Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Distraction 101: Why Are The Prog-Blogs Silent On Gaza? Because That Is Their Job!

Another Israeli attack on Gaza.
"Progressive" bloggers got nothing to say.
With "the American-armed, American-backed Israeli military [...] busily raining death into the cramped and crowded concentration camp of Gaza," I find it difficult to think clearly, let alone write clearly. The barbarity of the Israeli operation, no doubt carefully planned long ago, fills me with horror, rage, and grief -- and so too do the so-called "justifications" put forth by the so-called "analysts" who populate our so-called "news media." Even were I not hampered by physical injuries, I would find it very difficult to write at this time.

And yet, not writing at this time would be even more difficult, and writing about anything except the Israeli assault on Gaza would be almost inconceivable.

But the key word is "almost," and the crucial issue is context. In other words: I am an independent blogger with a small readership and no outside support. Thus, I am free (some would say "bound") to write what I think. But such was not always the case. Before I became an independent blogger with a small readership, I was a frequent and heavy contributor (and occasionally even the guest host) at a blog with a large readership, and things were very different.

Chris Floyd's latest post, "Blogging and Nothingness: Progressives Turn Their Gaze from Gaza," points out that the "leading" "progressive" blogs -- Digby, Eschaton, and Kos, among others -- have had nothing to say about current round of crimes being committed against the Palestinians, and against all humanity, by the Israeli "defense force." Certainly they are not about to call these crimes by their proper names, nor to admit that none of them would be possible without the support that flows to Israel from the United States.

As I came to see quite clearly when I was about to become an independent blogger, the big, so-called "progressive" bloggers are not interested in digging up and exposing any of the most important truths of our time, including but not limited to: the truth about 9/11, the long-standing, bi-partisan American plan to refashion the Middle East through escalating violence, Israel's outrageous use of military force against defenseless civilians, and the fact that this would not be possible without unstinting American support on numerous levels. (Perhaps you see these as multiple aspects of the same issue, in which case I beg your forgiveness for listing them separately.)

Occasionally I see the assertion made that the "leading" "progressive" bloggers are not shining bright lights on such harsh truths because they are afraid of being called "anti-Semitic." In my opinion, nothing could be further than the truth. The "leading" "progressive" bloggers are mostly interested in preventing such truths from coming to light, because they are anti-Semitic.

Let us speak plainly. Palestinians are Semites. Many Israelis, who came to Israel from Europe, are not. But Israel uses the term "anti-Semitic" to smear anyone who criticizes Israeli policies. Therefore, you will be called "anti-Semitic" if you oppose unwarranted violence against the Semitic people. But in fact it is Israeli policies, and Israeli supporters, which are truly "anti-Semitic."

This is extremely twisted "logic," using the ethnic identity of the victims to shield the perpetrators. But it is entirely typical -- the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a minefield, strewn with words and phrases whose apparent meanings and real meanings are radically different.

In my view, the "leading" "progressive" bloggers shy away from the minefield not because it's complicated -- it's really not very complicated at all -- but because that is their job. Their main purpose is to capture and nullify any potential opposition. They are remarkably successful at it, and heavily supported for doing it so well.

And therefore it is left to the "little guys" -- Chris Floyd and others -- to clear away the mines and tell the horrible truths, even though this guarantees that they will always be independent bloggers with small readerships.

As for the "leading" "progressive" blogs -- Digby, Eschaton, and Kos, among others -- I never expect them to say anything valuable about anything of importance. My expectations have rarely been disappointed.

Meanwhile, death and destruction continue to fall upon the people who are trapped in the Israeli vice. Israeli bombs continue to tear apart homes and kill whole families, while Israeli shills continue to claim that Israel never attacks civilians. And Barack Obama maintains that "Israel has the right to defend itself."

This so-called "right of self-defense" stems from Israel's so-called "right to exist." I wouldn't wait for any "leading" "progressive" blogger to explain how bogus all this is, or to point out that states exist by force of arms alone, not by right but by might. No coercive state has any right to exist whatsoever -- not Israel, not the USA, none of the others. States exist because -- and only for so long as -- none of their opponents can overcome their power.

If this obvious truth is invisible to the "leading" "progressive" bloggers, then maybe they are not so "progressive" after all ... which would explain why they are "leading."

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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

What Are They Afraid Of? Values Whose Time Has Come

Cynthia McKinney
The United States of America, I was taught as a youngster, is the greatest country on Earth, precisely because of its freedom of speech. Everyone in America is free to think whatever thoughts he wishes, and to speak his mind in public. And no one is persecuted for saying what he thinks.

