Failed Empire

Chronicling the collapse of a failed society

Category Archives: Human Rights

9/11 Ten Years On: The Lost Decade

building 7

It’s hard to believe that a decade has passed since the tragic events of September 11, 2001.  What we did not realize at the time was that the tragedy was only just beginning on that beautiful morning in late summer, as we were soon to embark on a lost decade which would eventually leave hundreds of thousands dead, eviscerate human rights both at home and abroad, destroy the national economy and squander trillions on multiple corporate wars of aggression.

So where are we now, and just what exactly has been accomplished since that fateful day?

We are embroiled in no less than five wars throughout the Islamic world:  Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya and Yemen.  More than 6,000 American soldiers are dead, tens of thousands more are permanently disabled.  Well in excess of one million civilians have been killed by our actions throughout the Muslim world, and the American economy has been sabotaged for generations to come by our multi-trillion dollar military expenditures.

The Patriot Act annihilated the very concept of civil liberties, while our Orwellian “War on Terror” has destroyed what few remnants there were of America’s standing in the world as a force for good:  Guantanamo Bay, indefinite detention without charge, torture, the now accepted Bush/Obama Doctrine of preemptive war.

The world is clearly a far worse place today than it was ten years ago.  The entire human race, thanks to the reckless actions of the corporatist Bush/Obama regime, has taken a giant step back.  2,700 dead on September 11, 2001 seems trivial in comparison.

But let’s look back on the events that triggered it all.  Just what do we know about the alleged attacks?  For starters, we know that the official story is completely false.  There are far too many questions which remain unanswered, and until these questions are answered no American can claim to know what really happened on that day.  While I do not purport to know what really transpired, I think the following questions require immediate answers:

1 – Why didn’t the official 9/11 report consider the source of funding for the attacks pertinent, particularly when there was clear evidence linking the hijackers to the Pakistani intelligence unit?

2 – What happened to Building 7?

3 – How is it possible that burning jet fuel caused two steel towers to collapse?

4 – What is Larry Silverstein talking about when he suggests “pulling it”?

5 – What happened to the remains of the plane in Pennsylvania?

6 – What happened to the remains of the plane at the Pentagon?

7 – Why won’t the Pentagon release the video of the plane striking it?

8 – What happened to the black boxes of the planes that struck the twin towers?

9 – What are we to make of the numerous eye-witness accounts which describe explosions in the basement, before the planes struck?

10 – What are we to make of the Project for a New American Century, and its document “Rebuilding America’s Defenses,” which cited the need for a new Pearl Harbor event nearly two years before the events of 9/11?

I am not necessarily suggesting a conspiracy of any sort, nor am I implying an inside job in which the twin towers were brought down by controlled demolition.  But short of concrete evidence to the contrary – or at least, evidence which supports the official story – I will not rule them out.  The CIA has routinely been involved in such attacks on nations throughout the world; what is to prevent it from carrying out a false-flag attack on US soil?  Anything is possible, particularly in a nation as corrupt as ours.  And until we have answers to the above questions and many more, we can hardly claim to live in a free and open society.

Rumsfeld Confirms Obama is Bush III

creepy Donald Rumsfeld

Rumsfeld knows a fellow Corporatist when he sees one:

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says President Barack Obama has come to accept much of the Bush Doctrine out of necessity, despite what he campaigned on in 2008.

Rumsfeld said that Obama needed to keep the Guantanamo Bay detention center open because of national security concerns, and it was the best solution among a host of bad options.

“They ended up keeping Guantanamo open not because they like it – we didn’t like it either – but they couldn’t think of a better solution,” Rumsfeld told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren on Tuesday.

Rumsfeld then listed a handful of other Bush administration policies that have continued into the Obama administration, something that he sees as vindication of the policies.

“The same is true with the Patriot Act, and military commissions, and indefinite detention. All of those things were criticized but today are still in place two-and-a-half years later because they are the best alternative to the other choices – and they are in fact successful in keeping America safer,” he says.

As usual, of course, Rumsfeld and his ilk are incapable of refraining from twisting the truth in some way or another.  For Rumsfeld to suggest that Obama campaigned against the Bush Doctrine is disingenuous, as Obama’s campaign was little more than a collection of vacuous platitudes.  “Yes, we can” continue our multiple wars of terror; “Yes, we can” ignore the rule of law and illegally detain people without charge or recognition of basic human rights; “Yes we can” continue a 30+ year streak of government policies that strongly favor the rich while decapitating America’s middle class.

And then we have Rumsfeld’s bogus assertion that the Bush Doctrine and its associated tenets – Guantanamo Bay, indefinite detention, the Patriot Act – are somehow the “best alternative to other choices.”  Of course, the vagueness of the term “other choices” leaves open the slimy possibility for a sliver of truth; but to what other choices are we referring?  Mass genocide?  Mandatory castration?  Government-imposed lobotomies?  (Actually, a form of nationalized lobotomy already exists; we call it public school.)

