Governments Lie: Japan’s Nuclear Crisis

With the carnival of confusion and mis/disinformation emerging from our latest reality show, Japan’s Nuclear Meltdown: Countdown to Catastrophe™, I figured that this would be a great time to remind everyone of a longstanding truism; governments lie, and the compliant corporate media generally serve to amplify those lies.

It’s always much worse than you’re being told by mainstream sources.

Always.

Search for alternative voices. They’re out there, and they’re doing a great job of digging for real information, but unfortunately, you’re probably not going to see them on the nightly news with Dirk Squarejaw and Anderson Cooper.

Keep your eyes and ears on former nuclear power industry executive and whistleblower, Arnie Gundersen, beginning with this video:

 

And while you’re at it, have a look at this 2004 piece from Amy and David Goodman, outlining the colossal government/media cover-up of the aftermath of the nuclear holocaust perpetrated against the Japanese by the United States at the end of World War II. And incidentally, this occurred well before the consolidation that’s led to five corporations controlling the vast majority of news media (as of 2004).

 
Hiroshima Cover-up:  How the War Department’s Timesman Won a Pulitzer

by Amy Goodman and David Goodman

Published on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 by CommonDreams.org

Governments lie.
~ I. F. Stone, Journalist

At the dawn of the nuclear age, an independent Australian journalist named Wilfred Burchett traveled to Japan to cover the aftermath of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The only problem was that General Douglas MacArthur had declared southern Japan off-limits, barring the press. Over 200,000 people died in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but no Western journalist witnessed the aftermath and told the story. The world’s media obediently crowded onto the USS Missouri off the coast of Japan to cover the surrender of the Japanese.

Wilfred Burchett decided to strike out on his own. He was determined to see for himself what this nuclear bomb had done, to understand what this vaunted new weapon was all about. So he boarded a train and traveled for thirty hours to the city of Hiroshima in defiance of General MacArthur’s orders.

Burchett emerged from the train into a nightmare world. The devastation that confronted him was unlike any he had ever seen during the war. The city of Hiroshima, with a population of 350,000, had been razed. Multistory buildings were reduced to charred posts. He saw people’s shadows seared into walls and sidewalks. He met people with their skin melting off. In the hospital, he saw patients with purple skin hemorrhages, gangrene, fever, and rapid hair loss. Burchett was among the first to witness and describe radiation sickness.

Burchett sat down on a chunk of rubble with his Baby Hermes typewriter. His dispatch began: “In Hiroshima, thirty days after the first atomic bomb destroyed the city and shook the world, people are still dying, mysteriously and horribly-people who were uninjured in the cataclysm from an unknown something which I can only describe as the atomic plague.”

He continued, tapping out the words that still haunt to this day: “Hiroshima does not look like a bombed city. It looks as if a monster steamroller has passed over it and squashed it out of existence. I write these facts as dispassionately as I can in the hope that they will act as a warning to the world.”

Burchett’s article, headlined THE ATOMIC PLAGUE, was published on September 5, 1945, in the London Daily Express. The story caused a worldwide sensation. Burchett’s candid reaction to the horror shocked readers. “In this first testing ground of the atomic bomb I have seen the most terrible and frightening desolation in four years of war. It makes a blitzed Pacific island seem like an Eden. The damage is far greater than photographs can show.

“When you arrive in Hiroshima you can look around for twenty-five and perhaps thirty square miles. You can see hardly a building. It gives you an empty feeling in the stomach to see such man-made destruction.”

Burchett’s searing independent reportage was a public relations fiasco for the U.S. military. General MacArthur had gone to pains to restrict journalists’ access to the bombed cities, and his military censors were sanitizing and even killing dispatches that described the horror. The official narrative of the atomic bombings downplayed civilian casualties and categorically dismissed reports of the deadly lingering effects of radiation. Reporters whose dispatches convicted with this version of events found themselves silenced: George Weller of the Chicago Daily News slipped into Nagasaki and wrote a 25,000-word story on the nightmare that he found there. Then he made a crucial error: He submitted the piece to military censors. His newspaper never even received his story. As Weller later summarized his experience with MacArthur’s censors, “They won.”

U.S. authorities responded in time-honored fashion to Burchett’s revelations: They attacked the messenger. General MacArthur ordered him expelled from Japan (the order was later rescinded), and his camera with photos of Hiroshima mysteriously vanished while he was in the hospital. U.S. officials accused Burchett of being influenced by Japanese propaganda. They scoffed at the notion of an atomic sickness. The U.S. military issued a press release right after the Hiroshima bombing that downplayed human casualties, instead emphasizing that the bombed area was the site of valuable industrial and military targets.

Four days after Burchett’s story splashed across front pages around the world, Major General Leslie R. Groves, director of the atomic bomb project, invited a select group of thirty reporters to New Mexico. Foremost among this group was William L. Laurence, the Pulitzer Prize-winning science reporter for The New York Times. Groves took the reporters to the site of the first atomic test. His intent was to demonstrate that no atomic radiation lingered at the site. Groves trusted Laurence to convey the military’s line; the general was not disappointed.

Laurence’s front-page story, U.S. ATOM BOMB SITE BELIES TOKYO TALES: TESTS ON NEW MEXICO RANGE CONFIRM THAT BLAST, AND NOT RADIATION, TOOK TOLL, ran on September 12, 1945, following a three-day delay to clear military censors. “This historic ground in New Mexico, scene of the first atomic explosion on earth and cradle of a new era in civilization, gave the most effective answer today to Japanese propaganda that radiations [sic] were responsible for deaths even after the day of the explosion, Aug. 6, and that persons entering Hiroshima had contracted mysterious maladies due to persistent radioactivity,” the article began.3 Laurence said unapologetically that the Army tour was intended “to give the lie to these claims.”

Laurence quoted General Groves: “The Japanese claim that people died from radiation. If this is true, the number was very small.”