Unfortunately, this is not now and has never been true. But it sets a backdrop against which anyone who claims to have been persecuted for political reasons is fighting an uphill battle. "But we don't do that here!" and so on.

Former Congressperson Cynthia McKinney could tell us something about political persecution. She was run out of office for asking all the wrong questions, and for failing to toe the correct lines. But she keeps asking the wrong questions and stepping on those lines all the same. Thus she finds herself at the forefront of some very touchy issues, especially including the outrageous idea of American support for the Palestinians. For that reason, if no other, she's not very popular among those with the coercive forces of the modern police state at their disposal.

McKinney has never wanted to talk about being persecuted for political reasons, but after surviving twenty years of systematic battering, she's changing direction on that question. In an Open Letter released last weekend, she writes:
I am currently conducting research in order to write a paper on the violent repression carried out by individuals acting on behalf of the United States government against certain political actors of the 1960s and early 1970s. It was during this research that I came across the notion of “soft repression” and immediately recognized myself in what I was reading. I said to myself as I read, “Hey, that’s me.” So, I decided to write this Open Letter in order to blow the cover off a secret that I have walked with for years.
Among other things, McKinney says:
I have lived with this “soft repression” since, as a Member of Congress-elect in 1992, I refused to sign the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) pledge of support for Israel.
“Soft repression” tactics include ridicule, stigma, and silencing. I have experienced and continue to experience each one of these types of targeting. I routinely receive hate mail and withstand very active organized attempts to ridicule, stigmatize, and eventually silence me. I routinely experience strange occurrences with my computer (typing by itself) and telephone (answered by someone before it even rings on my end), and more. Strange things happen to my friends and to the friends of my friends (like police stops for nothing, and worse, calls to remote immigrant acquaintances asking for information about me).
Not too long ago, I received a call from a lawyer with the ACLU who tracks politically-inspired civil liberties violations and he told me that my name came up in a Texas Fusion Center of the Department of Homeland Security document as someone, associating with former Attorney General Ramsey Clark and traveling to Lebanon with him, who should be surveilled for any attempts engaged in by me to push Sharia law for the U.S. It’s ludicrous, I know. It’s even more ludicrous that U.S. tax dollars are being spent to surveil people for this stupidity. But there it is.
Upon my return to the U.S. from Cape Town, South Africa at which the Russell Tribunal found that Israel practices its own unique form of apartheid, I was notified by my local FBI office that I was [the] subject of a terroristic threat, along with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama, by some poor hillbillies from the north Georgia mountains. The FBI offered to protect me from any other hillbillies who might get funny ideas.

Well, I’ve been through this before with the FBI, when a journalist called for my lynching on my way to vote. My alarmed Congressional staff alerted the FBI -- only for us all to learn, years later, that this particular “journalist” was on the FBI payroll at the time that he made those reprehensible remarks.
What could they possibly be afraid of?

I will answer my own question: values whose time has come—truth, justice, peace, and dignity. Not only for the elite few, but also for the rest of us: everybody’s truth and everybody’s dignity.
I will begin to document and make public what has heretofore been covert activity carried out by bullies who pick on the weak.
From where I stand, this is a very welcome development. We've had too few of those lately. We should all know about these covert activities. We should know about all activities carried out by our government, at our expense, against our fellow citizens -- especially our dissident political leaders.

Since I am on McKinney's mailing list, I received a copy of the Open Letter by email. To make it more widely available, I have posted it in full on my blog-away-from-blog, Winter Parking. I hope you will read the whole thing, and I will try to keep you posted on further developments.

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Judge Awards $6 Billion In Damages In Frivolous 9/11 Lawsuit

A judge in New York has awarded more than $6 billion in damages to relatives of 47 people who died in the false-flag attacks of 9/11.

These damages are to be paid by a group of defendants -- both organizations and individuals -- who have never been convicted of the crime in any legitimate court of law. The defendants include the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and Ayatollah Khamenei personally, as well as Osama bin Laden, al-Q'aeda, the Taliban, and Hezbollah.

It is interesting to try to imagine conditions under which this $6 billion might be considered collectible. It is also interesting to try to imagine what might have happened had the 9/11 attacks been subject to a thorough and independent investigation, had the perpetrators been positively identified by forensic analysis rather than simply slandered by the US government and media, and/or had the official story actually been true.

But then again, for any story to be true, it must be plausible. And this one is not. Therefore it is sobering to see how deeply the bizarre fictions of 9/11 have embedded themselves into our national mythology, not to mention our institutions of "government" and "justice."

