive loss of lives since it all began on March 19, 2003. That day will indeed live in infamy.
It's also clear in this dark year 2010 that the US is not even remotely facing up to what's going on. The "great" experts whose opinions were gathered by New Pravda in 2008 to wax philosophically about the war didn't even begin to touch on the purely criminal nature of the Iraq War. Our elections are so effectively gamed so that the only "choices" left to voters are warmongers: in 2008 it was John "One Hundred Years War" McCain; and Barack "the kinda-sorta-but-not-really war opponent" Obama. For war opponents, like myself, neither of these candidates was particularly inspiring, and perhaps to refer to both as quite loathsome would be apt. Let's just say that I have had no reason to be optimistic about any "change" from the White House despite Obama's happy talk. Don't expect any "change" from Congress either. And of course there's always the growing quagmire in Afghanistan to consider, if one wants to truly gauge our prospects for anything even remotely looking like "peace".
Unless or until a critical mass of folks get it through their skulls that the mentality that the US owns the planet is not only incorrect but dangerous, the blood of innocents will continue to be spilled. As one might gather from the fragments, I might have been somewhat more optimistic back then. I certainly would have given the ruling class too much credit in even suggesting that any of them would bother to listen to Iraqis and their concerns - inside The Beltway (along with usual cronies on Wall Street), the Iraqis were never more than fauna. Turning to members of the ruling class to get it together and stop the warmongering is not where it's at - almost without exception, they've been drinking that fire water for far too long. The summary of the last seven years can be boiled down to a title to an essay by fellow blogger Arthur Silber: over one million murdered, and nothing has been learned. As far as the US elites are concerned, there is nothing to learn - other than how to commit genocide more efficiently. No, the critical mass I'm thinking about is to come from us - just ordinary folks. We're the ones who will have to say "enough is enough" in words and deeds.
Note: This is my traditional anniversary post. I've slightly updated it from previous years.
As Uncle $cam mentioned, Blogger is going to stop working with ftp, and yes that means us. I still have to figure this out entirely but I will before the deadline. Any input?
As far as their hosting, they don't allow nudes, I think, so my drmenlo.com and SLA are screwed. May is also the ten year anniversary of Dr. Menlo. Funny coincidence.
Amsam.org may be hosted by google because there are (usually) no nudes, so I have to look into this. We can also do Wordpress, archive this one and start over. It's extremely annoying and I would pay for the service to keep as is but it is not an option . . .
p.s. not sure what the hell is going on with blogger now. This hasn't published since the 8th? I am working on it. Maybe taking out the comments will work. Any experts on the new blogger? Any comments / thoughts please email me: drmenlo @ gmail.com. Thanks! Oh yea I will publish this manually until I figure it out. [preview template, see source, copy, save as index.htm, upload via ftp to replace old one.]
update: ah, it looks like someone hit that button 'move this blog' or migrate it or whatever . . . I had made our top posters 'admin' - maybe one hit it without thinking . . . hm . . ok . . . am working on it . . .
Senior Bush administration officials sternly cautioned the 9/11 Commission against probing too deeply into the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, according to a document recently obtained by the ACLU.
The notification came in a letter dated January 6, 2004, addressed by Attorney General John Ashcroft, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and CIA Director George J. Tenet. The ACLU described it as a fax sent by David Addington, then-counsel to former vice president Dick Cheney.
In the message, the officials denied the bipartisan commission's request to question terrorist detainees, informing its two senior-most members that doing so would "cross" a "line" and obstruct the administration's ability to protect the nation.
"In response to the Commission's expansive requests for access to secrets, the executive branch has provided such access in full cooperation," the letter read. "There is, however, a line that the Commission should not cross -- the line separating the Commission's proper inquiry into the September 11, 2001 attacks from interference with the Government's ability to safeguard the national security, including protection of Americans from future terrorist attacks."...
