Police State

Violence Cometh

Off the keyboard of Michael Snyder

Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Friend us on Facebook

Published on The End of the American Dream on May 28, 2015

Visit the New Diner News Page for Daily Updates from around the Collapse Blogosphere

GIF_Riot

Discuss this article at the Geopolitics Table inside the Diner

Prepare Your Homes And Neighborhoods For The Violence That Is Going To Sweep America

Crime - Bloody Handprint - Public DomainThe thin veneer of civilization that we all take for granted on a daily basis is beginning to disappear, and a new era of chaos and anarchy is coming to our cities.  I don’t know if you have noticed, but violence is increasing on the streets of America.  Over Memorial Day weekend, 29 people were shot in Baltimore and 55 people were shot in Chicago.  But of course the trend that I am talking about is much broader than that.  According to the FBI, the number of police officers “feloniously killed” in the line of duty rose by an astounding 89 percent in 2014.  We live at a time when Americans are becoming extremely angry and extremely frustrated, and this is only going to intensify as economic conditions worsen.  But already we have seen some of this anger and frustration boil over into violence in Ferguson and in Baltimore.  And you know what?  The vast majority of Americans expect more of the same in the coming months.  According to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey that was recently released, 96 percent of all Americans believe that there will be more civil unrest in America this summer.  What we have seen up until now is just the warm up act.  The main event is still to come.

If things are this bad already, how bad will they be when the next great economic crisis hits this nation and unemployment skyrockets and poverty is everywhere?

That is why I am encouraging people that currently live in the heart of our major cities to consider moving.  Unfortunately, most Americans are completely dependent on the jobs that they currently have, so moving is not really a practical option for a lot of people.

For those that cannot move, you are just going to have to get prepared right where you are.  That means making your home and your family as unattractive a target to potential criminals as you possibly can.  The goal should be to avoid a violent confrontation if at all possible.  So you will want multiple layers of security between you and those that would potentially harm you and your family.  You want to try to deter the bad guys from ever coming on to your property in the first place, but if they do come, you need to be ready to deal with them.

At the moment, we are still in the midst of relatively stable economic times.  But even in these relatively stable times, violence is escalating.  Just consider what happened in Baltimore over the recent holiday weekend.  A grand total of 29 people were shot…

Police say 29 people were shot, 9 of them killed over this weekend, adding to the  record-breaking violence.

The shooting didn’t stop on Monday night after a 9-year-old boy and another man were both injured by gun fire in the 2900 block of Arunah Avenue. Police say the child was shot in the leg and another man suffered a graze wound to the head.

Overall, this past month has been the deadliest month for Baltimore in 15 years.

Things are even worse in the city of Chicago.  Over this past weekend, 55 people got shot…

Twelve people were killed and at least 43 — including a 4-year-old girl — were wounded in shootings across Chicago this Memorial Day weekend, police said.

The 4-year-old, identified by her family as Jacele Johnson, was shot about 8 p.m. Friday in the West Englewood neighborhood. She and her 17-year-old cousin Romare Wilson were inside an SUV in the 7000 block of South Justine when another vehicle pulled up and someone inside opened fire, according to their family and Chicago Police.

Early in April, I went on the record and specifically named Chicago and Baltimore as two of the cities where we would be seeing civil unrest.  Since that time we have seen horrible rioting in Baltimore and the violence in Chicago continues to spiral out of control.

Other experts are issuing similar warnings.  For example, consider what an assistant professor at New Jersey City University recently had to say

Urban unrest expert Dr. Max Herman says that the United States is on the “cusp” of a wave of domestic disorder and that the country will see more race riots.

Herman, Assistant Professor of Sociology at New Jersey City University, told the New Republic’s Joel Gillin that the economic downturn, in addition to incidents of police brutality, have provided fertile conditions for civil unrest.

He sees the re-emergence of a 60’s-style “protest ideology” amongst black communities which will lead to more disorder.

“It’s very clear from studying history that these things tend to run in cycles,” said Herman, adding, “I think we are at the cusp of another cycle.”

Author Chris Hedges is saying similar things.  The following comes from a recent article about him in the National Post

The United States is primed for a rebellion. So argues Chris Hedges in his new book, Wages of Rebellion, in which the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and polemicist examines revolts from 1700s to the ending of apartheid in South Africa, as well as the “sublime madness” that drives the people at the centre of such rebellions.

When asked by the National Post why he wrote his new book, this is what Hedges had to say

I didn’t write it as a warning or a prediction. I wrote it more as an assessment. I covered disintegrating societies like Yugoslavia. I know how they break down; I know what the warning signs are, so it’s familiar. I don’t think at this point there’s much dispute. Even just the financial indicators in terms of wealth disparity and chronic unemployment. The fact that Congress has a nine-per-cent approval rating. Where I’m coming from, the book is an attempt to explain where we are in this particular historical period.

But it isn’t just that we are entering a new cycle of unrest.  Our “leaders” have made things much worse by the decisions that they have made.  For instance, Barack Obama’s decision to leave our southern border virtually unguarded has resulted in a massive flood of illegal immigrants coming into this country.  As a result, violent gangs that have roots in Central America and South America have mushroomed in size.  So now major cities far from the border such as Charlotte, North Carolina are being absolutely terrorized by these gangs…

Recent busts of murderous MS-13 gangsters put the lie to President Obama’s sympathetic amnesty narrative of illegal immigrants as “workers who mow our lawns, make our beds (and) clean out bedpans.”

Authorities Wednesday rounded up 37 MS-13 gang members in Charlotte, N.C., on racketeering conspiracy charges, along with charges of murder, attempted murder and firearms violations. All of them are illegal aliens from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. Several are round-trippers — illegals who broke in once, committed crimes, got deported and broke back into the U.S. — proving that our border is porous and unsecured.

Charlotte police discovered the rat’s nest of foreign gangsters after some of them started shooting up local nightclubs and bars.

In 2015, it isn’t just our own citizens that we need to be concerned about.  At this point, many of our biggest cities are absolutely packed to the gills with gangs made up primarily of illegal immigrants.

I discussed Chicago earlier.  Did you know that it is estimated that approximately 150,000 gang members now live there?

When things start really breaking down in this country, those gangs are going to have a field day.

America is changing, and not for the better.  And when violence starts sweeping this nation, don’t count on the government to come in and rescue you.  After watching what happened in Ferguson and in Baltimore, you should know better than that by now.

It is time for the American people to prepare their own homes and their own neighborhoods for the chaos and the violence that is coming.

For the moment, things are still relatively stable so we have a little bit of time to prepare, but it won’t last for long.

Psychological Conditioning for Martial Law

Off the keyboard of Michael Snyder

Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Friend us on Facebook

Published on The End of the American Dream on April 29, 2015

Visit the New Diner News Page for Daily Updates from around the Collapse Blogosphere

toddlerriotpolice

Discuss this article at the Geopolitcs Table inside the Diner

Are We Being Psychologically Conditioned To Accept Martial Law In America?

Martial Law - Public DomainHave you noticed that we are starting to be bombarded with images of troops in the streets?  Have you noticed that the term “martial law” is coming up a lot in movies, news broadcasts and even in television commercials?  In recent years, it seems like the solution to almost every major crisis involves bringing in troops.  In fact, it has already gotten to the point where when something really bad happens a lot of Americans immediately cry out for troops to be brought in.  And we are seeing the same patterns over and over again.  Just remember what happened in Ferguson – protesters were whipped up to a frenzy, when the riots began the police were ordered to stand down and not intervene, and finally National Guard troops were brought in as the “solution” to a crisis that had escalated wildly out of control.  This is the exact same pattern that we are witnessing in Baltimore, and as you will see below, National Guard troops all over the nation have been training for this exact type of scenario.  A couple of decades ago, many Americans would have regarded the notion of “martial law in America” as absolutely unthinkable, but these days the threat of civil unrest is causing an increasing number of Americans to embrace the idea of troops patrolling our city streets.

The anger toward the police that we see in the city of Baltimore is very real, but there also seem to be a lot of signs that the events of the past several days have been orchestrated and manipulated.   This is something that I covered in my previous article entitled “12 Unanswered Questions About The Baltimore Riots That They Don’t Want Us To Ask“.  But what we have found out since then is that high school kids appear to have been “herded” by the police into the Mondawmin neighborhood in Baltimore when school was let out on Monday

When school let out that afternoon, police were in the area equipped with full riot gear. According to eyewitnesses in the Mondawmin neighborhood, the police were stopping busses and forcing riders, including many students who were trying to get home, to disembark. Cops shut down the local subway stop. They also blockaded roads near the Mondawmin Mall and Frederick Douglass High School, which is across the street from the mall, and essentially corralled young people in the area. That is, they did not allow the after-school crowd to disperse.

Even though most of the kids did not seem to have any interest in participating in the much-hyped “purge”, it looks like authorities were determined to get their “purge” one way or another.  The following was posted to Facebook by a Baltimore teacher named Meghann Harris…

Police were forcing busses to stop and unload all their passengers. Then, [Frederick Douglass High School] students, in huge herds, were trying to leave on various busses but couldn’t catch any because they were all shut down. No kids were yet around except about 20, who looked like they were waiting for police to do something. The cops, on the other hand, were in full riot gear, marching toward any small social clique of students…It looked as if there were hundreds of cops.

Another teacher seems to confirm the other accounts that you just read…

A teacher at Douglass High School, who asked not to be identified, tells a similar story: “When school was winding down, many students were leaving early with their parents or of their own accord.” Those who didn’t depart early, she says, were stranded. Many of the students still at school at that point, she notes, wanted to get out of the area and avoid any Purge-like violence. Some were requesting rides home from teachers. But by now, it was difficult to leave the neighborhood. “I rode with another teacher home,” this teacher recalls, “and we had to route our travel around the police in riot gear blocking the road…The majority of my students thought what was going to happen was stupid or were frightened at the idea. Very few seemed to want to participate in ‘the purge.’

This paints a very different picture than we are getting from the media.

But once the violence and rioting did start, the police were nowhere to be found.  In fact, it is being reported that the mayor of Baltimore actually ordered the police to “stand down” and allow the chaos to spiral out of control…

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake ordered the police to stand down as riots and looting broke out across they city, a new report claims.

According to a senior law enforcement source, the embattled mayor effectively told her officers to do nothing as the city began to burn – raising questions as to whether the rioting could have been stopped.

Finally, after several hours of madness, the order was given and the National Guard was brought in to quell the rioting.

And it just so happens to turn out that National Guard troops all over the nation have recently been engaged in something called “civil unrest training”

Many of the Guardsmen are trained for a situation just like the one in Maryland.

It’s called “civil unrest training,” and it was recently completed in Tennessee with a local police department.

Troops have also trained in Maryland and Colorado.

“It really helped put it into perspective the person we are going to be up against – the rioter, the unruly person,” said one National Guard official.

The training includes gas mask training and practice with shields and batons.

Isn’t that convenient?

There are so many instances in which “training” seems to eerily correspond with actual events.  That is one of the reasons why so many people are concerned about Jade Helm and all of the other very elaborate military exercises that are being held around the country in 2015.  In fact, there has been so much concern about Jade Helm that the governor of Texas has ordered the Texas Guard to monitor Jade Helm…

Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the Texas Guard to monitor federal military exercises in Texas after some citizens have lit up the Internet saying the maneuvers are actually the prelude to martial law.

The operation causing rampant suspicions is a new kind of exercise involving elite teams such as the SEALs and Green Berets from four military branches training over several states from July 15 to Sept. 15

Called Jade Helm 15, the exercise is one of the largest training operations done by the military in response to what it calls the evolving nature of warfare. About 1,200 special operations personnel will be involved and move covertly among the public. They will use military equipment to travel between seven Southwestern states from Texas to California.

The following is a map from Jade Helm materials, and it designates Utah and Texas as “hostile territory”.  Yes, I know that this is supposed to be an “exercise”, but even so this is highly inappropriate to say the least…

Jade Helm

Lastly, I want to share with you an AARP commercial that appears to have a subliminal message in the background about martial law.

Why in the world would a television commercial aimed at senior citizens talk about martial law?

I have no idea.

If you listen very carefully to the video posted below, you will hear the following message in the background…

Riots nationwide have prompted local governments to declare martial law.

The President is asking that citizens find safety and remain calm.

Authorities are working to contain the outbreak.

Here is the video.  Watch it for yourself and see what you think…

So what in the world are we supposed to make of all this?

Now Eric Garner

From the keyboard of James Howard Kunstler
Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Friend us on Facebook

i.1.s-eric-garner-death-nypd
Originally Published on Clusterfuck Nation December 8, 2014

The Beauty Shop had barely stopped smoldering in Ferguson, Missouri, when the Eric Garner grand jury decision came down on Staten Island — no probable cause to indict one particular cop for something — manslaughter? — in his choke-hold take-down of the 300-pound cigarette-seller. For my money, they should have indicted the whole gang of cops who were there that day, including the black female NYPD sergeant on the scene ostensibly “supervising” the action, at least for something like negligent homicide, since the infamous video shows them acting cruelly, stupidly, and indifferently as the poor guy just lay dying on the sidewalk.

Worse, the decision only muddied the public’s view of several events in recent years involving black people, police, and standards of behavior so that now a general opinion prevails that all black people are always treated badly for no reason. That was the same week, by the way, that a white Bosnian immigrant named Zemir Begic was bludgeoned to death by three black teenagers wielding hammers who were out beating on stopped cars on a St Louis street — a crime that was barely covered in the news media, and went unprotested outside the immigrant neighborhood where it occurred. It’s hard to blame the public for being confused about what may or may not be happening across the nation, but history will surely judge this as a tragic time for America.

If we can’t or won’t unpack the separate issues in these matters, the country is going to get into a lot more trouble. One issue is whether police forces in the USA are becoming goon squads. The decision by the federal government to offload tactical military equipment, including armored war wagons, on police departments far and wide was disgracefully stupid since it only gives the impression, when hauled out, that the police are at war with the citizenry. There ought to be public discussion of just flat-out taking all that stuff away from them.

Non-black America is constantly being importuned to “talk honestly” about race and then punished when they actually do. I’ll venture here to summarize what I think has actually happened, and I’m sure a lot of people won’t like it, including plenty of white people. I take a historical view. It is at least an interesting coincidence that the climax of the civil rights campaign produced a black separatist movement that has endured for half a century. It emerged at exactly the moment that the two signal civil rights acts passed congress in 1964-65 (the public accommodations act and the voting rights act).

I think the reason for the sudden rise of black separatism was anxiety among black Americans about the prospect of being formally invited to participate in what was then American common culture. By the late 1960s even colleges were chartering new, separate student unions (at the demand of black students). The sad irony of this has been lost to history. But in effect, by that time a large segment of the black population had opted out either actively or mentally from trying to join the then-dominate culture. The gulf between the two cultures has only grown wider since then, egged on by a foolish white-sponsored “diversity” campaign which had imposed the ridiculous idea that a common culture in one nation is unnecessary.

The result is a permanently oppositional black culture with an elaborate ideology of endless grievance and a guilt-tripped white political culture held hostage by it and pandering endlessly to it — and sandwiched in between those two dispositions is a whole lot of really bad behavior. The least you can say about the four incidents involving Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice is that they involved some degree of ambiguity about what was actually going on, and in probably all those cases, at least, death was not caused by sheer malice. The same is not true about the case of Zemir Begic, or of the many people victimized during last year’s “knockout” game fad, or indeed the astounding number of people being gunned down regularly on the streets of Chicago.

I don’t think we’re capable of making these distinctions anymore, and surely not of doing anything constructive about them. Instead, we just appear to be careening toward a new and different kind of civil war.

 

***

James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation. His novels include World Made By Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Maggie Darling — A Modern Romance, The Halloween Ball, an Embarrassment of Riches, and many others. He has published three novellas with Water Street Press: Manhattan Gothic, A Christmas Orphan, and The Flight of Mehetabel.

An Open Letter Of Warning To Mr. Badge

From the keyboard of BJ Ferguson
Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Friend us on Facebook

 Police-Badge
Originally Published on Facebook September 26, 2014
(With this post I hope to introduce BJ Ferguson to Diner readers.  BJ is a writer from western New York, whose of singular voice I stumbled across on Facebook.  BJ often writes about personal challenges, motherhood, and the fabric of daily life, sometimes evoking memories of Erma Bombeck.  And every so often, she’ll publish a rant that will hit the high notes. From time to time, I will repost one of these rants on the Diner Facebook page.  I thought this particular rant worthy of bringing back to the mothership, inasmuch as it deals with the burgeoning armed, militarized police state we so often discuss. as well as the brutality it engenders. So straight, no chaser, here’s BJ Ferguson… Surly1)

An Open Letter Of Warning To Mr. Badge

You there, Mr. Badge. Yes, you….head cocked to one side, eyes narrowed, granite-jawed, and seething with anger….that rarefied air that you and your kind seem to believe you breathe, may fill your lungs with a sense of power that you and your kind seem to believe supersedes all other powers and senses, even human decency, is not as you also might believe, a license to kill. Your hands tucked into your gun-belt, as your ever-twitching fingers tap nervously against the butt of your weapon, too often the very instrument that you use without forethought or regret, should find genetic memory enough within to remember when first they held one, upon your heart, as you vowed to serve and protect, and the other, in salute to the American Flag,  to remind you to uphold the laws of the land….not your chosen belief or your patrolman’s angst. You there, Mr. Badge…you Sir, are everything that’s so horribly wrong with our world, today…..and it’s about time you realized it.

You are the violence and the violation, perpetuated by the unsubstantiated notion that what you do is somehow justified, because of perpetual violence and violation. You have morphed into a freakish version of Bad-Cop-Worse-Cop, predicated upon the juvenile code of stupidity, known as the “THEY-STARTED-IT-DEFENSE”. Nonetheless, understand this fact…treating citizens worse than rabid dogs, Mr. Badge, is STILL not part of your job description. Killing the innocent, provoking confrontations, to justify your on-the-job-angry beat-down of those who have committed no crime other than to exist in your world without your consent, and refusing to accept responsibility for your errors in judgment, as well as performance of duty, are ALL things that are STILL not part of your job description. So, Mr. Badge, I ask you: “Why the Hell are you making those things a part of our reality?” Because you can? Because you believe you have the right? That one almighty RIGHT, that therefore, means we citizens no longer have ANY?

And, for the record, it does not matter that not all of you are the same; it ceased to matter, the day you began believing all citizens ARE the same….in that NONE of us hold any worth. Our lives and the lives of our children mean nothing to you, Mr. Badge, as you barge through our neighborhoods, kicking, beating, shooting, killing, and making clear that our Constitutional Rights have been crushed beneath the tracks of your tanks and the giant wheels of your Urban Assault Vehicles. You, with your Stormtrooper tactics and military training, the tools and mindset of an invading force on foreign soil, have done more harm, wrought more destruction, and ruined more lives than any other plague American Cities have seen in well over a century. Yes, Mr. Badge; I refer to you as a plague, and surely you are….a blight upon the communities you are meant to protect….a vicious outbreak of an insidious disease, that threatens every unsuspecting citizen, of every city, township, and burg, across this nation.

And one thing more….Mr. Badge….you have made a complete mockery of what was once known as justice. A most unforgivable sin, indeed. You have completely lost all credibility, having committed more heinous crimes, to date, than most citizens could ever imagine. In truth, and you know this as well as anyone on earth, should we remove the corrupted protection of your job-title, should you no longer be operating under the bulwark and buffer of “Mr. Badge”, thus reducing you to the status of “ordinary John Q”…..the only debate, regarding your violent acts against the public, would be in whether or not your sentence would be one of life (without parole), or death. I dare say you might do well to ponder that for a moment, as you pummel your next victim, Mr. Badge, for no one can hide forever behind such a tiny shield.

With all your savagery and inhuman behavior, you may believe you are growing more and more powerful and untouchable. You may also believe your mighty Blue Wall as impenetrable as those that stand strong and high around the precinct castle, but again, as so often these days, your assessment of the situation is completely off. What you fail to comprehend, what you continue to ignore, is that human beings do not accept regressive circumstances as a matter of course. They will not allow themselves to be repeatedly beat down by jack-booted, badge-wearing thugs, without an eventual revolution.

