Monday, December 19, 2011

Politics of power

I cracked open A History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil MacGregor (2010) on a friend's coffee table. In the chapter 'On King Den's Sandal Label' I scribbled down the following quotes:
So how do you lead and control a city or a state where most of the people don't know each other, and you can interact personally with only a very small percentage of the inhabitants? 
This United Egypt was one of the earliest societies that we can think of as a state in the modern sense, and, as one of its earliest leaders, King Den had to address all the problems of control and coordination that a modern state has to confront today.

This little label is the first image of a ruler in this history of humanity. It's striking, perhaps a bit disheartening, that, right at the beginning, the ruler wants to be shown as a commander-in-chief, conquering his foe. This is how, from earliest times, power has been projected through images, and there's something disturbingly familiar about it. 
The label-maker's job was, however, deadly serious: to keep his leader looking invincible and semi-divine, and to show that Den was the only man who could guarantee what Egyptians, like everybody else, wanted from their rulers — law and order.

There are some early hieroglyphs scratched into the ivory which give us the name of King Den and, between him and the enemy, the chilling words 'they shall not exist'. This 'other' is going to be obliterated. All the tricks of savage political propaganda are already here — the ruler calm and victorious, set against the alien, defeated, misshapen enemy.

"I think they realized, as world leaders have realized throughout history, that nothing binds a nation and a people together quite so effectively as a foreign war against a common enemy, whether that enemy is real or manufactured."  — Troy Wilkinson

It's a discouragingly familiar strategy. You win hearts and minds at home by focusing on the threats from abroad, but the weapons that you need to crush the enemy also come in handy when you're dealing with domestic opponents. The political rhetoric of foreign aggression is backed up by very brisk policing at home.
The clich├ęs are apparently  true:
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
        — French proverb 
Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it.
        — Edmund Burke
Update:

The author and Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, has a radio series of A History of the World in 100 Objects on BBC radio. The 15 minute episode about King Den's Sandal Label can be listened to here.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The single biggest threat to democracy

The single biggest threat to democracy in the United States is not the corporate and government propaganda. It's not the corrupt revolving door between government and industry. It's not the mockracy where the bipartisan government always has just enough votes to pass a bill in the house or senate. See this. It's not the corporate lobbyists. It's not our unjust legal system. See this. It's not the corrupt supreme court. It's not the shredding of the Constitution. It's not the loss of civil liberties and the impending police state. It's not the deregulation or overregulation. It's not the inequality of income, wealth and education including unprecedented extreme poverty in the richest country in the world. See this and this. It's not deficits, debt or taxation. It's not globalization or the environment. Have you guessed yet? It's government secrecy. The systematic shutting down of information from the government will be the undoing of the United States as a democracy while shadowy governmental, quasi-governmental and non-governmental organizations operate the government from behind the scenes.

If the "facts" are not public, one no longer needs to "spin" them. The debate then changes to what are the facts and the public suffers from the lack of information.

The CIA/FBI/ETC

The CIA is a quasi-governmental organization. It operates above the law. It is not accountable to congress. It operates or oversees 'black sites' outside of the US where inmates are tortured. The CIA gets involved in overthrowing governments, assassinations, drug trafficking, censorship and who knows what else as there is no governmental oversight by the US government. The CIA is still withholding JFK documents and it requesting to continue to withhold the JFK documents after the 50 year hold on classified documents expires. The CIA routinely denies freedom of information requests and doesn't get audited.


What the CIA is to international affairs, the FBI is to domestic affairs. Operations shrouded in secrecy. Files are kept on anyone who might step in their way. For ETC, see this.

The Federal Reserve

The Federal Reserve is a quasi-governmental organization but its true loyalties lie mostly with US financial institutions. The Fed stopped reporting M3 (the largest measure of the money supply) in 2006 and any statistics that would allow one to calculate M3 including large-denomination time deposits, repurchase agreements and Eurodollar. The Fed refuses Freedom of Information Act requests and is (and has always been) exempt from audit. During the financial crisis, the Fed provided at least $29.6 trillion of emergency assistance over 3 years to domestic as well as foreign banks. (source).

The military

The actual cost of the US military is shrouded in secrecy. It is estimated that the true military spending is over $1.2 trillion. (source) In regards to general secrecy of the US military there are black ops, black sites, black projects, black budgets and secret commando raids (source).

Super PACs

Thanks to the Citizen's United Supreme Court decision, super PACs have no limits on spending and do not have to disclose who and where the contributions came from - including foreign sources.

Classified information

16 million documents each year are classified top secret each year. (source).  77 million documents each year are classified.( Source).

Wikileaks

Because so much of what the government does is now classified secret, there will be people working hard to release the truth to the public. "...these leaks have achieved enormous good and little harm.", wrote Glenn Greenwald. (source). The government, for its part, has been aggressively chasing and punishing whistleblowers. See this.

The Bradley Manning case epitomizes our current plight in America. Torture isn't about exerting physical pain but about breaking one's mind. Generally the best way to do that is to withhold sensory stimulus to the brain. They kept Bradley in isolation without clothes as a means purely to torture/break him. Keeping him in jail without starting the trial proceedings for 17 months is a clear denial of habeas corpus. When Obama stated his "guilt" in public, it again infringed on his rights. Follow Bradley Manning's trial here: Bradley Manning Support Network.


