• "God invented war so Americans could learn geography" -- Mark Twain.

Monday, December 29, 2014

The 2014 GOLDEN BRIOCHE AWARD







The Woodchip Gazette's  GOLDEN BRIOCHE AWARD  for 2014 goes to,


President 

BARACK OBAMA


for


that the United States is "less racially divided"
than it was when he took office


©

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Speaking Through Gags


It is time for King Felipe of Spain to step up to the plate and bat down a law which is constitutes a direct assault on civil society and freedom.

Col. Tejero Couping the Congress

As most people (and perhaps some Americans) are aware, Spain has been gripped by fairly ongoing protests since the financial collapse of 2008.  To date, the government has been unable to restore the economy and so the protests continue.

Given its ineptitude and the total failure of its economic policies, Spain’s right-wing ruling party, the Partido Popular, has  passed a law outlawing unauthorized protests.  Nicknamed La Ley Mordaza (the Gag Law) it enacts criminal penalties for protesting without a permit. 



But it does far more than that.  The law which was given the historically ominous name of Law for the Protection of Citizen Security imposes draconian limitations and penalties on the right of public assembly and protest.  It makes it unlawful to:

1. Photograph or record police – 600 to 30.000€ fine.
2. Peaceful disobedience to authority – 600 to 30.000€ fine.
3. Occupy banks as means of protest – 600 to 30.000€ fine. 
4. Not formalizing a protest – 600 to 30.000€ fine. 
5. Carry out assemblies or meetings in public spaces – 100 to 600€ fine. 
6. Impede or stop an eviction – 600 to 30.000€ fine. 
7. Being present at an occupied space (not only social centers but also houses occupied by evicted families) – 100 to 600€ fine.
8. Meeting or gathering in front of Congress – 600 to 30.000€ fine.

It provides for: 
9. Police black lists for protesters, activists and alternative press have been legalized. 
10. The payment of judicial costs, whose amount depends on the fine, in order to appeal.
11. Random identity checks and racial profiling of immigrants and minorities.
12. Police can now carry out raids at their discretion, without the need for “order” to have been disrupted. 
13. External bodily searches are also now allowed at police discretion. 
14. Government prohibition of any protest at will, if it feels “order” will be disrupted. 
15. Any ill-defined “critical infrastructure” is now considered a forbidden zone for public gatherings if it might affect their functioning. 
16. There are also fines for people who climb buildings and monuments without permission.

 These particular provisions of the law make clear what it is about:  it is about protecting the oligarchy.  It is a law entirely worthy of Francisco Franco.

Not surprisingly every other party across the entire political spectrum voted against the law.  But the PP, which controls both chambers of the legislature prevailed.

On 23 February 1981, a right wing cabal attempted a coup aimed at squelching Spain’s renewed democracy.  Felipe’s father, King Juan Carlos, stepped forward and put an end to the coup .



For that he was always remembered gratefully by the people of Spain notwithstanding his later failings.

Colonel Tejero’s action was an assault on democracy from outside the law, whereas the current Gag Law was, without doubt, enacted in accordance with due and democratic process.

But one would have to be an imbecile not to realise that assaults on freedom can come from within the law as well.  Such was the case with the Law for the Protection of the People & State which was enabled by a Reichstag controlled by a single party.

La Ley Mordaza puts the Spanish Monarchy in a very uncomfortable position.  As constitutional monarch, King Felipe is duty bound not to interfere with the democratic process.  Nonetheless, the Spanish Constitution makes it incumbent on the monarch to sanction the laws and to serve as the commander in chief of the armed force and as the symbol of national unity.   It was under this incumbency that Juan Carlos denounced the 1981 coup.

Historical crises are seldom clear and are always discomforting.  That said, Felipe should dare to be the King.  If he does he will earn the gratitude of the nation.  If he does not, neither the monarchy nor the unity of Spain will survive.





©

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Getting a Grip on Torture.


Former CIA director, JamesWoolsey,  has stated that "enhanced interrogation" is   not torture unless it causes permanent physical damage.

Certainly!  It's  also not torture if rectal flushes are made with all organic and humanely raised ingredients.

People need to get a grip on this thing.

.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Credit and Shrugs Where Due


We Chipsters are glad that the Senate has finally released its “Torture Report” and, much as we are loathe to, we applaud Senator Feinstein for shepherding the report from darkness into light.   Given the political realities of Washington D.C., that was no easy task.

That said, we roll our eyes with boredom at the now engulfing tsunami of opinion, counter-opinion and “in depth news analysis.”   Screeches the New York Times


SENATE TORTURE REPORT FAULTS C.I.A. FOR BRUTALITY AND DECEIT
Really?  We never would have guessed.

The problem with Amurrikans is that they neither remember nor deduce.  Their brains are toggles that switch on or off at the presence or absence of triggers.  What spews out of their mouths could as easily be reduced to strings of rubber stamped “concepts.”

We remember an interview many many years ago when Mike Wallace of Sixty Minutes asked the then Shan of Iran whether it was true that his secret police shoved “broken Coke bottles” up detainees’ rectums.

An indignant Shah guffawed.  “Uhh, no! We have much more sophisticated methods of obtaining information than that.”
 
“Such as what, your highness?”

The Shah, annoyed at what he evidently considered a kindergarden drill, muttered something about more effective techniques.
 
A wide eyed Wallace, evidently thinking that he a cornered the Shah into one scoop of an admission, expressed astonishment that such techniques were used and openly admitted to being used by an ally of the United States in this day and age.

An equally astonished Shah, evidently realizing he was talking to a child, replied: “...And from whom do you think we acquired learned these methods?"

CAN  ANYONE  IN  WASHINGTON NOT  KNOW  THAT  THE  UNITED  STATES  DEVELOPS,  TEACHES  AND  EMPLOYS TECHNIQUES  OF  TORTURE?

The long list of Latin American dictators installed at U.S. connivance and supported with U.S. funds and advisors attests to the long history of this country’s propagation of torture.  And if the United States teaches torture to its satraps and puppets abroad can there be any reasonable doubt that it employs those same techniques itself?

It is a minimally decent thing that the Senate publicly acknowledged the misdeeds of the United States and it is nice enough to hear at least a partial mea culpa.

All the rest is stuff and nonsense. 

.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Payback for Payback



It was reported last week that OPEC decided not to increase oil production thereby insuring that gasoline prices will continue to remain low or lower.

That’s great news of Holiday Gas Guzzlers in Mobilia... including (it must be said in the interests of ‘fair reporting’) the chipsters.

But why?  Why would Venezuela not at least attempt to prevent a slide in its revenues? That is, after all, what crude prices are about.  If Venezuela needs anything it needs revenue... even more than toilet paper.

Well, most likely Venezuela had little alternative but to cow tow to Saudi Arabia’s lead.  But why would the Saudis themselves not seek to keep prices afloat?  They never particularly gave a damn for the American guzzler-driver.  Remember 1970?  Why should the be-sheeted shieks give a rat’s ass now?

One of the chipsters came up with the theory that Saudi Arabia was trying to undercut The Frackers.  It’s a good theory but the question occurs: why not before?  Why now?  Did OPEC finally wake up to the potential competition from fracked oil?  Actually there is no competition. 

Another one of our chipper editorial board came up with the theory that the cartel’s decision was in fact the opening salvo of economic war against Russia. 

