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Welcome to the Sixteenth Century, Eureka

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I had to reprint this article from Firedoglake:


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Welcome to the Sixteenth Century

By: masaccio Sunday November 30, 2014 10:57 am

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113014_Damned-to-Hell-Demons Please don’t murder us in the streets. We work hard so we should be paid a living wage. Bankers should be treated as equal before the law. Please stop spying on us. We’ve lived here all our lives, don’t deport us to a foreign country. Please stop killing people everywhere in the world. We are entitled to be treated like other people. Please stop poisoning the dirt that grows our food and the water we drink and the air we breathe. The minimal nature of the demands of millions of protesters measures the decrepit state of our nation. It also tells us that the rich people who run this country loathe and despise us.

We killed your kids with impunity. Take that tiny paycheck, and supplement it with government benefits, and punch out before you clean up your work station. Bankers are the engines of prosperity and if they get a bit greedy, it can’t be prevented without destroying capitalism. We spy on you to protect you from immigrants with Ebola and sharp swords. Get back into that closet. You’ll eat and breathe oil and you’ll love it. OK, you noisy group can get married. Now aren’t you happy? Remember, we have the guns, the tanks, the tear gas, the pepper spray, the kettles, the rifles, the humvees, the assault rifles, the MRAPs, and the drones, and we have your data and your phones and your computers and your emails and your facebook pages and your tweets, and we know who you are. And just ignore those thugs on the roofs, those plain-clothes men with AR-15s, they’re either our regular troops or our irregulars, our vigilantes, just out to protect our private property.

As bad as this is, the worst part is that there are millions of people who aren’t elites, who aren’t rich enough to financially survive a lost job or a divorce or a sick kid, but who think this is just fine. Those people vote for the system not just in elections, but by their hatred for their neighbors. Who could have predicted so many citizens would enjoy watching their neighbors thrown out of their houses rather than figure out some way to help? Who would have thought so many citizens would be thrilled to see families broken up and deported? Who would have thought so many citizens would be happy to drink oil instead of water for any reason? Who would have thought that so many citizens would prefer not just to let corporations pay so little to their neighbors, but also to support cutting off all government benefits to those workers? Who would have thought so many citizens would be happy to have some government agent collecting their phones and email and internet search histories?

The optimists among us point to a bunch of liberal issues on which a plurality of citizens agree according to pollsters. That’s great, and it may even be true. But the fact is that our Constitution is set up to prevent government action against the will of a small minority. It gives tiny Red States plenty of 19th Century Senators who under Senate rules can block any action they don’t like. The House is thoroughly gerrymandered, so that the will of the majority isn’t even represented. Presidential candidates must win the money primary, insuring that they will support the interests of the richest and most retrograde among the top .01% who own 11% of the total wealth of the nation. The Supreme Court has always protected property at the expense of every other interest or value, so even if a decent piece of legislation passed, the five conservative hacks on the Court will strike it down.

It seems to me that this nation is infected by a nameless, faceless dread, a fear of something awful just beyond our ability to grasp. The media, right-wing politicians and demagogues, acting on behalf of their filthy rich patrons, actively exploit that fear to get what they want: a divided nation at war with itself. You don’t have to watch Fox News or listen to Rush Limbaugh or worse to get this; you can feel it in the air, and get all the examples you need from The Daily Show or Colbert or Oliver. Where does this come from? This is a country rich in resources, armed to the teeth, with a powerful technological infrastructure that should allow a lot of material progress and solutions to any real problems. And yet there’s this:

As of 2014, it’s estimated that nearly half of Americans — 49 percent — say natural disasters are a sign of “the end times,” as described in the Bible. That’s up from an estimated 44 percent in 2011.

How do you explain technological marvels sitting alongside this kind of pre-Enlightenment fright? One explanation comes from @Billmon1, a great Twitter follow. He says that a large part of the US missed the Enlightenment altogether. That part, largely the Red states, but all over the country, is embedded in the 16th/17th centuries:

To be more specific: rooted in 16th/17th century British isles — Scotland, English border lands & Ireland, to be precise. “Celtic fringe.”

About as backwoods, parochial, & religiously bigoted part of W. Europe as you could have found in that era — an era of religious bigotry.

