Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sunday, September 30
The Fata Morgana on the Road to Damascus
God talks to George W. Bush. He says so. It may be a stretch for me to say it but the hyena in the White House often reminds me of St. Paul; before and after his vision on the road to Damascus. In Christian theology, as in most of the rest of them, you’ve got your two major protagonists; God in the person of Jesus Christ and the devil in the person of whoever opposes the message of the party of the first part.

In every religion you’ve got human counterparts acting out the roles of invisible agencies that war forever against each other and have the same alternating success that day has over night and night has over day, like gamblers flipping a coin and betting on the outcome… over and over again.

St. Paul was a tormenter of Christians before his conversion and a dogmatic pain in the ass afterwards. It is St. Paul you have to thank for the runaway, Christian fundamentalists who adhere to the strict letter of the scripture and the law which, thankfully, can be interpreted any way the interpreters want, depending on the agenda at hand. It is set in stone folks… that is, until it turns into water and runs through the designer canals constructed by whatever Halliburton was at work at the time, according to the plans designed by whatever prancing drag queen- in whatever Vatican- was rolling in the hay with whatever government was fronting whichever Bush was snorting coke and talking bout Jesus. It’s the same thing, only different and… it’s new and improved.

No intelligent person actually believes that Bush went through any kind of spiritual conversion. This was an engineered public relations event that was fabricated to put lipstick on a pig. No intelligent person believes that God talks to Bushligula. Our present day Little Boots is just as certain of his privilege and just as mean and crazy as the prototype.

For those who have some occult understanding of the seeming war between God and the Devil and good and evil; for those of us that know there’s only one force that presents itself in a myriad of ways, it is clear that God and the Devil are the same thing seen from two different perspectives. The Devil is the way that evil people see God. Bushligula is evil, ergo… the God that speaks to him is The Devil and that goes for all of the rest of the Zionist, Christian Fundamentalists, neo-cons and their lackeys and business partners and the following multitudes born so bone-dead stupid that they believe the fantasy.

I’m not here to debate the existence of God or The Devil. The former is an elusive thing. The latter, at least in terms of observable phenomena, is a definite reality. Bushligula says that God talks to him so we’re looking into that.

I’d like to think that there is some kind of intelligence that creates Shakespearean dramas in order to ‘demon’strate the absolute truth of Karma. Life is a play. Sometimes it is a comedy and sometimes it is a tragedy and the two are separated from each other by a thin line called reality. What reality may be… is still under debate and we don’t expect that to change for as long as people debate it. It looks different depending on where you are standing and since you can’t stand everywhere at once, someone is always going to be arguing with you.

In a sane world, Bushligula and his puppet-master Cheney and all of the assorted swine from Animal Farm would either be in prison, hanging from the gibbet or working as strip club comics where aging whores compete for their last crack at the big time. That’s in a sane world. This world is not sane.

How can we explain the behavior of the Democrats? Who are these people? Iran has no history of attacking other nations. They aren’t about to attack the United States or their Israeli handlers. Would you walk into a police station with a slingshot and start punching out the cops screaming, “You want a piece of me?”

Look… look at the political adventurism that has resulted in this massive loss of life that is now in a seething quagmire; IN YOUR NAME PEOPLE. Look at the armed camp your country has become. Look at the daily police action against your citizens. Look at the howling jackals with the polyurethane hair on your televisions. You can’t tell the religious hacks from the newscasters and commentators; both of them spinning fables that they make up as they go. Look at your economy. Look… do I have to grab you at the back of the neck and force your eyes to see the housing crash that hasn’t put more than its nose out of the water yet? The Canadian dollar is now officially worth more than yours.

Look at Katrina. Look at Blackwater gunning down the citizens of a foreign land for sport. Look at the blatant inconsistencies in the 9/11 saga upon which all of this insanity is based. Look at the nasty whores in your congress down on their calloused knees to service agents of a foreign power who are sending your sons and daughters to die for a lie. Look at the birth defects from the depleted uranium. Look at the horror and the spectacle that is the result of a drunken, baboon prince who listens to God.

…Business as usual; the pornographic ecstasy of writhing bobble-heads, snake dancing their way to glory and kingdom come. Born again? …Born again and again and again as the same drunk driving. Phantom of the Opera in a hockey mask; the same old Smilin’ Jack the Ripper knee-deep in the blood of strangers and thanking Jesus along with the America death-rattle choir- IN YOUR NAME. …In your name…

I have neither the time nor the patience to list any more of the countless offenses against whatever God there may be and against so many different lives that include your own. I am weary of delineating the schematic of plots and plans and offenses. Lay down with dogs… You made your bed… Those whom the gods would destroy…

It puzzles me how this vast field of lumpen proletariats can spin the wheel in the hamster cage forever. The human race begins to look increasingly like a cannibalistic virus. When I was younger history used to puzzle me. “Why did they let it happen?” is what I used to ask myself. I used to wonder how people could be lead over and over again to the same tragic ends when the evidence of the previous tragic ends was there to be seen. Didn’t these people ever study anything or understand anything? Were they terminally incapable of seeing how point A led to point B?

Nothing less than revolution is going to do you any good now. It doesn’t matter who goes into office. It doesn’t matter what church you attend or which color of glow in the dark Jesus you’ve got holding the antenna on your TV set.

Is this what it comes to? Is this the result of every newborn’s smile? Is this what we get after all of the fine buildings and beautiful music? Is this what we get 'after' all of the marvels of technology and medicine; after all of the sacrifice and work? Is this the destiny contained in all of the great art that flowed from the wells of those inspired few who have shown us what we might have been?

Where there is life there is hope. I hope you find yourselves in time. You are collectively far more powerful than your small handful of oppressors and if you would only stop turning the wheel then the industry of your servitude, abuse and confinement would end. As long as you cooperate in what happens to you it will go right on happening. Stop participating in your own torment. Bushligula talks to God? God talks to Bushligula…? bwahahahahah… you poor fools.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Cui Bono? -- and Bush's Monstrous, Deadly Dare
An entry the other day from the frequently insightful Scott Horton at Harper's provides me an opportunity to amplify certain themes. I've discussed these issues before, but further commentary is required so as to dispel common confusions that can arise. The particular confusions involved are of some moment.

In "Cheney's New War Plans," Horton writes:

A thoroughly moderate, wonky international relations expert I know who spends much of his energy evaluating the efficacy of U.S. counterterrorism efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan recently offered this summary of the Bush-Cheney Administration's efforts:

The Bush-Cheney administration has surrendered much of Afghanistan to the Taliban and much of Pakistan to al-Qaida. They have turned most of Iraq over to Iran, creating the very danger over which they now threaten another disastrous war; they have strained the U.S. Armed Forces to the point of exhaustion, turned the Defense Department over to private contractors, the Justice Department over to the Republican National Committee, and the national debt over to foreign creditors, while leading a party whose single most basic belief is supposed to be that individuals must take personal responsibility for their actions. And they dare to lecture us on national security?

Indeed, the guiding star of the Administration appears to be Monumental Stupidity. Presented with two choices, they can be counted upon to pick the wrong one. Which is why the latest chapter in Cheney's maneuverings to launch the next war can come as no surprise. It's par for the course.

Consider the nature of some of the purported "miscalculations" or "stupidities" listed by these two writers. The Bush administration has drastically destabilized the Middle East, setting the stage for a wider war. The next target is unquestionably Iran -- which had been the primary target from the beginning. They want destabilization of the region, and they want a wider war -- for it is by these means that they seek to consolidate United States dominance of the Middle East, guaranteeing our control of the region's resources (among other factors).

