Category Archives: WAR on TERRAH

Swords into Tax Shares

(yeah, I’ve never claimed to be a blog title expert.)

kitty water balloonPeter Schiff wrote an article titled, “Why Not Another World War.” It’s actually an interesting article in which he explains how we all agree that World War II ended The Great Depression and sparked the greatest American economic trend, so why not have another? This Gulf War is too small to do the same thing again. Except, war sucks and has this annoying tendency to be deadly and break things — so let’s make it a great World Water Balloon War!

Go ahead and read the article; it’s short and entertaining. But, then at the end of it he takes a sharp turn into La-La Land.

After laying a good case for describing the World War as the biggest socialized employment program, evah, (major props to Schiff on this — most right-leaners usually berate the New Deal as being evil socialism and shout that it was the war that saved the country… and then conveniently ignore the fact that how the war saved the country was by creating government jobs for millions and spending truckloads of taxes on government programs known as weapons manufacturing), he explains how his proposed Fun War of the same scope of government spending wouldn’t work because the government couldn’t afford such a project like it did 70 years ago: We’re already too taxed and there’s no savings.

“Current tax burdens are now much higher than they were before the War, so raising taxes today would be much more difficult.”

(Keep that in mind for a moment.)

Continue reading Swords into Tax Shares

Questioning authority is a crime.

police brutalityLast year, a Canadian writer, after visiting the U.S., returned home and was stopped by the U.S. border guards. They demanded that he step out of his car, which he did. When he chose to ask “why?” he was being ordered around, he was pepper sprayed, hit, cuffed, and arrested. The officers claimed in their statements that the writer, Peter Watts, resisted and tried to choke an officer. They eventually released Mr. Watts on the Canadian side in freezing weather without his coat.

Well, his U.S. trial recently concluded. And during the trial it was shown the officers written testimony contradicted their oral testimony, they contradict each other, and witness testimony confirmed that Mr. Watts did not resist and never laid a hand on an officer.

So all is good and justice prevailed and the charges dropped, right?

This is Amerika; think again.

Mr. Watts was convicted of a felony and faces two years in federal prison in the U.S. … because he questioned the officer.

Even a juror after the trial has stated that the officers mishandled the situation and “committed offences” against Watts. But they determined that based on the letter of the law, questioning an officer constituted felony obstruction.

This isn’t about safety, it isn’t about security, it isn’t about the rule of law.

It’s about obedience.

Authoritarianism is a disease of the mind. It criminalizes the act of asking “why?” It is the obedience-sickness that turns good people into perpetrators and victims of atrocities great and small.

Sure, we think, in order to keep us safe and secure, some cops may go overboard now and then. It’s just bad apples. But these bad apples are sprouting up in many, many places performing various acts of brutality and abuse of power, and getting away with it. (See link on that page of “Classically Liberals” collection of documented police abuse.) What’s worse, though, is it doesn’t stop at the apples–here is a case in which a jury of peers, who have the ability to enact jury nullification in contrary to the letter of the law applied to the defendant, (and according to at least one juror, this would have been a good situation to use that right of the jury), but instead decided to uphold and support state abuse against someone who simply questioned authority.

When “peers” support the state in its abuses even when they recognize its illegitimacy, the whole barrel has become rotten.

Be Prepared…for fascism.

Facebook readers: this post came from my official blog; the auto-transfer to FB tends to strip any embedded images.)

picture-2Now that Democrat Obama (corporatist) is president, and Democrats control Congress (corporatists and oligarchs); just because the overtly fascist, corporatist, imperialistic, evil Bush regime is gone, doesn’t mean the threat of USSA, Amerika, is over.

“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” – Thomas Jefferson

The Obama administration still has to repair a lot of erosion that has occurred to our civil liberties, for example: stopping the NSA from monitoring and recording all domestic phone and Internet usage…and it doesn’t look good that’s going to happen.

Another, recent display of how this country seems to have crossed over the line into an unstoppable slide toward fascism, to fight the war ‘gainst them ter’rists! is a recent New York Times story on how the Boy Scouts (Explorers) are encouraging and training your future Brown Shirts, er, Blackwater mercenaries, er, I mean, warriors ‘gainst terrahism.

