Monday, August 11, 2014

Made in the USA

This is refreshingly journalistic, at least more nuanced compared to the deja-vu American chest thumping for freedumb being spewed in the news these days:
BAGHDAD — When American forces raided a home near Falluja during the turbulent 2004 offensive against the Iraqi Sunni insurgency, they got the hard-core militants they had been looking for. They also picked up an apparent hanger-on, an Iraqi man in his early 30s whom they knew nothing about.
The Americans duly registered his name as they processed him and the others at the Camp Bucca detention center: Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim al-Badry.
That once-peripheral figure has become known to the world now as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-appointed caliph of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and the architect of its violent campaign to redraw the map of the Middle East.(snip)
At every turn, Mr. Baghdadi’s rise has been shaped by the United States’ involvement in Iraq — most of the political changes that fueled his fight, or led to his promotion, were born directly from some American action. And now he has forced a new chapter of that intervention, after ISIS’ military successes and brutal massacres of minorities in its advance prompted President Obama to order airstrikes in Iraq.
 So at least the New York Times admits that the current fiasco is the direct result of American intervention rather than the standard propaganda, that a new group of terrorists just sprang up, fully-formed, for the sole reason that they just "hate us for our freedoms."

But then the piece veers off into "it was just a failure of intelligence" territory rather than it was a gross failure of intellect and human decency at the very highest levels story. It's quite telling that it was the private spy agency known as Stratfor -- not the CIA --  which apparently first raised the red flag on the ISIS precursors, and quite telling that it was Wikileaks that revealed how clueless and cavalier the US government was about all the blowback the US government was creating.

Baghdadi is portrayed as a cross between John Gotti (he gave street parties and built schools in between extortion raids on the Iraq citizenry) and a Che Guevara-like character "warmed over for jihadists." A Pentagon official even expresses grudging admiration for him, given his slick propaganda skills and racketeering campaign worthy of any billionaire Wall Street banker.

He sounds like a neoliberal folk hero in the making. Created of free-marketers, by free-marketers, for free-marketers.

And then the story veers off into the standard Obama vs. Hillary personality piece shallowness. The Beltway is all abuzz over a simmering feud now boiling over into potboiler territory.

According to The Atlantic, Hillary is making fun of Barry's snooty "Don't Do Stupid Shit" foreign policy. That is patently unfair, since his shitbombs are actually quite well-aimed and open-ended. Hillary blames his failure to arm Syrian rebels for the current crisis, forgetting that the arms dealers of America have already provided all the firepower necessary for the current crisis. And even worse, she's all "hepped up" about war. And it appears that she will run unopposed for the presidency. The Republicans are absolutely crazy about her.

So bombs away.... in the name of humanity, religion, Mom, apple pie and oligarchy.

Meanwhile, New York Times columnist Charles Blow hilariously blames disengaged American people instead of the misinforming media for an epidemic of public ignorance about ISIS and the wars: 
More Americans need to be more engaged, because these conflicts are complicated. There are no easy answers. Sometimes there will be no clear choices between good guys and bad guys but only choices among lesser demons. Sometimes conflicts are a swirl of history, ambition, grievance, vengeance and egos. Sometimes actors can only see righteousness in their wrong. Sometimes nobility and savagery coexist.
But if America, as the world’s last remaining superpower, is to faithfully play a role — if we must play that role — as a check against tyranny and terror in the world, its citizenry must be up to the task of discernment.
Huh?

 My published response: 
 If Americans aren't the most engaged people on world issues, then neither are our elected leaders the most transparent. Far from it.
Jill Abramson, former NYT executive editor, called the current White House the most secretive she's encountered in all her years in journalism.
More whistleblowers have been prosecuted under Obama than in any prior administration. CIA analyst John Kiriakou, who blew the whistle on torture, is rotting in prison, while the actual torturers (aka "patriots) are protected. A long-awaited Senate report on CIA torture is now on indefinite hold, because White House censorship has been so intense as to render it practically meaningless.
Reporters Without Borders has ranked the US a dismal 46th in its most recent annual press freedoms survey, representing a 14-point plummet in just one year. Another survey, by PEN, reveals that most American journalists now self-censor out of fear that the government is reading their emails and listening to their phone calls.
So not only do we have to be more engaged, we have to be more vigilant. This, of course, is easier said than done, especially when people are more worried about which Peter they'll have to rob to pay which Paul every month than what ISIS is.
And this ignorance naturally suits the bellicose gatekeepers and their propaganda merchants just fine.
To my busy friends, I recommend Polk winner Robert Parry's Consortium News for some of the best, clearest investigative journalism on the wars.
  

