Monday, March 9, 2015

Hypocrisy Marches On

Nobody ever promised you a bridge-crossing from mendacity to truth, people.

As a matter of fact, President Obama admitted as much Saturday during his Selma speech. While his dulcet words now waft high above the Homeland, waiting to be chiseled into the marble halls of his library shrine (if not into the hearts and minds of the populace), one of his paragraphs remains as firmly grounded in the American soil as a patch of ineradicable Alabama kudzu:
Look at our history.  We are Lewis and Clark and Sacajawea, pioneers who braved the unfamiliar, followed by a stampede of farmers and miners, and entrepreneurs and hucksters.  That’s our spirit.  That’s who we are.
Oh What a Tangled Web of Kudzu (credit: Alabama Press-Register)

Without a willing suspension of disbelief in our own mythic history and the endless spinning of our national yarn, where would we be as a country? We Shall Overcome our cognitive dissonance, or our heads will surely explode.

  But plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. Without even a hint of irony, Barack Obama proclaimed: 
 We have endured war and we’ve fashioned peace.  We’ve seen technological wonders that touch every aspect of our lives.  We take for granted conveniences that our parents could have scarcely imagined.  But what has not changed is the imperative of citizenship; that willingness of a 26-year-old deacon, or a Unitarian minister, or a young mother of five to decide they loved this country so much that they’d risk everything to realize its promise.
It was only a day before Obama uttered those words that, risking their own freedom, a group of protesters was arrested outside a Nevada Air Force base, where soldiers are still at war, busily droning people to death with technological wonders from the safety of their trailers. The troops were operating from a Kill List of "militants" whom Obama himself has personally marked for pre-emptive extermination.
Anti-drone protesters who said they wanted to spotlight war crimes and connect with pilots were arrested after trying to block the entrance Friday at a US Air Force base in southern Nevada.
More than 100 people were assembled Friday morning outside the Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs near Las Vegas, officials said.The protesters attempted to block the entrance but the workers were able to come and go during the shift change between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m., officials said.
 Organizers said protesters stood or laid down on the road in front of the two access gates. Others were stationed along the highway carrying photos and tombs to represent drone warfare victims....The protesters said they have been at the site for a week to speak out against remotely piloted aircraft flying armed missions in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Organizers said the protest drew people and advocacy groups from 18 different states. Casey Stinemetz of Veterans for Peace said the St. Louis-based organization saw the event as an opportunity to reach out to the "cogs in the machine," such as the pilots and other Creech personnel who carry out drone operations.
President Obama, for his own part, has been successful in keeping the names and other details of his drone victims -- said to number in the thousands -- a deep, dark secret from the American people. He is not about to cross that bridge. As he explained in Selma, "that’s why we argue and fight with so much passion and conviction -- because we know our efforts matter.  We know America is what we make of it."

Predators and war criminals are magically made into aw-shucks hucksters and entrepreneurs. And speaking of entrepreneurship, the USA now leads the world in weapons sales and production, thanks to its endless war of terror and escalation of conflict in the middle East:
The annual study by IHS Inc.—which looks at military markets in 65 nations, excluding small arms, munitions, and surveillance programs—finds that the United States is behind one-third of all equipment and weapons exports world-wide.
This is no small amount: in 2014, global "defense" trade surpassed $64.4 billion, the report finds.
"Defense trade rose by a landmark 13.4 percent over the past year," said Ben Moores, senior defense analyst at IHS Aerospace, Defense and Security, in a press statement. "This record figure has been driven by unparalleled demand from the emerging economies for military aircraft and an escalation of regional tensions in the Middle East and Asia Pacific."
 The U.S., further, is the top profiteer from rising conflict across the Middle East, accounting for $8.4 billion in exports to this region in 2014, compared to $6 billion the previous year.Meanwhile, U.S. allies in the expanding war against ISIS are boosting their weapons imports significantly. Saudi Arabia blew past India to become the number one weapons importer in the world. Analysts predict that, in 2015, Saudi Arabia will account for one of every seven dollars spent on such imports.
No matter that Saudi Arabia has one of the most abysmal human rights records in the world, even going so far today as to physically bar the female Swedish foreign minister from addressing the Arab League meeting, on top of its funding of 9/11 murderers, its whippings of bloggers, its horrendous treatment of women, its beheadings of dissidents. Saudi Arabia is a respected partner in profit of the United States, you see.

And hypocrisy never stopped Barack Obama before. Just today, he declared socialist Venezuela to be a national security threat, and slapped it with economic sanctions for.... drumroll, please.... committing  unspecified "acts of violence or abuse of human rights, (penalization for or prohibition of) freedom of expression, or were government officials involved in public corruption." 
The White House said the order targeted people whose actions undermined democratic processes or institutions, had committed acts of violence or abuse of human rights, were involved in prohibiting or penalizing freedom of expression, or were government officials involved in public corruption.
"Venezuelan officials past and present who violate the human rights of Venezuelan citizens and engage in acts of public corruption will not be welcome here, and we now have the tools to block their assets and their use of U.S. financial systems," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in a statement.
"We are deeply concerned by the Venezuelan government's efforts to escalate intimidation of its political opponents. Venezuela's problems cannot be solved by criminalizing dissent," he added.
The democratically elected government of Venezuela is not involved in a drone assassination program or a high tech arms cartel that colludes with autocratic governments, nor has it invaded any of its neighbors or established a thousand military colonies around the world. What it has done is accuse American hucksters and entrepreneurs of trying to stage one of their CIA coups in the national interest of the same multinational oil companies having long, sordid histories of Latin American plunder. The Venezuelan government is in the process of expelling "State Department" personnel from the country. And the Venezuelans own a huge chunk of the world's oil reserves.