Better than what I can say, check out these articles reacting to the story:

I was a Boy Scout in the 80s, as the organization was being taken over by Christian fundamentalists, and becoming a tool of the Mormons. I did learn a lot as a scout, and I do have some great memories of it. Well, in Colorado most certainly, and in Missouri under one particular Scout Master…the following leaders my troop had were kind of scary racists who looked more like they’d be at home in an Idaho compound. But the best experiences I had I could have had without the Boy Scouts; what the BSA was mainly responsible for in my life was an attempt to instill worship of authoritarian power structures and a reverence for conformity. Yep, pure and simple.

Nothing to fear but…each other?

My apologies in advance: I think I’m going to be posting a few (hopefully not too long) blogs in succession to try to make up for the fact that I can’t blog from work any more, and school work (and the desire to not be on a computer after a day of work) after coming home have been preventing me from blogging like I used to.

BoingBoing has been following the issue of a new surge of British “fear everything” posters:

David Byrne’s snapshots of UK police posters.

London Police poster mashup (in which people have ‘shopped their own versions)

And my favorite so far:

Make your own paranoid British terrorism poster!

The fine print in that one’s dead-on.

(Whew! Finally, I can close those tabs off my browser!)

(For the Facebook users: This is a post from my blog getting auto-noted to Facebook, which cuts off any images or videos in the transfer.)

Seems kinda Tom Clancy-ish to me….

If you know me you know that I have a love/hate relationship with conspiracy theories. On the one hand, they’re really entertaining! They make for great “X-Files” plotlines, and extra bonus points if they can work in The Illuminati! (And keep a straight face.) fnord

But on the other hand, they’re almost always complete bunk. Not to say there haven’t been grand conspiracies in the past: Military radiation testing on civilians, CIA selling crack, Watergate. But here’s the thing about conspiracies: they never stay secret. I think it’s supposed to be an old Sicilian saying, something like: “Two people can keep a secret if one of them is dead.”

Someone talks. Someone always talks. Documents are kept. Conspiracies become known, the bigger they are the more certain they’ll be exposed. And, unlike most fringe and popular but unfounded conspiracies, it won’t be some outside group of amateur conspiracy hunters who have all the answers but are frustratingly ignored by so-called scientists and experts, who expose the cover-ups. And the more impossible and absurd the scope of the conspiracy, the more likely the conspiracy is BS. Like 9/11, “Loose Change” khrap. For 9/11 to have been a government planned event, it would have required the cooperation of literally thousands of people.

Occam’s Razor here: What’s more probable? That thousands of military, police, firefighters, and civilians were involved in setting up and carrying out an event so huge and devastating that it would have required unimaginable about of planning, organization, timing, cooperation, and yet no one involved has come forward to say they were a part of it and become the most famous person in the world for exposing the greatest and worst conspiracy ever in the history of human civilization…. or, that several fundamental religious zealots took advantage of holes in air transportation security to fly some planes into buildings?

Like I said, conspiracies are entertaining; reality is often banal in its horrific simplicity.

Anyway,to the point: Here’s a recent news item that goshdarnit, sounds a lot to me like it could be a valid conspiracy-murder:

A tipster close to the McCain campaign disclosed to VR in July that Mr. Connell’s life was in jeopardy and that Karl Rove had threatened him and his wife, Heather. VR’s attorney, Cliff Arnebeck, notified the United States Attorney General , Ohio law enforcement and the federal court about these threats and insisted that Mr. Connell be placed in protective custody. VR also told a close associate of Mr. Connell’s not to fly his plane because of another tip that the plane could be sabotaged. Mr. Connell, a very experienced pilot, has had to abandon at least two flights in the past two months because of suspicious problems with his plane. On December 18, 2008, Mr. Connell flew to a small airport outside of Washington DC to meet some people. It was on his return flight the next day that he crashed.

Now, here’s where critical thinking has to come in. For example, these tips…can they be independantly verified? More importantly, can they be proven to have come before the event? It’s simply amazing how much people just knew something, or state they predicted something, or had a clue to something…in hindsight after an event has happened. Cognitive bias is rife with this kind of post hoc misthinking.

