Member Profile

Total number of comments: 124 (since 2013-11-28 16:37:51)

JohnB

Showing comments 124 - 101
Page:

  • Cuba: Top 5 other Dictatorships with which US has Diplomatic Relations
    • It is unlikely that anything good will come of the alleged diplomacy. The US will establish an embassy (read CIA base) there and proceed to infiltrate and bribe with "regime change" the sole object. The scoundrels of oligarchy do not suddenly have nice intentions with no evidence thereof. Especially with hundreds of millions simultaneously going to West Ukraine to suppress the aspirations of East Ukraine.

      Cuba is like most small states with socialist governments: they cannot be more open politically because they must fight constant sabotage and subversion by the US, multinationals, and their domestic opportunists and militarists.

      Castro sought diplomatic relations with the US right after their revolution and was rejected by VP Nixon. Yet there had been fewer casualties than in the US 1898 takeover of Cuba, and the need for property redistribution was obvious to anyone but the US oligarchy. So of course we must fear Communism despite its zero attacks on the US, for without an external threat we would have no need for the right wing.

      With friends like our right wing, who needs enemies?

  • UN General Assembly Demands Israel Mothball its Nuclear Arsenal
    • Nuclear weapons may be counterproductive if used, but are likely to be used irrationally. The US and EU politicians and media are owned by Israel, and would not implement sanctions despite cancer deaths. Certainly the weapons should be condemned, and their component/design/entirety theft from the US prosecuted. But the US oligarchy will not do that, as they and their politicians fear the losses of bribes and business that might result.

  • The Beltway Beast: How two Tribes in D.C. are Destroying the Middle Class
    • Hope in a new party would be slim unless it was centered around a well-known candidate, and one or both of the others was crippled and unresponsive to its usual members. There have been no such politicians, the parties are too cautious for that nowadays, and the public fears losing what little their favorite party offers by splitting the vote. If we had a really different party not responsive to the oligarchy, it would be denounced by mass media as extremist and most would believe that.

      Starving the beast requires a combination of education about the oligarchy, and personal motivations strong enough to cause rebellion. Neither is sufficient here, because the ignorant and selfish hear only the mass media of the oligarchy, and the most oppressed are blamed, imprisoned, or appeased. With dark state surveillance, there would be little chance of a rebellion forming without detection.

      Our lives may be leaves upon a diseased old oak in a forest of healthier democracies, doomed to be succeeded by others in better locations, but all susceptible to the same disease. Perhaps some variation, whose democratic institutions are protected against economic powers, will have a selective advantage among nations. Or perhaps a community of younger democracies that took that precaution in structuring their institutions.

  • Bush Admin. Spent Billions on an Iraqi Army with 50,000 "ghost" Soldiers
    • Thanks, JT, my first laugh of the day!
      Delighted to hear those sentiments.

    • The will to fight is a curious limit upon imperial ambition. The US trumps that by using economic coercion in recruiting, giving its soldiers a higher standard of living than they could have elsewhere, and fighting only foreign wars of aggression against small countries, so that prospective deserters are not outnumbered and cannot melt away into the home country. The US is also far more experienced in concealment of official corruption from its own people. It would be interesting to see whether US forces would desert if required to fight a superior force of their countrymen on behalf of a corrupt government.

  • How a Republican Congress could Entangle the US further in the Middle East
    • Perhaps the Democratic party will see that its betrayal of constituents caused in the loss, and field a genuine progressive for 2016, but it seems likely that they will just go for more of the same sham progressivism, either to get campaign money from its enemies, or because they are its enemies. It would be wonderful to see direct action against the mass media and oligarchy at this point, but that would require more idealism and intelligence than I see in the population.

  • Listening to Nobelist Malala Yousafzai instead of just Honoring Her
    • Good points indeed, and so are hers. It is touching that many wish to please a young woman who took a stand and suffered. But it is a waste of honors to deny the distinction to Snowden. A great honor should be given where it has some effect: recognizing a great risk taken. or a lifetime of distinguished work, motivates more whistleblowers and long-suffering idealists. The Nobel committee's decision seems rather cowardly, and unworthy of the principles it should recognize.

  • Palestine goes to UN Security Council to Demand Israeli Withdrawal by 2016
    • The fact that the only hope is that "a lame duck Barack Obama will finally show some spine and simply abstain instead of vetoing" shows the control of US politics and mass media by the right wing of Israel. I suspect that anyone guided by principle would have had enough courage long ago, and anyone with the visibility of the president could and would blow the whistle if he wanted to, if he had no freedom to act in the best interests of the nation. Fear of being reviled in the press when he is the first black president, would not be an excuse for abdicating essential duty. I find no excuse for him at all, but would be delighted to be proven wrong.

