Archive for the ‘political’ Category

JLENS

May 22, 2015

Bwa ha ha ha!
Check out the “Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System,”
which is “a system of two aerostats, or tethered airships, that float 10,000 feet in the air. The helium filled aerostats, each nearly as long as a football field, carry powerful radars that can protect a territory roughly the size of Texas from airborne threats.”
Thank you, Raytheon! People weren’t scared of constant government surveillance enough, so now we get to fear it Hindenburg-style.
I also love how its listed in their “products” section.
Bwa ha ha ha!
http://www.raytheon.com/capabilities/products/jlens/

Pushing the War Button

October 28, 2012

As “intelligence failures” over Iraq indicate, governing can have serious  consequences.  Still, it’s not necessarily true that we can’t afford another corrupt  administration.   If we so wish, we can afford virtually any leadership  that comes down the pike. They can simply remind us, as Bush and his predecessors  constantly do, that the US is chiefly responsible for “the  spread of liberty and democracy” in the world.   In other words, Americans are inherently benign — provided we have strong leadership above us.  Supposedly, 9/11 makes it more so, for it apparently instantly  added legitimacy to the state. After all, as Bush said in his final State of  the Union address, “We have taken the fight to these  terrorists and extremists.” Implied is that all other questions are nonessential to this divine quest. Bush also suggested that, “wherever freedom advances in the Middle East, it seems the Iranian regime is there to oppose  it.”  This is because “Iran is funding and training militia groups  in Iraq, supporting Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon, and backing Hamas’ efforts to undermine peace in the Holy Land,” and “Tehran is also developing ballistic missiles of increasing range, and continues  to develop its capability to enrich uranium, which could be used to create a nuclear weapon.” (1)

Of course, as always, US nuclear weapons and missile defense programs are just fine. For example, in London on Thursday, February 18, 1999, House  Policy Chairman Christopher Cox candidly assured us the following: “Some of the research and development for our current ballistic missile defense program dates back to Britain’s response to the German V-2 ballistic missile attack in the last world  war. Today, we talk of the amazing successors to these technologies: guidance systems utilizing kinetic energy, hit-to-kill intercepts of ballistic missile targets, and such things as indium antimonide and gallium arsenide quantum wells. American scientists’ attention is focused principally on advanced theater missile  defense now, to protect forward-deployed and expeditionary elements of  our armed forces,” and those of chosen “allies.” Where is the moral outrage over these weapons programs? No one is supposed to have it. Like a good salesman, Cox’s language implied that missile defense (and defense spending generally) was more important than ever before. Again, it’s okay for American missiles  to be advanced, but Iran is a different story  entirely because theirs would be against ours. (2)

Also implied in Bush’s address is that only Islamic states and terrorists have unjustly abused “the Holy Land”. Did any military-happy American President urge Israel out of  south Lebanon, or to drop its weapons programs?  No, and supposedly because “America is a force for hope in the world” and “a compassionate people,” as are its  official allies. That’s the official script. To veer away from it supposedly makes one an unsavory character. Under this principle, fire coming from “our” hostile troops, as well as “our” bombs  from above, are hopeful and compassionate — presumably unless a key  American politician declares otherwise.  Until then, everything must be well-intentioned.   If we believe something like this, we can stand squarely with President Bush.  Then, of course, Bush can ironically warn Iran (or countries  he doesn’t like):  “Verifiably suspend your nuclear enrichment, so negotiations  can begin,” and tell them that, “to rejoin the community  of nations, come clean about your nuclear intentions and past actions, stop your oppression at home and cease your support for terror abroad.” (1)

Supposedly, America’s control of Baghdad was never in any way oppressive or terroristic.   This is why, during his famous 48 hour warning to Iraq, Bush warned that, “For their own safety, all foreign  nationals — including journalists and inspectors — should leave Iraq immediately.” Somehow, terror of any kind is simply not implied here. In this case, any perceived terror must have been merely a subjective feeling, just some emotionally charged mental hyperbole. (3)   On the other hand, reports of a “‘two-way pipeline’  moving Islamic militants between Europe and Zarqawi’s network in Iraq”  (and other such reports) are a matter for total alarm. (4)

Meanwhile, Iraq’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hamed al-Bayati,  expressed his own interest in further alliances, urging the “international community” to “provide greater support to the Iraqi government in confronting terror groups that are active worldwide, like Zarqawi’s group,  al-Qaeda and others.”   (5)      So why stop warring now, or ever?   As Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari reminded us, “car bombs  can be exported everywhere.” Iraq’s Shia-dominated Government sensibly admits that elections didn’t end the insurgency. As al-Jaafari stated: “You all know the heavy legacy inherited  by this Government.  We are afflicted by corruption, lack of services, unemployment and  mass graves.”  (6)

And, of course, anyone against American efforts can be accused* of “agreeing” with al-Qaeda, or any other Islamic terrorist  organization.  We’re supposed to be practically ahistorical.    We’re not supposed to care about the support America gave to the radical Islamic Mujahideen during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, even though these same fanatics later gave as al-Qaeda  and the Taliban.   Or, if we are to look at that example, we’re  supposed to justify it because of the Soviet Union and play the “lesser of two evils” game.

