Monday, November 10, 2014

Remembrance Isn’t Enough

On November 11th Canadians commemorate the fallen, the lost lives of the men that have been killed in service to the nation in World War 1 as well as wars since then. We thank them for what they have done in their efforts to preserve freedom and democracy.
Remembrance on its own however isn’t enough. It isn’t enough because the mentality that has pushed millions of men into trenches to mindlessly slaughter each other 100 years ago is still in place. Moreover, the war to end all wars has started pretty much every war since that time; World War 2 included.

In 2014 We need to become more objective and critical when it comes to war. Through history, the individual fought on the side he or she was born on, more or less. The state demands it.

World War 1 was not about either freedom or democracy. It was about power and wealth. In fact, Germany had universal male suffrage at the time. Britain qualified about 40% of males to vote. At that time, the United Kingdom brutally ruled the globe at the point of a gun. This is not to suggest German imperialism was better or worse; both were employed by very wealthy people aiming to maximize profit and this factor is war's genesis; it is the reason why all this carnage occurred and still occurs. The nature of empire is a nature of violence and oppression and to the extent we bolster that tradition and mentality with Remembrance Day celebrations, we should examine and analyze these processes very carefully. If Remembrance Day ceremonies militarize the population and shore up future support for offensive war against other nations, we need to critically examine what we are doing. If it is truly about reflecting on the deaths of so many, then we should do so.
Remembrance Day must be more than a day to support unquestioned support for the state, for the powers that make war happen. Unquestioning the motives of the state is more than dangerous, it is immoral. This should be a day to actually remember and analyze the mistakes of the past to not repeat them. If waging war is a mistake that results in the deaths of thousands or millions of human beings, it is not merely a mistake. It is a crime of the highest order and we, the cannon fodder for future wars, must do the analysis. The people that actually send us to war will not.

Bush’s apparent mistake by waging war in Iraq occurred in a climate of nationalist jingoism and insecurity after 9 11. Mistakes like that may occur when a population is in fear, when a population is desensitized to the plight of foreign individuals, and when popular media notes all the reasons for going to war while burying the myriad of reasons not to. Although Bush’s push to war was not as much a mistake as it was a planned and thought out bid for oil control as well as America’s strategic placement on the world map, it was a mistake in the analysis of the population. Otherwise, popular opposition may have interfered with war planning and possibly stopped an invasion. This venture has only resulted in far more instability and carnage than could have been possible otherwise. As we can see in 2014, that war is far from ending.

One Thread of Legacy

With an upheaval as massive as World War One, it would be impossible to list the threads of legacy that have spun from that carnage. Perhaps the most relevant one that is impacting people today is the ongoing Israeli aggression against the Palestinians. That legacy runs this way: the Balfour Declaration in 1926 set scaffolding for the Israeli state, the Treaty of Versailles set up a frightened and dangerous mood in Germany. Germany, under Hitler, killed 6 million Jews and many more including communists, socialists, gypsies, gays and so on. Naturally, the Jewish people wanted their own state and security for themselves as a people. Today, the people of Israel do not feel secure; they are not.

War feeds on insecurity and fear and in turn, creates more of the same. World War 1 created acute insecurity among the German people; a very dangerous condition. Germans became suspicious and frightened of everybody and xenophobia ran high. Conditions like this empower the state to its dangerous and violent extremes.
Jewish people had been living in Palestinian lands prior to 1948 and the creation of the state of Israel. They lived with some tension with local Arabs but both populations managed to get along. Western powers callously created a state that is based on religious or ethnic attributes necessarily creating a society of exclusion as opposed to working toward inclusion and peace. The exclusion or lowering of the status of the local people that had been living there all along is itself is an act of violence, of war. As a result, the people of Israel live in a sea of hatred where individuals and groups of individuals would like to eradicate the state of Israel and individuals living as Jewish people in Israel. It is an extremely volatile and ongoing situation and it is directly tied to the war to end all wars; World War 1.
The current bombing of ISIS may not tie as directly to World War 1 but the artificial drawing of boundaries throughout the Middle East by Western powers has set up conditions for conflict and mutual distrust. This, along with a widespread acceptance of dominance by imperial powers is a certain recipe for disaster. The latter point is a crucial in terms of remembrance. It is the end we collectively hold up.

What is it we bring to mind when we remember? The reality is; not much. If we did we would stop repeating the same mindless carnage over and over and over again. Today, in 2014, Western powers, led by the USA are dropping bombs on ISIS after the USA intervened in Iraq and upon their departure, set up certain civil war between the Sunnis and the Shia by stripping power and wealth from one population and handing it over to the other. The British did exactly the same thing to Protestant and Catholic populations in the British Isles.

The West and NATO have attacked and bombed Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya in recent years with an aim to overthrow those dictatorships. A kind and forgiving attitude toward Western intervention would need to admit, at least, that these regime change ventures have created more terrorists and have increased hatred against the West and against Israel. They have boxed many millions of ordinary Muslim citizens into a corner where they have little choice but to fight against violent domination by foreign forces. We are creating not only terrorism but turning whole populations against the West. This reaction will extend to an unknown extent to include antipathy toward Western style democracy, individual freedom, and legal frameworks based in rationality. We are not only perverting modernity, we are turning people against it and against ourselves as people in the existing unwieldy climate of fear and violence.