The Bush administration has "turned the Defense Department over to private contractors" -- thus enriching certain huge and hugely influential nominally private companies in amounts of many billions of dollars. Not so coincidentally, the same private companies have numerous and intricate connections to many of those in government. The privatization of national defense also means that certain individuals in government have the ability to deploy not just one private army, but an entire series of private armies, to do their bidding, as may be required and for purposes those individuals will determine.

Turning our national debt over to foreign creditors may indeed be a cause for grave concern and an indicator of possible future economic collapse. But such eventualities hopefully lie some years in the future. Carpe diem, and all that. In the meantime, the top one or two percent of Americans -- including many of these same governmental players and their fellow gang members -- are amassing wealth in colossal amounts. All the rest of America, together with large parts of the world, may be going to hell. What's that to them?

In brief: the major actors in the Bush administration are achieving exactly what they want. They may well be about to launch the start of World War III, which will further enrich their corporate friends by many additional billions of dollars. As the favored few continue to amass vast wealth, the government continues to consolidate political power to an extent that makes a future dictatorship fully realizable. They are well on the road to the achievement of wealth and power on a scale rarely if ever equalled in the history of civilization.

To describe such an achievement as the result of "Monumental Stupidity" is, well, stupid. The problem is one of analysis and method, and it is very widespread. Most major commentators (and almost all bloggers) fall into the same error. The aims I have noted -- the amassing of wealth and power, and the drive to regional (and worldwide) hegemony -- are nothing remotely akin to a conspiracy, unless you view aims stated openly and repeatedly, and pursued over a period of decades in front of the entire world, as a "conspiracy."

The key to the nature of the error lies in this phrase: "while leading a party whose single most basic belief is supposed to be that individuals must take personal responsibility for their actions." Both commentators appear to have taken Republican marketing slogans seriously in the precise manner the Republicans hoped they would. And even though these commentators now view the slogans with suspicion and cynicism, it seems the dynamics involved -- and the vast gulf between marketing techniques and the reality of what is transpiring -- still escape them.

I return once again to these critically important observations from Robert Higgs:

As a general rule for understanding public policies, I insist that there are no persistent "failed" policies. Policies that do not achieve their desired outcomes for the actual powers-that-be are quickly changed. If you want to know why the U.S. policies have been what they have been for the past sixty years, you need only comply with that invaluable rule of inquiry in politics: follow the money.

When you do so, I believe you will find U.S. policies in the Middle East to have been wildly successful, so successful that the gains they have produced for the movers and shakers in the petrochemical, financial, and weapons industries (which is approximately to say, for those who have the greatest influence in determining U.S. foreign policies) must surely be counted in the hundreds of billions of dollars.

So U.S. soldiers get killed, so Palestinians get insulted, robbed, and confined to a set of squalid concentration areas, so the "peace process" never gets far from square one, etc., etc. – none of this makes the policies failures; these things are all surface froth, costs not borne by the policy makers themselves but by the cannon-fodder masses, the bovine taxpayers at large, and foreigners who count for nothing.

In my recent essay which included this Higgs excerpt, I went on to write:

It is important to recognize the two perspectives and the two kinds of analysis, and to keep them separate. Almost all of our public debate is conducted on the first level of analysis: what various political leaders say their goals and objectives are. In terms of those stated goals, their decisions in foreign policy are uniformly calamitous, and they lead to results that are the opposite of what they claim they hope to achieve. No public figure will admit the truth of the second kind of analysis and, I regret to note, most Americans are not the least bit interested in hearing such unpleasant truths. Nonetheless, they are truths: a huge swath of our economy is now devoted to preparing for war, making war, and cleaning up after war. To one degree or another, most members of Congress are beholden to the economic powers that drive the obsessive concern with war, and its cornucopia of economic opportunity. Both parties are enmeshed in the War State, and the current corporatist warmaking apparatus devours almost all those who go into public service. Until this intricate and complex system is altered, nothing else will change, except in comparatively superficial ways.

It would hardly do for our national leaders to announce the truth:

We have military power of a kind that allows us to do whatever we want, anywhere in the world. We intend to establish worldwide hegemony, baby. And while we're doing that, we and some of our best friends are going to get filthy, stinking rich. Guess what: most of the governing class is in on the scheme -- and there isn't a damned thing you can do about it.

No, that wouldn't do at all. So our leaders talk of "national interests," which can mean anything imaginable that serves the needs of the moment, and of spreading "democracy." To credit such claims requires as astounding degree of ignorance. Ask the slaughtered Filipinos, or the slaughtered Vietnamese, or those slaughtered in Latin America, or the victims of the genocide that continues in Iraq, about "democracy." To believe our government's aims are in fact what our politicians claim them to be is no longer an honest error, not if one watches only 15 minutes of news every few days, even as presented by our wonderful teevee personalities.

While it is not an honest error, it is easily explained. In large part, people continue to delude themselves in this manner because they are overwhelmed by our national myth throughout their lives. Our national propaganda is unrelenting and unceasing: people are taught the myth in school, it is repeated by every mainstream writer and commentator, and it is presented as Holy Writ by our politicians. The United States represents the climax of civilization. As William Pfaff puts it, in writing about the idea that "the American model of society is destined to dominate the world, by one means or another, since it is held to be the culmination of human development":

This conviction is commonly found on both left and right. It was during the Clinton Administration that the secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, proclaimed that Americans see farther than anyone else because they "stand taller." "Globalization" was a product of the same administration, a program for opening deregulated markets worldwide to U.S. investment that was articulated by the administration as part of world society's march towards unification in democracy and market capitalism (and history's end).

It was also under President Clinton that the unprecedented Pentagon system of regional commands was established that now covers the entire world, responsible for monitoring developments in each region and preparing for possible U.S. interventions under a wide variety of scenarios involving challenges not only to U.S. interests but, as it is said, to world order.

Militarized or otherwise, American policy remains under the influence of an unacknowledged and unjustified utopianism. This is the unanalyzed background to the work of all Washington's foreign policy agencies. It permeates the rhetoric and thinking of Republicans and Democrats alike. It is the reason Americans can think that history has an ultimate solution, and that the United States is meant to provide it.

Ever since the end of World War II (and going back to the Spanish-American War and the occupation of the Philippines), the goal of our foreign policy has been world hegemony -- and this is the goal shared and advanced by both the Democratic and Republican parties. It may not serve the purposes of "ordinary" Americans or of foreigners numbering in the millions -- and God knows, it has murdered enough of them (but mostly poor, brown foreigners, so as to prevent unrest among the docile American public) -- but it certainly serves the interests of the ruling elites.

As it goes abroad, so it goes at home. Our bloated, corporatist, increasingly authoritarian government similarly serves the interests of the ruling elites, as the lives of more and more Americans become exercises in mindless stupor. Most Americans are capable of experiencing what passes for "emotion" only when watching the latest stupidity on teevee, or a new Hollywood blockbuster, or contemplating the latest widget offered at the nearby mall. Our government has murdered more than a million innocent people in Iraq. Hey, man, who are you rooting for on American Idol? Our politicians will not tell us or themselves the truth. What murderer willingly admits he is a vicious sadist, undeterred by the screams of his victims as he counts his money? Nor do most Americans wish to acknowledge what their country has become, or the nature of its actions.