Laurence then went on to offer his own remarkable editorial on what happened: “The Japanese are still continuing their propaganda aimed at creating the impression that we won the war unfairly, and thus attempting to create sympathy for themselves and milder terms . . . Thus, at the beginning, the Japanese described ‘symptoms’ that did not ring true.”

But Laurence knew better. He had observed the first atomic bomb test on July 16, 1945, and he withheld what he knew about radioactive fallout across the southwestern desert that poisoned local residents and livestock. He kept mum about the spiking Geiger counters all around the test site.

William L. Laurence went on to write a series of ten articles for the Times that served as a glowing tribute to the ingenuity and technical achievements of the nuclear program. Throughout these and other reports, he downplayed and denied the human impact of the bombing. Laurence won the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting.

It turns out that William L. Laurence was not only receiving a salary from The New York Times. He was also on the payroll of the War Department. In March 1945, General Leslie Groves had held a secret meeting at The New York Times with Laurence to offer him a job writing press releases for the Manhattan Project, the U.S. program to develop atomic weapons. The intent, according to the Times, was “to explain the intricacies of the atomic bomb’s operating principles in laymen’s language.” Laurence also helped write statements on the bomb for President Truman and Secretary of War Henry Stimson.

Laurence eagerly accepted the offer, “his scientific curiosity and patriotic zeal perhaps blinding him to the notion that he was at the same time compromising his journalistic independence,” as essayist Harold Evans wrote in a history of war reporting. Evans recounted: “After the bombing, the brilliant but bullying Groves continually suppressed or distorted the effects of radiation. He dismissed reports of Japanese deaths as ‘hoax or propaganda.’ The Times’ Laurence weighed in, too, after Burchett’s reports, and parroted the government line.” Indeed, numerous press releases issued by the military after the Hiroshima bombing-which in the absence of eyewitness accounts were often reproduced verbatim by U.S. newspapers-were written by none other than Laurence.

“Mine has been the honor, unique in the history of journalism, of preparing the War Department’s official press release for worldwide distribution,” boasted Laurence in his memoirs, Dawn Over Zero. “No greater honor could have come to any newspaperman, or anyone else for that matter.”

“Atomic Bill” Laurence revered atomic weapons. He had been crusading for an American nuclear program in articles as far back as 1929. His dual status as government agent and reporter earned him an unprecedented level of access to American military officials-he even flew in the squadron of planes that dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki. His reports on the atomic bomb and its use had a hagiographic tone, laced with descriptions that conveyed almost religious awe.

In Laurence’s article about the bombing of Nagasaki (it was withheld by military censors until a month after the bombing), he described the detonation over Nagasaki that incinerated 100,000 people. Laurence waxed: “Awe-struck, we watched it shoot upward like a meteor coming from the earth instead of from outer space, becoming ever more alive as it climbed skyward through the white clouds. . . . It was a living thing, a new species of being, born right before our incredulous eyes.”

Laurence later recounted his impressions of the atomic bomb: “Being close to it and watching it as it was being fashioned into a living thing, so exquisitely shaped that any sculptor would be proud to have created it, one . . . felt oneself in the presence of the supranatural.”

Laurence was good at keeping his master’s secrets-from suppressing the reports of deadly radioactivity in New Mexico to denying them in Japan. The Times was also good at keeping secrets, only revealing Laurence’s dual status as government spokesman and reporter on August 7, the day after the Hiroshima bombing-and four months after Laurence began working for the Pentagon. As Robert Jay Lifton and Greg Mitchell wrote in their excellent book Hiroshima in America: Fifty Years of Denial, “Here was the nation’s leading science reporter, severely compromised, not only unable but disinclined to reveal all he knew about the potential hazards of the most important scientific discovery of his time.”

Radiation: Now You See It, Now You Don’t

A curious twist to this story concerns another New York Times journalist who reported on Hiroshima; his name, believe it or not, was William Lawrence (his byline was W.H. Lawrence). He has long been confused with William L. Laurence. (Even Wilfred Burchett confuses the two men in his memoirs and his 1983 book, Shadows of Hiroshima.) Unlike the War Department’s Pulitzer Prize winner, W.H. Lawrence visited and reported on Hiroshima on the same day as Burchett. (William L. Laurence, after flying in the squadron of planes that bombed Nagasaki, was subsequently called back to the United States by the Times and did not visit the bombed cities.)

W.H. Lawrence’s original dispatch from Hiroshima was published on September 5, 1945. He reported matter-of-factly about the deadly effects of radiation, and wrote that Japanese doctors worried that “all who had been in Hiroshima that day would die as a result of the bomb’s lingering effects.” He described how “persons who had been only slightly injured on the day of the blast lost 86 percent of their white blood corpuscles, developed temperatures of 104 degrees Fahrenheit, their hair began to drop out, they lost their appetites, vomited blood and finally died.”

Oddly enough, W.H. Lawrence contradicted himself one week later in an article headlined NO RADIOACTIVITY IN HIROSHIMA RUIN. For this article, the Pentagon’s spin machine had swung into high gear in response to Burchett’s horrifying account of “atomic plague.” W.H. Lawrence reported that Brigadier General T. F. Farrell, chief of the War Department’s atomic bomb mission to Hiroshima, “denied categorically that [the bomb] produced a dangerous, lingering radioactivity.” Lawrence’s dispatch quotes only Farrell; the reporter never mentions his eyewitness account of people dying from radiation sickness that he wrote the previous week.

The conflicting accounts of Wilfred Burchett and William L. Laurence might be ancient history were it not for a modern twist. On October 23, 2003, The New York Times published an article about a controversy over a Pulitzer Prize awarded in 1932 to Times reporter Walter Duranty. A former correspondent in the Soviet Union, Duranty had denied the existence of a famine that had killed millions of Ukrainians in 1932 and 1933. The Pulitzer Board had launched two inquiries to consider stripping Duranty of his prize. The Times “regretted the lapses” of its reporter and had published a signed editorial saying that Duranty’s work was “some of the worst reporting to appear in this newspaper.” Current Times executive editor Bill Keller decried Duranty’s “credulous, uncritical parroting of propaganda.”