Cavalier About War

Unlike Europeans and much of the world, North Americans have not seen war directly on American or Canadian soil in living memory. Perhaps this explains the cavalier attitude about war that fills media and political circles. That same attitude is well established within the population. And from North America, war is pushed through the world. Allies are pressured to take part, to join in with what Washington calls, ‘the community of nations’.

Unlike 1914, war today is directed toward civilian populations. The dropping of bombs in settled areas is the ultimate act of cowardice, not unlike terrorist bombings of civilians. It is meant to collectively punish disobedient or resistant populations. The Sunnis in Syria and Iraq are the latest enemy suffering under this ongoing war crime. ISIS are slaughtering innocent people that even hint at defiance. Civilians have paid a heavy price as a result of vague targeting of leaders of Taliban, Al Qeada, ISIS; collateral damage is the euphemism intended to sterilize indiscriminate carnage. The Western Frankenstein known as ISIS advertise their brutality like a badge of honour. They are not unique in this regard.
The commencement of bombing on CSIS is met with the same apathy as when Libya was attacked by NATO. Stephen Harper starts a war and it barely raises an eyebrow. Obviously we are not remembering much. We are at a point where the start of a war is received with a collective shrug of the shoulders or, a cheer reminiscent of a great sports event. Then on November 11th we stand in parks and monuments to remember. The world is getting ugly and we are at a point where we need to ask ourselves: What are we remembering?

Do we remember 158 Canadians that have died in Afghanistan? Those that know them remember them but what about the rest of us? What is it we are supposed to remember?
Perhaps when we remember those that died, we also remember political mistakes or planned conspiracies to start wars. We must remember the death and carnage and the destruction of whole societies. We remember the lies that have been delivered to us through media and political sycophants. We should remember the way war veterans have been treated and the way they continue to be treated. We must remember the millions of lives lost on and off the battlefield and we should remember that armies have lined up against each other for thousands of years with a willingness to kill those born on the other side of the border should some Dear Leader demand it. Maybe we are not above the barbarians we aim to kill. Perhaps if we really remember, we will put an end to it.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Unacceptable Cowardice: The Killing Fields of Gaza

The latest slaughter of the people of Gaza aims to normalize massacres against civilians as an accepted response to a disobedient population. Western politicians and media have given Israel a gentle scolding for a specific massacre of children but quickly return to their script saying 'Israel has a right to defend itself', or, 'blame Hamas'.

This particular war crime (collective punishment) is not new or unique to Israel. For example, on August 5th four civilians were killed in Afghanistan by NATO warplanes. This follows the killing of an American general. Killings in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere although under-reported, have been continuous under Obama. Collective punishment against civilian populations is obviously illegal and will never be admitted but the frequency with which this happens suggests that this is a tactic that is heavily relied on by Western and Israeli forces.

Typically, abusers will minimize their crime, they will deny it, or they will blame the victim. One way or another, they will rationalize it not only for the audience but for their own mental health. They convince themselves that they were justified. This is true of the man that beats his wife or children and it is true of Israel and its all too loyal voice in the world, Western mainstream media.

These massacres appear to have created a significant crossroad for public consciousness due to the exposure it was given. If we turn away, as is our collective custom, we are marching in step with Israeli brutality as surely as CNN does. This is not a moment in history where we can afford to remain silent. If this passes the acceptability test under the scrutiny it has received, it will give a green light not only to Israel. It will also embolden future despots and tyrants to crush dissent with unbridled military force. We have already wandered way too far down that path.

Jackboots on the Throat of Palestine

In 2005 and 2006 Hamas won elections to the dismay of Israel and the United States. Their contemptuous treatment of democracy when the wrong party is elected has been on full display in Egypt the Ukraine and elsewhere but the electoral success of Hamas has resulted in multiple massacres of Palestinian voters. Israel and the West have no wish or desire to make peace in Palestine. On the contrary. As former US President Jimmy Carter points out:

“This tragedy results from the deliberate obstruction of a promising move toward peace in the region, when a reconciliation agreement among the Palestinian factions was announced in April. This was a major concession by Hamas, in opening Gaza to joint control under a technocratic government that did not include any Hamas members. The new government also pledged to adopt the three basic principles demanded by the Middle East Quartet comprised of the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, and Russia: nonviolence, recognition of Israel, and adherence to past agreements. Tragically, Israel rejected this opportunity for peace and has succeeded in preventing the new government's deployment in Gaza.

Two factors are necessary to make Palestinian unity possible. First, there must be at least a partial lifting of the 7-year-old sanctions and blockade that isolate the 1.8 million people in Gaza. There must also be an opportunity for the teachers, police, and welfare and health workers on the Hamas payroll to be paid. These necessary requirements for a human standard of living continue to be denied. Instead, Israel blocked Qatar's offer to provide funds to pay civil servants' salaries, and access to and from Gaza has been further tightened by Egypt and Israel.”

Israel and the United States aim is to fracture Palestinian solidarity. Severing the West bank and Fatah from Gaza and Hamas would further isolate Gaza. It is a crucial war aim for Israel. This violence is in response to increased Palestinian cohesion. On June 2 the Palestinians formed a unity government under Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas. Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel responded by saying Israel will approve 1,500 new housing units for Israelis on Palestinian land. "I congratulate the decision to give a proper Zionist response to the establishment of the Palestinian terror cabinet," Minister Ariel said. "The right and duty of the State of Israel to build across the country to lower the housing prices is unquestionable, and I believe these tenders are just the beginning."

