Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Who is Journalist?



In a recent New York Times article David Carr questioned whether someone could be both a journalist and an activist, a question that was prompted by the role of Glenn Greenwald, a writer for The Guardian and a political activist, in reporting on Edward Snowden’s National Security Agency leaks.
As Carr put it, “The question of who is a journalist and who is an activist and whether they can be one and the same continues to roar along, most recently in the instance of Glenn Greenwald’s reporting for The Guardian on the secrets revealed by Edward J. Snowden.” Carr also framed the question as “a fight between objectivity and subjectivity.”
Carr initially seemed to concede that one and the same person could be both an activist and a journalist, even though the activists are “driven by an agenda.” In fact, the title of his article conveyed exactly that point: “Journalism, Even When It’s Tilted.” And, as Carr noted, this is an important concession since journalists are afforded special legal protections in the case of reporting leaks. Mr. Greenwald needs this protection because there are some government officials who would like to see him prosecuted.
However, towards the end of his article Carr began to raise caveats. Activism, he concluded, does not prevent someone from being a journalist; it rather tends to make them bad journalists: “But I think activism – which is admittedly accompanied by the kind of determination that can prompt discovery – can also impair vision.” And he added: “…the tendentiousness of ideology creates its own narrative.” In other words, activism can on rare occasions be helpful in unearthing the truth, but usually it is a barrier.
But perhaps Mr. Carr has failed to grasp the larger picture, possibly due to his own unspoken commitments. Everyone falls into one of two categories. There are those who basically have resigned themselves to established society, perhaps because of ideological compatibility, a strong strain of pragmatism, or a conviction that attempts to change society are entirely futile. Then there are others who are critical and are prepared to embark on a campaign to try to change what they find objectionable. Neither of these groups has a monopoly on objectivity; both positions rest on a set of fundamental values that can be rationally supported. And both involve a kind of activism: one aims at changing society while the other aims at refraining from changing it.
Yet there is a superficial difference between the two: those who want to change society do stand out. Unlike Mr. Carr, they do not seamlessly blend in with the surrounding social institutions and the values embodied in them. Accordingly, they might seem as if they have an agenda that uniquely distinguishes them, but that is only from the perspective of people like Mr. Carr, whose agenda ties him to the status quo but who has not sufficiently reflected on his own social commitments and therefore is unable to acknowledge them. No one, in other words, is exempt from having an “agenda.”
This point was graphically illustrated when “Meet the Press” host David Gregory pointedly asked Greenwald why he should not be charged with a crime for divulging Edward Snowden’s leaks. Here Gregory stood smugly on the side of those who wield power and was quick to demonstrate this point by his tendentious question, perhaps with the thought in mind of winning a promotion, which is a rampant form of another kind of activism.
To his credit, Carr elicited Greenwald’s response to the counterposing of activism and journalism, and this was Greenwald’s response: “It is not a matter of being an activist or a journalist; it’s a false dichotomy. It is a matter of being honest or dishonest. All activists are not journalists, but all real journalists are activists. Journalism has a value, a purpose – to serve as a check on power.” And Greenwald added: “I have seen all sorts of so-called objective journalists who have all kinds of assumptions in every sentence they write. Rather than serve as an adversary of government, they want to bolster the credibility of those in power. That is a classic case of a certain kind of activism.”
Greenwald’s rejection of the purported dichotomy between activism and journalism is, of course, entirely correct. Everyone is an activist of one kind or another. The distinction should rather be drawn between those who are conscious activists and those who, like Mr. Carr and Mr. Gregory, are unconscious activists. Those who fail to reflect on their own commitments are sometimes the most vicious.
Ann Robertson is a Lecturer at San Francisco State University and a member of the California Faculty Association

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Telecom, Opium of the 21st Century; the postmodern religion

The Telecom Crisis

Opium of the 21st Century

We all know Marx’s famous line, “Religion is the opium of the people.” However, his full reflection is more insightful and helpful understanding today’s postmodern “opium.”

Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions.

Religion has given way to telecommunications, a new belief system a condition which needs illusions. Telecom offers the every-person, the consumer, proof of a life anchored in the certainties of postmodern progress. It’s today’s unacknowledged postmodern religion.
In the U.S., content is the opium of the 21st century telecom user. It’s so seductive that one ignores the fundamental weaknesses of the underlying networks that make it all possible. More troubling, it effectively hides the political system – dare we say, “corruption” — that makes it all work. Whether delivered online via a TV or PC or via a wireless device like a smartphone, tablet or laptop, we are being seduced into a great digital stupor.