The Internet

The US government is on their third attempt to pass an Internet censorship bill. The government really really wants control over the Internet for obvious reasons. The House Judiciary Committee on SOPA (Stop Online Privacy Act) adjourned the committee due censorship issues. However, the Protect IP Act is up for a vote in the Senate. First, see why this bill is a bad idea (Protect IP Breaks the Internet):


Second, call your senator and tell him or her that if he or she votes for this bill, he or she will lose your vote (due diligence). Third, share or forward this article or write your own and spread the word that if this bill becomes law that you will never vote Republican nor Democrat again, period. The Internet is the last bastion of free speech and free information. Protect it.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Super solution to nation's debt

In metro new york's 'letters to the editior', December 8th, 2011:
Too bad the government doesn't refinance their debt. The interest per year right now on $15 trillion-plus is $452 billion. Why not refinance with the Federal Reserve at .01 percent, the same rate the Federal Reserve is giving its best customers the banks? That's a savings of $450 billion per year - $4.5 trillion over 10 years. Gee why didn't the super committee think of that one? DAVID SNIECKUS, VIA E-MAIL

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Villain rotation

From Glenn Greenwald's Salon column 'Congress endorsing military detention, a new AUMF' on December 1st, 2011:
The Levin/McCain bill would require that all accused Terrorists be held in military detention and not be charged in a civilian court — including those apprehended on U.S. soil — with two caveats: (1) it exempts U.S. citizens and legal residents from this mandate, for whom military detention would still be optional (i.e., in the discretion of the Executive Branch); and (2) it allows the Executive Branch to issue a waiver if it wants to charge an accused Terrorist in the civilian system.
...consider how typically bipartisan this all is. The Senate just voted 37-61 against an amendment, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, that would have stripped the Levin/McCain section from the bill: in other words, Levin/McCain garnered one more vote than the 60 needed to stave off a filibuster. Every GOP Senator (except Rand Paul and Mark Kirk) voted against the Udall amendment, while just enough Democrats – 16 in total — joined the GOP to ensure passage of Levin/McCain. That includes such progressive stalwarts as Debbie Stabenow, Sheldon Whitehouse, Jeanne Shaheen and its lead sponsor, Carl Levin.
I’ve described this little scam before as “Villain Rotation”: “They always have a handful of Democratic Senators announce that they will be the ones to deviate this time from the ostensible party position and impede success, but the designated Villain constantly shifts, so the Party itself can claim it supports these measures while an always-changing handful of their members invariably prevent it.” This has happened with countless votes that are supposed manifestations of right-wing radicalism but that pass because an always-changing roster of Democrats ensure they have the support needed. So here is the Democratic Party — led by its senior progressive National Security expert, Carl Levin, and joined by just enough of its members — joining the GOP to ensure that this bill passes, and that the U.S. Government remains vested with War on Terror powers and even expands that war in some critical respects. 
This example of our political system is best described as a mockracy. Incidentally, as Greenwald points out, the Obama administration objected to the the exemption for US citizens.

Read the whole article at: Congress endorsing military detention, a new AUMF. More Greenwald on 'villain rotation' at: The Democratic Party’s deceitful game.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Misconceptions about OWS

 As support for OWS is waning, the main stream media continues to ignore, ridicule and discredit OWS (Occupy Wall Street). Let's clear up some misconceptions about OWS:

1. OWS doesn't know what they want

Yes, they do. See Declaration of the Occupation of New York City. They know our democracy has been hijacked and corrupted by the elite. They know that the Democrats are just as corrupted by political donations and lobbyists as the Republicans. They know that the will of the people is no longer relevant. They know that many in the financial industry were able to get away with fraud, looting the US Treasury and forging foreclosure documents on homeowners in order to grow profits and bonuses to record levels. They know that the mainstream media has also been corrupted. See this. They know that the rule of law no longer applies to those in and close to the government. See this. They know that the psychopathic behavior of the elite is extremely self-destructive and that it will destroy the United States, the environment and the world. They also know that the only recourse that they have left is to take to the streets.

2.OWS protesters are shutting down bridges and subway stations

Nope. See this:



And this (from The Fox/NYT nexus on OWS):
Yesterday’s NYT article on the various OWS protests by reporter Katharine Seelye “reported” as follows: “There was much confusion throughout the day in New York as protesters caused disruptions at the New York Stock Exchange and at Zuccotti Park before they moved in the afternoon to shut down subway stations” (h/t sysprog).
The current version of that article does not contain that passage, and there is no editorial note or correction noting that it had been removed, nor is there anything about this error on today’s Correction page. The NYT‘s own media critic apparently thought this reporting error was significant enough to warrant a long critique — when the error was Fox’s (and indeed, he noted that “other stations in New York City briefly suggested that the protesters might try to shut down the transit system”) – but the NYT, which likely played at least some role (if not the key role) in spawning this erroneous reporting, simply deleted the passage from its article without any acknowledgment of its error, even as its media critic bashed Fox for the same error. It’s like it just never happened (a not uncommon way of dealing with significant errors at the NYT).
This is straight out of '1984' where changes to the status quo were made retroactively as if it were always that way. It is, it was and always will be. Welcome to the end of history brought to you by the Ministry of Truth.

4. OWS doesn't have to disrupt normal business operations


Yes they do. The whole point of protesting is to get people to notice you. It wouldn't do them any good to protest on Antarctica.

5. OWS protesters are violent

I've never seen more peaceful protesters. All the Occupy protests have been incredibly non-violent. Why? Because they know that they can't win that battle. The police, on the other hand, have been, at times, extremely violent. See this. I am personally appalled that we the People are not giving the same shock and outrage to protesters as when the police are caught beating an unarmed person such as the Rodney King beating.

6. The crackdowns on the occupy movements are not related

Probably false. Although mayors have the final word, for now, on the crackdowns, there is some evidence that they are being coordinated through conference calls with PERF (Police Executive Research Forum). From their website:
PERF is dedicated to improving policing and advancing professionalism through research and involvement in public policy debate.
This is what we know: Oakland Mayor Jean Quon has admitted that she was on conference calls with 18 other mayors. (source). PERF, for its part, has stated that it was a part of some of at least two of the conferencde calls. (source). Also see Confirmed: Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) coordinating Occupy raids.

Happiness is freedom from fear

There is a reason that the police are violently cracking down on protesters: fear. The government wants you to think that if you protest then you are fair game to be pepper sprayed, beaten, kettled or arrested. We must refuse to be afraid any longer. See Freedom from Fear By Sheila DeButler.