We have a great recent example of this culture in Northern Ireland. After a century of war with itself and its Catholic neighbors, Northern Ireland has turned from religious bigotry to racial bigotry. There are plenty of problems in Ireland, many of which are the result of unbridled capitalism like the short-sighted decisions of the leaders to pay off all depositor loses caused by Irish banks and the outrageous tax schemes that enable the likes of Apple to screw the US out of needed tax revenues. But really, a few immigrants are the problem?

It’s a mirror image of the US. The “Other” is the problem. It isn’t the unjust distribution of wealth, it isn’t the exploitation of the worker by the filthy rich, it isn’t unequal schools, it isn’t poverty or any other structural condition. It’s witches. It’s demons. It’s unholiness. It’s impurity. It’s smoke.

It isn’t fixable. The most you can hope for is bottling up that rage and fear in fewer and fewer people. Instead the media stokes those fires. Self-ordained ministers tell people that it’s sin that cause fires and floods and earthquakes and eclipses. Rage freaks like O’Reilly and Limbaugh and the incomparably stupid Hannity tell their listeners that the end times are coming. Politicians like Lindsey Graham shriek that terrorists are coming to kill them while they sleep. These pre-moderns are now in control of both the House and Senate, and the Supreme Court.

I’m thinking about being a bit fearful myself.

Photo by Georges Jansoone under Creative Commons license


–Joe

Cornel West slams ‘counterfeit’ Obama’s presidency

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Re-printed from RT.

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Published time: August 25, 2014 16:45

Cornel West, activist and professor at Union Theological Seminary, ripped Barack Obama’s “Wall Street presidency,” calling him another neoliberal “counterfeit” after posing as a progressive in his initial campaign for the White House in 2008.

“We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency, a national security presidency,” West told Salon.com’s Thomas Frank.

“The torturers go free. The Wall Street executives go free. The war crimes in the Middle East, especially now in Gaza, the war criminals go free. And yet, you know, he acted as if he was both a progressive and as if he was concerned about the issues of serious injustice and inequality and it turned out that he’s just another neoliberal centrist with a smile and with a nice rhetorical flair.”

Public intellectual West lamented Obama’s failure – or refusal – to attempt a revival of democratic principles at a time of “an empire in decline.”

“Our culture is in increasing decay. Our school systems are in deep trouble. Our political system is dysfunctional. Our leaders are more and more bought off with legalized bribery and normalized corruption in Congress and too much of our civil life. You would think that we needed somebody—a Lincoln-like figure who could revive some democratic spirit and democratic possibility.”

West said at a time of deep need for solutions, for a change of culture in the gilded halls of Washington, Obama was another “opportunist.”

“It’s like you’re looking for John Coltrane and you get Kenny G in brown skin.”

Looking back, West said he believes Obama’s “motus operandi” has always consisted of seeking to placate the powers-that-be and to occupy the “middle ground,” even though he acted the part of a transcendent figure during his campaign 2008, the year that saw the beginning of the Great Recession.

“And so what did he do? Every time you’re headed toward middle ground what do you do? You go straight to the establishment and reassure them that you’re not too radical, and try to convince them that you are very much one of them so you end up with a John Brennan, architect of torture [as CIA Director]. Torturers go free but they’re real patriots so we can let them go free. The rule of law doesn’t mean anything.”

West also chided US Attorney General Eric Holder for his cozy relationship with Wall Street.

“Eric Holder won’t touch the Wall Street executives; they’re his friends. He might charge them some money. They want to celebrate. This money is just a tax write-off for these people. There’s no accountability. No answerability. No responsibility that these people have to take at all.”

Looking back, West said he believes Obama’s “motus operandi” has always consisted of seeking to placate the powers-that-be and to occupy the “middle ground,” even though he acted the part of a transcendent figure during his campaign 2008, the year that saw the beginning of the Great Recession.

“And so what did he do? Every time you’re headed toward middle ground what do you do? You go straight to the establishment and reassure them that you’re not too radical, and try to convince them that you are very much one of them so you end up with a John Brennan, architect of torture [as CIA Director]. Torturers go free but they’re real patriots so we can let them go free. The rule of law doesn’t mean anything.”

West also chided US Attorney General Eric Holder for his cozy relationship with Wall Street.

