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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

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Lies and Hypocrisy Goes Hand in Hand with Elitist Liars and Hypocrites

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What is becoming an epidemic is the rank, shameless dishonesty of America’s elected representatives. The question this raises is, does this say something about these representatives, including President Barack Obama or the American people?

Locally, our great blog prognosticator and absolute authority on all matters political and religious, Eric Kirk has also tried to redefine his position towards the Egyptian people demonstrating for their freedom, their personal dignity and that each one of them counts as much as Mubarak and all of his Elitist supporters. Which, incidentally coincides almost word for word with President Obama’s position – security and stability preempt or comes before personal dignity and freedom. Read his postings and backup commentary nearly 3 weeks ago and compare that with his latest posting. Here’s a good ‘start’ example – continue reading his comments. I also posted an article on my other Report blog: The Kirk Accord — Democracy Hypocrisy.

Then there is this latest obscenity:  WikiLeaks row intensifies as US makes ‘privacy’ move against Twitter

Civil rights lawyers fight order to reveal Twitter accounts linked to WikiLeaks – on the same day Hillary Clinton praises role of social networks in promoting freedom.

The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, praised the role of social networks such as Twitter in promoting freedom – at the same time as the US government was in court seeking to invade the privacy of Twitter users.

Then there’s President Obama’s latest fantasy: Obama Suggests Mubarak Regime Didn’t “Shoot, Beat, Arrest” Protesters.

On Tuesday, President Obama addressed the protests in Iran and across the Middle East at a news conference in Washington. Comparing the Iranian government’s crackdown on protesters with Egypt’s, Obama appeared to suggest the U.S.-backed Mubarak regime didn’t also try to violently repress the recent uprising.

President Obama: “What has been true in Egypt should be true in Iran, which is, is that people should be able to express their opinions and their grievances and seek a more responsive government. What’s been different is the Iranian government’s response, which is to shoot people and beat people and arrest people. And my hope and expectation is, is that we’re going to continue to see the people of Iran have the courage to be able to express their yearning for greater freedoms and a more representative government.”

Obama also defended his administration’s handling of the Egyptian uprising, claiming he wanted to avoid the appearance of meddling in pushing for a transition. But Obama refused to acknowledge that two top officials—Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and special envoy Frank Wisner—voiced support for Mubarak’s regime.

President Obama: “What we didn’t do was pretend that we could dictate the outcome in Egypt, because we can’t, so we were very mindful that it was important for this to remain an Egyptian event, that the United States did not become the issue, but that we sent out a very clear message that we believed in an orderly transition, a meaningful transition, and a transition that needed to happen not later, but sooner, and we were consistent on that message throughout.”

Source

–Joe

Regards to the Opinionator Assassinator

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This is a post by Digby posted here in it’s entirety. In view of the latest “As It Stands” Times-Standard opinionated article on this subject we wanted to add Digby’s thoughts to the discussion.

The Suggestibility Of Bradley Manning

by digby

I haven’t written much about Bradley Manning’s treatment in his military brig, since Greenwald has done a great job along with many others who are following the story carefully. There seems to be a lot of controversy over whether or not he is being tortured. In my opinion, locking up someone who has not presented any kind of threat to other prisoners and who has not been convicted of a crime for months on end in solitary confinement under tight restrictions is torture. It’s horrible enough to do it someone who has been convicted, but using these techniques on someone you are trying to get to testify against someone else cannot be seen in any other light.

As we well know by now, the line between interrogation and torture has become indistinguishable among far too many people and many of these more suspect interrogation techniques are likely to produce the same kind of false information you get from torture. So one aspect of the Manning story stuck out at me as being pretty damning evidence and that’s the fact that he’s being awakened every five minutes during the day and if the guards “need” to assure themselves that he’s ok, they wake him up at night. Keep in mind that this is a guy who’s completely isolated and has no access to anything unauthorized, not even a real blanket and pillow. (Apparently, he’s got some strange device that makes him miserable.)

Sleep deprivation is well known to enhance “suggestibility” and is commonly used in interrogations:

A person’s suggestibility is how willing they are to accept and act on suggestions by others. Interrogators seek to increase a subject’s suggestibility. Methods used to increase suggestibility may include moderate sleep deprivation, exposure to constant white noise, and using GABAergic drugs such as sodium amytal or sodium thiopental.

There’s no evidence that they are using white noise or the drugs mentioned, but it sure sounds as if they employing moderate sleep deprivation to increase “suggestibility.” And we know what they are suggesting, don’t we?