16 comments:

annenigma said...

To Charles Blow I would say 'WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE!!!'

We know enough of what's going on to know our politicians don't listen to us no matter how informed or engaged we become. He's letting the politicians totally off the hook, as if they don't act in our interest because it's our fault we're not more informed so we can tell them what to do. Ha ha.

He's simply perpetuating the falsehood and mass delusion that we still live in a democracy. Shame on him. Hasn't he made himself informed by now? He must not be paying attention!

Denis Neville said...

Hillary Clinton is speaking to the “Big Club," those who will decide who is installed as the next POTUS. And that is not us.

As Karen, said, “This ignorance naturally suits the bellicose gatekeepers and their propaganda merchants just fine.”

George Carlin, "You and I are not in the Big Club,"

“There's a reason that education sucks, and it’s the same reason it will never ever ever be fixed. It’s never going to get any better, don’t look for it. Be happy with what you’ve got. Because the owners of this country don’t want that. I’m talking about the real owners now, the big, wealthy, business interests that control all things and make the big decisions.

Forget the politicians, they’re irrelevant.

Politicians are put there to give you that idea that you have freedom of choice. You don’t. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land, they own and control the corporations, and they’ve long since bought and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the State Houses, and the City Halls. They’ve got the judges in their back pockets. And they own all the big media companies so they control just about all the news and information you get to hear.

They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want; they want more for themselves and less for everybody else. But I’ll tell you what they don’t want—they don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them. That’s against their interest. You know something, they don’t want people that are smart enough to sit around their kitchen table and figure out how badly they’re getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fucking years ago.

They don’t want that, you know what they want?

They want obedient workers, obedient workers. People who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork and just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, the reduced benefits, the end of overtime and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it.

They want your fucking retirement money; they want it back so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They’ll get it. They’ll get it all from you sooner or later because they own this fucking place. It’s a big club and you ain’t in it! You and I are not in the Big Club. By the way, it’s the same big club they use to beat you in the head with all day long when they tell you what to believe. All day long beating you over the head with their media telling you what to believe, what to believe, what to think and what to buy.

Nobody seems to notice, nobody seems to care. Good honest hard working people, white collar, blue collar, it doesn’t matter what color shirt you have on. Good honest hard working people continue, these are people of modest means, continue to elect these rich cocksuckers who don’t give a fuck about them. They don’t give a fuck about you. They don’t give a fuck about…give a fuck about you! They don’t care about you at all, at all, at all.”

- George Carlin, "Life is worth Losing," HBO special

Fred Drumlevitch said...

Oh, and something else "Made in the USA": The Empire needs its domestic enforcers too.

On a "CBS This Morning" segment: "FBI of the future. High school students train to become agents."

Be sure to watch the video clip all the way through to the end, including the inane chit-chat afterwards by Charlie Rose, Jane Pauley, and whoever that third infotainment propagandist is:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/fbi-future-agents-in-training-summer-camp-give-high-schoolers-hands-on-training/

They call them "future agents in training", but might not Hitler --- I mean --- "Empire Youth" be more in line with the mission?

Apparently, a similar thought has occurred to one commenter at the CBS This Morning site.

"dynamited777" comments: "Good little brown shirt youth soon to turn on their parents."!

Kat said...

Ann,
Ain't that the truth.

Zee said...

The New Information Age: Blessing or Curse?

To some extent both Karen's essay and the associated comments relate back to an earlier thread, when Fred Drumlevitch expressed surprise and dismay that his (presumably well-educated) professional, politically-moderate, distant cousin didn't know who Joe Stiglitz is.

Now, in the same vein, Charles Blow—who occasionally garners some respect in this forum—“hilariously” (Karen's word) expresses somewhat the same concern: that the citizenry are “disengaged,” and, hence, share some of the blame for what the U.S. is doing, or not doing, or should be doing, &etc. in Iraq vis-à-vis ISIS or any of the other fratricidal/suicidal tribal/religious groups who are trying to blow up the Middle East, this week, at least.

Both Karen and annenigma have plausible responses to both Fred and Charles Blow.