  • Failure Is Success: How American Intelligence Works in the Twenty-First Century
    • While the US military and intelligence agencies have obvious merit within restricted domains, since WWII they have accomplished exactly nothing good beyond the much-overrated defense of Western Europe, and have been used by right wing US politicians to kill millions of civilians and prevent the growth of democracy around the world. The US military and intelligence agencies, like the tyranny exercised by its economic concentrations over its former democracy, have become overgrown on the basis of false assumptions:
      1. That technology will triumph in areas of intractable long term problems;
      2. That force will solve the complex problems of basic needs, cultural and political development, and conflict resolution in developing nations;
      3. That the moral responsibility of the developed nations to provide for the great need of the world’s population for progress can be ignored by painting them as a security threat;
      4. That hypothetical foreign threats override the need of the people to control state power;
      5. That the surrender of individual power to a tyranny of unseen economic and political organization will provide more of the US economic and political gains that were made through individual power itself; and
      6. That extending to the developing nations the tyranny that economic concentrations exercise over US democracy and the US population will improve the democracy and economies of small developing nations.

  • The Syrian Maelstrom: How Repression, Drought & Climate Change Drove the Civil War
    • One question raised by the article is the extent to which regimes can be faulted for repression of communications where there is systematic manipulation thereof by subversive external powers like Israel and the US (as in Cuba, Venezuela, Ukraine, et al). A similar uncertainty arises for state-controlled economies of small nations where the alternative is control of their economies by large foreign powers and even large companies. In the absence of international and large-state regulation of foreign economic and political manipulations, it seems unrealistic to fault small states for what would otherwise be excessive control. And impossible to tell whether they are defending autonomy or autocracy,

  • NYC Climate Demo: Top 5 Massive Rallies that had no Effect
    • The failure of demonstrations is symptomatic of the failure of democracy without separation of private money from elections and mass media.

      The public already knows the case on the climate issue but nothing is done by either party because that means inconvenience to the wealthy. What is needed is awareness of the obstacle, which is oligarchy, not awareness of the issue. Perhaps every generation must dash itself against the rocks to realize that it has no effect, but it achieves nothing else.

      Fruitless demonstrations are a tool of opponents of progressives: they waste resources, create divisions among progressives, and divert attention from critical issues. The climate issue is trotted out by the media to distract public attention from the immediate issues: in this case the massive corruption of US government, as shown in the Mideast and Ukraine.

      Progressives who criticize diversion of attention to an apple pie issue lose support for the critical issues of the time. And competition with less immediate issues dilutes or divides progressive effort. During the Vietnam war, anti-war demonstrations were generally pursued by gay rights demonstrations, convincing the public that real men support war and oppose communism. The tag-along groups did enormous damage, but few could risk criticizing them.

      It is time to limit the climate issue to occasional awareness articles and college demonstrations. Major public demonstrations should be reserved for the root causes of all our woes: the influence of economic concentrations upon elections and mass media.

  • How The Koch Brothers Corrupted Florida State University (+163 Other Colleges) (Young Turks)
    • This is a sad example of the corruption of our entire society by economic concentrations, and the need for constitutional controls to completely separate private money from education, the mass media, and elections. Without that separation, there is no hope for democracy.

  • Shiite Militias of Iraq Reject US Return, Threaten to Attack US Forces
    • I wonder whether those Australian "beheading plots" are a fraud. The PM clearly wants US military investment, and would not quickly have offered troops otherwise. Nor would they have suddenly found such plots afterward. Nor is it likely that IS would be so anxious to recruit enemies on the other side of the world. Who benefits? The Australian right wing.

  • Should US policy toward ISIL be Containment?
    • Containment allows moderates to gain power over the right wing only with a DMZ and complete absence of external threats. But the US never ceases to hold threatening exercises near N Korea to rile them up. In fact the US right wing always makes provocations to reinforce the right wing of opposing states, which provides the rationale for its military budget.

    • Excellent article, and exactly my thinking. I wish that your moderator would not delete my remarks on this, which have been quite moderate for such an extreme situation.

      I would add that the rhetoric in DC "ratchets toward the macho and the simplistic" largely because, as Aristotle described them, right wing demagogues invent wars to recruit the bully class and threaten their moral superiors with the taint of treason. The US has never succeeded in eradicating insurgency by military attack, because that does not address the underlying motives and ideas. Containment prevents a wider regional conflict and forces IS to focus on issues of government rather than militarism. It disempowers their right wing, allowing moderates to govern eventually. Prolonged attack, as in N Korea and Vietnam, only protracts and intensifies a war that cannot be won, and institutionalizes the right wing ideology of hate, both there and in the US.