Content, broadly speaking, includes all forms of digital communications programming, from voice calls and emails, websites visits and searches, videogames and streaming video downloads, social networking hookups and commercial transactions to everything else one engages in digitally.
The seductive appeal of so much varied and exciting content leads most people to ignore the pathetic state of the nation’s communications infrastructure. According to November 2012 data from Akamai, an Internet tech company, only 62 percent of the nation had “broadband” and the U.S. ranked 15th in the world in terms of data speed – behind South Korea and Romania.

The digital-opium delusion promoted by 21st century content gluttony is the inability to recognize that the media, the digital high, could be ever better, richer, more robust and a lot cheaper. U.S. telecom consumers are paying more for inferior service than any advanced nation in the world.
Most troubling, to the extent that the opium of this new religion could serve the nation and not just corporate greed, a true 21st century network would help the nation’s long-term economic competitiveness and people’s standard of living. Unfortunately, a true 21st century telecom network does not now operate in the U.S. The self-serving greed of the telecom industry has made the U.S. a 2nd rate technology country. The true opium of content is that so few care.
* * *

Digital communications is a defining aspect of early-21st century life. A century ago, the analog signal added a new, transformative, dimension to human experience. 19th century forms of communications consisted of live presentations and print publications. They were augmented, superseded, by electronic analog technology and media that define the 20th century.
During the 20th century, the communications media changed social relations and consciousness itself. It was a century of new analog media: the telephone (1876), the phonograph (1877), the radio (1910), the movie (1894), the television (1939) and finally videotape (1975).
Cumulatively, these new media helped fashion a new communication experience, a new mode of human perception, of knowing. Together, the analog media transformed human experience. They also set the stage for the first generation of the digital communications media. Officially, the world went “digital” with the ENIAC computer in 1946 and, four decades later, IBM’s personal computer in 1981. Today, the analog era is over, other than among music cultists. All media communications is digital, a series of 0s and 1s.

Together, technology and media fashion for each era a new, appropriate sensibility. The analog media of the 20th century fashioned a sensibility based on two precepts: first, increase the sense of experience at a distance and, over the century, intensify the fracturing of reflection.

Today, it’s all digital, everywhere, all the time. Impulsive eye-finger coordination tied to a keyboard is replacing deliberative reflection as the mode of interpersonal, social discourse.
Today, the digital communications media are ubiquitous. They are the enabling technology of globalization, tying people however far away ever closer together.
They played a critical role first, in 2009, in Iran’s electoral uprising and then, starting in 2010, in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Bahrain.

Smartphones, really personal computing-communication devices, are empowering technologies.
These technologies facilitate voice communications, texting and “IM” or instant messaging as well as photo- and-video capture and transmission functions.
Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter combined with Googe’s search and YouTube videos helped refashion the experience of postmodern communications.

From a “broadcast” model of “one-to-many” that defined 20th century media technology (and still defines cable TV), the 21st century’s switched-digital signal enables a “one-to-one-to-many-to-one” model of communications connectivity.
Few Americans can live without their digital communications media. A topline overview of U.S. telecom usage suggests the scope of our “addiction” to the new opium of the telecom masses.
TV viewing
In 2012, Nielsen estimated that for 2011 there were 114.1 million TV households in the U.S. with 289.2 million people living in these homes. They each watched 153 hours and 19 minutes of “traditional TV” a year — TV viewed on a set watching “content” either live, via a digital video recorder or via a video-on-demand service rather than a computer or a tablet.
A second indication of video content viewing is suggested by comScore, a leading Internet analysis firm. It found that, in December 2012, 182 million U.S. Internet users watched nearly 39 billion online videos. It estimates that over 85 percent of these users viewed online video in December.
According to YouTube, it gets over 800 million unique visit each month and over 4 billion hours of video are watched each month; comScore found that in November 2012, 12 billion videos were viewed on all Google sites. And pay-per-view, video-on-demand, streaming and photo websites has made porn a $15 billion business.
Telephone calls
The telephone call is undergoing structural realignment, with the old-fashioned wireline phone giving way to wireless devices, whether a cell- or smart-phone. FCC data from 2011 estimated that there were 146 million wireline “retail local telephone service connections” of which 84 million (or 58%) were residential, 62 million (or 42%) were business connections; it also found that that there were 34 million interconnected VoIP or Internet telephone subscribers. Most consequential, from 2005 to 2010, landline-only homes dropped from 34.4 percent to 12.9 percent of phone users.
Mobile device usage
Pew Research found that in December 2012, 87 percent of American adults had a cell phone and 45 percent had a smartphone. Most illuminating, it analyzed how people used their “smart” mobile computing and communications device and found the following: 79% text, 55% go online to browse the Internet, exchange emails or download apps, 44% record videos and 29% do online banking.
The number of “apps” available through the Apple iTunes Store suggests the scale and diversity of smartphone usage. In January 2013, according, a tracking service, iTunes offered 786,903 downloadable apps, including “apps” (654,913) and “games” (131,990). Nearly anything one wants to connect to is available through the iPhone and iPad.
Social networking
According to Nielsen, Americans spent 121 billion minutes on social networking sites between July 2011 and July 2012, up from 88 billion the previous year. Apps captured a large portion of those minutes, accounting for a third of overall social networking time. According to one estimate, in the U.S. as of 2012, Facebook had 163 million subscribers and Twitter had 108 million subscribers.
Online shopping
Among Americans who go online, 83 percent make a purchase. According to one research firm, during the decade of 2002 to 2011, e-commerce sales jumped more than three-fold from $72 billion to $256 billion. Over half ($162 billion) of online purchasing goes for retail shopping, while another third is for travel-related purchases.