“Eric Holder won’t touch the Wall Street executives; they’re his friends. He might charge them some money. They want to celebrate. This money is just a tax write-off for these people. There’s no accountability. No answerability. No responsibility that these people have to take at all.”

West said Holder will likely step down by the end of the year, as he is “concerned about his legacy as if he’s somehow been swinging for black folk ever since he’s been in there. That’s a lie. He’s been silent, too. He’s been relatively silent. He’s made a couple of gestures in regards to the New Jim Crow and the prison-industrial complex, but that’s just lately, on his way out. He was there for six years and didn’t do nothing.”

The post-Obama era will be “an America in post-traumatic depression,” West said, and the likely successor in the White House, “neo-liberal opportunist par excellence” Hillary Clinton, will be “much worse.”

“Hillary Clinton is an extension of Obama’s Wall Street presidency, drone presidency, national surveillance, national security presidency. She’d be more hawkish than he is, and yet she’s got that strange smile that somehow titillates liberals and neo-liberals and scares Republicans. But at that point it’s even too hard to contemplate.”

The World Loves Snowden

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121813_Snowden-HeroPerson of the Year – Edward Snowden

Black Agenda Report

Freedom Rider: Edward Snowden: Person of the Year

Wed, 12/18/2013 – 10:27 — Margaret Kimberley
Edward Snowden is vilified as a “traitor” by politicians of the American political duopoly, and hunted like Public Enemy Number One by the global imperial apparatus. However, for a large proportion of Earthlings, Snowden has made the singular contribution to humanity of the year 2013.

There is not very much democracy left in America, a country which endlessly brags about how democratic it is. Every now and again we are pleasantly surprised when the people and their interests are served instead of the 1% and their factotums in government. Those moments are few and far between but when they take place it is always because an individual decides to take on the system directly. In 2013 Edward Snowden was the person who risked his freedom to tell every human being with access to modern communications that they were under United States government surveillance.

Click here to continue:

[Source]

–Joe

2013 – A Beginning or An Ending

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010113_happy_new_year_3

What surprises await us this year?

–Joe

Written by Joe Blow

January 1, 2013 at 8:57 pm

America’s Slide into Hell

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by Glenn Greenwald.

MONDAY, JUN 25, 2012 04:01 AM PDT

Collapsing U.S. credibility

Condemning foreign governments for abusive acts while ignoring one’s own is easy. But the U.S. leads the way.


Why this is important. Here is Greenwald’s Update excerpt:

UPDATE:

A related point was made by Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1967, when he delivered an extraordinary speech designed to address complaints that his anti-war activism was distracting from his civil rights work, and he explained why the latter was impossible without the former (h/t Duncan Mitchel)

As I have walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action.

But they ask — and rightly so — what about Vietnam? They ask if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted.

Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.

Last January, I wrote about King’s speech and how it relates to current political activism.

[Source]

–Joe

Take A Look Into The Future

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Yes, take a look into America’s future with Thomas H. Naylor. His interview printed here: Thomas H. Naylor on Leviathan, Secession and Vermont’s Small Nation Dream on LewRockwell.com is long, but well worth reading and thinking about.

The roots of the Occupy Movement go back a long way.

What he lays out is the ruling Oligarch’s greatest fear as the work assiduously to consolidate their power and control on a society devoid of an sense of practical reality. A society asleep looking for a fight.

[Source]

–Joe

Protest Are A Waste Of Time

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Glenn Greenwald on the Importance of Protests 

His article posted on Salon.com today, Sunday, October 30, 2011 is here. He answers the driving question:  but what can we do about all of this? He offers a good start:

(1) Ever since I began writing about politics, the most frequently asked question I’ve encountered has been: but what can we do about all of this? The reason I find the Occupy movement to be one of the most important, exciting and inspiring political developments of the last decade is that it provides the definitive answer to that question. Though still in what I hope is its incipient stage, this protest movement proves that citizens of all different backgrounds and even ideologies (though sharing common interests) possess the ability to unite, pose a threat to seemingly invulnerable power factions, and demand change beyond the mere act of voting once every two years — and that they can endure and even grow in the face of abusive police force. Though it has already accomplished substantial good, the protest movement hasn’t yet achieved all of that, but it has provided the template and made manifest the possibility. Read the rest of this entry »

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