  • Russia denounces Obama Plan for Syria Air Strikes as Violation of Int'l Law
    • Actually it may well be an Israeli plane that just happened to be flying over Syrian antiaircraft batteries. But any provocation agent will do.

    • The criticism of Russia appears to be very correct. Kerry's attempt to make the Crimea actions of Russia look like violations of international law, appear to be wildly hypocritical, as he certainly knew in advance of the US subversion of the troubled democracy there, and of the US decision to engage in military subversion on the borders of non-enemy Russia.

      The US would not attack IS in Syria without Assad's approval if it were not attempting to provoke conflict with Assad for the benefit of Israel. Unless an agreement with Assad is in place and kept secret for political reasons, we will likely soon be told that a US plane was shot down by Syria and that retaliations are in progress. This will be scheduled for pro-Israel contributions to the mid-term campaigns.

  • The New Jim Crow: Has the Right finally Repealed the Civil Rights Act?
    • The US right wing has also repealed the Civil Rights Act for whites. I am currently appealing a Florida federal court ruling that a county or its Sheriff cannot be sued for civil rights violations such as violations of Due Process (Amendments V and XIV) and Equal Protection (Amendment XIV). In fact the CRA (42 USC 1981-1986) was written primarily to protect the rights of citizens against local and state government. In Massachusetts I am appealing a Superior Court ruling taht the state or local government cannot be sued for unlawful taking of private property (Amendment V), a violation of the Civil Rights Act. Watch that go to federal court and be thrown out due to their opposition to Civil Rights.

      These comments may sound immoderate to people who are not involved, but they are the truth. Those who think that we have civil rights in federal court need to read the actual cases. When you read the right wing blather and non sequiturs used to burn the Constitution you will be outraged. There are no civil rights at all.

  • Don't Trust the Bombers on Iraq: "Shock and Awe" Never Works
    • Responding to Mark: The carpet bombing of Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam was not only militarily ineffective, it was a war crime. There were no concentrated military targets, just peasant villages “suspected” of sympathizing with the other side. Three or four million civilians were killed. That is terrorism, and it is a permanent and shameful black mark upon the US in history, along with its massacres in North Korea and Central Asia.

      “Supremacy over the skies” is exactly the kind of concept which does not work in such matters. Vietnam never had an air force or navy.

      Also not true that “The war was political between Communist and non-Communist forces – not a hostile invasion by a foreign colonizing power.” The motive of the Vietnamese in general was nationalist: to get rid of the foreign powers which had dominated them for so long: not only the Japanese invaders of WWII, but the French colonial powers whose place the US foolishly took. Ho Chi Minh said “I was a nationalist first and a communist second” and had unsuccessfully sought rights for his colonized people at the Versailles convention after WWI. Only the USSR and China recognized those rights and provided them a means to secure them. The US as always provided only more of the same benefits to the wealthy (the administrative class under the colonial power).

      What the developing nations needed after WWII was economic development benefits for the poor, not deals for the rich to benefit US companies and favored groups. Johnson told Kennedy that “the problem is SE Asia is not communism, it is poverty, ignorance, malnutrition, and disease” and told the Joint Chiefs “you can have your war if I can have the election” of 1964, which they handed him with the fake Gulf of Tonkin “incident” triggering mass bombings prepared in the preceding six months. The US installed the minority Catholic Diem by its usual faked election, representing the French colonialist minority, and had him assassinated when his brother began negotiating with the North.

      So yes, the military personnel in general were betrayed by a US government that had no interest or ability to provide any benefit to the population there, but only the bogus ideology that a market economy was the only viable path to democracy, although our own democracy has been overthrown by economic concentrations. But the US government and people were betrayed by the military leaders, warmongers, military industry, and militarist citizens, who saw only military solutions where there were none, who spend their lives bullying and glorifying bullying as a lifestyle and highest value and personal necessity, and care not a bit for the US, for democracy, for human rights, or for the peoples they claim to be “defending” and “advancing” but only for themselves. They always have a pretext and it is always wrong unless the US were invaded. That is why the Constitution does not authorize military action on foreign soil.

  • 9 Questions about the 1%, the Unemployed and why the one produces the Other
    • "What will we do with the excess that we can never employ again?"