About two-thirds (63%) of Americans, 211.5 million people, play videogames. According to market research firm, NPD, they fall into two categories, gamers who play console games like the Xbox or Wii and gamers who play mobile and digital (online) games. Console games make up over half of gamers, but are eroding as new technologies change the gaming experience; mobile gamers account for 22 percent of gamers, while digital gamers make up 16 percent. Console gamers, however, spend the most money on games — $65 on physical games.
Digital communications media saturates postmodern life.
* * *
The 21st century digital communications media are a powerful social force and, like similar transformative technologies of the past (i.e., electricity, analog communications media), they play both a repressive and a liberatory role.
Sharing some of the political upsurge that took place in North African, Pew found that nearly two-fifths (39%) of American adults using social networking have engaged in civic or political activities. They have ranged from finding their “voice” and posting their thoughts about civic and political issues, to reacting to others’ postings, to pressing friends to political actions and to voting.
The seductive appeal of so much varied and exciting content leads most people to ignore the pathetic state of the nation’s communications infrastructure. In November 2012, less than two-thirds (62%) of the nation has “broadband” and the U.S. ranked 15th in the world in terms of data speed.
By analogy, people regard the communications infrastructure like they do their electric service. One flips a switch and the electric lights go on and we make dinner, go online, watch TV – and one never really thinks about the electric grid.

That’s how most American’s think about their telecom services: we use them, we grouse about poor service, we know we’re being over-charged, yet we grudgingly pay our bill every month. And we have to; telecom is an essential part of postmodern life.
One rarely thinks about the telecom infrastructure. Unless, of course, one’s caught in a natural disaster, like Sandy, and you loose both electric and phone services. Then one gets a glimpse of just how 2nd-rate the American telecom system really is.
Pew found custom satisfaction pretty pathetic. Among smartphone Internet users: 77% experienced slow download speeds and 69% who texted got unwanted spam or text messages.

So, enjoy the content. Like global warming, the telecom crisis is easily ignored until it’s too late. And it just might be.
David Rosen writes the blog, Media Current, for Filmmaker and regularly contributes to CounterPunch, Huffington Post and the Brooklyn Rail, check out; he can be reached at

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Technology is he Opiate of the Masses

Technology is the Opiate of the Masses

Consumers willingly surrender their freedom, money and time in pursuit of what exactly?

By Joel S. Hirschhorn

January 05, 2013 "
Information Clearing House" - - Everywhere I look outside my home I see people busy on their high tech devices, while driving, while walking, while shopping, while in groups of friends, while in restaurants, while waiting in doctor offices and hospitals, while sitting in toilets – everywhere. While connected electronically, they are inattentive to and disconnected in physical reality.
People have been steadily manipulated to become technology addicted. Technology is the opiate of the masses.
This results in technology servitude. I am referring to a loss of personal freedom and independence because of uncontrolled consumption of many kinds of devices that eat up time and money. Most people do not use independent, critical thinking to question whether their quality of life is actually improved by the incessant use of technology products that are marketed more aggressively than just about anything else.

I for one have worked successfully to greatly limit my use of technological innovations, to keep myself as unconnected as possible and to maximize my privacy and independence. I do not have a smart phone; I do not participate in social networking; I do not have any Apple product, nothing like an IPod, IPad and similar devices. I have never used Twitter or anything similar, or sent a text message. I do use the Internet judiciously on an old laptop. Email is good and more than enough for me. I very rarely use an old cell phone.
So what have I gained?
Time, privacy and no obsession to constantly be in touch, connected, available, informed about others. Call me old fashioned, but I feel a lot more in control of my life than most people that I see conspicuously using their many modern devices. They have lost freedom and do not seem to care about that. When I take my daily long walks I have no device turned on, no desire to communicate, nor to listen to music; I want to be in the moment, only sensing the world around me, unfiltered and uninterrupted by any technology.
I am not hooked by advancing technology, not tethered to constantly improved devices, not curious about the next generation of highly priced but really unnecessary products, not logged on and online all the time. I have no apps or games.