Media Complicity and Shocking Cowardice

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” -Joseph Goebbels

The series of massacres that Israel has carried out against the innocent people of Gaza is obscured with large, blatant, in your face lies. The spectacle of the Israeli war machine grinding the people of the Gaza ghetto into living hell and death is shocking. Western support of the lies that make it possible is crucial. Western politicians and media are not only giving Israel the message they can carry on with impunity, they are providing a green light to future atrocities not only for Israel; they are generally normalizing the wholesale slaughter of human beings.

The Israeli/Western narrative is not a twist of the truth or an exaggeration. They use blatant lies in full public view. The obvious contempt that Israel, Western politicians, and CNN (MSM) have for the audience follows a decade of American war and atrocities where war crimes have silently passed the court of public opinion. They believe they can take the commission of war crimes in public view up a notch. And they have.

The Western narrative informs us that Palestinian children are caught in the 'crossfire' after children are targeted and murdered in cold blood. That is why they make so much of human shields allegations. It bolsters the notion of 'crossfire'. Civilians are actually targets and Israel's pat response is, 'we do not target civilians' or 'Hamas did it' or, 'we are investigating'.

Cheerleaders for Israel make the claim, repeatedly, that if projectiles, Hamas fighters, or missile firing occur at a location, no matter how many children may be present, it is a legitimate target. The question Western media avoid as much as possible is: Why? Why are those specific Hamas fighters, projectiles, or hot spots sufficiently important to warrant the wholesale murder of 2,000 human beings? In reality, Israel's destruction of projectiles, Hamas fighters, or a hot spots will make no difference whatsoever to resistance fighters military fitness. On the contrary. The more they kill the more they legitimize resistance and the more they kill, the less secure Israel is.

Another scenario would be more consistent with US foreign policy (collateral damage) in Afghanistan and Pakistan over the past decade. That is, Israel punishes the local population for its support of Hamas through mass murder and destruction of public infrastructure and after the air strikes kill innocent men, women, and children they brazenly claim the enemy was utilizing human shields. This particular lie has no rational merit. Those that use it must have the intellectual wherewithal to imagine the absurdity of Hamas fighters standing before the sophisticated American weaponry of the IDF in an open field to shoot glorified firecrackers at Israel.

The large lies, the little lies, the demonization of Hamas and Palestinians in general all serve to kick up sufficient dust and smoke so that at the end of the day, observers tire of trying to figure out who is truthful and who is lying. CNN will pack away their cameras, the world will focus on Iraq or the Ukraine and again, Israel will get away with murder. The people of Gaza will hunker down in their open air prison and we will forget about them. And that is exactly what Israel, the USA, and CNN are counting on.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Crack Between the Worlds: Judge Pauley vs. Judge Leon

The 9 11 attacks on the USA have exposed a previously hidden but dangerous crack running through the current nominal free world. On one side is freedom; the other, security.

On December 27 Judge Pauley (ACLU vs. Clapper) ruled in favour of the NSA security apparatus spying activities against the citizens of the United States. In his decision, he made the claim that the choice between liberty and security is a false dichotomy. Pauley makes this statement after his nation has fought wars for freedom, ostensibly, and against nations and notions of buttoned down security. Wars have been fought to defend the USA against ideologies that may compromise the free individual. It is certainly not a false dichotomy. While this question will always be on a spectrum, there is a clear divide between secure societies (especially where everybody is monitored) and a free society.

Earlier this month, Judge Richard Leon ruled in favour of freedom. And there it is; the crack that separates federal judges. It also shows up in broad ideological terms. It separates conservatives from libertarians, liberals from liberals, and socialists and anarchists from so called communists. It is a crack that runs through philosophy, religion, and history. It probably runs through most individuals.

Pauley argues that “National security investigations are fundamentally different from criminal investigations. They are prospective – focused on preventing attacks – as opposed to the retrospective investigation of crimes.” Pauley aims to take due process into a nebulous realm where slippery pro fascist arguments may hold sway with fascistic minded individuals. He moves the locus of interest offshore to foreigners that are not protected under the Constitution. Then he uses that to justify pre-emptive strategies to stop the crime before it happens. Not only is Judge Pauley being disingenuous with the law pertaining to the fourth amendment, he is also on the wrong side of the Magna Charta and the basic legal principles that have been underlying planks to freedom for centuries. Preventing crime before the crime happens sounds good, we can then lock up anybody that will probably commit a crime before he commits the crime. Unfortunately, there is no way to live in a free society with this kind of security. To live in a free society, we need to tolerate the pedophile down the street and, we need to live with the possibility of being killed by violent people whether they are deemed (however arbitrarily) by the state ‘terrorist’ or not.

This is not about terrorism. It is about you. The state is not spending the time and money on the security state as it is in order to keep Al Qaeda from killing citizens. If fear, death, or any other types of citizens suffering were important to policymakers, they would address the fear, death, and suffering they directly cause in decisions where big money win out over human health and well-being. It isn’t terrorism they are afraid of. They are afraid of you.

