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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

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

Beginning of the End for Social Security

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The following is an excerpt from an interview on Democracy Now Thursday, December 16, 2010 with Representative Rush Holt. Here he explains in simple understandable language how the enemies of the American people finally win the war.

Here’s the link for the complete interview:

REP. RUSH HOLT: But you heard the President say, well, in a compromise, we have to sacrifice some things we care about. I’m not willing to sacrifice Social Security. And I’m concerned that this does real damage, does violence, to the rationale for Social Security. Apart from what it does to the financing of Social Security, which can be made up in future years, it does, I think, irreparable damage to the very idea of Social Security. It puts Social Security on the table as a bargaining chip along with the alternative minimum tax, the debate over whether the Bush tax cuts should end at $250,000 or a million dollars income, and with business expensing and estate tax rate. In other words, it’s just a bargaining chip, it’s just another item. And, you know, ever since 1935, Social Security has had its enemies, but it has withstood those enemies because of really the ingenious, the shrewd rationale that FDR assigned to Social Security. And this undermines that. It makes Social Security just another program, not—it does away with the idea that Treasury funds, that general funds, are not fed in to Social Security to support it. And I think a year or two in the future, the political support for Social Security will just unravel.

QUESTION: […] Obviously, every working American will next year see, for one year, their pay—this is a sizable reduction in what they have to pay out in Social Security taxes. So then, at the end of next year, as you’re beginning a presidential election year, the Obama administration will be forced to having to increase those taxes again or may end up bending to Republican pressures to begin creating private retirement accounts as part of that two percent return, and something that Obama’s own economic adviser, Austan Goolsbee, has often advocated. Do you have any concerns about that? What will happen at the end of this one-year period?

REP. RUSH HOLT: Well, in January 2012, workers—under this proposal, under this scheme, workers would see their take-home pay go down. I’m not sure who wants to be responsible for that. So, this is called a one-year change. And any lost revenue will be replenished from the general fund, and then the tax rates would be restored to the full 6.2 percent in 2012. I’m not so sure. I mean, it—but my point is, even if you lose that revenue for one, two or three years, it could be made up. But the damage done to the idea, the political underpinning of Social Security, will be, I’m afraid, irreparable.

By the time of this posting tax bill will already be signed – the beginning of the end. On Yahoo News: Bill preventing big tax hikes heads to Obama Fri.

[UPDATE]

Obama Signs (Republican) Tax Deal, Hails Bipartisan Effort to Grow Jobs

and calls it “COMPROMISE.” I wonder how he defines surrender.

–Joe

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

Republicans – The Tea Party

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A sobering look at Republican issues and the Tea Party’s assault on their elitist aspirations to continue to fulfill their mandate as God’s Ordained People. Glenn Greenwald seems to think this movement has legs. If so, then there is ample evidence of what we can expect in American’s future. Maybe another French Revolution American style.

Glenn Greenwald

The misguided reaction to Tea Party candidates

By Glenn Greenwald

  • Thursday, Sep 16, 2010 08:17 ET

The “tea party” movement is, in my view, a mirror image of the Republican Party generally.  There are some diverse, heterodox factions which compose a small, inconsequential minority of it (various libertarian, independent, and Reagan Democrat types), but it is dominated — in terms of leadership, ideology, and the vast majority of adherents — by the same set of beliefs which have long shaped the American Right:  Reagan-era domestic policies, blinding American exceptionalism and natavism, fetishizing American wars, total disregard for civil liberties, social and religious conservatism, hatred of the minority-Enemy du Jour (currently: Muslims), allegiance to self-interested demagogic leaders, hidden exploitation by corporatist masters, and divisive cultural tribalism.  Other than the fact that (1) it is driven (at least in part) by genuine citizen passion and engagement, and (2) represents a justifiable rebellion against the Washington and GOP establishments, I see little good in it and much potential for bad.  To me, it’s little more than the extremely discredited faction which drove the country into the ground for the last decade, merely re-branded under a new name.

Read the rest of this entry »

Promised Land – Some Truth

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Promised Land

Some truth from Israel.

Flotilla | A probe that would get Netanyahu’s government off the hook

Commentary from an objective Israeli perspective is always interesting. Their ‘objective’ in the very beginning has never changed. Only how they hoped to achieve that objective. The Jews and for that matter their American benefactors will never recognize the legitimacy of the Palestinian people and their thousands of years claim to all of that land. Anyone that knows anything about Christianity should realize Jesus Christ revoked God’s promise to Abraham’s seed over two thousand years ago. The quality, character and value of the Jew as manifest by their nation-state Israel, is solid, lawful proof of that truth and reality.

Conclusion: A two-state solution is someone’s wild dream.
source]

–Joe

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