If you doubt my words, take a moment to peruse the history books, taking special note of the many times and places where brutality was met with defiance, and unified courage, against a common scourge, allowing human decency to prevail. You will only be able to kill so many innocent men, women, and children, before you bring the entire society crashing down upon you, along with your crumbling Blue Wall….and I do believe the quota has just about been met. You will, soon enough, rue the day you chose to become a hated Public Enemy, rather than an appreciated Public Servant….mark my words. You will reap the bitter fruits of condemnation, as, one by one, every citizen of this land, rises up, to stand in unity….against you.

And THAT, you brutal, disgusting excuse for a human being, will be the story of you, and every single one, exactly like you……Mr. Badge.

 

***

munkee BJ Ferguson  is a writer in western New Yawk with long experience in the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, motherhood, and the domestic arts. Not to mention snow. Self described as “ancient” and “liberal,” this ancient liberal posts several rants per week on Facebook, and has been known to whip up a mean batch of holiday cookies.

FBI Facial Recognition SKYNET Goes LIVE!

Off the keyboard of Michael Snyder

Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Friend us on Facebook

Published on The Economic Collapse on September 17, 2014

http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Eye-Black-And-White-Public-Domain.jpg

Discuss this article at the Geopolitics Table inside the Diner

Nowhere To Hide As Minority Report-Style Facial Recognition Technology Spreads Across America

What is our society going to look like when our faces are being tracked literally everywhere that we go?  As part of the FBI’s new Next Generation Identification System, a facial recognition database known as the Interstate Photo System will have collected 52 million of our faces by the end of 2015.  But that is only a small part of the story.  According to Edward Snowden, the NSA has been using advanced facial recognition technology for years.  In addition, as you will see below, advertising companies are starting to use Minority Report-style face scanners in their billboards and many large corporations see facial recognition technology as a tool that they can use to serve their customers better.  Someday soon it may become virtually impossible to go out in public in a major U.S. city without having your face recorded.  Is that the kind of society that we want?

To the FBI, this technology does not represent an invasion of privacy.  Rather, they are very proud of the fact that they are not going to be so dependent on fingerprinting any longer.  The FBI has been developing the Next Generation Identification System for years, and this month it was announced that it is finally fully operational

The federal government’s Next Generation Identification System — a biometric database that relies largely on facial-recognition technology — is now fully operational, the FBI announced Monday.

“This effort is a significant step forward for the criminal justice community in utilizing biometrics as an investigative enabler,” the FBI said in a statement.

The latest advance in the technology gives users the ability to receive “ongoing status notifications” about individuals’ criminal histories, the FBI said. That means if, for instance, a teacher commits an offense, law enforcement can be immediately informed — and then pass that information on to administrators.

It’s to monitor criminal histories of those “in positions of trust,” the FBI said.

As part of this new system, every American will eventually be assigned a “Universal Control Number”.

Does that sound creepy to you?

Even mainstream news reports are admitting that it sounds like something out of a science fiction movie

It aims to eventually replace fingerprinting with a complex array of biometrics, assigning everyone with a “Universal Control Number”, in what sounds like a plotline from a sci-fi movie.

And it won’t just be the FBI using this database.

According to Fox News, more than 18,000 law enforcement agencies will have access to this information…

More than 18,000 law enforcement agencies and other authorized criminal justice partners across the country will have access to the system 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

So if your face is scanned somewhere or you do something noteworthy that is registered by the system, virtually every law enforcement agency in the country will instantly know about it.

Pretty scary stuff, eh?

But the FBI is actually lagging far behind the NSA.

According to Edward Snowden, the NSA has been using “sophisticated facial recognition programs” for many years

The National Security Agency is harvesting huge numbers of images of people from communications that it intercepts through its global surveillance operations for use in sophisticated facial recognition programs, according to top-secret documents.

The spy agency’s reliance on facial recognition technology has grown significantly over the last four years as the agency has turned to new software to exploit the flood of images included in emails, text messages, social media, videoconferences and other communications, the N.S.A. documents reveal. Agency officials believe that technological advances could revolutionize the way that the N.S.A. finds intelligence targets around the world, the documents show.

Do you remember that stuff you saw in the Jason Bourne movies about how the NSA can track people?

Well, most of that stuff is real.

If you don’t like it, that is just too bad.  At this point not even Congress has much control over what the NSA does.

And there are police departments around the nation that are also way ahead of the FBI.

For example, just check out what has been going on in southern California

In a single second, law enforcement agents can match a suspect against millions upon millions of profiles in vast detailed databases stored on the cloud. It’s all done using facial recognition, and in Southern California it’s already occurring.

Imagine the police taking a picture: any picture of a person, anywhere, and matching it on the spot in less than a second to a personalized profile, scanning millions upon millions of entries from within vast, intricate databases stored on the cloud.

It’s done with state of the art facial recognition technology, and in Southern California it’s already happening.

At least one law enforcement agency in San Diego is currently using software developed by FaceFirst, a division of nearby Camarillo, California’s Airborne Biometrics Group. It can positively identify anyone, as long as physical data about a person’s facial features is stored somewhere the police can access. Though that pool of potential matches could include millions, the company says that by using the “best available facial recognition algorithms” they can scour that data set in a fraction of a second in order to send authorities all known intelligence about anyone who enters a camera’s field of vision.

Widespread use of facial recognition technology by our law enforcement authorities is becoming a way of life.

If the American people don’t like this, they need to stand up and say something.

But instead, in an era of widespread Internet hacking and identity theft, many Americans are actually clamoring for the implementation of more biometric identification.

For instance, the following is a brief excerpt from a Fox News article entitled “Biometric security can’t come soon enough for some people“…

In a world where nearly every ATM now uses an operating system without any technical support, where a bug can force every user of the Internet to change the password to every account they’ve ever owned overnight, where cyber-attacks and identity theft grow more menacing every day, the ability to use your voice, your finger, your face or some combination of the three to log into your e-mail, your social media feed or your checking account allows you to ensure it’s very difficult for someone else to pretend they’re you.

As financial institutions adopt this kind of technology, a day may come when virtually all of us are required to have our faces scanned at the checkout counter.

That may sound crazy to you, but according to the Daily Mail a company in Finland has already launched this technology…

Bank cards are already being replaced by phones and wristbands that have payment technology built-in but the latest threat to the lowly plastic in your pocket could be your face.

A Finnish startup called Uniqul has launched what it calls the first ever payment platform based on facial recognition.

The system doesn’t require a wallet, bank card or phone – instead a camera is positioned at the checkout and takes a photo of a shopper’s face when they are ready to pay.

It then scans a database for the face and matches it to stored payment details in order to complete the transaction.

And advertisers are even more eager to adopt facial recognition technology.  In fact, the kind of face scanning billboards that we saw in “Minority Report” are already a reality.  For example, a company called Amscreen says that it already has more than 6,000 face scanning digital screens that are being viewed by approximately 50 million people each week…

Advertising network Amscreen recently launched a unique face-detection technology, originally developed by automated audience measurement firm Quividi.

Cameras have been installed in Amscreen’s digital advertising displays that can scan a person’s face and determine their gender, age, date, time and volume of the viewers.

This is so adverts are served to the most appropriate audience.

Amscreen already has over 6,000 digital screens seen by a weekly audience of over 50 million people.

Even dating websites are starting to use facial recognition technology at this point.

Just check out what Match.com has been doing…

Popular dating site Match.com will use photos of users’ exes to determine which type of look they’re attracted to in order to find them a dating match.

The dating site has partnered with Three Day Rule, a Los Angeles-based matchmaking service, which has dating experts that act as personal dating concierges who hand-select and personally meet every potential match before making a formal introduction to clients, Mashable reports.

Members of Match.com will be able to upgrade to Three Day Rule’s premium service which will ask users to send pictures of exes to determine the type of look they’re attracted to. Three Day Rule will then use facial-recognition technology in an effort to help users find dates.

Our world is changing at a faster pace than ever before.

Powerful new technologies are literally being introduced every single day now, and the future is probably going to look far different than any of us are imagining.

But with all of this new technology, will we end up losing what little personal privacy that we have left?

Comes the Precariat

Off the keyboard of Surly1
Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Friend us on Facebook

ccgallery_precariat

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on August 31, 2014

Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.

 “The sooner we realize that we are locked in deadly warfare with our ruling, corporate elite, the sooner we will realize that these elites must be overthrown.”― Chris Hedges

 

Tomorrow, September 1 and Labor Day, will mark the second anniversary of the death of Margaret Mary Vojtko, an adjunct French professor who, at the age of 83, had recently lost her job at Duquesne University.  Ms. Vojtko suffered cardiac arrest on a street corner in Homestead, right outside of Pittsburgh,  yards from the house where she had lived almost her entire life. Rushed to the hospital, she never regained consciousness. Vojtko was an adjunct professor of languages who, after decades of service, found out that her appointment would not be renewed. After decades of toiling in academic insecurity, she was unceremoniously dumped.

Vojtko was a member of the precariat. Most likely, so are you.

When the story moved, I took notice, as I had graduated Duquesne,  in days lost in the mists of the Anthropocene. Two and a half weeks later, Vojtko’s lawyer, Daniel Kovalik, published an op-ed about Vojtko called “Death of an Adjunct” in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. In it, he noted

Margaret Mary was an adjunct professor, meaning that, unlike a well-paid tenured professor, Margaret Mary worked on a contract basis from semester to semester, with no job security, no benefits and with a salary of between $3,000 and just over $3,500 per three-credit course. Adjuncts now make up well over 50 percent of the faculty at colleges and universities.

While adjuncts at Duquesne overwhelmingly voted to join the United Steelworkers union a year ago, Duquesne has fought unionization, claiming that it should have a religious exemption. Duquesne has claimed that the unionization of adjuncts like Margaret Mary would somehow interfere with its mission to inculcate Catholic values among its students.

0 interest in people

One thinks that Duquesne might have a better case arguing against contraceptive benefits for workers than against unionization on the basis of religious belief, but I will leave that one for the Holy Ghost Fathers (who operate Duquesne) to sort out. The following February, in remarks given by Noam Chomsky to a gathering of members and allies of said Adjunct Faculty Association of the United Steelworkers in Pittsburgh,  he explained how the adjunct professor’s death was, at least in part, a direct consequence of what passes for economic policy in the Fascist States of America:

That’s part of the business model. It’s the same as hiring temps in industry or what they call “associates” at Wal-Mart, employees that aren’t owed benefits. It’s a part of a  corporate business model designed to reduce labor costs and to increase labor servility. When universities become corporatized, as has been happening quite systematically over the last generation as part of the general neoliberal assault on the population, their business model means that what matters is the bottom line. The effective owners are the trustees (or the legislature, in the case of state universities), and they want to keep costs down and make sure that labor is docile and obedient. The way to do that is, essentially, temps. Just as the hiring of temps has gone way up in the neoliberal period, you’re getting the same phenomenon in the universities. The idea is to divide society into two groups. One group is sometimes called the “plutonomy” (a term used by Citibank when they were advising their investors on where to invest their funds), the top sector of wealth, globally but concentrated mostly in places like the United States. The other group, the rest of the population, is a “precariat,” living a precarious existence.

It’s too late for Margaret Mary Vojtko, but it’s not too late for the rest of us. Back in the day, when Alan Greenspan was “St. Alan,” chairman of the Federal Reserve and widely regarded as a seer more gifted than the Oracle at Delphi, he gave a speech, the remarks of which you can find here, and which Chomsky characterized:

 

 

 

When Alan Greenspan was testifying before Congress in 1997 on the marvels of the economy he was running, he said straight out that one of the bases for its economic success was imposing what he called “greater worker insecurity.” If workers are more insecure, that’s very “healthy” for the society, because if workers are insecure they won’t ask for wages, they won’t go on strike, they won’t call for benefits; they’ll serve the masters gladly and passively. And that’s optimal for corporations’ economic health. . . how do you ensure “greater worker insecurity”? Crucially, by not guaranteeing employment, by keeping people hanging on a limb than can be sawed off at any time, so that they’d better shut up, take tiny salaries, and do their work; and if they get the gift of being allowed to serve under miserable conditions for another year, they should welcome it and not ask for any more. That’s the way you keep societies efficient and healthy from the point of view of the corporations. And as universities move towards a corporate business model, precarity is exactly what is being imposed. And we’ll see more and more of it.

 

And that has been policy. Citibank, they of the serial taxpayer bailouts, had a very clear idea of where such policy was steering the economy, and advised investors accordingly. Citi’s 2005 brochure for investors called “Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances,” urged investors to put money into a “plutonomy index.” The brochure says, “The World is dividing into two blocs — the Plutonomy and the rest.”  It was, of course, one thing for Citibank to say this quietly to investors, but when the general public caught on to the news, six years later and Occupy took to the streets to say the very same thing, they got a face full of pepper spray and mass arrests for their trouble.

Class-war-ahead

So what did Citi’s crystal ball tell its investors in 2005? You missed this:

What are the common drivers of Plutonomy?

1) Disruptive technology-driven productivity gains, creative financial innovation, capitalist-friendly cooperative governments, an international dimension of immigrants and overseas conquests invigorating wealth creation, the rule of law, and patenting inventions. Often these wealth waves involve great complexity, exploited best by the rich and educated of the time.

2) We project that the plutonomies (the U.S., UK, and Canada) will likely see even more income inequality, disproportionately feeding off a further rise in the profit share in their economies, capitalist-friendly governments, more technology-driven productivity, and globalization.

3) Most “Global Imbalances” (high current account deficits and low savings rates, high consumer debt levels in the Anglo-Saxon world, etc) that continue to (unprofitably) preoccupy the world’s intelligentsia look a lot less threatening when examined through theprism of plutonomy. The risk premium on equities that might derive from the dyspeptic “global imbalance” school is unwarranted – the earth is not going to be shaken off its axis, and sucked into the cosmos by these “imbalances”. The earth is being held up by the muscular arms of its entrepreneur-plutocrats, like it, or not.

precariat1

Somewhere in Hell, Ayn Rand is smiling. How deeply comforting it must have been to receive this brochure in 2005 and read these words cosseting the “rich and educated” who would be reaping their just rewards as a result of the system in which they were savvy enough to invest. Christopaths like Joel Osteen call this sort of thing a “blessing.” Others call it a reason to put heads on pikes.

The hard work of generations of plutocrats, and the investments of right wing financiers and public policy have borne a toxic and remarkably abundant fruit. And here it is for your consumption, citizen, in this survey conducted by Rutgers:  “Unhappy, Worried and Pessimistic: Americans in the Aftermath of the Great Recession.” The summary: “The protracted and uneven recovery from the Great Recession has led most Americans to conclude that the US economy has undergone a permanent change for the worse, according to a new national study. Seven in 10 now say the recession’s impact is permanent, up from half in 2009 when the recession officially ended.”

Key findings include:

  • Despite sustained job growth and lower levels of employment, most Americans do not think the economy has improved in the last year or that it will in the next.

  • Just one in six Americans believe that job opportunities for the next generation will be better than for theirs; five years ago, four in 10 held that view.

  • Roughly four in five Americans have little or no confidence that the federal government will make progress on the nation’s most important problems over the next year.

Much of the pessimism is rooted in direct experience, according … Professor Carl Van Horn, co-author of the report.

“Fully one-quarter of the public says there has been a major decline in their quality of life owing to the recession, and 42 percent say they have less in salary and savings than when the recession began,” Van Horn said. “Despite five years of recovery, sustained job growth and reductions in the number of unemployed workers, Americans are not convinced the economy is improving.

He added that only one in three thinks the U.S. economy has gotten better in the last year, one-quarter thinks it will improve next year and just one in six believe that job opportunities will be better for the next generation of American workers, down from four in 10 five years ago.

It would appear that John Q. has finally looked up from the Doritos and beer to become aware of what Citi investors knew and profited from a decade ago.  Occupy arose directly from revulsion at the corporatization of every aspect of life. The thought was to get people in the streets, the better to influence public opinion and policy.  But Occupiers got arrests, tear gas, pepper spray and the full priapic majesty of the State for their trouble.  We used to chant, “Whose streets? Our streets!” But, as events in Ferguson have clearly illustrated, the streets belong to the owners, whose militarized police express their will. As a means to influence policy, demonstration is not nearly as effective as the legalized bribery known as “campaign contributions” from corporate lobbyists. And with corporate unionization as a percentage of the total workforce now ticking away at all time lows, it remains instructive to see the contortions to which companies will go to prevent any sort of worker organization.
So on this Labor Day weekend, when the charlatans and frauds and hired prostitutes who slavishly do the bidding of their corporate paymasters prattle on about the evils of unionization, do not fail to remember that the one thing that capital fears more than anything is working people banding together to make common cause.
***

Surly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, articles and spittle-flecked invective on this site, and has been active in the Occupy movement. He shares a home in Southeastern Virginia with Contrary and is grateful that he is not yet fitted for a drool cup.

SNAP to RIOT 3: Bring on the National Guard

Off the microphone of RE

Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Friend us on Facebook

Aired on the Doomstead Diner on August 19, 2014

logopodcast

Visit Diner Soundcloud for the full archive of Podcasts and Frostbite Falls Daily Rants.  Visit the Collapse Cafe for Diner Vidcast Interviews and Debates

Coming Soon: An Interview with Dmitry Orlov on the Ukraine Conflict and Resource Depletion

SNAP to RIOT 2 in #ferguson             SNAP to RIOT IN #ferguson

Discuss this Rant at the Podcast Table inside the Diner


Filed Under: Ferguson, Food Stamps, Militarization, Missouri, National Guard, Nixon, Obama, Police State, Poverty, Race War, Riots, St. Louis, Unemployment, Welfare, Death Penalty, Cop Killers

National Guard troops arrive at a mall complex that serves as staging for the police in Ferguson, Missouri.

Protesters face off with police after tear gas was fired at crowds in Ferguson, Missouri, on Sunday night.

Not such a great holiday: President Barack Obama follows through on a swing while golfing on the island of Martha's Vineyard.

Snippet:

…I was intending on moving on tonight to more International Doom, but #ferguson is the Doom Gift that Keeps on Giving.

For the 3rd night in a row with no sign of slowing down, the looting and rioting continue. The livestreams and pics from tonight’s action look like a War Zone, gas and smoke bombs being fired all over the place, and numerous shots fired, though no reports yet of anyone getting hit.

The Obamanista still hasn’t made an appearance there, you would think after a solid week of this shit escalating it might be worthwhile to fly Air Force 1 into Lambert Field and make an appearance. Even George Bush eventually got the GPS coordinates for where Katrina hit and made it to NOLA.

Even as far as making some speeches are concerned, Potus Telepromptus has so far only been given complete pablum to read by his speechwriters, and Goobernator Jay Nixon hasn’t pitched out anything substantive either.

The Gestapo agent who pulled the trigger has disappeared, his house shuttered and dark. Perhaps he is being given a New Identity by the FBI Shooter Relocation Program. Obviously what the community there wants is to see this guy “brought to justice”, which for them would mean conviction for Murder in the 1st Degree followed by a trip to the High Voltage Recliner. Missouri is a state with the Death Penalty of course…

For the rest, LISTEN TO THE RANT!!!

A Gazillionaire Looks to the Future: Sees Pitchforks

From the keyboard of Thomas Lewis
Follow us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter @Doomstead666

Rick Hanauer surveys his realm. On a clear day, you can see disaster.

Nick Hanauer surveys his realm. On a clear day, you can see disaster.

First published at The Daily Impact  June 11, 2014

One of the Masters of the Universe — he bankrolled the startup of Amazon.com, for example — has peered through the bubble of wealth that surrounds him and has glimpsed a terrifying future. Now, the opinions of the rich and powerful have no enhanced value because of their status and deserve no special attention; to the contrary, they are highly suspect given their destructive record. But given the almost universal tendency to defer to people who accumulate money, it’s worth quoting them on the rare occasions when, like a stopped clock, they are in fact correct.

So when Seattle entrepreneur (from the French, meaning “between jobs”) Nick Hanauer publishes an open letter in Politico to his fellow .01-percenters, warning them that unless they change their ways they will come to a bad end, well, it’s worth a listen. He’s been pretty good at seeing the future and making money from it, Hanauer allows, and now when people ask him what he sees up ahead, he tells them he sees pitchforks. “You show me a highly unequal society, and I will show you a police state. Or an uprising. There are no counterexamples. None. It’s not if, it’s when.”