Obama never campaigned against the policies of the Bush administration, because he never had any intention of implementing anything different.  We have been living under a One-Party State since at least the Reagan administration, but that single Party has been becoming more and more brazen in its attempts to enslave the masses for the benefit of the Elite.  The Obama administration represents perhaps the most blatantly corporatist regime in the history of our nation – which says a lot, considering the notoriety of its predecessors.

U.S. elections are now and have long been a sham, and they will only continue to degenerate thanks to the preposterous Citizens United Supreme Court decision.  There is no meaningful difference between the Republicans and Democrats and has not been at any time in the modern era; to vote Democrat is merely to enable to the continuance of our long, dark slide into the depths of the dismal Right, where corporations hold more rights than humans, and the common good is sacrificed for the ever-growing profits of the Elite.  Any person who willingly identifies himself as a Democrat or Republican, and votes accordingly, is a part of the problem, and should be held accountable.

Boycott the One Party State.

Americans Elect: Democracy in the Internet Age

This is exactly the kind of development we need to get us out of the current One Party State:

Though many feel we are stuck with a two-party system after numerous attempts to elect a viable alternative candidate have failed, a new Internet-based political movement is emerging. The goal? To put a presidential nomination on the 2012 ballot derived completely from open voting on the Internet. Called Americans Elect, the nonpartisan, nonprofit organization isn’t a traditional new political party, although it must register as one. Instead, it’s a way to nominate candidates in a more democratic fashion. So far, the group has submitted the required number of signatures to put a nomination on the ballot in eight states and has plans to be on 18 by year’s end. Democratic representation is an old idea that modern technology is reinventing, and the movement has the potential to change American politics forever…and that means 2012 will be an even wackier election year than it is already shaping up to be.

So how does one vote for an Americans Elect candidate?

Visit Americans Elect to find out more.

Independence Day: A Time for Celebration or Mourning?

patriotic genius

Years ago, I spent a couple of summers working in a salmon cannery in Naknek, Alaska.  On the base of the Alleutian Peninsula, surrounded by the bleak, brown landscape of the summer tundra, it was a dreary job of 16-hour days spent gutting fish, in a tiny town in one of the most desolate regions on earth.

Among some of my stranger workmates were a handful of proud skinheads from Washington state, including a giant, 6′ 4″ weirdo with a shaved head, scraggly ginger beard, and oversized horn-rimmed glasses.   We were often situated side-by-side on the “slime line,” as it was termed, and engaged in conversation on a wide variety of topics whilst ripping fistfuls of guts from the insides of unfortunate salmon.

He was, not surprisingly, an ultra-conservative Republican who loved capitalism, worshiped the mythical free market, and adored the writings of Ayn Rand.  As a long-haired hippie fresh from the streets of Portland, we obviously didn’t quite see eye to eye on many – most – issues.

When the 4th of July came and, during one of our paltry 30-minute meal breaks, we were served revoltingly dry barbecued chicken in celebration of our nation’s independence, he looked at me snidely and asked whether or not I considered Independence Day to be a day of mourning.

And it was a fair question.   Read more of this post

Obama Boasts of Troop Reductions in Afghanistan, The Machine Trudges On

Tahrir Square

For the last ten years, we’ve been hearing about troop withdrawals in Afghanistan.  It’s not at all surprising that politicians will try to manipulate the masses with promises of an end to the war, but it is somewhat shocking that we seem to fall for it over and over again.  So with the latest reports that Obama is pledging a reduction in troop numbers in Afghanistan, it’s a good idea to ignore the corporate puppet and listen to what Pentagon officials have to say:

 U.S. Undersecretary of Defense Michele Flournoy reminded lawmakers the U.S. troop force in Afghanistan will still be larger than it was when Obama took office, despite the President’s pledge to reduce the military presence in the country.

Michele Flournoy: “Even after the recovery of the surge forces, totaling about 33,000 troops, we will still have 68,000 U.S. service members in Afghanistan. That is more than twice the number as when President Obama took office. Clearly, this is not a rush to the exits that will jeopardize our security gains. More importantly, at the end of summer 2012, when all of the surge forces are out, there will actually be more Afghan and coalition forces in the fight than there are today.”

We’re not leaving Afghanistan, or Iraq, Libya, Yemen or Pakistan at any point in the foreseeable future.  As long as there is something to be gained by maintaining a troop presence, we will be there.  Such is the nature of empire, and ours is no different.  It doesn’t matter if the nation bankrupts itself in the process, because the wealthy elites that are pulling the strings have rigged the system in such a way that they always profit.  When the masses lose, they win.  When we’re struggling to survive on the unemployment line, they’re greedily lining their pockets with our national wealth, and laughing all the while.