Those who think interactions with people through technology devices are the real thing have lost their sanity. Technology limits and distorts human, social interactions. Worse yet, people have lost ability and talent for actually conversing to people face to face, responding to nonverbal nuances, or through intimate writing with more than just a few words.

Consider these findings: “Researchers from the University of Glasgow found that half of the study participants reported checking their email once an hour, while some individuals check up to 30 to 40 times an hour. An AOL study revealed that 59 percent of PDA users check every single time an email arrives and 83 percent check email every day on vacation.”

A 2010 survey found that 61 percent of Americans (even higher among young people) say they are addicted to the Internet. Another survey reported that "addicted" was the word most commonly used by people to describe their relationship to technology. One study found that people had a harder time resisting the allure of social media than they did for sex, sleep, cigarettes, and alcohol.

A recent study by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project found that 44 percent of cellphone owners had slept with their phone next to their bed. Worse, 67 percent had experienced “phantom rings,” checking their phone even when it was not ringing or vibrating. A little good news: the proportion of cellphone owners who said they “could live without it” increased to 37 percent from 29 percent in 2006.

The main goal of technology companies is to get you to spend more money and time on their products, not to actually improve your quality of life. They have successfully created a cultural disease that has gone viral. Consumers willingly surrender their freedom, money and time in pursuit of what exactly? To keep pace with their peers? To appear modern and sophisticated? To not miss out on the latest information? To stay plugged in? I do not get it.
I see people as trapped in a pathological relationship with time-sucking technology, where they serve technology more than technology serves them. I call this technology servitude. Richard Fernandez, an executive coach at Google acknowledged that “we can be swept away by our technologies.”
Welcome to virtual living. To break the grand digital delusion people must consider how lives long ago could be terrific without all the technology regalia pushed today.

What is a healthy use of technology devices? That is the crucial question. Who is really in charge of my life? That is what people need to ask themselves if they are to have any chance of breaking up delusions about their use of technology. When they can live happily without using so much technology for a day or a week, then they can regain control and personal freedom and become the master of technology. Discover what there is to enjoy in life that is free of technology. Mae West is famous for proclaiming the wisdom that “too much of a good thing is wonderful.” Time to discover that it does not work for technology.

As to globalization of technology servitude
: Is this worldwide progress what is best for humanity? Is downloaded global dehumanization being sucked up?
Time for global digital dieting.

Joel S. Hirschhorn blogs at

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Investing in War

Investing in War

House Slave Syndrome


A recent article declares, “Tired of war, thousands of Iraqis want to go to U.S.” What it fails to mention is who triggered all the bloodshed. Who made conditions in Iraq so intolerable that these people must flee?

You know who.

Over and over again, the U.S. has instigated mayhem or carnage overseas, generating thousands if not millions of refugees, many of whom longing to escape, paradoxically, it seems, to the source of their suffering. You beat and humiliate me, so can I move in?

But there is no paradox here, really.
Let’s call this phenomenon the House Slave Syndrome. With its vast military, petrodollar racket and control of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, the U.S. dominates every single life on earth.
It is a truly a full spectrum master. There is not a Panamanian, Nigerian, Georgian or Japanese, etc, whose life goes unmolested by American military or, more importantly, financial decisions.

Each U.S. sneeze distorts the entire world.
When its attention to your land includes a coup or a preemptive strike, then the plot just gets bloodier (and often oilier).
No use hiding. Unless you’re Bin Laden, Uncle Sam can always reach you!

The fact that many Iraqis want to come here means that our way of life is superior to theirs, many Americans will conclude, and what we’re doing over there is entirely justified, if a bit costly on our end, but we’re such good people, we give so much.

Ignored is the fact that we’ve sold their oil and gas and kept 98% of the gross receipt.
Our occupation is also not called We Will Bomb You, Strip You Naked and Smear Shit On Your Face, but Operation Iraqi Freedom.
We’re teaching them about civilization, even if they did start it five thousand years ago. A refresher course can’t hurt.
Between waterboarding lessons, we’ll teach them about Angelina Jolie, and, for the more serious and advanced students, Megan Fox and Whoopie Goldberg.
We’ll throw in easy to understand parables about Jesus. Turn the other cheek, you Satanist Terrorists!