So it's all about self-delusion and marketing. We can't speak of genocide or the pursuit of power and wealth by means of mass murder -- so we talk about "American freedom," "spreading democracy" and "national interests." We insist on our "good intentions" and that, no matter the catastrophic devastation that directly results from our actions, we "mean well."

On the domestic front, because the Democrats and Republicans both want and enjoy the fruits of the corporatist, authoritarian state but still vie with each other for control over the mechanisms of power, the two parties have a problem. In terms of basic principles and the interests they serve, they are indistinguishable. The Republicans are primarily financed by and do the bidding of hugely wealthy corporate powers; so are the Democrats. The Republicans have numerous and intricate ties to the defense industry, which makes incalculable amounts of money from our perpetual war economy; the same is true for Democrats. The Republicans want an increasingly repressive surveillance state to ensure their rule and their own lives of comfort and privilege; so do the Democrats.

So why should any voter support one party over the other? This is not to say there are no differences at all between the parties, as we shall see in a moment. But when we consider the deeper level of analysis, we see that the problem is not one of fundamental political principles, since neither party is about to change those. We come back to marketing. The issue is succinctly described in a post at the aptly named, Stop Me Before I Vote Again:

Been exchanging a few e-mails this last day or so with a Pollyanna-ish comrade -- well, Pollyanna-ish compared to me, anyway. A propos the recent Secret Police Enablement Act, passed with the usual indispensable Democratic assistance, my correspondent observed, "Even on this wiretapping bill, Dems voted overwhelmingly against."

This remark reveals, I think, a really substantial error in how people think about parties. It's as if they believed the party could be characterized by taking some sort of arithmetic sum or average of the opinions of the people who comprise it.

But this ignores the fact that the party is an institution with a structure, with mechanisms of operation and levers of power -- levers which are in some hands and not others.

Among Democrats, it's the aisle-crossers who control the party as an institution. They're like the tiller on a boat -- an inch this way or that, and you've tacked. Or gybed, as the case may be.

It's true that if you average up the (expressed) views of Democratic and Republican officeholders you end up with two different-sounding songs. But all the Bernie Sanderses and Dennis Kucinich-es and Ted Kennedys etc ad soporem are in effect lashed to a chariot whose reins are firmly in the hands of the Lantoses and Liebermans. So the ineffectual enlightenment of the former is worse than useless -- it's an actual snare and delusion, like the sweet nectar that draws the poor fly into the flytrap.

I like to think of the two parties as being a lot like McDonald's and Burger King. In practice, they're marketing the same thing, but they're going after slightly different demographics and have slightly different marketing and branding strategies, and slightly different Secret Sauces to mask the rancid flavor of the same low-grade beef.

The analytic problem, as well as the nature of the differences between the parties, are further explained in these reflections from Chris Floyd:

I would like to apologize to the leaders of the Democratic Party for implying in my previous post that they are political cowards. I confess that I was carried away, rhetorically, in the heat of the moment, and was completely mistaken in ascribing their actions on the recent warrantless wiretapping bill to "spineless acquiescence" to the Bush Administration's authoritarian proclivities.

As one of Empire Burlesque's readers pointed out, that phrase was inconsistent with the rest of the piece, for it implied that the Democratic elite were actually opposed to the essence of Bush's authoritarian/corporatist/militarist agenda, and were somehow acting against their will in surrendering to Bush time and again during the past six years. As the reader noted, drawing on Arthur Silber's analysis ... the Democrats "are not spineless or weak. Nobody pushes them to do what they don't want (no matter how much the Digbys would like to explain away their actions that way.). They're completely corrupt and fully, volitionally complicit." The reader also pointed me to a comment they'd left on Glenn Greenwald's takedown of the vote: "It doesn't take any courage to do what you want to do. Just the opposite. They WANT all these things, but can hardly reveal that to their often sincere but easy-to-dupe followers, so they hide behind the 'we were threatened, Bush made us do it, we're spineless, and we don't want to look weak,' meme. They cop a plea to the lesser charge but the truth is, tragically, far more dark."

I think that's exactly right. They cop to cowardice to cover up complicity. As I said in the previous post, the Democratic elite are spawned by the same corrupt system that produces the Republican leadership. They serve, essentially, the same interests. Because no human organization is a complete monolith, there are of course differences in emphasis, different approaches to policy, different constituencies to be served (or snowed) etc. between the two parties. And it may well be, as Noam Chomsky noted before the 2004 election, that even minute mitigations in the operation of vast power structures can translate into real benefits for many ordinary people, simply due to the scale on which such structures operate. For example, it is almost certain that no Democratic administration would have cut off aid to women's health clinics around the world as the Bush Administration has done -- a heinous act that has resulted in death and suffering for untold thousands of the world's most vulnerable people. That is no small thing.

But the fact that one mafia boss gives groceries to Grandma while another one steals her blind and leaves her out on the street doesn't change the fact that both bosses are part of the same criminal system, operating on the same principles of violence, extortion, arbitrary rule and lawlessness.

Two aspects of Chris's remarks deserve further comment.

First, note again the two levels of analysis that I discussed with regard to foreign policy: the difference between the avowed aims of the governing class, and the truth of what is actually going on. If you consider only what our politicians say with regard to their intentions and goals, mysteries abound. If in fact they are in pursuit of peace and democracy, why have we been engaged in endless war, and why are we still? Why have we left nothing but widespread death and destruction in our wake, while our policies remain unchanged in even the smallest degree? But if you look beneath the rhetoric, a task which our politicians and the major media resolutely refuse to undertake, and if you analyze the problem in the way that, for example, Robert Higgs does, the mysteries vanish. The actual powers-that-be are achieving exactly what they want: chaos, war, murder and destruction.

The same dynamic is found in the realm of domestic politics. While both parties are supported by and serve the same interests, to acknowledge that overwhelmingly significant fact would be to give the game away -- and it would provide no one any reason to support one party over the other. So the Democrats insist they want to "end the war" in Iraq, but they refuse to cut off funding for it. The Democrats insist they do not want still wider war, but they pass resolution after amendment after resolution providing full "justification" for an attack on Iran. The Democrats insist they oppose the Bush administration's authoritarianism, but they do nothing to stop the FISA legislation, even though they certainly could have.

If you believe the Democrats actually mean what they say, and if you further believe that the Democrats themselves believe it, you will be unable to make sense of what they do. You will search for any explanation, even one for which you have no evidence and which is entirely unnecessary given what the record reveals. But again, if you look underneath the surface, the mystery and the contradictions disappear. They are achieving exactly what they want. Now, I'm not prepared to say that no Democrat genuinely believes he or she is opposed to authoritarian government or to genocidal war. Perhaps their convictions on such matters have some smattering of authenticity, and the human capacity for self-delusion is endless. But the point is that when it matters, they do not act as if such convictions matter to them -- and they do not vote that way. Nonetheless, the Democrats forever contend that those convictions do matter to them. As one result, they end up looking as if they are cowards, and looking as if they are betraying their true convictions. But they are cowards only if you believe the marketing; if you look to the underlying analysis, you will see that they act in accordance with their actual goals.

Chris's revealing example of aid to women's health clinics also merits further discussion. That is an especially powerful example of the actual differences between the parties. Similar examples would probably include environmental and worker protections, as well as protection of a woman's right to abortion, that is, her right to her own body -- although it must be noted that the Democrats' commitment in these areas appears to be wildly variable and unprincipled, subject to whatever their latest polls indicate is most appealing to voters, and dangerously undependable. Still, if those issues are of great moment to you, the Democrats are certainly preferable to Republicans.