In an earlier thread (which resonated deeply with me) annenigma points out, presumably in a response to Fred (and maybe Denis, regarding his quotes from the book by Richard Shenkman, who seems to believe that we're all “ignorant” voters):

“Hillary [sic] famous quote certainly pertains to our being informed, to voting, or to even caring deeply,

"WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE!!!"

We no longer live in a Democracy. We Americans also do not get real news from our corporate media. We get either infotainment or propaganda serving the Powers-That-Be, the Empire.

So please don't criticize fellow Americans too harshly who would give one hell of a damn IF they were even allowed to understand a shred of what's actually going on. We have to piece it together from multiple sources and coming from differing slants (business, religious, economic, security, etc) and we end up seeing different parts and not the whole beast in the living room. That beast is pulling the strings of the entire world, killing people and destroying governments for their personal enrichment and that of the Empire they serve.”
—annenigma

https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=974773076690597683&postID=2862998440239591187

And in her current essay, Karen observes that:

“ If Americans aren't the most engaged people on world issues, then neither are our elected leaders the most transparent. Far from it.”

...

“[And] not only do we have to be more engaged, we have to be more vigilant. This, of course, is easier said than done, especially when people are more worried about which Peter they'll have to rob to pay which Paul every month than what ISIS is.”

I see truth in both of these explanations as to why Americans aren't—indeed, can't be—the most “engaged” citizenry any more.

Right now, maybe for the foreseeable future, or maybe forever, Americans will be struggling economically. If one is unemployed, or working two or three jobs just to make ends (barely) meet, how much time does one have to devote to being an informed voter?

Especially if, as annenigma says—with some “interpolation” from me—one has to spend a huge amount of time “piec[ing] it together from multiple sources and coming from [all of our] differing slants (business, religious, economic, security, etc[sic]) and we [still] end up seeing different parts and not the whole beast in the living room [anyway].”

Zee said...

The New Information Age: Blessing or Curse? (cont'd)

Given the internet today, who has the time to sift the wheat from all that chaff, given all the news pseudo-news, and opinion sources that we have available today?

Life was indeed simpler when more people enjoyed some prosperity, had more discretionary time, and our news sources were limited to three television networks, plus daily newspapers that drew largely from the same three major national/international news agencies, AP, UPI and Reuters. A simpler time when Lyndon B. Johnson could say:

“If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost Middle America['s support for the Vietnam War].”

Now we have less money, less time and vastly more news/opinion outlets to trust—or not.

And to further confound matters, with our limited resources we can conveniently choose the news sources that suit our sociopolitical “slants.” What a time-saver! News and opinion tailored to our “needs” (AKA prejudices) and limited time and resources. And that's true for both the Left and Right.

So were we better off then, when our news sources were limited and a single trusted television reporter could change the course of a nation, or now, when we suffer from overwhelming information overload at a point in history where we have no time to sort truth from fiction?

And when, even if we suspect that we know the truth about one issue, we can't bring ourselves to vote for a candidate who will make the “right” choice on that issue because of his/her stance on some other “hot button” issue that we heard about from some other news/opinion outlet?

I'm not convinced that even if the populace of our entire nation were magically conferred tomorrow with an above-average IQ and an excellent college education, that we could suddenly become “fully engaged,” sift through all the BS out there, read the right stuff to find “truth,” and elect congresscritters who would suddenly act in OUR best interests instead of theirs.

It's just too overwhelming, and I'm pretty sure that even after all that sifting and analysis, “hot button” issues might still be determinative as to how “we” see our own “truths” and “best interests."

Continuing with quoting annenigma's remark from that earlier thread—which, as all of you out there might suspect, resonated with me deeply:

“That beast is pulling the strings of the entire world, killing people and destroying governments for their personal enrichment and that of the Empire they serve.

The result is a divided populace. That is not an accident. Anyone who could could help shine a bright light on it, such as Noam Chomsky, are given short shrift. Americans have also been successfully programmed to not listen or to find fault if someone doesn't wear their gang colors [Be they on the Left or Right, Zee ask?]. Loyalty to subsets rather than to country even defines our politicians who should know better and who even take an oath to the Constitution. Some even admit loyalty to another nation. Even our President was recorded as proudly saying he had the DNA of his favorite country in his blood. (Hint - it's not Ireland)

Whatever works to keep Americans divided serves the PTB. If someone doesn't know or recall who Joseph Stiglitz is, maybe they do know who Aaron Swartz or Rachel Corrie were and how/why they died. Some things leave a bigger impression on the mind and heart than others.”
—annenigma (My bold emphasis.)