      The problem is really how to ensure that those not needed to produce essentials, are able to produce something of value.
      1. Most of our economy is now services, which can be increased somewhat with advanced education. It would be hard to have too many doctors and scientists.
      2. The economy can also produce luxuries such as grand homes, yachts, art, and fancy food, although such industries are the first to go in a recession, so the economy must first be stabilized.
      3. A surplus of labor can be exported as development aid.
      Part of the problem is our market economy. Government must tax the market economy to create jobs and training for those displaced, or their labor is wasted. It must deliver valuable goods and services in exchange.

      This is the value of economic stimulus. We have not recovered from this depression because the Repubs and Dems don't represent the people, they represent the oligarchy. Obama has done less in six years than FDR did in 100 days. And he had Congress with him for the first two years.

  • "Man-Up" Kerry tries to Swiftboat Ed Snowden
    • Those whose allegiance is to America the state are not patriots, as they would be equally loyal to any state they found advantageous. Allegiance here must be to the principles, so widely violated by the executive branch in recent generations. I will credit them with being deceived by the Security State that there is no difference, but not with the intelligence to perceive the difference, or the ethics to care enough to doubt their interest group, or the courage to express a divergent view.

  • Mr. Kerry: Why Snowden can't "Make his Case" in "Our System of Justice"
    • All very true and well said. The strange bending in office of persons like Obama and Kerry to the will of the military appears to be due in part to poor structuring of the executive branch. The JCS and NSC have policy prejudices and have the ear of top officials. Instead there should be a College of Policy Advisors strucured to protect divergent opinion and drawn from an independent College of Policy Analysis (call them what you will) in which the unpopular opinion is protected and "group think" is rejected. The executive should be impeachable if it departs from their consensus (if any) and should be unable to change their makeup. Of course that will work only when the mass media are freed of economic tyranny by requiring their funding from limited individual contributions.

  • Not Snowden but *Keith Alexander*: Hero or Traitor (the debate we should be having)
    • Very good points well spoken. Americans are undisturbed because they cannot safely speak what they suspect due to economic tyranny, and prefer to be sheep surrounded by wolves, letting the lambs at the perimeter be taken by the dark state. Hypocrisy is so much more profitable until one is the victim. Indeed "it is too late for democracy" so far as can be seen, unless a new generation finds a path to defeat economic tyranny and its control of mass media and elections and the dark state. That is a tall order indeed.

  • Egypt: Passive Aggression and Counter-revolution: Voters, Youth Stay Home
    • Sisi must have disregarded CIA instructions like the US puppet Diem in 1962 South Vietnam, to reduce his "victory" from 92% to a plausible 63% or so. Diem made the further error of negotiating with the insurgency and was assassinated on US request. The US sure does "champion" democracy in public, but the arms and aid go to those who help pay the politicians, i.e., Israel and its champions.

      Merely legislating the military out of politics does not get them out. That is done at their own sufferance, by means of the ethics of the officer corps, once inculcated by civics classes in an established democracy. And that has failed utterly in the US, where the executive branch in general has seized all power. And it is only a quaint first step nowadays: economic power must also be excluded with constitutional provisions limiting funding of elections and mass media to registered individual contributions with full accounting and monitoring. One can have revolutions until doomsday and not get democracy if one does not know how to preserve it against military and economic power. And those are the means of revolution, so it seldom improves much.

    • Page: 1
  • On Memorial Day, Let's do right by our Veterans
    • The article properly advances good causes consistent with good treatment of veterans. But of course Memorial Day has become a rightwing celebration of war, and the myth of war as inherently honorable, and an effective means of covering our rightwing wars against economic justice with honor as wars for democracy. But for three generations those wars have never intended or succeeded in establishing democracy, but rather in replacing often-democratic governments with others more agreeable to rich campaign contributors and mass media owners. Memorial Day is now a memorial to democracy, to America as it was before gold came to control public debate via the mass media ownership and election campaign contributions.

  • Second Libyan Upheaval, this Time Against Political Islam, Extremist Militias
    • Fully agree. Externals can be more rational but that is seldom seen.

    • There is much truth there. But people are pushed by bullies to defend their interests, where only externals can be more rational. The term "gunmen" like "terrorist" has been used to trivialize the position of one side while recognizing the views of another. But as you note, the distinctions become blurry once both sides are immersed in anger and militancy.

  • GOP holds hearings but in the Real Benghazi a Retired Col. is bombarding Extremists
    • Was it improper to remark that Haftar looks like a US operative, or that perhaps the "consulate" became underground rather than understaffed? Al Jazeera today reports that Haftar was in exile in Virginia in the 1980s declaring that he would depose Gaddafi with a large army.

