Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Propaganda, Inc.

 "My God, what a world we live in."

Argentine President Cristina Kirchner was echoing the near-universal reaction to the forced grounding last night of the jet carrying the president of Bolivia and, as the paranoiac States of America feared, Edward Snowden. (He wasn't on board.) Denials are busting out all over, of course. The White House is being characteristically mum till they get their talking points lined up. Since this story is still very much in a state of flux, I'll just point you to the live blog running on The Guardian.  (unviewable by the United States Armed Forces lest they learn about their targets before ordered, in the words of Barack Obama, to "Scramble.")

Meanwhile, state-sponsored propaganda is ratcheting up to Mach speed. The Washington Post, among the first media outlets to publish Edward Snowden's leaks, is now condemning them because they're hurting Obama.  Senator Dick Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, penned an op-ed actually calling for a federal law to "define journalism" (and presumably to silence Glenn Greenwald and the horde of "activist reporters" thinking outside the Homeland-approved veal pen) Today's New York Times is running an editorial accusing Europeans of getting all bent out of shape over being targeted by American spooks, and Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande and the gang are just feigning outrage anyway. My response:
Today's lesson from Propaganda, Inc.: Calm down, little ones. The Grown-ups spy on each other all the time and nobody cares, so why should you? Listening in on conversations is just a little game that Superpower and Lesser Powers play with each other. No harm, no foul. They're just honing their negotiating skills. Nothing to see here, now go out and play with your favorite electronic gizmos and thus continue patriotically contributing to the Great Information Warehouse -- so that we can keep the World safe from the World.
Speaking as a mere citizen now -- and I know this is none of my business -- but what exactly is in this Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA rhymes with NAFTA)? I totally get that the Lesser Powers might be "feigning outrage" just to placate their own subjects and hold on to their tenuous grasp on power -- but who exactly will TAFTA benefit? Because these "free trade" negotiations are being carried on behind closed doors, with no Congressional oversight.
According to Public Citizen, TAFTA, like NAFTA, will include something called "Investor-State" tribunals that allow multinational corporations to bypass the courts and have disputes heard in secretive extra-judicial tribunals. Great for the corporations -- really bad for the ordinary people who might have a claim against them. You can read more details here.
Read the other comments. They are absolutely scathing. The Times is falling into line with the White House, and readers from all over the world are calling them out on it.

Edward Snowden is shaking the global power structure to its very core. The real terrorists and traitors, the economic ones, are still getting away with murder. They're flying the friendly skies in their un-Sequestered Lear Jets, while Edward Snowden is stuck in the airport.

22 comments:

Denis Neville said...

“Snowden, Manning and Assange all exposed illegality on a massive scale, and no action whatsoever has been taken against any of the criminals they exposed. Instead they are being hounded out of all meaningful life and ability to function in society,” writes Craig Murray, “All Law is Gone: Naked Power Remains,” http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2013/07/all-law-is-gone-naked-power-remains/

The United States is like the old detested arch enemy of my youth, the communist Soviet Union - massive surveillance, state employees ordered to be ever vigilant for signs of disloyalty, stiff penalties for failure to report dissidents, secret courts, show trials, coerced confessions, state controlled mass-media where “doublethink,” “thought-crime,” and “newspeak” characterize its propaganda.

And like the Soviet people, our own brainwashed citizens have become willing agents of their own subjugation.

Marie Burns at RealityChex, commenting on Jonathan Chait’s “Glenn Greenwald Is Ralph Nader,” writes that “this is precisely the style of "journalism" about which I've written. While this style can occasionally be close to accurate (think a monkey typing a Shakespeare sonnet), it usually is a cringe-inducing, unreliable polemic. Unfortunately, these disputatious diatribes "work" on the unwary, & Greenwald has led many a naive reader astray....”

Just who are the naïve dupes that have been led astray?

Yes, "My God, what a world we live in."

Jay - Ottawa said...

The comments following the Times report I read this morning about the forced change of President Morales's of flight plans in mid-flight were closely divided. The top comment, claiming the handle of OWS, was in support of Snowden. The very next in reader votes was harshly against Snowden. The rest were along the same divide, alternating pro and con. Snowden's revelations about the NSA seem not to have broken the ranks of Obama worshipers.

In marked contrast, in a story from "Le Monde" about the Morales flight, the follow-on comments by French readers were uniformly, without exception, crying "Shame!" on French President Francois Hollande and his government for refusing overflight or refueling. After Morales's plane is very much elsewhere, the French say they will allow his overflight.