There is nothing new here.
We’ve been messing with Iraq for half a century. In 1963, we orchestrated a coup there.
We supported Saddam Hussein even before he became president. Before we turned against him, Saddam was our boy, just like Ngo Dinh Diem, Ferdinand Marco, Mohammad Pahlavi, Manuel Noriega and so many others.
It’s good that Uncle Sam is not a baseball executive, because his picks are always terrible, but just ask yourself, What sort of character, for cash or career advancement, collaborates with the C.I.A.?

Washington ditches foreign dictators when they no longer serve its needs, but even the most loyal servants of our ruling class are just disposable tools, if not collateral damages. It has come out that General John D. Lavelle, who died in disgrace 30 years ago, was unjustly blamed for a military decision authorized by Richard Nixon. As his career was destroyed, both White House and Pentagon said nothing. Consider also what happened to Old Blood and Guts. Sixty-three years after the death of General Patton, evidences emerged that he was killed by the O.S.S., precursors to the C.I.A., in a staged car crash.

So even the highest ranked house slaves are not safe. Still, it’s better to be inside than out.
In fact, it’s best to be as close to the man as possible.
Here’s a basic rule of survival: When shots ring out, run to the gang with the biggest guns, the one with the most tanks, planes and ships, and you’ll less likely to become kabob.
If they’re smart bombing your neighborhood, you can save your own ass by moving into theirs, for even their least desirable real estate, even Detroit, for example, is safer than Baghdad, if not by much.

In short, the closer you are to the baddest mofo, the less likely you are to be zapped by one of his drones or military contractors.
If you sit next to the pilot, he’ll have a harder time bombing your ass.
Sniffing the man’s deodorant, you will also have better access to his table scraps, preowned clothing and maybe even a bit of hand me down culture.

As long as we engage in wars on foreign soils, refugees will try to come here, but we simply can’t stop because war is our primary industry, what we export to the rest of the world.
War is our way of life.
We are a war servicing nation.
War nourishes our military industrial complex, cheers up stock holders of Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and General Electrics, etc.
Without wars, our stock market would disappear.
College-aged children of the investment class may hold up cute signs protesting this or that conflict, but daddies and mommies need systematic and routine mass murders to maintain healthy stock portfolios.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Unlimited Imperialism