  • No Sense of Urgency: Obama's New Solar Energy Commitments are still Just Baby Steps
    • It is interesting that US costs for installed home PV systems are $20,000 for 4kW versus $8,000 in Germany (and $400 for a 4kW gas generator). The PV parts cost is about the same, and labor rates and real estate costs are much higher in Germany. The difference is almost entirely markup after the factory, consisting of middlemen, installers (but not their labor, just their markup), advertising, and permits. The permits alone are more than twice the cost of the gas generator. Now Germany has markup too, and higher real costs in all of those after-production areas.

      Does this show that the US economy consists so predominantly of markup, that nothing can be done efficiently? Does it show that there is no real competition in the allegedly free market? Does it show that the basic problem in US solar energy use is political? This appears to be worth further study.

  • Condoleezza Rice, Charged with War Crimes at Rutgers, withdraws as Commencement Speaker
    • One hopes that the propagandist who invited her has been moved to another position, but this does suggest a right wing administration at Rutgers. It is good to see a lively and effective response.

  • Did the Supreme Court just Kill Dirty Coal Plants & Save the World?
    • It is dangerous to credit the Supreme Court with any good intentions let alone saving the world. If coal threatens the health of themselves and the rich they care about, they will regulate it. They will uphold for the rest of us our freedom to die quietly and nothing more. Doubtless they consulted cronies on the economic impact on their investments and decided accordingly.

  • Top 6 Pulitzer Prize "Traitors" in American Journalism
    • It is good to hear the toadies called toadies and see the fascists so recognized. Truly the Supreme Court is no more than a front for economic concentrations, the most studiously hypocritical gangsters of all; and that fascism is found throughout the federal judiciary, and the legislative and executive branches that appointed them.

  • Top 5 Things wrong with US AID Social Media Plot Against Cuba
    • Actually I was referring to democracy in general rather than the US Democratic party, which now appears to be a rebranding of the GOP.

    • That’s an interesting perspective. Where larger powers are in conflict in a small country, with interests distinct from its people, a closed system might approximate democracy if it could somehow represent the interests of the people. But Ukraine appears to have had two major regional factions led by demagogues, which has often led to failures of democratic reconciliation. If the US moved with Russia to mediate and ensure that government there protects the interests of all factions, as they could do everywhere, over generations the fear and anger would subside, the right wing of each faction would decline, and major power contention would diminish. But our own right wing sees no gain in peace and progress, and continues its efforts to build the right wing elsewhere by creating challenges on the borders of Russia and China, to create the fear of illusory foreign monsters that they ride to domestic power. If we were cautious about border issues of other powers, if we sought only the progress of other peoples, if mediation and cooperation was our strategy, and all failed due to faults of the other powers, then perhaps we could blame them and consider other humanitarian options. But as a nation we have met none of those conditions.

    • The “pro-democracy” efforts of the right wing are deliberate attacks upon democracy in other countries. Democracy depends upon media and elections free of economic forces, which requires government regulation. This is evident in the US, where the absence of protection has allowed the right wing to control mass media and elections, with deliberate subversion and utter contempt for democracy.

      Democracy in small countries requires much more government regulation of mass media and elections, because otherwise these are soon controlled by larger foreign governments, businesses, and wealthy persons. These governments could be open democracies only if every foreign power and economic power were subject to intense scrutiny to reliably prevent all coercion of democracy, and nothing could be further from the intent and history of the US, as proven by its longstanding, massive, and secret surveillance and subversion programs.

      The history of Latin America is of democracy overthrown repeatedly by dictators for the benefit of the wealthy, often in the service of the US (Chile, Nicaragua, and others). The US has destroyed democracies around the world (Iran in 1953) which advocated any form of socialism for the benefit of their distressed people, and has substituted dictatorships.

      Cuba has prevented such takeovers only by means of one-party government, probably the closest thing to democracy that can survive the continuous subversion of the US. Venezuela and others have been able to protect democracy only because the gains of overthrowing oligarchies were so great that only fools and scoundrels would support anyone but the socialists, regardless of the amount spent against them.

      US claims of promoting democracy elsewhere are nothing but rightwing propaganda to fool naïve liberals. If it had any such concern it would free its own media and elections from economic power, subject all its economic powers to scrutiny to prevent any political influence, demand international controls for this purpose, undertake massive foreign aid programs to benefit the unfortunate of the world, and then worry about whether they also need to speed up a transition to more open democracy.