But I urge you to keep in mind the full meaning of the following from Chris's post: "even minute mitigations in the operation of vast power structures can translate into real benefits for many ordinary people, simply due to the scale on which such structures operate." If you choose to support one party over the other because of those "minute mitigations" that "can translate into real benefits for many ordinary people," that's fine -- but intellectual honesty ought to compel you to recognize the great danger you're courting. That danger lies in "the scale on which such structures operate." We are talking here about the massive power of government on a huge scale. A government that has the power to save you also has the power to kill you. When power is institutionalized on a gigantic scale of this kind, as it now has been in the United States, it is easy enough to flip the switch from a policy you abhor to one you approve, depending on who holds power at any given moment. But government is not run by some impartial, unbiased, God-like and fictitious force: it is run by individual human beings. One person may flip the switch in a way you think is wonderful; the next person in control may flip it back again, and slaughter another million people.

You may think that this system is not going to change in the foreseeable future or in your lifetime, so it is better to have at least semi-decent human beings in charge of it. In some circumstances and with regard to certain issues, I might even agree with you. But be clear about the nature of the system you are thereby supporting: one of immense power, that can cut down any one of us if even a single individual in a critical position decides to do so. And given the issues on which the two parties agree at present, I see nothing to recommend the Democrats over the Republicans. They both stand for endless war and global interventionism; they both stand for authoritarianism on the domestic front; and, if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee, they both stand for torture. For me, all other issues recede into insignificance. If you make a different decision, at least be honest about the nature of your choice. That's all I ask.

This brings me to my final point: the nature of Bush's deadly dare. In "Dominion Over the World," I am analyzing the continuity of our foreign policy over the last century, and especially since the end of World War II, through Democratic and Republican administrations alike. In "Blinded by the Story," I explored how both Democrats and Republicans have sought to empower a surveillance state of vast power. In many other essays, I have set out voluminous historical evidence for the proposition that with regard to fundamentals, the Democrats and Republicans are after the same objective: a corporatist-authoritarian state, perpetually engaged in preparing for and fighting one war after another, all in the name of global hegemony.

It is true that the style of the Bush administration is notably crude and aggressive. But if genuine, widespread opposition to the administration's policies had existed, Bush would never have been able to enact his program in the first place -- and the Democratic Congress would not ratify and sanctify his crimes, as they have done and continue to do. When one appreciates the historic continuity which gave rise to this abominable administration and without which this administration would not have been possible, and when one considers the particular style in which Bush, Cheney and the rest present their program, it is as if they are saying -- both to the nominal "opposition" party and to all Americans:

We're doing what this government has done for over a hundred years. We start wars of aggression to establish American dominance around the world. We began that policy in the 1890s, and we've never stopped. Sometimes we do it through covert operations, and by toppling regimes that won't do as we demand. Sometimes we simply invade and bomb them.

And we've used torture as a standard means of warfare for decades. We just used to hide it better, and we had better PR about how we weren't "really like that." Some of you even said you wanted torture to be brought out "into the open." So we did that.

Beginning with Woodrow Wilson and even before that, the ruling class has wanted a powerful police state here at home. We never kept it a secret, but we made it go down more easily with flowery talk and nice phrases.

We decided to do away with all the camouflage. We recognized what the actual aims had been all along and we agreed with them, so we decided to bring it all out into the open. We didn't want to waste time with all those nice speeches that make people feel better about themselves. Oh, sure, we still do that to some extent. We have to, because you're not willing to face the truth about what we've been doing around the world for 60 years and more, and what we do today.

But we stripped away a lot of the delusions. We knew no one would stop us -- because this is what you've wanted all along, and it's what you want now. You like making the rest of the world do what we tell them. You enjoy it. And whenever you have the slightest excuse for it, real or imagined, wide scale murder doesn't bother you in the least.

You like it. It's what you want. If it isn't, why don't you stop us? You could, you know. If enough of you made your objections known in ways that mattered, we'd have to stop. We're not worried, because we know you won't.

But go ahead. Try to stop us. Try to stop this war and the wars to come, and the mass slaughter, and the growing authoritarianism. Aren't you going to at least try? Aren't you?

Go ahead. We dare you.

And what's the answer from almost all of you, and from almost all Americans?

Exactly. That's what they counted on. They were right.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Ducks in a Row: Congress, Media Clamber on Board the War Train to Persia PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chris Floyd
Tuesday, 25 September 2007
Jon Schwarz, citing Carah Ong at Iran Nuclear Watch, reports that the Senate vote on the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment -- essentially, a pre-emptive approval of any military action that the Bush Regime wants to take against Iran -- could be voted on as soon as Tuesday. According to Ong, one of the complete non-entities who are currently shaming the state of Tennessee in the Senate -- the feckless frat-geezer Lamar Alexander -- has asked to tie his name to the bill as well.

As Jon noted last week -- when he was one of the first, and few, people to ring the alarm bell about this noxious belch of belligerence:

It's a "Sense of the Senate" resolution, which means it has no legal force, but as the Congressional Research Service will tell you, "foreign governments pay close attention to [such resolutions] as evidence of shifts in U.S. foreign policy priorities." ...Here are the most important paragraphs:

(3) that it should be the policy of the United States to combat, contain, and roll back the violent activities and destabilizing influence inside Iraq of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, its foreign facilitators such as Lebanese Hezbollah, and its indigenous Iraqi proxies;

(4) to support the prudent and calibrated use of all instruments of United States national power in Iraq, including diplomatic, economic, intelligence, and military instruments, in support of the policy described in paragraph (3) with respect to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its proxies.

If something like this passes both the House and Senate, I think Bush could legitimately argue that between it, the War Powers Act and the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations to Use Military Force, he has all the authority he needs to attack Iran.

Ong says that Kyl is willing to smear a bit of lipstick on the war hog by adding language indicating that the bill -- which, as we've just seen, explicitly supports the use of "military instruments" against Iran -- is not an actual, formal authorization for bloodshed. No, it's just a friendly signal to the White House that any such action will be A-OK with the U.S. Senate. As such, the measure is actually redundant; as we noted here in July, this same gaggle of Capitoline geese have already voted -- unanimously, 97-0 -- to affirm "as official fact all of the specious, unproven, ever-changing allegations of direct Iranian involvement in attacks on the American forces now occupying Iraq," as we said then. And then, as now, we saw these august statesmen proffering meaningless assurances that their vote for war was not really a vote for, er, war:

To be sure, stout-hearted Dem tribunes like Dick Durbin insisted that their support for declaring that Iran is "committing acts of war" against the United States should not be taken as an "authorization of military action." This is shaky-knees mendacity at its finest. Having officially affirmed that Iran is waging war on American forces, how, pray tell, can you then deny the president when he asks (if he asks) for authorization to "defend our troops?" Answer: you can't. And you know it.

The Lieberman-Kyl-Non-Entity Amendment is just one aspect of the acceleration toward war now unfolding before our eyes. Indeed, perhaps the strongest confirmation that our Terror War machine will soon begin devouring the lives of innocent Iranians is not any saber-rattling by Beltway officials, but the astonishing interview that Scott Pelley of the "liberal" network CBS conducted with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on "60 Minutes." As Glenn Greenwald points out, Pelley trotted out Bush Regime war propaganda as if it were unquestioned Gospel truth. And he wasn't shy about it at all:

PELLEY: Mr. President, you say that the two nations are very close to one another, but it is an established fact now that Iranian bombs and Iranian know-how are killing Americans in Iraq. You have American blood on your hands...There's no doubt about that anymore.