On November 21, 2003, the Pulitzer Board decided against rescinding Duranty’s award, concluding that there was “no clear and convincing evidence of deliberate deception” in the articles that won the prize.

As an apologist for Joseph Stalin, Duranty is easy pickings. What about the “deliberate deception” of William L. Laurence in denying the lethal effects of radioactivity? And what of the fact that the Pulitzer Board knowingly awarded the top journalism prize to the Pentagon’s paid publicist, who denied the suffering of millions of Japanese? Do the Pulitzer Board and the Times approve of “uncritical parroting of propaganda”-as long as it is from the United States?

It is long overdue that the prize for Hiroshima’s apologist be stripped. 

MLK: The state-sponsored assassination

I guess I should have posted this a couple of days ago on April 4, but I was wrapped up in my Obama is a corporatist tool post.

Priorities!

Anyway, if you’re here on my site, you probably already have a pretty good idea that the official story about Martin Luther King’s murder is yet another episode in the Lone Gunman fairy tale series made so popular by the combined efforts of the U.S. government and the corporate media.

Episode six of the fabulous Evidence of Revision series, on the other hand, uses archival news footage and audio, much of which has been previously unavailable, to piece together the events leading up to King’s assassination on April 4, 1968. The film makes a compelling case that King was assassinated by a nexus of the FBI, the Memphis Police, the U.S. Army, and a rouges gallery of Memphis locals in order to silence his criticism of the Vietnam war.  In fact, in the 1999 wrongful death court case, Coretta Scott King, et al. vs. Lyod Jowers, et al., a Memphis jury found that a local restauranteur named Loyd Jowers conspired with governmental agencies to do harm to Dr. Martin Luther King, and awarded $100,000 in damages.

Here’s Evidence of Revision – Part 6

WARNING: This film contains graphic and disturbing images.

Incidentally, the Evidence of Revision team has also tackled the JFK and RFK assassinations, as well as CIA black ops, mind control, Jonestown and more.  All are highly worthy of your time and consideration.

NYC Bank of America Protest – Fri, 4/15/2011

This past December, Chris Hedges protested in front of the White House and gave this inspiring speech that gives me shivers every time I listen to it.

This Friday, 4/15/2011, I’ll be joining the fantastically awesome Hedges and the political action group Prosperity Agenda in a protest of Bank of America.

The event takes place at Union Square in New York City, and begins at 11:00 am.

I’m looking forward to meeting some of you there.

Here’s how Hedges described the event in his most recent column.

This Is What Resistance Looks Like
April 3, 2011
Chris Hedges

The phrase consent of the governed has been turned into a cruel joke. There is no way to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs. Civil disobedience is the only tool we have left.

We will not halt the laying off of teachers and other public employees, the slashing of unemployment benefits, the closing of public libraries, the reduction of student loans, the foreclosures, the gutting of public education and early childhood programs or the dismantling of basic social services such as heating assistance for the elderly until we start to carry out sustained acts of civil disobedience against the financial institutions responsible for our debacle. The banks and Wall Street, which have erected the corporate state to serve their interests at our expense, caused the financial crisis. The bankers and their lobbyists crafted tax havens that account for up to $1 trillion in tax revenue lost every decade. They rewrote tax laws so the nation’s most profitable corporations, including Bank of America, could avoid paying any federal taxes. They engaged in massive fraud and deception that wiped out an estimated $40 trillion in global wealth. The banks are the ones that should be made to pay for the financial collapse. Not us. And for this reason at 11 a.m. April 15 I will join protesters in Union Square in New York City in front of the Bank of America.

“The political process no longer works,” Kevin Zeese, the director of Prosperity Agenda and one of the organizers of the April 15 event, told me. “The economy is controlled by a handful of economic elites. The necessities of most Americans are no longer being met. The only way to change this is to shift the power to a culture of resistance. This will be the first in a series of events we will organize to help give people control of their economic and political life.”

If you are among the one in six workers in this country who does not have a job, if you are among the some 6 million people who have lost their homes to repossessions, if you are among the many hundreds of thousands of people who went bankrupt last year because they could not pay their medical bills or if you have simply had enough of the current kleptocracy, join us in Union Square Park for the “Sounds of Resistance Concert,” which will feature political hip-hop/rock powerhouse Junkyard Empire with Broadcast Live and Sketch the Cataclysm. The organizers have set up a website, and there’s more information on their Facebook page.

We will picket the Union Square branch of Bank of America, one of the major financial institutions responsible for the theft of roughly $17 trillion in wages, savings and retirement benefits taken from ordinary citizens. We will build a miniature cardboard community that will include what we should have—good public libraries, free health clinics, banks that have been converted into credit unions, free and well-funded public schools and public universities, and shuttered recruiting centers (young men and women should not have to go to Iraq and Afghanistan as soldiers or Marines to find a job with health care). We will call for an end to all foreclosures and bank repossessions, a breaking up of the huge banking monopolies, a fair system of taxation and a government that is accountable to the people.

The 10 major banks, which control 60 percent of the economy, determine how our legislative bills are written, how our courts rule, how we frame our public debates on the airwaves, who is elected to office and how we are governed. The phrase consent of the governed has been turned by our two major political parties into a cruel joke. There is no way to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs. And the faster these banks and huge corporations are broken up and regulated, the sooner we will become free.

Bank of America is one of the worst. It did not pay any federal taxes last year or the year before. It is currently one of the most aggressive banks in seizing homes, at times using private security teams that carry out brutal home invasions to toss families into the street. The bank refuses to lend small business people and consumers the billions in government money it was handed. It has returned with a vengeance to the flagrant criminal activity and speculation that created the meltdown, behavior made possible because the government refuses to institute effective sanctions or control from regulators, legislators or the courts. Bank of America, like most of the banks that peddled garbage to small shareholders, routinely hid its massive losses through a creative accounting device it called “repurchase agreements.” It used these “repos” during the financial collapse to temporarily erase losses from the books by transferring toxic debt to dummy firms before public filings had to be made. It is called fraud. And Bank of America is very good at it.