Thanks, Denis, for filling us in on Marie Burns' good work for the establishment. RealityChex definitely is an alternative to NYT propaganda. And it's good to learn (from a real reporter, that is) that Nader, Greenwald, and monkeys at a typewriter are none of them true journalists. They are merely cringe-inducing, unreliable polemicists.

Sounds like RealityChex would support that bill by Senator Carl Levin (D), which would have the government define and protect true journalists (properly vetted and censored and therefore protected) as distinct from monkey journalists, like Greenwald (not genuine and therefore prosecutable). For such legislation to pass the test of constitutionality won't Levin be forced to abolish the First Amendment?

It gets confusing, though, when both a journalist and a monkey join forces in the same op-ed. Herewith, a snippet from Reporters Without Borders Christophe Deloire and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in their long op-ed of this morning in "Le Monde."
http://en.rsf.org/why-european-nations-must-protect-03-07-2013,44886.html

"By what right is the United States exempt from principles that it demands be applied elsewhere?

"In January, 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a historic speech in which she defined freedom of expression as a cornerstone of American diplomacy. She reiterated that position in February, 2011, in another speech in which she said that 'on the spectrum of internet freedom, we place ourselves on the side of openness.'

"Eloquent words. They may have brought encouragement to dissidents in Tehran, Beijing, Havana, Asmara, Ashgabat, Moscow and so many other capitals. But how disappointing to find that the skyscrapers of American surveillance have reached a size to match China’s technological Great Wall."

Noodge said...

Denis,

I, too, have been taken aback at the way Marie Burns has taken to acquiescing in the advance of the surveillance state, and have been waging a rather pitched battle with her over it the last few days. Her response to me today concluded by saying:

"As someone who's had her personal snail-mail stolen & made public, I know it's not pleasant, & in most instances (including mine) it's illegal -- and pretty low-down. But a lot of people & some institutions are snoops. So rather than just whine that it's unfair, illegal, unconstitutional or whatever, it seems the antidote is to (a) get over it, or (b) take action to make your own situation better. And no matter how outraged we get at this, that or the other thing (I'm often outraged), it's always good to remember that life isn't fair, and there are limits to what we can do to make it more fair. Should we try? Well, yeah. Should we consider it the end of civilization when we fail? Nah."

Wow.

Other voices on that particular page have sided with her on this as well.

I can't help but wonder what the reaction would be from those quarters if George W. Bush still occupied the White House.

They used to say only Nixon could go to China, because the public wouldn't get behind a liberal making nice with the commies. In the same way I guess it took a liberal hero to complete the sale of the country to the military-industrial complex. We wouldn't have tolerated it from a Republican.

Thank goodness for people like Karen who won't tolerate it from anyone, and have the eloquence and the platform from which to speak.

Lucy said...

Ms. Burns has not changed in years. Why people keep going back for more abuse is beyond me, not to mention the time wasted that could be spent reading the work of a real journalist.

You guys should form a recovery group and try to kick the habit. It's so funny to see people return here after absences because they were scorched, flamed, and burned by Burns.

Lick your wounds, you'll go back for more until you get the help you need. Good luck!

5 cents please.

annenigma said...

Today the NYT has two new disturbing pieces, one is called 'US Postal Service Logging All Mail For Law Enforcement' and the other is 'Border Agency Is A Frequent Lender of Its Drones'.

Both are worth reading - if you can stomach it.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/04/us/monitoring-of-snail-mail.html?hp

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/04/business/us-border-agency-is-a-frequent-lender-of-its-drones.html?hp

James F Traynor said...

A little surprised by Marie Burns, but not shocked (she took a dim view of the student demos during the 'Nam days). As to the Bolivia bit, I was also surprised. Clever though. They must have thought Snowden might try to sneak out that way. As far as I know, Spain was going to allow Morales to land. This faked him out and the plane took off - and they trapped him, forcing that landing in Vienna and hoping that Snowden was aboard.

Jay - Ottawa said...

I recommend Jonathan Chait's article, "Greenwald Is Nader." It is the type of balanced journalism we must (according to the authorities) praise and emulate, a jewel of beltway think, the soft rot that Chris Hedges points to in "Death of the Liberal Class."
http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2013/06/glenn-greenwald-is-ralph-nader.html

If you do read Chait, click for the top "Picks" among the comments that follow. They are the antidote you'll need to get through the rest of the day without a slug of Maalox.