*   *   *

Whatever your opinion on whether Occupy Wall Street should be allowed to pitch tents, sleep in Zuccotti park and generally take over the park to the exclusion of the general public, we should all be upset at the inhumane way the police cleared out the park:
  1. The police raid came without notice.
  2. The police raid came in the middle of the night while the protesters were sleeping and disoriented. Those familiar with 'Shock Doctrine', know this trick of ramming through their agenda while the people are in a state of shock.
  3. The police raid gave the protesters 10 minutes to gather their belongings and exit the park.
  4. The police came in full riot gear; aka stormtrooper or robocop suits.
  5. The police cut off all access to the park including access by reporters.
  6. The police assaulted and arrested reporters who refused to leave.
  7. The police used excessive force in evicting the protesters including the use of pepper spray, batons, head butting with helmets. They had a sound machine ready to go.
  8. Some of OWS's property was packed up. Much of the property was destroyed and thrown into dumpsters for the owners to claim later.
  9. The police dumped all the remaining property in a dumpster.
  10. Some of OWS's library was packed up for later retrieval. Many of the books were ruined when they were thrown into the dumpsters. 79% of the books from the Occupy Library are ruined or missing. (source).
  11. The OWS medical tent was torn apart with patients still in the tent. Medicine was apparently destroyed.















Update:

From Occupy Wall Street to Occupy Nation in just two months

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Police officer pepper sprays line of U-Cal protesters







UC Davis launches probe after pepper spray video

Three visions of the future

Guest blogger Mindsweeper writes:

In rereading/relistening to some of Paul Craig Roberts, Michael C. Ruppert and Chris Hedges, I'm struck by the similarity of their 'perception of reality' and their vastly different visions of the future.

Roberts doesn't seem to have much vision; he accurately points out the massive citizen complacency in the face of overwhelming hypocrisy, domination and corruption. He maintains the American 'people' have no chance of surviving. He predicted the Occupy shutdowns here: Western Democracy: A Farce and a Sham.

Hedges shares Roberts' view of terrible state of affairs, but is hopeful (deliriously?) that OWS is 'the revolution' that will save us. Ruppert seems to have the most dire vision of imminent collapse and sees OWS as 1 means to help re-establish a non-unlimited growth paradigm after the collapse. He seems more than a bit out there claiming that a looming Supreme Court decision will facilitate ironfisted HSD control over states+municipalities-->directly to civil war.

Of course the NY Times (‘Exceptionalism’ Argument May Prove Potent for Republicans) continues along in typical "vote in our rigged political theater" (CHedges This Is What Revolution Looks Like/)

Robert Scheer's column on Bloomberg is pretty good: The Villain Occupy Wall Street Has Been Waiting For

It seems to me that Hedges places undue hope in OWS. Yes, OWS has gotten the status quo a bit worried and has changed the main stream media dialogue some. More power and growth to it! Having identified a major symptom (Wall Street) of the problem, it now has to pivot and move to the only means for peaceful change: Congress, state and local legislatures. The status quo will only change peacefully if and when the Legislative branch at every level (local, state, Federal) becomes directly responsive to the 99% and hostile
to the 1%. We need: Occupy the Senate, Occupy the House, Occupy the NY Senate, Occupy the NY House.... Expecting the foxes to voluntarily give up guarding the hen house is absurd. You have to either shoot them or put up a huge (legislatively-electrified) fence around the hen house to keep the foxes out.

It's nice to long for the 60's and how the 'movement' ended the Vietnam War. Yep, it sure did, but what did the foxes do? They licked their wounds for awhile and abolished the draft so that the perpetual war state could move forward at an accelerated pace, immune to draft protest. Those foxes are very clever and get better and better at feeding their insatiable appetites. Look at the Civil Rights movement and its progress: Barrack Obama as President? Cruel joke! As of 2003, 10.4% of the entire African-American male population aged 25-29 was incarcerated. In 2000 there were 791,600 black men in prison and 603,032 enrolled in college. In 1980 there were 143,000 black men in prison and 463,700 enrolled in college. (Source: Prison Population Exceeds Two Million).

As of 2009, African-Americans account for slightly over 10% of the total U.S. population. They also account for nearly 50% of the total U. S. jail and prison population. Of the estimated 36,500,000 crimes reported annually in the U.S., African-American's are involved in less than 9% but have the highest conviction and incarceration rate annually of any other group. This evidences the unspoken rule within the U.S. justice system to hold minority American's accountable to a different code of justice than the majority population.
The average annual cost of caring and housing a prisoner in the U.S. is nearly $29,000. This is a 300% increase over the past 10 years and is out pacing every governmental agency spending cost except for Medicare. It is accounting for an average 6.7% of most states general fund expenditures. The incarceration of America has become big business and very expensive. Extrapolating the current rate of growth over the next 20 years, by 2030 nearly 15% of the U.S. population will be accountable to the American correction system. If that occurs, the FEMA prisons the conspiracy theorists have been talking about for years will become reality.

The land of the free and the home of the brave a prison colony, well that is one way to halt illegal alien immigration. I am sure when this information is translated into different languages it will force immigrants to rethink resettlement in America. The only way to truly halt this growth is to return to the original Bill of Rights and reinstitute Habeas Corpus. A crime is only committed when there has been injury to another person or property. Victimless consensual crime laws must be removed from the U.S. judicial code of laws. (See: U.S. Prison Population is the Largest on Earth).

Recent American history proves this 'movement stuff' is 'kumbaya crap' even if they save a few hens, integrate some schools, end a war, get a shorter work-week and pensions. The freakin' foxes come back harder and stronger than ever, waging a perpetual 'war on terror' killing millions, cutting off funding for education so as to privatize schools for profit, busting the unions and stealing their pensions while outsourcing their jobs, locking up minorities at rates several times greater than whites while privatizing the prison system for profit at taxpayer expense.

While I remain proud of those who participate in #Occupy and hopeful for 'their miracle', haven't the foxes come through the past 5 years wealthier and more powerful than ever? Isn't the political hypocrisy, corruption and greed more dominant than ever at all levels of government? Aren't this nation's policies both domestically and abroad more murderous, fascist, and destructive than ever before? And #Occupy will somehow dramatically alter those trajectories? Call me cynical and pessimistic for thinking "no way". If #Occupy is really persistent, the foxes will back off from some token hen houses for a short while and then - BACK WITH A VENGEANCE !!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Call to Occupy

A Call to Occupy

Posted 52 minutes ago on Nov. 15, 2011, 8:23 a.m. EST by OccupyWallSt

#OccupyWallStreet Convening 9 a.m. Sixth Avenue and Canal Street.

New York, NY — We are a global movement that is reclaiming our humanity and our future. We have stepped into a revitalizing civic process, realizing that we cannot fix our crises isolated from one another. We need collective action, and we need civic space. We are creating that civic space.