However, we actually can condemn all of al-Qaeda, the US government, and the  Soviet invasion of Afghanistan for their corresponding roles.  We needn’t play the “lesser of two evils” game.  Let’s not be so dishonest as to regard 9-11 as some historical cut-off point, and that the  US (and Britain, France, Germany and others) were “leaving the  Middle East alone” until a fateful day in 2001. Unfortunately, though, “lesser of two evils” remains a very popular  game. It’s pervasive even after it was reported by the New York Times  that ISI, the intelligence service of Pakistan (“a crucial American  ally in the war on terrorism”), has had “an indirect  but longstanding relationship with Al Qaeda, turning a blind eye  for years to the growing ties between Osama bin Laden and the Taliban.”  How “indirect” the relationship has been remains questionable.   Allegedly, the ISI “even used Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan to train covert operatives for use in a war of terror against India.” Said one State Department official on the matter:  “I think the Pakistanis realized as time went on that they had  made a bad deal…. But they couldn’t find an easy way out of it.” But the C.I.A., going down the usual route, still “equipped and  financed a special commando unit that Pakistan had offered to  create to capture Mr. bin Laden.”  (7)

That Pakistani intelligence would fail shouldn’t be entirely surprising. US authorities themselves “have stated that more than a third of those rounded up after the September 11 attacks and still in custody were people of Pakistani origin.”  John Ashcroft said that, of the 641 people detained in  the US in connection with the attacks, “over 200 came  to the United States from Pakistan”. This is not to say all those detained were even guilty, but that the US government seems suspicious of Pakistanis in general. It makes an alliance of doubtful merit, at best. (8)

According to high-ranking officials, military intelligence has been a consistent problem with capturing or killing al-Qaeda members, as it was with bin Laden. During the Clinton years, “the information was usually only at the ’50-60% confidence  level, not sufficient to justify American military action,” wrote CIA Director George Tenet in his memoir. ‘As much as we all wanted Bin Ladin dead, the  use of force by a superpower requires information, discipline, and  time.  We rarely had the information in sufficient quantities or the  time to evaluate and act on it.” (9)

Now that bin Laden is dead, how much new information must the US government take in, how much more time must be spent on war-making, and must we continue to act like the full history doesn’t matter?

SOURCES: 1.  President Bush’s final State of the Union Address.  Chamber of the United States House of Representatives.  United States Capitol.  Office of the Press Secretary.   January 28, 2008:  [url]www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/01/20080128-13.html[/url]

2.  Address to the European-Atlantic Group. Hon. Christopher Cox Chairman, House Policy Committee London, Thursday, February 18, 1999 [located on Usenet]

3.  “President Says Saddam Hussein Must Leave Iraq Within 48 Hours.  Remarks by the President in Address to the Nation”:  [url]http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/03/20030317-7.html[/url]

4.  “Desperate Londoners seek survivors after bombings.” Katherine Baldwin and Kate Holton (Reuters): [url]http://redorbit.com/news/general/168696/desperate_londoners_seek_survivors_after_bombings/index.html[/url]

5.  “Steep rise in London death toll” Mail & guardian Online: [url]http://www.mg.co.za/articlePage.aspx?articleid=244896&area=/breaking_news/breaking_news__international_news/[/url]

6.  “Terror chief losing grip, says US,” James Hider, Times Online: [url]http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,7374-1596751,00.html[/url]

7.  “A NATION CHALLENGED: THE SPIES; Pakistani Intelligence Had Ties To Al Qaeda, U.S. Officials Say ,”  James Risen, Judith Miller, New york Times, October 29, 2001: [url]http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B03E3D61630F93AA15753C1A9679C8B63[/url]

8.  “US feared ISI during Clinton’s Pakistan visit: Report,” rediff.com, November 30, 2001: [url]http://www.rediff.com/news/2001/nov/30clint.htm[/url]

9.    “U.S. ABORTED RAID ON QAEDA CHIEFS IN PAKISTAN IN ’05,” Marlk Mazzetti, The New York Times, May 4, 2009: [url]http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9500E6D7133EF93BA35754C0A9619C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all[/url])

Chosen people, chosen land

September 21, 2012

If we examine history’s rogue’s gallery, we see some differences between the leaders. Unlike Napoleon Bonaparte, Hitler and Mussolini weren’t military heroes, for example. However, they did have common ground. Today they make many of us cringe in repulsion, but in their heydays they offered something hopeful, something virtually all political ideologues offer: The promise of being a chosen people in a chosen land.