Fred Drumlevitch said...

I just read the two NYT articles suggested by @annenigma, as well as the TAFTA post, the Craig Murray post, and Dick Durbin's tripe. Wow. Does anyone at this forum still not understand why @Zee is concerned about attempts to undermine the 2nd Amendment, and how such undermining integrates with the undermining of other liberties that is occurring? Does anyone here still not understand what the goal of all that undermining is?

Zee said...

Fred--

Is this the "Craig Murray" blog to which you referred?

http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/

" All Law is Gone: Naked Power Remains"

It appears that "the memory hole" is now a reality!

(I can only look in sporadically at the moment, so I probably missed some things.)

James F Traynor said...

"Does anyone at this forum still not understand why Zee is concerned about attempts to undermine the 2nd Amendment, and how such undermining integrates with the undermining of other liberties that is occurring?"

Yeah, Fred, I do. Do you really think Zee and his popguns would stand a chance in resisting the Feds? Get real, for Christ's sake. Meanwhile, gangs can acquire, and modify, all sorts of 'semiautomatic' assault weapons with 'cop killing' rounds and raise all kinds of urban mayhem. I haven't been a 'city boy' for a long time, but I have a long memory.

Terrorism is essentially a police matter and should be handled as such. The Europeans have done quite well in that department for years. Instead we've militarized the police, loosened or eliminated sensible gun regs to the delight of the NRA, gun dealers and manufacturers and scared the shit out of people like Zee.

Yeah, our freedoms have been eroded and are being eroded, but not by assaults on the second amendment. It's a red herring.

annenigma said...

@Fred

True confessions. I've been on the same page as you and Zee all along, I just don't like talking about it. I'll make an exception today.

When I first became a BHL (Bleeding Heart Liberal) long ago, I actually considered myself too evolved to ever resort to defending myself with a gun. Violence was abhorrent and it just wasn't who I was as a human being. My intelligence and wits would surely save me. If not, there was always the police, somewhere.

Then one day I imagined some of the more unsavory characters I'd seen and imagined what it would be like if they banded together. Well, that did it. It was a GROUP of thugs I feared most. Why should I die and they get to live? My anti-gun and BHL phase ended long ago.

Now I have come to realize that the government that I used to trust is the largest organized crime syndicate and gang of thugs the world has ever suffered under. It is getting bigger and badder by the day, no matter who becomes President, because it's not a government of, by, or for the people. So now I am even more in favor of the government keeping their bloody paws off our right to bear arms. Giving them encouragement to regulate that right is like giving booze to an alcoholic.

Frankly, it is the federal government that needs to be controlled, regulated, and reined in, along with their corporate partners-in-crime, NOT the people, and not the Second Amendment. I do not support even one iota more authority or power for the federal government over any of us flesh and blood citizens by gun control measures or laws. They can start regulating corporate fraud and their own endless warring and belligerence if they wish to prove their good intentions, as IF they had any!

The federal government is too large and abusively powerful. It has demonstrated through actions that it has no interest in preserving, protecting, and defending the Constitution. Quite the contrary. It's an impediment that they have simply ignored and violated at will. Both parties are culpable. Anticipation of that abuse is exactly why the Bill of Rights for We the People was originally added. It's the reason why the Second Amendment, along with all the rest, should be staunchly defended.

Finally, I can neither confirm nor deny if I own any weapons now. That's Top Secret. Get out of my life, NSA!

annenigma said...

Oops, maybe that was meant to be addressed to Zee. Wicked thunderstorm is happening. Can't check now. Gotta go.

Fred Drumlevitch said...

@Zee:

Yes, that's the Craig Murray blog. And as you say, "It appears that 'the memory hole' is now a reality!"

(By the way, thanks, @Denis for bringing that blog post to my attention in the first comment of this thread).

Now, I don't deny that Wayne Madsen, source for that original Observer/Guardian article, apparently isn't the most reputable source. But as that old saying goes, "just because you're paranoid doesn't mean that someone isn't out to get you!". For that matter, even Craig Murray, just like Glenn Greenwald, isn't perfect. But I'm much more willing to believe them than either the British or the U.S. government on the maters at hand, especially given what is known about the past actions of those governments and their easy-to-understand self-interest in perpetuating disinformation to the greatest extent possible for as long as possible. It's possible that The Guardian backtracked for purely journalistic reasons of inadequate source confirmation. But more likely the Guardian was threatened with action by the British government for violation of the Official Secrets Act or more recent legislation.