Hanauer’s apocalyptic vision is based on just one of the things that are terribly wrong with our economies today — his hair is on fire about inequality. If you drive too many people out of your mansion to starve and freeze in the dark, pretty soon they are going to burn your mansion down around your ears. Not in America, you say? You might want to ask the British about that.

Criticisms of inequality almost never come from the more equal, so Hanauer’s insights are surprising, not so much for their quality or novelty but because he had them. Among them:

  • Poor people can’t buy stuff. Rich people get and stay rich by selling stuff. So if too many people are too poor, pretty soon no more rich people.
  • “The middle class creates us rich people, not the other way around.” The notion that the rich are the job creators, he says, is bogus. Ordinary people with a little money to spend are the job creators.
  • “The thing about us businesspeople is that we love our customers rich and our employees poor,” forgetting that employees could also be customers.
  • The way to shrink government is to pay people a living wage so they don’t need food stamps and other forms of welfare.

Hanauer argues forcefully for a higher minimum wage as a way to lessen inequality and avert a harsh outcome. But really, is there any chance that from today’s paralyzed politics there will emerge a living wage for all? Of course not.

For all his insight, and refreshing candor, Hanauer misses most of the picture. Whatever wages people are paid, if they cannot buy food, water, air conditioning, lights or shelter at any price they will be in the streets. With pitchforks.  So while Hanauer’s bleak view of the future is surprising given its source, it is a considerable understatement;

“Revolutions, like bankruptcies, come gradually, and then suddenly. One day, somebody sets himself on fire, then thousands of people are in the streets, and before you know it, the country is burning. And then there’s no time for us to get to the airport and jump on our Gulfstream Vs and fly to New Zealand. That’s the way it always happens. If inequality keeps rising as it has been, eventually it will happen. We will not be able to predict when, and it will be terrible—for everybody. But especially for us [one percenters].”

***

 

Thomas Lewis is a nationally recognized and reviewed author of six books, a broadcaster, public speaker and advocate of sustainable living. He also is Editor of The Daily Impact website, and former artist-in-residence at Frostburg State University. He has written several books about collapse issues, including Brace for Impact and Tribulation. Learn more about them here.

 

 

TSA Follies & Myths of Transportation Security

Off the Microphone of RE

Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Friend us on Facebook

Aired on the Doomstead Diner on June 2, 2014

logopodcast

Discuss this Rant at the Podcast Table inside the Diner

Snippet:

…If you happen to be among the roughly 5% of the Global Population that ever flies on an Airplane, you know all about the security Kabuki Theater ongoing since some Towel Heads ostensibly hijacked some Jumbo Jets to knock down the World Trade Center and Punch a Hole in the Pentagon back on that fateful day of 9-11 in 2001. This method of terrorist attack was so successful they even managed to knock down buildings they didn’t fly planes into.

In order to combat the ever present threat of Jets being Hijacked to knock down skyscrapers, a War on Terror was launched, part of which was the establishment of the now infamous TSA, or Transportation Safety Administration here in the FsoA. The highly qualified and highly trained staff of the TSA recruited from the ranks of ex Baggage Handlers, trailer drop lot security guards and JC Penney Store Detectives has been enormously successful, effectively preventing any further Skyscapers from collapsing on their own footprint since 2001…

For the rest, LISTEN TO THE RANT!

RE

Peak Food. It’s Here.

Off the Keyboard of Tom Lewis

Follow us on Facebook

What has long been just a walk in the park for most Americans — food shopping — is about to become considerably more grueling. (Photo by Wonderlane/Flickr)

What has long been just a walk in the park for most Americans — food shopping — is about to become considerably more grueling. (Photo by Wonderlane/Flickr)

First published at The Daily Impact April 30, 2014

[Editor’s Note: It is a pleasure to welcome Thomas Lewis of The Daily Impact to the Doomstead Diner blog. Tom is a nationally recognized author of six books, journalist and professor who currently edits the website, The Daily Impact. He is a broadcaster, public speaker and advocate of sustainable living. We are pleased to have him with us. –Surly1]

 

High food prices — which have been destabilizing (and in some cases, vaporizing) governments around the world — are coming belatedly to America. The prices of beef, pork, shrimp, eggs, dairy products and produce are all reaching record highs right now. Overall food prices are up almost 20% this year. The reasons appear at first glance to be varied, but in almost every case the root cause turns out to be either climate change or the practices of industrial agriculture. Indications are that there is no relief in sight. In fact the days of cheap and plentiful food, like the days of cheap and plentiful oil, may well be over for good.

Where’s the Beef? Ground beef prices hit $3.55 a pound in February, marking a 56% increase in four years and a 20-year record. Chalk it up to supply and demand; there are fewer cattle at home on the range in the United States than at any time in the past 63 years. Why? Because of extended, severe drought in most of the places where cattle are raised and their food is grown. [See Dead Town Waking] Why? Because of climate change.

When Pigs Die.  Since June of last year, about seven million pigs — about ten per cent of the American herd — have been wiped out by a new virus that was unknown before May of last year. It is not the cause of the record high pork prices now in effect, but the disease virtually guarantees no relief for the foreseeable future. The disease, similar to one that has been ravaging China’s pigs, may have something to do with feeding pig-blood products to pigs. You know, like feeding cow’s brains to cows had something to do with Mad Cow Disease.

Crustacean Deflation. Shrimp prices last month jumped more than 60 per cent above last year’s, to a 14-year high, because of a new bacterial disease ravaging the shrimp farms of Southeast Asia.

Hedge Your Vegetable Bets. The region that produces most of America’s produce (the virtual desert in the middle of California) is experiencing the worst drought in history. Its farmers are leaving idle a half a million acres of cropland this year because there’s no water for irrigation. We’re already paying more for our lettuce.

Wake Up and Smell the Absence of Coffee. It was already expected that world coffee production this season would be about five million bags short of a full cup. Then an historic drought struck the coffee belt of Brazil, source of most of the world’s coffee, decimating this year’s crop. Although the price tsunami has not yet rolled into our supermarkets, it has launched wholesale and futures prices into the stratosphere.

With the average American family spending only 10 percent of  its income on food, it’s not surprising that there is a widespread lack of empathy for the millions around the world who are clinging to the edge of extinction as incomes shrink and food prices spike. With the ongoing devastation of the US middle class and the imminent increases in US food prices, Americans are about to get a lot more empathetic.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization has observed that when its global food-price index hits 210, governments in the Third World begin to fall like tenpins. You have to wonder; what’s the magic number for America?

 

***

Thomas Lewis is a nationally recognized and reviewed author of six books, a broadcaster, public speaker and advocate of sustainable living. He also is Editorof The Daily Impact website, and former artist-in-residence at Frostburg State University. He has written several books about collapse issues, including Brace for Impact and Tribulation. Learn more about them here.

 

What’s Been and What’s Next

Off the keyboard of James Howard Kunstler

Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Friend us on Facebook

usdollarcollapse
Originally Published on Clusterfuck Nation  April 21, 2014

     The wonder is that more Americans are not ticked off about the state of our country than whatever is happening ten thousand miles away. For instance, how come the US Department of Justice is not as avid to prosecute the pervasive racketeering in the US economy as the State Department is for provoking unnecessary wars in foreign lands on the other side of the planet, over matters that have little bearing on life here? This racketeering, by the way, amounts to a war against American citizens.

     I’m speaking especially of the US military racket, the banking and finance rackets, the health care racket and the college loan racket, all of which have evolved insidiously and elegantly to swindle the public in order to support a claque of American oligarchs. In other civilized lands, health care and college are considered the highest priority public goods (i.e. responsibilities of government), and national resources are applied to support them under the theory that bankrupting people for an appendectomy or a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering is not in the public interest. In our land, that would be considered “socialism.” Instead, we “socialize” the costs of supporting Too Big To Fail banks — so their employees can drive Beemers to their Hamptons summer house parties — and a military machine that goes around the world wrecking one country after another to support a parasitical class of contractors, lobbyists, and bought-off politicians in their northern Virginia McMansions.

     Hence, the laughable conceit pinging through the news media lately that some dynastic grifter like Jeb Bush or Hillary Clinton will slide into the White House in 2016 as easily as a watermelon seed popped into a shot glass. I don’t think it’s going to work out that way. The US political system needs to be turned upside down and inside out, and I expect that it will be. Either it happens within the bounds of electoral politics, or you’ll see it playing out in the streets and the windswept plains.

     Just a glance around the USA these days ought to nauseate the casual observer. We have an infrastructure for everyday life that is failing in every way imaginable. Are you disturbed by the asteroid belts of vacant strip malls outside your town? Or the empty store fronts along your Main Streets?  What do you suppose these places will be like in ten years when the mirage of shale oil dissolves in a mist of disappointment and political grievance? How are Americans going to feel, do you suppose, when gasoline just isn’t there at a price they can pay, and they are marooned in delaminating strand-board-and-vinyl houses 23 miles away from anything? Does the sheer immersive ugliness of the human imprint on the American landscape not give you the shivers?

      Look at the pathetic and disgusting appearance of our cities, which for the most part present themselves as demolition derby arenas or war zones — except the strongholds of the red-white-and-blue oligarchs: Washington, San Francisco, and especially New York, Financialization Central.

      What happens at the “magic moment” when Facebook stops being a narcissistic virtual playground for “selfies” and becomes a bulletin board for political revolution? Think that can’t happen here? And what if that revolution is a kind that doesn’t appeal to you — say, a revolution of race hatred, or fascist zealotry, or Marxist gangsterism of the type that took Russia hostage for 70 years?

     All this is happening, incidentally, because the supposed best minds in our nation are paying no attention whatsoever to the most important story of our lifetime: the winding down of the techno-industrial global economy. It doesn’t really matter anymore why they don’t get it. Hubris. Greed. Distraction. Denial. All that matters is that they can’t be depended on and when that happens authority loses legitimacy. And when it comes to that, all bets are off.

     The disintegration of Ukraine would be best understood by Americans as a mirror of ourselves and our sclerotic republic, poised to sink into poverty and disorder. Everything we do and say rings hollow now. What used to be called The Establishment has run out of ways to even pretend to save itself. We have no idea what’s next, but it’s not going to be more of what’s been. 

 

***

James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation. His novels include World Made By Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Maggie Darling — A Modern Romance, The Halloween Ball, an Embarrassment of Riches, and many others. He has published three novellas with Water Street Press: Manhattan Gothic, A Christmas Orphan, and The Flight of Mehetabel.

 

TSA: The Scope-N-Grope Crowd Now Wants Weapons

Off the keyboard of Surly1

Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Friend us on Facebook

 tsa_460x2761

 Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on date
Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.

“Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself
And falls on t'other [the other side]."

~ William Shakespeare – Macbeth
 

As some Diners plan to exercising their right to travel and freely associate by gathering in Italy, Texas, for the first ever Diner convocation, they will encounter the Transportation Safety Authority, or TSA. Few things inspire me to raving, spittle-flecked lunacy more than the notion of this federalized bureaucracy of former fry cooks, janitors, busboys and pederasts sucking a taxpayer-supported living from the body politic, all in the name of enacting security theater for we proles. The "screenings" performed daily by these poor method actors consist of sniggering over the semi-nude pictures of your body generated by untested and unsafe back-scatter radiation machines, fondling your naughty bits during an intrusive pat down, sexually assaulting both Granny and Little Nell, and oh, let's not forget, rifling through your luggage for stuff to steal and fence on eBay.

The TSA is a layer of expense and bullshit laid over the already demanding and expensive process of travel in the FSoA. Now, not content to merely grope your genitals or cop a quick feel from your daughter, they wish to follow the trend of escalating weaponization. This in the wake of the shooting of TSA checkers at LAX last fall. Providing armed guards is too expensive, you see, and as we all know according to the gospel preached by The Worst People on the Planet, the only thing that deters A Bad Guy With A Gun is A Good Guy With A Gun. So now proposals are afoot to arm the equivalent of mall cops.

Madness.

TSA2

The TSA was enacted into law by Congress in 2001, within two months of the events of 9-11. The speed with which this piece of ready-to-wear legislation was approved shows that, like the grossly misnamed "PATRIOT" Act, it was already drafted and ready to be deployed against the American people as opportunity presented. TSA was transferred from Transportation to Homeland Security in 2003. From there, the agency morphed into the bloated, ineffective and corrupt bureaucracy we see today. Don't take it from me: Wikipedia lists the "other complaints about the TSA complete with citations:

TSA agents are also accused of having mistreated passengers, and having sexually harassed passengers,[158][159][160][161] having used invasive screening procedures, including touching the genitals, including those of children,[162] removing nipple rings with pliers,[163] having searched passengers or their belongings for items other than weapons or explosives,[164] and having stolen from passengers.[116][165][166][167][168][169][170][171] The TSA fired 28 agents and suspended 15 others after an investigation determined they failed to scan checked baggage for explosives.[172]

The TSA was also accused of having spent lavishly on events unrelated to airport security,[173] having wasted money in hiring,[174] and having had conflicts of interest.[175]

The TSA was accused of having performed poorly at the 2009 Presidential Inauguration viewing areas, which left thousands of ticket holders excluded from the event in overcrowded conditions, while those who had arrived before the checkpoints were in place avoided screening altogether.[176][177]

In 2013 dozens of TSA workers were fired or suspended for illegal gambling at Pittsburgh International Airport,[178]

A 2013 GAO report showed a 26% increase in misconduct among TSA employees between 2010 and 2012, from 2,691 cases to 3,408.[180] Another GAO report said that there is no evidence that the Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOT) behavioral detection program, with an annual budget of hundreds of millions of dollars, is effective.[181]

A 2013 report by the Homeland Security Department Inspector General's Office charged that TSA was using criminal investigators to do the job of lower paid employees, wasting millions of dollars a year.

In 2001-03, if you asked most people, they would say that a couple of bucks per flight was money well spent to insure that domestic air travel was more safe. A reasonable premise. Yet it seems that the TSA's role is not to provide safety for travelers so much as to provide security theater, the performance art segment of state propaganda.

Jason Harrington, a former TSA agent, explained in Politico the everyday ridiculousness of the job, a fact that all agents simply accepted as a fact of life. Yes, TSA agents are ogling or making fun of your naked physique in the full-body scans. Yes, they are racially and politically profiling certain people for extra screening. Yes, the body scans are ineffective and can be easily manipulated. (“They’re shit,” a scan instructor said.)

But Harrington recognizes the job's clearer purpose — to create the illusion of security. "It was a job that had me patting down the crotches of children, the elderly and even infants as part of the post-9/11 airport security show," he writes. Later, he points to his frustration with "the theatrical quality of nearly all airport security." Essentially, Harrington is referring to "Security Theater," an idea security expert Bruce Schneier explained in detail to CNN in 2009:

Security is both a feeling and a reality. The propensity for security theater comes from the interplay between the public and its leaders.

When people are scared, they need something done that will make them feel safe, even if it doesn't truly make them safer. Politicians naturally want to do something in response to crisis, even if that something doesn't make any sense.

So now we understand the TSA's purpose, which beyond collecting a federal paycheck and benefits, is simply to indoctrinate and degrade, and to reinforce blind acceptance and obedience to authority as the default response to increasingly bizarre searches and seizures. And as loath as I am to cite anything from Infowars, to their credit they have reposted a complaint from Jonathan Corbett, who has sued the TSA in a case challenging the constitutionality of the TSA’s nude body scanners and invasive pat-down program. The TSA has quietly admitted there is no actual “threat-addressing” basis for employing nude body scanners or invasive pat down procedures at airports in its own documents, a notion many travelers  weary of the agency’s borderline sexual molestation have long suspected but were hard-pressed to prove. The Court enjoined the blogger from publishing, but the Court failed to secure its own document, which Infowars republished.

Through Redactions, TSA Admits Terror Threats are Slim to Nonexistent

A section detailing how “The TSA Has Misled The Public As to the Likelihood of the Threat ‘Addressed’ By Nude Body Scanners and Pat Downs,” includes a blacked out portion concerning the TSA’s knowledge that “explosives on airplanes are extremely rare.”

“For example, the TSA analyzed hijackings in 2007 and found 7 hijacking incidents across the globe, but none of them involved actual explosive devices,” Corbett explains in the brief, adding that the last attempt to bring an explosive on-board an airplane through a U.S. airport occurred 35 years ago.

Read the rest here. Bad news for the scope-and-grope crowd.

null

Meanwhile, when not rifling through your luggage for valuables to resell, TSA staffers have their own blog. A moving account wherrein eager TSA-ers track notable confiscations, while their colleagues pocket others:

Convicted TSA Officer Reveals Secrets of Thefts at Airports

It became a regular racket.

A convicted TSA security officer says he was part of a "culture" of indifference that allowed corrupt employees to prey on passengers' luggage and personal belongings with impunity, thanks to lax oversight and tip-offs from TSA colleagues.

"It was very commonplace, very," said Pythias Brown, a former TSA officer at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey who admits he stole more than $800,000 worth of items from luggage and security checkpoints over a four-year period.

"It was very convenient to steal," he said.

Speaking publicly for the first time after being released from prison, Brown told ABC News his four-year-long crime spree came to an end only because he tried to sell a camera he stole from the luggage of a CNN producer on eBay but forgot to remove all of the news networks' identifying stickers.

"It became so easy, I got complacent," Brown said.

READ: ABC News Tracks Missing iPad to Florida Home of TSA Officer

Brown is one of almost 400 TSA officers who have been fired for stealing from passengers in the past decade. According to the TSA, 381 TSA officers have been fired for theft between 2003 and 2012, including 11 so far in this year.

USA-SECURITY/PATDOWNSAnd if simple theft was as bad as it got, that would be one thing. But it's not. Becky Akers wrote an inspired rant in the NY Post in 2011 exposing how the blue-glove crowd not only steals valuables but also runs drugs, and has not only failed to apprehend any terrorists, but that as many as 16 known terrorists had passed from point to point on TSA-inspected aircraft:

No doubt they were too busy groping Grandma instead.

If terrorists the TSA misses don’t bring down your next flight, the equipment it damages might. CNN reported in 2008 that one TSA inspector boosted himself into nine “commuter aircraft” by stepping on “sensitive” thermometers that help pilots “gauge the probability of icing” — the bane of these smaller planes.

“We caught it this time,” said a bemused spokesman for the airline’s pilots, “but who knows if this has happened other times … and with other planes that are out there?”

The TSA’s response? It threatened to fine American Airlines for leaving its property open to inspectors.

The agency’s also a public-health menace. Dr. Marybeth Crane, a foot-and-ankle surgeon in Grapevine, Texas, notes that airports’ filthy floors harbor the germs responsible for warts, herpes and staph — including the dreaded MRSA. Yet the TSA has forced billions of passengers over the last decade to shed their shoes and risk contagion.

Ditto for its infamous blue gloves. Screeners probe armpits and groins, often reaching beneath clothing to bare skin — without changing their mitts between victims. Not only does this satisfy the legal definition of “sexual assault” in most states, it also transfers viruses and bacteria.

Just one passenger in the early stages of flu — or something worse — could start an epidemic. Should we tolerate an agency this reckless with our health? Or one that’s killed a passenger?

Rigoberto Alpizar, a short-term Christian missionary returning to his home in Florida, changed his mind shortly after boarding his connecting flight and tried to disembark past oncoming passengers. Tragically, two TSA air marshals were already aboard; they chased him onto the jetway and shot him five times.

Not surprisingly, some voices have been raised about the waste and excess of the TSA. Worthies such as John Mica and Rand Paul has been critical of the TSA and called for its . . . privatization. If you have not left the house since the McKinley administration, "privatization" is the process by which taxpayers pay to build or create something, then cronies in government sell it to private corporations for pennies on the dollar, which such private entity enters into a long-term lease to provide the same service at a higher price, with profits guaranteed by the taxpayers. (In Virginia, this became an art form under the administration of now-disgraced ex-Gov. Transvaginal Ultrasound.)

Even those striking heroic poses about TSA corruption such as John Mica aren't making noise because they want this useless overhead eliminated- they want it privatized. The better to line the pockets of cronies, campaign donors and to push a daughter's professional agenda. So Mica's outrage extends only to his inability to cut himself a piece of the grift. Steven Frishling documents his concerns here.

And no mention of the Homeland Security grift would be complete without giving Satan's personal emissary Michael Chertoff a nod. Chertoff, you will recall, followed himself out of the government into the arms of The Chertoff Group, who happened to represent Rapiscan, a manufacturer of back-scatter radiation machines. Headlines like, "Ex-Homeland Security chief head said to abuse public trust by touting body scanners"  made the rounds:

What he has made little mention of is that the Chertoff Group, his security consulting agency, includes a client that manufactures the machines. The relationship drew attention after Chertoff disclosed it on a CNN program Wednesday, in response to a question.

