Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Double Agent Doubletalk

I had to read this McClatchy piece twice, just to make sure I wasn't seeing double.

Here's the gist: a criminal lawyer who used to defend CIA torturers, and who was confirmed to a government post in 2009 only upon his solemn oath that he'd recuse himself from any investigations having to do with the CIA, has been given the go-ahead by the Obama administration to censor the Senate report on CIA torture and other patriotic crimes against "folks."

Senate CIA Moll Dianne Feinstein (D-Surveillance State) has absolutely no problem with this, while Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) is reprising his role as vocal but impotent CIA critic. His sidekick, Ron Wyden (D-OR/NYC)  is MIA for this particular article.

Elsewhere among the cognoscenti, the usual concerns have been sparked about the prima facie impropriety. And the usual suspects in the White House along with their Security State overseers are striving mightily to douse the sparks with the usual drivel. In other words, just trust them -- they can all police themselves. Just like Wall Street polices itself and there is no economic meltdown, mortgage fraud, income inequality or stagnating wages.

The gory details:
Robert Litt, the general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, is a former defense lawyer who represented several CIA officials in matters relating to the agency’s detention and interrogation program. Now he’s in a key position to determine what parts of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s 6,300-page report will be made public.
Litt’s involvement doesn’t appear to be an ethics issue, at least by the legal definition. But experts say that while it may be acceptable on paper, his involvement in the review should have been a red flag.
No, it was actually a white flag that this investigation has been a sham from the get-go. The usual suspects are performing the usual parsing, differentiating between legality (yawn) and ethics (whatever they define it as.)
Litt, who’s now 64, was confirmed to his post by the U.S. Senate in 2009, contingent upon his agreement to recuse himself from situations that involved his former clients. He referred to the potential conflict in his responses to the Intelligence panel’s questions for the record, submitted during the course of his confirmation process.
“I represent several present and former employees of the Central Intelligence Agency in matters relating to the detention and interrogation of suspected terrorists,” Litt wrote to the committee in 2009. “By statute, under the rules of ethics and by virtue of my ethics agreement that has been provided to the committee, I will not participate personally and substantially in any particular matter involving these clients . . . including decisions about similarly situated individuals.”
So what might have happened is that he gave a friend a list of all his clients, and then that friend redacted those names from the Senate report so that Litt could later claim clean hands on his pesky ethics promise. He couldn't possibly have censored stuff about his own clients, because that stuff had been pre-censored for his convenience. Or, so my cynical supposition goes.
Litt’s prior representations, however, didn’t seem to bother Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee and who approved the arrangement.
“I spoke with Bob Litt about this matter and believe he will be fair, and negotiations thus far have shown that to be the case,” Feinstein said in a statement. “The DNI’s designated ethics official has reviewed the situation and determined there is no conflict that would necessitate a recusal.”
Key words: I spoke with Bob Litt . It is a truth universally acknowledged that as long as DiFi is kept within the secrecy loop, she is okay with flouting democracy. If the secrecy folks say they're not doing anything wrong in secret, then who are we to challenge them? You'd think we weren't living in a democracy or something. So in retrospect, I guess it is unfair of me to say that DiFi can be flouting something that doesn't even exist in the first place.
The conversations between the Senate Intelligence Committee and the administration about Litt’s past representations and their approval of his involvement effectively waive charges of a conflict of interest, at least by rules of the legal profession.
“If he advised them on their legal exposure by virtue of their conduct and this report blasts them for that same conduct, he should not participate with regard to that part of the report,” said Stephen Gillers, a professor at New York University School of Law who specializes in legal ethics. “However, if everyone involved waives their objections, it wipes the slate clean.”
Now we're really getting into the Orwellian verbiage. Only if Litt was planning to condemn his former clients in his capacity as their former defense lawyer should he recuse himself from the censorship project. But, since he either already decided to absolve them or since their names have already been erased from the report anyway, then everything is hunky-dory in Ethics World. "Everyone involved" does not, of course, include the American public. Stephen Gillers just kind of admitted that "legal ethics" is an oxymoron.
All of Litt’s former CIA clients also would have to waive a potential conflict, Gillers said. Administration officials wouldn’t say whether that occurred.
Because they're the Most Transparent Administration Ever (TM). Since Litt's former clients do not officially exist, how can they waive their rights?
Citing attorney-client privilege, Litt declined in 2009 to name several of his clients who were involved in “nonpublic investigative matters.” Later in his responses to the committee, he said that some of the matters for which he’d provided counsel to CIA officials were classified.
Neither the White House nor Feinstein’s office would characterize Litt’s prior representation during his time in private practice. When asked whether Litt had represented former senior CIA officials involved in the interrogation program, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment, also citing attorney-client privilege.
It's the old "it's classified" defense again. Attorney-client privilege exists even if the clients are wraiths. On the other hand, if they're wraiths, they cannot exist. Wraiths ain't got no rights.
 According to reports in The Washington Post, Litt previously represented a CIA analyst, Alfreda Frances Bikowsky, who played a central role in the bungled rendition of Khaled el-Masri. El-Masri, who was revealed to be innocent, claimed to have been tortured by the agency.
Bring me the head of Alfreda Frances Bikowsky! Oh wait.... she is a rightless wraith. This name assuredly does not exist in the 6,000+ page Senate Torture Report. But wait! Bikowsky was not only allegedly the inspiration for the glorified CIA torturer character in the infamous CIA-scripted  "Zero Dark Thirty" film, she remains one of Obama's favorite analysts. She even got promoted, despite failing miserably at her job. That whole sordid story is here.
“I have been concerned all along about conflicts of interest related to the declassification of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s study,“ said Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., a member of the panel. “I urged the president in April to have the White House lead the declassification process instead of the CIA. . . . The redaction process has not been conducted in accordance with my request, and I remain concerned about who continues to lead and drive the process.”
He doesn't remain concerned enough, however, to just go ahead and leak the whole unredacted report, or accuse the Obama administration of fraud, corruption and deceit.
It’s been a long, difficult history for the panel’s study on the CIA’s interrogation and detention program, which has been a source of major deterioration in the relationship between the agency and the Senate oversight committee. The report’s executive summary is nearing public release. But the White House and its chief spy agency have effectively stalled even that process.
The Intelligence panel began compiling the report on the CIA’s post-9/11 detention, rendition and interrogation program in 2009. The report, although completed in 2012, has been held hostage because of fierce debates between the agency and the panel.
Release it already!  You cannot hold mere bundles of paper hostage unless you want to. Unless, of course, our elected officials are all kidnappers and terrorists. Or in a best case scenario, unpatriotic cowards who are not willing to go to jail for the sake of a principle, like Chelsea Manning. On second thought.... 