Greenwald continues:

Almost every word out of Pelley's mouth was a faithful recitation of the accusations made by the Bush White House. Ahmadinejad obviously does not watch much American news because he seemed genuinely surprised that someone he thought was a reporter was doing nothing other than reciting the script of the government. Apparently, among the American press now, it is unchallengably true that the Iranian Government has the Blood of American Soliders on its hands and is a "terrorist state."

More than the stories about Dick Cheney's hard-on to kill Persians -- by proxy, of course; Cheney never has and never will put the husk of lard that houses his greed-shrivelled brain in harm's way;other men, and women, and children, must die for his agenda -- the Pelley interview is the one of the clearest indications yet that the war is coming and nothing will stop it. Here we see that the "conventional wisdom" of the American Establishment -- as always, faithfully reflected by the witless hacks of the "serious" corporate media -- has now accepted the sinister narrative that the Bush Regime has concocted to justify another war. Congress, as we've seen, is already on board. The major media players -- the New York Times, CBS, CNN, etc. -- have signed up. And neither Congress nor the corporate media would be pushing, spinning and cajoling for war with such gusto if their owners in the American elite were not also ready to lock and load.

Some believe that, in the end, Bush won't pull the trigger on Iran, that he will be stopped, or at least dissuaded, by recalcitrant military brass unwilling to see their overstretched, crumbling forces broken completely in a major new conflict. But I think these are false hopes. As we have seen over the years, the Bush Regime ruthlessly purges officers who question the Leader's maniacal agenda or stand up too strongly for the honor and well-being of their troops. And the planned attack on Iran will be mostly a matter of airpower and naval-based missiles: remote killing by generals and admirals who love their glitzy, high-tech toys and want to give them the kind of unbridled work-out they've been denied since the early days of the Iraq invasion. (All that daily, workhorse dumping of a few bombs and missiles on Iraqi civilian areas here and there just doesn't provide the same kind of thrill.)

At any rate, I suppose you could email or call your senator and demand that he or she vote against the Kyl-Lieberman-Nobody Amendment -- if you believe that senators who have consistently ignored the mandate they were given by tens of millions of Americans in the last election will suddenly be swayed by a few thousand angry constituents. Then again, you might want to do it just to bear witness, just to let them know that somebody out there sees them for moral cowards and accomplices to murder that they have become.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Rudyard Kipling


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Last of Iraqis

I have taken this from the blog 'Last of Iraqis' ... It is a blog I often read, he writes, of all things it is about his cat. A small thing, but one of the last attachments he has to his home. He is returning to Iraq from Syria. He grieves that no one will be waiting for him and his wife. There is no one for him to call to say he has arrived. He finds his cat.

...."As we entered the garden my wife called the cat and it came jumping , and it was very happy but very slim , it lost weight the poor animal , there is no one left to feed her , so we gave it sardines.I know many will think that I'm silly for what will I say next , or think that I'm not living in the real world , but this is what I feel and I need to write about it.

My wife held the cat and I hired a taxi , as we got into the taxi she started to make that sound like it was crying , it was so scared , it never left the house before , as we reached our house , my wife wanted to take it inside so that it will not run away , but "Bos Bos" was so frightened so it managed to escape from my wife , she stood on the fence and looked at us like it was saying good bye , and it went into the street , we ran after it but couldn't find it , we continued calling her for an hour while we walked in the street , we looked into the gardens of our neighbors but we couldn't find it , my wife was crying she was so sad so depressed and so was I , we felt guilty , if we have left it there she would be OK , at least it was it's home ,

I didn't know what to do , every while I go to the garden and walk in the street calling it , my wife was calling it all the time and crying.I'm so depressed I thought that when we bring the cat to our home we might have some fun and company because as I said we are almost alone in Baghdad.I know many will think I'm silly , some might say it's just a cat that escaped , big deal! but we are so emotionally attached to this cat , it means a lot to us and we have many beautiful memories with it.

I know this post is personal and more like a diary I'll continue writing about politics but I felt a need to write about it , this animal was the only creature waiting for us to get back to Baghdad , it was the only one I had in Baghdad......"

Ive read his posts about, car-bombs, curfews, lack of water, cholera, shelling, war, no electricity, fear, but it was this post about his cat, that caused me despair, anger, heartbreaking impotence...

I sometimes think everyone is over hearing of the war, my views, but if I can just make people understand that these are souls, just like us. No religion, no gender, no race. Just humans trying to survive.

This is what America has inflicted. This is their F*king democracy. I'm tired of people saying, 'Oh its the American government, not the people'.... don't say that,I can't hear those words anymore, its a cop out. The people are just as responsible! they cant hide behind ignorance. This is genocide, a crime.What does it take for people to stand up and say 'This is wrong!' If they choose to not inform themselves. Then fuck them, fuck their arrogance, their greed,fuck their fear, fuck their prejudice. May they rot in hell, like carrion.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Police State Is Right Here, Right Now

By Carolyn Baker

As nightfall does not come all at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such a twilight that we all must be aware of change in the air-however slight-lest we become unwilling victims of the darkness.

~Justice William O. Douglas~

09/20/07 "ICH" --- -- In April, 2007 I was pleasantly surprised to find Naomi Wolf's article, "Fascist America, In 10 Easy Steps" posted in several places online. I have been a fan of Wolf for many years, greatly appreciating her works and especially her 1991 book, The Beauty Myth. I had been looking for a list-or more specifically, an encyclopedia of the losses of civil liberties in the United States that might clarify for my history students the extent to which America has become a fascist empire. Wolf's "10 Easy Steps" was perfect, but her just-published book, The End Of America: Letter Of Warning To A Young Patriot, from which the 10 easy steps was compiled, offers an even fuller picture-a succinct and engaging explanation of how our civil liberties have been hijacked in the past decade. It is the most poignant, powerful, genuinely patriotic piece of literature I have encountered since Thomas Paine's Common Sense. No wonder then, that the book's cover greatly resembles that 46-page tract by Paine written in 1775-as well it should.

One of the most frightening realities of teaching college history is that most students rarely have a clue what fascism is. They know about Hitler and the extermination of Jews, but they see little connection with Nazi rule in the 1930s and 40s and the current political milieu in the United States. Overwhelmingly, they cannot define fascism, nor can they define socialism or democracy. After all, they were pre-occupied during grammar school with becoming standardized human beings by way of taking standardized "No Child's Behind Left" tests, five hours a day, four days a week. So why would they know the definitions of fascism, socialism or democracy?