To occupy is to embody the spirit of liberation that we wish to manifest in our society. It is to exercise our freedom to assemble. We are creating space for community, values, ideas, and a level of meaningful dialogue that is absent in the present discourse.
Liberated space is breaking free of isolation, breaking down the walls that literally and figuratively separate us from one another. It is a new focus on community, trust, love and hope. We occupy to create a vision of equality, liberty and social justice onto the blank paving stones of public parks, in the silent hallways of abandoned schools, banks, and beyond. Public space plays a crucial role in this civic process and encourages open, transparent organizing in our movement. As we have seen in Liberty Square, outdoor space invites people to listen, speak, share, learn, and act.
Last night, billionaire Michael Bloomberg sent a massive police force to evict members of the public from Liberty Square—home of Occupy Wall Street for the past two months. People who were part of a dynamic civic process were beaten and pepper-sprayed, their personal property destroyed.
Supporters of this rapidly growing movement were mobilized in the middle of the night, making phone calls, taking the streets en masse, and planning next steps. Americans and people around the world are appalled at Bloomberg's treatment of people who peacefully assemble. We are appalled, but not deterred. Liberty Square was dispersed, but its spirit not defeated. Today we are stronger than we were yesterday. Tomorrow we will be stronger still. We are breaking free of the fear that constricts and confines us. We occupy to liberate.
We move forward in the grand tradition of the transformative social movements that have defined American history. We stand on the shoulders of those who have struggled before us, and we pick up where others have left off. We are creating a better society for us all.
Occupy Wall Street has renewed a sense of hope. It has revived a belief in community and awakened a revolutionary spirit too long silenced. Join us as we liberate space and build a movement. 9 a.m. Tuesday morning at Sixth Avenue and Canal we continue.
Global actions will be posted on this page.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald's new book, "With Liberty and Justice for Some" charges that there is no longer equal protection under the law. From his article "Tomgram: Glenn Greenwald, How the Rich Subverted the Legal System" about his book:
The American Founders were clear that they viewed inequality in wealth, power, and prestige as not merely inevitable, but desirable and, for some, even divinely ordained.
While the Founders accepted outcome inequality, they emphasized -- over and over -- that its legitimacy hinged on subjecting everyone to the law’s mandates on an equal basis. Jefferson wrote that the essence of America would be that “the poorest laborer stood on equal ground with the wealthiest millionaire, and generally on a more favored one whenever their rights seem to jar.” Benjamin Franklin warned that creating a privileged legal class would produce “total separation of affections, interests, political obligations, and all manner of connections” between rulers and those they ruled. Tom Paine repeatedly railed against “counterfeit nobles,” those whose superior status was grounded not in merit but in unearned legal privilege.
Today, it is glaringly obvious to a wide range of Americans that the wealth of the top 1% is the byproduct not of risk-taking entrepreneurship, but of corrupted control of our legal and political systems.
Greenwald is incredibly brave as he knows that there is no one that the government would like to silence more than himself. Read Glenn Greenwald in his own words:
Glenn Greenwald's speech is excellent (around 51 minutes):
The follow videos are in addition to speech above (sorry):





One of the articles that Greenwald recommends we all read is "The Quiet Coup" by Simon Johnson, former chief economist of the IMF.

And if you haven't read, "Why Isn't Wall Street in Jail?" by Matt Taibbi, read it.  The subtitle says it all:
Financial crooks brought down the world's economy — but the feds are doing more to protect them than to prosecute them.
Down on 'Occupy Wall Street' the protesters show their understanding of this issue with the chant:
Banks got bailed out! We got sold out!

The incoming police state - part II

The US creates, encourages and entraps its own citizens into terrorism:
This is straight out of  Orwell's '1984'. Is it fiction copying reality or is it reality copying fiction? It's as if the US government is using '1984' as their playbook.

*
The new "terrorists"

Our government, with all its new sweeping powers, is now focusing on dissidents and protesters:

It's the same with the US's 'War on Drugs'. The CIA not only traffics cocaine and heroin to fund illicitly their operations:
But also so that our police can do this:

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The incoming police state

George Orwell wrote "1984", first published in 1949, so that future generations would recognize all forms of totalitarianism and tyranny.  Aware of Nazi, Italian and Spanish fascist regimes as well as Soviet communism, he had also observed English imperialism firsthand while he was working in Burma. In "1984", he identifies tyranny as (see Why Orwell wrote "1984"):
  • constant surveillance of the citizenry
  • fictitious government with the real government completely unknown
  • perpetual war
  • torture of citizens
  • drumming the masses with hate propaganda while they were kept in a constant state of fear
  • revisionist history
  • a fictitious enemy
  • entices and entraps its own dissidents 
Naomi Wolf, in her book, "The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot", outlines 10 steps that an open society takes toward becoming a closed society. Read Naomi Wolf's article in, 'The Guardian': Fascist America, in 10 easy steps.

A documentary has been made based on Wolf's book: 'End of America'. I've previously written about Naomi Wolf here. Her latest article is, "We May Be Witnessing the First Large Global Conflict Where People Are Aligned by Consciousness and Not Nation State or Religion".

 Here's Wolf's list (the comments are mine):

Step 1: Invoke an Internal and External Threat

Authorities say terrorists but these days that seems to include Muslims and dissidents inside and outside of America.

Step 2: Establishing Secret Prisons Where Torture Takes Place

It's not just Guantanamo Bay, about which Bush has said something like , "I want Guantanamo Bay in the equivalent of legal outer-space". For suspected "black sites" the name recently used to describe secret prisons operated by the CIA generally outside US territory and legal jurisdiction, see Black Site on Wikipedia. Also, see this article by Glenn Greenwald:  How the U.S. government uses its media servants to attack real journalism.

Step 3: Develop a Paramilitary Force

Think Blackwater. Since renamed Xe Services. Blackwater was present in New Orleans during the aftermath of Katrina. (Source: Blackwater Down)

Step 4: Surveillance of Ordinary Citizens

Warrantless, roving wire tapping. Complete internet snooping and filtering. (Hi NSA/FBI/CIA/etc!)

Step 5: Infiltrate Citizens' Groups

The CIA has done this for years.