And of course, there’s the reader’s own subjective bias. I, for example, would believe Rove, Cheney, many others in the Bush administration, would kill and eat babies if it meant massive quasi-fascist control of the free world. I don’t think much better of most politicians in general–the neo-cons just happen to be Hitlers in an ocean of SS. Am I more prone to confirmation bias and self-selecting evidence to fit my personal bias? Yep. Guilty as charged. We all are. It takes a lot of work to be fair and unbiased, and argueably, we never can be.

(Which, by the way, to go off on a tangent, the scientific method is vital to get at objective truths. Proper scientific methodology demands blind and double-blind testing to correct for bias, as well as repeated retesting and verification of results by other people. Science: it works, bitches.)

So, I’m going to watch this case of the killed Bush admin. I.T. guy and see what, if anything comes from it. But then, the co-called liberal media, the “4th Estate,” has been horrifically bad the last eight years at following up on and putting to task recent conspiracies, such as Valarie Plame and Scooter Libby/Cheney. And Congress has no interest in investigating Bush or Cheney for impeachable offenses nor is the media interested in investigating the possibility. Nor for the possible war crimes charges againast Rumsfield and Bush that were recently released. Nor for the countless open-for-all-to-see conspiracies of war profiteering (highly illegal by the way) committed by Cheney and Rumsfield and Bush with the help of Haliburton, KBR, BlackWater, and several other contractors in Iraq.

So, while it’s still true that conspiracies are exposed and are rarely huge and complicated, it doesn’t mean there’s always anyone paying attention.

The Amerikan Stasi!

I can’t believe I missed this. In researching information on my last post regarding the addition of peaceful opponents to capital punishment being added by police to terrorist watch lists, I found this news item from last year about the FBI and CIA’s programs to recruit and pay for citizen informants (thus spreading fear and mistrust as well as creating gi-hugic ineffectual mountains of hay to look for needles in–resulting in more false accusations and arrests and less actual safety and security)

Excellent, emotional and enlightening movie, by the way, of a story set within the end of the East German informant society: The Lives of Others.

One sane sheriff, one fascist superintendent.

It’s easy to find countless articles on the appearant rise of police brutality and fascist, militarized mindset, and are gleefully proud of their testasterone overdosed abuses, and stories in which the police are used as political weapons.

Well, here’s one more story of overreaching abuse of power and damage to civil liberties:

And a good editorial on the subject:

In the midst of the ever-increasing shift from police watching over the public to the police watching the public, one will try to mitigate the fear and disappointment by rationalizing: “Well, these are just the bad ones in the news. Most cops are good ones!” So, where are those “good cops” when the bad ones are breaking the law, violating the Constitution, and generally harassing and beating the public? Why aren’t the so-called good cops standing up against the few bad ones and eliminating them from their ranks?

Because: (a) police forces generally draw the power-hungry bullies of society which tend to create a pervasive culture of abusiveness from the inside;

(b) police forces are being funded by the Department of Justice and given neato-cool paramilitary toys to play with based on their devotion to and performance in the War on Drugs (and increasingly the War on Terrah) which is inherently a civil liberty trampling campaign that routinely treats harmless citizens as wanton and deadly criminals, fostering a culture of abuse and power from the outside;

(c) police forces are fiercely fraternal and loyal to each other–a useful and vital trait for military units in war, a destructive and criminal trait in a group that is supposed to serve the interests of the public over and beyond any sense of brotherly camaraderie.

These influences from the inside, outside, and the pathological in-group loyalty police forces encourage, generally lead to an environment which will quickly reject or break the few people who go into police work with a true desire to serve the public and put citizen above fellow cop.

However, there are very rarely exceptions to the rule. A story out today tells of a Chicago sheriff who is (at least in this case…who knows what he’s like otherwise) thinking and feeling like a real person and not RoboCop (pre-self aware RoboCop, of course) :

Banks on foreclosed houses aren’t doing basic checking on who’s actually in the houses, and are literally forcing renters out onto the street even if they’re good, rent paying renters, despite what defaulting the actual owners of the home are doing on their mortgage.