Those disputes culminated last month when the agency revealed that it had spied on the computers of committee staffers who were compiling the report. The agency also revealed that, during the course of the spying, CIA officials had falsified evidence against the committee staffers in order to charge them with mishandling classified information.
Feinstein’s panel voted to declassify the nearly 500-page executive summary of its report in April, but that’s been indefinitely halted because of disagreements over the report’s blackouts. The document that was returned to the committee after the executive branch’s declassification review was rendered incomprehensible due to redactions, according to Feinstein and several of her Democratic committee colleagues.
Anything to keep the folk-torturing details secret for as long as possible. Incomprehensible crimes committed by folks whom Obama has deemed to be "patriots" are already incomprehensible enough, DiFi. Release the damn report!
  The crux of the redactions, officials said, are the pseudonyms used to identify CIA officials involved with the program. Feinstein and several of her fellow Democrats appealed to the White House that it _ not the agency _ lead the declassification process for the executive summary.
No can do, DiFi. Obama has enough on his plate already without the added stress of having to make up initials to hide the identity of Alfreda Bikowsky.... or even worse, his BFF and Kill List partner, CIA Director John Brennan.
Their appeals fell on deaf ears, as the White House has deferred to the agency’s leadership throughout the declassification effort. White House national security Council? (sic) representative Caitlin Hayden defended Litt’s involvement, as well.
“Bob Litt is one of the administration’s strongest proponents of transparency in intelligence, consistent with our national security, and he and we are fully committed to ensuring there is no conflict of interest as the administration continues to work to see the results of the committee’s review made public,” Hayden said in a statement.
The White House remains in a committed relationship, with all its torrid transparency conducted behind closed doors as they work together to ensure that the tattered tortuous remains of torture are rendered into literary black sites.