Thomas Kean at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. on Sept. 11, 2006:
"Lee and I write in our book that we think in many ways the Commission was set up to fail."
There are no constraints left to halt America's slide into a totalitarian capitalism. Electoral politics are a sham. The media have been debased and defanged by corporate owners. The working class has been impoverished and is now being plunged into profound despair. The legal system has been corrupted to serve corporate interests. Popular institutions, from labor unions to political parties, have been destroyed or emasculated by corporate power. And any form of protest, no matter how tepid, is blocked by an internal security apparatus that is starting to rival that of the East German secret police. The mounting anger and hatred, coursing through the bloodstream of the body politic, make violence and counter-violence inevitable. Brace yourself. The American empire is over. And the descent is going to be horrifying.
Those singled out as internal enemies will include people of color, immigrants, gays, intellectuals, feminists, Jews, Muslims, union leaders and those defined as "liberals." They will be condemned as anti-American and blamed for our decline. The economic collapse, which remains mysterious and enigmatic to most Americans, will be pinned by demagogues and hatemongers on these hapless scapegoats. And the random acts of violence, which are already leaping up around the fringes of American society, will justify harsh measures of internal control that will snuff out the final vestiges of our democracy. The corporate forces that destroyed the country will use the information systems they control to mask their culpability. The old game of blaming the weak and the marginal, a staple of despotic regimes, will empower the dark undercurrents of sadism and violence within American society and deflect attention from the corporate vampires that have drained the blood of the country.
"We are going to be poorer," David Cay Johnston told me. Johnston was the tax reporter of The New York Times for 13 years and has written on how the corporate state rigged the system against us. He is the author of "Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense and Stick You With the Bill," a book about hidden subsidies, rigged markets and corporate socialism. "Health care is going to eat up more and more of our income. We are going to have less and less for other things. We are going to have some huge disasters sooner or later caused by our failure to invest. Dams and bridges will break. Buildings will collapse. There are water mains that are 25 to 50 feet wide. There will be huge infrastructure disasters. Our intellectual resources are in decline. We are failing to educate young people and instill in them rigor. We are going to continue to pour money into the military. I think it is possible, I do not say it is probable, that we will have a revolution, a civil war that will see the end of the United States of America."
"If we see the end of this country it will come from the right and our failure to provide people with the basic necessities of life," said Johnston. "Revolutions occur when young men see the present as worse than the unknown future. We are not there. But it will not take a lot to get there. The politicians running for office who are denigrating the government, who are saying there are traitors in Congress, who say we do not need the IRS, this when no government in the history of the world has existed without a tax enforcement agency, are sowing the seeds for the destruction of the country. A lot of the people on the right hate the United States of America. They would say they hate the people they are arrayed against. But the whole idea of the United States is that we criticize the government. We remake it to serve our interests. They do not want that kind of society. They reject, as Aristotle said, the idea that democracy is to rule and to be ruled in turns. They see a world where they are right and that is it. If we do not want to do it their way we should be vanquished. This is not the idea on which the United States was founded."
It is hard to see how this can be prevented. The engines of social reform are dead. Liberal apologists, who long ago should have abandoned the Democratic Party, continue to make pathetic appeals to a tone-deaf corporate state and Barack Obama while the working and middle class are ruthlessly stripped of rights, income and jobs. Liberals self-righteously condemn imperial wars and the looting of the U.S. Treasury by Wall Street but not the Democrats who are responsible. And the longer the liberal class dithers and speaks in the bloodless language of policies and programs, the more hated and irrelevant it becomes. No one has discredited American liberalism more than liberals themselves. And I do not hold out any hope for their reform. We have entered an age in which, as William Butler Yeats wrote, "the best lack all conviction and the worst are full of passionate intensity."
"If we end up with violence in the streets on a large scale, not random riots, but insurrection and things break down, there will be a coup d'état from the right," Johnston said. "We have already had an economic coup d'état. It will not take much to go further."