  • The Shame of American Politics: GOP Presidential Hopefuls now Trek to Las Vegas seeking Adelson Blessing
    • Sadly, the people are not all so well informed or cautious of their sources, that the mass media cannot readily deceive them with the propaganda of their backers. More confidence is due in the democracy of universities than that of the general public under mass media ontrolled by money. The power of ignorance, and the triumph of ignorance engineering, is everywhere evident in our politics, and our foreign and domestic policy. Democracy cannot represent the better judgment of the people without a press and elections free of economic influence, because only then can the voice of its moral and educated element be heard.

  • Jimmy Carter: I send Landmail because of NSA Surveillance "Abuse"
    • Carter is right to increase surveillance overhead, but land mail is also subject to intense surveillance. When forced to sue the USG for denial of civil rights to a charity (by denying civil action against a town for taking their property in violation of Amendment V), my car and home were broken into and my computer was stolen. Needless to say, the right wing judiciary denied the rights of the charity, destroying the lives of tens of thousands of foreign orphans. Land mail often arrived with taped flaps, having been steamed open. Just can't trust those charities and progressives, you know. Now that I am prosecuting a county in federal court (for denial of equal protection rights) again my significant land mail usually arrives taped shut again, having been opened in cooperation with the USPS.

  • Why Romney is Wrong that Obama's Syria Policy Emboldened Putin
    • Romney is just another dull witted right winger looking for a new foreign enemy to create a wave of fear that he can ride to power. He shamelessly and enthusiastically supported the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan despite having no argument beyond mass media blather in defense thereof. He does not deserve discussion.

  • Nancy Pelosi Admits That Congress Is Frightened of The CIA
    • Congress is far too late in fearing the dark agencies it expanded and failed to restrain. The Executive branch has the enforcement power with only voluntary restraints, and Congress increased those powers by expanding dark agencies with ineffective checks, as now admitted by the surviving Church committee members.

      Dark agencies drift into corruption, due to inadequate regulation of factions, rogues within and without, and human nature. In those attracted to discretionary power by the opportunity to abuse it or impose personal views, we see amusement in being above the law, contempt for democracy, and equating of personal views with public good. Internal and external vigilance is truly the price of freedom.

      But oversight of dark agencies by all government branches has a history of failure, whether by the Executive branch (J Edgar Hoover’s well-intentioned misconduct; Bush’s zionist appointees at CIA giving false information to Iraq warmongers), by the Judicial branch (FISA court rubberstamps), or by the Legislative branch (oversight committees of false conservatives whose blind trust eliminated oversight by presuming it unnecessary). The complete failure of oversight required whistleblowers to turn to the press, which also failed almost completely in its presumed oversight capability.

      These Checks and Balances were all defeated by Gold, the power of economic concentrations that did not exist when the Constitution was written. The mass media are controlled by gold. Congress and the Executive are dependent for election upon gold and the support of the mass media, and they believe in gold, represent gold, and have installed the agents of gold in the Judiciary. So long as the dark agencies serve gold, and work with its other servants, neither the mass media nor any branch of government will oppose secret corruption of democracy.

      So long as Congress has no duty higher than gold, it has nothing to fear. There is no need to speculate on blackmail or personal secrets, because everyone is vulnerable to rumors of impropriety, in public office, employment, and social life. Life and Democracy depend upon reputations; reputations depend upon mere rumors; and rumors depend upon credibility, except accusations for which evidence cannot be revealed (security issues), is not expected (state of mind judgments), or is not desired (opponents of the target). So dark state rumors of character flaws or bad associations need no proof to destroy lives, and the threat can be subtle, polite, attributed to third parties, friendly, and systematic. Those who have nothing to hide have everything to fear from the dark state, and every reason to cooperate. After all, we’re all here to serve gold.

  • Has Consumerism forever Killed the American Revolutionary Spirit?
    • Charming narrative and good perspectives. The observation is valuable, that there was no anarchism in the war of independence, or in the efforts toward fair pay, civil rights, and efforts against the wars caused by the political influence of gold. The ability of mass media to denounce reform as revolution should be stated outright; the questions raised deserve more analysis. The control of government and public opinion by economic powers unforeseen in the US Constitution should not be accepted with such resignation, and that message may be intended.

  • Crimea Vote provokes fear of Domino Effect in Eurasia: Turkish FM
    • Correction: "The US administration did seek" should be "The US administration did not seek".

    • The destabilizing factor is the failure of the US government to seek the interests of the people of the US (to protect its essential interests or seek the benefit of other peoples), not the resulting secession movement in the Ukraine.

      The US Civil War secession provides insight here. Although the issues of national defense and regional economic dependencies are distinct, there is strong similarity in the failure of leadership on both sides to recognize the interests of the opposition, and to devise a viable transition plan for the intractable issue between regions (slavery then; cultural preferences and historical injustice in the Ukraine). In both cases the threat of war was the result of a failure of democracy.