The United States aims to break the Russian economy and to this end called in its chips with the Saudis who have little choice but to grit their teeth and payback.

The chipsters  voted and decided that the second alternative was what was actually afoot.  The United States is venturing where Napoleon and Hitler trod before.  That it does so by stealth and stocks is immaterial.  It still seeks to slap down Russia where she belongs.

Will Putin be the one-eyed general?



©

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

What Ever Happened to the Elisor?


Anyone who expected the Ferguson grand jury to return an indictment is living in a Jeffersonian fantasy world. 

Needless to say, there will be the predictable arguments between the equally predictable two sides each of which will cite and ignore the facts as most suits their case. America’s perennial dialectic is nothing if not predictable.

I for one am not going to delve into this unresolvable thicket because the fundamental issue is as simple as it has been ignored:  nemo iudex in causa sua.

Gee... that sounds like Latin!  It is; and it is one of hoary collection of Roman legal maxims considered to jurisprudentially axiomatic.  The maxim holds that no one should be a judge in his own case.

Once this maxim is taken to heart it can be seen that the grand jury process was null and void from the start. 

Officer Darren Wilson was a member of the local law enforcement team.  But so too was Robert McCulloch, the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney.  Is there anyone who doubts that McCulloch is and considers himself to be part of that same local law enforcement team? Of course not.

So — wonder to behold — the law enforcement team has investigated itself and has come to the astonishing conclusion that it did no wrong.

Some savant will no doubt point out that it was the jurors who made the ultimate decision.  That is true enough but they arrived at their decision only upon being guided and instructed in the facts and the law by the prosecutor.  The proceedings were in no wise adversarial and one can bet his last doughnut that the prosecutor carefully insured that the decision he desired was arrived at “fair and square” as the saying goes. 

We have seen this work before. Back in June of this year, in California, the Santa Rosa County Prosecutor’s Office published the results of its own investigation into the fatal shooting of a twelve year old boy by a sheriff’s deputy.  The boy had been carrying a toy AK-47 and was blasted away as he turned around to face the cop who was yelling at him from behind. 

Every single witness who saw the shooting described the police action — from stopping the patrol vehicle to assuming a firing position to killing — as a “seamless” sequence of no more than 10 seconds.  Although he later revised his findings, the state’s coroner initially concluded that the first shot had entered the boy’s back.

There had been no reports of a disturbance.  The boy had not been play shooting at anyone.  He  was simply walking down the street when the deputies swooped down from behind and blasted him into the next world.

Oh what to do?  Just as deputies are trained to shoot, lawyers are trained to obfuscate.  Under the skilled hand of the prosecutor, “ambiguities” (on trivial points to be sure) were discovered in the witnesses’ accounts, allowing them to be “discounted” as not shedding any certain light on the central issue....

Then, over the course of 100 pages, the victim’s turning around motion metamorphosed from one involving a physiologically natural “lift” in the angle of the firearm to an apparent “pointing” of the weapon at the deputy who, of course, in the millisecond allowed, had to make a life and death decision....   

The report, swallowed whole by the establishment press, was a paradigmatic example of sophistical equivocations, non-sequiturs, irrelevancies, and such misstatements as might be called lies by another name.

We dissected this stinking heap of offal line by line in order to prove the more fundamental point that county prosecutors have no due and fair business investigating the misconduct of county law enforcement officers.  They cannot be fair and, in the event, will not be fair because they labor under a fundamental conflict of interest.

There is no doubt in my mind that the same fundamental conflict existed in St. Louis County and that the “case” presented to the grand jury in Ferguson was just as much a heap of misleading sophistries as the Santa Rosa investigative report.   The crafty evasions and subtle confusions that infused the Santa Rosa report were just as presentable to a grand jury in a unilateral, prosecutor-scripted hearing.

There is, as it turns out, a procedure under common law that would have resolved this conflict: the appointment of an elisor.   An “elisor” is a person appointed by the court to take charge of grand jury proceedings when the local officials are themselves disqualified due to a conflict of interest.

The Common Law clearly understood the ancient Roman maxim.  It is symptomatic of decadent corruption of law in the age of tyranny that it never occurred to Mr. McCullough to insure that the proceedings would be at least as above suspicion as Caesar’s favorite boy-toy.   



Saturday, October 11, 2014

Infections of the Times



The New York Times has published a slop-ed piece by Thomas Friedman entitled I.S.=Invasive Species.  The title just about reflects the sum and substratum of what passes for thought in Friedman's top half.

"I find it useful at times to use the natural world to illuminate trends in geopolitics and globalization," Friedman explains, “...invasive plant species thrive where the continuity of a natural ecosystem is breached. ...  I can’t think of a better way to understand ISIS.  It is a coalition....  from all over the world ... [which is] putting pressure on all of Iraq’s and Syria’s native species with the avowed goal of reducing the diversity of these once polycultural societies and turning them into bleak, dark, jihadist, Sunni fundamentalist monocultures."

Friedman froths on,

"How do you deal with an invasive species? The National Arboretum says you should “use systemic herbicides carefully” ...  while also constantly working to strengthen and “preserve healthy native plant habitats” .....




The Jew
by Joseph Goebbels
 Der Angriff, 21 January 1929

 One cannot combat the Jew positively. He is a negative, and this negative must be erased from the German equation, or it will always spoil the equation.    One ought not to afford to the Jew in the struggle the means that one affords to every honest opponent  ...  He is a foreigner, an alien to our folk, ..  Opposing the Jew is a matter of personal cleanliness.  Let them scream terror there. To that we answer with the famous utterance of Mussolini: "Terror? Never! It is social hygiene. We are taking these individuals out of circulation, as a physician takes a bacillus out of the body's circulation."




September 16, 1919

Dear Herr Gemlich,

The danger posed by Jewry for our people today finds expression in the undeniable aversion of wide sections of our people.   ...   And thus comes the fact that there lives amongst us a non-German, alien race which neither wishes nor is able to sacrifice its racial character or to deny its feeling, thinking, and striving ...   Everything men strive after as a higher goal, be it religion, socialism, democracy, is to the Jew only means to an end, the way to satisfy his lust for gold and domination.  ....  In his effects and consequences he is like a racial tuberculosis of the nations.

Sincerely,

Adolf Hitler


In the later half of the Ninetheenth Century, many writers "found it useful" to resort to racio-biological metaphors to explain historical and socio-economic questions and even ethno-cultural identity.   For example,  Vladimir (Z'ev) Jabotinsky, the founder of so-called Revisionist Zionism -- represented by today's Likud -- wrote in 1919,
 
 The source of national feeling ...lies in a man's blood ...in his racio-physico type and in that alone. ...A man's spiritual outlook is primarily determined by his physical structure. For that reason we do not believe in spiritual assimilation.   [A Jew] may be wholly imbued with that German fluid, but the nucleus of his spiritual structure will always remain Jewish."
Following the metaphor to their logical medical conclusions, the beliefs and goals of one's opponents were not regarded as things argued against or negotiated over or simply fought over.  No.   By necessary implication from the metaphor they became conditions which needed to disinfected, cauterized, erradicated.  And so it was that the health and well being of the German Folk organism was achieved through,



There is no doubt that the region is involved in an internecine conflict in which atrocities are committed by all sides.    The complexity of the situation is illustrated by a contemporaneous report from Patrick Cockburn,  published in the U.K. Independent.   Such complexity is beyond the capacity of the shrivelled pea that  passes for Friedman's brain, which resorts to simplistic name calling compounded with Monsanto Metaphors.