Now, what does the term “chosen people” mean? It is, quite simply, the striving to be a select people with a coherent political and social existence. This ideal is very pervasive, and very convenient for the powers that be. When we don’t like what a politician says, we may still cater to what a religious authority preaches, what the Bible commands, or what some other distinguished, authoritative guide instructs. And, of course, the same is true vice versa. For these guides, gurus, politicians and the divine documents they wave around, many borders are constructed and wars launched (including so-called “preemptive” wars and “terror attacks”) – supposedly for the benefit of the people. Those who object to this state of affairs may be shunned, penned off into “free speech zones” outside of party conventions, faced with police violence, officially excluded from discussion, or simply persecuted. Such exclusion is an important issue in its own right, but it’s largely omitted from the “national dialogue” in authoritarian cultures, for mainstream media tends to the demands of the bully. Instead, we’ll hear vague rhetoric about our being a free and open country, even when saddled with a ruling class of some kind. When the excluded are noted, it tends to be in a purely derogatory manner; maybe the excluded are traitors, sinners, rioters, or absolutely nothing but human filth. In the process, many legitimate demands for change, for justice and equality are omitted, or at least simplified to the point of ridiculous caricatures and mindless labels. Xenophobia and racism are grown.

Now, what do I mean by “xenophobia?” Contrary to what some say, “xenophobia” is more than just a petty, singular insult or “emotional appeal” to throw around in an argument. It’s a regretfully common phenomenon with deep implications. The term is typically used to describe fear or dislike of foreigners, or people different from one’s self. The stronger this fear, the greater the xenophobia is.

It comes from the Greek words ξένος (xenos), meaning “foreigner,” “stranger,” and φόβος (phobos), meaning “fear.” Many fit this description well, and plainly so. Why else would we have the term “illegal aliens,” which brings to mind not images of human beings, but of hordes of extraterrestrial “things,” or mere legal “entities”? Such phrases are used to depersonalize people, to carefully abstract them. And it works extremely well.

Another phrase, “anti-American,” serves to divert attention from serious issues. Among America’s political right, the term is employed to make critics of the US government sound like sympathizers for the Taliban, “Commies,” “Saddam loyalists,” or some other traitorous boogeyman to the American race. To some, even mild-tempered critics must have sold us down the river to some GI killer. However, none of this is a purely American phenomenon. The term “xenophobic” serves well to describe vast portions of the human world, both expansionist and isolationist. In fact, some say it describes every country. Xenophobia and authoritarianism constitute virtually the same thing, and share on obvious characteristic: The “chosen people” attitude, which is often considered an innate, almost biological imperative that must be fulfilled. In order to fulfill this elitist vision, it’s only natural to have elitists at the helm.

Certainly, people are territorial beings in one sense or another. To an extent then, some degree of territoriality is how the world works. However, I’d add a simple admonition: Where elitism and authoritarianism strive, people have the most problems. Some will attack this general statement as being far “too simple,” but go ahead and pick up a history book. If history is any kind of guide, and if territoriality is innate or genetically determined, then we may indeed be programmed for self-extermination. It sounds dramatic, but predictability needn’t be easy on the eyes. It bears repeating that this is not a loose and fantastic opinion, but something revealed by a cursory glimpse into history. Most of us are raised on authoritarian logic, to want to be American citizens, to want a great God presiding over us (and often a certain God that only a select group will see). And just as there is a special authority to help us untangle the “mystery of God,” so too are there specialists regarding statecraft or economic privilege.

Not everyone came freely to believe in God or State. “Civilization” often means conquering foreigners and stealing their resources, and this is increasingly admitted with candor, at least by some. In fact, it was through conquest that the system called “America” was established. The conquest against and subjugation of “weaker races” is why people today argue English should be America’s “national language.” Control (and sometimes the elimination) of communication is an important thing to authoritarians, for language is a crucial aspect of human freedom. They will seek to regulate language as much as possible, such as declaring English (or what other language) to be the “official” language. Implied in such a declaration is linguistic and cultural supremacy. Anti-authoritarians, on the other hand, feel that only natural circumstances should dictate how we speak, and that officiating language is not only unnecessary, but rude. We don’t need the state pressuring us into speaking any language, or determining our culture for us in any other way. Some say imposing English upon others is necessary, because it’s the most common language in America. But do people need to be compelled “to make communication easier?” Don’t we make communication easier by applying reason, by learning more about language in general, and not by shaming people or regulating how they speak? If I feel learning another language makes communication easier, I can just exercise my own free initiative and try to learn that language.

When you’re under the boot of cultural elitists, communication is not truly easier. It’s just forfeited, and that’s what “chosen people” tend to do. They forfeit individuality for “the nation.” If they’ve already forfeited it for themselves, they’re more than willing to do it for others. It’s the stuff of “re-education camps,” like those instituted to brainwash “Indians,” or -to use a well-known example – like those which indoctrinated Germans into so-called “National Socialism”. If people woke up to what free speech actually entails, they’d recognize language and cultural expression as a key component of it. They would scoff at all attempts to regulate language in any significant way. They would not fear or distrust foreign tongues, but just admit their own ignorance of that language and go about their business. We should not only seek to rid others of centrist ideologies, but abolish that childish, selfish mania which lies in ourselves. We can use perfectly reasonable means to do this, I believe. It can be done primarily through example, by discussion and yes, by formal education. Free societies don’t mean we absolutely have to speak this or participate in that. It’s about choice. And a free and open system is more reliable, if reliability is directly proportional to ease of accessibility (meaning, in social systems, egalitarianism and accountability). In this case, we mean language accessibility, or multilingualism. The animating ideology I advocate here is egalitarianism, fairness. It has nothing to do with imposing anything on anyone.

