Monday, March 21, 2011

This Month in Wingnuttery

As events spin ever faster out of control it's getting harder and harder to tell if the tail is wagging the dog or if the mongrel is simply chasing his hind end in a circle. WMD's (weapons of mass distraction) flash from son of Hollywood royalty 80's pretty boy-shoot a fiance-beat a hooker or two-ex-wife restraining order champion but pay him a couple million an episode to appear in a sitcom meltdown to Chernobyl flashback, the end is nigh-radioactive cloud of death nuclear Godzilla-creating kind. Few are able to pay much attention, so it's like shooting fish in a barrel from religiosity to larceny through hypocrisy to find gems of downright wingnuttery.

Besides killing us all, the Japanese tragedy (what do you call an earthquake/tsunami/nuclear chain reaction) could have been worse according to the preachings of the gospel of capitalism on CNBC. After last Friday's earthquake in Japan, Larry Kudlow summed up the wingnut view on the value of life versus profit succinctly, "The human toll here looks to be much worse than the economic toll and we can be grateful for that."



Ok. The real upside for the wingnuts here is that with the Nikkei and other markets gyrating out of control, maybe we won't notice that no one besides Bernie Madoff is in jail for the construction and self-destruction of the pyramid scheme that is the financial world. Do watch Inside Job. If you don't understand how credit default swaps are like buying insurance on someone else's car so you hope they crash to collect, the WMD's will be able to go to work earthquake style so the next financial meltdown can be blamed on Atheists instead of teachers. More likely, it'll all be blamed on the Muslims like in California where they protest families trying to go to a fundraising dinner:




Freedom of speech means all this and more in America with the Supreme Court recently affirming the right to air your grievances at funerals in an 8-1 decision. The members of the Westboro Baptist Church (read: extended family of Fred Phelps) believe the ails of America are being brought upon her because she has accepted homosexuality. God's wrath for making everyone more equal was unleashed on 9/11, kicked the hell out of the Gulf Coast a couple times with Katrina and the BP blowout/unleashing (and possibly still leaking and definitely not cleaned up) hell on Earth, and is to blame for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Therefore, this cult travels around the States protesting the funerals of soldiers coming back in boxes of course. Counter-protester signs are bit more creative which isn't hard when your dealing with complete waiting to drink the Kool-Aid brainwashing that leads you to protest the burial of dead soldiers returning from the graveyard of empires for supposedly being God's retribution for society's acceptance of homosexuality.



If only they could make gay Muslims the ultimate evil when the evidence seems to run contrary to that idea. Enter the wingnuttery of Peter King, congressman from New York and his Faux News henchmen. Tag-teaming with Sean Hannity (who actually got angry at Phelps' daughter, god bless that freaky chick) who said to King in a hard hitting (?!) interview "from everything I've been reading, you're not going after the Muslim community". Forgot, like most of the world, he doesn't read the Washington Post or any source that doesn't confirm his bias. King's on a mission to show that Muslims aren't patriotic enough and not reporting their brethren to the authorities if suspecting them of terrorism. He could've just asked Michael Rolince, head of the counter-terrorism division in the FBI’s Washington field office from 2002 to 2005 who said, "I will tell you in no uncertain terms that the community has on multiple occasions come forward and assisted law enforcement". Or maybe read this PDF. The McArthyism of the new chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee's first hearings being on Muslim radicalization aside, how do people not wonder why Peter King thought the IRA was a-ok? Brown Muslim terrorists equals bad while white Irish terrorists are good in his world. In fact, he once said that "the moral standing of the IRA is equal to that of the British army". Huh? Well, here, watch on Jon Stewart - he's funnier at least:


Or maybe a Brit has a different view of King supported terrorism...


Lucky we've got wingnuts to distract Americans from the real threat of domestic terrorism, otherwise the MSM would have to pay attention to those who are actually threatening and killing people.