See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.

Now, release the damn report.

***

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/08/26/237763_in-senate-cia-fight-on-interrogation.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy


Note to readers: I will be away, so little to no blogging for the rest of the month.
Please feel free to leave comments in the interim. 

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/08/26/237763_in-senate-cia-fight-on-interrogation.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/08/26/237763_in-senate-cia-fight-on-interrogation.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/08/26/237763_in-senate-cia-fight-on-interrogation.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/08/26/237763_in-senate-cia-fight-on-interrogation.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/08/26/237763_in-senate-cia-fight-on-interrogation.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

20 comments:

Isaiah Earhart said...

Part 1 of 2

The United States ratified the U.N. Convention on Torture in 1994. The language is quite clear:

Article 1.

1. For the purposes of this Convention, torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.

2. This article is without prejudice to any international instrument or national legislation which does or may contain provisions of wider application.

Article 2.

1. Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.

2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.

3. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.

Article 4

1. Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law. The same shall apply to an attempt to commit torture and to an act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture.

Article 7

1. The State Party in territory under whose jurisdiction a person alleged to have committed any offence referred to in article 4 is found, shall in the cases contemplated in article 5, if it does not extradite him, submit the case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution.

Article 15

Each State Party shall ensure that any statement which is established to have been made as a result of torture shall not be invoked as evidence in any proceedings, except against a person accused of torture as evidence that the statement was made.

I invoke the language of the Convention only to point out that it is a blatant violation of law to not legally punish torturers. This violation of law is so completely obvious and flagrant that the reasoning behind this profound break from the rule of law needs to be evaluated- in greater detail and with more expertise than I am capable.

Isaiah Earhart said...

Part 2 of 2

But I do try to connect the dots.

Michael Hayden headed the NSA from 1999- 20005 where he championed the "Trailblazer" project, a massive spying program that wasted billions of dollars and rabidly violated the Constitution.

Most of you probably know that this is the program that Thomas Drake and others blew the whistle on in 2002. The Senate report on Trailblazer was 90% redacted, so the public never understood, to any intelligible level, its contents. So Drake blew the whistle to Siobhan Gorman, who reported for the Baltimore Sun. The award winning articles ran in the Baltimore Sun in 2005.

Every one of the whistle blowers who blew the whistle on "Trailblazer's" illegality and waste had their homes raided by the FBI. Drake was charged with obstructing justice, providing false information, and violating the Espionage Act of 1917. But drake was charged with obstructing justice, providing false information, and violating the Espionage Act of 1917- not by the Bush Administration- but by Eric Holder and the Obama Administration in 2010: the ultimate in muscle flexing across administrations.

Hayden headed the CIA from 2006- 2009. Executive Order 13440 of July 20, 2007 "gave" the Director of the CIA broad power to torture. And Hayden effectively admitted to using it briefing DiFi and the others on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in 2008.

http://fas.org/irp/offdocs/eo/eo-13440.htm

http://static1.firedoglake.com/28/files//2009/05/2009-05-06-eit-enclosure0001.pdf

Every one of the people on the Senate Committee and everyone up the chain of command are guilty of violating the UN Convention Against Torture. Most of the members of these organizations are also in violation of FISA.

The seamless transition of these "intelligence" agencies from administration to administration, and the fungibility of characters in the CIA and NSA seem to suggest, at least to me, that there as been a coup of elected government.

All of this fussiness around the CIA torture report redaction seems faked. Any one of these Senators could stand up and make public the unredacted torture report without legal reprisal under the Speech and Debate Clause in the US Constitution. Why don't they?

Isaiah Earhart said...

Oh yeah- Wonderful article Karen, thank you.

