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Chronicling the collapse of a failed society
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.
The International Criminal Court is preparing to indict Moammar Gadhafi:
In asking for the arrest warrants, Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said the evidence is clear: Moammar Gadhafi personally ordered the attacks on unarmed civilians that have been taking place since the uprising began in mid-February.
“He committed crimes with the goal of preserving authority. He has absolute authority. He uses that authority to commit crimes,” said Ocampo.
Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo said Mr. Gadhafi ruled through fear, that his security forces opened fire onto demonstrators, used heavy artillery on funeral processions, and used snipers to shoot worshippers leaving mosques.
Gadhafi is without a doubt a war criminal, and should be treated as such. But the ICC will remain a mockery until it seeks to apply international law to citizens of all nationalities, and not just those of the developing world. I am referring here, of course, to the most obvious example of crimes against humanity in modern history: the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the extra-judicial assassination of Osama bin Laden.
As usual, Chomsky nails it:
We might ask ourselves how we would be reacting if Iraqi commandos landed at George W. Bush’s compound, assassinated him, and dumped his body in the Atlantic. Uncontroversially, his crimes vastly exceed bin Laden’s, and he is not a “suspect” but uncontroversially the “decider” who gave the orders to commit the “supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole” (quoting the Nuremberg Tribunal) for which Nazi criminals were hanged: the hundreds of thousands of deaths, millions of refugees, destruction of much of the country, the bitter sectarian conflict that has now spread to the rest of the region. …
The imperial mentality is so profound, throughout western society, that no one can perceive that they are glorifying bin Laden by identifying him with courageous resistance against genocidal invaders. It’s like naming our murder weapons after victims of our crimes: Apache, Tomahawk … It’s as if the Luftwaffe were to call its fighter planes “Jew” and “Gypsy.”
There is much more to say, but even the most obvious and elementary facts should provide us with a good deal to think about.
Rarely is Chomsky’s analysis so overtly hostile; his anger here is tangible – and rightly so. The U.S. assassination of Osama bin Laden raises countless concerns but offers nothing remotely worth celebrating. Violating basic standards of ethics and human rights, the United States has executed an individual, without trial, in an unauthorized invasion of the sovereign nation of Pakistan.
In late 2003, I was working in a supermarket meat room slowly saving money to fund a trip to Asia. My coworkers were quintessential working class Americans, staunch believers in the virtues of Capitalism and the existence of the American Dream, self-professed conservatives to the core who firmly supported any and all military action undertaken to defend “our freedoms.” And so it was not surprising when, on December 14, I clocked in to work to be greeted by the exultant manager. “We got ‘im!” he proclaimed gleefully. For some inexplicable reason, he and my other coworkers seem to have derived some sense of self-worth from the capture of a Middle Eastern dictator who had previously had the tacit support of our own U.S. government.
My response then was the same as it is today, in the wake of the fresh claims that Osama Bin Laden has been killed in Pakistan: who cares? Just as the capture of Saddam Hussein bore little relevance to the concerns of ordinary Americans, so too does the purported death of Bin Laden – also a one-time ally of the United States – have little impact on the life of the common person.
The BBC reports that the health of Bradley Manning, the alleged source for Wikileaks, is deteriorating after months in custody:
Pte Manning, a US soldier, is being held in solitary confinement in a high-security military prison at Quantico marine base, Virginia.
US journalist David House, who has been visiting him since September, told the BBC World Service he looked “frazzled”. …
The 23-year-old was arrested earlier this year and charged with stealing secret information. One accusation is that he handed Wikileaks video of an Apache helicopter killing 12 civilians in Baghdad in 2007.
However, there has been no formal indictment and no date for a trial has been set, according to Mr House.
“He is being kept in a kind of punitive fashion before his trial and it is definitely weakening his mental state,” the journalist said.
When Mr House first visited Pte Manning in September, he found him mentally “very alert” and, physically, he looked to be “in very good health”.
“Over the months, I’ve seen his condition deteriorate. Mentally, he now has trouble keeping up with some topics of conversation. He has bags under his eyes and he appears to be very weak.”
This information comes after earlier reports that the UN was investigating the treatment of Manning, after allegations surfaced that the conditions he is being held under equate to torture. It is impossible to know precisely how Manning is being treated, since his situation is cloaked in so much secrecy. But it is not difficult to surmise that, at the very least, Manning is being intentionally mistreated in an attempt to coerce him into cooperating.
In its usual half-assed manner, the NY Times has finally broached the largely taboo topic of our indefensibly bloated military budget. As with most issues deemed “controversial” by our ultra-conservative corporate press, the impression here is that the NY Times addressed the subject, via its opinion page, out of absolute necessity only. In a time of such dire economic conditions, with the right and pseudo-left Dems screaming for budget cuts, even the NY Times realizes that it must at least mention what is obviously the most wasteful example of government spending.
Nicholas Kristof deserves some credit for daring to criticize the sacrosanct altar of military expenditures, and his piece, The Big (Military) Taboo, does address some critical issues:
• The United States spends nearly as much on military power as every other country in the world combined, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. It says that we spend more than six times as much as the country with the next highest budget, China.