US Uncut, which will be involved in the April 15 demonstration in New York, carried out 50 protests outside Bank of America branches and offices on Feb. 26. UK Uncut, a British version of the group, produced this video guide to launching a “bail-in” in your neighborhood.

Civil disobedience, such as that described in the bail-in video or the upcoming protest in Union Square, is the only tool we have left. A fourth of the country’s largest corporations—including General Electric, ExxonMobil and Bank of America—paid no federal income taxes in 2010. But at the same time these corporations operate as if they have a divine right to hundreds of billions in taxpayer subsidies. Bank of America was handed $45 billion—that is billion with a B—in federal bailout funds. Bank of America takes this money—money you and I paid in taxes—and hides it along with its profits in some 115 offshore accounts to avoid paying taxes. One assumes the bank’s legions of accountants are busy making sure the corporation will not pay federal taxes again this year. Imagine if you or I tried that.

“If Bank of America paid their fair share of taxes, planned cuts of $1.7 billion in early childhood education, including Head Start & Title 1, would not be needed,” Zeese pointed out. “Bank of America avoids paying taxes by using subsidiaries in offshore tax havens. To eliminate their taxes, they reinvest proceeds overseas, instead of bringing the dollars home, thereby undermining the U.S. economy and avoiding federal taxes. Big Finance, like Bank of America, contributes to record deficits that are resulting in massive cuts to basic services in federal and state governments.”

The big banks and corporations are parasites. They greedily devour the entrails of the nation in a quest for profit, thrusting us all into serfdom and polluting and poisoning the ecosystem that sustains the human species. They have gobbled up more than a trillion dollars from the Department of Treasury and the Federal Reserve and created tiny enclaves of wealth and privilege where corporate managers replicate the decadence of the Forbidden City and Versailles. Those outside the gates, however, struggle to find work and watch helplessly as food and commodity prices rocket upward. The owners of one out of seven houses are now behind on their mortgage payments. In 2010 there were 3.8 million foreclosure filings and bank repossessions topped 2.8 million, a 2 percent increase over 2009 and a 23 percent increase over 2008. This record looks set to be broken in 2011. And no one in the Congress, the Obama White House, the courts or the press, all beholden to corporate money, will step in to stop or denounce the assault on families. Our ruling elite, including Barack Obama, are courtiers, shameless hedonists of power, who kneel before Wall Street and daily sell us out. The top corporate plutocrats are pulling down $900,000 an hour while one in four children depends on food stamps to eat.

We don’t need leaders. We don’t need directives from above. We don’t need formal organizations. We don’t need to waste our time appealing to the Democratic Party or writing letters to the editor. We don’t need more diatribes on the Internet. We need to physically get into the public square and create a mass movement. We need you and a few of your neighbors to begin it. We need you to walk down to your Bank of America branch and protest. We need you to come to Union Square. And once you do that you begin to create a force these elites always desperately try to snuff out—resistance.

I’m sorry, but Obama is a corporatist tool

“Sorry, I’m feeling a little superior tonight. Seven schools in seven states, and the only thing different is my locker combination.”

~ J.D. – Heathers

Heathers is a movie about tribalism, group think, conformity, and the ways in which people’s thoughts and actions are constricted by the groups they belong to, or aspire to belong to. On the surface, it’s about the ridiculousness of high school, but it’s really about the ridiculousness of EVERYTHING. But more to the point, it’s about how astonishingly difficult it is to be an aware, awake individual existing in the echo chamber of nonsense we think of as reality. And just as it often happens in real life, the character in Heathers who sees things as they truly are is ultimately destroyed by his failure to vigorously shake the zombies from their slumber.

Why on earth am I talking about a Christian Slater film from 1988? Well, I bring it up now because, as my prolonged absence from writing this blog would suggest, I’ve been feeling more and more alienated from the other 99% of the population who seem to be as happy as pigs in shit as long as they have their Nikes, Big Macs, and $5.25 café au laits.

Even though I haven’t been blogging, however, I have been a posting machine on Facebook, where I’m able to interact in a quicker and dirtier fashion than I can here. It’s funny, because I’m seen as a “radical leftist” by my right-leaning acquaintances, and as a closet Republican by a lot of my “liberal” friends who can’t be bothered to look past the fact that I’m criticizing their hero, President Peace Prize, and let’s face it, if you criticize a Democrat then you MUST be a Republican, because there are NO OTHER OPTIONS. Only left and right. Blue and red. You remember what happened when Ralph Nader ran for President as a third-party candidate, don’t you? He ruined EVERYTHING!!!!!! The problem wasn’t all of the other rubes who voted for Bush and Gore, and it certainly wasn’t the crooked Supreme Court. Nope, the problem was the third-party, so I guess we can never try THAT again.

</sarcasm>

Anyway, I’ve decided that the first step towards real change is a realization that change is actually required. With this in mind, I’ve decided to start small and impact my immediate community by using my Facebook page to convince my friends that Barack Obama is a corporatist tool of the military empire. You’d think that this would be a relatively simple task, since most of my friends are well-educated, creative, smart self-proclaimed liberals, and Obama’s allegiance to the new Amerikan fascism is so self-evident at this point that even the Neocon in Chief, Bill Kristol, is finding it increasingly difficult to hide his admiration.

“Of course, since his (Obama’s) sound policies are more like the policies people like me have been advocating for quite a while, I’m happy to support them, you know. He’s a born-again neocon.”

~ Bill Kristol

There you have it, folks.

Game over.

Obama is not a socialist.

Obama is not a progressive.

Obama is not a liberal.