Denis Neville said...

”Those who hold or are in the thrall of executive power — the Obama Administration, the Democratic and the G.O.P. congressional leadership — want to safeguard its secrets from the American public. Their interest was laid bare in curious fashion near the end of a recent House hearing on the NSA scandal. Virginia Republican Bob Goodlatte asked the government’s most senior intelligence lawyer, Robert S. Litt, whether he really believed the government could keep such a vast surveillance program a secret forever. ‘Well,’ Litt replied, ‘we tried.’” - Scott Horton, No Comment, Harper’s

And still trying and, apparently, succeeding.

I read this recently about Dianne Feinstein in Jeff Connaughton’s Payoff: Why Wall Street Always Wins:

Senator Chris Dodd, knowing Brown-Kaufman[amendment that would break up the biggest banks] was gaining strength but didn’t yet have enough votes to pass, called a snap vote. Connaughton wrote about the vote, “no one could confuse the issue, or so I thought. But, just before voting, Senator Dianne Feinstein - one of the most liberal members of the Senate - asked Senator Dick Durbin, the majority whip, “What’s this amendment?” According to Durbin, who later told Kaufman, he replied, “To break up the banks.” Giving the thumbs-down sign, Feinstein said bemusedly: “This is still America, isn’t it?”

Lying, cheating and stealing like a good Democrat!

“There is no distinctly native American criminal class save Congress.” - Mark Twain

Zee said...

This is off-topic, but I wanted to call it to the attention of Sardonickistas because Denis made reference to America's new “debtors' prisons” a thread or two ago, but without a link to this recent story which I found particularly frightening and depressing:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/27/opinion/thomas-edsall-the-expanding-world-of-poverty-capitalism.html?_r=0

“In Orange County, Calif., the probation department’s 'supervised electronic confinement program,' which monitors the movements of low-risk offenders, has been outsourced to a private company, Sentinel Offender Services. The company, by its own account, oversees case management, including breath alcohol and drug-testing services, 'all at no cost to county taxpayers.'

Sentinel makes its money by getting the offenders on probation to pay for the company’s services. Charges can range from $35 to $100 a month.

The company boasts of having contracts with more than 200 government agencies, and it takes pride in the 'development of offender funded programs where any of our services can be provided at no cost to the agency.'

Sentinel is a part of the expanding universe of poverty capitalism. In this unique sector of the economy, costs of essential government services are shifted to the poor...

The recent drive toward privatization of government functions has turned traditional public services into profit-making enterprises as well.

In addition to probation, municipal court systems are also turning collections over to a national network of companies like Sentinel that profit from service charges imposed on the men and women who are under court order to pay fees and fines, including traffic tickets (with the fees being sums tacked on by the court to fund administrative services).

When they cannot pay these assessed fees and fines – plus collection charges imposed by the private companies — offenders can be sent to jail. There are many documented cases in which courts have imprisoned those who failed to keep up with their combined fines, fees and service charges.

'These companies are bill collectors, but they are given the authority to say to someone that if he doesn’t pay, he is going to jail,' John B. Long, a lawyer in Augusta, Ga. active in defending the poor, told Ethan Bronner of The Times.

A February 2014 report by Human Rights Watch on private offender services found that 'more than 1,000 courts in several US states delegate tremendous coercive power to companies that are often subject to little meaningful oversight or regulation. In many cases, the only reason people are put on probation is because they need time to pay off fines and court costs linked to minor crimes. In some of these cases, probation companies act more like abusive debt collectors than probation officers, charging the debtors for their services.'

Human Rights Watch also found that in Georgia in 2012, in 'a state of less than 10 million people, 648 courts assigned more than 250,000 cases to private probation companies.' The report notes that “there is virtually no transparency about the revenues of private probation companies” since 'practically all of the industry’s firms are privately held and not subject to the disclosure requirements that bind publicly traded companies. No state requires probation companies to report their revenues, or by logical extension the amount of money they collect for themselves from probationers.'”
(My bold emphases.)

The story goes into much greater detail than I can give here, all of which I find quite sickening.