The success of Friedman as a journalist can only be attributed to a species of nepotism; but whatever the case, and whatever one thinks of the catastrophe in the Middle East, resort to infectious metaphors is, in itself, inherently evil.    The Times should be ashamed were it not so shameless.

©



Thursday, October 9, 2014

In Praise of Chicken Feed


Economist and Obama-critic, Paul Krugman, has come out with an article in praise of the president’s performance.

Although himself a frequent critic of Obama, Krugman argues that the president did the best he could with what he had and that this best turned out better than not.

Krugman argues that Obama’s signature failure, healthcare, was in fact a singular success because nothing more was realistically possible and because, for all its imperfections, more Americans are covered at better rates than before, even if Big Pharma and Big Sure are making out like bandits.

In paradigm, the same argument is made with respect to the economy, the environment, civil liberties ,  and America’s Wars Abroad.  The Republicans obstruct everything and Obama does what he can be executive order, proxy or circumvention.

Krugman’s argument betrays its own fallacy. It is a Quisling’s defeatist and temporizing argument.  What next?  Praise for Jewish Ghetto Councils?   The premise (that nothing better could be achieved) concedes the war.
Krugman then turns his guns on “liberals” and excoriates them for expecting pie in the sky.

"There’s a different story on the left, where you now find a significant number of critics decrying Obama as, to quote Cornel West, someone who ''posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit.'' They're outraged that Wall Street hasn't been punished, that income inequality remains so high, that ''neoliberal'' economic policies are still in place. All of this seems to rest on the belief that if only Obama had put his eloquence behind a radical economic agenda, he could somehow have gotten that agenda past all the political barriers that have con- strained even his much more modest efforts. It's hard to take such claims seriously."

Gag, gag and gag.

Our first gag is over “now” although the timing may not be Krugman’s fault.  We blew the whistle on Obama’s counterfeit back in July 2009 (Fauxbama), and that was after a self-imposed silence of six months.   If it took near two terms for the “left” to realize the cheat, they are dumber than rocks.

Our second gag is over “left.”  Americans, including Krugman, are hopelessly confused at a root political level.  They actually think that “liberal” is “left” and, when this crashes into the contradiction of “neo-liberal,” they compound their confusion by resorting to other labels like, “progressive” — which is kind of ironic when one takes into account that the only folks making progress these days are the Koch Bros. Inc.

To resort to a modern, techie metaphor, the confusion is like a corruption at the master boot record of a disc.  Americans are continually booting up into the wrong OS on a misnamed volume and when they try to run their mis-matched apps they are baffled by the crash.

Liberals are not left.  They accept the fundamentals of the capitalist system and merely hanker after ameliorative reforms -- usually cosmetic socio-cultural ones at that.

At least half, if not three-quarters, of the liberal agenda consists in self-indulgent “personal choice” issues coupled with some sort of guilt that comes from living on the Upper West Side.

The other quarter of their concerns may be perhaps deal with real issues of political-economy like income distribution and commerce-regulation and with real environmental issues such as carbon emissions and habitat destruction but they do so on the level of symptoms which they assume can be treated and controlled in isolation.  They have no grasp of material dialectics (yes, I said it!). Their weltanschauung is mere prettiness.

I wish I could say that “progressives” were simply fascists with flowers in their hairs.  But the sorry truth is that they do not even go that far — assuming one understands what Fascism and Gothism really were and why they were able to pose as a resolution of capitalist contradictions without going the last nine socialist yards.

Let me be blunt,

"The superfluities of the rich are the necessities of the poor. When you possess superfluities, you possess what belongs to others." (St. Augustine)
What is a superfluity?  An iPod? A hybrid Prius? A mortgage?  Is sustainably and humanely raised pork, at four times the cost and ten dollars a pound, a necessity or a superfluity? 

Most of the liberals I know are comparatively well off, by which I mean simply that they have those sorts of things I have just enumerated.  For all their good intentions and aspirations for a better world they are blind to the fact that they are just as much beneficiaries of a cruel and predatory system as the Koch Brothers.  They only benefit a little less.  But, no less, what they possess belongs to others.

Do they think that chip-making factories are better than the textile mills of yore or that one bends over less to pick an organic lettuce than a sprayed one?  If the system is based on a hierarchy of exploitations, then the less you have the more you are exploited and the more you have the more you possess off the sweat of others.

Certain tasks must be accomplished regardless of system and most of them are mindless, boring and tiring.  The difference lies solely in the recompense.  Is one man’s life more worthy of leisure or less worthy of consideration than another’s?  In displacing their guilt onto racial, sexual, and other topical issues liberals avoid confronting their more fundamental guilt on political economic ones.

There is no left in the United States, and increasingly so in the rest of the world.  There is simply a faction of people who would like things to be a little better for others without having to give up too much themselves.

Our third gag concerns “barriers.”  Krugman is right to postulate that barriers to change exist.  Only a moron would think otherwise.  But the quisling spirit of his piece lies in the tacit assumption than these barriers are immutable. 

Krugman may have a point when he argues that eloquence alone will not overcome the stasis quo of the American socio-economic-political construct.  But he underestimates the moving force of words — what the Ancients called “eloquence” and what in  American political parlance is called “momentum.”

There was a huge groundswell of disgust leading to support of Obama and he directly and consciously capitalized on it.  Once in office, however, he fell silent and let his momentum spin without traction. He did not even try to take advantage of his first one hundred days.  He did not even try to bring political pressure to bear.  He fell from talking about change to talking about awaiting Congress to put something on his desk to sign.  That was not “failure.” It was “betrayal.”

Krugman attempts to blunt the point of betrayal by banging it against the stonewall of a troglodyte Congress. We are far from convinced that the political barrier was as surmountable as Krugman makes it out to be.  The Democrats were one vote short of cloture.  I am certain an LBJ could have made a worm like Lieberman  squirm in the right direction.

The fact is that Obama had better numbers (59/41) than Bush II’s 50/50 Senate split in his first term and his 44 to 55 split in the second.  In fact, Obama had better numbers than LBJ’s 68 minus 22 Dixiecrats.  Somehow, despite a mere effective 46 Democrats, Johnson still managed to pass the Civil Rights Act which was at least as divisive as health care.

Well, the feeble excuse arises, Obama was a newbie. Then he should have stayed in kindergarten and the Democrats had no business running him forward.

It is charitable to call Obama “useless.” In fact he was a put up job; a species of political black face put forward to sucker liberals and to quell swelling political disgust with teleprompted promises.  That is the ugly truth.

Chickens Enjoying their Freedumb to Roam

But Krugman’s “fatalistic realism” makes a more fundamental mistake.  Ever stupid, Americans think they are being sophisticated and pragmatic when they dismiss something as mere rhetoric.  And so, Krugman intones that mere eloquence would not have overcome barriers.

Krugman is wrong. It is true that words will not hold back the sea.  But they will move men.  The Ancients understood this, which is why ambitious men put a premium on studying rhetoric. 