      In the US, leaders of the North failed to see or care about the need for a viable transition plan to abolition, and allowed the opposition to fear an ultimatum, which they considered impossible. The problem with a transition plan was that it was unprecedented: it required a federal agency of unprecedented size and powers, to monitor and tax slave employers and products to subsidize wages and a transitional socialization process for freed slaves.

      The problem with leadership was that the founding generation was dwindling and the spirit of regional reconciliation declined with the waning threat of invasion. So democratic institutions became populated by regional demagogues who could not conceive or support the major reconciliation process necessary. In Ukraine, apparently democratic institutions again failed to conceive or support a process for regional reconciliation, because they were dominated by regional demagogues. But in the US case there was no clear precedent, and in the Ukraine case we have the US precedent.

      The US administration did seek to strengthen democracy in the Ukraine to promote reconciliation, but instead sought to exacerbate the problems. It did not work to resolve the causes of the failure of democracy, and did not apply historical experience. It did not seek to protect essential interests of the US, nor to advance the interests of the people there as a whole, and therefore did not seek legitimate goals of the people of the US.

      So the secession movement in Ukraine is a symptom, not the cause of regional destabilization. The failure of the US to seek the benefit of other peoples is the cause. The failure of democracy wherever the US has claimed to promote it, is due to the continuing failure of democracy in the US.

  • When it is Feinstein being Spied on, Suddenly she Squawks
    • It is wonderful that Feinstein at last feels betrayed, and astonishing that the dark state sought to manipulate the true believers covering its misdeeds. Feinstein must be seeking credibility in the appearance of a firm regulatory process. But she will likely be instantly reassured that nothing turns up, or that some isolated rogue is blamed, and will go back to assuming that whatever she is allowed to see is all that she should see. After all, she will conclude, we don't need checks and balances, or even free elections, or even a free press. We just need trust.

  • The War on Terror Jumps the Shark as Everyone in the Mideast accuses everyone else of Terrorism
    • The term terrorism has been applied largely to generate domestic fear, the principal ploy of the right wing in demanding domestic power. As you note, “Castigating a competing political current as ‘terrorist’ is a refusal to engage in civil politics.” Unlike the US, these governments do fear outside influence, and in the absence of effective mediation of real solution processes, fear and anger lead to seeing only military methods in conflicts that have only political solutions.

      The abdication of leadership by the West is not signified by lack of military intervention, but by its denial to the world of the great peacemaking capability in diplomacy and historical experience which it could have applied to ameliorate the problems caused by fear and cultural divides in the developing nations. The US plutocracy has with utter ignorance and selfishness exacerbated problems everywhere in its failure to see or care that diplomacy in all forms is sooner or later necessary.

      And that is because plutocrats do not see peace and progress as a solution. Only democracies can see that, and until we have that we shall not be solving anyone’s problems.

  • US Hypocrisy on Crimean secession move: Washington Supported Break-up of Sudan, Yugoslavia, Iraq
    • I too have been using the (too-general) comment name "John" here for several months. Can agree that you (or both of us) use something more specific? Our distinct views will otherwise be confusing!

  • Ukraine Crisis Shows Urgency of Green Energy: Russian Nat'l Gas Blackmail
    • I agree. Fuel competition has long been a cause of conflict. The commercial dependence on gas might stabilize things here, but not if US interests want the market. One looks forward to full renewable sources, although the temporary pollution advantage was worth the change from coal to gas.

    • It seems a good point for renewable energy that it reduces international economic dependence, but that is generally undesirable, as such dependence has built international dialogue and moderated right wing confrontationalism on all sides. Our right wing would be howling for an obviously-disastrous confrontation with China if they were not profiting from that commerce; the illusory foreign monster is essential to their demand for domestic power.

      Also note that most of the EU benefits greatly in the near term from the Russian natural gas business: economically, in reduced oil dependence, and in reduced pollution versus coal. It is not practical to supply that much LNG by ship, due to costs and hazards and scale.

      In the ideal case, the Gazprom dependence would keep the right wing in their cages long enough to sort out a diplomatic solution. In this case, it may have caged the EU right but not the US right.

  • What today's GOP gets Wrong about Leadership: Obama & Eisenhower, Russian & Israeli Recklessness
    • Right wing trolling and WaPo rationalization of militarism will persuade no one and does not belong here, as it does not address the underlying issues. The "reality" which is calling is the madness of imperialism, not the predictable response. Consider whether it is right to subvert a democracy which represents public opinion, however misgoverned, and who is responsible for the self-protective response of the neighbors. Consider whether democracy in a nation divided needs reconciliation or right wing subversion. And consider whether your bullying is pro-democracy or anti-democracy in effect. Better thoughts in Chris Floyd's article at link to chris-floyd.com.