How do we resist? How, if this descent is inevitable, as I believe it is, do we fight back? Why should we resist at all? Why not give in to cynicism and despair? Why not carve out as comfortable a niche as possible within the embrace of the corporate state and spend our lives attempting to satiate our private needs? The power elite, including most of those who graduate from our top universities and our liberal and intellectual classes, have sold out for personal comfort. Why not us?
The French moral philosopher Albert Camus argued that we are separated from each other. Our lives are meaningless. We cannot influence fate. We will all die and our individual being will be obliterated. And yet Camus wrote that "one of the only coherent philosophical positions is revolt. It is a constant confrontation between man and his obscurity. It is not aspiration, for it is devoid of hope. That revolt is the certainty of a crushing fate, without the resignation that ought to accompany it."
"A living man can be enslaved and reduced to the historic condition of an object," Camus warned. "But if he dies in refusing to be enslaved, he reaffirms the existence of another kind of human nature which refuses to be classified as an object."
The rebel, for Camus, stands with the oppressed-the unemployed workers being thrust into impoverishment and misery by the corporate state, the Palestinians in Gaza, the civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, the disappeared who are held in our global black sites, the poor in our inner cities and depressed rural communities, immigrants and those locked away in our prison system. And to stand with them does not mean to collaborate with parties, such as the Democrats, who can mouth the words of justice while carrying out acts of oppression. It means open and direct defiance.
The power structure and its liberal apologists dismiss the rebel as impractical and see the rebel's outsider stance as counterproductive. They condemn the rebel for expressing anger at injustice. The elites and their apologists call for calm and patience. They use the hypocritical language of spirituality, compromise, generosity and compassion to argue that the only alternative is to accept and work with the systems of power. The rebel, however, is beholden to a moral commitment that makes it impossible to stand with the power elite. The rebel refuses to be bought off with foundation grants, invitations to the White House, television appearances, book contracts, academic appointments or empty rhetoric. The rebel is not concerned with self-promotion or public opinion. The rebel knows that, as Augustine wrote, hope has two beautiful daughters, anger and courage-anger at the way things are and the courage to see that they do not remain the way they are. The rebel is aware that virtue is not rewarded. The act of rebellion defines itself.
"You do not become a ‘dissident' just because you decide one day to take up this most unusual career," Vaclav Havel said when he battled the communist regime in Czechoslovakia. "You are thrown into it by your personal sense of responsibility, combined with a complex set of external circumstances. You are cast out of the existing structures and placed in a position of conflict with them. It begins as an attempt to do your work well, and ends with being branded an enemy of society. ... The dissident does not operate in the realm of genuine power at all. He is not seeking power. He has no desire for office and does not gather votes. He does not attempt to charm the public. He offers nothing and promises nothing. He can offer, if anything, only his own skin-and he offers it solely because he has no other way of affirming the truth he stands for. His actions simply articulate his dignity as a citizen, regardless of the cost."
Those in power have disarmed the liberal class. They do not argue that the current system is just or good, because they cannot, but they have convinced liberals that there is no alternative. But we are not slaves. We have a choice. We can refuse to be either a victim or an executioner. We have the moral capacity to say no, to refuse to cooperate. Any boycott or demonstration, any occupation or sit-in, any strike, any act of obstruction or sabotage, any refusal to pay taxes, any fast, any popular movement and any act of civil disobedience ignites the soul of the rebel and exposes the dead hand of authority. "There is beauty and there are the humiliated," Camus wrote. "Whatever difficulties the enterprise may present, I should like never to be unfaithful either to the second or the first."
"There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part; you can't even passively take part, and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop," Mario Savio said in 1964. "And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all."