When I talk of decreasing the size and power of government, this is not the way I believe it should be done.

Zee said...

@Isaiah Earhart (and, incidentally, @annenigma)--

Thank you for the informative post on the language of the U.N. Convention on Torture, which the U.S. ratified in 1994. It's pretty damning in terms of what transpired here post-9/11.

You remark that “The seamless transition of these 'intelligence' agencies from administration to administration, and the fungibility of characters in the CIA and NSA seem to suggest, at least to me, that there as been a coup of elected government.”

There is indeed a state-within-a-state—“a coup of elected government,” as you put it—over which, I fear, we no longer have any control:

“...there is another government concealed behind the one that is visible at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue, a hybrid entity of public and private institutions ruling the country according to consistent patterns in season and out, connected to, but only intermittently controlled by, the visible state whose leaders we choose. My analysis of this phenomenon is not an exposé of a secret, conspiratorial cabal; the state within a state is hiding mostly in plain sight, and its operators mainly act in the light of day. Nor can this other government be accurately termed an 'establishment.' All complex societies have an establishment, a social network committed to its own enrichment and perpetuation. In terms of its scope, financial resources and sheer global reach, the American hybrid state, the Deep State, is in a class by itself. That said, it is neither omniscient nor invincible. The institution is not so much sinister (although it has highly sinister aspects) as it is relentlessly well entrenched. Far from being invincible, its failures, such as those in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, are routine enough that it is only the Deep State's protectiveness towards its higher-ranking personnel that allows them to escape the consequences of their frequent ineptitude. —Mike Lofgren (My bold emphasis.)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-s-lofgren/anatomy-of-the-deep-state_1_b_4848017.html?view=print&comm_ref=false

I urge you to read Lofgren's entire article in order to truly understand what we penny groundlings are up against.

PS: I did read the article to which you provided the link regarding socialist feminist economics. I'm not sure that I understood what either you or the author were getting at. Personally, I seem to recall a comment or two from both you and annenigma that suggested that we should remove economists from political discussion altogether (or words to that effect). As I have serious doubts about economics as a “science” myself, I would be curious to hear any elaborations and/or clarifications that you and annenigma might care to offer.

Zee said...

This is off-topic, but I wanted to call it to the attention of Sardonickistas because Denis made reference to America's new “debtors' prisons” a thread or two ago, but without a link to this recent story, which I found particularly frightening and depressing:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/27/opinion/thomas-edsall-the-expanding-world-of-poverty-capitalism.html?_r=0

“In Orange County, Calif., the probation department’s 'supervised electronic confinement program,' which monitors the movements of low-risk offenders, has been outsourced to a private company, Sentinel Offender Services. The company, by its own account, oversees case management, including breath alcohol and drug-testing services, 'all at no cost to county taxpayers.'

Sentinel makes its money by getting the offenders on probation to pay for the company’s services. Charges can range from $35 to $100 a month.

The company boasts of having contracts with more than 200 government agencies, and it takes pride in the 'development of offender funded programs where any of our services can be provided at no cost to the agency.'

Sentinel is a part of the expanding universe of poverty capitalism. In this unique sector of the economy, costs of essential government services are shifted to the poor...

The recent drive toward privatization of government functions has turned traditional public services into profit-making enterprises as well.

In addition to probation, municipal court systems are also turning collections over to a national network of companies like Sentinel that profit from service charges imposed on the men and women who are under court order to pay fees and fines, including traffic tickets (with the fees being sums tacked on by the court to fund administrative services).

When they cannot pay these assessed fees and fines – plus collection charges imposed by the private companies — offenders can be sent to jail. There are many documented cases in which courts have imprisoned those who failed to keep up with their combined fines, fees and service charges.

'These companies are bill collectors, but they are given the authority to say to someone that if he doesn’t pay, he is going to jail,' John B. Long, a lawyer in Augusta, Ga. active in defending the poor, told Ethan Bronner of The Times.