Prevailing ideologies lead to social divisions and war. In Iraq, many have died due to US foreign policy. Many thousands have simply been slaughtered or imprisoned by the US government (with plenty of them not guilty of anything other than living in Iraq). It is, yet again, largely a matter of ideology and conquering (or eliminating) “foreign” attitudes and practices. Though no one is supposed to notice, the same ignorance and xenophobia launched this war that launches all wars, and it stands behind all of the conflicts in the broader Middle East. And many Americans now fear people who “look Muslim,” “look Arabic,” or what have you. In turn, Americans will likely pay for this fear, in manifold ways. This doesn’t mean the cycles will be broken, of course. The political “life” of the state seems to hinge upon these fears, these methods. If we do not fear a foreign language, we fear something else we don’t understand. In the process, we cling to convention. Do taxation, currency and war (the main methods by which governments “communicate” their rule over us) give us “order”? Not real order, for these things too involve social division, and therefore chaos. However, these methods, which are against reason and sound communication, are basically anti-human, so we ultimately are debating the indefensible: Force. Force cannot be debated with intelligence. It can only be halted.

The state, with its attack on reason, seems designed to take human contact out of life, so we feel less emotionally and intellectually associated with others in our dealings. In trade with money, people become abstracted, just as they do whenever we discuss them as “the nation” or as “foreigners” and “heathens.” The money is their master status. It is to communicate all their worth. It is this false sense of worth that binds us to this system. We can — and many of us do — convince ourselves that this is a genuinely decent way of doing things, that the social bonds under authoritarianism remain solid. But it is not genuine unity. Strict capitalism does stifle intelligence, for we cannot know anything without spending. We can only know, do, or eat what we can afford. This framework fosters a great deal of chaos and hardship in the world. However, because a ruling class holds so much sway over communication (which is increasingly true even for the internet), nobody is supposed to talk about this as fact.

Elementary truths are relegated into “views” of reality, as “Leftist rhetoric.” In other words, the communication is dismissed entirely. However, no amount of denial can hide how, in state-capitalist society, the poor are just more of the excluded, the alienated, the conquered and the re-educated. This may be according to law, but it is not order.

Personally, I think more order could be found in getting rid of such oppressive features, not by adding more to them. In fact, with government we’re seeing the growth of private tyrannies across the world. “Foreign people” are rebelling against this, and real libertarians would be proud of those who show a rebellious hint of life against a spirit-sapping, sweatshop infested global economy. An obvious example is when Bolivians kicked Bechtel corporation (a US company) out of their country for privatizing their water supplies. Yet again, it was a case of people organizing — communicating — where they were not supposed to, and reaching a conclusion they were not supposed to reach: That not everyone is willing to let some ruling class control everyone’s lives, resources, and minds. Governments often take (steal) our money via taxes and, to create a benefit handout, and transform the money into subsidies for giant global corporations and their subsidiaries. It’s a lousy situation, and we can get rid of taxes, state oppression, and the corporate tyrannies that foster poverty – but only if we stop fearing foreigners so much, put our flags down, and begin thinking some “unconventional” thoughts.

The Wizard

September 7, 2012

I drop words simply til they hit  carve them into digestable bits cut into a meaning, straight to the core eliminate excess pus, bruises and sores. Get nutritional value, absorbed and stored into life essence like a reward.

But my intake of knowledge is threatened by ignorance conflicts that stick masquerade as intelligence I speak, of course, of party politics, and the schemers lined up all craftily selling this. I know what they sell, and more are now smelling this, it’s a dirty tale to tell, but I’m the one telling this.

Indoctrination compatible with fatalities injecting false civility into brute animality madly and sadly, many go willingly,  for well-paid and brainwashed shills, indeed.

What today passes for national policy? Quite typically, what most can only do criminally. But the given orders are carried out dilligently, so by definition we fullfill ruling class prophecy.  Fittingly, we pay taxes, or the filling-up-coffins-fee, but if you call this fair, you’re not talking honestly! I see a history book, I’ll tell you what’s often hitting me: goose-stepping fools, war and atrocity. Competing assholes punish varying apostasies; It’s caveman with club, marketed as philosophy.

And this is all practically killing me, so much of what we are is just what we’re willed to be by a ruling caste that only pretends to have empathy — quite simply, they are the crocs to our proverbial wildebeast. Yet propaganda provides the illusion of compatibility between working-class interests and their ruling class enemies.