“These mortgage companies … don’t care who’s in the building,” [Sheriff] Dart said Wednesday. “They simply want their money and don’t care who gets hurt along the way.

“On top of it all, they want taxpayers to fund their investigative work for them. We’re not going to do their jobs for them anymore. We’re just not going to evict innocent tenants. It stops today.”

So, good for him!

Forced to apologize for someone else’s incompetence.

A year ago, MIT student Star Simpson was nearly killed by police when an airport worker panicked at seeing a benign electric light-up design integrated into Star’s sweatshirt. Long story short, she’s been forced by the state to do community service and issue an official apology–for doing absolutely nothing wrong.

They tried to get her convicted on threatening the public with a “hoax device,” (again, this was a harmless wearable electronic, no different than some of the commercial, store bought novelty clothes–except she made this herself…did I mention she was a student at the Massachusetts’ Institute of Technology?) and the state has threatened her that if she doesn’t do community service and apologize (for doing absolutely nothing wrong) they’d convict her of being a “disorderly person” which basically has no defense. The state can tag that onto anyone they like.

Here’s the transcript of one of her first public appearances discussing the event and ensuing court drama since it happened:

Moral of this story? Be a completely unremarkable and passive citizen. Don’t do anything interesting or unique or else someone in authority will put a gun in your face.

XENI: Star, how old are you now?

STAR: 20.

XENI: Do you feel like what happened with this incident has caused you to grow up faster?

STAR: The main thing I can say is that I believed that police were nice, friendly folks before last September. And my opinion has changed drastically in that respect.

“To hell with Democracy!”

This is a very, very scary time we live in right now. Jack Cafferty has a fantastic although disheartening commentary on CNN.com right now:

He talks about how McCain was at the bottom of his class at the Naval Academy (likely got into the Navy through his Admiril dad), has no intellectual curiosity, is only capable of speaking in canned responses, is good with a quip or a jibe but can’t think on his feet…he’s very much a Bush pt. 2:

George Bush’s record as a student, military man, businessman and leader of the free world is one of constant failure. And the part that troubles me most is he seems content with himself.

He will leave office with the country $10 trillion in debt, fighting two wars, our international reputation in shambles, our government cloaked in secrecy and suspicion that his entire presidency has been a litany of broken laws and promises, our citizens’ faith in our own country ripped to shreds. Yet Bush goes bumbling along, grinning and spewing moronic one-liners, as though nobody understands what a colossal failure he has been.

I fear to the depth of my being that John McCain is just like him.

The fact that we may get John McCain as President is scary enough. But what magnifies the fear a hundred-fold is comments from “ordinary people” like this one from a “Jimmy P”:

I certianly hope so! Because whether you liberal pansys like it or not, it’s this administration’s policies that have kept the homeland from being hit again. Don’t think for a minute that these lunatics, that fools like Obama would attempt to negotiate with, wouldn’t hit us here at home if possible. We are not entitled to unlimited civil liberties – check my phone, pc, bank account, who cares! Fascism is the best form of government! The majority of people are unable to run their own lives in a responsible manner. To he** with Democracy, it’s a failed experiment!

Is that an ironic, joke comment? Based on similar sentiments I’ve seen elsewhere, I doubt it. While so far that’s the most fanatic response on the CNN.com post. half the comments are from people who are supporting McCain for his rhetoric against terrorism and bashing Obama for his desire for diplomacy. (Yeah, because Nixon didn’t think to use diplomacy dealing with the Chinese who were fueling the Viet Nam war from that side ot it. He blew them off the face of the Earth, right?)

Many people hate to foster the supposedly illusionary division in this country they think is a manufacturing of the media and their color-coded states; but regardless of “red” or “blue” state coloring, there IS two Americas: one that believes the President should be a smart, educated, versatile, adaptable, statesman; and another that believes the President should be a butt-kickin’ regular joe who takes no guff and will show the rest of the world who’s boss. The former believes there’s a balance between security and civil liberties and cares about how the country is run and how healthy it and its citizens are, the other seems to not care less about other people so long as they can say they’re winning a foreign war.