Step 6: Detain and Release Ordinary Citizens

This happened to Naomi Wolf herself:


Step 7: Target Key Individuals

The US has a secret watch list of more than 1 million Americans. Are you on it?

Step 8: Restrict the Press

Sure there's some censorship by the authorities. See this. And then there's censorship by Google, Facebook, Yahoo! and the telecoms. See thisthis and this. There's also the closing down of information made available to the public. For example, in 2006 the Federal Reserve stopped reporting M3 and related statistics. The government now classifies 77 million documents a year of which 16 million are classified top secret. (See  and source1 and source2).

The most dangerous restriction of the press is the self-censorship by the press.  For example the main stream media dismisses, ridicules and attacks real investigative journalism. See again: How the U.S. government uses its media servants to attack real journalism.  Also, see The US Media.

Step 9: Recast Criticism as Espionage and Dissent as Treason

The government is coming down hard on whistle-blowers. Bradley Manning was being held in torturous conditions and is still awaiting trial. If you protest or criticize the government you could be labeled a terrorist and striped of all your rights as an American citizen. One day the government could round up everyone on its watch list and detain them indefinitely. Or worse.

Step 10: Subvert the Rule of Law

The executive office has bestowed on itself more and more authority in the name of national security and an ineffectual congress. Glenn Greenwald, an author and a former Constitutional and civil rights litigator, who regularly writes about the declining rule of law in his Salon column, his latest piece is especially heartbreaking: The human toll of the U.S. drone campaign.

We think we live in an open society, that we have freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the rule of law reigns supreme. In many ways we do have freedom of speech in America but our free speech has been limited to Republican and Democrat's views. If we venture outside outside that very limited band of free speech, the first line of defense is the US propaganda machine.

For example, there is no strong anti-war movement anymore. NPR has never met a war it didn't like:
The president of National Public Radio (NPR), Kevin Klose, is the former head of all the major, worldwide US government broadcast propaganda outlets, including Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty, and the anti-Castro Radio Marti, which broadcasts into Cuba from Florida. NPR, it can be said, has never met an American war it didn't like. It was inspired to describe the war against Yugoslavia as Clinton's "most significant foreign policy success."
--William Blum in Rogue State
"Rahm Emanuel, [Obama's White House chief of staff], took pains to weed out anti-war candidates." (source) The last bastion of the anti-war crusade comes from older people who remember the anti-Vietnam war protests. Here are three of those dissenters:
  1. Paul Craig Roberts, a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal and co-author of, The Tyranny of Good Intentions, gives an excellent description of America's transformation in: The Day America Died.
  2. William Blum, worked for the State Department, one of the founders and editors of the Washington Free Press and author of "Killing Hope" and "Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower", maintains a blog at killinghope.org.  His latest post is certainly worth the read and fits in quite nicely to this discussion:  Anti-Empire Report #99.
  3. Tom Engelhardt, book editor by trade, fellow of the National Institute, co-founder and co-editor of the "The American Empire Project", also creates and maintains TomDispatch. His latest article is very good, "Tomgram: Engelhardt, Wall Street by the Book".
Naomi Wolf's, "End of America", focuses on the Bush administration but the national security complex grew in size and scope since the national security act was enacted in 1947. The Secret Government PBS 1987 Bill Moyers which in part describes this secret shadow government:


(Further reading: The institutions.)

From: Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State:
Calling the reaction to al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attack a “war” ensured that the government could justify classifying everything associated with fighting it. Under President George Bush, journalists’ efforts to figure out how the United States was waging this war against al-Qaeda were often criticized by senior administration leaders, members of Congress, cable television pundits, even the public. Many of those journalists hoped that would change under the presidency of Barack Obama. It is true the president and his cabinet members have not publicly disparaged the news media as much as his predecessor did. But behind the scenes, the situation is actually much worse. President Obama’s Justice Department has taken a more aggressive tack against the unauthorized disclosure of classified information by pursuing more so-called leak investigations than the Bush administration.
Naomi Klein, in her book "Shock Doctrine" describes how natural, economic or other disasters can be used as a distraction as substantive changes in policy are implemented very quickly while the people are stunned in a state of shock from the disaster. She calls it the "disaster capitalism complex." The book is fabulous and the documentary based on it can be purchased here. Two examples of "Shock Doctrine" in the US were the aftermath of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, both well described in her book. (Aside: Paul Craig Roberts has something to say about 9/1,1 which is the best I've read, The Critics of 9/11 Truth: Do They Have A Case?)

Skipping ahead to those calling for mass protests:


Enter Occupy Wall Street

The discourse has changed. It's now class warfare.  It's now the 99% vs. the 1%. Maybe it's the 99.9% vs. the 0.1%, but really it's only the very, very few that have hijacked our democracy and corporations, bought off our politicians and judges, created and attended secret organizations where they colluded and conspired, committed fraud, caused the financial meltdown and put short term bonuses ahead of the long-term viability of the corporation to which they were entrusted. Read this: Chris Hedges Arrested in Front of Goldman Sachs. Matt Taibbi of RollingStone magazine, who has written extensively on Wall St, debunks the conservative spin and lays the bulk of the blame on the banks who were scheming up ways to make money: Mike Bloomberg's Marie Antoinette Moment. Bill Moyers has something to say too: Our Politicians Are Money Launderers Not Too Different from Tony Soprano.

Most of the 1% are in favor of paying more taxes:
"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." -- Mahatma Gandhi
Noam Chomsky doesn't think that the United States will succumb to fascism. I hope he's right but I think it has a lot to do with us not allowing ourselves to be brainwashed into it. Noam Chomsky Speaks to Occupy: If We Want a Chance at a Decent Future, the Movement Here and Around the World Must Grow. Certainly, the national security complex will not relinquish its power voluntarily:
One reason America is stuck at Yellow Alert — “Significant Risk” of terrorist attack accompanied by no specific information — and stuck with such an enormous complex of organizations and agencies trying to defend the country is that being wrong is too costly for politicians in Washington. “Who wants to be the guy that says we don’t need this anymore and then three weeks later something happens?” asked Obama national security adviser James Jones, former commandant of the Marine Corps. “I don’t think you can ever get it back” to a smaller size. (Source: Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State.)
This is what a police state looks like:
But there's real hope. John Perkins of, "Confessions of an Economic Hitman" fame, is also encouraging us to fight back with the only way we have left:  “These are the Times. . .”