Refreshingly, Wolf is not shy about using the term fascism and lets the reader know why. "I have made a deliberate choice in using the terms fascist tactics and fascist shift when I describe some events in America now. I stand by my choice. I am not being heated or even rhetorical; I am being technical." (20) She explains that where Americans tend to see the various political "isms" as all-or-nothing, that perception is often inaccurate because of what she calls a "range of authoritarian regimes, dictatorships, and varieties of Fascist states...there are many shades of gray on the spectrum from an open to a closed society." (20)

Wolf also emphasizes that America has flirted with fascism openly in the 1930s when numerous corporations and robber barons helped finance Hitler and when as Edwin Black notes in IBM And The Holocaust, some American corporations assisted the Nazi regime in carrying out its "final solution" to the "Jewish problem." In fact, several of these corporate tycoons attempted to stage a coup d' etat to overthrow Franklin Roosevelt in 1933 and restructure the American government under fascist control. A thorough investigation of American politics and society from the end of the Civil War until the present moment reveals, as I have carefully traced in my book U.S. History Uncensored: What Your High School Textbook Didn't Tell You, that much of recent American history is replete with a preference on the part of corporations and the politicians they own for an economic and political system on the far right end of the spectrum. In fact, resistance to fascism in the United States has been an arduous and daunting struggle for those who have been able to understand and oppose the appeal that fascism has to the corporatocracy, and in fact, take seriously Mussolini's fundamental definition of fascism: "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power."

As an historian who views American history as the complex unfolding of events that it is, I feel invigorated upon hearing someone like Wolf-especially the Wolf of feminist Beauty Myth fame-part company with the presentation of the Founders as "dead white men" inwardly tormented by various hypocrisies, such as the ownership of slaves and the subordination of women. Yes, Jefferson owned slaves and fathered six children by one of them, but what gets lost in that drama and other colorful stories of the Founders is that they were also thinking, speaking, and writing highly subversive thoughts. "You are not taught," says Wolf, that "these men and women were radicals for liberty; that they had a vision of equality that was a slap in the face of what the rest of their world understood to be the unchanging, God-given order of nations; and that they were wiling to die to make that desperate vision into a reality for people like us, whom they would never live to see." (27) I do not wish to romanticize the Founders and their generation living in a milieu replete with racism, misogyny, and classism, but neither will I throw their achievements out with the bathwater of political correctness, nor is Wolf willing to do so in her examination of them.

In the "10 easy steps" outlined by Wolf, countries move from open to closed and repressive societies by devolving past certain markers, and Wolf makes a powerful case for the way in which the United States is following a similar pattern without any significant deviation. In each instance she compares and contrasts how America's adherence to the pattern compares or contrasts with the pattern in pre-World War II Germany. The 10 steps are:

Invoking an external and internal threat
Establishing secret prisons
3. Developing a paramilitary force
4. Surveiling ordinary citizens
5. Infiltrating citizens' groups
6. Arbitrarily detaining and releasing citizens
7. Targeting key individuals
8. Restricting the press
9. Casting criticism as "espionage" and dissent as "treason"
10. Subverting the rule of law

As noted in the quote from Justice Douglas above, the fascist shift is a protracted process; it never happens overnight, and in U.S. History Uncensored, I offer an historical narrative describing exactly how we have arrived where we are-at "the end of America". Some aspects of the process were generated before the U.S. Civil War, but our recent history is nothing less than the story of the acceleration of the fascist agenda and the death of the Republic.

Frequently, books come into our lives with momentous timing. Several weeks ago a friend of mine was traveling through a small town in upstate New York looking for the location of a meeting he was scheduled to attend. Realizing that he was lost, he spotted a police officer in a marked car and waived to the officer to pull over. The officer pulled over, and my friend innocently got out of his car to walk back to the officer's car. Suddenly, the officer's voice came blasting across a loud speaker, "Get back in the car! Stop where you are! Get back in the car!" My friend returned to his vehicle and waited for the officer to approach his driver's side window. The officer, with a hand on his holstered firearm, angrily asked my friend what he wanted. When my friend asked him for directions, he replied with hostility that he didn't know the location of the place for which my friend was searching and once again repeated, "Never get out of your car when you're dealing with a police officer." So much for asking directions from a police officer these days.

On another occasion, two friends of mine returning from Canada were detained at the U.S./Canadian border, and while one of them had a U.S. passport, the other had forgotten to bring his. He produced a variety of identification but was taken aside, questioned, shouted at, and harassed in an extremely hostile manner as if he were an enemy of the state. Fortunately, after over-the-top intimidation from a couple of surly customs officers, he was allowed to enter the U.S.

About three weeks ago I was returning from a routine visit to the dentist in Mexico and had a U.S. passport with me, even though none will be required for returning from Mexico until January, 2008. I was told by a very aggressive female customs agent to pull over to the center where vehicles are detained. I was ordered in a very hostile manner to give her my driver's license and the keys to my vehicle and stay in my vehicle. When I asked what the problem was, I was told to be quiet and again, to stay in my vehicle. Having taught in Mexico for three years, returning to the U.S. every day and rarely having to show any identification whatsoever, I found this procedure to be astonishingly rigid and unnecessary. I have made many trips to Mexico in recent months and have never had any problem when the automatic photos that are taken of every license plate crossing the border appeared on U.S. Customs computer screens.

After what seemed like an eternity the female officer returned and told me that it appeared that I had had an expired vehicle registration four years ago which I had not taken care of and that I needed to do so at once. She gave me the name of the court where the offense was allegedly registered. The very next day I contacted the court and discovered that indeed I had been stopped four years ago for an expired registration for which I was given a warning. Every year since, I have purchased my annual registration well before the deadline, but the offense was never brought to my attention, and I even acquired a new driver's license last year through the motor vehicles division and was not informed of the offense. Not wanting any further hassle regarding the "heinous crime" of having an expired registration four years ago, I agreed to pay the small fine imposed by the court.

Some readers may assume that I was harassed because of who I am and my open delivery of alternative news and opinions on this website daily. I, on the other hand, do not believe that this was "all about me." Whether or not it was, it is blatantly obvious to me that the behavior of law enforcement in the United States has shifted dramatically in recent months. Whether or not I was targeted, which I sincerely doubt, this kind of treatment is becoming standard in law enforcement procedure throughout the United States.

And now fast-forward to Monday, September 17, 2007 (U.S. Constituion Day), at the University of Florida and the tasering of a student questioning John Kerry regarding the 2004 elections and Kerry's membership in Skull and Bones-an incident which has been viewed by millions on the internet and on mainstream TV news broadcasts. Writing of this debacle, Wolf's article "A Shocking Moment For Society" appeared on various internet sites this morning, and in it she states:

There is a chapter in my new book, The End of America, entitled "Recast Criticism as ‘Espionage' and Dissent as ‘Treason,'" that conveys why this moment is the horrific harbinger it is. I argue that strategists using historical models to close down an open society start by using force on ‘undesirables,' ‘aliens,' ‘enemies of the state,' and those considered by mainstream civil society to be untouchable; in other times they were, of course, Jews, Gypsies, Communists, homosexuals. Then, once society has been acculturated to that use of force, the ‘blurring of the line' begins and the parameters of criminalized speech are extended - the definition of ‘terrorist' expanded - and the use of force begins to be deployed in HIGHLY VISIBLE, STRATEGIC and VISUALLY SHOCKING WAYS against people that others see and identify with as ordinary citizens. The first ‘torture cellars' used by the SA, in Germany between 1931 and 1933 - even before the National Socialists gained control of the state, during the years when Germany was still a parliamentary democracy - were informal and widely publicized in the mainstream media. Few German citizens objected because those abused there were seen as ‘other' - even though the abuse was technically illegal. But then, after this escalation of the use of force was accepted by the population, students, journalists, opposition leaders, and clergy were similarly abused during their own arrests. Within six months dissent was stilled in Germany.