Sure, their so-called “news” comes in very few hues, but at least it’s delivered by folks in nice suits!? These talking heads will act increasingly rude, spewing one-sided views and cutting off mics in interviews. No food for thought, the lack thereof is their food but they manage to keep enough eyes glued.

Perhaps it’s the nerve, or the graphics they use — blazing colors of lies, distortions, half-truths. But does it pass for journalism in the red, white, and blue? Nah!, Ann Coulter wants you for her stew, and your little dog, too!

It’s the greatest disease that will spread like a plague pyro-maniac leaders set the world aflame. To politicians the people are but pawns to be played well, I offer a solution, revolutionary but plain: Stop supporting these bastards, it’s stupid, insane. There’s a man behind the curtain, so expose the charade!

The militarists, the bankers, the whole legislature, I’ve been on to them, observing the nature – of the game they set forth by propaganda and law it’s the very best and very worst kind of fraud. It’ll take an effort to remove them and move on but progress is alive, and it could be a new dawn.

The way upward is human, through it we could fair well It’s not static and dead, it is motion in parallel  It’s a physically alive, thinking stairwell, It’s being human with interests not narrow as hell.

Surface values questioned, look within truth transcends belief, or color of skin but we need to realize what we’re living in unless we desire imprisonment, and the same for our kin.   Of the weak and the strong, I think very frequently they can alternately make, break or weaken me so when I read the newspaper, I understand why they lie, and though some say nothing changes, at least we can try.

Families – feeling like slaves

June 26, 2012

In many ways, this system puts wear and tear on working-class  people.  Look at the military. As Bob Fertik and Ted Kahl of Democrats.com noted in 2003:   “Bush has used ‘stop-loss’ orders  to force at least 40,000 U.S. soldiers to serve beyond the end of their tour of duty, leaving soldiers – and  their families – feeling like slaves.  And because troops feel abused, re-enlistment rates are dropping,  and our armed forces are losing good, experienced soldiers.”    I hardly consider myself “pro-military,” but it seems there is truth to that assessment.  Over five years have passed since that was written, and Americans are now saddled with additional worries — cumulatively referred to as “the economic meltdown”. No doubt, many people still “feel like slaves.”  In figuring out possible solutions, I’ll cut right to the chase. In addition to calling off the dogs of war, we should stop certain policies, such as interest  collection, evictions, foreclosures, and liquidations. Hardship would be reduced significantly if it wasn’t artificially forced  upon people, and youngsters would less likely join the military purely for financial reasons  (as plenty of people actually do) if they didn’t feel vulnerable economically.  There’s nothing romantic or utopian about this to my mind, and we should start taking these steps as soon as possible, and I have no problem with this view being presented publicly.       Cited Source:  (“Top Bush Scandals of 2003, Part I: Iraq,” Bob Fertik and Ted Kahl, Democrats.com: http://archive.democrats.com/view.cfm?id=18639)

Ending the monopolies, and the monopoly of the monopolies

March 26, 2012

Frankly, anyone arguing for the “right to pay  taxes” is probably not the sharpest cookie. But why do we pay taxes, anyway? We’re not all smart, but we’re also not all stupid. Most are afraid to bite the hands which appear to feed them.

Of course, their fear is not entirely well-founded. It’s the workers who actually feed themselves, and their fellow workers, while a class of wealthy people and legislators rob them by force of law. As a classical anarchist text notes: “Rent is the monopoly of land, interest the monopoly of money, profit  the monopoly of trade, and government the monopoly of the monopolies.” To elaborate on this point, Laurance Labadie called “the ‘health, education, and welfare’ section of government” just “another boondoggle.”  “First,” he said, “we manufacture indigent and superfluous people by legal monopolies in land, money and idea patents, erecting tariff barriers to protect monopolies from foreign competition, and taxing laborers to subsidize rich farmers and privileged manufacturers. Then we create ‘social workers,’ etc., to care for them and thereby establish a self-aggravating and permanent institutionalized phenomenon…”   By such means, the odds are stacked against us average folks.

Provided there are taxes — and other economic burdens — imposed on younger  generations, I don’t see a peaceful, warm & fuzzy solution  to their socio-economic problems. The older generations are inevitably to blame for that, sadly. And, being brainwashed by their elders, the new generation takes a current trend and  projects it indefinitely into the future. Thus are spawned more little tax-and-spend yuppies and greedy corporate crooks, and the chicanery of law used to protect their interests and assert their dominance.  Thankfully, some workers are doing their best to assert their interests over those of so-called “public” and “private” institutions. For example: “In a record turn-out, as many as three million people hit the streets in France…to protest against the government’s economic policies in response to the global crisis, according to union estimates. The numbers were closer to 1.2 million, say the police. The country’s airports, trains, schools and public transport were disrupted by the mass demonstration – the second general strike faced by France in two months.”   (1)

Similarly, “When the 250 workers at the Republic Windows and Doors factory in Chicago were told that the plant was shutting down, they decided to take matters into their own hands…. the workers occupied their factory in an act that echoes the sit-down strikes of the 1930s in the US and the occupation of factories during the 2001 crisis in Argentina.” (2)  In Ireland, the workers at Waterford Crystal occupied their plant. “Rather than accept the closure of the business, the loss of all the jobs and the destruction of the area’s premier industry; workers seized the buildings making liquidation impossible for the receiver.” (3)  A broader message is this:  Get rid of legal compulsion and people are free to (a) create their own currency or IOU’s, or (b) barter freely, basing value entirely on what is actually traded.