The capacity to exercise moral autonomy, the capacity to refuse to cooperate, offers us the only route left to personal freedom and a life with meaning. Rebellion is its own justification. Those of us who come out of the religious left have no quarrel with Camus. Camus is right about the absurdity of existence, right about finding worth in the act of rebellion rather than some bizarre dream of an afterlife or Sunday School fantasy that God rewards the just and the good. "Oh my soul," the ancient Greek poet Pindar wrote, "do not aspire to immortal life, but exhaust the limits of the possible." We differ with Camus only in that we have faith that rebellion is not ultimately meaningless. Rebellion allows us to be free and independent human beings, but rebellion also chips away, however imperceptibly, at the edifice of the oppressor and sustains the dim flames of hope and love. And in moments of profound human despair these flames are never insignificant. They keep alive the capacity to be human. We must become, as Camus said, so absolutely free that "existence is an act of rebellion." Those who do not rebel in our age of totalitarian capitalism and who convince themselves that there is no alternative to collaboration are complicit in their own enslavement. They commit spiritual and moral suicide.
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“World War Three will be a guerrilla information war with no division between military and civilian participation.” ~ Marshall McLuhan, 1968
New research in the journal American Behavioral Scientist (Sage publications, February 2010) addresses the concept of “State Crimes Against Democracy” (SCAD). Professor Lance deHaven-Smith from Florida State University writes that SCADs involve high level government officials, often in combination with private interests, that engage in covert activities for political advantages and power. Proven SCADs since World War II include McCarthyism (fabrication of evidence of a communist infiltration), Gulf of Tonkin Resolution (President Johnson and Robert McNamara falsely claimed North Vietnam attacked a US ship), burglary of the office of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist in effort to discredit Ellsberg, the Watergate break-in, Iran-Contra, Florida’s 2000 Election (felon disenfranchisement program), and fixed intelligence on WMDs to justify the Iraq War.1
4.5 SWAT Raids Per Day Maryland's SWAT transparency bill produces its first disturbing results Radley Balko | March 1, 2010
Listen to Audio Version (MP3)
Cheye Calvo's July 2008 encounter with a Prince George's County, Maryland, SWAT team is now pretty well-known: After intercepting a package of marijuana at a delivery service warehouse, police completed the delivery, in disguise, to the address on the package. That address belonged to Calvo, who also happened to be the mayor of the small Prince George’s town of Berwyn Heights. When Calvo's mother-in-law brought the package in from the porch, the SWAT team pounced, forcing their way into Calvo's home. By the time the raid was over, Calvo and his mother-in-law had been handcuffed for hours, police realized they'd made a mistake, and Calvo's two black Labradors lay dead on the floor from gunshot wounds.
As a result of this colossal yet not-unprecedented screw-up, plus Calvo's notoriety and persistence, last year Maryland became the first state in the country to make every one of its police departments issue a report on how often and for what purpose they use their SWAT teams. The first reports from the legislation are in, and the results are disturbing.
Over the last six months of 2009, SWAT teams were deployed 804 times in the state of Maryland, or about 4.5 times per day. In Prince George's County alone, with its 850,000 residents, a SWAT team was deployed about once per day. According to a Baltimore Sun analysis, 94 percent of the state's SWAT deployments were used to serve search or arrest warrants, leaving just 6 percent in response to the kinds of barricades, bank robberies, hostage takings, and emergency situations for which SWAT teams were originally intended.
Worse even than those dreary numbers is the fact that more than half of the county’s SWAT deployments were for misdemeanors and nonserious felonies. That means more than 100 times last year Prince George’s County brought state-sanctioned violence to confront people suspected of nonviolent crimes. And that's just one county in Maryland. These outrageous numbers should provide a long-overdue wake-up call to public officials about how far the pendulum has swung toward institutionalized police brutality against its citizenry, usually in the name of the drug war.
But that’s unlikely to happen, at least in Prince George's County. To this day, Sheriff Michael Jackson insists his officers did nothing wrong in the Calvo raid—not the killing of the dogs, not neglecting to conduct any corroborating investigation to be sure they had the correct house, not failing to notify the Berwyn Heights police chief of the raid, not the repeated and documented instances of Jackson’s deputies playing fast and loose with the truth.