• The United States maintains troops at more than 560 bases and other sites abroad, many of them a legacy of a world war that ended 65 years ago. Do we fear that if we pull our bases from Germany, Russia might invade? …
• The U.S. will spend more on the war in Afghanistan this year, adjusting for inflation, than we spent on the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War and the Spanish-American War combined. …
It was President Dwight Eisenhower who gave the strongest warning: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”
Clearly, there are some powerful points here, points that need to be addressed on a much broader scale by both the MSM and the nation as a whole. Kristof even highlights the oft forgotten fact that it was the presence of American soldiers in Saudi Arabia which, in part at least, precipitated the attacks of September 11. But the problem with Kristof’s piece, as with most coverage by the NY Times which borders on being genuinely relevant, is that it doesn’t go far enough, and it’s couched in terms that reinforce the status quo:
The Obama administration grows more similar to the Bush regime with every day that passes. Today we observed more of that transformation as smilin’ Joe Biden flashed his true, Cheney-esque colors:
Vice President Biden today said that by disclosing classified documents and diplomatic cables, Wikileaks has endangered lives and “done damage” to U.S. diplomacy. In an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Biden confirmed reports that the Justice Department is looking at possible charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
“Look, this guy has done things that have damaged and put in jeopardy the lives and occupations of people in other parts of the world,” Biden said. The Vice President went on to say that Wikileaks has “made it more difficult for us to conduct our business with our allies and our friends,” citing his own meetings with world leaders.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that those in positions of power are the most vocal opponents to WikiLeaks. And unfailingly, the argument has to do with national security: we need secrets, they claim, in order to protect the American people. After all, there are evil boogeymen out there who are intent on destroying America merely because, in the words of the immortal ‘tard, “they hate our freedom.”
Sadly, the American people seem to be buying the lies:
Senator Bernie Sanders on the Federal Reserve’s secret Wall Street bailout:
After years of stonewalling by the Fed, the American people are finally learning the incredible and jaw-dropping details of the Fed’s multi-trillion-dollar bailout of Wall Street and corporate America….
What have we learned so far from the disclosure of more than 21,000 transactions? We have learned that the $700 billion Wall Street bailout signed into law by President George W. Bush turned out to be pocket change compared to the trillions and trillions of dollars in near-zero interest loans and other financial arrangements the Federal Reserve doled out to every major financial institution in this country. Among those are Goldman Sachs, which received nearly $600 billion; Morgan Stanley, which received nearly $2 trillion; Citigroup, which received $1.8 trillion; Bear Stearns, which received nearly $1 trillion, and Merrill Lynch, which received some $1.5 trillion in short term loans from the Fed.
We also learned that the Fed’s multi-trillion bailout was not limited to Wall Street and big banks, but that some of the largest corporations in this country also received a very substantial bailout. Among those are General Electric, McDonald’s, Caterpillar, Harley Davidson, Toyota and Verizon.
Perhaps most surprising is the huge sum that went to bail out foreign private banks and corporations including two European megabanks – Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse – which were the largest beneficiaries of the Fed’s purchase of mortgage-backed securities.
Sanders has some obvious biases here, but he deserves credit for broaching the inexplicably taboo subject of criticizing the Federal Reserve. And the revelations that he has uncovered are absolutely appalling, but honestly, is anyone surprised by this? It should be readily apparent to anyone with eyes and a brain that our government was long ago transformed into a vehicle for protecting and expanding corporate wealth and power. Main Street is the recipient of endless platitudes and a paltry, ineffective stimulus package; Wall Street and the corporate elite receive virtually anything they desire. As John Dewey wisely stated, our government is merely the shadow cast by big business.
“In its first months in office, the Obama administration sought to protect Bush administration officials facing criminal investigation overseas for their involvement in establishing policies the that governed interrogations of detained terrorist suspects. A “confidential” April 17, 2009, cable sent from the US embassy in Madrid to the State Department—one of the 251,287 cables obtained by WikiLeaks—details how the Obama administration, working with Republicans, leaned on Spain to derail this potential prosecution. …
Back when it seemed that this case could become a major international issue, during an April 14, 2009, White House briefing, I asked press secretary Robert Gibbs if the Obama administration would cooperate with any request from the Spaniards for information and documents related to the Bush Six. He said, ‘I don’t want to get involved in hypotheticals.’ What he didn’t disclose was that the Obama administration, working with Republicans, was actively pressuring the Spaniards to drop the investigation. Those efforts apparently paid off, and, as this WikiLeaks-released cable shows, Gonzales, Haynes, Feith, Bybee, Addington, and Yoo owed Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton thank-you notes.”
As with most of the revelations from Wikileaks, there is little here about which one should be surprised. The most recent batch of leaks – along with the Iraq War Logs and Afghan Diaries – merely provides concrete evidence to support what most people have suspected all along. It was long apparent that Obama was not interested in pursuing criminal prosecution of Bush and his gang of lawless thugs – indeed, the Democrats made clear their unwillingness to uphold the rule of law back in the 2008 mid-term elections, with Nancy “Impeachment is Off the Table” Pelosi’s now infamous words.
Every time I read something by David Brooks, the first question that springs to mind is, “How the fuck does that guy have a job with the New York Times?” Then I remember the reality of the NY Times – in stark contrast to its self-professed status as being the gold standard of journalism – and Brooks’s ability to retain his position suddenly makes much more sense.
The second question that presents itself is, “Does Brooksy actually believe all the bullshit he writes?” I mean, really, how could anyone possibly buy into the fantasy world he describes in virtually every one of his columns? The answer to this question becomes obvious when one recalls a 2008 column in which Brooks described, in all sincerity, his deep-seated fear of The Big Shaggy. In light of such repugnant drivel, it becomes readily apparent that David Brooks is certifiably insane. So yes, it is highly likely that he does believe all the platitudes and pseudo-centrist gibberish that spew forth copiously from his brain every time he attempts to write or speak.