It can happen!

NOTES:  1.  “Up to three million march in French mass protest,” Elitsa Vucheva, EUobserver.com, 20.03.2009: http://euobserver.com/9/27815

2.  “Workers Occupy Chicago Factory: Echoes of Argentina’s 2001 Worker Uprising,” Benjamin Dangl, CommonDreams.org, December 9, 2008:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2008/12/09

3.  “Clear as Crystal … Waterford shows how to fight,” James McBarron, Workers Solidarity MOvement, March 11, 2009: http://www.wsm.ie/news_viewer/5291

Stand with reason, not nationalism!

July 25, 2011

Modern life poses a lot of unconventional questions, which we can address or choose to ignore.
One of them:  Are Christian Zionist extremists as potentially dangerous as, say, Muslim extremists?
According to Daniel Levitas, “More than a century after William Hechler paid his first
 visit to Theodor Herzl in Vienna, Christian Zionists are still
 zealous supporters of Israel.
The stakes of this evangelical-Jewish alliance are high, as
 Christians who want to hasten the Apocalypse have mobilized to
support policies that are likely to exacerbate the Israeli-Palestinian
 conflict to the point of possibly bringing Jews and Arabs
closer to a smaller-scale version of Armageddon.
 And while the American Jewish establishment has not wavered in
opposing the religious right on domestic issues, its embrace of
Christian Zionists, however reluctant, may strengthen the hand of conservatives
 in the next election and beyond.
But regardless of whether or not more Jews can be
 persuaded to vote for the GOP, one thing is certain:
 Christian conservatives certainly will be better prepared to deflect charges
 of antisemitism with Israeli leaders like Ariel Sharon, Benjamin Netanyahu,
 and Ehud Olmert standing at their side.” (1)

When addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it seems relevant to keep that question in mind.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict does not have magic solutions.
It’s even safe to say that, on the present course,
nothing will likely be solved.
Any military option could backfire, and probably will.
 Nor can the problems be “invested” away, or solved by
 attorneys. 
But Israeli Prime Minister Rabin inadvertently stumbled upon a problem of logic for
 Israel.
In 1993 he mentioned how, “These groups”  — meaning Palestinian extremist
organizations — “are ideologically opposed to the mere existence of the
State of Israel, let alone to peace with it.” (2)

The conundrum is simple:  Any sensible person could oppose “the
mere existence” of the state of Israel, or any other
 state.
One could have never set foot in the state of
 Israel and still oppose it, based on general principle.
For example, King Hussein exercised Rabin-like logic in 1965, claiming that
 “Palestine has become Jordan, and Jordan Palestine,” and that “organizations
 which seek to differentiate between Palestinians and Jordanians are traitors.” (3)
The logic is virtually identical, at leats to an unbiased observer.

What were both King Hussein and Rabin trying to say? 
The fundamental impression is that certain distinctions and criticisms are
 forms of treason, or heresy, while other distinctions and criticisms must stand,
and be protected.  
Of course, it’s hard to engage in discussion with people who assume this.
For example, if criticizing Israel means supporting Palestinian extremists, or those
 who bombed the World Trade Center, what can one say? 

The US has its own logic for being involved in this ideology.
John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt elaborated on how,
 “especially after 9/11, U.S. support for Israel has been justified
 by the claim that both states are threatened by terrorist
 groups originating in the Arab or Muslim world, and by
 a set of ‘rogue states’ that back these groups and
 seek WMD.
This rationale implies that Washington should give Israel a free
 hand in dealing with the Palestinians and not press Israel
 to make concessions until all Palestinian terrorists are imprisoned or
 dead.” (4)

Of course, by totalitarian logic, all Palestinians can be punished
for being potential terrorists.
On the other hand, some devout Muslims truly can become a dangerous, zealous
group — even outside of their particular “regimes.”
 A dramatic example is when one tried to murder a
Danish cartoonist for his role in creating “12 drawings of
 the Prophet Muhammad which angered Muslims around the world.”
Also, “Three Danish embassies were attacked and at least 50
 people were killed in rioting in 2006 in the Middle
 East, Africa and Asia.
Several young Muslims have since been convicted in Denmark of
planning bomb attacks, partly in protest at the cartoons.”(5)

It’s clear that, to some, any perceived “holy” end justifies any
 means.  The danger is obvious. 
If we were to all live by such standards, the world would quickly be
enslaved by competing camos, and it would be a particularly unworkable
 form of slavery.
The solution, as best I can tell is this: 
  All of these problems come from the past, and discussions
 dead-end fairly quickly if we cling to these ancient beliefs.
We need to stop believing in so much, and instead look
 to what is really there. 
We need less faith.  We need to see. 
 When you need to “see” something to believe it, it is
actually a lack of faith, a lack of belief.
 It is the pursuit of evidence and reason.     
 