The fear card is all that's been left in the deck since WMD's weren't found in Iraq. How could all of the wingnuts, from Faux to the NY Times have been so wrong? Again. The situation in Libya seems like the ultimate damned if we don't, damned if we do situation, and it is - but of our own making. It's not the possible combinations of Gaddafi's name or the hallucinogenic drugs he claimed protesters were on that ensures we keep the area in turmoil. The west has cuddled and raised their dictators in an advanced version of Risk which keeps ending with someone knocking over the board. It's deja-vu all over again, this time with Super Sarkozy and his European arms makers' fear of doing nothing and losing a chance to make some cash by blowing Russian Migs and their own Mirages out of the air in the skies around Tripoli convincing us to intervene. It's always been this way from the Shaw, Sadam and Saud to Ben Ali, Mubarek and Gaddafi, prop them up, build them up, wind them up and let them go. Transparency gets ugly as yes, there's always the oil, we couldn't afford to sit around and do nothing, after all, we couldn't in good conscience continue to buy oil from an autocrat who slaughters his people, could we? UNSC Resolution 1973 seems to have included more bombs than the Arab League expected but probably not enough for these guys, who knew two weeks ago what was going to hit Libya. Watch how General Petraeus greeted his boss Defense Secretary Gates in Afghanistan back in February -



A sideshow of evil is provided by Robert Mugabe and his Zanu-PF thugs in Zimbabwe who claim that "vigilance has become the order of the day all around. Only God knows why these hopeless copycats, whose death wish is to be arrested at the Harare Gardens and be charged with treason in accordance with the rule of law they love preaching about, honestly think they can do an Egypt or Libya in Zimbabwe". Mugabe chum Ahmadinejad and Iran were the only one's complaining when at least a thousand Saudi Arabian troops marched across the causeway to join those from the UAE to help try to quell the rebellion in Bahrain. And quell they did - the burning and shooting kind. The home of the US Fifth Fleet features a Shi'a majority tired of living in an apartheid Sunni-dominated state and have been protesting for a month with many violent confrontations. With unrest spilling over to the Shiite minority in northeast Saudi towns where they've managed to stage a couple of protests the past couple of weeks despite heavy military deterrents including shots fired, the scale of the potential disaster for American policy was unacceptable and the WMD in Japan provided the perfect cover to violently crack down on protesters nearly unnoticed. A state of emergency was declared, the protesters were cleared out of Pearl Square and the hospitals taken over. Nothing to see here though, move along.



The most important love story of the past generation took place on the US Navy cruiser Quincy fittingly enough on Valentine's Day 1945. On his way back from the conference in Yalta with Stalin and Churchill to plan out the world's configuration as World War II wound down, Roosevelt was first through the Suez Canal to a meeting with the king of Saudi Arabia, beating out the other leading suitor Winston Churchill by a few days.



The ink had yet to dry on the lines drawn on the map and those in the sand still weren't all that cemented until the US gave its full support to the fledgling kingdom and reassured its aged monarch that they would champion the Palestinian cause. King Abdel Aziz Ibn Saud's naivety was possibly the result of never having been outside his country before but in return he gave America a stranglehold on the lifeblood of the economic system to power the post-war growth. This system powered by US petrodollars is so threatened today that King Abdullah had to hurry home to try to appease his people by sprinkling a bit of the cash around. While money may be debt in practice (damn you Nixon!), in theory it's just been a proxy for oil since that meeting aboard the cruiser Quincy on Great Bitter Lake. The love story has continued with each president and successive king, working on the 12th and 5th respectively, each partnership able to dance the complicated steps of the Palestine/Israel/Iran blame boogie.

The silence coming out of Bahrain and to a lesser extent, Yemen, is deafening yet anything but surprising, look at a damn map. No wonder American and the oil consumers sit back and accept Saudi and UAE troops under the auspices of the Gulf Cooperation Council being brought in to help crush a pro-democracy movement in Bahrain to protect the flow of oil. The love for black gold is so strong that America has even forgiven the Saudis for supplying most of the 9/11 terrorists and in fact wants to train more Saudi pilots, this time to fly F-15Es in Idaho as part of a $60 billion arms deal. From Yemen, we hear even less of an autocratic ruler perhaps using poison gas on his people, because, well, Americans provide the instruments of death to this or that autocratic rule but not as much to the other.