Are we each trapped in an information/ignorance “bubble” partially of our own making, despite all of the alternative media sources that we have available? Is there any escape?

Fred Drumlevitch said...

@Zee, @annenigma, (and @all):

I agree with @Zee's points that "Right now, maybe for the foreseeable future, or maybe forever, Americans will be struggling economically. If one is unemployed, or working two or three jobs just to make ends (barely) meet, how much time does one have to devote to being an informed voter?"

And I agree with @annenigma's point that contemporary politicians (in both of the two main parties) don't much care what the people think. Therefore, simply being an "informed voter" won't remedy the problems of this nation.

But I'm not quite willing to give Americans the "pass" with regard to informed political engagement that you seem willing to give. Maybe that's because I see political engagement as far more than simply being informed enough to make good choices (if available) on election day.

I stand by what I wrote in my "Information Flow and Action in Progressive Politics. 2013 and Beyond, What Is To Be Done?" post at my blog back in May 2013:

"A rational analysis suggests that a multi-pronged strategy is necessary, the first part of which is that progressivism should be actively communicated to all potentially receptive citizens. And one size does not fit all. We need a wide spectrum of information dissemination and involvement, ranging from modern electronic methods to old-fashioned leafleting and broadsides, picketing, marches, direct co-worker and neighbor engagement, broader organization, satire, and yes, even the theatrical absurdity, carnival-barkery of the late-1960s Yippie movement." [...]

"But for the progressive message to be considered relevant by the broader target audience, it must be coupled with substantial progressive actions — serious electoral challenges by authentically-progressive candidates, unrelenting pressure by progressives on core issues such as adequate and fair taxation, proper national spending priorities, a livable minimum wage, the protection of civil liberties, and restraints on U.S. militarism both abroad and as expressed in corollary form by domestic law enforcement. We also need a broad range of other actions including the development of non-governmental institutions beneficial to the people and the movement (as suggested in Michael Kazin’s September 25, 2011 New York Times op-ed “Whatever Happened to the American Left?” [ http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/25/opinion/sunday/whatever-happened-to-the-american-left.html ]). The breadth and depth of the national systemic rot necessitates a wide diversity of nonviolent actions both inside and outside of the system, vigorously pursued irrespective of which persons or parties hold political power.

Do read the Michael Kazin piece. He describes a time when the average American was under much greater pressure than is the case currently --- yet the level of political engagement was much higher. And though not addressed by Kazin, that was also the case in Germany in the 1920s and early 1930s. While the subsequent events in Germany show that progressive political engagement is no guarranty that progressivism will triumph, it also remains true as a general principle with regard to social and economic justice, that if one expects nothing, if one asks for nothing, if one demands nothing --- well then, one will almost certainly get nothing.

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

While I do feel it is "game over" and that there IS an oligarchy which is running away with anything of value in this country, I do agree with Charles Blow and Fred in that people in Australia and the U.S. are too apathetic and that this is a big piece of the puzzle.

It takes effort to remain informed and to emotionally and intellectually grapple with issues of injustice and right and wrong. There are gray areas and they make us feel uncomfortable as we try to understand them and bring them into sinc with our paradigms. Yet too many Americans and Australians are just too intellectually lazy to bother with that kind of struggle. It is just easier to sit back and play with their phones than to go to the blogospere and find the good political blogs that will keep them informed. The truth is out there, and many people have sacrificed to get it out there but we have to care about truth and justice and not just assume it will always be there for us.

Our voting may not matter but we could get ourselves out and protest things that are wrong with our country. Yet, most people cannot be bothered. I agree that those in power have control over the media and control our politicians and corporations, but there are a lot of us and a few of them. We could organise and fight, but most of us don't have the political will.

I talk to anyone who will listen about the TPP and what it is going to do to the U.S., Australia and the developing world in the Pacific region. No one is interested. Too much to think about and if they believe it, they might have to take action.

I am disappointed in my fellow citizens. We have the internet we could be informed if we wanted to be. There are good blogs, like this one, with courageous journalists who aren't self censoring, like Karen and Yves Smith. There are groups eager to organise and have people support their protests. We don't live in Soviet Russia or Nazi Germany. We can speak out in protest without being arrested.