A February 2014 report by Human Rights Watch on private offender services found that 'more than 1,000 courts in several US states delegate tremendous coercive power to companies that are often subject to little meaningful oversight or regulation. In many cases, the only reason people are put on probation is because they need time to pay off fines and court costs linked to minor crimes. In some of these cases, probation companies act more like abusive debt collectors than probation officers, charging the debtors for their services.'

Human Rights Watch also found that in Georgia in 2012, in 'a state of less than 10 million people, 648 courts assigned more than 250,000 cases to private probation companies.' The report notes that “there is virtually no transparency about the revenues of private probation companies” since 'practically all of the industry’s firms are privately held and not subject to the disclosure requirements that bind publicly traded companies. No state requires probation companies to report their revenues, or by logical extension the amount of money they collect for themselves from probationers.'”
(My bold emphases.)

The story goes into much greater detail than I can give here, all of which I find quite sickening.

When I talk of decreasing the size and power of government, this is not the way I believe it should be done.

Denis Neville said...

“War is the health of the state.” - Randolph Bourne

“We’re actively considering what’s going to be necessary to deal with that threat and we’re not going to be restricted by borders. If you come after Americans, we’re going to come after you, wherever you are.” - Benjamin Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser

"Lets' have a War!" - LA punk band Fear

Last year Syria’s Bashar al-Assad was the supreme evil that made war a moral and strategic imperative.

“The moral certitude of the state in wartime is a kind of fundamentalism. And this dangerous messianic brand of religion, one where self-doubt is minimal, has come increasingly to color the modern world of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.” - Chris Hedges, War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning

Now the cry of the state, the national imperative, is the necessity of destroying the “unprecedented” military might of ISIS forces fighting against Assad.

War and fear create a sense of unity that pushes everyone into the loving embrace of a government that requires silent acceptance from its citizens.

“The American intellectuals, in their preoccupation with reality, seem to have forgotten that the real enemy is War rather than imperial Germany. There is work to be done to prevent this war of ours from passing into popular mythology as a holy crusade. What shall we do with leaders who tell us that we go to war in moral spotlessness or who make “democracy” synonymous with a republican form of government?” - Randolph Bourne

In wartime, citizens become fervid defenders of the state, what Bourne called "the herd." "People at war become in the most literal sense obedient, respectful, trustful children again, full of that naive faith in the all-wisdom and all-power of the adult who takes care of them."

“War is the health of the state” is the mindless power, "this great herd-machine," that thrives on and corrupts a nation's moral fabric.

“Country is a concept of peace, of tolerance, of living and letting live. But State is essentially a concept of power, of competition.” - Randolph Bourne

Isaiah Earhart said...

@Zee

I realized the conflicting nature of my stating that we should abandon economists' ideas while striving to find solutions for our significantly increasing problems while simultaneously espousing the merits of socialist and Marxist feminism, especially considering that socialist feminism can be properly considered to be in the family of economics.

To make a long story very short, if the only way to save something is to destroy it, it is not worth saving; this is the story of capitalism.

I am tired of hearing economists espouse the best way to save capitalism. Paul Krugman is a fine example of a long list of "acceptable" economists who spend all of their time trying to save capitalism by restraining it. Other "acceptable" economists want to set capitalism free- (Milton Freedman, and every other economic hack that found success at the University of Chicago, Ayn Rand, Alan Greenspan, ect...).

Capitalism rewards greed. If greed continues to be rewarded in our economy, we are stealing the habitable planet from our children, grandchildren, and all of the other sentient creatures we share Earth with.

Socialist feminism, in my view, is the closest economic model to the governing structure and economy of the Iroquois. While the Iroquois were not a perfect society, the fact that Milton Freedman Greed(TM) was not valued within it probably helped the Iroquois live 4,000 years while not destroying everything in sight.

So, alas, I take my comment- throwing the economist out of problem solving discussions- back. I should have said, "Economists that are trying to save capitalism or set capitalism free are not offering long term solutions to certain very serious problems."

P.S. I do appreciate your comments, and I plan to read Lofgren's entire article

Isaiah Earhart said...

@Zee
I read Lofgren's article. I found his argument quite compelling.