A society where the state places the individual in a high tech goldfish bowl is a society where the state lords itself over, above, and against the population. It is a state aiming for total knowledge and control over the individual. While NSA activities may not result in jackbooted fascists storming through your door in the middle of the night, the differences are really cosmetic. We are moving to a paradigm you may remain marginally free compared to Germans under Hitler, Russians under Stalin, or Saudis under their current monarchs but, it is important to recognize that American society has crossed the aforementioned crack. Once that line is crossed, it is much easier for future explicit fascists and tyrants to rule with arbitrary power.

Judge Pauley makes much of the possibility that another terrorist attack may occur against the USA. What is much more devastating to the USA and indirectly to many other nations is the sustained decade old attack on individual freedom, an attack where Pauley himself is a guilty party. Individual physical attacks are one thing, attacking the fundamental legal and political basis of the nation is far more serious.

We can easily imagine the divide where on one side stand Madison and the American revolutionaries that brought the USA and the free world to modernity. Behind them stand millions of dead soldiers and citizens that have died for freedom. With them are countless intellectuals, philosophers, and revolutionaries the world over and throughout history; on the other side – a totalitarian nightmare.

Historically, the political left and right have been comfortably at each other’s throats – and we like it that way. On this occasion however, the left may find allies on the libertarian right and vice versa. No matter what we think and believe on other issues, the issue of freedom is the battle du jour and we need to win it. Together we may rise up against the cowards on both our sides of this existential crack in time.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The War on Children

The impact of Western military attacks on Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya have been catastrophic. Aside from people directly killed in the attacks, the physical, economic and social infrastructure of these nations has been ruined. Aside from Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan, Western meddling has killed, displaced, and ruined the lives of countless others in Syria and many other nations in the Middle East and Africa. Aside from the reprieve granted by Putin's intervention in Syria, there is nothing to suggest the Western war machine is anywhere close to slowing down.

This is a very serious situation and it is time that we, the supposed employers of Western politicians, do something about it.

The Impact of War on Children

Much has been said to address post trauma stress suffered by veterans of those wars. While that is a festering wound on its own, we will consider what it is like for the individuals that happen to live in a war zone. For them, the war only ends when the war ends and even then, it doesn't end. War karma will drag on and on well into the future. The society must live with the consequences that war has for young people that are in the midst of their mental and emotional development. The consequences have ramifications not only for the affected individual but for their society as a whole. For the domestic population, there is no going home from the war. When war ends, it really doesn't.

Western nations have child protection services to intervene where children are at risk of being harmed by caregivers. Agencies tend to address problems by providing services to a family where children are at risk of harm. Should those responsible for the children present significant harm to the children and they cannot or will not reduce the risk, parents are stripped of their default authority over the children and children may be removed from the home. Citizens generally become quite disturbed when a local child is being harmed. Yet, brown skinned children in foreign lands may suffer as a direct result of their elected leaders decisions but citizens tend to ignore that suffering. On the other hand, we are rarely exposed to information about this brutal reality.

It is imperative that we develop a means to strip authority away from politicians that kill and injure children.

Brain development process are sequential and build on previous development. A secure and predictable environment is crucial to healthy development. On the other hand, an environment where children are 'incubated in terror' will lead to a myriad of developmental problems that will require even more security, stability, and child skilled parents than can be provided in typical homes in a secure environment. Add in the conditions that war brings both in its duration and afterward, and the prognosis is poor. Children affected this way will be prone to suffer from PTSD, attachment disorders, and a wide range of neurotic disorders.

Some stages of development of the growing brain are more critical than others. Children are vulnerable and some stages of development are more crucial than others. Generally speaking, the younger the child the more vulnerable he or she is. "Disruptions of experience dependent neurochemical signals during these periods may lead to major abnormalities or deficits in neurodevelopment, some of which may not be reversible. "Disruptions of critical cues may result from "extremes of experience". Experiences that affect the development of the lower areas (brainstem and mid-brain) "...necessarily alter the development of limbic and cortical areas because critical signals these areas depend on for normal organization originate in these lower brain areas." - See more at:

Chances for these children, where their nation has been devastated, are slim. Not only are their own parents impoverished, affected by PTSD, and coping with problems safe citizens can't imagine, the whole neighbourhood has been and remain in crisis due to the exponential nature of problems created by problems that have been created by the terror of war.

Recent studies on the effects of the environment on brain development indicate that environmental influences can “determine how genes are turned on and off and even whether some are expressed at all.” While children inherit both the brain's hard wiring as well as the genetic software that goes with it, it is the epigenome (operating system/software) that determines “which functions the genetic “hardware” does and does not perform.”

“Because early experiences can alter the
epigenome and influence developing brain architecture, policies affecting the life circumstances of pregnant women and young children
can have enormous implications for all of society. The varied effects of environments on the
epigenome are evident from the time of early
embryonic development and extend into the
early childhood years. Science tells us that children can be helped to reach their full potential
through both appropriate experiences in the
earliest years and the reduction of sources of
toxic stress that can alter the epigenome and increase the risk of long-term problems in physical and mental health. Thus, public policies that
harness the basic principles of neuroscience
and epigenetics to address the needs of young
children are likely to also generate long-term
benefits, such as healthier communities and a
more prosperous society.
” (Ibid)

The Damage Done

The damage that has occurred and continues to occur in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and all societies victimized by war may be difficult to assess considering this type of 'collateral damage' and its ripple effects that go on into the future. However, it is a task that must be carried out. It is information that is important for those affected but it is also crucial that an informed citizenry demand an end to the ongoing wars.