@James:

I never said that "Zee and his popguns would stand a chance in resisting the Feds" (though I'll bet that whatever Zee has is much higher in quality and potential than "popguns", and even ancient British Enfields and 50-year-old AK-47s have certainly caused significant trouble for the U.S. in Afghanistan). Violent resistance in the U.S. isn't what I'm advocating, and an assessment of its possible efficacy isn't the issue. As I see it, and as I've said before, the potential value of an armed populace is as a deterrent, to keep our "soft" tyranny (largely based on popular ignorance/disinformation/brainwashing/illusion), from turning into a "hard" one. I maintain that the efficacy of resistance by a widely-armed populace is not fully knowable by the powers-that-be, and that's an adequate deterrent --- especially when they think they can, for now, control the situation through propaganda and co-optation. (And they may well be right in their estimation of effective control). The PTB will, however, continue to act against the populace, seeking to reduce its options on a wide variety of fronts including information dissemination, legislative and executive branch actions, ability to win redress in the courts, public perceptions, as well as the more literal forms of self-defense. But those incremental moves against what we think of as the fundamental characteristics of our supposed democracy will of necessity proceed more slowly than outright dictatorship, which gives us more time to work towards a popular awakening and nonviolent resistance movement. And since people are irrational and the law of unintended consequences unpredictable, never underestimate the value of stochasticity during that longer time.


@annenigma:

Thanks for your contribution here to the debate with regard to the Bill of Rights amendment usually addressed by Zee and occasionally by me.

Denis Neville said...

Our invisible government doesn't need to, nor does it want to, remove guns from everyone's "cold dead hands."

As James said, “our freedoms have been eroded and are being eroded, but not by assaults on the second amendment. It's a red herring.”

As Chomsky points out, it's easier and cheaper for the plutocrats and their minions to brainwash people (Edward Bernays) than station troops on every street corner.

They let the gun zealots focus on the Second Amendment to the practical exclusion of all else.

They let them have their oodles of guns, which will never be used – if ever - until it is too late, while they busily foreclose on everything else.

The Second Amendment is not going to protect anyone’s personal liberties. Look where we are at today.

Our tyrannical invisible government doesn’t care about gun laws. It will squash us like bugs whether we have guns or not. Thousands of local police departments nationwide have been amassing stockpiles of military-style equipment as well as non-lethal crowd control systems in the name of homeland security. Not to mention the federal forces armed with drones, helicopter gunships, laser weapons, chemical and biological weapons, and god knows what other weapons of mass destruction being stockpiled not for defense against terrorists, but for the protection of the elites against any mass movements from below.

Do you people seriously believe that your flea-market pea-shooters/ popguns can resist all that?

“This is the secret of propaganda: To totally saturate the person, whom the propaganda wants to lay hold of, with the ideas of the propaganda, without him even noticing that he is being saturated…The belief that one's own view of reality is the only reality is the most dangerous of all delusions.” - Paul Watzlawick

Zee said...

@Denis and @James--
As usual, you insist on totally misunderstanding Fred and me.

Can't deal with this on a tablet while on vacation with Mrs. Zee. Will have to wait 'til I'm home and on a real keyboard.

Until then, keep imagining that I see some kind of "Second Amendment remedy" for all that ails us.

'Cause I don't, despite all your desperate hopes.

annenigma said...

Some thoughts from the peanut gallery:

(1) We shouldn't assume for a moment that those local and state police forces that the Feds have militarized are necessarily on the Fed's side. People identify with and are connected to their state or region and the people in it more than they are to the Federal Government. People identify themselves as Texans, Californians, or Minnesotans, not primarily as Americans anymore. We're connected to people in other states as well, but not to the Federal Government, except some are fanatics of Barack 'Big Daddy' Obama personally, which is cause enough for concern.

I believe it's the Constitution itself that binds us as Americans, and with that nearly nullified, we are existentially at risk.

(2) Whenever and wherever civil unrest occurs, the most vulnerable are, well, vulnerable. Just read the world news about who gets victimized during any crises - women. Who is going to look out for us? The men who are fixated on their own drives of sex, power, and control?

It's high time we women take a more active and personally responsible role for our own lives and safety as well as in governing, but that's another obstacle and issue.