Eloquence can and does overcome political barriers  --  but only when it is coordinated, persistent and used strategically.  This is the ergon of politics and those who fail to do it will suffer defeat and irrelevance. 

The Republicans understand this, which is why and how they built the “Reagan Revolution” on ten years worth of non-stop rhetoric.  They defined the debate and they did so by and endless repetition of words which defined the past and delineated the future. 

Like any good rhetorician they understood their audience just as a good trial lawyer understands his jury.  Republicans knew and still know which buttons to push to make the Murkan Knee jerk reflexively.  The trite and treacle need not be repeated.  We all ought to know it by now.  (Fourth gag)

What I have called “rhetoric” more modern types like to call propaganda or political education or some such.  But by whatever name, it is the real stuff of politics in any system.

The barrier to progress is actually the empty moat of the Democrat Party.  Democrats do not have a “message” or a “context.”  They are literally pointless and being so have nothing to drive home.  Like Ghetto Jewish Councils, they are more concerned with their own political survival.  Whores have more conviction that the Democrats.  Some whores refuse to swallow.  No Democrat will.

Rumour has it that Bernie Sanders is pondering a run.  Ditto Elizabeth Warren.  We have far more confidence in the honesty of their palaver than we ever did about Obama’s.  But the fact they are pondering a run indicates to us that they are fundamentally clueless and useless.

What good would a Sanders or Warren victory do?  By itself nothing.  We will be back to hearing Krugman make the same Quisling arguments for them. 

For their victory to be effective they must also carry the House and the Senate.  But that is just as effectively impossible because the system is constitutionally structured to prevent change.  How can people who have studied politics not understand this? 

The Senate cannot be changed at all except through three elections over an eighteen year period, which  consistently produce a uniform ideological result.  Staggering three sets of six term elections all but a priori precludes any possible change.

Abolition of the Senate or, at least revision of its method of election, is a sine qua non of any real political change.  Otherwise one might as well bank on changing the Pentagon or the Federal Reserve.

And, in fact, changing the Pentagon and the Federal Reserve is at least as important as changing the Senate.

We are where we are because the established organs of social, political and economic life have basically bought into the Republican mantra.  When Obama says he firmly believes in American Exceptionalism, he all but pledges allegiance to Saint Reagan.

What is required is a radical revision of America’s way of thinking and this requires years of work in the political vineyards.

The Republicans got where they are by years of work on college campuses, church rectories, editorial rooms, factory floors, bar-rooms, movie studios — always in bold ways and subtle pushing their message.

Zionist Israeli Hasbarah works in the same way. If AIPAC defines the context and the message with respect to the Middle East it is only because they have worked at it legislatively, institutionally, editorially, ecumenically, educationally and infotainingly since the early 1970s.  They instruct Jews on how to argue Israel’s case and urge them to let no adverse comment slip by, even if it only amounts to answering and “correcting” some “hostile” comment on the Daily Iowan blog page.

And the Democrats?  Falling over one another for thirty years trying to distance themselves from the word liberal or from being seen as weak on defense or hostile to business.

The “left” (the vestigial real one) is hardly any better.  Their hasbarah ends up being endless monologues over Marxist Doctrine, usually clarifying dialectical profundities from the 1930s.

What America — and indeed the world — truly needs is a new socio-economic, environmental and political phalanx one that will cut to the chase with clarity, precision and ruthlessness.

Krugman’s apologia for Obama avoids cracking hard nuts and urges us to be content with chicken feed.




Monday, September 29, 2014

Dispersit Superbos in Mente Cordis Suis


Interviewing on Sixty Minutes, this past Sunday, President Urbama I admitted that the United States had "underestimated" the emergence of ISIS in Syria.   Obama added that the agencies had overestimated the ability and will of the Iraqi Army to fight such Sunni extremists. 

How is this possible?  History's greatest, most extensive spy apparatus that dragnets every pebble of information in the world, that data-mines the corneas, breathing patterns and bank accounts of millions upon millions, that eavesdrops on phone conversations, net-chats and emails, that algorithms thought patterns and body gestures, that tracks the movements of ants from space, that engages in mass "attitude manipulation" and that has totally trashed constitutional due process and civil rights and privacy and civic trust in favour of turning the world into a Global Security Lockdown--  the regime ("government" is too civil a word) that has done all of this in the name of fighting terrorism managed not to get a heads up  an an emerging terrorist threat?




he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

To Invoke & Pervert


Needless to say, Obama’s peroration before the General Assembly  was all that we expected it to be.  Predictably enough, after acknowledging the slight imperfections in our inherent goodness, he launched forward with Babies to the Fire, denouncing the unspeakable, yet depicted, horrors and evils of the Satanic Caliphate.

"But in this century, we have faced a more lethal and ideological brand of terrorists who have perverted one of the world’s great religions. With access to technology that allows small groups to do great harm, they have embraced a nightmarish vision that would divide the world into adherents and infidels – killing as many innocent civilians as possible; and employing the most brutal methods to intimidate people within their communities.

Casting the Innocents (Alexander Nevsky, 1938, Eisenstein)
"First, the terrorist group known as ISIL must be degraded, and ultimately destroyed.  This group has terrorized all who they come across in Iraq and Syria. Mothers, sisters and daughters have been subjected to rape as a weapon of war. Innocent children have been gunned down. Bodies have been dumped in mass graves. Religious minorities have been starved to death. In the most horrific crimes imaginable, innocent human beings have been beheaded, with videos of the atrocity distributed to shock the conscience of the world."
The only surprise was that he did not resurrect the kadaververwertungsanstalt.  Otherwise, Obama sounded entirely like Pope Urban II,

"From the confines of Jerusalem and the city of Constantinople a horrible tale has gone forth and very frequently has been brought to our ears, namely, that a race from the kingdom of the Persians, an accursed race, a race utterly alienated from God, a generation forsooth which has not directed its heart and has not entrusted its spirit to God, has invaded the lands of those Christians and has depopulated them by the sword, pillage and fire; it has led away a part of the captives into its own country, and a part it has destroyed by cruel tortures; it has either entirely destroyed the churches of God or appropriated them for the rites of its own religion. They destroy the altars, after having defiled them with their uncleanness. They circumcise the Christians, and the blood of the circumcision they either spread upon the altars or pour into the vases of the baptismal font. When they wish to torture people by a base death, they perforate their navels, and dragging forth the extremity of the intestines, bind it to a stake; then with flogging they lead the victim around until the viscera having gushed forth the victim falls prostrate upon the ground. Others they bind to a post and pierce with arrows. Others they compel to extend their necks and then, attacking them with naked swords, attempt to cut through the neck with a single blow. What shall I say of the abominable rape of the women? To speak of it is worse than to be silent. "  [1
So, here we are, on the anniversary of 9/11, once again sounding the trumpet for another crusade, although this time the bluster is hedged about with demurrers.  Not for Obama the unapologetic bluster of a Bush; rather the honeyed poison of an Urban. 