Only this pursuit can prevent the deaths of Jews and
 Israelis, as well as the terror campaigns by Israel and
the United States.
The problem here is one of perception, of ideology.
At this point, all sides need to stop blaming their
 victims.
This includes any Americans who blame Iraq for the Iraq
 War.
  To some Americans, it’s easy to forget it was the
United States that launched the Iraq invasion, not Saddam.
  However, ideological loyalty deflects responsibility for America’s actions.
In stark contrast to the conventional cowardice, Kathryn Casa wrote the
follwing about the ongoing attacks:  “In the Islamic world,
 much of which suffers from poverty and animosity institutionalized by
 years of lopsided U.S. foreign policy, this illogical war will
 burn hatred and a thirst for revenge into generations of
 Muslims.
And because Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the
United States, Americans will re-learn and re-live still
more bigotry, prejudice and fear.” (6)

Of course, this doesn’t mean all who convert to
Islam are guaranteed to hate or attack the United States.
But the prospect is there, and growing.
In turn, America’s own bigotry, prejudices and fears may increase,
especially among religious fanatics.
Some doubt the extent and tenacity of American fundamentalist Christianity.
  But consider, for example, the case of Mikey Weinstein, a
Jewish Republican attorney, and a 1977 Honor Graduate of the Air Force
 Academy and creator of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.
 He has been “locked in mortal combat with Fundamentalist Christians,”
claiming America “is a two-inch Tiger Woods putt from
being changed to the United Fundamentalist States of America.”
Weinstein alleges that soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and cadets
 and midshipmen at the Air Force and Naval academies at
home, are pressured to convert to evangelical Christianity by those
with “a virulent desire to subordinate the Constitution …
to…the weaponized gospel of Jesus Christ.”(7)
 
As Stephen Rose put it:  “The United States of America
 cannot hope any longer to successfully deal with the rest
of the world, politically, economically or socially, as long as
 it continues to be a nation divided by its own
 denial, fears and prejudices.” (8)

The Iraq war isn’t only the fault of Bush and
 his advisers, but the fault of our nations, our societies.
We make the world crazy.
There are so many opportunistic, paranoid political movements out there, ever ready to
 propagandize against another “race” while propping up their own.
Even stupid Nazism could have a big comeback.
It still has proponents.   
Consider the following quote, sometimes used on the internet by anti-Jewish groups:
“The Bolshevik revolution in Russia was the work of Jewish
 brains, of Jewish dissatisfaction, of Jewish planning, whose goal is
 to create a new order in the world.
 What was performed in so excellent a way in Russia,
 thanks to Jewish brains, and because of Jewish dissatisfaction and
by Jewish planning, shall also, through the same Jewish mental
 an physical forces, become a reality all over the world.
(The American Hebrew, September 10, 1920).”
Surprisingly, the original source apparently exists.
However, according to Jacob Minsky, “this is not a quote at all, but at the most an
 extremely tendentious paraphrase, and the second sentence is a complete invention.
Second, this particular issue – actually, it is a color supplement to the magazine – is
 devoted to the topic of ‘non-Jewish opinions about Jews.’ To that end, it consists of
 articles by various non-Jewish guest commentators; e.g. it has an article by Georges
 Clemenceau. The opinions in the quote above are contained (but not in such extreme form, or
 in those words) in an article by one Tsvetan Tonjoroff, of whom I have never heard (and,
 more tellingly, neither have any biographical references that I’ve been able to search).
 So I really can’t say why he was invited to submit an article.
There is not the slightest indication that his opinion is shared by the staff of American
Hebrew, any Jews, or what have you. In fact, this issue – and many of the previous ones –
 contain articles that debunk the usual antisemitic lie that Bolshevism is Jewish, discuss
 the serious situation of Jews in early Soviet Russia, quote from respected sources (e.g.
 General Kolchak, if I recall), and so on.” (9)