Bottom line, there isn't much interest in taking action.

annenigma said...

So we can speak out without being arrested? Tell that to the Occupiers around the country who were corralled, teargassed, and arrested. Sure we can protest, as long as we remain in small numbers, don't pose a perceived threat to business, remain relatively unnoticed, and adhere by the new rules for public gathering which include confining ourselves to our designated Free Speech Zones and getting permits if we hope to gather in any number.

Maybe Ferguson, Missouri will show us how that's done and how the militarized people handle it. We did get to see some pretty dramatic photos lately of a SWAT team confronting one man with his hands up, but photos were limited after the airspace over Ferguson was closed to all air traffic - or to NEWS helicopters I should say. Homeland Security now controls the public sphere if they deem us a threat, which they see everywhere and in everyone. They haven't just militarized our local police, they also call the shots.

Many of us have been involved in protests a good long time. After all, the American Corporate Empire didn't just start growing under George Bush. The late great George Carlin handled that topic masterfully. That Big Club has been assaulting us, our environment, and the rest of the world for decades. As a result, many of us have tuned in, turned on, and dropped out - at least visibly.

Public protests that can be so easily monitored, controlled, thwarted, and ridiculed don't have the effect they once had did due to our corporatized media. If they were still effective, you guys would all be out there every weekend, leading the way and giving us reports, right? I mean, you're informed and you care. So why don't you? Could it be that 'free speech' is not free? Indeed, it can be personally costly and grossly unfair in terms of neighbors, friends, relatives, employers, and most certainly government jobs. If no one in Washington is listening because those of us without money are invisible, WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE? Why take the risk of personal adverse consequences for nothing?

So go ahead and hit the streets with your protests and tell us about it. I participated in the Occupy movement, enduring 10 degree temperatures to help keep it going as the winter approached. We got marginalized and ridiculed by the media, not to mention our license plates were likely recorded as we came and went. (They need those Suspicious Activity Reports sent to the regional Fusion Center to maintain their funding). Times have changed. The street scene is controlled and more dangerous from the presence of militarized police everywhere. You'll end up paying even when you remain peaceful and have done nothing wrong. The arrest itself will stay on the books and show up on all kinds of records that you never get to see or clear up. Justice has nothing to do with our justice system.

The solution could rest in less active, more passive activity, such as simply taking advantage of forces and opportunities presented, redirecting them, or nullifying them. Think of how deflecting a blow the right way can throws the aggressor off balance - political jiujitsu. Doing by not doing. We need to think creatively and do things differently.

To offer a simple example, we could easily drop our voter registration en masse from the two wings of the American Corporate Empire. Too bad that's not aggressive, dramatic, or bold enough for Western minds. Yet unlike street protests, it would pose no personal risk. No one would even know except the politicians who care about such things - deeply.

Pearl said...

Unfortunately, the powers that be that call the shots are happy to keep people so busy trying keep a roof over their heads and food on the table that there is no energy left for organizing an opposition. Yet, in the past, during the Great Depression and then WW 11 people united in common cause to accomplish what was needed. The U.S. is a huge nation, with more and more disparate groups. A time will come and before long I believe when real and obvious threats will force thinking about making choices for our actual survival.
Already we are seeing some changes vis a vis the Israeli Palestinian crisis in the thinking of American Jews, Hillary Clinton being healthily lampooned, more and more concerns about Obama are being voiced, etc. Small things perhaps but red flags and as I have said before people who are educated politically and socially (like us, dear people) have to keep speaking out loud and clear.
We have to frighten others with the truth especially the younger generations coming forward who are already asking difficult questions.
Sometimes I wish I didn't know so much about the rot in the foundation but then I wouldn't keep yakking in anger.
Great comments from everyone.
And by the way, I mourn the loss of Lauren Bacall, who was almost exactly one year younger than me, grew up in a neighborhood in the Bronx not far from me and came from an amazing Jewish immigrant family that formed her thinking and character. Great lady and actress whom I felt a kinship with. But at least she lived a long full life with the strength to overcome life's challenges.
Tempus fugit.

Pearl said...

Lauren Bacall's first book of memoirs, 'By Myself' written in l978, was about her family, growing up in the Bronx and beautifully written. I still have a dog eared copy of it in my bookcase. A good read.

annenigma said...