Obama is not a good guy.

In fact, based on the Nuremberg principles, Obama is a war criminal.

Seriously.

It’s as plain as the noses that used to be on the faces of any number of children who have been murdered or maimed by his flying robot brigades in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Good guys don’t bomb civilians by remote control while continuing a completely unnecessary nine-year war (NINE FREAKING YEARS!), and they certainly don’t joke about it.

Now THAT’s some funny stuff right there.

Isn’t Obama a pisser?

He reminds me of this other really funny guy.

Oh, I’m sorry. Bush is a Republican and Obama is a Democrat. It’s ok to criticize one but not the other. I keep forgetting that I’m in bizarro world. Besides, only one of them has received the Henry Kissinger Nobel Peace Prize, and they don’t hand that out to just anybody.

Back to reality.

This is your President.

This is your Nobel Peace laureate.

This is your hope and your change.

You need to snap yourselves out of fantasy land and see this monster for who and what he is; a murderous tool of the corporotocracy.

But let’s go back to the Heathers analogy for a minute, because if you’ve seen the movie, then you know that J.D. was unsuccessful in his quest to pull back the curtain. In fact, he ended up destroying himself instead. I’m finding myself at a cross-roads because I really don’t know what to do any more. You can’t lead a movement when people don’t want to be moved. Especially when so much of their self-esteem is invested in the belief that they’re actually supporting the good guy. This often leads to great logical contortions in order to save face instead of admitting that they’ve been deceived by a carnival huckster with a multi-million dollar P.R. team. I had an exchange on Facebook the other day in response to my posting of the Bill Kristol clip, and I think it sums up what I’m trying to convey here.

After viewing the clip, my liberal friend said this:

“Compromise is the way of a newbie with not enough political clout to get things done in Washington, unfortunately.”

To which I replied:

“Sigh. Yes, that IS unfortunate for all of the dead, maimed, imprisoned, and tortured during the Peace Laureate’s reign. At some point though, I’m certain that the “other” side will get around to compromising so that we can craftily rub our hands together, twist our moustaches and gloat about how the Republicans have adopted, and even stepped up our hoped-for progressive policies.”

My friend’s response:

“Unfortunately was not a word I used to talk about the non-political consequences. But it is worth noting that these political decisions have very real outcomes.”

I’d like to point out that my friend DID acknowledge that there are negative consequences to Obama’s political decisions, which is much more than I usually get in these situations, but there’s certainly no outrage being expressed, and based on experience, I would bet lots of money that if we were talking about a Republican, ANY Republican, my friend wouldn’t be speaking of compromise and wouldn’t be describing the dead and maimed children as unfortunate outcomes. There would be anger and blame.

The rest of my friend’s response:

“Where do you leverage for change of these policies that have real outcomes? Surely not just by mentioning them on fb?”

On the surface, that seems like a valid criticism, but it’s really not. When 50% of the population thinks we should be murdering more Muslims, and the other 49% is walking around worshiping a cult of personality and believing, with all of their heart, that up is down, then you really can’t leverage for something as simple as a change of policies. Before you do anything else, you must convince a great number of people that a change of policies is needed in the first place, and with Obama’s public relations team continuing to successfully brand him to his loyal followers as hope and change personified, regardless of his actual policies, that is proving to be a monumentally difficult task. But again, this is exactly what I’m trying to do with my Facebook campaign, one friend at a time, so here’s how I responded:

“I leverage for change by making people aware that change is needed, and I do this by cataloging, day after day after day, that the change we’ve been sold is actually not change at all, and this is very important in a world where people pay much more attention to branding and advertising campaigns than they do to the performance of the actual product.

In other words, if we keep walking around believing, beyond logic and reason, that Obama and the Democrats are compromising as opposed to simply serving the interests that have put them into power, then we’ve lost before we’ve even begun. I’ve said this before, but the absolute brilliance of the Obama presidency is the way he’s applied the good housekeeping seal of approval to all of the wet dream policies of the neocons and the banking elite. Half of the population wrongly LOVES those policies, and now the other half are afraid to criticize them, or at best, claim that they’re simply compromise.

It’s not compromise. Obama and the Democrats do the things that they do for the same reasons the Republicans do them; because they’re serving the corporate interests that finance them. It sucks. I hate that we’ve been hoodwinked and manipulated based on our innate and socially engineered desires to support a team and to believe that somebody is looking out for us. It makes me feel awful most of my waking hours, but that’s the reality, and until we all come to terms with it, we’re going to be stuck in this feedback loop of corporo-military fucked-upness.”

(Incidentally, it’s been three days and my friend still has responded…)

The last sentence of my response is the key. It’s like that old alcoholic’s anonymous slogan:

Admitting that you have a problem is the first step towards recovery.

Obviously, the Republicans, with very few exceptions (Ron Paul comes to mind), are empire-loving corporatists. But even though most liberals desperately cling to the notion that the Democrats have the people’s best interests at heart, they really don’t. With very few exceptions (Kucinich, Sanders and a few more) the Democrats are also empire-loving corporatists, and this is especially true of Obama. This isn’t even debatable, it’s totally demonstrable. All one needs to do is to drop the emotional attachment to a party that sold its constituency out decades ago and objectively look at the record, which has been thoroughly documented by a few brave souls named Greenwald, Hedges, Floyd, Pilger, and Silber. A good rule of thumb when examining a policy is to ask yourself how you’d feel about it if it were the brainchild of a Republican.

If Bush was evil for bombing children, then so is Obama.

If Bush was evil for wire tapping your phone, then so is Obama.

If Bush was evil for facilitating the largest wealth transfer to the rich in human history, then so is Obama.

If Bush was evil for having a military budget larger than all other countries combined, then so is Obama.

If Bush was evil for renditions, torture, and locking people away in gulags without trial, then so is Obama.

If Bush was evil for deep water drilling and ignoring safety regulations, then so is Obama.