Recently, the American war machine was primed to enter Syria. Thankfully, that stage of 'Western intervention' has been averted. What we are left with however are policymakers silently breathing a sigh of relief having discovered Al Qaeda waging war against it's proposed proxies. The apparent whimsical and caprice nature of making decsions about going to war is disturbing on many levels, not least of which is the callous disregard for the impact that war has on those affected. Even short of an invasion in Syria, Western meddling has prolonged and bloodied a civil war that probably has reduced living conditions to that of Iraq, Afghanistan, or Libya. Currently, 100,000 people have been killed in the conflict, two million have fled the country and another four million are displaced inside Syria. The real suffering that these numbers reflect is inconceivable.

Although you wouldn't know it from Western media reports, or lack thereof, Iraq has been suffering through war since the Americans left. In their wake, the USA has left behind a civil war that rages on. In 2013, 8,000 to 9,000 people have been killed in the ongoing civil war.

Western intervention in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya has been catastrophic for these nations. The consequences will live on for decades and perhaps even longer. These massive crimes against humanity have occurred, are occurring, and will continue. This is an outrageous situation and what makes it much worse is that so called 'Western intervention' continues and will continue and will likely spread through Africa and possibly even Asia.

And we, the people, are apparently powerless to do anything about it.
That is what the war party wants you to believe.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Russell Brand: To the Barricades

Russell Brand's recent BBC interview with Jeremy Paxman has gone viral. He said what many are thinking but dare not utter. His obvious lack of preparation, his spontaneous honesty and irreverence apparently caught the BBC's Jeremy Paxman off guard.

Brand's call for revolution seemed less offensive to Paxman and all professional sycophants than his admission that he had never voted. He then went on to point out that elections are part of a process that entrenches power and control for corporate and political elites.

Democracy and Elections

He certainly hit a nerve. His bold statements resonate with the classes that suffer under the weight of austerity and what appears to be a terminally ill system that, as he points out, isn't working. They have also rattled financial parasites and their acolytes around the globe. With good reason. The conditions for revolution are actually ripening.

What has touched a particularly sensitive nerve was calling into question the supremacy and sanctity of parliamentary democracy. The smug unidimensional argument over the years has been, 'if you/me don't like the way the nation is run, vote for somebody else or, we are free to start our own political party'. This view, in its cartoonish simplicity, will not open backroom doors or examine power structures or relationships between wealth and political power. It is tantamount to telling Edward Snowdon to use the proper channels to complain about the NSA's nefarious activity (an outrageous affront to democracy).

Apologists for the NSA are exactly the same people that are rattled by Brand's bold statements. Their's is a view that suggests safety and security rests with the status quo. According to the current official narrative, security is the paramount concern. Its opposing existential condition (freedom) is diminishing as the defining characteristic of Western ideology.

The real question is whether elections, the act of voting itself, is sufficient criteria to constitute democracy. If we look at the way government policies are formulated and carried out, we can only conclude that Mr. Brand is correct. That is, the traditional notion of democracy has been perverted by big money, it is a sham.

We have witnessed conservative, liberal, and social democratic governments elected and, once elected, carry on where previous governors left off. No substantial independent political initiatives occur. That is, the people have been stripped of any meaningful political power. Political independence in Western nations is approaching that of the old Soviet Bloc. While NATO (the Pentagon) pressures governments to march to Washington's tune, displays of independent defiance are increasingly rare. They occur however. Not all Western governments are willing to wage war whenever Washington demands it. They do, in unison, mimic support for whatever madness intends to unleash at victim populations. The most recent embarrassing spectacle being their uniform bloodlust toward the Syrian people.

A decade ago, while Labour in the UK banged the war drum in concert with Washington, in a bold act of defiance Canadian Liberals resisted. Today however, foreign policy dissent is more strained and less tolerated.

While there is uniformity, more or less on the foreign policy front among Western nations, it is lock solid on questions of economics and financial policy. Central banks, the IMF and the US Treasury will not tolerate dissent. While the notion of real democracy is on thin ice now, in times of crisis, there is no pretense. For instance, the crisis in Greece exposed the latent dictatorial power of the European Union, the IMF, and the European Central Bank. As other nations get to the brink (Italy, Spain, Portugal), those that work for the financial bodies responsible for the crisis take explicit control nations. Ongoing financial crisis not only provides a pretext for financiers taking increased control of governments, it also serves to increase exploitation of workers, cut social spending and wages.

The upshot is, elections do not affect the way policies are formulated or the way economic decisions are made. On the important questions, financial power is real power.

Real Politik Power

The question is: Who is really in control? And more to the point, who/what is in control of the state that controls acolyte states. In other words, who or what actually controls the American state? Who is behind closed doors when the really big decisions are made? Who is it that tells Obama what to do?

Another interesting question is why this question is apparently completely off the radar as far as the mainstream media is concerned. Why did Russell brand's statements about what is obvious go viral?

It is worthy considering the possibility that a union between the American state (and client states) and the private/corporate sector is real. That 'possibility' not only explains why trillions of dollars has been either directed to private wealth (notwithstanding the technical public status of corporations) or, created out of thin air (quantitative easing) but, why individuals and organizations with no threat of terrorism are under the scrutiny of the NSA.