I see this division every day at work, I read about it all over the blogonets, I hear it all over the radio. It’s a very real and deep division, and I really have no idea how it can possibly be bridged without A. the U.S. collapsing under the watch of neo-cons (which I don’t want to happen!), or B. we once again become a strong, stable country with a powerful middle-class and no bloody foreign entanglements. No, even then, the people on the far right would never admit they might be wrong and will continue to criticize and complain about socialism and we’re not doing enough to kill our enemies.

How will this possibly end?

Community responses to crime.

I really need to keep writing this weekend (OMG! I just touchtyped that last sentence! And most of this sentence! This is a big deal for me. I’ve been using a keyboard, sometimes 10+ hours a day, for 25 years, and I still can’t touchtype. Anywa….) so this should be reasonably brief.

A couple of communities have taken very different approaches to the threat of crime in their community. (Before I get started, I’m comparing apples to crabapples here as the threat of crime are two different types for the communities. Regardless, I think the differences in approaches are far reaching and grander than the specifics of what they’re trying to protect themselves against.)

A town in Arkansas, plagued by a criminal culture of drugs and shootings, has allowed its law enforcement to place the town under martial law:

“Curfew” is a rather quaint term for what’s going on there. The police, with automatic assault rifles, are stopping anyone from being on the streets after curfew. Their attitude it clear:

“As far as I’m concerned, at 3 o’clock in the morning, nobody has any business being on the street, except the law,” Councilman Eugene “Red” Johnson said. “Anyone out at 3 o’clock shouldn’t be out on the street, unless you’re going to the hospital.”

It seems to be the opinion of the town’s “leaders” that free citizens don’t have the liberty to be out on their own business in their town when they wish. His belief that everyone should be resting snug in their beds at night else you’re a ne’er-do-well is being imposed by force upon free citizens.

Of course, as all things are, the issue is complicated. There’s no doubt that their town is overrun by crime. Randoms shootings, drive-bys, drugs rampant. In a very significant way I feel for this town. There’s a part of me that thinks in order to deal with an out of control crime wave, the fascist fist of martial law is needed to stem the tide so that more democratic means can be allowed to have an effect. Martial law is an addressing of a symptom–crime come from failures in the social structure and no amount of fascist strength will solve the problems of social distress.

I don’t completely disagree with a limited and controled use of strength to get a situation under control, but that’s not what appears to be happening in this town (I’ve never even visited and know nothing about aside from news articles). It would seem the law of the land has an attitude that armed enforcement of curfew is not a limited and should not be a limited solution but rather a norm. When you have community leaders making statements that no one should be out on the streets late at night, you have a truly fascist attitude which seeks to control the populace and not help it to live with liberty and freedom. This town may push the criminal element to other neighboring towns, but they will not solve the underlying issues this way and will in fact end up do more harm to the very concepts of what it means to live in America.

In the curfew area, those inside the homes in the watch area peered out of door cracks Tuesday as police cruisers passed. They closed the doors afterward.

That sounds like an establishing shot from a movie set in East Germany or the Soviet Union, maybe a movie version of 1984.

Meanwhile, to protect their school children from what they see as a rising tide of school shootings, a Texas school district will be allowing its teacher to carry concealed handguns:

“Gun free zones” are basically game preserves for anyone who has enough disdain for law as to want to shoot people and are going to ignore “gun free zone” declarations in order to do it. A look at school shootings the last couple of decades and you see pretty much two scenarios playing out: 1. A shooter enters a school and starts killing and wounding unprotected people until they decide when to stop, and then they kill themselves. Police arrive after it’s all done. 2. Someone (a student and/or teacher) runs to their car, grabs their gun, and comes back to stop the shooter thus ending the spree earlier than the shooter would have decided to. Police arrive after it’s all done. (Same goes with the recent church shootings.)

Unless a school is placed next door to a police station, it can take several minutes for police to respond to a shooting (which even in this age of cell phones, may not even be placed until a couple of minutes into the event), and then it can take longer for the police to make an organized counter “attack” on the shooter. And as we’ve seen, it doesn’t take very long for a shooter to exhaust their ammo and turn a final shot on themselves.