It goes on and on and on.

If you have the stomach for a laundry list of Obama’s complicity with the corporate-military-banking complex, then I highly recommend the Fuck Obama thread at Rigorous Intuition. R.I. is a blog and a message board, but more importantly, it’s also my salvation. It’s my safe room, where logic, common sense, and thoughtful analysis win the day. Here’s how I recently described it:

RI is a grass-roots think tank for people who are fed up with bullshit and lies. People who are looking for the thoughtful analysis of their peers, as opposed to the predictive programming disguised as news that spouts from the corporate media. And yes, I DID say peers, but not in an elitist sort of way. I’m only saying that you can’t get thoughtful analysis about the officially declared state of national emergency that’s been ongoing in the U.S. since 9/14/2001, Obama’s extrajudicial assassination program, and cluster bombs in Yemen from people who won’t look up from shopping or college basketball long enough to make themselves aware of those realities. At R.I. we’re trying, as best we can, to fit the puzzle pieces together in a way that explains the madness that surrounds us, because if you don’t understand the hows and whys of what’s being done to you, then you can never hope to do anything about it.

Listen, I know that it’s scary to admit to yourself that you’ve got nowhere to turn. I understand that. It’s also completely demoralizing to admit that you’ve been fooled, even more so when it’s the supposed good guys who have done the fooling. I get that too, but please swallow your pride, and take the first step towards acknowledging that we need real hope and real change, and that, as frightening as it is to admit, it’s not going to come from the current system, or from any of the corporate vampires currently posing as our leaders.

It won’t be easy. The reality that we’ve allowed the vampires to create is an awful place where we’ve been Balkanized by race, color, gender, sexuality, political party, and every other contrived “difference” under the sun, and conformity among these groups is as strictly enforced as it is amongst the preppies, the jocks, and the nerds in high school. You might end up a pariah to many of your “liberal” friends who prefer the comfort of the upside-down version of reality that allows them to put their fingers in their ears and pretend that they’re not complicit in the militarized corporate takeover because they vote for Democrats and still believe the public relations branding. Hopefully though, you’ll also be able to convince some people to join us, and then they’ll convince some people, and so on.

It has to start small and spread by word of mouth.  We’re NOT going to take over the U.S. at the 2012 elections, and our abandonment of the Democratic party in search of real progressives who aren’t bought and paid for will most likely lead to the election of more Republicans in the short-term, but we mustn’t allow this to deter us in our long-term quest to unseat the coporotocracy and give voice once again to the majority of people in the U.S. who really haven’t been represented in a very long time.

Remember, Nader wasn’t the problem, he was the solution, and there will be others if we can break down the walls of the false reality and convince enough people that real change can only come from outside of the current system. Keep pushing, and I’ll be here pushing with you.

Psywar: We are the dog that they wag

Psywar is a brand new documentary film that I believe is a potential game-changer, in that it is presented in such a way as to be palatable to someone who is new to, and even resistant to the idea that there has been a coordinated effort to herd the citizenry of the U.S. into needless wars that only benefit a tiny fraction of the population, otherwise known as “the elite.”

“If it is your desire to understand how we are manipulated into believing the things we do — watch this film. Every American should see it…for the sake of our future.”

~Timothy Gatto, fmr Chairman, Liberal Party of America

Trailer:

Please watch the entire film here:

Welcome to Amerika: Full-Body Scan Technology Deployed In Street-Roving Vans

Who DOESN’T want to be x-rayed, without notification, while doing nothing more than walking down the fucking street?

If America wasn’t already fucking over, then it certainly is now.

Welcome to Amerika.

Full-Body Scan Technology Deployed In Street-Roving Vans
Andy Greenberg
Aug. 24 2010 – 12:00 pm

As the privacy controversy around full-body security scans begins to simmer, it’s worth noting that courthouses and airport security checkpoints aren’t the only places where backscatter x-ray vision is being deployed. The same technology, capable of seeing through clothes and walls, has also been rolling out on U.S. streets.

American Science & Engineering, a company based in Billerica, Massachusetts, has sold U.S. and foreign government agencies more than 500 backscatter x-ray scanners mounted in vans that can be driven past neighboring vehicles to see their contents, Joe Reiss, a vice president of marketing at the company told me in an interview. While the biggest buyer of AS&E’s machines over the last seven years has been the Department of Defense operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, Reiss says law enforcement agencies have also deployed the vans to search for vehicle-based bombs in the U.S.

“This product is now the largest selling cargo and vehicle inspection system ever,” says Reiss.

Here’s a video of the vans in action.

The Z Backscatter Vans, or ZBVs, as the company calls them, bounce a narrow stream of x-rays off and through nearby objects, and read which ones come back. Absorbed rays indicate dense material such as steel. Scattered rays indicate less-dense objects that can include explosives, drugs, or human bodies. That capability makes them powerful tools for security, law enforcement, and border control.

It would also seem to make the vans mobile versions of the same scanning technique that’s riled privacy advocates as it’s been deployed in airports around the country. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) is currently suing the DHS to stop airport deployments of the backscatter scanners, which can reveal detailed images of human bodies. (Just how much detail became clear last May, when TSA employee Rolando Negrin was charged with assaulting a coworker who made jokes about the size of Negrin’s genitalia after Negrin received a full-body scan.)

“It’s no surprise that goverments and vendors are very enthusiastic about [the vans],” says Marc Rotenberg, executive director of EPIC. “But from a privacy perspective, it’s one of the most intrusive technologies conceivable.”

AS&E’s Reiss counters privacy critics by pointing out that the ZBV scans don’t capture nearly as much detail of human bodies as their airport counterparts. The company’s marketing materials say that its “primary purpose is to image vehicles and their contents,” and that “the system cannot be used to identify an individual, or the race, sex or age of the person.”