What is the lesson for us from this and from other closing societies, some of them democracies? You can have a working Congress or Parliament; newspapers; human rights groups; even elections; but when ordinary people start to be hurt by the state for speaking out, dissent closes quickly and the shock chills opposition very, very fast. Once that happens, democracy has been so weakened that major tactical and strategic incursions - greater violations of democratic process - are far more likely. If there is dissent about the vote in Florida in this next presidential election - and the police are tasering voters' rights groups - we will still have an election.

What we will not have is liberty.

We have to understand what time it is. When the state starts to hurt people for asking questions, we can no longer operate on the leisurely time of a strong democracy - the ‘Oh gosh how awful!' kind of time. It is time to take to the streets. It is time to confront those committing crimes against the Constitution. The window has now dropped several precipitous inches and once it is closed there is no opening it without great and sorrowful upheaval.

As I read Wolf's latest article, I realized that despite my enormous admiration for her and The End Of America, there are a number of areas where I must disagree with her.

First, the only thing shocking to me about the University of Florida incident is that so many Americans are shocked that it happened. Last night I posted a communication to her mailing list regarding the incident from former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney who says:

No police officer should be in the business of denying Constitutional rights to anyone; I am particularly chagrined when it appears that a black police officer participated in this attack on an innocent student.

What is happening to us???? How much more will the people accept?? I was outraged as early as 2000 when Florida was stolen and the Democrats said nothing!!!! Now, innocent students get tasered just for asking questions.

What kind of US Senator do we have who can't or won't answer a question about his own election that affects all of us???

Wolf has given us a compendium of civil and Constitutional rights stolen from us during the past eight years of the Bush administration. If one understands this odyssey of oppression, then yesterday's tasering of a questioning student makes perfect sense. I appreciate why Wolf used the word "shocking" in her most recent article, but I'd be willing to bet that she isn't shocked at all-not after the extraordinary documentation she has given us in The End Of America. What I do believe she wishes to clarify is the intentionally traumatizing methodology of law enforcement to maintain social control.

Secondly, I must take issue with Wolf regarding her statement that "...we on the left must snap out of our ‘it's-all-the-WTO-the-two-parties-are-the-same' torpor...We have to reengage in an old-fashioned commitment to democratic action and believe once again in an old-fashioned notion of the Republic. We need to help lead a democracy movement in America like the ones that have toppled repressive regimes overseas." (141)

Again, let's fast forward not to Monday, but today and the headline "Senate bars bill to restore detainee rights"-a decision which supports the Bush administration's denial of habeas corpus to Guantanamo prisoners who want to challenge their imprisonment in court. Need we reiterate one more time that since the 2006 elections, the Democrats have done virtually nothing to end the occupation of Iraq? Need we watch the video one more time of John Kerry standing mute and statue-like on the University of Florida auditorium stage-saying or doing nothing as a student was tasered for asking him why he handed the 2004 election to George W. Bush? Does anyone seriously believe that in a world where fellow students applaud as police remove and taser a questioning student and do nothing to speak up against such an outrage that we will see a viable, effective "democracy movement in America like the ones that have toppled repressive regimes overseas"?

As for Wolf's suggestion in today's article that we "take to the streets", the police state is preparing for that eventuality as well by letting us know that it has developed severely injuring electromagnetic crowd control technology that will dramatically limit how many and how often people can "take to the streets." Welcome to full-spectrum "1984".

I repeat: the police state is right here, right now!

Moreover, some pivotal factors that Wolf has not addressed are global energy depletion, climate change, and global economic meltdown which are exacerbating the fascist shift about which she so brilliantly writes and which will continue to embolden that shift as energy scarcity, climate chaos, and financial crises add fuel to the fires of terrorism that the ruling elite have so consciously and carefully incited and fanned throughout America. As American society continues to unravel, the fascist shift will escalate, and what is left of our civil liberties will further evaporate.

As for political parties, I prefer the definition offered by Mike Ruppert in "America: From Freedom To Fascism" in which he explains that the two major parties are like two crime families-the Genoveses and the Gambinos. They function like players in a crap game that feign opposition to each other, but when the chips are down, they will always unite to serve their common interests. (If the Iraq occupation is not a case in point, then I don't know what is.) When we vote in presidential elections for corporately-owned candidates or "the lesser evil", we are merely choosing between the two crime families, and even if one candidate were not a crime family member, our votes in the past two presidential elections, as Bev Harris has so astutely demonstrated, have been hacked. In the throes of the current, and I might add, rapidly-accelerating fascist shift, what evidence do we have for assuming that if there is an election in 2008, anything will be different? Tell me again, what's the definition of insanity?

At this moment another Naomi comes to mind-Naomi Klein whose book Shock Doctrine I shall soon review on this site. In that work Klein documents one of the key strategies of fascist empires: shocking their citizens into submission in a variety of ways from widespread societal terrorism to the administering of electroshock therapy to individuals. What we witnessed at the University of Florida yesterday, and what we are likely to see more frequently in America, are deliberate shock tactics applied by law enforcement to citizens for the purpose of achieving massive social control.

Some of my students who are criminal justice majors tell me that the latest strategies now being taught to police officers are "shock doctrine" techniques which terrorize and intimidate civilians in order to control them. Law enforcement officers are no longer encouraged to "keep a cool head" but to "follow their own instincts" (which usually means their own internal, adrenaline-charged state of terror) and react with full force because it's easier to apologize (or encounter a lawsuit) than to ask permission or risk being killed. Terrified people should not be wearing a badge and carrying a gun, and when they are, a fully terrorized society is guaranteed.

In spite of my disagreements with Naomi Wolf's suggested solutions, I cannot recommend The End Of America enthusiastically enough. It is now a permanent part of my U.S. history curriculum and is an ideal tool not only for educators, but for parents who want to teach their children where all those civil liberties we used to have actually came from as well as how and why they are disappearing in the present moment.

Carolyn is an adjunct professor of history, a former psychotherapist, an author, and a student of mythology and ritual. Visit Carolyn's website

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Science in the Bush: When Politics Displaces Physics

By Dr. Crockett Grabbe and Lenny Charles

09/08/07 "ICH" -- -- The majority of us accept as fact that the current administration manipulates science for political ends. Few were surprised to hear experts from industry challenge overwhelming evidence of man-made climate change. Frustration within the scientific community had grown so much that by Dec. 2006 more than 10,000 scientists, including 52 Nobel laureates and 63 recipients of the National Medal of Science, had signed a statement accusing the Bush administration of "distortion of scientific knowledge for partisan political ends".

Scientific integrity within the administration has often not been rewarded. Recently fired US surgeon general Richard Carmona said after leaving, "In public health, as in a democracy, there is nothing worse than ignoring science, or marginalizing the voice of science for reasons driven by changing political winds."

Truth, even when grounded in strong scientific evidence, is the first casualty of war, and the US is at war.

The pattern is clear, and it affects us all.

On September 11th the whole world watched as jetliners crashed into the World Trade Center. These heinous crimes were labeled as acts of war. However, scientific principles show much more happened that day than we were told. The most striking feature of these World Trade Center collapses is that each came down within a few mere seconds of the time it would have taken a brick dropped from the buildings' tops to hit the ground. Through the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Committee Studies our government told us that the damage from the planes hitting the buildings and the resulting fires caused them to collapse at near freefall speed.

What we were told is physically impossible without additional forces to bring the buildings down.