If $6 billion seems like a lot of money, don't even think about how much has been spent prosecuting the so-called "Global War On Terror," all of which depends on an "investigation" in which the two prime suspects were allowed to specify the conditions under which they would "testify" -- together, behind closed doors, not under oath, and with no one allowed to keep notes of their "testimony."

If the suspects in any other case of murder, let alone the mass-murder of thousands of people, tried to establish the conditions under which they could be investigated, well, the idea is so absurd that it's not even worth thinking about!

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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Living Under Drones and Living Under Delusions: Reflections on Faith, Evidence, Socks, and America's War against Pakistan

Would you believe me?
What would you think if I told you I was wearing red and blue striped knee-socks? Would you believe me?

If you did, it would be a matter of faith, for I would have merely made the claim, without showing you any evidence to support it. Your only possible rational reason for believing what I said about my socks would be a strong, underlying belief that I would never lie to you about such a thing.

But let us suppose, for the sake of discussion, that you had such an underlying belief, and that you believed what I had said about my socks. In other words, let's say you had enough faith in me to accept my claim without seeing any evidence to support it.

If I took off my shoes, and showed you that I was indeed wearing red and blue striped socks, then you might have some rational grounds for believing me, or at least for suspecting that I might be telling the truth. And if I continued by rolling up my pants to show you that my socks extended all the way to my knees, then you would have all the evidence you would ever need. Your faith would be justified, but it would no longer be required, because the question would have become a matter of evidence, not one of faith.

But what if I took off my shoes and you could see my bare feet? Would you still believe me? It may seem incredible, especially in the context of this trivial and hypothetical example, but if your underlying belief that I would never lie to you were strong enough, you might continue to believe that I was wearing red and blue striped knee socks, even though you could see with your own eyes that I was wearing no socks at all. It would not take a great leap of intelligence to deduce that I was lying, but if your faith were strong enough, it might prevent you from making such a leap.

These thoughts have come into focus for me lately because of the reading I have been doing. As you may know, researchers from two major universities, NYU and Stanford, have recently collaborated in producing a report on America's use of unmanned missile-launchers (which we call "drones") against sketchily defined targets in Pakistan (which our government calls "terrorists"). Pakistan, as you may recall, is supposedly an American ally.

Their report, "Living Under Drones," documents the effects of these heartless killing machines against the defenseless people whose lives they can shatter at any moment. The report provides more detail than has ever appeared in the public record. And, although it makes for very unpleasant reading, it is an important contribution to our knowledge about these quasi-secret attacks. However ...  

Having spent quite some time reading "Living Under Drones," as well as many recent pieces about it, I have been struck by the number of times the report has been described as a valuable addition to the "public debate" on the issue, and the number of times the drone campaign has been called "counter-productive" -- even in critical, dissident analysis. And it pains me to say that such analysis appears to be generally accepted among dissidents and critics as "serious," possibly even "penetrating." I see it as deeply flawed.

The ever-incisive Chris Floyd stands alone among those whom I have read, in that he has pointed out one of these flaws. In his words,  
[T]his report will have no influence whatsoever on the non-existent "debate" [...] For beyond the rare, isolated op-ed, there is no "debate" on drone warfare in American political or media circles. The bipartisan political establishment is united in its support of the practice; indeed, both parties plan to expand the use of drones on a large scale in the future. This murderous record -- and this shameful complicity -- will be one of the Peace Laureate's  lasting legacies, whether he wins re-election or not.
But among the many observers whose words on this subject I have read, no one has apparently thought to pose the question: "Counter to what?"

It is easy to see why opponents of the drone attacks would argue that they are counter-productive. The critics also argue that the attacks are immoral, but hardly anyone expects this argument to carry any weight, given that the decision-makers behind the drone attacks -- Nobel Peace Laureate Barack Obama and his military-and-intelligence associates -- view their roles as beyond morality.

No nation is moral, say our great leaders, so international relations must be seen, and practiced, as an amoral enterprise, in which statesmen must be guided by self-interest, not morality. Therefore, to persuade our great leaders of anything, one must appeal to their self-interest, not their morals. Thus the critics claim that the drone attacks are counter-productive, in the obvious hope that this argument will cut some ice with the decision-makers, and in the almost certain knowledge that arguments based on morality will not do so.

Why are the drone attacks counter-productive? Because by killing innocent people, including women and children, they provoke anger against the USA, creating more terrorists than they eliminate. This doesn't make America safer; it actually makes America less safe. And it is therefore counter-productive. Or so the critics say.