An airport passengers' rights group on Thursday criticized Chertoff, who left office less than a year ago, for using his former government credentials to advocate for a product that benefits his clients.

"Mr. Chertoff should not be allowed to abuse the trust the public has placed in him as a former public servant to privately gain from the sale of full-body scanners under the pretense that the scanners would have detected this particular type of explosive," said Kate Hanni, founder of FlyersRights.org, which opposes the use of the scanners.

Let's be clear: Chertoff scarcely missed a TV camera in 2010 lobbying for employment of these untested and unproven devices on behalf of Rapiscan. Now the scanners are ubiquitous, and the outrage all but forgotten.

U.S. Government Glossed Over Cancer Concerns As It Rolled Out Airport X-Ray Scanners

The scanning-technology debate illustrates just one of Chertoff's many financial interests in the security sector. In the recent deal to break up U.S. security firm L-1 Identity Solutions among two top European defense firms, Chertoff was well-positioned: His firm was a strategic adviser to French aerospace and security conglomerate Safran, which paid more than $1.1 billion to acquire L-1's biometrics identification units; and he sits on the board of BAE, the British defense giant which bought L-1's government consulting and intelligence services, as reported by HuffPost's Dan Froomkin earlier this year.

 

For the record, Chertoff and Rapiscan denied all wrongdoing, etc. etc. It always works.

As a reasonable person can conclude, that TSA has been a scam from inception: security theater for the masses, the best face of which is that “somebody's doing something about security,” with the worst being to inculcate the American people with the habit of being cowed, queued, and intimidated. Barely competent from inception, and now under the aegis of DHS  with  little track record  of accomplishment and less purpose, TSA has metastasized. The only discussions about reform go to privatization, the point of which is who gets cut in. On that lofty note,  we wish our Diner travelers well as they descend upon Eddie's place in West Texas, with best wishes for unshredded DNA, unfondled genitalia, and unstolen electronics.

And RE, if I were you, I'd be carrying my cameras and sound equipment onboard with me . . .

***

For those interested in additional punishment on this subject, here are some other stories that I couldn't work in. 2500 words is quite enough, yes?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/23/fear_pays_chertoff_n_787711.html
Rapiscan  is a subset of OSI Systems — See more at: http://www.thomhartmann.com/forum/2013/01/rapiscan-chertoff-scanners-pulled#sthash.7C0JUwpo.dpuf

http://scrapthescanners.wordpress.com

TSA ruins DisneyLand:  http://rt.com/usa/tsa-disneyland-officials-security/

https://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/11/22-7

View from the inside– http://takingsenseaway.wordpress.com

http://www.infowars.com/internal-tsa-documents-body-scanners-pat-downs-not-for-terrorists/

***

Surly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, bleatings, disassociated posts and articles on this site, and has been active in the Occupy movement. He lives in Southeastern Virginia with a menagerie of women both young and young at heart.

 

 

Conditioning: That Which Keeps People Subservient to Abusive Leadership

Conditioning: That Which Keeps People Subservient to Abusive Leadership

by Peter Offermann peter@oceanfalls.org

Few who are paying attention to world events, through a lens more precise than the Main Stream Media (MSM), would deny that the vast majority of humans are being badly abused by their leadership in a variety of venues ranging from local, regional, national, and international politicians and bureaucrats, financial managers, corporate controllers, religious leaders, media moguls and warlords.

The vast majority of humans appear to be oblivious to this abuse and passively accept what is being done to them. Why is that? In one word – conditioning.

The vastly increased access to information that the internet enabled is responsible for a large number of people at least becoming aware of this abuse. However even among this more aware group, taking effective action to stop the abuse is sorely lacking. Why is that? In one word – conditioning.

There is a much smaller group that are proactively attempting to counter the abuse through group protest but they are losing the struggle. Why is that? In one word – conditioning.

At 68 I am getting on in years. I have lived a full life and have had the time to reflect back on my path through life. As a result I have come to realize that most of the conditioning we are all subject to did not incapacitate me nearly as much as it did most people. I believe the realizations I have come to regarding my seeming immunity to conditioning are a necessary foundation required for people to free themselves from the tyranny that enslaves them.

With that hope in mind I would like to share some experiences from my youth that illustrate the problem (conditioning), and hint at the solution.

Our conditioning begins at the moment of our birth. Although they are not conscious of it, our parents, and family members, begin the process. Our parents have been conditioned before us and all their ‘conditioned’ traditions are passed on to us without considering their consequences. How often have you heard the excuse? “That’s just the way things are, get over it!” There is a great book by Wilhelm Reich called, “The Function of the Orgasm”, that explains the form of, and reasons for, this early in life conditioning. Yes our sexuality plays a large role.

It is widely accepted that our late childhood, and early adulthood, years are our formative ones and also when we are in our prime both intellectually and physically. Historically people took full responsibility for managing their own lives much earlier in their lives, during what we consider late childhood. There were once 14 year old admirals that oversaw large naval forces. The commitment of marriage and raising a family began much earlier. Pioneers struck out to discover and populate new mysterious lands before they reached their teens.

The most rigid and destructive conditioning is imposed on us during our schooling. Our schooling is starting earlier and lasting much longer than previously in history and while we are being ‘schooled’ we are not considered full adults with the responsibilities and freedoms such status implies.

Why is that? Could it be that control in our society is much more rigid than ever before? Those that control us realize that a rebellion of youth is the most dangerous kind. How better to minimize the impact of people in their prime than by keeping their status at ‘children’ with little access to power until well past their prime years? If people cave in to ‘slavehood’ during their prime years, how likely are they to rebel once they are past their prime; especially if they are burdened with excessive debt from their education?

I will only touch on the subject of our schooling lightly here and point out what I see as the most debilitating habits we are taught. The subject is an immense one covered well by people such as John Taylor Gatto, author of, “The Underground History of American Education”.

Disclaimer: I quit school in the early 60’s while in grade 9, at age 14. The reason being I felt I was being made dumber instead of smarter. My parent’s response was, “if you don’t go to school we will not support you.” I left home then and took on responsibility for my own life.

Even though I chose a different path than most I did not really understand intellectually why I did what I did then until recently, about a half a century later. What I did then, I did intuitively, rather than logically while accepting full responsibility for the outcome.

I first spent a few years hoboing around Canada taking whatever work I could find whenever I needed it. No job was too menial or too challenging to accept.

At 17 I took on a job that turned my life around and led to my conditioning mostly sliding off me.

This job was as a fire lookout man with the British Columbia (Canada) Forest Service. For a number of years I worked and lived on remote mountain tops, by myself, for 3 to 4 months each year. Spending that much time completely alone, and removed from civilization, especially during my formative years, had a profound effect on my perceptions about life as a human being and how I fit into society.

rendered by me from a photo by Kyle Johnson http://kjphotos.com/portfolio/outside

I didn’t have a camera in those days so the image above, which closely represents my situation, is used to illustrate the setting.

Below is a photograph of myself taken a few years later in the same general area I spent time on the lookouts. The other photos interspersed in this essay are taken by myself as I explored the mountains near my home after my lookout years.

In current society peer pressure during childhood, and early adulthood, is immense. To survive in this setting we must pay close attention to others around us for clues regarding what is and is not acceptable. Because of this pressure the bulk of our energy goes into human interactions and we are pretty much oblivious to everything but our immediate environment. “Use it or lose it”, is sage advice. Because of concentrating on human relations during their formative years most people have little if any connection to the natural world.

Try to imagine what people would be like if, as youngsters, they spent time exploring and living in nature, while being responsible for their own survival and actions, instead of hanging out at the mall or partying with their pals.

Is it fair to say that those that hang with the crowd are unlikely to be aware of, or able to understand, large scale events not part of their immediate environment?

What about someone who is tasked with surviving in the greater world using only their own skills? Would they stand a better chance of grasping what is going on?

Is this phenomena related to the common use of a ‘rite of manhood’ by many cultures where young adults leave the security of their group to face the wilderness on their own?

Do the majority of people in modern societies never go through this enabling rite of passage and instead go from the security of their parent’s care to the security of the big brother state? Does this explain why some people never seem to reach adulthood?

Substantial time on the lookout, without peer pressure, made me realize how confining trying to fit into the crowd is. Most people don’t even sense this pressure because it is all they know. It’s like the air we breathe. It’s just there until it isn’t, then we die; unless we are prepared for an airless environment.

Most people also don’t realize how much of their time and energy it takes to be ‘social’. Being removed from ‘socializing’ is enormously stressful if it is all you know.

Many aspiring lookout men needed to come down off the mountains prematurely because they could not stand being alone. Those that adjusted to the isolation,  came to treasure the freedom of being comfortable for extended periods with just their own company. The amount of time that then becomes available for other, possibly more worthwhile pursuits, is substantial.

In the forefront of these benefits is having the time to look inside yourself without constantly being subjected to the opinion of others. Building friendships takes time and effort and becoming your own friend is no exception. Most of us never get the opportunity to do this.

Those that desire to control human behavior understand that people that are not comfortable with themself are much more susceptible to being controlled because they are lonely and need to seek comfort and friendship outside themselves. Virtually every sales campaign, ranging from that of the door to door salesmen to world leaders, is then enabled to easily sell you a bill of goods by convincing you that what they have to offer is going to become your best friend and make your life less lonely.

Short excursions, or holidays into nature, most often with others, fitted into a busy schedule, do little to increase our awareness of the greater reality that humans exist within. Thanks to modern technology very few of these excursions actually take people far from the human controlled environment they are conditioned to.

It is one thing to climb to the top of a mountain, conquer it, and then immediately return to civilization. It is something totally different to stay in that wilderness environment for extended periods with the time to come to know those other species that are at home in those environs. It makes one realize that humans are not the be all and end all of life on earth. Humility is born which serves us very well. In this environment one soon comes to realize those species include the earth itself. Seeing the constant breathing of weather and daily and seasonal shifts of energies makes one realize everything is made of the same stuff and ‘lives’ in it’s own unique way.

To assume the earth is a lifeless blob which we can abuse without conscious consequence is a very risky proposition.

Most people’s lives are lived out within an environment created by and for humans. Most; and more all the time, live in an urban environment.

When they holiday people generally take some technological means of travel which quickly takes them to the other place of human habitation they wish to holiday in. Because people’s travel experience is so brief, and misses the detail of the ground they pass over, most of which currently has no human habitants, it is easy for them to agree, when told by ‘experts’ that human overpopulation is a crisis.

Yes there are many urban places on the planet that suffer from overpopulation, and many more places on the planet that are being strip-mined to support those urban centers, but all in all there is an enormous amount of free space, capable of supporting humans, if only they were able to tear themselves away from the social centers they now depend on and cluster in.

In the early 1990’s while transitioning from life in Canada to life in Mexico I drove between Canada and Mexico every second week for 3 years while gradually weaning my clients off the services I had previously offered. I was a workaholic and saw the time on the road as my own and enjoyed it by taking different highways almost every trip. Eventually I was able to drive between Mexico and Canada while only passing through a very few towns, all smaller than about 10,000 people. Most of the distance on these trips was spent on very remote highways with no other traffic to speak of.

I can say definitively that between, Canada, the USA and Mexico there is enough uninhabited fertile land to accommodate the whole world without the residents being able to see their nearest neighbor.

This vision assumes we overcome our condition of needing to be part of the herd clustering in vast hordes, and also manage to disempower the laws of those that enslave us that currently make this land unavailable to us.

Humans are far more difficult to control if they live in small clusters, all over the place, while paying little or no attention to the MSM. The propagandists can then not create a single message that will motive the whole herd of humans to act identically by broadcasting their one piece of propaganda from a single location that reaches everyone.

Propaganda still works but it must be tailored properly to fit each unique situation in order to get consistent results. If there is no central broadcasting service the message must also be taken to each unique location individually. This is an impossible situation for our rulers and is the reason we are all so heavily conditioned to….

Need to be in close quarters with other humans.

Need the approval of others.

Think alike.

Think we must be/are part of a team.

Become isolated emotionally from ourselves and each other, even while packed on top of each other, so only big brother can offer us comfort.

Desire specialized knowledge which results in only being able to survive as part of the ‘urban’ team.

To desire a ‘carrot’ of reward that only ‘winning’, at any cost(?), within the crowd can present.

Depend on centralized services, especially sources of energy.

Depend on the rule of ‘human’ law to protect us from each other.

The most destructive conditioning takes place in our schools, right at the time we are most susceptible to it, during our formative years. During that period we have little experience of our own to compare to what we are told, and raising questions about the validity of the taught ‘truth’ is ruthlessly punished, in order to force us to depend on the wisdom of others instead of our own intuition.

We are ruthlessly regimented to follow orders so that we eventually become incapable of thinking for ourselves and become dependent on the ‘boss’ to do our thinking for us. The intellectual box we become stuck within is then defined by the boss.

Specialization in training, and limiting access to information, (compartmentalization) is critical to our conditioning. If we cannot think for ourselves, and only understand part of the puzzle, and are incapable of deducing or intuiting answers to unknowns, we are trapped within our dependence on others.

I have personally met a number of world shaker class intellectuals that are extremely brilliant in their own field but figuratively can’t tie their own shoe laces. This situation is not accidental. If only the boss has the full picture, the boss becomes the only one who can act effectively. Everyone else then becomes totally dependent on the Boss. Specialization has its place but having a well rounded toolkit of lifeskills is essential to individual freedom.

Away from civilization, where the boss is not handy to hold your hand, is a disaster waiting to happen if you cannot think for yourself. Then unless you quickly learn to identify problems before they destroy you, and also learn to fix problems you can’t avoid intuitively, without an instruction manually from the boss, you will not survive long.

Lack of education, much time spent away from conditioning influences, and conditioned humans, has changed fundamentally how I solve problems.

When faced with a problem a conditioned human will go through the channels of historical solutions until they find one that works for them.

Instead I consider the elements of the problem in place, try to intuit the workings of the device/situation, and then pinpoint what is going wrong and consider what might fix it. No manual is needed; just the ability to think a situation through for myself.

Using only this skill I have managed to live my whole life well, if not always comfortably, while being considered an essential resource by many people with far more education than myself, even in areas they have expertise in.

No one is perfect and you will make mistakes when you think for yourself. Mistakes are often painful but if you accept the possibility of making mistakes, and are willing to learn from them when you make them, you will eventually become a very robust and capable person. What doesn’t break you strengthens you.

If you are afraid of making mistakes you are stuck on the safe (?) road built by our bosses. You still might not be safe but at least you can then blame your mistakes on someone else.

I have learned far more from my mistakes than from my successes. I am now very thankful for my mistakes, even though some were very painful to navigate.

This essay is getting long so I will end it with one last point about what I learned from my life on the lookouts.

While we are thrust into the middle of ongoing intense personal inter-relationships, especially during our formative years, our attention remains strongly focused on each interaction as it occurs and the rest of the world passes us by unnoticed. We see the trees but are oblivious of the forest. This is most often a habit we carry throughout life and it is a very dangerous one in our propaganda filled world. We see each piece of new propaganda as a standalone piece of information. We have no perspective to see if how it fits into the forest makes sense. We are then at the mercy of those that would deceive us for their own purpose. All they need to do is grab our attention and they can then do with us as they like.

On a lookout tasked with quickly finding dangerous anomalies, within a vast vista of forests, becoming focused on each tree individually is not productive and makes it impossible to see the whole picture. A good lookout man eventually learns to quickly scan vast vistas without focusing on anything in particular. Taking this approach to finding required data points, such as suspicious smoke, allows our intuition to come to our aid. It always amazes me how glaringly anomalies stand out when using this method.

It works just as well in any other environment, including researching on the internet. When surrounded by questionable ‘news/propaganda’ the fires stick out much more obviously when we also are aware of the apparently unrelated surrounding information that is part of webscape. The ‘trees’ of propaganda do not distract us from seeing the whole situation. If there’s no smoke there probably isn’t a fire. Our intuition can see the difference even though we logically can’t. Following our intuition instead of remaining focused on the propaganda leads us to the information that will then allow us to make sense of the situation.

Although my prognosis of our situation appears very gloomy I am not pessimistic. I see light at the end of the tunnel.

For those who managed to slog through to this point thank you for your attention.

Peter

More thoughts about Conditioning (not included in the original essay above).

 

My essay about conditioning only painted part of the picture. To help understand the situation more fully it is important to see the whole picture.

What I described previously is the conditioning that influences what we term the masses or those without power. This conditioning is put in place and controlled by the ruling class. It is easy to assume that because of their power and control those of the ruling class are not themselves being conditioned. This is a fallacy.

A study of history clearly demonstrates that throughout history humanity has been in a constant struggle within itself which takes place between a few strong rulers who gain power and subsequently use that power disproportionately for their own benefit. The larger the discrepancy between the quality of life of the rulers and everyone else, the more destructive the relationship becomes.

During my life, because of the skills I have to offer, I have had a few brief glimpses into the personal lives of some of the small circle of rulers that control the condition of humanity. They mostly have names we have never heard of because their employees do their work for them and are the ones the public see and blame for the harm that is occurring.

 

What I saw behind the curtain was surprising but obvious once it was seen. The conditioning we the masses go through is nothing compared to the conditioning of these elites. The same applies to the trusted employees that work directly for this inner circle.

Looking back through history it becomes obvious there is continuity in the family lines of the ruling class as generation after generation of the same families take over the reins of power in turn.

As with the majority of us the elite’s conditioning begins at the moment of their birth and is initially provided by their parents and family as translated through their hired help. This conditioning is far more rigid and destructive to individuality than that outside the ruling class. The elite’s privileged position is totally dependent on each generation in turn continuing to exercise the power that keeps them all on the top.

The pressure we the masses get from our parents to better ourselves by becoming doctors and lawyers is nothing compared to the pressure put on the children of the elite to ruthlessly manage the masses. With few exceptions those in the elite live cloistered lives and rarely relate extensively with individuals that have not been conditioned identically to them other than in master / servant situations.

 

The schooling for the elites, and their trusted inner circle of employees, is far more rigid in enforcing subservience to their common cause than the masses education. This is because the loss of a servant is far less critical to the cause than the loss of someone in a position of responsibility. I believe that the rituals used by elite secret societies such as skull & bones at Yale University are designed for initiates to demonstrate to their superiors their willingness to be subservient to the cause even when faced with degrading demands. This subservient position is demeaning for individuals with large egos and probably translates directly to their in turn taking out their anger and frustration on those less powerful than themselves. A circle of abuse then radiates outwards as each level of abused takes out their pain on the power below themselves.

The conceptual box previous generations of elites have trapped their children in is much smaller than the box we the masses inhabit. The people I met appeared to me totally lost. On the surface many appear bubbly and satisfied and feeling on top of the world but this facade is only skin deep. It is obvious that deep down they are deathly afraid of confronting reality. Substance abuse and suicide is a large component of this lifestyle.

To my understanding the relationship between that of the elite and the masses is identical to that of the predator / prey relationship commonly found in/between other species than humans.

The elite are conditioned by their history to be predators and the masses are conditioned by their history to be prey. Those masses that seek the rewards seeming to be available to the elite must become predators in order to join those rarefied circles.

The Bible suggests through the allegory of the Garden of Eden that the predator / prey relationship is not the only possible relationship between individuals. It further suggests we humans fell from grace once we adopted this predatory way of life.

As has been shown by history many times power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

It is obvious to me that for there to be peace within humanity power, and the need for it, must be removed.

 

Peter

The Anti-Empire Report #123

Off the Keyboard of William Blum

Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Friend us on Facebook

 

nature bailout

Published December 4, 2013 by William Blum on The Anti-Empire Report

“If nature were a bank, they would have already rescued it.” – Eduardo Galeano

 

What do you think of this as an argument to use when speaking to those who don’t accept the idea that extreme weather phenomena are man-made?

Well, we can proceed in one of two ways:

  1. We can do our best to limit the greenhouse effect by curtailing greenhouse gas emissions (carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide) into the atmosphere, and if it turns out that these emissions were not in fact the cause of all the extreme weather phenomena, then we’ve wasted a lot of time, effort and money (although other benefits to the ecosystem would still accrue).
  2. We can do nothing at all to curtail the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and if it turns out that these emissions were in fact the cause of all the extreme weather phenomena (not simply extreme, but getting downright freaky), then we’ve lost the earth and life as we know it.