Jackson, who's now running for county executive, is incapable of shame. He has tried to block Calvo's efforts to access information about the raid at every turn. Last week, Prince George's County Circuit Judge Arthur M. Ahalt ruled that Calvo's civil rights suit against the county can go forward. But Jackson has been fighting to delay the discovery process in that suit until federal authorities complete their own investigation into the raid. That would likely (and conveniently) prevent Prince George's County voters from learning any embarrassing details about the raid until after the election.
But there is some good news to report here, too. The Maryland state law, as noted, is the first of its kind in the country, and will hopefully serve as a model for other states in adding some much-needed transparency to the widespread use and abuse of SWAT teams. And some Maryland legislators want to go even further. State Sen. Anthony Muse (D-Prince George's), for example, wants to require a judge's signature before police can deploy a SWAT team. Muse has sponsored another bill that would ban the use of SWAT teams for misdemeanor offenses. The latter seems like a no-brainer, but it's already facing strong opposition from law enforcement interests. Police groups opposed the transparency bill, too.
Beyond policy changes, the Calvo raid also seems to have also sparked media and public interest in how SWAT teams are deployed in Maryland. The use of these paramilitary police units has increased dramatically over the last 30 years, by 1,000 percent or more, resulting in the drastic militarization of police. It's a trend that seems to have escaped much media and public notice, let alone informed debate about policies and oversight procedures. But since the Calvo raid in 2008, Maryland newspapers, TV news crews, activists, and bloggers have been documenting mistaken, botched, or disproportionately aggressive raids across the state.
Lawmakers tend to be wary of questioning law enforcement officials, particularly when it comes to policing tactics. They shouldn't be. If anything, the public employees who are entrusted with the power to use force, including lethal force, deserve the most scrutiny. It's unfortunate that it took a violent raid on a fellow public official for Maryland's policymakers to finally take notice of tactics that have been used on Maryland citizens for decades now. But at least these issues are finally on the table.
Lawmakers in other states should take notice. It's time to have a national discussion on the wisdom of sending phalanxes of cops dressed like soldiers into private homes in search of nonviolent and consensual crimes.
Sorry about that. Moved servers a few months back, forgot to change path of that. Working to get comments back up asap. Always feel free to email me: drmenlo @ gmail.com.
Also - and I know some will scoff! - I set up http://www.facebook.com/drmenlo. I wanted to grab the url but I don't use that account much. But if you add me I will accept and add you from my real name account, which I use a little more. Some harbingers I know detest FB. I can understand some of these criticisms. But I believe in issue-based alliances from the ground up, so all these forms of social networking just seem conducive to this.
As far as privacy goes, after learning of Carnivore and Echelon over ten years ago, I have long ago given up on that on the internets. While, as some point out, 'the internet is the greatest mass spying tool ever invented,' there still isn't total Control of the internet, tho this is likely to be changed (or attempted) soon or soonish, so I will continue trying to put out the alternative memes until then . . . [and then what? samizdats old school? underground printing presses or kinko's . . . or internets 2, 3, 4 or more . . . ]
Sorry the ancient comments system I had embedded in here (before Blogger offered comments) went completely batshit, so I had to yank it. I turned the blogger comments on and am still tweaking it. Please stand by. And oh yea - all you contributors to this blog are awesome.
"America was never innocent. We popped our cherry on the boat over and looked back with no regrets. You can't ascribe our fall from grace to any single event or set of circumstances. You can't lose what you lacked at conception.
"Mass-market nostalgia gets you hopped up for a past that never existed. Hagiography sanctifies shuck-and-jive politicians and reinvents their expedient gestures as moments of great moral weight. Our continuing narrative line is blurred past truth and hindsight. Only a reckless verisimilitude can set that line straight."
--James Ellroy, American Tabloid
Ensure a Free and Fair Election (Ban Paperless Voting Machines