(3) There is no reason to rely on violent weaponry. I believe in full range of options that SHOULD be protected by our Constitutional and human rights - freedom of speech being a huge one, and I'm exercising it fully, even if some are already afraid to. I refer to the master of nonviolent action, Gene Sharp, for tips on how to use ALL options, and that's exactly what we should be prepared to do. For a list of 198 non-violent options, go to
http://www.aeinstein.org/organizations103a.html

Personally, I won't be led silently and obediently into a courtroom, prison cell, railcar, or gas chamber just because the PTB has total control and overwhelming power. I'll go kicking and screaming and making big noises so they won't be able to keep that as just another of their many secrets. Government secrecy is insidiously evil and MUST BE STOPPED.

(4) To those who say the Founding Fathers couldn't have anticipated the weapons available now, and that's why the Second Amendment needs restrictions, have you ever considered that the Founding Fathers didn't anticipate a country of 50 states with 316 million people? How about 1000 foreign military bases around the world? They DID clearly anticipate abuse of power. They'd seen it in action and now so have we.

Is it time to think about USA, version 2.0? Could independent regions provide better services and representation? When our government was formed, there were only a total of 13 million in the entire union, according to the first census in 1790. Whatever the size, it should not be so big or powerful that it can dictate to the world. How about an American Union, similar in concept to the European Union? It's an idea worth peacefully discussing in a coffee house in Philadelphia.

Let's have an Evolution rather than a Revolution.

Happy Independence Day!

annenigma said...

Are you ready? The powerful government with worldwide influence that should rescue and provide asylum for Edward Snowden is....

The Holy See!

http://www.vatican.va/phome_en.htm

I'd recommend Pope Francis for Sainthood if he performed that miracle.

Join me in this crusade. Let's help rescue Edward Snowden from the Great Satan! ;-) For the love of Jesus, contact Pope Francis immediately. Pass the Word.

Jay - Ottawa said...

Here we are, yet again, off topic, on the Second Amendment. The trouble with discussing the Second Amendment on Sardonicky is that the people in favor of guns unlimited are Zee, Fred and, now, Annenigma – all of them nice folks. But are they representative of the NRA and the millions who treasure firearms of all types?

I won’t take time to dredge up recent political pronouncements by the NRA leadership or its rank and file, but I suspect we’ll all agree there are miles of daylight between our very own Z, F, and A and the views repeatedly expressed by NRA and many in their membership, like the people who mill around political rallies flashing Glocks on hips or AR-15s (pink or black) slung over a shoulder. Nor do I think for a moment that our friends Z, F and A, even if they had big bucks or great influence in some other form to toss around, would intimidate elected officials as does the NRA.

Furthermore, in such a debate, should we overlook the never-ending easy access of weapons, despite all the laws and regulations written to keep them from criminals and crazies? Can we discount the great number of bad guys who own guns and use them as an integral part of daily business in drug wars and gang wars? And just how many survivalists are there in the hills on this Fourth of July? All these bad guys may not be dues-paying members of the NRA but they surely do benefit from the policies advanced very successfully by the NRA year after year.

Seriously (i.e., no irony here), has there been a sound academic study in recent years that gives us a truly representative picture of the American gun lobby and the average gun owner? I would like to see a map of the US showing the spread and density of guns, legal and illegal. What is the educational level within traditional age cohorts of the gun community? Where do they stand politically, again by age and regional cohort? What are their answers to a list of about a score of carefully-prepared, penetrating questions about guns, especially as guns relate to the political issues raised by Z, F, and A? I would prefer solid statistics to hopeful stochastics.

Such a study might help us think this issue through with hard data sifted by sociologists, political scientists and statisticians. Why? So we might better calibrate views that assure us that, on balance, firearms in the hands of the many are, on balance, a good thing for America, and that gun owners, for the most part, are now and can always be expected to be on the side of personal safety, democracy and good government.

James F Traynor said...

Democracy Now has a fascinating video today on Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers. At the end Ellsberg warns against a coming war with Iran and calls for government officials to come forward about the secret scheme before it's too late. Fascinating.

And a happy fourth everybody! I plan to charcoal a couple of tenderloins for myself and my wife, and enjoy the fireworks from our lanai this evening. And I won't be thinking about the 2nd you-know-what.

Fred Drumlevitch said...

http://www.cafepress.com/+2nd_amendment_classic_thong,546889374

Fred Drumlevitch said...

http://www.cafepress.com/+the_ultimate_in_feminine_protection_classic_thong,55441231

Zee said...

Fred--

At my age I think that the boxers work best. I won't presume to speak for Mrs. Zee!

I wish you all as happy an Independence Day as possible.