So, are you a gambler?

Whatever we do on a purely personal level to try and curtail greenhouse gas emissions cannot of course compare to what corporations could do; but it’s inevitable that the process will impinge upon the bottom line of one corporation or another, who can be relied upon to put optimization of profit before societal good; corporate “personhood” before human personhood. This is a barrier faced by any environmentalist or social movement, and is the reason why I don’t subscribe to the frequently-voiced idea that “Left vs. Right” is an obsolete concept; that we’re all together in a common movement against corporate and government abuse regardless of where we fall on the ideological spectrum.

It’s only the Left that maintains as a bedrock principle: People before Profit, which can serve as a very concise definition of socialism, an ideology anathema to the Right and libertarians, who fervently believe, against all evidence, in the rationality of a free market. I personally favor the idea of a centralized, planned economy.

Holy Lenin, Batman! This guy’s a Damn Commie!

Is it the terminology that bothers you? Because Americans are raised to be dedicated anti-communists and anti-socialists, and to equate a “planned economy” with the worst excesses of Stalinism? Okay, forget the scary labels; let’s describe it as people sitting down and discussing what the most serious problems facing society are; and which institutions and forces in the society have the best access, experience, and resources to offer a solution to those problems. So, the idea is to enable these institutions and forces to deal with the problems in a highly organized and efficient manner. All this is usually called “planning”, and if the organization of it all generally stems from the government it can be called “centralized”. The alternative to this is called either anarchy or free enterprise.

I don’t place much weight on the idea of “libertarian socialism”. That to me is an oxymoron. The key questions to be considered are: Who will make the decisions on a daily basis to run the society? For whose benefit will those decisions be made. It’s easy to speak of “economic democracy” that comes from “the people”, and is “locally controlled”, not by the government. But is every town and village going to manufacture automobiles, trains and airplanes? Will every city of any size have an airport? Will each one oversee its own food and drug inspections? Maintain all the roads passing through? Protect the environment within the city boundary only? Such questions are obviously without limit. I’m just suggesting that we shouldn’t have stars in our eyes about local control or be paranoid about central planning.

“We are all ready to be savage in some cause. The difference between a good man and a bad one is the choice of the cause.” – William James (1842-1910)

So, George W. Bush is now a painter. He tells his art teacher that “there’s a Rembrandt trapped inside this body”. 1 Ah, so Georgie is more than just a painter. He’s an artiste.

And we all know that artistes are very special people. They’re never to be confused with mass murderers, war criminals, merciless torturers or inveterate liars. Neither are they ever to be accused of dullness of wit or incoherence of thought.

Artistes are not the only special people. Devout people are also special: Josef Stalin studied for the priesthood. Osama bin Laden prayed five times a day.

And animal lovers: Herman Goering, while his Luftwaffe rained death upon Europe, kept a sign in his office that read: “He who tortures animals wounds the feelings of the German people.” Adolf Hitler was also an animal lover and had long periods of being a vegetarian and anti-smoking. Charles Manson was a staunch anti-vivisectionist.

And cultured people: This fact Elie Wiesel called the greatest discovery of the war: that Adolf Eichmann was cultured, read deeply, played the violin. Mussolini also played the violin. Some Nazi concentration camp commanders listened to Mozart to drown out the cries of the inmates.

Former Bosnian Serb politician Radovan Karadzic, on trial now before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, charged with war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity, was a psychiatrist, specializing in depression; a practitioner of alternative medicine; published a book of poetry and books for children.

Al Qaeda and other suicide bombers are genuinely and sincerely convinced that they are doing the right thing. That doesn’t make them less evil; in fact it makes them more terrifying, since they force us to face the scary reality of a world in which sincerity and morality do not necessarily have anything to do with each other.

Getting your history from Hollywood

Imagine a documentary film about the Holocaust which makes no mention of Nazi Germany.

Imagine a documentary film about the 1965-66 slaughter of as many as a million “communists” in Indonesia which makes no mention of the key role in the killing played by the United States.

But there’s no need to imagine it. It’s been made, and was released this past summer. It’s called “The Act of Killing” and makes no mention of the American role. Two articles in the Washington Post about the film made no such mention either. The Indonesian massacre, along with the jailing without trial of about a million others and the widespread use of torture and rape, ranks as one of the great crimes of the twentieth century and is certainly well known amongst those with at least a modest interest in modern history.

Here’s an email I sent to the Washington Post writer who reviewed the film:

“The fact that you can write about this historical event and not mention a word about the US government role is a sad commentary on your intellect and social conscience. If the film itself omits any serious mention of the US role, that is a condemnation of the filmmaker, and of you for not pointing this out. So the ignorance and brainwashing of the American people about their country’s foreign policy (i.e., holocaust) continues decade after decade, thanks to media people like Mr. Oppenheimer [one of the filmmakers] and yourself.”

The Post reviewer, rather than being offended by my intemperate language, was actually taken with what I said and she asked me to send her an article outlining the US role in Indonesia, which she would try to get published in the Post as an op-ed. I did so and she wrote me that she very much appreciated what I had sent her. But – as I was pretty sure would happen – the Post did not print what I wrote. So this incident may have had the sole saving grace of enlightening a Washington Post writer about the journalistic standards and politics of her own newspaper.

And now, just out, we have the film “Long Walk to Freedom” based on Nelson Mandela’s 1994 autobiography of the same name. The heroic Mandela spent close to 28 years in prison at the hands of the apartheid South African government. His arrest and imprisonment were the direct result of a CIA operation. But the film makes no mention of the role played by the CIA or any other agency of the United States.

In fairness to the makers of the film, Mandela himself, in his book, declined to accuse the CIA for his imprisonment, writing: “The story has never been confirmed and I have never seen any reliable evidence as to the truth of it.”

Well, Mr. Mandela and the filmmaker should read what I wrote and documented on the subject some years after Mandela’s book came out, in my own book: Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower (2000). It’s not quite a “smoking gun”, but I think it convinces almost all readers that what happened in South Africa in 1962 was another of the CIA operations we’ve all come to know and love. And almost all my sources were available to Mandela at the time he wrote his autobiography. There has been speculation about what finally led to Mandela’s release from prison; perhaps a deal was made concerning his post-prison behavior.

From a purely educational point of view, seeing films such as the two discussed here may well be worse than not exposing your mind at all to any pop culture treatment of American history or foreign policy.

Getting your history from the American daily press

During the US federal government shutdown in October over a budgetary dispute, Washington Post columnist Max Fisher wondered if there had ever been anything like this in another country. He decided that “there actually is one foreign precedent: Australia did this once. In 1975, the Australian government shut down because the legislature had failed to fund it, deadlocked by a budgetary squabble. It looked a lot like the U.S. shutdown of today, or the 17 previous U.S. shutdowns.” 2

Except for what Fisher fails to tell us: that it strongly appears that the CIA used the occasion to force a regime change in Australia, whereby the Governor General, John Kerr – a man who had been intimately involved with CIA fronts for a number of years – discharged Edward Gough Whitlam, the democratically-elected prime minister whose various policies had been a thorn in the side of the United States, and the CIA in particular.

I must again cite my own writing, for the story of the CIA coup in Australia – as far as I know – is not described in any kind of detail anywhere other than in my book Killing Hope: U.S. Military and C.I.A. Interventions Since World War II (2004).

Americans are living in an Orwellian police state. Either that, or the greatest democracy ever.

There are those in the United States and Germany these days who insist that the National Security Agency is no match for the East German Ministry for State Security, or Stasi, which, during the Cold War, employed an estimated 190,000 part-time secret informants, and an additional 90,000 officers full time, in a spying operation that permeated both East and West Germany. Since the end of the Cold War, revelations from the Stasi files have led to thousands of collaborators being chased from public life. Even now, new accusations of a Stasi association can hound politicians and celebrities in Germany. 3

All that of course stems from an era before almost all information and secrets became electronic. It was largely labor intensive. In the digital age, the NSA has very little need for individuals to spy on their friends, acquaintances, and co-workers. (In any event, the FBI takes care of that department very well.)

Can we ever expect that NSA employees will suffer public disgrace as numerous Stasi employees and informants have? No more than war criminals Bush and Cheney have been punished in any way. Only those who have exposed NSA crimes have been punished, like Edward Snowden and several other whistleblowers.

Notes

  1. Washington Post, November 21, 2013
  2. Washington Post, October 1, 2013
  3. Washington Post, November 18, 2013

Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission, provided attribution to William Blum as author and a link to this website are given.

 

 

William Blum is an author, historian, and renowned critic of U.S. foreign policy. He is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II and Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, among others.

Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission, provided attribution to William Blum as author and a link to this website are given.

Innocence Lost

Off the keyboard of Surly1

Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Friend us on Facebook

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on November 22, 2013
Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.

 

Innocence Lost

jfk-jr

“Why we as a nation worship youth so much is because we confuse it with innocence. We long for the irresponsibility of not knowing. I would not myself be young again for anything you could offer me. But I long, I must admit it, for innocence. To be ignorant of the pain of the world … not to be haunted by knowledge of the pain, the suffering, the injustice and horror that’s going on all the time everywhere … If I could have unawareness back again … that would be happiness.” 

  ― Gerda Charles, A Slanting Light

“JFK, blown away, what else do I have to say?”

Billy Joel 

 

Anyone who was alive on that day marks the hours  that have passed since the moment that time stood still. The answer to the inevitable question asked of people of a certain age, “Where were you when . . .?

I heard the news on the stairs of Wilkins Junior High school. It was after the overly long fifth (lunch) period, and I was on my way to my sixth period civics class (yes, they actually once taught civics), when I heard the news whispered, “Did you hear . . .?

Went to class, where the worst was confirmed. A group of stunned eight graders, barely believing what they were seeing huddled around the blue light of the black and white classroom TV, listened to the news reported by Walter Cronkite. Even a feckless teen could see that this news demigod was struggling under the weight of a story too enormous and too incomprehensible to tell. Normal school operations had come to an end. Every TV was tuned to the news– the horrible, unbelievable news, the repercussions of which a bunch of teenagers would not be able to discern. A normally rambunctious group of kids straggled home on buses, more subdued than usual.

Normal life hung in a hazy suspended animation for three days. Images from that weekend: mostly snippets from TV as most Americans were locked in a kind of civic duty– the horse-drawn caisson, the funeral cortege of a state funeral,  the veiled widow with her children, John-John’s salute. That image, reprinted in the next day’s papers, evoked a sadness and a loss that went straight to the heart. There was the sense that not just a much-beloved President had been taken from us, but also something ineffable, something un-nameable, some shard of innocence that would never be regained. As a child I was unaware of the fascist interests that in the 1930s, unable to unseat FDR and install Smedley Butler as suzerain, licked their wounds and plotted in dark corners, only to reappear a generation later.

From Slate“This flyer, around 5,000 copies of which were distributed around Dallas in the days before President Kennedy’s November 22, 1963 visit, accused Kennedy of a range of offenses, from being “lax” on Communism, to “appointing anti-Christians to Federal office,” to lying to the American people about his personal life.

General Edwin A. Walker, a Texan who served in World War II and the Korean War, had resigned his Army post in 1961 after a Kennedy-ordered investigation found that he had violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from engaging in political activity on the job, by distributing John Birch Society literature to his troops. Walker moved to Dallas and became a leader of right-wing activity in the city (more on the full range of that activity here). The ex-General led resistance to James Meredith’s 1962 enrollment at the University of Mississippi and unsuccessfully ran for the position of Texas governor

After the assassination, Walker’s organization was briefly under suspicion, and the Warren Commission investigation tracked these flyers to Walker’s aide Robert Surrey. Surrey had overseen the distribution of the sheets in the days prior to JFK’s arrival; members of Walker’s organization, acting on his behalf, placed them under windshield wipers and in newspaper racks.”

Donald E. Wilkes, Jr., Professor of Law, University of Georgia School of Law, gathered other facts about the right wing hatemachine located in Dallas and wrote this:

“When the president died, the cheering stopped and for days America was filled with gloom and mourning.  There was, however, in this country one political group that rejoiced at the news of the assassination.  Right-wingers, the truth must be told, were delighted by Kennedy’s death.  As far as they were concerned, Kennedy deserved to die, die, die.

During his presidency, right-wingers utterly detested President John F. Kennedy; and the extreme right-wingers hated Kennedy with a venomous, malignant ferocity bordering on insanity.  Because he was a  liberal and pro-civil rights, right-wingers–particularly, the segregationists and racists, the opponents of civil rights, the states-righters, the free enterprise loonies, the wealthy ultra-conservatives, the religious bigots, the anti-Castro Cubans, the U.N. haters, and the lunatic fringe anti-Communists–regarded JFK as dangerous, destructive, and downright traitorous.”

Wilkes cites the poster shown here, plus a full-page ad placed in the morning paper by the John Birch Society, a fringe group before they were able to hijack today’s Republican Party. And he adds,

“Not even Kennedy’s death at 1 p.m. at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas stopped right-wingers from publicly displaying their loathing of JFK.  As William Manchester notes in his classic The Death of a President (1967): “At 3:05 p.m., when 80 percent of the American People were in deep grief, an NBC camera panned toward a group of spectators outside Parkland’s emergency entrance and picked up a young man with a placard that read, ‘Yankee, Go Home.’”   (In a wealthy Dallas suburb, Manchester reminds us, “pupils of a fourth-grade class, told that the President of the United States had been murdered in their city, burst into spontaneous applause.”)

“The right-wingers who angrily and contemptuously protested JFK’s visit, and the many other right-wingers who shared their views, could only have been jubilant when they heard of the assassination.  How could persons with their mentality not be pleased with the violent death of a man they believed to be a fiendish traitor?  It is an historical truth that right-wingers all over America received the news of the assassination with celebration.  There is plenty of evidence that numerous right-wingers, especially the radical ones, heartily huzzaed the JFK slaying, although they soon decided to conceal their exuberance and later denied having cheered.  William Manchester’s book, for example, discusses the “initial glee” with which right-wingers greeted news of the assassination.  “An Oklahoma City physician beamed at a grief-stricken visitor and said, ‘Good.  I hope they got Jackie.’”  In Amarillo, Texas, a woman reacted by saying: “Hey, great, JFK’s croaked!”  Men whooped and threw their hats in the air.  Others smiled broadly.  Soon, however, the right-wingers realized that their public gloating was a ghastly mistake, whereupon they began concealing their happiness.  “[T]hey were anxious to avoid the undertow of public opinion,” Manchester says.

Thus it is important to remember that the sort of deep seated atavism represented by today’s Tea Party has always been a part of the American psyche. It is only today been “legitimized” or made mainstream by truckloads of right wing money and their 24/7 TV cable news outlet, coupled with all of AM radio. Thus do a people come to the end of the line of a materialist, consumer-culture way of life have a means of finding a scapegoat for their own learned helplessness.

But back to my own story:  We healed, and life went back to what passed for normal. Junior high melted into high school, and as LBJ pushed through Great Society and civil rights legislation (in the process delivering the once “solid South” into the hands of racists and other haters), I was too busy following the summons of biological imperatives to be aware of politics. But in 1968, while in college,  RFK was assassinated by a guy who doesn’t even remember being there. (Pop quiz: what large, lavishly funded organization does extensive research into mind control?) Then it was MLK. You would have had to been blind or stupid to see fail to see that the leading lights of progressive change in this country were being systematically hunted down and exterminated.

And then we got Nixon.

There was a time when we ordinary, working class stiffs believed in the premises of government. When the government was at least nominaly the guarantor of individual rights. When there was a sense of proper stewardship of commonly held resources for a common purpose– whether that belief was warranted or not. Those days stand in stark contrast to today, where it appears that the government’s proper role is to hold the coat of big corporations while they systematically rape us, poison us, shear us for profit, or otherwise sift through our private communication. In a recent article, Steve from Virginia describes the era succinctly and well–

The ‘Modern America’ the world’s citizens inhabit in 2013 sprang almost fully- formed from the US’s victory over Germany and Japan in World War Two. We defeated two military superpowers in two different parts of the world at once; this was our first- and defining, ‘If we can put a man on the Moon’ moment. Americans were competent; we did things right, we were efficient yet (somewhat) humane and civilized. Our armies triumphed without massacring prisoners or raping and pillaging, they gave candy to the enemy’s children. America succeeded in spite of internal differences and a crushing economic environment. After saving the world from Nazism and Japanese militarism Americans believed they could do anything including remake the debauched old world in their own, atomic-powered, tail-finned image … and to the large degree they succeeded.

That was the world in which baby boomers came of age, a world which began to spin out of control before we even had a chance to lay claim to it. It was at this time that faith in government began to wither. If you acquainted yourself with the evidence (and I must confess that I made an extensive reading of most every book written about the Kennedy Assassination– the CIA did it, the Mafia did it, rogue military did it, LBJ did it, Castro did it, the Bay of Pigs Cubans did it, J. Edgar did it, his own bodyguard did it) there were so many flaws in the chain of physical evidence, so many inconsistencies, so much tampering, that the fix was in from the start. Many believed and, like me, believe to this day that the Warren Commission was a coverup from the beginning, much like the 9-11 Commission. For just one of thousands of examples, consider testimony from Jeremy Gunn, former general counsel for the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB).

“There is substantial evidence that points toward Oswald and incriminates Oswald” in JFK’s assassination, he said, “and the only person we can name where there is evidence is Oswald. But there’s also rather important exculpatory evidence for Oswald, suggesting he didn’t do it, and that he was framed.”

Besides, Gunn says, the Warren Commission genuinely believed that Oswald had killed Kennedy.

“So they wanted to write the document in a way that would reassure the American public that it was a single gunman acting alone, somebody who’s a little bit unstable, and that that’s the explanation for what happened.”

Since the facts aren’t clear, though, that document can look like a whitewash.

“There are serious problems with the forensics evidence, with the ballistics evidence, with the autopsy evidence,” Gunn said. “And, in my opinion, if they had said that openly, it would have not put the issue to rest.”

Faced with that, the Warren Commission went with what it believed.

Gunn says that wasn’t enough. It’s not that he thinks all the loose ends needed to be tied up.

“It wouldn’t be unusual if Oswald had done the crime — or not done the crime — to have evidence that’s inconsistent,” he said.

It’s the big mysteries that cause him the most trouble.

“If the president had been killed as part of a conspiracy, that needed to be known,” he said.

“The institution that had the opportunity to best get to the bottom of this, as much as it was possible, was the Warren Commission, and they didn’t do it,” he said. “Now it’s too late to do what should have been done originally.”

The continuing legacy of the Kennedy Assassination and Warren Commission report. Since those days, in spite of numerous attempts to “get to the bottom of things,” such a bottom remains occluded. And as a result, as a people  we have become dubious, wary, and hostile to government at the same times as the functions of government have been usurped and twisted in such a way as to be forfeit of support. Thus do the echoes of what happened fifty years ago today continue to reverberate. And if that makes me a conspiracy theorist, then at least I have plenty of company.

***

Surly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants and articles on this site, and has been active in the Occupy movement. He lives in Southeastern Virginia.

 

The Anti-Empire Report #122

Off the Keyboard of William Blum

Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Friend us on Facebook

 

nsa-listening-408

Published November 7th, 2013 by William Blum on The Anti-Empire Report

National Security Agency – The only part of the government that really listens to what you have to say

The New York Times (November 2) ran a long article based on NSA documents released by Edward Snowden. One of the lines that most caught my attention concerned “Sigint” – Signals intelligence, the term used for electronic intercepts. The document stated:

“Sigint professionals must hold the moral high ground, even as terrorists or dictators seek to exploit our freedoms. Some of our adversaries will say or do anything to advance their cause; we will not.”

What, I wondered, might that mean? What would the National Security Agency – on moral principle – refuse to say or do?

 

I have on occasion asked people who reject or rationalize any and all criticism of US foreign policy: “What would the United States have to do in its foreign policy to lose your support? What, for you, would be too much?” I’ve yet to get a suitable answer to that question. I suspect it’s because the person is afraid that whatever they say I’ll point out that the United States has already done it.