The only weakness in his position, in my view, is explained brilliantly by Henry Giroux here:

http://billmoyers.com/2014/02/21/henry-giroux-on-resisting-the-neoliberal-revolution/

Zee said...

@Isaiah Earhart--

I read Henry Giroux's article some time ago, and, unlike you, I found his response to Lofgren's article unconvincing insofar as Giroux's semi-optimistic tenor goes.

As I understand Giroux—I always find him a difficult read so I may have misunderstood him—he sees hope in escape from the Deep State by an evolutionary, mostly peaceful process, whereas I believe that it will only happen when this country (and maybe the entire world) is confronted by an economic/political crisis so profound that it will make the Great Depression look like a tiny acne scar on the face of our history.

Here is where I see Giroux's unfounded optimism:

“Regarding the question of resistance, I think this is the weakest part of [Lofgren's] essay. I don’t believe the system is broken. I think it works well, but in the interest of very privileged and powerful elite economic and political interests that are aggressively waging a war on democracy itself. If there is to be any challenge to this system, it cannot be made within the discourse of liberal reform, which has largely served to maintain the system. Occupy and many other social movements recognize this. These groups have refused to be defined by the dominant media, the dictates of the security state, the financialization of everyday life and forms of representations that are utterly corrupt.

Hope and resistance will only come when the call for reform and working within the system gives way to imagining a very different understanding of what democracy means. The new authoritarianism with its diverse tentacles is the antithesis of democracy, and if we are going to change what Lofgren calls the Deep State, it is necessary to think in terms of an alternative that does not mimic its ideologies, institutions, governing structures and power relations.

Two things are essential for challenging the new authoritarianism. First, there needs to be a change in collective consciousness about what democracy really means and what it might look like. This is a pedagogical task whose aim is to create the formative culture that produces the agents necessary for challenging neoliberal rule. Secondly, there is a need for a massive social movement with distinct strategies, organizations and the will to address the roots of the problem and imagine a very different kind of society, one that requires genuine democratic socialism as its aim. Democracy is on life support in the US and working within the system to change it is a dead end, except for gaining short-term reforms. The struggle for a substantive democracy needs more, and the American people expect more.”
(My bold emphasis.)

And this is where I think Giroux has it wrong, or, at least, over-simplistically refuses to consider the depths to which this country may have to fall before fundamental change can occur. (And then, of course, beware what that “fundamental change” might be.)

IMHO—bolstered only by a pretty good understanding of human nature—the two elements that Giroux calls “essential for challenging the new authoritarianism” (highlighted above), will simply not occur until a catastrophe happens.

Considering the second element first, TPTB are getting better and better at keeping the lid on things, letting off just enough steam from time to time to prevent the “massive social movement[s]” that would blow the lid off the status quo from ever occuring. (More on that on a later post, perhaps.)

Regarding the first element, I find it naïve—as only an intellectual can be naïve—that Giroux would reduce the “priming” for the creation of this “massive social movement” to a “pedogogical task whose aim is to create the formative culture that produces the agents necessary for challenging neoliberal rule.”

Giroux teaches at a modern university. Has he looked around and noted the increasingly technocratic orientation of today's colleges, and the desperation of students to find job training rather than a somewhat rounded education any more?

Zee said...

@Isaiah Earhart--

Not my intention to sound totally dismissive of Giroux's arguments.

But the comment "character count limit" is confining so I may have sounded somewhat clipped, and life is slightly difficult at this instant in time anyway.

More on TPTB keeping the lid on things later, perhaps, and I'm curious about the life of the Iroquois.

As you may have guessed, I have my doubts about socialism and Marxism though I understand the moral imperatives associated with these systems.

Pearl said...



Rendition Victims Urge Obama to Declassify Senate Torture Report - http://goo.gl/RL

Pearl said...

The previous connection did not come through. Try again:


Rendition Victims Urge Obama to Declassify Senate Torture Report - http://goo.gl/RL

August 29, 2014 at 10:26 PM

Pearl said...

Sorry about not getting the site to translate properly twice.