Twin Swords Of Damocles Over The Heads Of All Humanity
By Francis A. Boyle

December 26, 2012 "
Information Clearing House" -
During the 1950s I grew up in a family who rooted for the success of African Americans in their just struggle for civil rights and full legal equality.
Then in 1962 it was the terror of my own personal imminent nuclear annihilation during the Cuban Missile Crisis that first sparked my interest in studying international relations and U.S. foreign policy as a young boy of 12: “I can do a better job than this!”
With the escalation of the Vietnam War in 1964 and the military draft staring me right in the face, I undertook a detailed examination of it. Eventually I concluded that unlike World War II when my Father had fought and defeated the Japanese Imperial Army as a young Marine in the Pacific, this new war was illegal, immoral, unethical, and the United States was bound to lose it. America was just picking up where France had left off at Dien Bien Phu. So I resolved to do what little I could to oppose the Vietnam War.
In 1965 President Lyndon Johnson gratuitously invaded the Dominican Republic, which prompted me to commence a detailed examination of U.S. military interventions into Latin America from the Spanish-American War of 1898 up to President Franklin Roosevelt’s so-called “good neighbor” policy. At the end of this study, I concluded that the Vietnam War was not episodic, but rather systemic: Aggression, warfare, bloodshed, and violence were just the way the United States Financial Power Elite had historically conducted their business around the world and in America.
Hence, as I saw it as a young man of 17, there would be more Vietnams in the future and perhaps someday I could do something about it as well as about promoting civil rights for African Americans. These twins concerns of my youth would gradually ripen into a career devoted to international law and human rights.
So I commenced my formal study of International Relations with the late, great Hans Morgenthau in the first week of January 1970 as a 19 year old college sophomore at the University of Chicago by taking his basic introductory course on that subject. At the time, Morgenthau was leading the academic forces of opposition to the detested Vietnam War, which is precisely why I chose to study with him. During ten years of higher education at the University of Chicago and Harvard, I refused to study with openly pro-Vietnam-War professors as a matter of principle and also on the quite pragmatic ground that they had nothing to teach me.
Historically, this latest eruption of American militarism at the start of the 21st Century is akin to that of America opening the 20th Century by means of the U.S.-instigated Spanish-American War in 1898. Then the Republican administration of President William McKinley stole their colonial empire from Spain in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines; inflicted a near genocidal war against the Filipino people; while at the same time illegally annexing the Kingdom of Hawaii and subjecting the Native Hawaiian people (who call themselves the Kanaka Maoli) to near genocidal conditions. Additionally, McKinley’s military and colonial expansion into the Pacific was also designed to secure America’s economic exploitation of China pursuant to the euphemistic rubric of the “open door” policy. But over the next four decades America’s aggressive presence, policies, and practices in the “Pacific” would ineluctably pave the way for Japan’s attack at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 194l, and thus America’s precipitation into the ongoing Second World War.
Today a century later the serial imperial aggressions launched and menaced by the Republican Bush Jr. administration and now the Democratic Obama administration are threatening to set off World War III.
By shamelessly exploiting the terrible tragedy of 11 September 2001, the Bush Jr. administration set forth to steal a hydrocarbon empire from the Muslim states and peoples living in Central Asia and the Persian Gulf and Africa under the bogus pretexts of (1) fighting a war against international terrorism; and/or (2) eliminating weapons of mass destruction; and/or (3) the promotion of democracy; and/or (4) self-styled “humanitarian intervention”/responsibility to protect. 
Only this time the geopolitical stakes are infinitely greater than they were a century ago: control and domination of two-thirds of the world’s hydrocarbon resources and thus the very fundament and energizer of the global economic system – oil and gas. The Bush Jr./ Obama administrations have already targeted the remaining hydrocarbon reserves of Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia for further conquest or domination, together with the strategic choke-points at sea and on land required for their transportation. 
In this regard, the Bush Jr. administration announced the establishment of the U.S. Pentagon’s Africa Command (AFRICOM) in order to better control, dominate, and exploit both the natural resources and the variegated peoples of the continent of Africa, the very cradle of our human species. Libya and the Libyans became the first victims to succumb to AFRICOM under the Obama administration. They will not be the last.
This current bout of U.S. imperialism is what Hans Morgenthau denominated “unlimited imperialism” in his seminal work Politics Among Nations (4th ed. 1968, at 52-53):
“The outstanding historic examples of unlimited imperialism are the expansionist policies of Alexander the Great, Rome, the Arabs in the seventh and eighth centuries, Napoleon I, and Hitler. They all have in common an urge toward expansion which knows no rational limits, feeds on its own successes and, if not stopped by a superior force, will go on to the confines of the political world. This urge will not be satisfied so long as there remains anywhere a possible object of domination--a politically organized group of men which by its very independence challenges the conqueror’s lust for power. It is, as we shall see, exactly the lack of moderation, the aspiration to conquer all that lends itself to conquest, characteristic of unlimited imperialism, which in the past has been the undoing of the imperialistic policies of this kind... “
It is the Unlimited Imperialists along the lines of Alexander, Rome, Napoleon and Hitler who are now in charge of conducting American foreign policy. The factual circumstances surrounding the outbreaks of both the First World War and the Second World War currently hover like twin Swords of Damocles over the heads of all humanity.
Francis A. Boyle is a graduate of the University of Chicago and Harvard Law School. He has advised numerous international bodies in the areas of human rights, war crimes, genocide, nuclear policy, and bio warfare. He received a PHD in political science from Harvard University.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Bon appetit! Apeshit

November 07, 2012
Bon appetit!

America the Blind


So Americans have voted for more of the same, not because they reelected Obama, but because they went to the polls at all. As expected, the two corporate and eternal war candidates got nearly all of the votes, with the Libertarian’s, not even 1%, and the Green Party’s, less than a quarter of 1%. Through no faults of their own, alternative candidates got almost no media exposure and little funding, but their extremely poor showing will be painted by the corporate media as reflective of the negligible value of their ideas.

Once again, the world has witnessed the passion and faith American voters have for war criminals and protectors of banksters. It is remarkable, really, the continuity of the American looting and mass murdering project. The US military has turned the Persian Gulf into its own bloody bath tub, in fulfillment of the Carter Doctrine. Democratic Carter cited the Soviet threat, but he was also aiming to keep the Arabs in line, to prevent another oil boycott that would cripple this country. It doesn’t take much of a gas disruption to sow chaos here, as shown by Hurricane Sandy. A gas junkie will kill and rob to feed his habit, then become even more apeshit should his supply run dry. He’ll shoot you before, during and after, and call it love for you, god and democracy.

According to the corporate shill that’s the US President, America is well on its way towards energy independence, though gas is up, up and up, and we’re wringing oil from rocks and brewing it from maize, neither one a cheap or energy efficient proposition, but don’t worry, just keep driving those SUVs and pack the NASCAR grandstands as the sea rises to your neck.