Months and months of sleep deprivation and isolation cannot be justified for security reasons. This fellow isn’t a commando. He isn’t a professional spy. He’s just some grunt who uploaded some electronic files. The only reasonable explanation for his treatment is that they are trying to get him to implicate someone else in his alleged a crime. And that’s the oldest reason for torture in the books. In the old days, they wanted their subjects to implicate Satan. Today it’s Julian Assange.

What is going on here is truly an assault on this nations’ manhood and womanhood.

–Joe

Truth and the Free Press

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Glenn Greenwald has a good article on Salon.com today that needs to be highlighted:

The media’s authoritarianism and WikiLeaks

Also Digby’s latest:

More Journalistic Malpractice In Service Of The Powerful


The news media are not even trying to hide their lies and lying.

–Joe

Written by Joe Blow

December 10, 2010 at 8:18 pm

Authoritarianism’s Pretty Face

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WikiLeak’s enlightening revelations are truly revealing within themselves. Perhaps we can all agree or conclude that absolutely nothing government says is true – everything is a lie. We should, therefore, proceed from that premise and then move on to the truth.

More than that, however, are the raw edges exposed by this light. It seems there’s been a confluence of disparate individuals that’s come together to achieve the same goals. This is what usually happens when there’s a major change taking place, but only obvious to few people. Here’s a good example of a raw edge illustrated by Glenn Greenwald in his latest column:

(5) Speaking of authoritarianism, the loathsome Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) — the National-Security-State-venerating Chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee who lives off her defense contractor-husband’s vast wealth — announced that she supports re-writing and expanding the Espionage Act of 1917 to make it easier to prosecute WikiLeaks and those like them; asalways, Feinstein abuses her role as Chair of the “oversight” Committee not to scrutinize and limit the abuses of the intelligence community but to protect them at all costs, as that’s where her source of wealth and power lie.  She was responding to yesterday’s announcement that Joe Lieberman — joined by GOP Senators Scott Brown and John Ensign — introduced a bill intended to make it easier to prosecute Assange.  Exactly as Dowd says, when it comes to authoritarian punishments for those who dare to expose what the U.S. Government does, the mindset is entirely bipartisan.

Glenn updates this column with: The lawless Wild West attacks WikiLeaks – It should be “attacks America.”

A review of Glenn’s recent articles lays out in fairly stark and graphic terms what’s happened to America and what it is doing to the world as a consequence. Everyone seems only to be concerned about how the WikiLeaks revelations affects America. The problem is how the rest of the world see America after the facts and what they are going to do about it. Glenn says:

All the oppressive, lawless policies of the last decade — lawless detention, Guantanamo, disappearing people to CIA black sites, rendition, the torture regime, denial of habeas corpus, drones, assassinations, private mercenary forces, etc. — were designed, first and foremost, to instill exactly this fear, to deter any challenge.   Many of these policies continue, and that climate of fear thus endures (see this comment from today as but one of many examples).  As the treatment just thus far of WikiLeaks and Assange demonstrates, that reaction — though paralyzing and counter-productive — is not irrational.  And one thing is for sure:  there is nothing the U.S. Government could do — no matter how lawless or heinous — which (with rare exception) would provoke the objections of the American establishment media.

UPDATE II:  Those wishing to donate to WikiLeaks can still do so here, via Options 2 (online credit card) or 3 (wire to bank in Iceland).

Latest Update: Dan Gilmore writes (click the title link for the article):

Defend WikiLeaks or lose free speech

Journalists should wake up and realize that the attacks on the whistle-blower are attacks on them, too

–Joe

Why ONLY “Looking Forward” is Suicide

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Humboldt County any Better?

Here are three articles that touch everyone in Humboldt County, if not the North Coast. We’ve got a new Sheriff and maybe a new District Attorney. Any reason or assurances they’ll change anything?

Why would anyone want to sit on a jury and be a part of this corrupt mess?

U.S. Prosecutors: Breaking the Law for a Conviction

A six month investigation by reporters Brad Heath and Kevin McCoy at USA Today has revealed more than 200 cases where prosecutors with the U.S. Justice Department — the elite of the elite — either broke the law or ethics rules to obtain a conviction, sending dozens of innocent people to years behind bars for crimes they didn’t commit.

And the prosecutorial misconduct uncovered — condemned by judges as “outrageous” and “flagrant,” ranging from lying to juries to withholding key evidence that could free a defendant — wasn’t limited to certain corrupt pockets of the country here and there, but was widespread. And experts say it’s only the tip of the iceberg.