Though Reiss admits that the systems “to a large degree will penetrate clothing,” he points to the lack of features in images of humans like the one shown at right, far less detail than is obtained from the airport scans. “From a privacy standpoint, I’m hard-pressed to see what the concern or objection could be,” he says.

But EPIC’s Rotenberg says that the scans, like those in the airport, potentially violate the fourth amendment. “Without a warrant, the government doesn’t have a right to peer beneath your clothes without probable cause,” he says. Even airport scans are typically used only as a secondary security measure, he points out. “If the scans can only be used in exceptional cases in airports, the idea that they can be used routinely on city streets is a very hard argument to make.”

The TSA’s official policy dictates that full-body scans must be viewed in a separate room from any guards dealing directly with subjects of the scans, and that the scanners won’t save any images. Just what sort of safeguards might be in place for AS&E’s scanning vans isn’t clear, given that the company won’t reveal just which law enforcement agencies, organizations within the DHS, or foreign governments have purchased the equipment. Reiss says AS&E has customers on “all continents except Antarctica.”

Reiss adds that the vans do have the capability of storing images. “Sometimes customers need to save images for evidentiary reasons,” he says. “We do what our customers need.”

2/3 of Americans are apparently freaking idiots

As usual, Arthur Silber is right on the money.

Damn It: For Once, Obama (Briefly) Happened to be Right

Arthur Silber

To begin, I’ve said over and over and over that Obama is a war criminal. As I also often say, it’s not an arguable point. Read this damned post. Read this one, too. If you wish to be minimally consistent, if you want to apply to the U.S. and its leaders the same standards and principles that the U.S. applies to everyone else, then Obama (and Biden, and McCain, and Bush, and Cheney, and Hillary Clinton, and Condoleezza Rice, etc., etc., etc.) are war criminals.

It is also the case that even war criminals can make a statement that happens to be true. That doesn’t mean they cease being war criminals, or that we should loathe them less or, may the heavens forbid, admire them in the slightest degree. It means only that in this one instance, they happen to be right.

As is the case with Obama’s comments about the “mosque” being proposed for the neighborhood of Ground Zero:

Obama himself had steered clear of the issue for weeks, with his spokesman Robert Gibbs telling reporters that it was primarily a local issue. But at a Friday White House Iftar dinner, Obama said that while he understands Ground Zero is “hallowed ground,” he told a group of Muslims that he believes they have “the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in the country.”

“And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances,” he said. “This is America. And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country and that they will not be treated differently by their government is essential to who we are.”

The part I highlighted is especially crucial, and what Obama said is absolutely correct.

He’s still a war criminal.

On the subject of the “mosque,” Tom Knapp explains the two huge lies at the center of this invented controversy with admirable clarity. It’s not a “mosque” using the commonly understood meaning of that term, and it’s not planned to be built on Ground Zero. Knapp includes a little Google Map so you can see that it’s not on Ground Zero. As Knapp also points out (he doesn’t phrase it this way, because he’s far more polite than I am), if you want to be consistent in your opposition to the “mosque,” get rid of the goddamned Roman Catholic Church that’s even closer to Ground Zero than the planned Cordoba House. (I put goddamned in there just to be certain that any unsuspecting passersby are deeply offended, as well as irreparably damaged. At least, I hope they’re irreparably damaged.)

Not a mosque. Not on Ground Zero. Therefore, no controversy.

Unless, that is, you’re a vicious bigot. I’m not going to set out (again) a detailed argument about why you have to be a vicious bigot to be vehemently opposed to building a “mosque” on Ground Zero. One fact tells you a lot about those so strongly opposed to this proposal right off the bat: that they insist on speaking about a “mosque” being built on Ground Zero. Their refusal to give up these two fundamental lies tells you a great deal.

Beyond that, opposition to this project finally reduces to unreasoning, blind, notably vicious racism — of the kind I’ve previously analyzed here and here. It’s a sickening subject, and I don’t care to revisit it in detail at the moment. But I will note that the second linked post explains how this racism has been at the very heart of U.S. foreign policy for more than a century. Little wonder then that those who so strongly oppose the “mosque” are the same people who so profoundly support a foreign policy of aggressive, violent, non-stop interventionism, using brutality and murder to impose “civilization” on “inferior” cultures and peoples (the last point being an issue I discussed recently in my series on Wikileaks).

I want to mention two other aspects of this story. First, there’s this:

Several New York Democrats either involved with members of Congress or strategists said privately that they are not happy about the speech because it puts them in a bind. A recent CNN poll found two-thirds of Americans oppose building the mosque in the neighborhood around Ground Zero.

Ah, the voice of the people!

The people are an ignorant ass.

You have to admit that, in a sick, twisted kind of way, this is very damned funny. Here you have a country that endlessly proclaims its dedication to individual rights. But when controversies like this arise — make that: especially when controversies like this arise — people’s immediate argument of choice is to appeal to public opinion polls. Two-thirds of Americans agree with me!

That is: two-thirds of Americans are profoundly ignorant and/or vicious bigots.

An idiotic majority of people who are mostly idiots agree with me! That means it’s the right position! Now there’s a foundation for government action and State planning, especially for a nation dedicated to individual rights.

Fuck, people. I mean, fuck. Can’t you do any better? I’ve been over this particular ground before, too: see here. The joke is even better when “libertarians” use polls as alleged support for their positions. Teh funnee! As that earlier post noted, “libertarians” use public opinion polls to support discriminatory, blatantly racist immigration laws. Hmm, racism again. Doctor Watson, I detect a theme here! That earlier post also mentions that almost three-quarters of Americans opposed racial intermarriage — one year after the Supreme Court struck down anti-miscegenation laws. At least one branch of government doesn’t always bow down to the god of public opinion. Hardly coincidentally, I saw last week that Reynolds used a poll to impliedly demonstrate the “correctness” of the anti-“mosque” position. You can find it yourself, if you care. I guarantee you I read it — and he’d offered the identical “argument” for immigration laws, so why wouldn’t he? But I’ve read enough shit on this subject for several months at a minimum.