We were told that the undamaged towers below the impact zone offered very little resistance -- effectively little more than air -- resulting in the complete destruction by the accelerating mass of the smaller top sections cascading downwards. But principles of physics starting with Sir Isaac Newton's Laws of Motion show that what we were told happened by the NIST Commission's Reports is not possible. Principles like Newton's Laws of Motion are facts that cannot be dismissed. The NIST Reports absurdly failed to carefully consider these physics principles when it told us the damage and subsequent collapse was caused by fires from the jet fuel. The swift collapse we witnessed, in fact, could not have been caused by the fires or any other damage from the planes.

Applying 2 basic principles, conservation of energy and conservation of momentum, the government explanation quickly unravels. NIST conspicuously ignored these principles in their Reports. NIST also ignored the observed twisting of the top 34 floors of the South Tower before it toppled down. This twisting clearly violates the conservation of both linear and angular momentum unless a large external force caused it. Where the massive amounts of energy came from that were needed to cause the complete collapse of the intact parts below for each Tower, when their tops were in virtual free fall, is not answered in NIST's numerous volumes of study.

The only explanation supported by the physics is multiple explosions in both Towers. Without an additional energy source to blow the lower floor support structure out of the way of the falling upper mass, the observed fall speeds were unachievable. Any true scientific model must take into account the fact that that the kinetic energy of falling material would continually be dissipated to break more structural energy of parts of the remaining building unless explosions have already done the job. Thus, without explosions this mandatory expenditure would continually decrease the fall velocity through all the levels. In other words,

the top portions of the buildings as they came down would be significantly slowed down by the undamaged parts of the buildings below.

Even if the fires had gutted the entire building, causing universal structural weakening, the fall times would still be about 2-3 times longer than the fall time observed. In reality, the North Tower had 92 floors and the South Tower had 77 floors of intact structure designed to withstand major adverse damage below the impact zone and fires. If the planes and fires did more minor damage to the buildings before setting off the supposed critical fall, either building would take
3-10 times as long for complete collapse than was observed, even if complete collapse could occur and even then if it occurred all at once.

Is there proof of how the buildings came down? Examining the more technical details of the collapse shows direct evidence that explosives caused the collapse. Videos and photos taken clearly show the very-quick appearance of rapidly growing dust clouds in the collapse of the both Towers. These clouds expanded much faster than the gravitational pull could produce, clearly indicating that explosive heat energy caused that expansion. Multiple squibs (material ejecting horizontally from high-pressure regions) traveling over 160 feet a second were observed in both towers, and could only be generated by explosions. Several parallel squibs came out of the South Tower just a floor or 2 below where the plane hit less than an hour before, and these explosions that caused the twisting of the top 34 floors that initiated the collapse of that tower. Multiple squibs were also seen at the times of collapse of building 7, which collapsed later that day and was not hit by any plane. The appearance of these squibs in all 3 cases came within seconds of the time each building started to collapse.

These squibs provide clear direct evidence of explosions, as simple math elaborates. Data taken from a photograph by KTLA channel 5 news shows a streaming clear line of ejecting material which is similar to several other squibs photographed that day. This stream is mostly made up of bits of material large enough that air resistance is small compared to the ejection force, and after ejection from the North Tower it has traveled nearly 70 feet in a horizontal direction, whereas the distance it has descended because of gravitational pull is small. If we estimate that the front end of the ejecting material has fallen about 3 feet, then, for material for which air friction is small (e.g. a 3-inch piece of glass or 1-inch piece of steel) we find it has been just under 0.5 sec since the front end first ejected from the building. The material in that squib is traveling horizontally at over 160 feet/sec.

Defenders of the NIST Reports have tried use to explain these squibs as compressed air and gasses coming out of the collapsing buildings, but that cannot begin to account for the energetic focused horizontal blasts observed. Explosions produced those extremely high speeds, making the ejecting material into a swath of bullets shooting out of the buildings.

So where does this squib hit the ground? Assuming the height of ejection is about 1300 feet (400 m), gravitational descent of that ejection to the ground lasts for 9 seconds if air resistance is negligible. In 9 seconds that squib has shot out almost 1300 feet, or about 1/4 mile away from the building. There is unmistakable evidence of damage from this high-speed material away from the Towers. Pictures on the Web show remains of hundreds of autos that were broadsided and severely damaged by such streaming material for blocks from the collapsing buildings. Many such explosions were necessary to produce these devastations scattered around over the 40 acres of the site.

The evidence is mounting and accredited scholars are coming out every day questioning the NIST Studies. In recent weeks alone, former NIST scientist James Quintiere has declared that he no longer accepts NIST's work and has called for a new investigation. World-renowned scientist Lynn Margulis strongly rejected the NIST Studies, suggesting that "the glaringly erroneous official account of 911 be dismissed...".. These are some of the finest scientists in the world. Can the mainstream press catch on? Reporters and pundits selectively use science to support less controversial issues but is this an inconvenient science. The rapidly expanding huge concrete dust clouds from the towers, the very-quick appearance of multiple squibs on all 3 collapsing buildings, and the destruction of hundreds of autos for several blocks around the World Trade Center from these squibs, are some of the dramatic examples clearly pointing to explosions. Scientific methods imply these were the cause of our greatest destruction in the 21st century.

Crockett Grabbe is an applied physicist engaged in research at the University of Iowa who received his Ph.D. from Caltech. He has been profiled multiple times in Who's Who in Science and Engineering.

Lenny Charles is the creator and producer of the International News Net World Report, one of only 2 daily alternative national televised news programs in America.

Friday, September 07, 2007

September 6, 2007
Bin Laden: Still Dead After all these Years

It hardly comes as a surprise… Osama plans to release “a new video recording … on or before next week’s sixth anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the United States,” reports the Voice of America, the propaganda unit established by the Office of War Information. “No photos or video of Bin Laden have been seen since late 2004, and the last audio message attributed to the fugitive terrorist leader was heard more than a year ago.” Of course, this makes perfect sense, as Osama died in late 2001, and as for the audio messages, these are routinely dismissed as fakes, although this is rarely mentioned by the corporate media.

“Two private monitoring organizations—SITE intelligence Group and IntelCenter—say an announcement, in the name of al-Qaida’s media-production arm, al-Sahab, seen on an Islamist website this week indicates the new al-Qaida video is about to be released,” VOA continues. As Neal Krawetz, a researcher and computer security consultant, noted last month, a recent al-Zawahiri video contained a few interesting anomalies, i.e., the IntelCenter and al-Qaeda logos were added to the tape at the same time. Krawetz, however, has since recanted, probably after a midnight visit by MIB. Even so, the customer should be wary of IntelCenter’s offerings, especially when the latest video supposedly contains an image of Osama, at least ten years old. VOA characterizes this image as “a recent portrait of bin Laden,” leading your humble blogger to believe Osama uses Grecian Formula from his Afghan cave hideaway.

“The United States is offering a $25-million reward for bin Laden, but he has eluded capture since the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington,” the propaganda unit concludes. “President Bush says the U.S. will find Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice, no matter how long it takes.”

Go figure. It wasn’t that long ago Bush told the Fox News neocon and Weekly Standard editor Fred Barnes capturing bin Laden is “not a top priority use of American resources” and “bin Laden doesn’t fit with the administration’s strategy for combating terrorism.”

Of course, this makes sense, as capturing a dead guy is “not a top priority,” and besides, terrorism—that is to say state-sponsored and false flag terrorism—has worked like a charm.

Don’t expect any self-respecting neocon to walk away from that winner.