Who needs Hollywood or Bollywood when the streets of Lahore provide CIA not-so-secret war movie scenes. The American public will never understand why the Other hates them so much when they watch their President demand the release of their embassy worker on the news interspersed with scenes of Americans being burned in effigy on Pakistani streets. All too many will never know their 'free' media was asked by their government to lie to the public and keep the identity of Raymond Davis, an American CIA operative working for Blackwater (now Xe) secret from the American public. All told four people were killed in the incident (a pedestrian run down by the SUV dispatched to pick up Davis and the wife of one of the shooting victims committed suicide) but it will have the effect of making "the Other" even more distrustful of America and weakening future claims of diplomatic immunity. The smugness of the American belief in their superior news service makes the situation even worse for the ignorant viewer as he pities the 'uninformed' Pakistanis, who ironically know so much more. To fix it, a little blood money is simply paid to the families and Davis is magically pardoned and whisked out of the country. To celebrate the deal, the US decided to take out a peaceful meeting of tribal elders with some predator drones. They rain down in Pakistan killing nine civilians for each terrorist target while Americans reading their Newsweek will smugly believe their president is efficiently killing the enemy and can therefore make jokes about them.

Abandoning another election promise, Obama "regrettably" vetoed an Arab-sponsored UN resolution branding Israeli settlements illegal this month, his administrations first veto. The resolution, sponsored by 130 countries, reaffirmed "that the Israeli settlements established in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, are illegal and constitute a major obstacle to the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace." The US veto in sole-support of Israel has been a tradition since March 17th, 1970. 14 of the 15 Security Council members voted in favor of the resolution, adding to the insane number of times the US has defied world opinion alone to prolong the Palestinian dispute. Then we're supposed to be surprised when the Israelis announce further illegal settlement construction the next day. Quietly every other day, the IDF kills a Palestinian civilian with impunity in the occupied territories. It's a terrorist attack when a wacko Palestinian knifes five Israelis in their home but a security operation when the Israeli army kills hundreds of Palestinian children.

Speaking of the US and the UN, you won't hear the Koch suckers on Faux News informing the public that the Wisconsin governor Scott Walker has signed legislation that puts his state in contravention to article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A news network that employees half, five of the ten, possible Republican candidates for president isn't there to inform so you can decide. Whatever, there's something about torture in there too, right? Instead, Republican presidential hopefuls like Mike Huckabee are employed by Fox to feed lies about his president, "his perspective as growing up in Kenya with a Kenyan father and grandfather, their view of the Mau Mau Revolution in Kenya is very different than ours because he probably grew up hearing that the British are a bunch of imperialists who persecuted his grandfather." WMD's providing a cover of ignorance allowing Walker to ram through an austerity bill that lost all its financial savings and only left in the budget busting bits to avoid quorum in service to the Koch Brothers. Funny the governor had time in a budget crisis to sort out strategy with his puppet master:





So, he's following in the steps of Ronald Reagan? Maybe it would be more instructive for Faux News viewers to learn their hero, Ronald Reagan was really a raging socialist!



In 1980, two out of three American workers were in defined benefit pension plans with guaranteed lifetime benefits. Now it’s one in five and falling. The end result is the emergence of the politics of resentment. Most workers don't have pensions, so why should union members? Pit the workers against each other. Keep the lower classes fighting each other, while the rich loot the country. It's all about what teachers make instead of what the corpocracy is stealing. Classic divide and conquer technique making jokes reality. A CEO, a public employee union member and Tea Partier were all sitting around a table with a plate with a dozen cookies. The CEO took eleven cookies for himself. He turned to the Tea Partier and said "watch out for that union guy, he wants part of your cookie."