The idea of a “liberal media” is absurd, except when it comes to issues of successful non-police use of guns to protect innocent people, then the media is generally silent on reporting it:

(Although, as you can see, CNN.com appears to be doing a fair piece on this Texas town–kudos to them)

The important thing is that the school district is being smart about it. When rabid liberals hear the idea of letting teachers or students carry firearms on a campus, they immediately commit reductio ad absurdum and imagine a wild west shootout left and right. The district will be requiring very specific and strict guidelines for who can carry:

For employees to carry a pistol, they must have a Texas license to carry a concealed handgun, must be authorized to carry by the district, must receive training in crisis management and hostile situations and must use ammunition designed to minimize the risk of ricocheting bullets.

(OK, so this isn’t brief.) These are indeed two different situations that have received two different solutions, but I would like to point out the mindset and the larger repercussions of both solutions. In the Arkansas town you have a situation where the empowerment of the people has be abdicated in favor of police control. The populace have turned over their ability to take matters in their own hand, to fight to make change in their community, over to an entirely different group of armed thugs. A more organized and better funded group of thugs, perhaps. The free citizens have given up their freedom and have chosen to live under siege. Safe, perhaps, but disempowered and cowering to a different force that’s become even more uncontrollable than the criminal element.

On the other hand, the Texas town is determined to take matters into their own hands and protect their own themselves. They have recognized the absurdity of both fascist control and posting warning signs that have all the effect of “Nuh uh, mister baddie-bad. You can’t bring your guns in here to express your sociopathic suicide rage–this is a ‘gun free zone!'” Instead of relying on the near-impossible protection of the police, they have chosen a course of action that empowers themselves and not only does not eliminate freedom but rather express and celebrates it.

It’s this exact difference in attitudes which can be extrapolated into the bigger context of our reaction to terrahism. Our government has decided to take the attitude of the Arkansas town and enact police state tactics. It has decided the best way to protect the land of the free against those who despise our freedom and liberty, is to remove freedom and liberty. To paraphrase Penn Jillette, the first act our government should have done after 9/11 was to remove laws, not make more restricting our freedoms. The best attack against fundamentalism is to increase freedom and liberty and not do their job for them.

And the tragic thing is that we the people are letting it happen. We’re peeking out the crack of our doors and closing them tight as the law drives by in the middle of the night. We imagine we’re nice and safe, but unlike the “safety” of the Arkansas town, our safety is completely illusionary. Time and time and time again it’s pointed up how worthless the TSA security is in anything except controlling the innocent. How worthless the border controls are at anything except controlling in innocent. How worthless port inspections are, shipping truck control is. We’re living under increasingly fascist state control without the benefit of the safety we’re supposedly being sold in exchange for our civil liberties.

Exemplification of “the machine”.

This news item:

I have no comment of my own that could add to the story itself. I’ll just post what some others have said:

OM:

…You know, one day everyone’s going to finally get tired of hire-a-cops, and it’ll be *them* put up against the wall before the lawyers.

Bastards.

Victor Trac:

The terrorists win again. I bet they didn’t expect to be /this/ successful when planning 9/11.

DW Funk:

It’s just incredible that someone, at some point, witnessed Ng’s ordeal and thought, “this is the right thing to do.” Was it neglect? Was it due to poor training and a culture of fear, or sadism in uniform?

How could anyone allow something like that to happen? It’s disgusting.

oncogenesis:

Call your representatives. Call them and demand reform.

Yeah, that’ll really show ’em!

People, we’re way beyond “working within the system for positive change.” You have to have a functional system for that to be possible, and the US is not the shining beacon of democracy you think it is. (Was it ever?)

Lauren O:

The saddest part of this is that no one who read the story was surprised.

Yet another reason never to go to the US: after they copy the contents of my laptop and phone, they post a letter to the wrong address, lock me up and watch me die.

K2R:

> he no longer received painkillers,
> because he could not stand in line to collect them.

This sounds like one of the pervert things my Grandparent’s generation did in Germany.

“Of course you can have painkillers, just line up there! You can’t walk anymore? Well, I’m afraid, you will have to pick up you medication yourself, it’s the law.”

This is exactly the inhumanity small people in Germany showed while hiding behind buerocracy.

I cannot imagine how desperate he was, being stuck in the bad dream of Kafka the US has become, always hoping to wake up.