But paranoid hatred is difficult to combat, given its very nature.  
Because social organization present such vast, humanity-wide issues, workable solutions cannot be
 nationalistic or racist.
People are what they are.
If a view or project is not acceptable, we generally shouldn’t
 have to participate in their vision.
If something happens that’s totally awful, then people may have
 to defend themselves against it by the means deemed necessary.
 It’s not all that complicated, once the superstitions and blind
 obediences to authority are removed.
Where people are free to do things for their own
 sake, based on logic and not on lies, they are
less like machines and more apt to create an intelligent
 society.
 There are tendencies in this direction right now, even though
corrupt politicians, corporate monopolists and religious loons still have significant
 sway over world affairs.
Many authoritarians doubt you have an ounce of original thinking in your body.
They count on it.  
Brainwashing is very real, though today it’s commonly called “public relations.”
Don’t believe me? 
Consider the following report by Newsweek online (yes, none other than Newsweek):
“In 2003, [then-US Defense Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld issued a secret Information
 Operations Roadmap setting out a plan for public affairs and psychological operations to
 work together.
It noted that with a global media, the military should
 expect and accept that psychological operations will reach the U.S.
public.
‘I can tell you there wouldn’t be a single American
 disappointed with anything that we’ve done that might be out
 there, that they don’t know about,’ says Col. Curtis Boyd,
commander of the 4th PSYOP Group, the largest unit of
its kind.
‘Frankly, they probably wouldn’t care because maybe they are safer
 as a result of it.’
In January 2008, a report by the Defense Science Board
recommended resurrecting the Office of Strategic Influence as the Office
of Strategic Communications.
But Congress refused to fund the program.”(10)

May the program go unfunded, and may we see beyond the program altogether.

SOURCES: 
    1.  Daniel Levitas, “A MARRIAGE MADE FOR HEAVEN,” Reform Judaism Magazine,
SUMMER 2003 Vol. 31, No. 4:
http://reformjudaismmag.net/03summer/focus.shtml

2.  Address by Prime Minister Rabin to the General Assembly of the Council of Jewish Federations, Montreal, 18 November 1993:
http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Foreign%20Relations/Israels%20Foreign%20Relations%20since%201947/1992-1994/138%20Address%20by%20Prime%20Minister%20Rabin%20to%20the%20General)

3.  Quoted at:  http://www.danielpipes.org/article/298

4.  John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, “The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy,” Antiwar.com, August 22, 2006:
http://www.antiwar.com/orig/mearwalt.php?articleid=9573

5.  “Major Danish newspapers republish Muhammad cartoon,”:
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3506256,00.html

6.  “Just Say No,” Kathryn Casa The Brattleboro Reformer, Sept. 23, 2002, or “Invasion of Iraq,” Gary Girdhari:  http://www.guyanajournal.com/iraq.html

7.  “War against soldiers of Christ,” John Colson, The Aspen Times,  March 23, 2008

8.  “Wow!!! There’s Racism in America!?!,”  Stephen Rose, March 28, 2008:
http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/13746

9.  “Response to ‘1000 Quotes by and about Jews,'” David S. Maddison:
http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Cyprus/8815/1000quote.html

10.  “AP Impact: Pentagon ups public relations spending,” Chris
Tomlinson, Associated Press Writer:
http://www.newsweek.com/id/183372/output/print

On Ann Coulter

February 4, 2011

In American political culture, a lot of things actually make sense.
For example, the call to limit salaries at banks taking taxpayer bailouts.
In fact, one could argue that perhaps — just perhaps — some salaries should have been removed.
Then there are things, and even people, which make little to no sense.
An example of this would be Ann Coulter.
Among other nonsensical things, she’s made this statement regarding the Middle East:
“We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert
 them to Christianity.”
Facsinatingly, some have defended this view.
In a debate site online, someone told me that
“Coulter’s point is that Iran would be a better place
 with a different government and a different religion…Christianity for one.”
Of course, saying a thing shouldn’t exist and calling for violence against
 it can be entirely separate things.
It’s one thing to say “the cat shouldn’t be in
 the house,” and another to say “let’s torture and kill
the cat, then burn it in a backyard bonfire.”

In actuality, Ann Coulter’s view essentially dehumanizes her targets — they
 are nothing but impediments to her self-righteous goal of a global Christian theocracy.
It’s like my telling her that she isn’t human; that
she is merely a thing to be removed from human society.

 
We’re all guilty of this attitude to an extent, but
it’s up to us to mediate that extent.
But also, let’s be honest — we don’t all like each other.
I really wouldn’t be shattered to learn that Ann Coulter died.
There, I said it.
After hearing that, I would still put on my shoes, check the mail and go about the rest of my day.
But, at the end of the day, I’d settle back into an easy chair, knowing it wasn’t me who
who killed her or anyone else.
I’m not calling for the extermination of nonbelievers, nor am I a well-paid public figure.
I can’t say this for Republican ideologues who clearly want to kill people in the Middle East.

re: FOX News

January 21, 2011

There’s lots of misinformation around,
supposedly packaged for families, shouted on the airwaves.
However, there was no meaningful defense of our vaunted
 Constitution during the Bush years.
In other words, they call it an “idiot box” for a reason.

Why Uncle Sam is Losing in Afghanistan

December 22, 2010

I’ll keep it short and sweet:
Al-Qaeda aren’t “based out of” any one state.
That’s largely why, after Uncle Sam bashes in a few
heads, more pop up elsewhere.
 It’s a troubling, seemingly eternal game of whack-a-mole.
And, by bombing the landscape and sometimes killing civilians,
 we’re pissing people off and creating more enemies.
 Then, of course, there are the mountains….