As we enter de yo mama of all depressions, partly caused by the job outsourcing started by the Democratic Clinton, the corporate shill du epoque is also promising more jobs, but where will these be found in this deliberately de-industrialized nation? We make nothing anymore except guns, corndogs, bombers and pornography, so well endowed guys and gals with strip mall implants can still go down, strut or pole dance for a few years, before they get on food stamps like a record number of their fellow citizens. That or joining the “services.”

The college basketball season will open with a game on an aircraft carrier, I kid you not, and one in an Air Force hangar in Germany. Hoopsters will wear camouflaged uniforms designed by Nike. The militarized corporate monster has infiltrated every aspect of American life, so don’t be surprised if you wake up tomorrow next to traumatized and amputated hero, or corpse, or a million corpses. Millions of corpses.

Most Americans are blind to corpses, however. They don’t see any corpses, not even those draped under their own flag. Ask people you know how many American soldiers have been killed in Iraq, for example, and I’d be very surprised if one in ten could chance into a close guess. Do you know? Ask these same people the number on Kobe’s jersey, the record of the New England Patriots or the birth year of Lady Gaga.

Education is the answer, Obama and Romney both stressed, especially higher education, though more than half of recent American college graduates can’t find work, though most are burdened with life-wrecking debts. Our banks, universities and bank-run government have colluded to jack up tuitions to unconscionable levels. As with the national debt itself, we’re eating our young.

Or maybe education isn’t the answer. From the mouth of a two-degreed librarian at a Midwestern university, “We don’t really need industries, since we’re a financial service and information economy now.” A California professor, “The world will go on financing our debts, since it’s in their interest to do so.” Another educator from same university, “Fascism?! Who’s talking about Fascism?!” And a PhD candidate at UPenn, “Obama has done all he could. He’s trying.” If that’s smart, who needs brain dead?

Unlike the last Depression, this one has been more hidden, so far, thanks to food stamps. The bread lines are inside the supermarkets now. With suffering not in plain view, many Americans can still subscribe to the recovery jingle, especially during the campaign season, when false hope percolated in many brain pans and boiling pots of possum. This morning, many wake up feeling giddy because they have managed to accomplish something together. As in every four years, they have once again say “I do” to their own rapist.

They are now represented, they think, by someone looking out for their own interests, but it can be said, quite seriously, that America does not have a representative democracy. If you vote for someone for his rhetoric and promises, which he promptly ignores after the election, then you’re not being represented, I’m sorry, though with your votes, you’ve just sanctioned him to go on abusing you and the rest of the world. Ignoring his kill list, undeclared wars and other violations of justice, you’ve chosen to swallow whole his sound bites, so you will fully deserve what’s coming to you, though it’s unfortunate that so many other victims will have to suffer also.

American democracy is like a restaurant with only two items on the menu, and no matter which one you order, ass or pachyderm, you’re served a toxic and bloody mess. Dissatisfied, you must wait four years to order again, only to receive, once more, a toxic and bloody mess. Bon appetit!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The most successful people in America are liars

A Culture Of Delusion


A writer’s greatest disappointments are readers who have knee-jerk responses. Not all readers, of course. Some readers are thoughtful and supportive. Others express thanks for opening their eyes. But the majority are happy when a writer tells them what they want to hear and are unhappy when he writes what they don’t want to hear.

For the left-wing, Ronald Reagan is the great bogyman. Those on the left don’t understand supply-side economics as a macroeconomic innovation that cured stagflation by utilizing the impact of fiscal policy on aggregate supply. Instead, they see “trickle-down economics” and tax cuts for the rich. Leftists don’t understand that the Reagan administration intervened in Grenada and Nicaragua in order to signal to the Soviets that there would be no more Soviet expansion or client states and that it was time to negotiate the end of the cold war. Instead, leftists see in Reagan the origin of rule by the one percent and the neoconservatives’ wars for US hegemony.

In 1981 curtailing inflation meant collapsing nominal GNP and tax revenues. The result would be budget deficits–anathema to Republicans– during the period of readjustment.

Ending the cold war meant curtailing the military/security complex and raised the specter in conservative circles of “the anti-Christ” Gorbachev deceiving Reagan and taking over the world.

In pursuing his two main goals, Reagan was up against his own constituency and relied on rhetoric to keep his constituency onboard with his agenda. The left wing heard the rhetoric but failed to comprehend the agenda.

When I explain these facts, easily and abundantly documented, some of leftish persuasion send in condescending and insulting emails telling me that they look forward to the day that I stop lying about Reagan and tell the truth about Reagan like I do about everything else.