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Adventures in Modern Capitalism: Man Robs Bank of $1 to Obtain Prison Health Care

James Verone robs bank for health care

The only surprising thing about this incident is that it hasn’t happened more often:

Uninsured Man Robs Bank of $1 to Gain Prison Medical Coverage

A North Carolina man who had no health insurance has admitted to recently robbing a bank of one dollar in order to be sent to jail to get free medical coverage. James Verone, a laid-off employee of Coca Cola, recently noticed a protrusion in his chest and had developed arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome. Without health insurance or money for private care, Verone concluded his best option would be to go to prison. Verone told a local newspaper, “The pain was beyond the tolerance that I could accept. I kind of hit a brick wall with everything.” Since being held in jail he has seen several nurses and has an appointment with a doctor Friday.

The story communicates much about our society.  A giant, multinational, multi-billion dollar corporation laid off an employee, leaving him without income and without access to medical care.  Verone was then sentenced to prison for stealing $1 from a bank, an ironic development considering that banks prosper by stealing money from people in any way they can.  As an ordinary law-abiding citizen Verone was not afforded the access to health care, but somehow criminals are deemed worthy of this most basic of human rights.

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FDR’s Second Bill of Rights: Nearly 70 Years On, Still Exactly What We Need

It’s rather shocking to think just how much we’ve devolved socially in the 67 years since FDR first proposed his Second Bill of Rights:

It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.

This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

As our nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.

We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

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Massive Protests in Spain Offer Lessons to U.S. Leftist Movement

anti-austerity protests in Spain

As 1 million people turn out for the Stanley Cup parade in Boston, hundreds of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets across Europe to decry proposed austerity measures:

 Anti-austerity rallies have been held across Europe – in Spain thousands marched to protest against high unemployment and their government’s handling of the economic crisis.

It was the first major demonstration since the end of the so called Indignant campaign in which Madrid’s central square was occupied by activists for several weeks.

A protest movement called “The Indignant” is leading the way in Spain:

 More than 100,000 protesters took to the streets in cities across Spain on Sunday, accusing politicians and bankers of implementing economic policies that led to the highest unemployment rate in the eurozone.

In Spain’s capital, Madrid, protesters converged near the parliament building where 500 police were deployed to maintain security. The police estimated that between 35,000 and 45,000 people joined the demonstrations with no reports of violence.

I’m here because this is a con,” Juanjo Montiel, a 26 year old who works in information technology, told the news agency Reuters. …

Since its founding in May, the protest movement has fanned out across Spain with protesters on Sunday reading a manifesto calling for a general strike and for a revolution.

The capitalist system does not work, it only benefits a few and harms the majority,” a young female protester told the news agency dpa. …

“The banks and the governments that caused this situation must know that we do not agree with the measures and the budget cuts, that we intend to be heard,” the “indignant” movement said when calling for nationwide protests.

With the official unemployment rate in Spain exceeding 20%, the rage felt by ordinary citizens is quite understandable.  Their situation is in many ways similar to our own; after years of reckless profiteering by the banks and other corporations, ordinary citizens are now faced with the prospect of slashing social services to bail out the very entities that caused the crisis in the first place.  There are, of course, crucial differences between them and us – perhaps the most notable being that people in Spain are actually turning out en masse to protest the latest proposed austerity measures.

But beyond that, the situation across Europe is different in that they actually have meaningful social services at risk of being lost.  Universal health care, free or reduced college education and comprehensive unemployment benefits are the norm throughout the EU, meaning that normal citizens actually have a lot to lose if the proposed measures are implemented.

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Intellectual Engagement with the Fringe Right: “It’s like a retarded person who had AIDS”

idiocracy

Over the last few days, Failed Empire has received quite a bit of attention from, shall we say, less than sympathetic readers.   In the interest of openness I never delete any comments, but the comments that self-professed conservatives tend to leave say quite a lot about what we’re up against in the fight to build a better world.  Consider the following examples (I’ve put all personal insults and particularly ignorant comments in bold).

From the post “One Million Expected for Bruins Rally as Nation Crumbles“:

the write of this article is a complete jackass. yes there are lots of problems in the world. and having parades like this to celebrate good things, things that make people happy, helps remind us what we are fighting wars for. Just sit at home and be miserable you fucking loser.

 — “Joe,” blowme@here.com

lol this guy is such a tool.
fight the power, pro! lmao.

 — Anonymous

And then a slew of comments from a particularly mature individual who has given himself the devastatingly witty moniker “Impeach Hussein”:

Read more of this post

One Million Expected for Bruins Rally as Nation Crumbles

Canadian hockey fans revolt after Stanley Cup loss

It’s good to see Americans have their priorities straight:

BOSTON (AP) — The Red Sox, Patriots and Celtics have all had at least one in recent years, and now it’s the Bruins turn for a parade.

The Stanley Cup champions will be the toast of the town on Saturday. Police expect as many as one million people to converge on Boston to honor the Bruins.

Did you catch that?  One million people are expected to turn up for the Bruins victory parade.  The economy is collapsing, millions are unemployed, we’re fighting five concurrent wars and increasingly living in a police state, the climate is shifting, cancers are spreading, the banksters are ripping off the masses on an unprecedented scale and the people can’t be bothered to get off their asses to do anything about it, but one million people will happily attend a frivolous parade to celebrate winning the fucking Stanley Cup.  You gotta love America, right?

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