Note: I apologize for the plethora of links. The following two articles are short and will give you an excellent overview:
Update:

      Sunday, October 30, 2011

      Stories getting very little attention in the main stream media

      1. Occupy Wall Streets' demands

      What you hear in the news is, "What do they want?  Why won't they make their demands clear?"  Actually, they have. The Declaration of the Occupation of New York City can be found here. Building on the declaration is, "The American People's New Economic Charter".

      Keith Olbermann reads the first collective statement of Occupy Wall Street:


      2. Social justice

      One of the great conservative myths is their mantra, "Equal opportunity, not equal outcome". I've written about that here and here. The sad truth is that the best predictor of a child's social/economic mobility is family income. A lot of that has to do with the education that the parent(s) can provide.

      Then along comes a study that has everything in it: Social Justice Report (pdf). A report of that study can be read here: Why inequality in America is even worse than you thought.

      Here's a quick summary:

      31 OECD member countries were compared for various social justice properties: poverty prevention, access to education, labor market inclusion, social cohesion and non-discrimination, health and intergenerational justice.

      Here's how the US did:

      Overall rank: 27th/31
      Poverty prevention: 29th/31
      Child poverty: 28th/31
      Access to education: 20th/31
         Public expenditure on early childhood education: 22nd/31
      Labor market inclusion: 16/31
         Unemployment and long-term unemployment: 22nd/31
      Social cohesion and non-discrimination: 16th/31
         Gini coefficient: 28th/31
      Health: 23rd/31
         Perceived health in relation to income level: tied 11th-13th/31
      Intergenerational justice: 20th/31
         Debt levels: 25th/31

      It is interesting to note that the social democracies of Scandinavia ranked by far the highest.  It flies in the face of everything I've been taught about free market economies. Ironically, social democracy seems to me what OWS is demanding. The first key finding of the report:
      The north European states comprise a league of their own. Leading by far on the Justice Index,
      Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland achieve particularly good results in the dimensions of “access to education,” “social cohesion” and “intergenerational justice.”
       3. More on income inequality

      First, please read, 'Has America Become an Oligarchy?' In defense of free-enterprise, this is why it happened. If the playing field were fair, big companies would get eclipsed by smaller more adaptable companies which in turn would lead to the natural death of the biggest companies and income would revert to the mean.  But big perpetual US corporations have used their monopoly power to unfairly take out their competition and have used their political power to rig the game in their favor. So the question becomes, "How do you level the playing field?" without swinging the pendulum too far the other way?

      4. Global warming

      From, 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart' Wed. Oct. 26:

      5. Frivalous lawsuits and Tort reform

      From, 'The Colbert Report' Tues. Oct. 25:



      6. Fox News making up the news:

      7. Corporations reclaiming pension funds

      Ellen Schultz, author of Retirement Heist: How Companies Plunder and Profit from the Nest Eggs of American Workers, was on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Monday, October 18, 2001:





      From the New York Times: When Retirees Are Shortchanged.

      An excerpt of her book can be read here: How Companies Plunder and Profit from the Nest Eggs of American Workers.

      Thursday, October 27, 2011

      Occupy Oakland: This is what a police state looks like

      Fromm Occupy Wall Street:

      Late last night, Scott Olsen, a former Marine, two-time Iraq war veteran, and member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, sustained a skull fracture after being shot in the head with a police projectile while peacefully participating in an Occupy Oakland march. He remains unconscious in critical condition at Oakland's Highland Hospital.


      Tuesday, October 25, 2011

      Glenn Greenwald Day!

      Glenn Greenwald has a new book out today, "With Liberty and Justice for Some". And it comes just at the right time to defend my charge of, 'criminal capitalism'.  The premise is simple:
      Today, it is glaringly obvious to a wide range of Americans that the wealth of the top 1% is the byproduct not of risk-taking entrepreneurship, but of corrupted control of our legal and political systems.  (Source:  Tomgram: Glenn Greenwald, How the Rich Subverted the Legal System)
      The charge of 'criminal capitalism' applies to both the Democrat and Republican parties which became entirely obvious under the Obama administration.  (No disrespect to President Obama who is a really nice guy!) One of the chants down on, 'Occupy Wall Street' is, "Banks got bailed out! We got sold out!". They understand.

      Read Glenn Greenwald in his own words:
      (For those that don't like to read search for words such as fraud, criminal, legitimate, etc.)

      And if you haven't read, "Why Isn't Wall Street in Jail?" by Matt Taibbi, read it.  The subtitle says it all:
      Financial crooks brought down the world's economy — but the feds are doing more to protect them than to prosecute them.

      Sunday, October 23, 2011

      Blame the Fed!

      Guest contributor Mindsweeper writes:

      Free market idiots (including Ron Paul, the Austrian school and libertarians) finally have a right idea, but for all the wrong reasons!

      Ron Paul: "Blame The Fed For The Financial Crisis"

      What's absolutely astounding is that, according to these morons, it's "government" that is perpetrating these 'disastrous anti-free market' policies. The Fed is not the government; it is a bunch of greedy private bankers who have usurped the rightful government's constitutional power to issue and regulate currency in order to become increasingly wealthy at taxpayer expense, with zero risk.

      Congress is not the rightful government. It has largely become a bunch of bought-and-paid-for (through campaign contributions) corporate stooges who have usurped control of the legal system, creating and maintaining corporate 'personhood' as the means to implement laws and policy which benefit corporate royalty (who decide campaign contribution amounts and recipients). This is done at the expense of ordinary citizens to bolster Congress' re-election chances (incumbents are re-elected with over 90% frequency).

      The executive and judiciary are no longer branches of the rightful government'. They do not provide the 'checks and balances' intended by the 'separation of powers' mandated by the Constitution, only the 'checks and balances' to ensure that nothing can challenge Fed-banker' or 'Congress-corporation' power and influence. To have even a remote chance of being nominated for and winning the Presidency, a candidate must receive the stamp of corporate approval in the form of tremendous campaign contributions. Upon election, the President typically appoints members of the banking elite to positions at the Fed and the US Treasury. Other appointees (including to the Supreme Court) must be approved by the corporate campaign-donation-controlled Congress. Members of the Supreme Court are appointed for life by the corporate/wealthy-financed President; a recent noteworthy Court decision was Citizens United, confirming the corporate right of 'personhood under the XIV amendment' and allowing unlimited, anonymous corporate campaign contributions. What applies to the national political scene is equally true of state and local campaigns.