It is from Common Dreams:

'Rendition Victims Urge Obama to Declassify Senate Torture Report'


An interesting addition to Karen's current column with direct information from former tortured victims of what transpired.

Hope you can pull it up on google search.

Denis Neville said...

300 Holocaust survivors placed an ad in the New York Times condemning the massacre in Gaza. Israelis on Facebook wish death for Holocaust survivors,

http://972mag.com/nstt_feeditem/israelis-on-facebook-wish-death-for-holocaust-survivors-against-protective-edge/

Only a small minority of Americans report "a lot" of sympathy for Palestinians,

http://www.people-press.org/2014/08/28/more-express-sympathy-for-israel-than-the-palestinians/

in spite of evidence like this,

https://twitter.com/gaza_team/status/493127234039713793/photo/1

When pressed about civilian casualties from Israel’s attacks, Warren said she believes such carnage is the “last thing Israel wants.” The last thing. That, ladies and gentlemen, is your inspiring left-wing icon of the Democratic Party,

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/08/28/elizabeth-warren-speaks-israelgaza-sounds-like-netanyahu/

Warren and/or Sanders, the Great Progressive hopes!!!

“Scratch any cynic and you will find a disappointed idealist.” - George Carlin

Pearl said...

Another pseudo Progressive (should call them neoprogs)is Howard Dean shown slobbering over Hillary at a recent book signing.There's no one left to trust.

Jay - Ottawa said...

@ You Cynics

Carlin had it right: we’re idealists and, as such, we’ll never sit around the big tables of boardrooms.

According to those nuggets by Bourne, the US, as well as many other nations, are no longer countries but states. “State” has a cold, indifferent, metallic sound to it, like a prison door slamming shut.

So many people in the country wanted out of war, but the state like a vampire needed blood to keep it going as a state. So many people in the country were interested in single payer, but the state apparatus swept that idea clean off the table. So many people wanted to join –– or maintain their position in –– the middle class, but the state prefers the disparities that support elites and the restoration of feudalism.

The state is crushing every sector except the playgrounds of big corporations and the superrich. If you keep complaining, the state keeps close tabs and adds your name to its lists. If you support the country and undermine a state by revealing its dirty secrets, you’ll go to jail for treason. If you keep your eyes, ears and mouth shut, you’re a collaborator eligible for crumbs.

As for the country’s rousing itself to put the state back in its cage, wait and wait some more. We may not see real change until Mother Nature gets up to speed on climate change. Not to worry. That day is not so far away.

Pearl said...

Stop Hiding Images of American Torture http://nyti.ms/1na9YIu

From today's nytimes Editorial Board and pretty well written. It is ironic that the NSA can snoop into every detail of American citizens private lives while the President and his 'advisors'
hide obvious violations of the law by them.
I wish they had allowed comments for this editorial

Pearl said...

This is my response to the article in today's NYtimes "End of Life talks gaining ground".


pvolkov
Burlington, Ontario 24 minutes ago

Nowhere in this article does it discuss choices other than those acceptable by the medical profession beyond the care that any decent doctor will give a patient facing death. In the United States, as practiced in some European countries we do not have a choice of at what point we want our life ended and do not wish to prolong a process that can go on beyond our wishes.
One is also never certain whether choices listed on our living wills will be honored as well. And how do you ask a doctor who has to be careful how prolonged and careful he must be to not 'overdose' you even if requested in writing about such possibilities about whether there is a way to carefully end your life when it is no longer viable. And some do thank god.
No, this article sidesteps the elephant in the room especially in comparing it to the voluntary euthanasia of suffering animals that no one disputes.
I have personally been in the position of being unable to respond to loved ones' wishes to end his/her life as I was not given permission by the patient in order to spare me from getting into trouble. I regret not doing this and am afraid this will happen to me if I ask family or doctor to pull the plug because despite painkillers, etc. you can still suffer dreadfully physically and emotionally at the end of one's life.
This article is a cop out and supports a barbaric and disrespectful attitude to
those who are helpless in having an important choice for ending their suffering.