Hell: here you go. See? I’m a conscientious blogger. Does my masochism earn your admiration? It damn well better. And note that all those “good” Americans oppose “the Ground Zero mosque.” Ignorant bigots opining about lies! I’m convinced!

The other issue which is appallingly clear in the Politico story is the rapidity and determination with which the Democrats run away from anything which might however remotely be viewed as negative in strictly political terms, that is, with regard to getting votes this fall. Never mind that an issue of very significant political principle is involved: the Democrats will do and say anything to get elected and keep their majorities.

So Obama is already scrambling to undo any undesirable effects of his comments yesterday: “President Barack Obama on Saturday sought to defuse the controversy over his remarks …,” and “I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there,” and so on. O brave Obama!

The Democrats are, as always, a nauseating collection of unprincipled creeps. Martin Frost: “While a defensible position, it will not play well in the parts of the country where Democrats need the most help.” It’s not “a defensible position.” What Obama said yesterday is the right position, and it’s the only right position on this question.

More from the Politico story:

Democratic aides say that, at the very least, the president has again knocked his party’s candidates off local messages and forced them to talk about a national issue that doesn’t appear likely to play well with important swing voters.

“The main reaction is ‘Why? Why now?’” said one House Democratic leadership aide. “It’s just another day off message. There have been a lot of days off message.”

The chief of staff to one politically vulnerable House Democrat said it “probably alienates a lot of independent voters” and “it’s not a good issue to be talking about right now.”

He said he suspects “there are a lot of (Democrats) who are spooked in tough districts today” and “a lot of Republicans licking their chops right now.”

On and on it goes. If you’re a masochist, too, read the whole sorry article.

Keep in mind one critical distinction. When I say the Democrats are “unprincipled,” I mean only that they’re unprincipled with regard to what they claim their principles are. In fact, they’re not unprincipled at all. It’s just that the principles that actually concern them are not ones they care to identify to anyone else, least of all to voters.

For the past century, and despite some differences on derivative issues, the Democrats and Republicans have been in full agreement on the fundamentals. Both Democrats and Republicans want an authoritarian-corporatist-militarist state, just as they both want a constantly increasing surveillance state. I’ve been over these issues in numerous articles (here, here, here, follow the internal links for much more).

This episode involving the “mosque” also brings into clearer focus a point that I and others have been making for some time. If, God forbid, there is another terrorist attack on U.S. soil which is the equivalent of 9/11 or even worse, you can kiss good-bye whatever liberties you might believe remain to you. They’ll be entirely gone, almost certainly for the rest of your lifetime at a minimum.

The worst thing of all is that, in the wake of such an attack — if five or ten thousand Americans are dead, or possibly even more (and as I said, God forbid, and Christ knows I mean it, for this and countless other reasons) — a majority of Americans will probably be glad to have a far more brazenly dictatorial government. At that point, with the slaughter being endlessly replayed on every television network, the indefinite “detention” of anyone considered at all “suspicious,” the censoring of “dangerous,” possibly “terrorist-related” material (including blogs), the complete suspension of the right to assembly, etc. ad nauseam, will be what the majority of Americans want. The politicians, both Democratic and Republican, will be more than happy to give it to them.

A year or two later, some Americans will begin to have regrets. A few will timidly venture the opinion that perhaps we went “too far.” Then, it won’t matter. Then, it will be far, far too late.

The ruling class, including almost every Democrat and Republican in Washington, know that, too. They’ll probably even provide opportunities for a few “dissenters” to make their objections known, so Americans can continue to tell themselves that the First Amendment still exists and continues to have some meaning. The ruling class is expert at meaningless charades of that kind.

But life as you’ve known it, as you believe it to be, will be entirely dead. In fact, it’s dead now. The Obama administration already claims it has the “right” to murder anyone in the world for any reason at all. You can’t get more dead than that.

You don’t smell the rotting corpse yet. That’s all.

Well. That wasn’t cheerful in the least, especially for a weekend. Sorry about that.

There is one thing you can do: withdraw your support for an evil system of this kind, in every way possible (and I do mean every way possible). Wikileaks provides you a wonderful model for doing so; as I discussed in the final section of this article, Julian Assange has shown that when you withdraw your support, those who would rule us have nothing.

And as I mentioned in the concluding paragraphs here, imagine a world with ten, or even a hundred, Wikileaks organizations. I was discussing that possibility with some friends recently and remarked: Then we might finally get somewhere!

Goddamn, yes. As one of my friends said in response: The many Wikileaks world! There’s an idea to cheer you up.

UPDATE: In an Update to his own post about this, Lambert links to this entry, noting that the Cordoba Center is not, in fact, a “mosque,” and goes on to say: “Personally, I don’t care if it’s the Islamic equivalent of St. Peter’s.”

I almost added a sentence to my original post to this effect: “As far as I’m concerned, I don’t give a damn if someone were to build a gigantic actual mosque right in the damned middle of Ground Zero.” I didn’t say that, simply because that’s not this controversy which, as demonstrated above and in Knapp’s post, is built on nothing but lies combined with primitive racism. (And I’ve said it now, so there you go. The miracle of blogging!)

But if someone were to propose building a gigantic actual mosque right smack in the middle of Ground Zero, let’s have that debate! I would welcome it. And given the U.S. government’s ongoing campaign of slaughter and destruction targeted at Muslims in various locations around the world, a real mosque at Ground Zero would be a serious gesture of reconciliation, if that word were finally to have some genuine meaning. Of course, the action that would be most meaningful, as well as most humane and entirely right, would be the complete cessation of that campaign of slaughter and destruction…

But, God, I wish a real mosque at Ground Zero would happen, or even be proposed. Just think of all the racist, bigoted heads exploding…

  • Calendar

    • August 2017
      M T W T F S S
      « Dec    
       123456
      78910111213
      14151617181920
      21222324252627
      28293031  
  • Search