The Western world is not only facing increasing austerity and inequality and a state apparatus that is constantly watching us, it is also in a hair trigger posture for war. Again, we look to the same nefarious powers. We may turn our attention to the question of who profits directly from the insanity and lack of logic connected to ongoing endless war. Consider the outcomes. Who stands to profit from unleashing unholy hell toward Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran etc. Consider the relationships between the state and Boeing, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Halliburton, and so on and we begin to see a picture that renders partisan politics quaint. Its participants, naive.

John Kenneth Galbraith pointed out over a decade ago that “In 2003, close to half the total US government discretionary expenditure was used for military purposes. A large part was for weapons procurement or development. Nuclear-powered submarines run to billions of dollars, individual planes to tens of millions each.”

Galbraith explains further that weapons profiteers provide politicians with plans and designs for new weaponry that will provide jobs and salaries for politicians constituencies. What Galbraith does not explain (in this particular article) is that this type of spending is immensely wasteful. It is just one more example of corporate welfare.

Curiously, while the so called 'trickle down' myth has been utterly discredited as well as the broader neo liberalist ideology due to the colossal failures and financial catastrophes they have caused, it is still the basis of financial polices maintained by politicians - conservative, liberal, and social democrat alike.

Is it any wonder cynicism and suspicion have replaced naivety and political innocence?

Western foreign policy is shaped and dictated by the corporations that run the American state and so is a good deal of domestic policy. So called free trade agreements also give these very same corporate managers a handle and a great deal of leverage on domestic policies in all affected nations. Corporate managers or their representatives (behind those closed doors) pull Obama's strings. He and elected representatives in Western nations are a facade of power, a facade of democracy. Real power resides not with those elected but elsewhere.

In the last decade, we have been increasingly acclimatized to gulags, torture, pre-emptive and irrational, inexplicable war, contempt for Geneva Conventions and the American Constitution and economic catastrophe. We have reached a point where Russia, Asian leaders, and Latin Americans are showing the West how diplomacy works and how rationality and rule of law trump arbitrary tyranny.

Russell brand is correct. It is time to stand up to rule of the bourgeoisie and the privatization of all that is public, to unfettered corporate control of domestic policy not only in the USA, but everywhere. Because if we look into the nature of capitalism, it grows in one direction.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Very Strange Reality

CNN runs this story. We read this loud and sensational story of a man that murders without a conscience. Hard for most of us to fathom. CNN brings a few sensational aspects of the story such as “killing doesn’t seem to affect him” and the fact that he admitted to killing “more than” 30 men as an enforcer for Mexican drug gangs.

CNN and we, the reader, take a certain smug comfort in our distance from that kind of brutal reality.

Besides this particular story, media often sensationalize serial murderers or murders that happen to have an element of shocking brutality or, in some cases, the perpetrator or the victim is much like the imagined audience. A middle class yuppie perhaps. A young mother. An attractive young student. Another element that makes a great news story is where killers kill without knowing or caring who they are killing. It provides a 'monster' element. It adds to the shock value.
But then there is a killer at large, in our midst, that kills far more than any of these identified psychopaths and certainly kills without the benefit of knowing who he is killing. That serial killer is the President of the United States. Ted Bundy is estimated to have killed 30 people, Jeffery Dahmer, 17, and John Wayne Gacy, over 34. Barack Obama? The tally isn't in yet.

Drone Attacks

Aside from the vast numbers of people that have been killed by American and NATO bombs over the past decade, let us just consider victims of Obama's ongoing campaign of drone bombing in several different countries.

NBC released a report that exposes that the CIA “didn't always know who is it was killing” when human beings had been targeted on the ground. NBC reviewed classified CIA documents for a 14 month period beginning in September 2010 and lists 114 drone strikes that killed as many as 613 people. The reports states, “About one of every four of those killed by drones in Pakistan between Sept. 3, 2010, and Oct. 30, 2011, were classified as "other militants,” the documents detail. The “other militants” label was used when the CIA could not determine the affiliation of those killed, prompting questions about how the agency could conclude they were a threat to U.S. national security.”

The report also highlights so called signature strikes where drone operators may kill people on the ground based on vague information.

As we can see here the victims had a signature consistent with terrorists. (They were carrying camera equipment which was mistaken for weapons.) It's not hard to see why so much emphasis in placed on keeping 'classified' information under wraps.

According to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, there has been a total of 370 drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004; 318 of those under Obama. Between 2,548 and 3,549 people perished in those killings and 168 to 197 of those victims were children. In Yemen, between the years 2002 and 2013, 240 to 349 have been killed in confirmed drone strikes. The report indicates an additional 80 to 99 “possible extra” strikes in Yemen over the same period.

Western media, in its true solopsistic point of view, did run reports last month with some alarm that four Americans had been killed in drone strikes. Their outrage is mitigated by an allegation that these Americans posed some threat to U.S. National security.

The Brutality of Bombing

Currently, there is much noise in the press about allegations that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons. They seem to have evidence? These vague reports of poison gas follow alarm at Syrian success against the rebels with the help of Hezbollah. The poison gas allegation follows a bizarre incident where John McCain sneaked into Syria through Turkey to pose with the rebels. Additionally, the Americans are signaling increased mayhem by staging international military exercises in Jordan. The Americans will remain after the exercise are over. An official stated, “It was decided the assets would remain in place,”. The USA has also formally announced they will be arming the Al Qeada extremists and this follows a similar initiative announced by the European Union. The Europeans are especially eager to announce they have proof of the Syrians use of chemical weapons.