But the man who applies this salt should be prudent, provident, modest, learned, peaceable, watchful, pious, just, equitable, and pure. For how can the ignorant teach others? How can the licentious make others modest? And how can the impure make others pure?  ...  first correct yourselves, in order that, free from blame , you may be able to correct those who are subject to you. If you wish to be the friends of God, gladly do the things which you know will please Him.   .. Let therefore hatred depart from among you, let your quarrels end, let wars cease, and let all dissensions and controversies slumber. Enter upon the road to the Holy Sepulchre; wrest that land from the wicked race, and subject it to yourselves
 And so Obama,

"We have not invested adequately in the public health capacity of developing countries. Too often, we have failed to enforce international norms when it’s inconvenient to do so. And we have not confronted forcefully enough the intolerance, sectarianism, and hopelessness that feeds violent extremism in too many parts of the globe.  . . .
"We reject fatalism or cynicism when it comes to human affairs; we choose to work for the world as it should be, as our children deserve it to be.  ....  We believe that right makes might – that bigger nations should not be able to bully smaller ones; that people should be able to choose their own future. ...  America is committed to a development agenda that eradicates extreme poverty by 2030.  ...  I realize that America’s critics will be quick to point out that at times we too have failed to live up to our ideals; that America has plenty of problems within our own borders.  .  . .
"I know the world also took notice of the small American city of Ferguson, Missouri – where a young man was killed, and a community was divided. So yes, we have our own racial and ethnic tensions. And like every country, we continually wrestle with how to reconcile the vast changes wrought by globalization and greater diversity with the traditions that we hold dear.   . . .
"But we welcome the scrutiny of the world – because what you see in America is a country that has steadily worked to address our problems and make our union more perfec ...  We are heirs to a proud legacy of freedom, and we are prepared to do what is necessary to secure that legacy for generations to come. Join us in this common mission, for today’s children and tomorrow’s.
But true to pattern, as Urban II had invoked the will of God, so too Obama sought to clothe his war on ISIS in the mantel of just necessity.  After deploring the rape of virgins and the slaughter of innocents, Obama intoned,

No God condones this terror. No grievance justifies these actions. There can be no reasoning – no negotiation – with this brand of evil. The only language understood by killers like this is the language of force. So the United States of America will work with a broad coalition to dismantle this network of death.
The significance of this statement is apt to be overlooked until one takes note of the conditions the Church places on the invocation of the Just War Doctrine, viz:
 
 [The] Just War doctrine gives certain conditions for the legitimate exercise of force, all of which must be met:
1. the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain; 
2. all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective
3. there must be serious prospects of success; 
4. the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition" [Catech. Cath. Church § 2309].  [2]
The Church’s just war doctrine, while reinforced by the example of Christ, derives in major part from Cicero who is generally credited with being the first to enunciate pre-conditions for just war,

Then, too, in the case of a state in its external relations, the rights of war must be strictly observed. For since there are two ways of settling a dispute: first, by discussion; second, by physical force; and since the former is characteristic of man, the latter of the brute, we must resort to force only in case we may not avail ourselves of discussion.  ( Cicero, De officiis (On Moral Duties), 1.11.33-1.13.41.)

For Cato as for the Church, the essence of a just war is necessity — necessity, not expedience.  The Church’s preconditions nail down what Cato had left a tad fuzzy: necessity must be demonstrated not merely argued.  

The second condition of a just war is explicit and clear to anyone who understands English, viz:  all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective.

But “must have been shown”  is not the same as “There can be no reasoning – no negotiation” The second condition requires that non violent attempts at resolution be made and having been made be shown to be fruitless.   Hypothetically asserting that it would be pointless to engage in negations is not a demonstration of anything.  It is a mere assertion.  If necessity is left to mere assertion then the entire construct collapses into a heap of rhetorical amour-propre.

Thus, the Church’s doctrine prescribes a mode of conduct not a mode of argument.   At no time did Obama claim to have attempted negotiations with ISIS.  Instead he supplanted the requirement of necessity with an ipse dixit of hypothetical impossibility.

The speech delivered this morning was trademark Obama.   It contained all the usual nods to humanitarian ideals and progressive goals.  It feigned a humble acknowledgement of our own imperfections. It held out the “hope” of a more just and equitable world.    But all this, as usual, was the cotton candy fluff around the big stick of “diplomacy by force”.

We chipsters are not persuaded that the doctrine of just war is itself justifiable.  Contrary to oft-asserted mistake the doctrine is not found in either St. Augustine or St. Anselm.  The passage usually cited from Augustine’s City of God, is a literal aside wrenched out of context from a discussion of the Roman Empire’s linguistic and cultural homogeneity.

Early Christians (like Augustine) were quite familiar with Cato’s moral teaching and were equally adamant that there could be no appeasement of violence.  By that they meant exactly the opposite of what we mean today.  They did not mean that we had to fight violence but rather that we needed not to hand ourselves over to violence — that we had to suffer it instead of giving in to it.

"A Christian must not become a soldier, unless he is compelled by a chief bearing the sword. He is not to burden himself with the sin of blood. But if he has shed blood, he is not to partake of the mysteries, unless he is purified by a punishment, tears, and wailing. He is not to come forward deceitfully but in the fear of God.” (Apostolic Canons of St. Hippolytus XII-XVI)

“The safety of the City of God, however, is of such a kind that it can be possessed, or rather acquired, only with faith and through faith; and when faith is lost, no one can attain to that safety.” (Augustine, City of God, Book 22, ch. 6.)
Thus, Clement of Alexandria described the Church as “an army which sheds no blood.”

"If you enroll as one of God’s people, heaven is your country and God your lawgiver. And what are His laws? You shall not kill, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Protrepticus 11, 116)

The evidence is overwhelming that the early Church did not espouse a just war doctrine but rather forbade a resort to violence in all cases.  Period.

But the apple of self-preservation is too tempting.  The rationale for a resort to violence was first enunciated by St. Constantine-Cyril in 851 when those pesky Muslims were besieging Constantinople.   During a diplomatic parlay in 851, Caliph Mutawakki’s negotiating team opened up with quotes from the Gospel of Mathew,

"Your God is Christ. He commanded you to pray for your enemies, to do good to those who hate and persecute you, and to offer the other cheek to those who hit you. But what do you actually do? If anyone offends you, you sharpen your sword and go into battle and kill. Why do you not obey your Christ?" (The Orthodox Church and Society VIII.2)

To which St. Constantine-Cyril responded

"Christ is our God Who ordered us to pray for our offenders and to do good to them. He also said that no one of us can show greater love in life than he who gives his life for his friends That is why we generously endure offences caused us as private people. But in company we defend one another and give our lives in battle for our neighbors, so that you, having taken our companions as prisoners, could not imprison their souls together with their bodies by forcing them into renouncing their faith."

It was unalloyed Greek sophistry which quick-switched from referencing the collective we to talking about the we as individuals.   Nay! Nay! We are not defending ourselves.  Perish the thought.  We are defending our neighbor — the old, the weak, the virgin, the innocent; each of us defending the other — like Christ — laying our lives down for others.  No greater love hath man than this: than to bash the skull and pierce the gut of his adversary for the sake of his fellow man.   All of which ignored the salient fact that Christ laid down his life by suffering violence, not indulging it.

We mention these things not with any expectation that the United States (or even, for that matter France) will espouse Christian pacifism, but to illustrate how far Obama has fallen from any semblance justness.

The Church’s doctrine of just war is a compromise — an appeasement of violence.  It forgoes the gold and goes for the brass, seeking restrict violence to cases of last and necessary resort.