@Pearl

I too read Lauren Bacall's autobiography and regarded her highly. She was my role model!

Here is a paragraph from the Guardian:

"Off screen, Bacall threw her weight behind liberal causes, campaigning for Democratic hopefuls Adlai Stevenson and Robert Kennedy, and enjoyed a reputation for being fiery and outspoken; a woman who did not suffer fools gladly. “Happy schmappy,” she scoffed to Vanity Fair. “I don’t think anyone that has a brain can ever really be happy.”

http://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/aug/13/lauren-bacall-dies-at-89

Zee said...

@Fred--

To clarify, it was not my intent to sound like I'm giving American voters a total pass, blaming the current situation on (1) a corporatist media, (2) politicians owned by corporate and other monied interests, (3) a current economic situation that makes it impossible for the average voter to pay any attention to what's going on around them, and (4) an internet that offers SO much information that it's easy to succumb to overload and apathy.

I honestly thought that after the 2008 financial collapse the pitchforks would come out, both literally and figuratively; by “figuratively,” meaning “by action in the voting booth.” Well, some “change” did occur, with the election of Obama and what turned out to be a “same ol', same ol'” Democratic majority in both houses of Congress, who, of course, acted exactly like Republicans.

By 2012, I thought the voters might have realized that Democrats and Republicans were simply two sides of the same corporatist coin after seeing that all the bailouts (and BONUSES, no less!) went to Wall Street rather than Main Street, and that the stimulus was largely a sham. But only the House changed hands, and third-party candidates were invisible everywhere.

Sadly, in 2014 I expect more of the same. As I have said, I am planning to vote third-party for every office that offers me the opportunity, in both elections. The only way that I can foresee any real change at the polls is if the vast majority of voters do the same. But they won't.

In 2014, I expect to see Republicans take control of the Senate and maybe increase their majority in the House, but, in the main, I predict that most incumbents will be returned to office. Why, when public respect for Congress is even lower than that for Obama? Because while voters hate Congress in the abstract, they mostly like their own local Congresscritters. Or, at least, those are the only names that they happen to remember when they step into the voting booth in November, so those are the ballot levers they will pull. And they're inevitably Democrats or Republicans.

Yes, the four factors that I listed above certainly impede American voters from obtaining the facts they need to make an intelligent choice at the polls, including third-party candidates.

But by God, how hard would it be for all of us to wake up one day, see the mess around us, realize that it's Congress and the President who have been screwing us in every orifice, and at least VOTE ALL THE CURRENT BASTARDS OUT??? If the incumbent in your district is a Democrat, let's everyone at least vote for an effing Republican, and vice versa if, voting third-party is not to your taste.

So yes, Fred, I do fault American voters for not being at least informed enough and bright enough—based on their current circumstances alone—to realize that it's time to turn our current government inside-out from top-to-bottom as a way of protest, even if it's only a massive “flipping” of the duopoly.

Would things change immediately with that strategy? No.

Each new Congress and President would assume they could delude the American public into thinking that they had the best interests of the electorate at heart while going about nefarious business as usual. But after few electoral cycles like that (During which time nothing positive would occur, but, then nothing positive is occuring anyway.), it might persuade our elected officials that we can turn them out if we wish, and that if they don't do what we want, they won't be around long enough to enrich themselves at our expense like their predecessors.

That might be a start towards putting the fear of God into TPTB, persuading them that the electorate is not totally brain-dead. And it might start to instill a sense of empowerment in an electorate that, for too long, has felt powerless.

Just a (probably) futile thought. I did read the articles that you suggested. More on that later.

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

I don't know whether or not protests matter any more. But sitting around complaining in an echo chamber of despair about how terrible the government is just doesn't seem very productive. We have all this knowledge of all that is wrong with our governments, yet the average person isn't interested as long as his or her comfort isn't threatened. I'm not talking about the working poor who are so beaten down by simply trying to survive. I am talking about those of us with jobs and homes and reasonably secure and comfortable lives. Why aren't all those with decent lives doing something?

I was incredibly disappointed in how few liberals who understood the concept of economic inequality could be bothered to participate in the Occupy protests. Initially, when the protests started I was encouraged and thought it might be a turning point. But in the end, the protests were too small because too many of us just stayed at home and let others do the heavy lifting. As it turned out, there were not enough heavy lifters.