      Lowering taxes on the wealthy, banks and corporations has directly facilitated this corruption of 'rightful government' by systematically giving top income bracket earners ever-increasingly more $$ at the expense of the remaining 90-99% of the US population. This 'free money welfare to the rich' has then been 're-invested' through campaign contributions, think tanks, religious organizations, influence-peddlers, lobbyists, media lackeys and revolving-door jobs/bribes/kickbacks to ensure that the wealthy-banking-corporate control of all 3 branches of government continues to grow unchecked. Existing undesirable laws are systematically changed so that there are few or zero consequences for immoral, unethical and illegal behavior. American crony capitalism is the horrific result.

      At every juncture, right-wingers, libertarians, conservatives and tea partiers scream in unison: "Too much government! Socialism! Fewer burdensome regulations, lower tax rates for the wealthy 'job creators' and drastic cuts in government jobs and spending and will allow the 'free market' to solve all our problems!" But that is of course exactly what has led us to the current abyss: 'Too much (wealthy-banker-corporate) government! (wealthy-banker-corporate welfare and) Socialism! Fewer burdensome regulations (on wealthy-banker-corporations), lower tax rates for the wealthy (non-) 'job creators' and drastic cuts in government jobs and spending (except to the oil and agricultural conglomerates, defense contractors, homeland security complex and the surveillance industry) have allowed the 'free (wealthy-banker-corporations only) market' to create all our problems!

      So, by all means, let's get rid of the Fed! But let's stop the bullshit and recognize it's only one aspect of the many-faceted 'too much (of the wrong kind of) government!'

      Saturday, October 22, 2011

      Occupy Wall Street: Naomi Wolf calls attention to the disturbing involvement of Homeland Security in her arrest





      First proposed statement of OWS


      This is not an official statement from the #OWS 99% Movement. As a decentralized leaderless movement, in our opinion, there is no one group, organization, website or individual who can speak for the movement as a whole.
      We, a working group of people currently occupying Liberty Park and many other locations throughout the US, are growing increasingly concerned about divide and conquer attempts being made to co-opt the movement. In the following message, we are issuing our first proposed statement. If you agree with the statement, please post it to your website and/or spread it throughout your social networks, both online and offline at occupations throughout the country. If you would like to read this statement at your local GA meetings and vote or edit it, feel free. If you disagree with the statement, please air your disagreements – this is what democracy looks like.
      We appreciate, respect and encourage endorsements from individuals and organizations. We invite them. However, just because an individual or organization endorses our movement, does not mean that they in any way have a leadership role in deciding the future direction of this movement. We will not be co-opted by hierarchical organizations. No matter how wonderful their cause may be.
      There are many people, organizations and media outlets within both the Democratic and Republican parties who are trying to label us as the Democrat’s version of the Tea Party. In this working groups opinion, not only is this incorrect, but in labeling us this way, you are, whether you realize it or not, undermining the very essence of this movement with your obsolete divide and conquer groupthink propaganda. Just as the mainstream media and both political parties aided and abetted the co-option of the Tea Party by the Republican Party, there is an attempt being made to do the same to us within the Democratic Party.
      We the People, We the 99%, are not the pawns of either wing of the two-party oligarchy.
      We emphatically reject the attempted leadership of any political party, organization or individual. If there are elected officials or organizations who endorse our movement, we welcome them.
      However, they must do so knowing this: Your voice will be just as loud as any other voice. We are led by no one. You cannot co-opt We The People.
      Respect Us.

      Friday, October 21, 2011

      Why I'm neither a Republican nor a Democrat

      At some point I always feel I have to defend myself as not a pinko commie radical fascist. After my last post, now is such a time.

      Mike Krieger says it perfectly:
      I stand for a free and fair market system for the economy, for a fierce defense of Constitutional rights in all circumstances NO MATTER WHAT threat we supposedly face, and a cessation of the brutal violence and war we perpetrate abroad. (Source: Mike Krieger On The "Useful Idiots")
       Amen!  Where is that option is the Democrat-Republican duopoly?

      Krieger rightly calls out Soros and Buffet as self-serving Democrats:
      Michael Moore and Other Carpetbaggers    Let me be clear about one thing.  There are plenty of disconcerting things that have emerged in the Occupy Wall Street Protests.  The main threat is the clear attempt of disingenuous elites to co-opt the movement and steer the “useful idiots” right into the concentration camps.  You think George Soros is an idiot?  You don’t think he knows exactly what he is doing when he voices his support?  He is trying to co-opt it and own it.  He didn’t start anything.  He is a carpetbagger of the highest order. (Source: Mike Krieger On The "Useful Idiots")
      and
      Michael Moore, George Soros, Warren Buffett and all the others have their castles and they don’t give a crap about you. Furthermore, did you see what Tiny Timmy Geithner just said?  From Bloomberg: *GEITHNER: `YOU SHOULD BE DEMANDING BETTER RESULTS' FROM GOV'T.  Don’t make me laugh.  Here is the biggest insider crook on earth trying to tell us what we should want.  Truly a disgusting character. (Source: Mike Krieger On The "Useful Idiots")
      I think he wrongly calls out Michael Moore:
      One of the more disturbing things I have seen is this video of Michael Moore at the protests. The key point I am trying to make here is whenever someone worth tens of millions of dollars pushes a agenda based on “end capitalism” turn and run the other way.  Run as far and as fast as you can. (Source: Mike Krieger On The "Useful Idiots")
      Yes, Michael Michael said down on Occupy Wall Street that we have to end capitalism.  Capitalism has become a dirty word for me too.  If what we have now is called capitalism then I'm for ending it too. However, Michael Moore has always said we need to replace capitalism with democracy. If he had said that we need to replace capitalism with socialism, I would understand and sympathize but I do not share that position myself.