It is not an unreasonable rule but it is little better than Cato and falls short of Socrates.  Obama does not even touch Cato’s toga.  His speech before the U.N. General Assembly was more of the same high sounding, self-inflated exceptionalism for which he and his countrymen are renown.

Bleh.

But surely, it will be said, ISIS is a bunch of brutal barbarians who cannot be allowed to mow a path of blood with the Crescents of their scythes!

Like others we were appalled by the images of the beheadings and at least like some others have tried to fathom the mind behind the hand in such deeds.

Our quandary was put into perspective by a Canadian — a rather Tory type at that — who responded to a comment on how slow and sadistic the beheadings were by remarking that they were at least quicker than executions in Missouri.

Where was the incredulous outrage when U.S. soldiers strung up and beat a 21 year old Afghan cab driver for four days running until, as the coroner put it, his legs were, pulpified.   

Is death by “pulpification” any less brutal?  At the time, we called this matter to the attention of several senators and not one bothered with a reply.   After all, it is not brutal when we, the exceptional Murkans, do it.

This is not to condone violence by a specious tu quoque but rather to point out the wages of violence when one gives in to it.

Humans whether American, German or Russian, whether Jewish, Muslim or Shinto, do terrible things, without exception, when they resort to violence.  ISIS should not be held to an arbitrarily higher standard.  It is par for the course. 

Dilawar’s pulpified body was never broadcast on the nightly news nor are we treated to the collateral death inflicted on wedding guests by our drones; and, when Israel, reduces neighborhoods to rubble and children to limp and charred flesh it is called a “justified reprisal.”



Which perhaps sheds some light on ISL’s dark motives. 

There is a controversial rule of war which allows belligerents to take reprisals against the opposing party.  Reprisals refer to acts which are illegal if taken alone, but become legal when adopted by one state in retaliation for the commission of an earlier illegal act by another state.

Reprisals are (or have been) allowed against non-combatants in retaliation against acts of sabotage or killings by partisans and other non-official combatants. 

Needless to say, much misinformation and propaganda surrounds this murky and unhappy aspect of international and customary law.  All countries — including the exceptional United States — have engaged in reprisals.  Most of the German reprisals during the second world war were illegal not in principle but because they were excessive. 

Nevertheless, despite the volumes of arcana and hair-splitting, the law of reprisal ends up being an attempt to put a reasonable face on all hell and its minions.  No real sense can be imposed upon eruptions of chaos.

There is thus a trend in international law toward outlawing all reprisals (and certainly all reprisals against non-combatants), but this is counterbalanced by an equal and opposite tendency to accept routine and predictable collateral damage as legitimate. In other words, when the "non-reprisal" is done impersonally and with banality.

Pondering these things, it seems to us that ISL’s notorious beheadings are conceived by them as forms of reprisal; and they have, in fact, usually been accompanied by some sort of retaliatory justification.

What this indicates is that ISL’s conduct (to the extent that a unitary control purpose can be supposed) is not animated by pure and arbitrary sado-barbarism, as Obama has claimed, but rather by the more conventional cruelty in pursuit of a geo-political purpose. 

It is a significant distinction.  There was no negotiating with the U.S. thugs who pulpified Dilawar because their conduct was no less and no more than indulgence in sadism for the sheer pleasure of it.  They were not trying to achieve anything other than to inflict pain on Dilawar and thus there was nothing to negotiate or bargain.

But when like cruelty is retaliatory and is used as a means of attaining some military or geo-political alternative, then (despite the sordid distaste) there is something which can be achieved by negotiation.

The people who control U.S. policy understand this.  They (more than the rest of us) know what a disgusting enterprise the making of sausages is.  They have been, are and will always be disposed to negotiating with cads of the lowest order if they think something can be gained thereby.  A few beheadings will not stop America in her tracks!

The spectre of arbitrary and sadistic brutality is invoked merely to buttress the a priori argument that there could be no point in trying to negotiate with such inhuman beasts and therefore a resort to violence is justified.

The only thing demonstrated on Wednesday is that is the shameless hypocrisy of U.S. policy.

Urbama I


©WCG, 2014


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Globalization of Homeland Security


President Obama has announced that he will urge the U.N. security council this Wednesday to pass a sweeping new resolution which would impose global travel bans on fighters intent on enlisting in overseas wars.

According to press reports ( here & here), the resolution will require all countries around the globe to adopt legal, financial and administrative measures to monitor, list, freeze and quarantine “foreign terrorist fighters” as well as to implement programs to “prevent[] the radicalization” of their populations. 

In anticipation of Obombo’s address, former U.K. prime minister, Tony Blurr, raised his shrill voice to call for a propaganda crusade against, what he called, “Islamism.”

Welcome to the Global Security State.

~oOo~

Legal measures, like electronic equipment, are usually tricked out with various bells and whistles that attract the superficially minded consumer.  And so, typically enough, the press has focused on the resolution’s proposed measures — that is, on all the buttons and functions it places at the state’s disposal.

But lost in the legal gadgetry is the law’s animating principle which, in this case, is to take prophylactic measures against intents and attitudes.

An “intent” is a mental formulation directed at attaining a chosen object or objective.  It is the purely conceptual or abstract correlative of a “desire” which is the emotional component of the same objective.  As a rule, nothing is done without it being intended, which is why the law presumes that a person intended to do what he in fact did.

Accordingly, if a person is found fighting alongside swarthy, towel-headed warriors, it is presumed and inferred that intended to do so.  Similarly, if he boards a plane carrying a grenade launcher and wearing a T-shirt emblazoned “Caliphate Jihadist” his intended objective is fairly clear.

But most “foreign terrorist fighters” do not skulk about in uniforms.  The whole point of terrorist and mercenaries and other unofficial, non-state actors is that they are disguised and, as such, are indistinguishable from the general population.  

We have made this observations since Day Two of the current era and most recently again in connection with Obama's September 12th peroration on the terrorist threat.  What remains baffling is why the press is so utterly clueless.

Given that “foreign terrorist fighters” do not usually disclose their intents and given that the proposed laws seek to detect and prevent those intents from being carried out, how is this to be accomplished without monitoring all of us regardless of our intents and desires?

Given that intents relate to some future activity, it stands to evident reason that the proposed measures seek to penalize something which has not yet occurred.  But preventative punishment is the very heart of tyranny. 

Jurist types often speak of prophylactic measures which has a neutral medical ring to it and which conjures up some sanitary, precautionary, health measure like condoms or vaccines.   But law is not medicine.  Law operates — and always operates — by compulsion and pain.  This is the simple truth of the matter.  The words penalty and punishment both derive from the Latin word, poena meaning pain.  The law threatens pain for the doing or not doing of something and inflicts pain for the doing or not doing of something. 

In law, any type of taking or restriction is considered a punishment as much as a physical infliction.  For example, a person on probation is considered to be in legal custody because even if he is not confined to a cell his freedom of movement and choice is still monitored and restricted, even if mildly.

Whether one speaks of pro-phylactic or pre-ventative measures, the problem is is that they inflict a pain for something which has not yet happened. A person who has had his right of travel restricted on the basis of a suspected intent has been punished for something he has not yet actually done.  Similarly, a person who has had his bank account frozen has suffered a confiscatory “taking” without trial and on the basis of something which has not yet occurred.  