BTW I had a friend who marched with the protesters. She told me the police were total jerks. Yet, she wasn't arrested and she wasn't tear gassed and neither was anyone around her.

Perhaps you are right and only small insignificant protests are tolerated. Perhaps it is totally "game over." But if that is the case, why don't we all just go home and enjoy what little time we have left before we live in another Nazi Germany? If the situation is so hopeless. Perhaps we had all better close down shop and just give up.

Ridicule the idea of protest, and I am sure the days of peacefully protesting are over mainly because we didn't do it when we had the chance, but I don't really think tearing up a voter registration card is going to upset many politicians. Quite frankly, I am pretty sure the elections are fixed and no matter how many of us vote or don't vote is irrelevant.

Our only hope is to organise in large numbers, armed with truth and knowledge and protest.

I'm not letting the politicians and those who own them off the hook, but I am not letting many of my fellow citizens off the hook either.

annenigma said...

Protests have their place, not necessarily to effect actual change regarding a particular issue, but definitely to make forces and policies operating in darkness here in the Homeland more visible and understandable. It appears that civilian protesters are considered more of a threat by the Powers-That-Be and their Warrior Cop enforcers than an enemy in a foreign war. This is from the Washington Post's article titled 'Tear Gas is a Chemical Weapon Banned in War. But Ferguson Police Shoot it at Protesters':

"Despite its ubiquity across the globe and in United States, tear gas is a chemical agent banned in warfare per the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993, which set forth agreements signed by nearly every nation in the world — including the United States. The catch, however, is that while it’s illegal in war, it’s legal in domestic riot control. That means Turkey got to use it on its protesters last year. That meant Bahrain got to the do the same. And now, in Ferguson, cops are likewise blasting residents protesting the police for the killing of an unarmed teen named Michael Brown."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/08/14/tear-gas-is-a-chemical-weapon-banned-in-war-but-ferguson-police-shoot-it-at-protesters/?tid=hp_mm&hpid=z3

A picture is worth a thousand words, which is exactly why they close airspace, ban video, stop people from photographing police, and even arrest reporters. Tear gas can also be a very effective smoke screen. Washington Post has this subject covered very well since their reporter was arrested.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/in-ferguson-washington-post-reporter-wesley-lowery-gives-account-of-his-arrest/2014/08/13/0fe25c0e-2359-11e4-86ca-6f03cbd15c1a_story.html?hpid=z1

So as they try to smoke us out, we are smoking them out. Their tactics prove our point about The Homeland, the warm and fuzzy name for the ever more powerful and oppressive American Corporate Empire (ACE). Yes, that's the entity pushing TPP and other secret trade agreements as well as endless wars on us and the rest of the world.

Just naming it The ACE or anything else that describes its wholeness instead of simply its parts can be a form of protest. It beats calling it cozy Homeland or muscular Superpower. It's a cold and heartless Beast that deserves a special name.

annenigma said...

Lest there be any doubts, the militarization of local police has come directly and deliberately from the Beast itself.

'In June, the ACLU published a crucial 96-page report on this problem, entitled “War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing.” Its central point: “the United States today has become excessively militarized, mainly through federal programs that create incentives for state and local police to use unnecessarily aggressive weapons and tactics designed for the battlefield.”

'The report documents how the Drug War and (Clinton/Biden) 1990s crime bills laid the groundwork for police militarization, but the virtually unlimited flow of “homeland security” money after 9/11 ALL BUT FORCED POLICE DEPARTMENTS TO PURCHASE BATTLEFIELD EQUIPMENT AND OTHER MILITARY PARAPHERNALIA WHETHER THEY WANTED THEM OR NOT.'

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/08/14/militarization-u-s-police-dragged-light-horrors-ferguson/

Thanks to The Beast, ISIS knew exactly where to find the heavy weapons they needed and the same will happen here. Actually, a sheriff in Arizona, Paul Babeau, accumulated and distributed his cache from the 1033 Program before the Pentagon even noticed. He's far from the only one to do that, I'm sure.

'Over the last 17 years, the "1033 Program" has sent millions of pieces of equipment designed for use on the battlefield to domestic police agencies across the country for use on the streets and in American neighborhoods. That program has provided local police with equipment such as machine guns, tanks, helicopters, grenade launchers, bazookas and armored personnel carriers.'

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/11/pentagon-suspends-weapons-program-cops-military_n_1585328.html

Get ready to rumble!