The United Nations vote on the Cuba embargo – 22 years in a row

For years American political leaders and media were fond of labeling Cuba an “international pariah”. We haven’t heard that for a very long time. Perhaps one reason is the annual vote in the United Nations General Assembly on the resolution which reads: “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba”. This is how the vote has gone (not including abstentions):

Year Votes (Yes-No) No Votes
1992 59-2 US, Israel
1993 88-4 US, Israel, Albania, Paraguay
1994 101-2 US, Israel
1995 117-3 US, Israel, Uzbekistan
1996 138-3 US, Israel, Uzbekistan
1997 143-3 US, Israel, Uzbekistan
1998 157-2 US, Israel
1999 155-2 US, Israel
2000 167-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands
2001 167-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands
2002 173-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands
2003 179-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands
2004 179-4 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2005 182-4 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2006 183-4 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2007 184-4 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2008 185-3 US, Israel, Palau
2009 187-3 US, Israel, Palau
2010 187-2 US, Israel
2011 186-2 US, Israel
2012 188-3 US, Israel, Palau
2013 188-2 US, Israel

Each fall the UN vote is a welcome reminder that the world has not completely lost its senses and that the American empire does not completely control the opinion of other governments.

Speaking before the General Assembly, October 29, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez declared: “The economic damages accumulated after half a century as a result of the implementation of the blockade amount to $1.126 trillion.” He added that the blockade “has been further tightened under President Obama’s administration”, some 30 US and foreign entities being hit with $2.446 billion in fines due to their interaction with Cuba.

However, the American envoy, Ronald Godard, in an appeal to other countries to oppose the resolution, said:

“The international community … cannot in good conscience ignore the ease and frequency with which the Cuban regime silences critics, disrupts peaceful assembly, impedes independent journalism and, despite positive reforms, continues to prevent some Cubans from leaving or returning to the island. The Cuban government continues its tactics of politically motivated detentions, harassment and police violence against Cuban citizens.” 1

So there you have it. That is why Cuba must be punished. One can only guess what Mr. Godard would respond if told that more than 7,000 people were arrested in the United States during the Occupy Movement’s first 8 months of protest 2 ; that their encampments were violently smashed up; that many of them were physically abused by the police.

Does Mr. Godard ever read a newspaper or the Internet, or watch television? Hardly a day passes in America without a police officer shooting to death an unarmed person?

As to “independent journalism” – what would happen if Cuba announced that from now on anyone in the country could own any kind of media? How long would it be before CIA money – secret and unlimited CIA money financing all kinds of fronts in Cuba – would own or control most of the media worth owning or controlling?

The real reason for Washington’s eternal hostility toward Cuba? The fear of a good example of an alternative to the capitalist model; a fear that has been validated repeatedly over the years as Third World countries have expressed their adulation of Cuba.

How the embargo began: On April 6, 1960, Lester D. Mallory, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, wrote in an internal memorandum: “The majority of Cubans support Castro … The only foreseeable means of alienating internal support is through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship. … every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life of Cuba.” Mallory proposed “a line of action which … makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government.” 3 Later that year, the Eisenhower administration instituted the suffocating embargo against its everlasting enemy.

The Cold War Revisited

 

I’ve written the Introduction to a new book recently published in Russia that is sort of an updating of my book Killing Hope. 4 Here is a short excerpt:

 

The Cold War had not been a struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union. It had been a struggle between the United States and the Third World, which, in the decade following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, continued in Haiti, Somalia, Iraq, Yugoslavia and elsewhere.

The Cold War had not been a worldwide crusade by America to halt Soviet expansion, real or imaginary. It had been a worldwide crusade by America to block political and social changes in the Third World, changes opposed by the American power elite.

The Cold War had not been a glorious and noble movement of freedom and democracy against Communist totalitarianism. It had typically been a movement by the United States in support of dictatorships, authoritarian regimes and corrupt oligarchies which were willing to follow Washington’s party line on the Left, US corporations, Israel, oil, military bases, et al. and who protected American political and economic interests in their countries in exchange for the American military and CIA keeping them in power against the wishes of their own people.

In other words, whatever the diplomats at the time thought they were doing, the Cold War revisionists have been vindicated. American policy had been about imperialism and military expansion.

Apropos the countless other myths we were all taught about the Soviet Union is this letter I recently received from one of my readers, a Russian woman, age 49, who moved to the United States eight years ago and now lives in Northern Virginia:

I can’t imagine why anybody is surprised to hear when I say I miss life in the Soviet Union: what is bad about free healthcare and education, guaranteed employment, guaranteed free housing? No rent or mortgage of any kind, only utilities, but they were subsidized too, so it was really pennies. Now, to be honest, there was a waiting list to get those apartments, so some people got them quicker, some people had to wait for years, it all depended on where you worked. And there were no homeless people, and crime was way lower. As a first grader I was taking the public transportation to go to school, which was about 1 hour away by bus (it was a big city, about the size of Washington DC, we lived on the outskirts, and my school was downtown), and it was fine, all other kids were doing it. Can you even imagine this being done now? I am not saying everything was perfect, but overall, it is a more stable and socially just system, fair to everybody, nobody was left behind. This is what I miss: peace and stability, and not being afraid of the future.

Problem is, nobody believes it, they will say that I am a brainwashed “tovarish” [comrade]. I’ve tried to argue with Americans about this before, but just gave up now. They just refuse to believe anything that contradicts what CNN has been telling them for all their lives. One lady once told me: “You just don’t know what was going on there, because you did not have freedom of speech, but we, Americans, knew everything, because we could read about all of this in our media.” I told her “I was right there! I did not need to read about this in the media, I lived that life!”, but she still was unconvinced! You will not believe what she said: “Yes, maybe, but we have more stuff!”. Seriously, having 50 kinds of cereal available in the store, and walmarts full of plastic junk is more valuable to Americans than a stable and secure life, and social justice for everybody?

Of course there are people who lived in the Soviet Union who disagree with me, and I talked to them too, but I find their reasons just as silly. I heard one Russian lady whose argument was that Stalin killed “30, no 40 million people”. First of all it’s not true (I don’t in any way defend Stalin, but I do think that lying and exaggerating about him is as wrong)*, and second of all what does this have to do with the 70s, when I was a kid? By then life was completely different. I heard other arguments, like food shortages (again, not true, it’s not like there was no food at all, there were shortages of this or that specific product, like you wouldn’t find mayo or bologna in the store some days, but everything else was there!). So, you would come back next day, or in 2-3 days, and you would find them there. Really, this is such a big deal? Or you would have to stay in line to buy some other product, (ravioli for example). But how badly do you want that ravioli really that day, can’t you have anything else instead? Just buy something else, like potatoes, where there was no line.

Was this annoying, yes, and at the time I was annoyed too, but only now I realized that I would much prefer this nuisance to my present life now, when I am constantly under stress for the fear that I can possibly lose my job (as my husband already did), and as a result, lose everything else – my house? You couldn’t possibly lose your house in Soviet Union, it was yours for life, mortgage free. Only now, living here in the US, I realized that all those soviet nuisances combined were not as important as the benefits we had – housing, education, healthcare, employment, safe streets, all sort of free after school activities (music, sports, arts, anything you want) for kids, so parents never had to worry about what we do all day till they come home in the evening.

* We’ve all heard the figures many times … 10 million … 20 million … 40 million … 60 million … died under Stalin. But what does the number mean, whichever number you choose? Of course many people died under Stalin, many people died under Roosevelt, and many people are still dying under Bush. Dying appears to be a natural phenomenon in every country. The question is how did those people die under Stalin? Did they die from the famines that plagued the USSR in the 1920s and 30s? Did the Bolsheviks deliberately create those famines? How? Why? More people certainly died in India in the 20th century from famines than in the Soviet Union, but no one accuses India of the mass murder of its own citizens. Did the millions die from disease in an age before antibiotics? In prison? From what causes? People die in prison in the United States on a regular basis. Were millions actually murdered in cold blood? If so, how? How many were criminals executed for non-political crimes? The logistics of murdering tens of millions of people is daunting. 5

Hillary: Defending the Bush regime all the way

Let’s not repeat the Barack fuckup with Hillary

Not that it really matters who the Democrats nominate for the presidency in 2016. Whoever that politically regressive and morally bankrupt party chooses will be at best an uninspired and uninspiring centrist; in European terms a center-rightist; who believes that the American Empire – despite the admittedly occasional excessive behavior – is mankind’s last great hope. The only reason I bother to comment on this question so far in advance of the election is that the forces behind Clinton have clearly already begun their campaign and I’d like to use the opportunity to try to educate the many progressives who fell in love with Obama and may be poised now to embrace Clinton. Here’s what I wrote in July 2007 during the very early days of the 2008 campaign:

Who do you think said this on June 20? a) Rudy Giuliani; b) Hillary Clinton; c) George Bush; d) Mitt Romney; or e) Barack Obama?

“The American military has done its job. Look what they accomplished. They got rid of Saddam Hussein. They gave the Iraqis a chance for free and fair elections. They gave the Iraqi government the chance to begin to demonstrate that it understood its responsibilities to make the hard political decisions necessary to give the people of Iraq a better future. So the American military has succeeded. It is the Iraqi government which has failed to make the tough decisions which are important for their own people.” 6

Right, it was the woman who wants to be president because … because she wants to be president … because she thinks it would be nice to be president … no other reason, no burning cause, no heartfelt desire for basic change in American society or to make a better world … she just thinks it would be nice, even great, to be president. And keep the American Empire in business, its routine generating of horror and misery being no problem; she wouldn’t want to be known as the president that hastened the decline of the empire.

And she spoke the above words at the “Take Back America” conference; she was speaking to liberals, committed liberal Democrats and others further left. She didn’t have to cater to them with any flag-waving pro-war rhetoric; they wanted to hear anti-war rhetoric (and she of course gave them a bit of that as well out of the other side of her mouth), so we can assume that this is how she really feels, if indeed the woman feels anything. The audience, it should be noted, booed her, for the second year in a row.

Think of why you are opposed to the war. Is it not largely because of all the unspeakable suffering brought down upon the heads and souls of the poor people of Iraq by the American military? Hillary Clinton couldn’t care less about that, literally. She thinks the American military has “succeeded”. Has she ever unequivocally labeled the war “illegal” or “immoral”? I used to think that Tony Blair was a member of the right wing or conservative wing of the British Labour Party. I finally realized one day that that was an incorrect description of his ideology. Blair is a conservative, a bloody Tory. How he wound up in the Labour Party is a matter I haven’t studied. Hillary Clinton, however, I’ve long known is a conservative; going back to at least the 1980s, while the wife of the Arkansas governor, she strongly supported the death-squad torturers known as the Contras, who were the empire’s proxy army in Nicaragua. 7

Now we hear from America’s venerable conservative magazine, William Buckley’s National Review, an editorial by Bruce Bartlett, policy adviser to President Ronald Reagan; treasury official under President George H.W. Bush; a fellow at two of the leading conservative think-tanks, the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute – You get the picture? Bartlett tells his readers that it’s almost certain that the Democrats will win the White House in 2008. So what to do? Support the most conservative Democrat. He writes: “To right-wingers willing to look beneath what probably sounds to them like the same identical views of the Democratic candidates, it is pretty clear that Hillary Clinton is the most conservative.” 8

We also hear from America’s premier magazine for the corporate wealthy, Fortune, whose recent cover features a picture of Clinton and the headline: “Business Loves Hillary”. 9

Back to 2013: In October, the office of billionaire George Soros, who has long worked with US foreign policy to destabilize governments not in love with the empire, announced that “George Soros is delighted to join more than one million Americans in supporting Ready for Hillary.” 10

There’s much more evidence of Hillary Clinton’s conservative leanings, but if you need more, you’re probably still in love with Obama, who in a new book is quoted telling his aides during a comment on drone strikes that he’s “really good at killing people”. 11 Can we look forward to Hillary winning the much-discredited Nobel Peace Prize?

I’m sorry if I take away all your fun.

Notes

  1. Democracy Now!, “U.N. General Assembly Votes Overwhelmingly Against U.S. Embargo of Cuba”, October 30, 2013
  2. Huffingfton Post, May 3, 2012
  3. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1958-1960, Volume VI, Cuba (1991), p.885
  4. Copies can be purchased by emailing kuchkovopole@mail.ru
  5. From William Blum, Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire (2005), p.194
  6. Speaking at the “Take Back America” conference, organized by the Campaign for America’s Future, June 20, 2007, Washington, DC; this excerpt can be heard on Democracy Now!’s website
  7. Roger Morris, former member of the National Security Council, Partners in Power (1996), p.415
  8. National Review Online, May 1, 2007
  9. Fortune magazine, July 9, 2007
  10. Washington Post, October 25, 2013
  11. Washington Post, November 1, 2013, review of “Double Down: Game Change 2012”

Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission, provided attribution to William Blum as author and a link to this website are given.

 

 

William Blum is an author, historian, and renowned critic of U.S. foreign policy. He is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II and Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, among others.

Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission, provided attribution to William Blum as author and a link to this website are given.

 

 

William Blum is an author, historian, and renowned critic of U.S. foreign policy. He is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II and Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, among others.

Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission, provided attribution to William Blum as author and a link to this website are given.

Off the Keyboard of William Blum

Two Forces and Three Bears

Off the keyboard of James Howard Kunstler

Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Friend us on Facebook

Originally Published on Clusterfuck Nation  October 28, 2013
Escher_Implosion_spiral_toroid

 

 

     In these climax years of industrial technocratic society, two opposing forces shape the destiny of government: the desperate effort to control everything versus the decline of the ability to carry out that effort. The result will be the loss of legitimacy and the collapse of government from the highest levels, moving downward until the real power to make anything work re-sets at a feasible and appropriate level — probably very local. This dynamic is seen very clearly in three spectacles du jour: the “national security” (spying) mess, government-sponsored accounting fraud in finance, and the ObamaCare rollout.

     As history develops, people do things for the simple reason that it seems like a good idea at the time. Computer tech made it possible for bureaucrats and military apparatchiks to invade the privacy of everybody, but in the end it only had the effect of embarrassing the perpetrators and eroding a big chunk of the US government’s legitimacy. The attempt at maximum control will eventually lead to maximum resistance and, quite possibly, some sort of political revolution, perhaps starting with the death of the two dominant political parties. When political disruption finally occurs, it will manifest quickly, as criticality thresholds are breached. It has the potential of taking this society in very undesirable directions including civil war, theocracy, and war against other peoples.

     The diminishing returns of computer technology applied to intelligence gathering are that it produces more mountains of data than any team of professionals can make sense of, and it prompts said professionals to make mischief with the information that is easiest to sort out: the financial records of ordinary citizens. Nothing will create political resistance more surely than messing with people’s money. The NSA apparatus is now a self-reinforcing monster that will strive for ever more control ineffectively, creating a debris path of ever more embarrassment and resentment. A lone true patriot like Snowden does more to oppose this monster than all the “freedom” and “liberty” spouting, flag-lapel-pin-wearing cowards in either political party.

     The pervasive accounting fraud in the attempt to prop up an unsound banking system is even closer to criticality. A society that produces tradable goods needs sound money which functions as 1) a medium of exchange, 2) a store of value 3) a unit of account for establishing prices. The combined accounting frauds in Federal Reserve policy, private banking and securities markets, and government fiscal management is destroying all these functions. The more abstracted finance gets from real productive activity, the more fragile the system becomes. We are doing nothing now except adding more complexity and abstraction to it, causing the system to become more detached from reality. In effect, we’re opting to forego an economy based on goods in favor of one based on empty promises and paper swindles. The potential and probable consequent destruction of nominal wealth would be an event that advanced technocratic society likely will not recover from — in the sense that today’s standard of living could be preserved for billions of people worldwide. That destruction would herald a new dark age, this time without any prospect of recovery via the exploitation of natural resources, which will have been depleted.

     The ObamaCare piece of the picture is a mere pathetic soap opera compared to the first two quandaries. The 2000-page law did nothing to address the core tragedy of medicine in America — namely, that it has evolved into a hideous hostage racket. You go to a hospital with a terrifying illness and you are susceptible to fleecing by the so-called “care-givers” for the promise that you may get to live. No prices for treatment are never discussed. They are presumed to be astronomical — but who cares if you end up dead, and if you do get to live, you’ll figure that out later. If you hold an insurance policy, these charges will be subject to a fake negotiation between grifting insurance companies and grifting hospitals, physicians, and drug companies. The price “settlements” are only slightly less a joke than the actual charges, and are obfuscated in documents designed to bewilder even well-educated policy-holders.

     Even if you are insured, the charges may bankrupt you. A typical one-day charge for “room and board” in a non-specialized hospital in-patient bed runs $23,000 at my local hospital. For what? Half a dozen blood-pressure checks and three bad meals? You can be sure that ever-fewer families will be able to fork over $12,000-a-year for basic coverage. The ObamaCare legislation and its laughable rollout of a useless website is just a punctuation mark at the end of the soap opera script. The result eventually will be the complete implosion of the medical racket and a return to a very primitive clinic system, with payment in chickens or cords of stove-wood. The smaller number of surviving humans will surely enjoy better health, and greater piece of mind, when this monster racket expires of inertia, bad faith, and deceit.

    These efforts to manage runaway hyper-complexity with more complexity are guaranteed to fail. Our prime task at this moment in history is managing contraction, and the means for doing that would be simplifying, not adding layers of complication larded with fraud, pretense, and mendacity.

 

 

***

James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation. His novels include World Made By Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Maggie Darling — A Modern Romance, The Halloween Ball, an Embarrassment of Riches, and many others. He has published three novellas with Water Street Press: Manhattan Gothic, A Christmas Orphan, and The Flight of Mehetabel.

The Anti-Empire Report #121 by William Blum

Off the Keyboard of William Blum

Published  in The Anti-Empire Report, October 7, 2013 

Waronterror2_Frank151

The War on Terrorism … or whatever.

“U.S. hopes of winning more influence over Syria’s divided rebel movement faded Wednesday after 11 of the biggest armed factions repudiated the Western-backed political opposition coalition and announced the formation of an alliance dedicated to creating an Islamist state. The al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra, designated a terrorist organization by the United States, is the lead signatory of the new group.” 1

Pity the poor American who wants to be a good citizen, wants to understand the world and his country’s role in it, wants to believe in the War on Terrorism, wants to believe that his government seeks to do good … What is he to make of all this?

For about two years, his dear American government has been supporting the same anti-government side as the jihadists in the Syrian civil war; not total, all-out support, but enough military hardware, logistics support, intelligence information, international political, diplomatic and propaganda assistance (including the crucial alleged-chemical-weapons story), to keep the jihadists in the ball game. Washington and its main Mideast allies in the conflict – Turkey, Jordan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia – have not impeded the movement to Syria of jihadists coming to join the rebels, recruited from the ranks of Sunni extremist veterans of the wars in Chechnya, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, while Qatar and the Saudis have supplied the rebels with weapons, most likely bought in large measure from the United States, as well as lots of of what they have lots of – money.

This widespread international support has been provided despite the many atrocities carried out by the jihadists – truck and car suicide bombings (with numerous civilian casualties), planting roadside bombs à la Iraq, gruesome massacres of Christians and Kurds, grotesque beheadings and other dissections of victims’ bodies (most charming of all: a Youtube video of a rebel leader cutting out an organ from the chest of a victim and biting into it as it drips with blood). All this barbarity piled on top of a greater absurdity – these Western-backed, anti-government forces are often engaged in battle with other Western-backed, anti-government forces, non-jihadist. It has become increasingly difficult to sell this war to the American public as one of pro-democracy “moderates” locked in a good-guy-versus-bad-guy struggle with an evil dictator, although in actuality the United States has fought on the same side as al Qaeda on repeated occasions before Syria. Here’s a brief survey:

Afghanistan, 1980-early 1990s: In support of the Islamic Moujahedeen (“holy warriors”), the CIA orchestrated a war against the Afghan government and their Soviet allies, pouring in several billions of dollars of arms and extensive military training; hitting up Middle-Eastern countries for donations, notably Saudi Arabia which gave hundreds of millions of dollars in aid each year; pressuring and bribing Pakistan to rent out its country as a military staging area and sanctuary.

It worked. And out of the victorious Moujahedeen came al Qaeda.