This prophylaxis represents the sadistic inversion of all that we consider civil and decent; it is pure taliation.

This arbitrary infliction of disabilities, detentions and punishments is nothing new.  It is the mechanism of all tyrannies and, as we have said before, the very essence of the so-called “war on terrorism”.    One can properly punish a terrorist for having done something and traditional legal tools allow this to be done with due process.

But to prevent an unseen, unknown actor from doing something potential puts the whole of society under suspicion, restriction and ultimately punishment without trial and on mere suspicion ... a suspicion which by the very formlessness of the supposed crime will always exist.   Once that takes place, the presumption of innocence has been replaced with punishment of predicted guilt and (as has often been said about Nazi Germany) the question is not “what is forbidden” but “what is allowed.”

This is what the war on terror is about and what Obama’s proposal proposes to do is simply to globalize the U.S.’s homeland security regime. 

The cute thing here, is that a person is always somebody’s “foreigner” so that once the regime has been globalized there is no distinction between “native” and “foreigner” and it becomes meaningless to say that any aspect of the law does not apply “to Americans” but only to “foreign terrorist fighters.”

Suppose for example that Congrease actually amends the Patriot Act so as to preclude warrantless searches of phone and email records of U.S. citizens and residents.  Big deal. That restriction will not apply in Abu Dabi where Americans are “foreigners.”   Thus Abu Dabi can monitor those chats and cooperatively share the information it has gathered with the country of origin of those foreigners.

~o0o~

As if all this were not bad enough, the inimitable Tony Blurr has managed to clang the other side of the gong. 

Along with the proposed taking of preventative measures against intents, he has made clear that the resolution also requires taking prophylactic measures to induce the correct and approved attitude. 

The conjunction “and” is one of the nastier little words in both law and politics.  It is nasty because it is small, quick and no one ever hears it.  When a politician stands on his hind legs and bellows, “We must take strict and stern measures against rapist, child-molesters and other criminals,”  everyone cheers wildly for revenge on the rapists without hearing or thinking or considering what the term “other criminals” might include.

Over and over again in the so-called war against terrorism we have heard politicians crying for and bragging about measures against “terrorists and criminals.”  Hardly anyone pauses to consider that “criminals” includes a teenager smoking an illegal joint, a drunk driver, a burglar.  The point is not whether dope smoking or burglary are “good” or “bad” but the extent to which we are willing to dispense with  due process in dealing with those behaviors.  An “exception” for “terrorists and criminals” is not an “exception” at all but a new rule of non-due process  — of taliation.

And so in this case, Obama’s proposed resolution does not seek merely to globalize the national security state, it also seeks to globalize the propaganda war against illicit modes of thought. 

Although the text of the resolution was difficult to find (and certainly not published by any mainstream information source), it

Calls upon all Member States, in accordance with their obligations under international law, to cooperate in efforts to address the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters, including by preventing the radicalization to terrorism and recruitment of foreign terrorist fighters, preventing foreign terrorist fighters from crossing their borders, disrupting and preventing financial support to foreign terrorist fighters, and developing and implementing prosecution, rehabilitation and reintegration strategies for returning foreign terrorist fighters...

Of course, nothing in the actual text, calls for agit-prop against “Islamism” but Tony Blurr’s clarion call illustrates precisely the twist and use “preventing the radicalization” will be given not only by himself but by political wedge organizations like ICSR masquerading as “research institutes” with which Blair collaborates.

Funded by Marks & Spencer heirs, ICSR dedicates itself to “researching” and polemicizing the “Islamo-radical” threat.  But their purview extends as well to Europes’ “New Right.” 

Summarizing ICSR’s agenda, Blair blathered, “The truth is that Islamism, unless fundamentally reformed, is incompatible with modern economies and open-minded, religiously pluralistic societies."

One really must wonder how the synapses in Blurr’s brain work, or not.  Earlier in the same interview he spoke of Salafist Islam.  In the next sentence he made a point of saying that this was not simply a fringe group; and, in the sentence following, he spoke of “Islamism” generally.  Is he so brain dead as not to understand the different implications of the words he bandies about with reckless abandon?

The dismal point is not that Blurr is no smarter than a desk-sergeant but rather that the desk-sergeant who will be monitoring our intents on behalf of the Global Security Apparatus is no smarter than Tony Blair.  {shudder}

Even supposing that Blair meant to confine his warnings to the threat of Salafism, that is little consolation to the rest of us, because the salient feature of Salafism is that it is a fundamentalist ideology which rejects “modern economies” and the neo-liberal modus operandi.  What makes Salafism evil in Blurr's mind is its opposition to the status quo.

Of course Blurr decks this out as a rejection of multi-cultural, pluralism on the assumption that all good and right-thinking people believe in multi-coloured pluralism.   But, assuming that to be the case,  once again, that nasty and.  He also couples the issue to a rejection of “modern economies.”  Would the Bolivarian, sustainability movement qualify as “incompatible”?  What about Popes Benedict and Francis both of whom have spoken out against the "modern economy"?   Do the “New Right” or “Fourth Way” movements, both of which reject the concept of global corporate economies and which endorse “cultural protectionism” also qualify as “incompatible”? 

Of course they do.  Shills like Blurr, blabber about Salafism because by doing so they lull the rest of us into not caring that the State is going after them and those.  But on closer examination, it is clear that the going after is against anyone whose views are deemed incompatible with the existing regime.  

Let's be frank.  Obombo and Blurr's One Percent Regime tosses out the chicken feed of individual freedoms (foetus flushing, gay marriage, electoral farces, and choice of detergent or phone) while promoting the social irresponsibility of plunder, privatization and austerity. 

The "modern economy," which Blair and Obama promote, monopolizes water,  depletes fisheries, uproots forests, fracks aquifers, pollutes the ocean, contaminates the air and impoverishes millions in the first world and billions in the third.  It is an economy which disempowers  workers and denies people their economic rights.

Although it is a truth most "liberals" find too uncomfortable to bear, the same relativism which allows modern society to be  culturally non-judgemental renders it equally non-judgemental economically -- which is to say that the value of exchange ("commerce") supplants all human concerns and values. What rules is simply the fetish of the commodity which allows and even encourages "pluralism" so long as it does not impede commodification and profit.

Neither Obama nor Blair are particularly important as historical forces in the Hegelian sense.  They are stage actors manipulated from behind the curtains -- or, in Obama's case, from the teleprompter in front.   They are only important for the forces they run for and give voice to.  Beneath the glitzy kewlness, of their "modern economy" is a Hobbsian dystopia where the race is to the cunning, callous, cruel and indifferent.  Under Obama's proposed resolution, any movement or any ideology which "rejects" the approved values of neo-liberalism needs to be "de-radicalized" and the masses themselves immunized against conceiving, much less considering, ideological alternatives.  

In the end, Obama’s New Resolution calls not only for global monitoring of everyone for incompatibility but also for global mind-massaging to induce compatibility with the neo-liberal, extractive, consumer security state.

Oh Security!  Oh Joy!


Sauve qui peut!


Friday, September 12, 2014

Over there! Over here!



Obama gave a little speech the other day and, once again, little heed is paid to the fine print.   In his address to the nation on Wednesday night, the president invoked the "threat" the Islamic State of Iraq and Lebanon posed to the world and promised to "degrade and destroy" the self-proclaimed caliphate.