In making this argument, the critics rely on the unspoken assumption that the Peace Laureate's stated goals are identical to his actual goals. This assumption rests on nothing but faith, since there is no actual evidence to support it. And it is a very powerful faith. We can deduce this because it endures, even though all the evidence points in the opposite direction.

In other words, the American Empire took off its shoes and rolled up its pants a long time ago. For many decades now, the whole world has been able to see that the American Empire wears no socks. And yet, a great many people, including some who would describe themselves as dissidents and critics, continue to believe what they've been told, rather than what they could see with their own eyes if they dared to look. These people, apparently despite their best efforts, are living under delusions. Such is the power of propaganda.

One important fact which many critics tend to overlook is that American politicians speak in a peculiar double-talk -- a slightly-secret code, one in which all the key words and phrases carry meanings very different than what they appear to mean. In most cases, the apparent meaning and the actual meaning are polar opposites. This is a long-standing tradition in American politics.

The "logic" of this double-talk was in play nearly a century ago, when Woodrow Wilson claimed World War I was about "Making The World Safe For Democracy," That project was a huge success, if you consider expanding the victors' spheres of commercial and military influence to be identical with making the world safe for a system of government whose two main enemies are commercial and military influence. 

Similarly, Franklin Roosevelt told us that World War II was being fought to provide "Self-Determination For All Peoples." This project worked out even better, if you consider being ruled by the Soviet Union to be the same as "self-determination" for all the peoples of eastern Europe -- and so on (this last phrase covering countless similar successes, from Algeria to Vietnam, in which one nation achieved "self-determination" by becoming, or remaining, a colony of another).

Indeed, American history is replete with such double-talk. The United States has a long and bloody record of destabilizing foreign countries while claiming to bring "stability," of interfering with democratic processes and overthrowing democratically elected governments while claiming to bring "democracy," and of fomenting economic devastation while claiming to bring "liberty."

None of this makes any sense at all, until you understand that a country has "stability" if it is ruled by an oppressive tyrant who does what the Americans tell him to do, that it is a "democracy" if its government (which may have been installed at gunpoint) supports the American Imperial Project, and that conditions of economic devastation provide a certain "liberty" to crooks of the most unscrupulous kind -- such as the American Imperialists.

Occasionally our great leaders (or prospective great leaders) offer us unintended glimpses of the reality behind the double-talk. Mitt Romney, for example, recently claimed that the most sacred duty in a democracy is to protect the overseas embassies. If taken at face value, this statement is pure rubbish. But if we understand that by "democracy," he means "empire," and that by "embassies," he means "bases," the statement makes perfect sense. The most important job in an empire is to protect the overseas bases. And clearly Mitt Romney understands this. He just doesn't know enough to keep his mouth shut about it.

Romney's statement is one tiny example among many which support my contention that the shoes are off, the pants are rolled up, and the Empire has no socks. And yet even some of his harshest critics persist in believing that (or acting as if) our Nobel Peace Laureate President is dedicated to making America safe, and adverse to creating more terrorists. Maybe it's because he keeps telling us he wants to prevent another 9/11.

As Robert Higgs has written, "there are no persistent 'failed' policies." In other words, any policy which is truly counter-productive to the actual goals will be quickly modified. And any long-standing policy which appears to be counter-productive to the stated goals should be seen as a signpost, marking a place where the stated goals and the actual goals are in direct conflict.

The signpost represented by "Living Under Drones" appears to indicate that, far from trying to keep America safe, prevent another 9/11, and win the "Global War On Terror" (or whatever they want us to call it this week), our Peace Laureate is actually trying to extend the Terror War, keep Americans in danger and afraid, and make another 9/11 more likely, or at least render the threat more plausible.
If the dissidents and critics who are still living under delusions could shed their blind (and blinding) faith in America's socks, they might reach the same conclusion by simple reasoning: If Barack Obama truly wanted to prevent another 9/11, he would have empowered a full and independent investigation of 9/11 itself. Then we could have identified the perpetrators of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and we might have brought them to justice, after which we would clearly be in a much better position to prevent another such attack.

But no full and independent investigation has taken place, nor will any such investigation take place anytime soon. The Peace Laureate has made that abundantly clear. And therefore, if he wants to prevent another 9/11, Obama must kill every Muslim on the planet, so that no future false-flag shenanigans can ever be blamed on "Islamic fundamentalists."

Maybe this is what he is trying to do -- kill them all, one family at a time, while enraging and terrorizing the rest. If so, his approach has been anything but counter-productive.

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