You'd almost think they were up to something.

If we have the capacity to consider reality outside the view of the militarized West and we look at the alarm raised when NATO members issue reports that are far more likely to be false than true (that Assad has used poison gas on civilians), we might then consider the horror and terror that is caused by the dropping on bombs on populated areas. Who's to judge what is worse, poison gas or bombs?

We might remember back to the gleeful news reporting on Baghdad when the campaign of 'shock and awe' commenced against the people of Iraq and we might take a moment to reflect on the reality that human beings are crying in terror under that sensational firepower. We might also ask ourselves how the dropping of bombs on people is less brutal than any other type of atrocity. A strong argument can be made that this is the worst of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The official narrative not only turns a blind eye to the dropping of bombs on civilians, it glorifies it.

We might also ask a civilian in war torn Afghanistan or Iraq about how shocked he or she is at the murders committed by Jeffery Dahmer, Ted Bundy, or John Wayne Gacy. In reality, these murderers are boy scouts in comparison to the almighty war machine we glorify with such gusto.
The ugly truth is – if we turn a blind eye or support these atrocities, we are different to the shocking serial killers we love to hate - in degree; not in kind.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

The American Betrayal of Reason

Unthinkable just a decade ago and for hundreds of years before that, reason, arbitrar of humanities excesses and foibles, is losing its authority. Reason, that indomitable enemy of tyrants and thieves is at odds with the most powerful forces ruling humanity. State and private power and control over citizens is antithetical to sovereignty of reason.

There is a seminal battle underway that runs far deeper than wars between nations, religions, or political ideology. It is the fight is between the forces of domination and control vs. reason. Should reason win, fully human lives where each individual can reach his or her potential will return as a real possibility. Should the paradigm of power and control regain its throne, we are doomed to barbarism.

In the 1700s there was a movement afoot, a movement of courage and intelligence that had usurped the arbitrary power of kings, lords, and clerics. That power was replaced with democracy and rule of law. That movement is known as the enlightenment. Through incremental change, reason replaced fear and violence as governors of nations. In the United States however, this change occurred in one dramatic historical moment; the American Revolution.

The Spirit of the American Constitution

Love it or hate it, it is the United States of America that formally adopted enlightenment principles as its basis of law and governance. It championed freedom and justice over all else. Over the past two centuries the American Constitution has been the example to follow, an example of law and governance with built in protections against abuse and tyranny, a philosophical North Star that we have come to depend upon. Its sense of justice is a semi conscious blanket of collective security for Americans and non Americans alike. The United States had become a symbol of governance by reason; a culture of fair play and justice. America's worst enemies could only begrudgingly admire the rational integrity of this bold new social order and, unconsciously or unwittingly, emulated and assimilated its most noble features as their own.

The progressive force of reason, born of the intellectual movement of the 18th century that had broken through the dark ages had legitimized not only rational standards for law and governance, it validated science and cleared the way for technology and innovation to improve the lives for people of all classes. Traditional beliefs and attitudes suffered under the bright light of evidence based initiatives and ideas.

Long before the American Constitution was penned and long before the enlightenment of the 1700s, reason had shaken the capricious power of kings, the cruelty of military violence and the pleasure of petty and grand tyrants. The Magna Charta, born in England in 1215 was one of the most important historical events in this undertaking. It curtailed the power of monarchs and granted a degree of power to rational based authority. Another dated seminal edict was the Habeas Corpus Act established in English law in 1679. Habeas Corpus legacy protects us from any agent that would imprison us at his pleasure.

The Constitution was written as a defense against the myriad of ways and means nefarious agents may wrestle or connive power from the people. It outlined three separate branches of government aimed at entrenching the spirit of the enlightenment, the spirit of reason, as the governing principles of a brave new world.

In response to British domination of the colonies, colonists revolted and drafted their Declaration of Independence. A new form of government was to be established based on citizens having a right to say how they themselves are governed. In the 1700s those that stood against the British imperial monarch were disciples of great enlightenment thinkers such as Locke, Rousseau, Voltaire, and perhaps most importantly at the time, for the United States, Thomas Paine. Enlightenment ideas were an affront to the status quo that ruled nations and its purveyors took great risk espousing their reasonable arguments against monarchs, religion, and traditional structures of all sorts. They were persecuted for their efforts. So too were the courageous colonists that were inspired by Paine's 'Common Sense', rising against established governors, proxies of the British king.

Revolutionaries rose up precisely against imperial power as well as the potential that tyrants would wrestle control at home. This was a cornerstone of the revolution and the rationale for the second and fourth amendments to the Constitution. Today, the citizens of the United States struggle under a rapidly expanding surveillance state that is married to and under the control of private agents, namely large corporations and finance capitalists. It is a state that, like King George's British empire in 1776, aims to own and control not only its own citizens but citizens of all nations.

The spirit of the American Constitution can be summed up in one word and that word is 'reason'. It is the same word that sums up the enlightenment. Further to this and most crucially, the capacity to reason is our natural inheritance as human beings. It is what defines us as a species.