Read the rest…

Researchers Uncover Widespread Prosecutorial Misconduct in California

Mark Sodersten spent 22 years behind bars for a murder that the evidence suggests he didn’t commit, with a California appeals court overturning his conviction and admonishing the prosecutor in the case for witholding taped interviews with witnesses that could have exonerated him.

“This case raises the one issue that is the most feared aspect of our system—that an innocent man might be convicted,” the justices wrote after reviewing the case. Unfortunately for Sodersten, the court’s 2007 decision came too late: he had died six months prior. But despite his death, the court issued the decision anyway, saying the case’s “impact upon the integrity and fairness that are the cornerstones of our criminal justice system” required them to do so just to maintain public confidence.

Read the rest…

U.S. Dwarfs Vietnam in Reports of Police ‘Excessive Force’

Human Rights Watch issued a report last month decrying the use of excessive force by police in Vietnam, noting that 19 such incidents that resulted in 15 deaths were reported in the state-controlled press over the last year — with zero consequences for the officers involved.

“Police brutality is being reported at an alarming rate in every region of Vietnam, raising serious concerns that these abuses are both systemic and widespread,” the group’s deputy Asia director Phil Robertson said in a statement.

Yet if police brutality is “systemic and widespread” in Vietnam — and all signs are that it is — then it’s a struggle to come up with an appropriately scathing term with which to describe the situation here at home: in the first six months of 2010 alone, there have been 439 credible reports of excessive force in the United States, according to the National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project (NPMSRP), resulting in no less than 60 fatalities

Read the rest…

[Photo: Peter Stinson]

–Joe

When the Right To Self-Defense is a License to Be Murdered

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[Update below]

Beware the rampant propaganda defending the indefensible!

This is the latest developments from Reuters: “Turkey calls for punishment of Israel for killings

For over 60 years the Jews have murdered the Palestinian people with impunity. Why? Because sick American religious fundamentalist are their primary complicit backers and supporters. The United States government decided the Jews had a legal right to grab and take by force of arms land that did not belong to them and justify their actions, supported and protected by America and other complicit state governments, by trying to get everyone to agree that they had the legitimate right. Their conduct within these past decades proves that the nation of Israel is nothing more than a mob of thugs and wanton, butchering bullies; a rogue illegitimate people.

By their own words they are condemned as reported in The Christian Science Monitor: “Condemnation across Europe after Israel raid on Freedom Flotilla

Mr. Moisi says the attacks play into a campaign to delegitimize Israel, but adds that “the main actor in the campaign is the Israeli government itself …. Israelis need to rethink dramatically what they are doing, but the problem is that what they are doing is very much who they are. The killings yesterday at sea didn’t make sense in international terms. But in Israel, in political terms, it did make sense.” [Emphasis added]

Why does it make sense to murder unarmed civilian people? Because that is exactly the kind of sick animals these people admittedly demonstrate themselves to be.

It’s time to stop supporting all illegitimate thug bully governments. When you cooperate with their existence you become responsible for their actions. I, personally, may not be able to directly do anything Israel’s criminal actions, but I certainly can do something about those that I know support and enable them. They define themselves as illegitimate without any right to enforce their criminal behavior on others and must be treated accordingly. It starts with enforcing your own personal boycott.

America’s sickness: “We’re the only one’s that believe them” – Probably because Obama and his thug government were complicit.

Rep. Anthony Weiner: “No matter what, “the U.S. should stand up for Israel” – Maybe Weiner and the U.S. should stand up for the truth and enforce the law.

More examples of the poison and sickness: “Navy raid clear act of self-defense

US declines to apportion blame after Israeli raid

When all else fails, point the finger, call someone a terrorist and then murder him or her. The latest from the Jerusalem Post: IDF: Global Jihad on flotilla :: Israel concerned next flotilla will be accompanied by Turkish Navy

I watched this exchange on MSNBC with Eliot Spitzer: “Talking about Israel with Eliot Spitzer on MSNBC” – Spitzer and his guests were spewing pure Israeli propaganda uninterrupted and unchallenged. It’s time to STOP cooperating with these liars. Note who their advertisers are and send them an email. Time to give these thug bums a dose of their own medicine.
Picture

[UPDATE :: Wednesday, June 2, 2010]

Israel has put all the Palestinians into a prison – in modern times it’s called a concentration camp. Take a look for yourself: Line of Separation

In 2002, Israel began constructing a 456-mile barrier to separate it from nearly all the Palestinian population of the West Bank. Click on the map below for a detailed look at the barrier system.

–Joe

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