And Barack Obama possesses an outsized chunk of the world's bullshit reserves. He has earned near-universal plaudits for his most recent speech. His power to wow the crowds with his voice is seemingly invincible.

The only thing more cognitively jarring than the president's gorgeous Selma speech was the presence of George W. Bush as an honored guest at the event marking Bloody Sunday. Bush was invited because he did sign the renewal of the Voting Rights law, before the GOP went totally off the rails with the election of the first black president.

The nearest thing to controversy about Bush's presence, as far as the New York Times is concerned, is that Bush was "cropped out" of their front page photo showing the Obamas marching across the bridge. The award-winning Times photographer claims he inadvertently "super-overexposed" Bush.

That's irony for you. The real sin of the Times is that they never exposed George enough while they had the chance, and when it could have made an actual difference. They planted phony stories on nonexistent gold cake uranium and Iraq WMDs, greasing the skids for an illegal invasion. Bending to White House pressure, they'd withheld James Risen's blockbuster story about illegal government eavesdropping on everyday Americans, helping Bush sail to a second term.

 So many hucksters, so little time.


Ste-vo said...

Hucksters Mr. President Peace Prize says. Morris Berman in the third book of his trilogy, "Why America Failed: The Roots of Imperial Decline," refers to them as hustlers. Hucksters, hustlers,it is all the same - all I know is that is is not morning in Amerika. And perhaps Karen, you will write something in response to the drivel from David Brooks in the NYT. It is obvious the man has no shame.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Without hucksterism as the dominant quality of American leadership throughout most of its history, America would never have achieved its size, its riches and its status among great nations.

Whatever good America may have achieved, as through its advances in science, would not have been achieved without amassing a certain population of size and the wealth derived from that population's labor––as well as that stolen from other peoples.

Every new generation of American leadership must protect this history, the bad as usual inextricably entwined with the good, as for example with the technology that allows its pilots and astronauts to fly higher and faster and farther—sometimes with bombs.

Few leaders dare do what Gorbachev did to his very own Soviet Union. It's a wonder Gorby is till allowed to walk around in Russia. Aren't he and Snowden brothers in the purist camp of Notable Losers?

Try to understand the mission of our great leaders. They understand what's going on. They know very well what they're doing. They are sacrificing their integrity for their nation, for you. It is their duty to lie.

Karen Garcia said...


I wrote a very late comment to Brooks's latest book review (I refuse to get up at 4 a.m. to be among the first to contribute my two cents!) which is buried somewhere in the mix. Here it is:

Another slick exercise in poor-shaming by David Brooks.

To aid and abet his serial concern-trolling of the lesser people, he borrows from yet another sociology tome which somehow wiggles around the question: What came first: 1)the poverty or 2) the moral turpitude? If you're David Brooks, you instantly jump right into number two.

This is nothing but warmed-over Paul Ryan, the Ayn Randian congressman who came out with a similar screed last year. He, too, presented stereotypical poor people: drug-addicted, lazy, and above all, hideously unmarried with children. And he compared them to the paler, morally superior supplicants who only need a slight hand up and free babysitting from mom and dad to become successful.

The solution of the elites is not to raise taxes on the rich, but to simply make the rich more aware of their "privilege". It's gotten to the point that the rich are so nervous about how greedy they appear, what with their low tax rates and lives of luxury, that they're going into full philanthropy mode. It's better to give a teensy bit willingly, get loads of free publicity for it, and make the poor (always divided between deserving and undeserving) forget all about taxing the rich, regulating predatory finance capitalism, and thinking about the most extreme wealth inequality in recent history.

Beware of the hyper-rich expert or politician who wants to "invest in our kids," because what they really see are more power and dollar signs for themselves.

Meredith NYC said...

Karen, re Brooks---glad you got a comment in anyway. I emailed a plea to Andrew Rosenthal to please have pity on poor commenters! Change back to old op ed schedule. We are his readers and also pay a fee!

Brooks surpassed even his own sorry record and brought shame to the Times op ed page. The faux spiritual/ moral Brooks has gotten hooked on judgmental lectures from his place way up in the hierarchy of worth. A pious lecture addict. Is there a rehab for this?

A national pastime is exaggerating the faults of the victims of our rapacious economy. People with few resources or security that Brooks takes for granted, must focus on the very short term--the next meal, the next rent, some pt or temp work, caring for kids while working 2 jobs at low wages. Competing for scarce resources leads to aggressiveness. There’s some Psychology for you, Brooks.

A social repair model exists out there
1st, a radical and exotic concept—restore progressive, adequate taxation. The 1% only use their vast riches to make congress dependent. Dependency is one of the Moral Sins, right Brooks!?

Bring back millions of jobs from Asia that once supported US stable families. Now the Asian middle class grows, while ours contracts.

Restart tax financed college tuition and vocational training in schools, and apprenticeships, that we once had, and still exists abroad.

Copy other nations’ gun laws so Americans can also live out their life spans, like the foreigners do. No mystery there.

But for Brooks it’s so ego satisfying to lecture the victims after the rug has been pulled out from under them, thus creating social instability for him to frown on.

Brooks’s life is very stable--a 2X/week gig brings great income with medical/ retirement benefits millions will never see. Just types out his prejudices/fantasies and hist Enter. (I wonder what time he sends it to the Times--not 4a.m.?)
He looks calm and composed when I accidentally run across him on Fri PBS newshour before I change channels.

I would love to see the Times outsource/offshore Brooks’s job. Replace him with a columnist from India with excellent English writing skills and wide political/economic expertise---likely a big supply of those—who will work for half the price.