We cannot afford to defer to the reasoning of intellectuals, the media, or economists and politicians. Stakeholders in the game are exactly that and for that reason, they will cultivate private and 'classified' power. Their interests are at odds with ours and we must stop playing their game. Loyalty to individuals, political parties, or ideology is a sell out of our most precious gift and that is our capacity for critical thinking. Critical thinking is synonymous to reason and we, all of us, need to cultivate and appreciate our own free and independent mind.

Barack Obama

Nothing illustrates the betrayal of reason more than the current President of the United States, Barack Obama. It is shocking today to see one time (apparent) critical thinkers reduced to simple and vulgar partisan hacks. After all that has happened and continues to happen during Obama's Presidency, they still maintain a belief that the President and the Democratic Party is a viable choice in opposition to a violent state apparatus; a voice for 'change'. They still seem to think that, given enough time, Obama would (eventually) put in place progressive and just laws and practices. Aside from his words there is little or nothing to show that he is substantially different that the most violent and oppressive elements in America. He has taken the torch from his predecessor, George W Bush, and he is running with it. Together, they have moved the United States of America from rational governance to arbitrary and tyrannical power. They have crossed a line and that line separated modern democracies from arbitrary or built-in tyranny.

Bear in mind, Barack Obama is an expert in Constitutional law. The seeds he is carefully planting, from the murder of citizens and non citizens to waging undeclared war and to spying on all of us is not done under a cloak of ignorance. The President is fully lucid. Precedents are being set that entrenches arbitrary power to be used under a cloak of secrecy. He is laying the structures that make a future Adolph Hitler or Joseph Stalin not only a possibility, but a given.

The past decade has delivered shock after shock to our collective psyche. It started with a bang, with the invasion of Iraq. This illegal act violated the most elemental of international standards. In the process the Bushs and the Blairs bullied others to join them. They blatantly lied to urge the international community to their 'side'. Since that time torture, dungeons, show trials, Presidential hit lists and ongoing bombings (collective punishment aka terrorism) have become increasingly normalized. Media and intellectuals help with the process of normalizing these horrific affronts to reason and rule of law. They argue that these practices have practical value in the face of terrorist threats. In fact, no serious commentator would touch these arguments with a ten foot pole prior to America's own fire in the Reichstag (9-11). It was a given that if we want a free society, we must tolerate allowing the potential murderer down the street to run free until he actually commits the crime. That is the price of a free society and it is that that separated the USA and it's sphere of influence from the Hitler's Nazi Germany, Stalin's USSR, and Saudi Arabia.

The most recent and shocking revelation of Obama's reign is that he has secretly been spying on millions of the citizens of the United States and across the globe. This is the latest scandalous expose of many. Obama's response is being caught is that the spying is legal under the Patriot Act, itself a blatant violation of the Constitution. This is further evidence of the violent and paranoid empire that the United States of America has become.

Barack Obama was supposed to be the man to get the United States and consequently the world back on track. This ex community organizer, this professor of Constitutional law held much promise for many people. It was widely believed that if anyone can take the United States back to the realm of reason and rule of law it is Barack Obama. It would be difficult to find someone more qualified.

In the face of the violence being perpetrated by the Obama Administration the most meaningful battle today is exactly this one; private power vs. reason. We can't have both. We should not expect and we cannot expect those with power to fight on the side of reason any more than we could expect kings of the middle ages to do so. It is simply against their interests. They will pretend as they are so accustomed to doing, they will speak in reasonable terms but it is their actions that betray their real intent.

Time to Stand Up

Long before enlightenment ideas moved us out of the feudal muck of the dark ages, human beings employed reason for survival. Contrary to the Hobbsean idea that humanity is ruled by and needs to be ruled by domination, violence, and fear, it was reason that was our species advantage for millions of years in the jungles and savannas of Africa. While lions and wild dogs had strength and teeth and other animals had speed or flight, we had our brains. A brain with the capacity to discern cause and effect and moreover, the hard wiring to share our own thoughts with other human beings. It was cooperation, language, and work that was and is our advantage. In other words, the 'survival of the fittest' rationale for power and privilege is wrong, it is a lie. It is simplistic justification for state or private violence and it is a message that runs through school texts, literature, and through mass media.

Through the hierarchal structures laid out by monarchs and the Catholic Church, the paradigm of power and control, violence, and the coercive and violent state gained a veneer of legitimacy. Insecure cowards relish it as the natural order. The enlightenment itself and throughout history, many great civilizations and societies have stripped this nefarious veneer and utilized better, rational ways of doing the business of being human. We can look to antiquity as well as our own minds to see that the monarchs and the church were lying.

The point is that the forces that we are up against are fighting against our most fundamental characteristics as human beings. If there is such as thing as a natural order, if there is such a thing as human nature, they are against it. Perhaps most poignantly, they are against freedom – save themselves.

At this point we deal with the festering wound that is masquerading as the war on terror. We must check the excessive power of the United States government as well as its many proxy governments and agents over the globe.

The United States of America and all that is under the influence and control of America as an economic and political empire has betrayed the spirit of reason, the enlightenment, and the Constitution. We are at a period in history where we need to do more than win back democratic control of governance. We, the people, actually need to take power into our own hands. Abuse is abuse, it is rampant, and the situation promises to get much worse than it is today. Obama and the current maestros of the state are setting precedents, the stage, for a frightening new world.

We have a choice. We can stand up now or, we can stand up later.