Meanwhile, in Michigan it gets even crazier...



I suppose next we'll be hearing about the new Strength through Joy program. In case you didn't get that, governor Rick Snyder has made it so he can declare a financial emergency and appoint an administrator to take over towns, human or corporation. So, when the taxes run out, which inevitably will when you cut taxes on the wealthy and corporations by $1.8 billion and raise $1.7 billion from the poor and elderly, and the townships default on the loans they took out to buy a new sewer system or the like, the banks they can't pay will take over the running of the town. These administrators are empowered to do anything to return their version of economic stability (them getting paid) from voiding contracts and collective bargaining agreements to dissolving the town council and school board as well as firing anyone including elected officials, hiring private security, unincorporating the town, and of course selling off public property. Oh, and of course the citizens have no say in this. Go Democracy!

All is good though as the newest Forbes rich list celebrates the increase in the number of billionaires to 1,210 and their total wealth to $4.5 trillion. It's somehow good for the economy that the richest 400 Americans now hold more wealth than half of the population combined, 155 million people. When it's so easy to convince people that teacher's unions caused the financial crisis it's no wonder that at the top of Sunday's New York Times best-seller list for paperback nonfiction was "Heaven Is for Real". Yep, the near-death tale of the three year old son of an evangelical pastor in which he not only met his great-grandfather, the biblical figures Samson, John the Baptist and Jesus, who had eyes that "were just sort of a sea-blue and they seemed to sparkle", but also his younger sister who was never born due to a miscarriage is the most popular NONFICTION book in America. Wonder if he asked about the crucifixion or how bringing torture back from the history books is supposed to spread peace and love. Along with neo-fascist parties serving in western European governments such ideas would have been dismissed as ethical disasters which could never really happen just a decade ago. But there they are in Stockholm, Amsterdam and Budapest while torture has spread from Abu-Ghraib to the military brig in Quantico, Virginia in the blink of an eye.

State Department spokesman PJ Crowley was forced to resigned from his post just two days after calling the treatment of alleged Wikileaks source Private Bradley Manning "ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid". Regardless of whether what Manning did was a crime, his treatment amounts to torture and is further proof that Obama is actually a more dangerous person to have as president than Dubya. With George you knew where you stood, with Nodrama it all depends on the optics and what the polls tell him, so you want to keep it quiet when you're torturing your own in America. Crowley was the author of a homeland security report that foreshadowed his demise as it read in part, "[W]e have policies, including harsh interrogation techniques, detention without charge, government surveillance, and immigration that are inconsistent with our values and our long-term interest. All this in the name of something called the “war on terror." The ultimate WMD, "the war on terror".

The same passage from impossibility to normalization is happening as reality melts into a new age. Literally in some cases like the ecological threat of global warming in the new Anthropocene Era where "humans - thanks to our numbers, the burning of fossil fuels and other related activities - have become a geological agent on this planet." Or not. Nuclear power plants, which are definitely anthropogenic, meltdown thanks to an earthquake/tsunami one two punch. Maybe the tremor wasn't caused by HAARP but the building of the Three Gorge Dam in China was most likely a factor in intensifying their last big Sichuan quake. And don't tell me you haven't noticed the increase in the number of big, devastating quakes from Chile to New Zealand, Haiti and now Japan. Yeah, I know, there have always been earthquakes in these places but we are living a time when we and they are all connected by the capitalist market amplifying the aftershocks felt around the world. The mode of our survival depends on the maturity of our collective reason which unfortunately seems to only have one button, MORE. This 30 year experiment in planned stupidity has reached a critical point as the fuel may be cut off that we need to burn up the planet. More disasters mean more money for those who seem to have it to burn, but we'll probably just keep blaming the teachers.