Polls indicate that a plurality of Americans are happy with this crusade so long as it does not involve  "boots on the ground" but can be accomplished in the Pac Man manner by remote control killing.   The basically callous idea is that bloodshed is fine so long as it does not "involve" us.   But it does involve us.   This is what the president said,

"If left unchecked, these terrorists could pose a growing threat beyond that region – including to the United States. While we have not yet detected specific plotting against our homeland, ISIL leaders have threatened America and our allies. Our intelligence community believes that thousands of foreigners – including Europeans and some Americans – have joined them in Syria and Iraq. Trained and battle-hardened, these fighters could try to return to their home countries and carry out deadly attacks.

...
 "I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are. "
But "wherever they are" includes "some Americans here ... "in their home countries."   This non-war war will not only  take place over there but over here as well.  And that means that the U.S. Government will be hunting "potential threats" over here.

Do Americans suppose that these terrorists will wear some distinguishing badge or mark that makes them easily huntable?  Back in 2008 CIA Chief, Mike McConnell told Congress that Al Qaeda had improved its ability to recruit operatives capable of "blending" into American society and attacking domestic targets.   It was a "Duh Moment" in Congrease.

But if these fighters "blend in" with the rest of us, where exactly does that leave the rest of us?  Thirteen years ago to the day, we warned that the war on terror was a war on ourselves,

"What the Government will have to presume is that everyone is at least a potential terrorist. In the most fundamental sense that is a presumption that is entirely antithetical to the concept of civil friendship, i.e., societas."

It took seven years for Mike McConnell to stumble onto the obvious;  and still no one got it.  It took six more  years before Snowden leaked the obvious; and still people talk about targeting them  in ways that don't target us. 

It cannot be done because by definition terrorism and terrorist are unofficial, undercover, amorphous, formless.   And this means that the threat -- that is, the potential harm -- could lurk anywhere.... over there and over here.  That puts everyone under suspicion, and under suspicion, under surveillance and under surveillance, in prison.

Sounds like a loosing proposition to us.








Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Police Impunity & Judicial Depravity


Once again,  State Thugs,  beat the crap out of someone for no apparent reason other than that the victim of yet another CopAktion had the temerity to ask why he was being detained.



Ever so slowly, the general public and even some denizens of officialdom are starting to ask murmuring questions about the "militarization" of the police and the disturbing nature of a police culture of hostility and aggression.

What no one is reporting or talking about is the culture of JUDICIAL depravity and prostration that abets police brutality. 

Does anyone think that the Robed Hypocrites don't know what the cops are up to when they come into court with their fake and phony "resisting arrest charges"?   Of course they do.  Cops brazenly call it testilying, and they know the courts will swallow whatever  S.O.S.  they serve from the stand. 

Impunity breeds brutality  and the judicial branch is most responsible for what goes on on the streets.

.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Washington Wonders


Washington Wonders never cease.   The New York Times published today an article-cum-info graphic listing all the foreign governments, corporations and hinwis who contributed to or sponsored Washington policy think tanks.  The list includes some of the most prestigious tanks in our nation's capital.   Mirabilis dictu,   the State of Israel was not listed as contributing to a single one.  Not a one.  We had no idea Israel was so disengaged from U.S. policy decision making. 

.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The American Disconnect


The Sotloff family released a statement today in response to the brutal beheading of their son by ISIS warriors.

The statement was touching in its unadorned recitals of Mr. Sotloff’s life and in its reaffirmation to emerge from the ordeal of his death without fear.

The loss of a parent or child is the most grievous loss humans can suffer and the anguish of seeing a son cruelly beheaded is impossible to fathom.  No one can begrudge the Sotloff family anything.

We were, however, struck by the following portion of the family’s statement:
"We Americans want to tend to our own lives, work our jobs, farm our farms.   But time and time again, we are sucked into world crises and often perplexed about which policies to pursue and criticised for what we choose."

This statement represents a complete disconnect from reality.  Perhaps the American people want to “farm their farms” (to the extent any family farms are left), but if they are “suckered” into anything it is by their own government. 

The United States — that is that nation state that exists and acts by that name — is not dragged into crises but itself constantly creates crises by its own interposition, meddling and belligerence. 

Americans will continue to suffer the consequences of their government’s subservience to corporate interests and imperialist ventures until they disabuse themselves of isolationist down home aw shucks family farm fantasies.

.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Bowings of a Sociopath


Triggering a flurry of pro-forma criticism from Western governments, Israel has seized 1000 acres in the West Bank in order to build a settlement in Gush Etzion, between Jerusalem and Bethlehem.  The area is close to where three Jewish teenagers were murdered in June.

Minister Naftali Bennett, head of the right-wing Jewish Home party, said the decision to build in the Etzion bloc was the Zionist answer to Arab terror.  “Hamas murders and we build.”

What kind of logic is that? 

Theft by any other name is just as foul.  Israel is not “building” it is seizing.  What one does with stolen land or property after it has been taken is a distinct issue from the taking of it.

Dishonestly switching terms, Bennett attempts to confuse others into overlooking that Israel has stolen land belonging to others. 

“We continue to build our country as we always have,”  Bennett warbled on.  For over 120 years, since the dawn of Zionism, we have built and the world did not like our building....  Aww such touching pathos.  Jews build while the whole world cavils!


 
This is truly the mental process of a sociopath in whose twisted mind his own misconduct is transformed into earnest good doing. 

But it doesn’t end there.  Bennett’s statement implicitly acknowledge that this do-good, building of a new world was actually punitive pay back for murders attributed to Hamas.

First of all there has never been any proof, not a scintilla, that Hamas was responsible for the kidnapping and murder of the three Jewish teenagers.  Hamas has denied any involvement and, given its usually candid acknowledgement of responsibility for past actions, its denial does not warrant rejection out of hand.  Moreover, Hamas is primarily a presence in Gaza, not in the West Bank where the murders occurred.  Lastly, given that Hamas was preparing for critical Palestinian elections in June, it is hard too fathom — without engaging in double reverse poker gambits — what it stood to gain by carrying out such a crime. 

But even supposing Hamas were responsible, what possible justification is there for punitively stealing land from a third parties (Palestinian farmers) who have certainly never been implicated in the crime?

This is precisely the type of psychotic reasoning which motivated Kristallnacht.   Yes, Kristallnacht.  In 1938 Herschel Feibel Grynszpan, a Polish Jewish refugee shot Ernst vom Rath,  a junior clerk in the German Embassy in Paris.    Grynzspan  committed the murder out of frustration over Germany’s anti-Jewish policies.   In response, the Nazi government unleashed mob action throughout Germany against Jewish establishments and rounded up 30,000 Jews and packed them off to concentration camps.

The reason collective punishment is primitive and barbaric is that it punishes the innocent whose only “connection” to the crime is sharing some irrelevant characteristic with the actual perpetrator - skin color, religious affiliation, ethnicity, or any other arbitrary attribute.

Howsoever the differentiation is drawn what is involved is a mental process that says: all of them  are equally bad,  guilty, worthless and undeserving of any individualized consideration.  They are, in a word, as cockroaches.

This is the mentality that reigns supreme in the councils of Israel’s government.  The seizure of the land is not simply “illegal” it is a nauseating performance of stroking the violin atop a heap of shit.
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