“Knee-jerk liberal” is a favorite term of conservatives. But conservatives can be just as knee-jerk. When I object to Washington’s wars, the mistreatment of detainees and the suspension of civil liberties, some on the right tell me that if I hate America so much I should move to Cuba. Many Republicans cannot get their minds around the fact that if civil liberties are subject to the government’s arbitrary discretion, then civil liberties do not exist. The flag-waving element of the population is prone to confuse loyalty to the country with loyalty to the government, unless, of course, there’s a Democrat in the White House.

Rationally, it makes no sense for readers to think that a writer who would lie to them about one thing would tell them the truth about another. But as long as they hear what they want to hear, it is the truth. If they don’t want to hear it, it is a lie.

Both left and right also confuse explanations with justifications.

When a writer writes about the perils that we as a society face and the implications, it is very discouraging for the writer to know that many readers will not listen unless it is what they want to hear. This discouragement is precisely what every truth-teller faces, which is why there are so few of them.

This is one reason I stopped writing a couple of years ago. I found that solid facts and sound analysis could not penetrate brainwashed and closed minds seeking vindication to keep the mind locked tightly against unsettling truths. Americans want to have their beliefs vindicated more than they want the truth. The success of print and TV pundits is based on allying with a prominent point of view or interest group and serving it. Those served make the writer or talking head successful. I never thought much of that kind of success.

But success as a whore is about the only kind of success that can occur in Washington or in the media these days. Those who refuse to prostitute themselves arouse pity and denunciation, not admiration. A couple of years ago an acquaintance from a university in the northeast called me to say he had recently had lunch with some of my former associates in Washington. When he inquired about me, he said the response was, “Poor Craig, if he hadn’t turned critic, he would be worth tens of millions of dollars like us.”

I replied that my former associates were undoubtedly correct. My acquaintance said that he hadn’t realized that he was having lunch with a bunch of prostitutes.

The incentive to speak the truth and the reward for doing so are very weak. And not just for a writer, but also for academics and experts who can make far more money by lying than by telling the truth. How else would we have got GMOs, jobs offshoring, the “unitary executive,” and a deregulated financial system? It is a very lucrative career to testify as an expert in civil lawsuits. It is part of America’s romance with the lie that experts purchased by the opposing sides in a lawsuit battle it out as gladiators seeking the jury’s thumbs-up.

And look at Congress. The two members of the House who stood up for the Constitution and truth in government will soon be gone. Ron Paul is stepping down, and Dennis Kucinich was redistricted out of his seat. As for the Senate, these thoughtful personages recently voted 90-1 to declare war on Iran, as the sole dissenter, Rand Paul, pointed out. The Senate is very much aware, although only a few will publicly admit it, that the US has been totally frustrated and held to a standoff, if not a defeat, in Afghanistan and is unable to subdue the Taliban. Despite this, the Senate wants a war with Iran, a war which could easily turn out to be even less successful. Obviously, the Senate not only lies to the public but also to itself.

Last week the Pentagon chief, Panetta, told China that the new US naval, air, and troop bases surrounding China are not directed at China. What else could be the purpose of the new bases? Washington is so accustomed to lying and to being believed that Panetta actually thinks China will believe his completely transparent lie. Panetta has confused China with the American people: tell them what they want to hear, and they will believe it.

Americans live in a matrix of lies. They seldom encounter a truthful statement.There is no evidence that Americans can any longer tell the difference between the truth and a lie. Americans fell for all of these lies and more: Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction and al Qaeda connections. Saddam Hussein’s troops seized Kuwaiti babies from incubators and threw them on the floor. Gaddafi fed his troops viagra to help them rape Libyan women. Iran has a nuclear weapons program. Change–yes we can!

The US is “the indispensable country.” America is broke because of food stamps and Social Security, not because of wars, bankster bailouts, and a failing economy. Russia is America’s number one enemy. China is America’s number one enemy. Iran is a terrorist state. Jobs offshoring is free trade and good for the US economy. Israel is America’s most loyal ally. The US missile shield surrounding Russia is not directed at Russia. The South China sea is an area of US national interest. Financial markets are self-regulating.

The list is endless. Lies dominate every policy discussion, every political decision. The most successful people in America are liars.

The endless lies have created a culture of delusion. And this is why America is lost. The beliefs of many Americans, perhaps a majority, are comprised of lies. These beliefs have become emotional crutches, and Americans will fight to defend the lies that they believe. The inability of Americans to accept facts that are contrary to their beliefs is the reason the country is leaderless and will remain so. Unless scales fall from Americans’ eyes, Americans are doomed.

Paul Craig Roberts