Fun and games. The cycle of death and violence continues alongside the cycle of poverty and larceny. A delicate balancing act of choosing among which autocrats to support and which ones to help bring down in a new era of regime alteration change. Shared sacrifice translates in the real world to making the poor, elderly, children, and now working-class families pay for the losses of the ultra-wealthy. WMDs like Sarah Palin are able to spread their fear and hate as far as India so we don't notice the next disaster being planned by Wall Street. I'd like to believe in Tony Blair's hell if only to know there's a special place reserved there for him just for the part he played in re-legitimizing Colonel Gaddafi not to mention his warmongering throughout the region. But like the corporate minions they are, the press will continue to feed us Charlie Sheen stories while sweeping the real evil under the rug. One can only hope the day is fast approaching when that rug gets pulled from under all of them.

4 comments:

Don E. Chute said...

It comes down to one thing and one thing only...No matter-race-creed-religious-atheist-man/woman-political-apolitical...

IT'S GOOD vs EVIL(PERIOD).

PLU

Shane said...

That's why were always having witch hunts my friend, someone trying to impose their vision of good and evil. Sadly, not only is it a false dichotomy, we've also got Peter Kings looking in all the wrong places and not enough Ron Pauls and Bernie Sanders asking the right questions.

Next it'll be auto-da-fe - of course we get wars in faraway lands while we wait. I'm wondering who will be first to burn, Assange, Manning or a 'random brown person we hate'. Wagers anyone? Bin Laden's odds are lengthening and Gadaffi's are shortening as we speak. I've got Julian at about 2-1 and Bradley around 5-1.

Maybe wagering like this can replace the stock market once all new share offerings have become private placements like Facebook recently. Newest new danger to go along with the synthetic junk bonds mentioned at the end of my post. Does the financial pyramid collapse before we blow ourselves up? Now that's a confusing bet to make. Is that in gold or some other kind of barter product?

MS said...

Hi Shane,

Here is the brief summary of Donald Tusk's article in Gazeta Wyborcza (19-20.03) I promised. I'm gonna try to be as non-judgmental in recounting his ideas as possible.

He says Poland is about to embrace (or be embraced) by what he calls the third wave of modernity (after post-war industrialization and 1989 free market transition) and to make the most of its possibilities the country needs a “predictable and trustworthy” political leadership. It means, first, grounding Poland further in a network of international partners (especially EU) and avoiding arrogance or grandstanding towards other nations. Second, it means opening up to technology, education and innovation since there is plenty of potential in this area still untapped. In practice, Tusk promises to continue raising teachers' and start raising academics' salaries until they match private sector earnings. He also says that more money will have to go into research, especially in areas of high technological potential. Third, he says how important it is to provide the youngest generation with greater employment stability, without – at the same time – endangering flexibility and competitiveness of the economy. He expresses his readiness to take up the topic in the future. Finally, he says government institutions will have to change to bring state services up to modern standards. In this point, he talks about anything from simplifying legal regulations to changing bureaucratic mentality to involving more women into public life.

One recurring theme is normalcy. Tusk argues a couple of times that, when it comes to governance, there is nothing Poland requires more than stability, predictability and avoidance of trouble. Another strong thread has to do with his insistence on rejecting delusions and concentrating on what can be realistically achieved here and now. Instead of pandering to history-induced grudges, obsessions and misguided ambitions of Poles, politics should be about practical improvement that anyone can see in their standard of living. The text is full to the brims with statistics for such real-life concerns, from school football pitches to community centers to sanitary installation to cycling lanes, some of them completed or work in progress, others in the planning stage.

Shane said...

Thanks MS, so hard to penetrate the fog of Polish politics with such a high language barrier. Tusk amazes me. Never before have I ever seen someone who looks and sounds so little like a politician play the part so well. The man seems to have no real beliefs of his own but an uncanny ability to synthesize opinion polls with the demands of international financiers into what appears to be his own thoughts to the casual observer. Sadly, with the only real opposition holding actual despicable beliefs he'll lead his party to victory once again this fall. Besides, stability, predictability and the avoidance of trouble, what more could a consumer or an investor want?