Bosnia, 1992-5: In 2001 the Wall Street Journal declared:

It is safe to say that the birth of al-Qaeda as a force on the world stage can be traced directly back to 1992, when the Bosnian Muslim government of Alija Izetbegovic issued a passport in their Vienna embassy to Osama bin Laden. … for the past 10 years, the most senior leaders of al Qaeda have visited the Balkans, including bin Laden himself on three occasions between 1994 and 1996. The Egyptian surgeon turned terrorist leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri has operated terrorist training camps, weapons of mass destruction factories and money-laundering and drug-trading networks throughout Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Turkey and Bosnia. This has gone on for a decade. 2

A few months later, The Guardian reported on “the full story of the secret alliance between the Pentagon and radical Islamist groups from the Middle East designed to assist the Bosnian Muslims – some of the same groups that the Pentagon is now fighting in “the war against terrorism”. 3

In 1994 and 1995 US/NATO forces carried out bombing campaigns over Bosnia aimed at damaging the military capability of the Serbs and enhancing that of the Bosnian Muslims. In the decade-long civil wars in the Balkans, the Serbs, regarded by Washington as the “the last communist government in Europe”, were always the main enemy.

Kosovo, 1998-99: Kosovo, overwhelmingly Muslim, was a province of Serbia, the main republic of the former Yugoslavia. In 1998, Kosovo separatists – The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) – began an armed conflict with Belgrade to split Kosovo from Serbia. The KLA was considered a terrorist organization by the US, the UK and France for years, with numerous reports of the KLA having contact with al-Qaeda, getting arms from them, having its militants trained in al-Qaeda camps in Pakistan, and even having members of al-Qaeda in KLA ranks fighting against the Serbs. 4

However, when US-NATO forces began military action against the Serbs the KLA was taken off the US terrorist list, it “received official US-NATO arms and training support” 5 , and the 1999 US-NATO bombing campaign eventually focused on driving Serbian forces from Kosovo.

In 2008 Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia, an independence so illegitimate and artificial that the majority of the world’s nations still have not recognized it. But the United States was the first to do so, the very next day, thus affirming the unilateral declaration of independence of a part of another country’s territory.

The KLA have been known for their trafficking in women, heroin, and human body parts (sic). The United States has naturally been pushing for Kosovo’s membership in NATO and the European Union.

Nota bene: In 1992 the Bosnian Muslims, Croats, and Serbs reached agreement in Lisbon for a unified state. The continuation of a peaceful multi-ethnic Bosnia seemed assured. But the United States sabotaged the agreement. 6

Libya, 2011: The US and NATO to the rescue again. For more than six months, almost daily missile attacks against the government and forces of Muammar Gaddafi as assorted Middle East jihadists assembled in Libya and battled the government on the ground. The predictable outcome came to be – the jihadists now in control of parts of the country and fighting for the remaining parts. The wartime allies showed their gratitude to Washington by assassinating the US ambassador and three other Americans, presumably CIA, in the city of Benghazi.

Caucasus (Russia), mid-2000s to present: The National Endowment for Democracy and Freedom House have for many years been the leading American “non-government” institutions tasked with destabilizing, if not overthrowing, foreign governments which refuse to be subservient to the desires of US foreign policy. Both NGOs have backed militants in the Russian Caucasus area, one that has seen more than its share of terror stretching back to the Chechnyan actions of the 1990s. 7

“Omission is the most powerful form of lie.” – George Orwell

I am asked occasionally why I am so critical of the mainstream media when I quote from them repeatedly in my writings. The answer is simple. The American media’s gravest shortcoming is much more their errors of omission than their errors of commission. It’s what they leave out that distorts the news more than any factual errors or out-and-out lies. So I can make good use of the facts they report, which a large, rich organization can easier provide than the alternative media.

A case in point is a New York Times article of October 5 on the Greek financial crisis and the Greeks’ claim for World War Two reparations from Germany.

“Germany may be Greece’s stern banker now, say those who are seeking reparations,” writes the Times, but Germany “should pay off its own debts to Greece. … It is not just aging victims of the Nazi occupation who are demanding a full accounting. Prime Minister Antonis Samarass government has compiled an 80-page report on reparations and a huge, never-repaid loan the nation was forced to make under Nazi occupation from 1941 to 1945. … The call for reparations has elicited an emotional outpouring in Greece, where six years of brutal recession and harsh austerity measures have left many Greeks hostile toward Germany. Rarely does a week go by without another report in the news about, as one newspaper put it in a headline, ‘What Germany Owes Us’.”

“The figure most often discussed is $220 billion, an estimate for infrastructure damage alone put forward by Manolis Glezos, a member of Parliament and a former resistance fighter who is pressing for reparations. That amount equals about half the country’s debt. … Some members of the National Council on Reparations, an advocacy group, are calling for more than $677 billion to cover stolen artifacts, damage to the economy and to the infrastructure, as well as the bank loan and individual claims.”

So there we have the morality play: The evil Germans who occupied Greece and in addition to carrying out a lot of violence and repression shamelessly exploited the Greek people economically.

Would it be appropriate for such a story, or an accompanying or follow-up story, to mention the civil war that broke out in Greece shortly after the close of the world war? On one side were the neo-fascists, many of whom had cooperated with the occupying Germans during the war, some even fighting for the Nazis. Indeed, the British Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin, acknowledged in August 1946 that there were 228 ex-members of the Nazi Security Battalions – whose main task had been to track down Greek resistance fighters and Jews – on active service in the new Greek army. 8

On the other side was the Greek left who had fought the Nazis courageously, even forcing the German army to flee the country in 1944.

So guess which side of the civil war our favorite military took? … That’s right, the United States supported the neo-fascists. After all, an important component of the Greek left was the Communist Party, although it wouldn’t have mattered at all if the Greek left had not included any Communists. Support of the left (not to be confused with liberals of course) anywhere in the world, during and since the Cold War, has been verboten in US foreign policy.

The neo-fascists won the civil war and instituted a highly brutal regime, for which the CIA created a suitably repressive internal security agency, named and modeled after itself, the KYP. For the next 15 years, Greece was looked upon much as a piece of real estate to be developed according to Washington’s political and economic needs. One document should suffice to capture the beauty of Washington’s relationship to Athens – a 1947 letter from US Secretary of State George Marshall to Dwight Griswold, the head of the American Mission to Aid Greece, said:

During the course of your work you and the members of your Mission will from time to time find that certain Greek officials are not, because of incompetence, disagreement with your policies, or for some other reason, extending the type of cooperation which is necessary if the objectives of your Mission are to be achieved. You will find it necessary to effect the removal of these officials. 9

Where is the present-day Greek headline: “What The United States Owes Us”? Where is the New York Times obligation to enlighten its readers?

The latest step in the evolution of America’s Police State

“If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear.”

So say many Americans. And many Germans as well.

But one German, Ilija Trojanow, would disagree. He has lent his name to published documents denouncing the National Security Agency (NSA), and was one of several prominent German authors who signed a letter to Chancellor Angela Merkel urging her to take a firm stance against the mass online surveillance conducted by the NSA. Trojanow and the other authors had nothing to hide, which is why the letter was published for the public to read. What happened after that, however, was that Trojanow was refused permission to board a flight from Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, to Miami on Monday, September 30. Without any explanation.

Trojanow, who was on his way to speak at a literary conference in Denver, told the Spiegel magazine online website that the denial of entry might be linked to his criticism of the NSA. Germany’s Foreign Ministry says it has contacted US authorities “to resolve this issue”. 10

In an article published in a German newspaper, Trojanow voiced his frustration with the incident: “It is more than ironic if an author who raises his voice against the dangers of surveillance and the secret state within a state for years, will be denied entry into the ‘land of the brave and the free’.” 11

Further irony can be found in the title of a book by Trojanow: “Attack on freedom. Obsession with security, the surveillance state and the dismantling of civil rights.”

Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., who oversees the NSA and other intelligence agencies, said recently that the intelligence community “is only interested in communication related to valid foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes.” 12

It’s difficult in the extreme to see how this criterion would apply in any way to Ilija Trojanow.

The story is a poignant caveat on how fragile is Americans’ freedom to criticize their Security State. If a foreigner can be barred from boarding a flight merely for peaceful, intellectual criticism of America’s Big Brother (nay, Giant Brother), who amongst us does not need to pay careful attention to anything they say or write.

Very few Americans, however, will even be aware of this story. A thorough search of the Lexis-Nexis media database revealed a single mention in an American daily newspaper (The St. Louis Post-Dispatch), out of 1400 daily papers in the US. No mention on any broadcast media. A single one-time mention in a news agency (Associated Press), and one mention in a foreign English-language newspaper (New Zealand Herald).

Notes

  1. Washington Post, September 26, 2013
  2. Wall Street Journal, November 1, 2001
  3. The Guardian (London), April 22, 2002
  4. RT TV (Moscow), May 4, 2012
  5. Wall Street Journal, November 1, 2001
  6. New York Times, June 17, 1993, buried at the very end of the article on an inside page
  7. Sibel Edmonds’ Boiling Frogs Post, “Barbarians at the Gate: Terrorism, the US, and the Subversion of Russia”, August 30, 2012
  8. Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons, October 16, 1946, column 887 (reference is made here to Bevin’s statement of August 10, 1946)
  9. Foreign Relations of the United States, 1947, Vol. V (U.S. Government Printing Office, 1971), pp. 222-3. See William Blum, Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, chapter 3 for further details of the US role in postwar Greece.
  10. Associated Press, October 2, 2013
  11. Huffington Post, “Ilija Trojanow, German Writer, Banned From US For Criticizing NSA”, October 1, 2013
  12. Washington Post, October 5, 2013

Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission, provided attribution to William Blum as author and a link to this website are given.
 

 

William Blum is an author, historian, and renowned critic of U.S. foreign policy. He is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II and Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, among others.

Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission, provided attribution to William Blum as author and a link to this website are given.

The Week In Doom September 29, 2013

Off the keyboard of Surly1
Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Friend us on Facebook

 

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on September 29, 2013

http://991.com/newGallery/That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964.jpg

Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.

 divide and conquer

 

“The enemy is not a market economy but a market society … The nation is simply breaking down; trapped in a vicious cycle of violence and madness too cruel and distressing to even contemplate. The brute fact is continual decay and insanity. As William Ophuls reminds us: “So the silent, stealthy erosion of the civilization’s moral core proceeds unchecked. Once the damage is done, however, it is too late. Nothing is left but to suffer the consequences.”

~Morris Berman

On the Diner we imagine what collapse will look like. The stories cited below are case studies that illustrate that collapse looks like a society in which nothing works, in which trust is broken, and in which the refs are paid to throw the game.  Each of the items culled from recent headlines illustrate failed institutions representing a people who dare not wish for anything better. Each reflects a symptom of the building pressure cooker is that American society,  where on one tier elites take care of their friends, and on another angry people misdirect their anger toward those different from themselves, precisely what the one per cent’s hustlers and fixers want them to do.
We  sleepwalk through a world in which nothing works. We conceal ourselves, we hide part of our souls, with good reason. For all of our bravado, we are afraid of the present, of the future, of one another. Our President declaims a farrago of lies to the UN, with over 40 misstatements of fact in a single utterance, and corporate media remains obsequious. Officer Friendly morphs into an Imperial storm trooper. Our courts can no longer reliably convict a crook and insure he will remain convicted. And where our jobs and identities are  so closely bound in a culture obsessed with winners, losers, and the myth of rewarding work,  that work becomes increasingly more difficult to find as it continues to shed meaning.

Thus far the hustlers have been able to keep the wealth flowing upward while only dropping folks near the margins off the economic cliff. However, more and more of us grow closer to the margin with every passing day. Perhaps more and more people will start assuming their “ultimate form”  (see below) as the emerging reality of the rigged casino sends them over the edge. As Berman noted above, quoting Ophuls, “Nothing is left but to suffer the consequences.”

 Obama  reaffirms the imperial project

 

What possible reasons could  conservatives have to be unhappy with the current President?

This past week saw American president Barack Hussein Obama, of late Kenyan–socialist–anti-colonialist–usurper–illegitimate–still–awfully–dark fame squarely announced himself  the neocons’ man in the Executive Office. Obama’s speech strikes the right tone in many areas. Pity they’re just words. Suffice it to say that if you read it for yourself, you’ll find the makes the case that the United States reserves the right to use force in Syria when it deems necessary, and by the way, couldn’t you, United Nations, do a little more than a whole then  hold our coat for us?

In the speech, Obama ties elements of the Arab spring to Syria, and once again cites “overwhelming evidence” that the Assad regime used chemical weapons.  The moment came framed in language worthy of the best lickspittle acolyte of the discredited Bush regime:

It is an insult to human reason – and to the legitimacy of this institution – to suggest that anyone other than the regime carried out this attack.

This puts the number world governments, as well as a sizable portion of the American public in the category of offering an “insult to human reason.”  Oh well, I’ve been called worse by MKing inside the Diner Forum.

 

And then there was the part that has gotten us peaceloving neurotics in a tizzy, the one referred to in the accompanying meme.  The part where Obama says that the United States is “prepared to use its military to defend our core interests in the Middle East.” And to ensure the free flow of energy to the world, meaning the continued free flow of petroleum products to the SUVs of soccer moms across the US.

The United States of America is prepared to use all elements of our power, including military force, to secure these core interests in the region.

We will confront external aggression against our allies and partners, as we did in the Gulf War.

We will ensure the free flow of energy from the region to the world. Although America is steadily reducing our own dependence on imported oil, the world still depends upon the region’s energy supply, and a severe disruption could destabilize the entire global economy.

We will dismantle terrorist networks that threaten our people. Wherever possible, we will build the capacity of our partners, respect the sovereignty of nations, and work to address the root causes of terror. But when its necessary to defend the United States against terrorist attacks, we will take direct action.

And finally, we will not tolerate the development or use of weapons of mass destruction.

lovebombs-anthonyfreda-072812As regards Syria, ironies abound: the single greatest actor for peace has been the former KGB guy, whereas the greatest threat to peace is the Nobel peace prize winner.

 With this speech, Obama lays the foundation stone for whatever his legacy will be–likely the reassertion of the American imperial project. Beneath the honeyed words lie many lies, such as

“We consider chemical weapons in Syria to be a threat to American national security…”

“we have worked to end a decade of war”

“…new circumstances have also meant shifting away from a perpetual war-footing,”

and, my favorite  as a former Occupier,

“we will not stop asserting principles that are consistent with our ideals, whether that means opposing the use of violence as a means of suppressing dissent…” 

Obama’s address to the UN General Assembly was actually an astonishing string of brazen lies and falsehoods.  David Swanson counts 45.  (Check out his blog if you’re scoring at home.)

This naked declaration of imperialism solidifies the aspirations of the defunct Project for a New American Century as the guide star for American foreign-policy. The radical right-wingers who drove the Bush Dynasty into a program of eternal war have gotten their ticket punched this week. The speech might as well be the Full Relief Act for War Manufacturers of 2013, those same folks who are prepared to fight endless foreign energy wars down to your last daughter and son.  We have already rejiggered our economy such that, if you want to have the sort of middle-class lifestyle available to our parents, you would do well to spend a career in the military, so that you can retire after 20, draw a pension, get your lifetime healthcare, PX shopping piveleges, etc., and double dip, as a civilian employee at the command you just left. (We see this all the time in Southeastern Virginia, one of the seats of Empire.  Nice little revolving door.)  And if you don’t want to wear one of those snappy white plastic suits as an Imperial storm trooper?  Well then, you’ll just either have to cobble together rent and food working a couple of low-wage, no–benefit part-time jobs, or even better, a “bullshit job.”

Bullshit Jobs

Some time ago, on the occasion of a young friend’s birthday, we found ourselves at a party where we came face to face with the realities of life for the many young people in this country who have not entered a gate-kept profession.  We saw the dilemmas faced by otherwise intelligent, hard-working young people without access to the sorts of factory jobs or construction jobs prevalent 40 or 50 years ago.  I was moved to write an article about it then.

Many of us are old enough to remember when it was possible for working-class kids, particular those without a higher education, to go to work, get a job, and make a life for themselves. Own a house, own a car, to maybe own a vacation home or a boat—none of that was beyond the reach of a factory worker making a decent wage. For the young people in attendance at this party last night, the new normal looks like this: part-time work, topping out at 35 hours per week, so as to not incur the obligation of paying for benefits, no health insurance, living either at home, or in an apartment with several other people to share expenses, no car, and an uncertain future.

So we’ve created a society along the apparently desired lines of Central American oligarchies, with lines firmly  dividing the leisure class from the class of eternal toil.  Thus is policy made, and government duly responsive to the dictates of its owners. Add to this toxic shitbath the prevalence of bullshit jobs. We all know how difficult such jobs can be.  As if wearing a polyester uniform and a paper hat were not enough, imagine being on the receiving end of this:

 

Now comes David Graeber  examining the prediction in the early 20th century of an eventual 4 hour day, and how we got unproductive, meaningless work instead.

In the year 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted that, by century’s end, technology would have advanced sufficiently that countries like Great Britain or the United States would have achieved a 15-hour work week. There’s every reason to believe he was right. In technological terms, we are quite capable of this. And yet it didn’t happen. Instead, technology has been marshaled, if anything, to figure out ways to make us all work more. In order to achieve this, jobs have had to be created that are, effectively, pointless. Huge swathes of people, in Europe and North America in particular, spend their entire working lives performing tasks they secretly believe do not really need to be performed. The moral and spiritual damage that comes from this situation is profound. It is a scar across our collective soul. Yet virtually no one talks about it.

 

It is indeed a mystery. Why would capitalism create empty and meaningless jobs, especially since it is in the self-interest of each individual company to be as “efficient” as possible, which in most cases means feeding jobs into the wood chipper?  You would expect this sort of thing in the Soviet Union, where everybody was expected to be employed, and where the old saw had it, “we pretend to work, and they pretend to pay us.” Yet as Graeber observes,

While corporations may engage in ruthless downsizing, the layoffs and speed-ups invariably fall on that class of people who are actually making, moving, fixing and maintaining things; through some strange alchemy no one can quite explain, the number of salaried paper-pushers ultimately seems to expand, and more and more employees find themselves, not unlike Soviet workers actually, working 40 or even 50 hour weeks on paper, but effectively working 15 hours just as Keynes predicted, since the rest of their time is spent organizing or attending motivational seminars, updating their facebook profiles or downloading TV box-sets.

Which is precisely what happens, as anyone who works in a corporate environment will attest.

 This Week in Police Overreach

Behavior for which American society tried, convicted and executed Axis soldiers seventy years ago has become the norm today. Obama  campaigned on closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Gitmo has now been with us for so long it now elicits a shrug, as if to say, “Well, what can you do?” as if we were taking about sunspots… “Torture” has become “enhanced interrogation.” Those keeping score at home can credit Orwell for noting the importance of controlling the use of language in creating the narrative du jour.

This space has made frequent note and comment on the militarization of local police forces. And as these forces are armed with storm trooper outfits, tanks, drones, and all the abundant fruits of weapons manufacturers, a pervasive attitude of “us against them” has taken hold, such that even a routine traffic stop can become an opportunity to court death.

There is madness in the air we breathe.  We could legitimately argue that everyone in America today is insane. You can feel it as you walk around grocery stores or as you drive down the streets. No more sympathy, no more reasoning, and no more communication to attempt to solve community problems. Everyone is stressed and it takes very little to push some people over the edge– like this cop.

Would it appear from this video that the officer in question, Ofc. Eric Hart, used an unreasonable and unnecessary level of force? Yet the Toledo Blade has his supervisor saying thus:

“He’s not in trouble, but to keep things aboveboard, we put him on administrative leave until an internal investigation is fully complete,” the chief said. “I’m not saying he did anything wrong, but we’re trying to show we’re not trying to sweep this under the rug or cover it up.”

In the four-minute, 50-second video, a woman shouts at Officer Hart that he is harassing people. The woman, who screams and shouts throughout the encounter, also claims Officer Hart smashed her cell phone when she tried to call 911.

A quote by Henry Giroux comes to mind:

“The increasing militarization of American society is matched by its increasing depoliticization and its increasing incapacity to make moral judgments and act with compassion against the most shocking injustices.”

 (His brilliant op ed, “Beyond Savage Politics and Dystopian Nightmares” is well worth a read.)

