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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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Death By Accusation

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After you read this report ask yourself what is to stop the local police authorities from adopting the same legal justification for enforcing the same summary judgment – point, accuse and shoot?


The following is only an excerpt of his complete article. Click the link to read everything he reports. It’s worth your time and consideration. There is absolutely NOTHING to stop this from happening to you.


Wednesday, Jan 27, 2010 06:28 EST

Presidential assassinations of U.S. citizens

By Glenn Greenwald
*****

Just think about this for a minute.  Barack Obama, like George Bush before him, has claimed the authority to order American citizens murdered based solely on the unverified, uncharged, unchecked claim that they are associated with Terrorism and pose “a continuing and imminent threat to U.S. persons and interests.”  They’re entitled to no charges, no trial, no ability to contest the accusations.  Amazingly, the Bush administration’s policy of merely imprisoning foreign nationals (along with a couple of American citizens) without charges — based solely on the President’s claim that they were Terrorists — produced intense controversy for years.  That, one will recall, was a grave assault on the Constitution.  Shouldn’t Obama’s policy of ordering American citizens assassinated without any due process or checks of any kind — not imprisoned, but killed — produce at least as much controversy?

Obviously, if U.S. forces are fighting on an actual battlefield, then they (like everyone else) have the right to kill combatants actively fighting against them, including American citizens. That’s just the essence of war. That’s why it’s permissible to kill a combatant engaged on a real battlefield in a war zone but not, say, torture them once they’re captured and helplessly detained. But combat is not what we’re talking about here. The people on this “hit list” are likely to be killed while at home, sleeping in their bed, driving in a car with friends or family, or engaged in a whole array of other activities. More critically still, the Obama administration — like the Bush administration before it — defines the “battlefield” as the entire world. So the President claims the power to order U.S. citizens killed anywhere in the world, while engaged even in the most benign activities carried out far away from any actual battlefield, based solely on his say-so and with no judicial oversight or other checks. That’s quite a power for an American President to claim for himself.

*****

A 1981 Executive Order signed by Ronald Reagan provides: “No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination.”  Before the Geneva Conventions were first enacted, Abraham Lincoln — in the middle of the Civil War — directed Francis Lieber to articulate rules of conduct for war, and those were then incorporated into General Order 100, signed by Lincoln in April, 1863.  Here is part of what it provided, in Section IX, entitled “Assassinations”:

The law of war does not allow proclaiming either an individual belonging to the hostile army, or a citizen, or a subject of the hostile government, an outlaw, who may be slain without trial by any captor, any more than the modern law of peace allows such intentional outlawry; on the contrary, it abhors such outrage. The sternest retaliation should follow the murder committed in consequence of such proclamation, made by whatever authority. Civilized nations look with horror upon offers of rewards for the assassination of enemies as relapses into barbarism.

Can anyone remotely reconcile that righteous proclamation with what the Obama administration is doing?  And more generally, what legal basis exists for the President to unilaterally compile hit lists of American citizens he wants to be killed?

*****

“There is a constitutional problem here. A person is innocent unless proven guilty,” he said. “If you go off to kill or capture them, how do you prove that they are really guilty in terms of legal process?” . . .

So we’re in Afghanistan to teach them about democracy, the rule of law, and basic precepts of Western justice.  Meanwhile, Afghan officials vehemently object to the lawless, due-process-free assassination “hit list” of their citizens based on the unchecked say-so of the U.S. Government, and have to lecture us on the rule of law and Constitutional constraints.  By stark contrast, our own Government, our media and our citizenry appear to find nothing wrong whatsoever with lawless assassinations aimed at our own citizens.  And the most glaring question for those who criticized Bush/Cheney detention policies but want to defend this:  how could anyone possibly object to imprisoning foreign nationals without charges or due process at Guantanamo while approving of the assassination of U.S. citizens without any charges or due process?

–Joe

Propagandizing American Belief’s

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The flim flam of the American people is explained never better by the following interview conducted with Glenn Greewald by Amy Goodwyn on Democracy Now, December 30, 2009. 2009 in Perspective: Glenn Greenwald on the Five Wars US Is Fighting in Muslim Countries. Here are some excerpts I think important.

AMY GOODMAN: Glenn Greenwald, talk about the media coverage of the wars. And also, you wrote an interesting piece about the New York Times coverage of Sami al-Hajj, the Al Jazeera reporter who was held at Guantanamo for about six years and then released without charge.

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, this is what I find actually most interesting and most—and the most significant aspect of all of this, is it’s generally assumed that there is a significant disparity between how we, as Americans or Westerners, perceive of all of these events and how the Muslim world perceives of these events. And that is true. There is a very great disparity. But generally, what we assume is that the reason there’s this great disparity is because we are rational and informed and educated and advanced and, most of all, free, and therefore we know the truth about what’s going on, whereas Muslims live in oppressive and primitive and backwards countries, they are consumed not by rationality but by religious fanaticism, and therefore they have very distorted and partial and propagandized views of the world, and that’s what accounts for this disparity.

Now the reality is exactly the opposite, because all of the things that we were just discussing about the effects of our air strikes in all of these Muslim countries, the fact that we are constantly waging war in an increasing number of their nations, and the fact that we routinely slaughter innocent men, women and children who are the victims of our air strikes, the Muslim—people in the Muslim world in those countries are very well aware of what we do, because the images are reported constantly. They’re informed about what we’re doing. And yet, if you look at American media coverage, it’s virtually never the case that the victims of our actions, of our air strikes and our military assaults, are discussed. Those things are kept from us.

And so, they perceive that we are the aggressors because we are killing civilians, which we’re doing, but Americans are propagandized, that information is basically kept away from their sight, and so they’re unaware of what the actions are. And so, when there’s anger and hostility and hatred in the Muslim world towards the United States, they understand why, but we are confused and bewildered, because the facts about why that is are generally kept from us.

And you mentioned the story of Sami al-Hajj, who was an Al Jazeera reporter, a reporter, a cameraman, who was covering the invasion of Afghanistan by the United States in late 2001, when he was abducted by the United States and shipped to Guantanamo, where he was kept for seven years, obviously without charges of any kind. He was interrogated almost exclusively, not about Osama bin Laden or about terrorism, but about the operations of Al Jazeera. He was clearly a prisoner because he was a journalist that worked for an outlet that the Bush administration perceived as being critical or hostile to its interests. So here was a journalist, a foreign journalist, that we imprisoned for seven years.

And if you go and research on Nexis or other media databases what the discussions were in the mainstream media about that incident, you can find almost nothing. So Americans were not informed that we, as a government, imprisoned journalists without charges. And there are lots of other foreign journalists who have been imprisoned the same way in Iraq and other places. And yet, when you have the case of, say, Roxana Saberi, the Iranian American journalist who was imprisoned in Iran for three months—not for seven years, but for three months—or the two journalists who were just in prison in North Korea, what you have is a media bonanza. And so, it makes it—it gives the appearance that only foreign governments, but not our own, imprison journalists without charges. And this is what accounts for the disparity in perception. It’s that we are being propagandized by our own media. [Emphasis mine]

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No Shame Just More War

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  Read about this country’s latest venture into war. Reuter’s reports: U.S. escalating covert operations against Iran: report.
REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

On Saturday, June 21 No Shame – Just War was posted on the sister-site Joe Blow’s Report on Blogspot detailing some of the behind the scenes moves and support for more war.  Few speak of the consequences, though. There is this latest to think about: Iran says Gulf oil route at risk if attacked. By then it will be way too late.

Written by Joe Blow

June 29, 2008 at 10:41 pm

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