      I'm not against the 1%. If you work hard and make $380,000 a year, good for you and keep up the good work.  I hope you make more next year. (Source: How Much Money Do The Top Income Earners Make?)

      I'm against the 0.1% who use their wealth to buy politicians, set up phony self-serving think tanks and political lobbying organization.  Not to mention collusion by having secret meetings. I'm against CEO's who hijack large corporations and pay themselves hundreds of millions of dollars due to government access or voting shareholders' shares who didn't exercise their vote in the annual shareholder meeting.  I'm against CEO's who exhibit sociopathic behavior by maximizing short term profits for bonus purposes while putting the long term viability of the company in jeopardy. I'm against criminal CEO's that commit outright fraud.

      With that said, some things should be run by the government: healthcare, education, the military, the postal system and some natural monopolies.  We call this a mixed economy.  The United States is currently a mixed economy.  Nothing new there - move along.

      The Republicans and Democrats has severely limited the debate of what is left and what is right.  Nowhere is there a party that is free-enterprise, pro civil liberties and anti-war.

      More from ZeroHedge's article Mike Krieger On The "Useful Idiots"
      From Mike KriegerFirst they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.- Mahatma Gandhi

      The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street are Two Sides of the Same Coin I am extremely disappointed by the way most people are belittling the Occupy Wall Street protests, which I firmly believe is an extraordinarily important moment in American history that will be seen as the moment when rebellion arrived on the streets of America.
      One thing that I think people are really missing is how similar Occupy Wall Street is to the early stages of Tea Party protests.  Do you remember how the fake liberals dismissed that as a bunch of uneducated, racists wearing George Washington costumes?  Many claimed it was “astro turf” and would die out.  I recall the very day that I saw Rick Santellii on CNBC call for a new “tea party” in America.  The moment that event got posted on youtube I sent it out to the entire trading floor at Bernstein saying it was the beginning of something big.  People looked at me as if I was insane (as usual) and said that it was an irrelevant comment and nothing meaningful could come out of it.  Fast forward a few years, here we are and not only did the Tea Party not peter out but it has become one of the most vibrant and influential political movements in America today.  Those that dismissed the Tea Party most forcefully in the early days were from what I would call the “fake liberal” camp and the mainstream media (MSM).  This is unsurprising because they simply did not understand it (the MSM aren’t paid to understand anything their job to help maintain the status quo and minimize and trivialize revolt).  What the Tea Party represented was a rebellion within the Republican Party which had long ago sold itself out to the 0.1% financial elite class, the military industrial complex and large multi-national corporations that pay no taxes.

      So now the Occupy Wall Street protests have begun and the EXACT same thing is happening.  Yet this time most of the ridicule and contempt is spewing from what I would call “fake conservatives.”  The MSM of course is playing their traditional role as is to be expected.  Fortunately for me, I hold no attachment to any fake political party in America and I never have.  I stand for a free and fair market system for the economy, for a fierce defense of Constitutional rights in all circumstances NO MATTER WHAT threat we supposedly face, and a cessation of the brutal violence and war we perpetrate abroad.  As a result of this non-partisan stance I have an excellent group of friends and contacts across the entire ideological spectrum.  From this standpoint, I think I can see things for what they really are and what I am here to say is that Occupy Wall Street represents in part a rebellion within the Democratic Party (ie, the other side of the tea party coin).  This is why most of the attacks are coming from the “right” side of the fake political divide.  Just like the fake liberals couldn’t understand the tea party, the fake right can’t understand Occupy Wall Street.  This is alright.  It is all part of the process.  Next they will fight us.  Just like Gandhi said.
      From:  If the “Occupy” Movement and Tea Party Join Together, We Can End the Malignant Partnership Between Big Government and Big Corporations Which Is Destroying America
      If the “Occupy” Movement and Tea Party Join Together, We Can End the Malignant Partnership Between Big Government and Big Corporations Which Is Destroying America
      Posted on October 20, 2011 by WashingtonsBlog 
      If the “Occupy” Movement and Real Tea Party Join Together, We Can Save America
      Mike Krieger writes today: 
      The reason the liberal mainstream corporate media demonized the Tea Party is because it threatens the status quo. 
      The reason the conservative corporate mainstream media demonizes Occupy Wall Street is because it threatens the status quo. 
      These are textbook divide and conquer strategies being used on the American people. Do not fall for it.  Yesterday I read a really interesting gallup poll that stated: “Not surprisingly, Americans who consider themselves supporters of the Occupy Wall Street movement (26% of all Americans) are more likely to blame Wall Street than the federal government for the nation’s economic problems. Supporters of the Tea Party movement (22% of Americans) are overwhelmingly likely to blame the government.” What is most compelling to me is that 26%+22% = 48% so basically almost a majority. 
      All we need to do is teach people that Washington D.C. and Wall Street are now the same corrupt entity. They are one gigantic rogue trader sucking the lifeblood out of America. If we can unite these forces, which I can say with certainty agree on the important issues, we can put an end to the status quo and free ourselves of this bondage.
      I'm all for getting everyone (100%) onside for a democratic government with accountability and transparency.  I see the two sides of the coin as follows:  the OWS movement representing the 99.9% on one side of the coin and the Tea Party representing the 0.1% on the other.  Tea Partiers - it isn't too late to come on board.  Your Tea Party tenants have already been co-opted by the self-serving elite.

      NON-NEGOTIABLE CORE BELIEFS OF THE TEA PARTY

      1. Illegal Aliens Are Here Illegally.
      2. Pro-Domestic Employment Is Indispensable.
      3. Stronger Military Is Essential.
      4. Special Interests Eliminated.
      5. Gun Ownership Is Sacred.
      6. Government Must Be Downsized.
      7. National Budget Must Be Balanced.
      8. Deficit Spending Will End.
      9. Bail-Out And Stimulus Plans Are Illegal.
      10. Reduce Personal Income Taxes A Must.
      11. Reduce Business Income Taxes Are Mandatory.
      12. Political Offices Available To Average Citizens.
      13. Intrusive Government Stopped.
      14. English As Core Language Is Required.
      15. Traditional Family Values Are Encouraged.
      So Tea Partiers - join OWS and let's return democracy to the people of the United States. Then the left and right can go their separate ways and whatever will be, will be.