 

Imagine the resultant hue and cry had the victims depicted in the video had been Blacks or Hispanics. The first expected response a cry of racism and white supremacy. But the truth is more subtle, and more compelling:  abuse of institutional power and generalized wickedness in America today have affected everyone at every level society. We Americans made a bargain with the devil, the devil has returned to collect his own… speaking of whom…

 

DeLay conviction overturned

 

As part of the continual soap opera that is the American system of  jurisprudence, we unearth this little nugget. As any reasonable person would tell you, clearly justice has prevailed.

(CNN) – Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s conviction on money laundering charges was overturned Thursday by a court in Texas.

DeLay, who was once one of the most powerful men on Capitol Hill, was convicted in 2010 for allegedly trying to influence Texas elections by trying to channel nearly $200,000 in corporate donations to Republicans running for the state legislature, which is prohibited by Lone Star state law. Delay, who served more than two decades in the House before resigning in 2006, was sentenced to three years in prison.

“Because we conclude that the evidence was legally insufficient to sustain DeLay’s convictions, we reverse the judgments of the trial court and render judgments of acquittal,” said an opinion from the District Court of Travis County, Texas.

DeLay was visiting Capitol Hill on Thursday. He was praying in the House chapel when his phone rang and his lawyer told him the news, a source close to DeLay told CNN.

DeLay then headed over to lunch with his former colleagues in the Texas delegation at their weekly lunch. “He said he felt vindicated,” Rep. Randy Neugebauer told CNN as he left the lunch.

Vindicated, indeed. Are we not all reasonable men?

***

“In the excitement over the unfolding of his scientific and technical powers, modern man has built a system of production that ravishes nature and a type of society that mutilates man. If only there were more and more wealth, everything else, it is thought, would fall into place. Money is considered to be all-powerful; if it could not actually buy non-material values, such as justice, harmony, beauty or even health, it could circumvent the need for them or compensate for their loss. The development of production and the acquisition of wealth have thus become the highest goals of the modern world in relation to which all other goals, no matter how much lip-service may still be paid to them, have come to take second place. The highest goals require no justification; all secondary goals have finally to justify themselves in terms of the service their attainment renders to the attainment of the highest. This is the philosophy of [ social ] materialism, and it is this philosophy – or metaphysic – which is now being challenged by events.”

~Craig Dilworth (2010-03-12). Too Smart for our Own Good (p. 400 – 405). Cambridge University Press.

Nothing works. Trust is broken. Institutions are failed. Government is captive to corporate interests. We hide ourselves because it is unsafe to show ourselves. That which does not contribute directly to corporate profit is openly mocked.  The prevailing narrative–”work, shop, consume, die” –is reinforced by a daily drumbeat of messages in corporate media and by the many idols to Mammon that receive our daily embrace.  All of these “secondary goals” as Dilworth has observed serve only to reinforce the highest goal.  Yet we keep running, hamster like, on our materialist treadmill,  in the hopes that someday, someway, somehow we will be able to buy a ticket off the ride.

The cop on the beat of 40 years ago has become Terry Taser,  a walking object lesson in fear, likely to blow at any time, like the pervasive and eternal “threat of terror,” the financial system, or the Keystone XL pipeline.  He simply reflects the building pressure cooker of American society. Ultimately the flow of cheap energy is the morphine drip that sustains the cadaver of late industrial society. It is cheap energy that enables the imperial project, and that ultimately pacifies an increasingly restive population whose tension mounts as our institutions, traditions, lifestyles and families fail, and fall, one by one like dominoes.

***

And a fitting epilogue to This Week in Doom:

2 Concealed Carry Holders Kill Each Other In Road Rage Incident

Two men are dead after pulling guns on each other during a road rage incident on Wednesday night.

Police said the dispute began when one car was tailgating another in the Michigan town of Ionia, population 11,400.

Both drivers pulled into the parking lot of a local car wash and stepped out of their vehicles, according to ABC affiliate WZZM-TV. Witnesses said the tailgating driver fired first, and the other driver returned fire.

When ambulances arrived, the men — Ionia residents James Pullam, 43, and Robert Taylor, 56 — were given medical care and transported to a local hospital, where they were pronounced dead, Detroit News reported.

 

Want to know what collapse looks like? It looks like this.

 

 

 

Sailing Away from Insaneistan

Off the keyboard of Ray Jason
Graphics Edited by RE

Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Friend us on Facebook

Published on The Sea Gypsy Philosopher on September 22, 2013

Discuss this article at the Seasteading Table inside the Diner

Indio_boy_coconut_and_chicken

http://oceanleadership.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/6125731.bin_.jpgMy new neighbors seem to like me. This is quite lovely – because they are dolphins. And it is even more wondrous because they are a mother and her child. Today is the fourth morning in a row that they swam a lazy circle around my boat.

Each day I greet the sunrise with an enthusiastic blast from my conch shell. It connects me with my post-civilized, feral self. It also seems to amuse the nearby creatures of the sea and the sky. No people are disturbed, because I am the only human animal in the vicinity. More importantly, it attracts the mom and her baby dolphin. They arrive just after I serenade the sun with my tribal horn.

Yesterday, the little Indio boy who sells me fresh coconuts from his tiny cayuco, also brought along a live chicken. Although he offered her at a good price, I declined. But I did buy some of her eggs. Their yolks are so intensely orange that they match the morning sun nudging above the hazy horizon. They are tasty and nutritious and perfect with my Tarzan Tea. That’s my name for the water from the young coconut that I open with my machete.

http://www.concierge.com/images/destinations/destinationguide/latinamerica/costarica/costarica_033p.jpgI call my neighborhood the Archipelago of Bliss. It bequeaths me immense joy – mostly because it is totally removed from the “real world.” As I sit here with my notepad and pen, I am completely severed from anything modern, and totally immersed in many things primal. Everything around me is ancient and elemental. This same type of flora and fauna has been here for over 100,000 years. The mangroves, the howler monkeys, the birds in the shallows – all preceded any human presence.

I call my slow simple life, the Way of RATAWI. That is an acronym I created which stands for Reading and Thinking and WritingInspirationally. My day revolves around those axis pursuits. Interspersed with them, are swimming, rowing, exploring, healthy eating and observing my neighbors – be they animals, clouds or planets.

When I need supplies or fellowship, it takes only a few hours to sail back to a little town abundant with eccentric characters – sailors, backpackers and surfers. Usually, about a week of visiting friends, replenishing my cupboards and emailing out essays is sufficient. Then I head back out to whichever vacant anchorage suits my fancy.

*******

Needless to say, most modern people would find this sort of existence … terrifying! The lack of around-the-clock stimulation and incessant electronic connectivity would be barely survivable. Even my friends, who seemingly find merit in my life path, are probably troubled by it on some level. “I mean, come on, Ray, this sea gypsy stuff is fine for a while, but isn’t it time you came home?”

http://llwproductions.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/pepper-spraying-cop-john-pike-spraying-statue-of-liberty-in-planet-of-the-apes.jpgWhen I respond to such well-intentioned counsel by explaining that my life is blissfully happy and meaningful, they chalk it up to my lifelong, unrepentant romanticism. But it is not my romantic disposition that inspires me to surrender to the embrace of nature. On the contrary, it is my capacity for perceiving reality that keeps me out here wandering the Wide Waters.

My exile from “The Great Frenzy” bequeaths me a much clearer perspective on it. If you stand a foot away from the Statue of Liberty you will not see it as well as you would from 100 yards away. Because they are so close to it, my friends cannot perceive how degraded the USA has become. Yet from afar, it is so obvious that I now jokingly refer to it as Insaneistan!

*******

Although many react to this tragic decline with anger, my response is sadness. The founding documents of the United States are so brilliantly enlightened, that they almost take one’s breath away. As someone who is aware of more than just the whitewashed version of U.S. history, I realize that from the very beginning we did not live up to many of the principles in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution. (Slavery and Native American genocide are the obvious examples.) But the concept of government of, by and for the People, was such an improvement over rule by monarchs or mullahs, that it deserves the utmost admiration.

And there were periods when America did seem to be that inspirational Beacon on the Hill. We had citizen legislators rather than professional politicians. We got things done of genuine value to the planet, such as the Panama Canal. And we interceded to subdue vicious tyrants, as in WWII.

But shortly after our greatest triumph, the seeds of our tragic demise were sown. When the evil of Hitler was vanquished, we did not dismantle our war machine as we had done after WWI. Instead the Military Industrial Complex made its gruesome entrance onto the global stage. An enormous secret alliance of military and industrial and financial and espionage beasts spawned a lurid Leviathan that needs to engorge itself on Perpetual War in order to survive. President Eisenhower warned us about this monster in his farewell address, but his message went unheeded.

http://cloudfront-media.reason.com/mc/_external/2013_07/we-are-all-criminals-heritage.jpg?h=336&w=225As a result, money and madness wormed their way into the American body politic like devouring parasites. Now we are controlled and manipulated by “career politicians.” We no longer build canals; instead we sell high-tech weapons of death and mutilation. And rather than playing the role of schoolyard monitor to the world, we have become its most feared and hated bully.

This is not just personal opinion; this is verifiable fact. Most of the members of Congress are not schoolteachers or shop owners. They are multi-millionaires, who enrich themselves even further once they are in office. In a Republic, elected officials are supposed to represent the needs and interests of the people. Here is a short list of things that our government has imposed upon us in recent decades. I bet that neither you, nor anyone you know, asked for any of these.

  • More than a dozen separate spy agencies, who can’t seem to communicate with each other, but who have no problem invading every aspect of anybody’s personal life – including phone calls, emails, online purchases etc.
  • Economic and monetary policies that enrich Wall Street and the obscenely wealthy, while destroying Main Street and the middle class.
  • The militarization of local police forces. With tanks and battlefield equipment, they look like Galactic Storm-troopers rather than friendly neighborhood cops. Is the police mandate still to protect the citizens and solve crimes, or are they “gearing up” for expected mass social uprisings?

http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.965988!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_635/alg-la-swat-jpg.jpg

  • An Imperial foreign policy with over 700 military bases blanketing the planet in more than 110 countries. Our “statesmen” claim that this global presence is in our national interest, and enhances our safety. But only a fool fails to see that this over-reach is spawning new terrorists every day, which actually decreases our security.
  • The perpetual misallocation of money and mind-power on the development of ever more horrific weapons of needless destruction. The litany seems endless, because it IS ENDLESS! Atomic bombs, hydrogen bombs, neutron bombs, napalm, agent orange, chemical weapons, depleted uranium, white phosphorus, biological weapons and drones. And now the DARPA maniacs are working on robot soldiers, weapons in space, and cyber combat.
  • The privatization of prisons. By making incarceration a “growth industry” they have incentivized the imprisonment of our sons, daughters and neighbors. And what kind of heinous criminals are we being protected from? Mostly drug users and minor dealers. The prison industrial complex is a shameful, hideous racket.

Now that I have shared this little “government in action” sampler with you, I’ll repeat my question from a few paragraphs ago: “Did you, or anyone you know, ask for any of these things?”

*******

http://americandigest.org/aconsumer.jpgUnfortunately it is not just politics that has declined so shockingly in the U.S. It is society as a whole – what I term the “Un-culture.” America has become a nation of obese, dumbed-down, television addicts, who live vicariously through a galaxy of the most vapid, self-absorbed “stars.”

The average person spends an enormous amount of their time fixated on their Smartphone. They sit on a bus texting their 347 cyber “friends” while being unable to make a new real friend in the seat beside them – because that person is buried in their iPhone43.

The movie industry, which both shapes and reflects the public consciousness, can no longer make a film about the complex joys and sorrows of actual people. Instead, they spew out preposterous comic book superhero fantasies that grotesquely distort the true human condition. This produces a population of dangerous male adults with violent juvenile values.

To highlight how sad and ludicrous daily existence in the USA has become, here are some of the categories in which America leads the world:

  • Obesity
  • Teen pregnancy
  • Lawyers
  • Murders
  • Adults who believe in angels
  • Incarcerated citizens
  • Laws
  • Mental illness
  • Fast food consumption
  • Rapes
  • Military spending
  • TV viewing
  • Prescription drugs
  • Arms sales to foreign countries
  • Divorce
  • National debt
  • Plastic surgery procedures

Hopefully, you are a lot less inclined to chant “We’re # 1” or “U-S-A” after seeing that list. Although I jokingly refer to it as Insaneistan, it should be clear from my synopsis that the situation in the USA is not funny at all. It used to be wonderful in so many ways, but now it has deteriorated so profoundly that it is just a sad, tragic caricature of its former greatness.

*******

It’s twilight now; and I’ve added a touch of rum to my Tarzan Tea. I chuckle while pondering whether this is to avoid melancholy or to embrace it. A black-crowned night heron glides by, and the kind words of my friends revisit me. “I mean, come on, Ray, this sea gypsy stuff is fine for a while, but isn’t it time that you came home?” Fortunately, I AM HOME! And even though my neighbors may be dolphins and egrets and spotted eagle rays, our world is sweet and genuine and enduring.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-r0yUc8e0b-I/UQcfbG79xFI/AAAAAAAAX4U/IAbQse8wDZc/s400/130128_siluetas-de-delfines-saltando-fuera-del-agua-al-atardecer_anemon.jpg

Knarf plays the Doomer Blues

https://image.freepik.com/free-icon/musical-notes-symbols_318-29778.jpg

Support the Diner

Search the Diner

Surveys & Podcasts

NEW SURVEY

Renewable Energy

VISIT AND FOLLOW US ON DINER SOUNDCLOUD

" As a daily reader of all of the doomsday blogs, e.g. the Diner, Nature Bats Last, Zerohedge, Scribbler, etc… I must say that I most look forward to your “off the microphone” rants. Your analysis, insights, and conclusions are always logical, well supported, and clearly articulated – a trifecta not frequently achieved."- Joe D

Archives

Global Diners

View Full Diner Stats

Global Population Stats

Enter a Country Name for full Population & Demographic Statistics

Lake Mead Watch

http://si.wsj.net/public/resources/images/NA-BX686_LakeMe_G_20130816175615.jpg

loading

Inside the Diner

It's Meat 🥩 Monday here on the Diner, so we are getting some Venison ready for Dinner!  RE[embed=1280,720]

Rough flight back to Jolly Old England for OS!RE[embed=1280,720]

Methane and CO2 are not the only things being released from the once frozen ground. In the summer of 2016, a group of nomadic reindeer herders began falling sick from a mysterious illness. Rumours began circling of the “Siberian plague”, last seen in t...

At least they didn't have Mickey Ds and GMO Doritos.RE[embed=1280,720]

Incense burners found at 2,500-year-old cemetery suggest intentional use of the plant to get high[img width=900 height=650]https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/270914f74f4d58c4e8e399bd447c6705f3edbaa9/0_57_1772_1063/master/1772.jpg?width=620&quality=...

Diner Twitter feed

Knarf’s Knewz

Incense burners found at 2,500-year-old cemetery s [...]

I have to disagree with that.  It is confusing Cau [...]

   "We're all drunks looking under the l [...]

Diner Newz Feeds

  • Surly
  • Agelbert
  • Knarf
  • Golden Oxen
  • Frostbite Falls

Doomstead Diner Daily June 17The Diner Daily is av [...]

The Illiberal Right Throws a TantrumA faction of t [...]

THE TERRIFYING WORLD OF ALEX JONES[html] [...]

Doomstead Diner Daily June 16The Diner Daily is av [...]

Doomstead Diner Daily June 14The D... [...]

Quote from: UnhingedBecauseLucid on March 18, 2019 [...]

CleanTechnicaSupport CleanTechnica’s work via dona [...]

QuoteThe FACT that the current incredibly STUPID e [...]

Incense burners found at 2,500-year-old cemetery s [...]

I have to disagree with that.  It is confusing Cau [...]

   "We're all drunks looking under the l [...]

In November 2018, a 66-year-old man named Tommy Th [...]

Dear Readers, Things in Venezuela are getting mess [...]

Quote from: Golden Oxen on April 27, 2019, 01:49:4 [...]

Quote from: Eddie on April 25, 2019, 09:09:46 AMQu [...]

Alternate Perspectives

  • Two Ice Floes
  • Jumping Jack Flash
  • From Filmers to Farmers

The Brainwashing of a Nation by Daniel Greenfield via Sultan Knish blog Image by ElisaRiva from Pixa [...]

A Window Into Our World By Cognitive Dissonance   Every year during the early spring awakening I qui [...]

Deaf, Dumb and Blind Who Is Better at Conceding They Are Wrong - Conservative or Liberal Extremists? [...]

The Apology: From baby boomers to the handicapped generations. by David Holmgren Re-posted from Holm [...]

Society Is Made Of Narrative. Realizing This Is Awakening From The Matrix. By Caitlin Johnstone Orig [...]

Event Update For 2019-06-15http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

Event Update For 2019-06-14http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

Event Update For 2019-06-13http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

Event Update For 2019-06-12http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

Event Update For 2019-06-11http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

With fusion energy perpetually 20 years away we now also perpetually have [fill in the blank] years [...]

My mea culpa for having inadvertently neglected FF2F for so long, and an update on the upcoming post [...]

NYC plans to undertake the swindle of the civilisation by suing the companies that have enabled it t [...]

MbS, the personification of the age-old pre-revolutionary scenario in which an expiring regime attem [...]

Daily Doom Photo

man-watching-tv

Sustainability

  • Peak Surfer
  • SUN
  • Transition Voice

Carbon in the Dale"Rather than put back the coal mines, we should seriously think about putting back the forests. [...]

Farewell to the Fishes"Ninety percent of the world’s marine fish stocks are now fully exploited, overexploited or dep [...]

Climate Change Reversal at Whole Village"During the burn people were taken around the farm to see the 40,000+ trees we have planted, ou [...]

Pitching Seaweed Straws"Kelp-based straws will beat the price of paper straw competitors later this year and could und [...]

What is your climate pawprint?"If US dogs had their own country it would be bigger than 200 other countries and likely be on [...]

The folks at Windward have been doing great work at living sustainably for many years now.  Part of [...]

 The Daily SUN☼ Building a Better Tomorrow by Sustaining Universal Needs April 3, 2017 Powering Down [...]

Off the keyboard of Bob Montgomery Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666 Friend us on Facebook Publishe [...]

Visit SUN on Facebook Here [...]

Why has it taken so long for the climate movement to accomplish so little? And how can we do better [...]

To fight climate change, you need to get the world off of fossil fuels. And to do that, you need to [...]

Americans are good on the "thoughts and prayers" thing. Also not so bad about digging in f [...]

In the echo-sphere of political punditry consensus forms rapidly, gels, and then, in short order…cal [...]

Discussions with figures from Noam Chomsky and Peter Senge to Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama off [...]

Top Commentariats

  • Our Finite World
  • Economic Undertow

Get on a boat? And then what? I for one do not want to live in an imploded world. Live life now and [...]

This is why I don't watch local news. I also don't watch national news for all together di [...]

This is sort of what happens when we try to us dams to dry out the flood plain. It works some years, [...]

Battery backup for these resources is likely iffy, however. Intermittent resources aren’t worth very [...]

Hi Steve. I recently found what I believe is a little gem, and I'm quite confident you'd a [...]

The Federal Reserve is thinking about capping yields? I don't know how long TPTB can keep this [...]

As some one who has spent years trying to figure out what the limits to growth are. let me say that [...]

Peak oil definitely happened for gods sake. Just because it isn't mad max right now is no indic [...]

@Volvo - KMO says he made some life choices he regrets. Not sure what they were. And I don't th [...]

RE Economics

Going Cashless

Off the keyboard of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Simplifying the Final Countdown

Off the keyboard of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Bond Market Collapse and the Banning of Cash

Off the microphone of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Do Central Bankers Recognize there is NO GROWTH?

Discuss this article @ the ECONOMICS TABLE inside the...

Singularity of the Dollar

Off the Keyboard of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Kurrency Kollapse: To Print or Not To Print?

Off the microphone of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

SWISSIE CAPITULATION!

Off the microphone of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Of Heat Sinks & Debt Sinks: A Thermodynamic View of Money

Off the keyboard of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Merry Doomy Christmas

Off the keyboard of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Peak Customers: The Final Liquidation Sale

Off the keyboard of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Collapse Fiction

Useful Links

Technical Journals

This paper assessed the variability and projected trends of solar irradiance and temperature in the [...]

Following the impact of droughts witnessed during the last decade there is an urgent need to develop [...]

A “nadir-only” framework of the radiometric intercomparison of multispectral sensors usi [...]

A fuzzy random conditional value-at-risk-based linear programming (FCVLP) model was proposed in this [...]