    • A good article on the drift rightward since Eisenhower.

  • Peeping Toms of the Intel World: Recording Bulk Private Yahoo Webcam Chats
    • This revelation has indeed shown that
      1. The security rationalizations for surveillance are no more than that.
      2. The webcams were hacked by the dark state six years ago as soon as they were in widespread use;
      3. Commercial services provided the means, and so provide themselves and all agencies with the images;
      4. All web content is stored and has been stored for at least six years, not merely the metadata as claimed;
      5. Everyone is subject to intimate surveillance, not just legitimate suspects, without bogus FISA court OKs;
      6. The elements of private use and planned voyeurism are present despite any efforts to restrict access;
      7. We already know that GCHQ provides the legal backdoor; so the US dark state has these intercepts.
      We are all at risk daily and cannot have democracy without eliminating these dark state capabilities,
      an unlikely outcome in the US without freeing elections and mass media from economic power.

      The Guardian article on this had a record 3000 comments within a few hours, but AlJazeera's article on the subject had 5 comments all day, apparently showing just a few comments to each user, and was pushed off the home page within hours by fluff articles on Hollywood etc.

  • Dick Cheney Broke US Military, now blames Obama for Cuts
    • Productivity gains by technical education are overrated: already there are not enough jobs in engineering and technical management. The wealthiest are among the least productive citizens regardless of their activity level: higher management get there by competing with the same collusion and bully boy tactics which bring relative "success" for their companies, but not for society. Most "wealth" is now generated by financial scams and extortion "markets" (e.g., investment/banking, military/security) not production or innovation. There is finite business wealth to be had by collusions, scams & deals, and speculation: if everyone played the millionaire game as so many try, the pyramid would look the same, and society does not gain, but rather suffers, because those skills produce exactly nothing of value to others.

      The "exponential advances in the digital age" have brought us better communications and control systems, but those bring ever less real value, and are manifested now mostly as icing upon other developments in medicine, chemistry, etc, with slower rates of innovation. What has cloud computing brought us but massive theft of information? What do new weapons bring us but new wars? Apart from science (e.g. medicine and energy), our problems are in policy making, not technology. And none of those problems are reduced by the skills of the 1%.

      Reducing broader education reduces broad competency in policymaking, although a more practical focus for the social sciences would serve society better than psychobabble and pop theories du jour. Why don't the Cheneys and Bushes and Obamas know what policies will work? In part because we do not have a College of Policy Analysis to study policy alternatives with the greatest energy and detail, insulated from political bias. And of course because they don't want to know, they are the same sort of corporate bully boy who enter the 1%.

  • 4 Darknesses: Internet being Manipulated, Deceived by Western Intel Trolls
    • The terminology of conservatism is interesting. A conservative in social or budgetary matters or political institutions can be of any view on other matters. Here the feudal institutions of gold control political institutions of 18th century liberalism, so those "conservative" of institutions can be at either extreme.

      The connection with the dark state is interesting, because the major concern there is abuse of institutions by opportunists. Opportunists and abusers of power have no ideology, and seek power within ruling institutions of all declared ideologies. Their claims of moral or political values are flags of convenience. But here they find the feudalism of gold and military/intel coercion most profitable and congenial, and can most easily hide behind the "conservative" label, giving that a bad reputation. They take no personal risk for the benefit of others unknown, and so are rarely found among the critics of society labeled "liberal." Because they conserve nothing but personal wealth and power, I designate them "right wing" to distinguish legitimate conservatives.

      The major parties have indeed moved far right under the influence of money in campaign finance and mass media, and both have built the dark state.

  • The Deep State is Vulnerable to People Power
    • Many who do not identify with or even approve of the right wing act as their enablers. Obama and Hillary seemed to move sharply right to gain campaign funds enroute to power, and much further right once immersed in the groupthink of security agencies. They are valuable to the right wing as figureheads who can still speak to the people of their rights and ideals, while doing nothing for them, and doing in secret whatever the right wants. Those in DC who do work for fundamental reform should not be surprised at the occasional conclusion that they do not exist, as they must be painfully aware that the result is not broadly visible.

    • It is important to preserve hope among reformers, and both articles commendably oppose despair, with hope that reforms may yet organize, that the dark state is diverse and may serve a reformed democracy, that hunger for change may overcome fear, that a great leader may emerge as saviour. But of course hopes do not address the problems.

      While security agencies are diverse and can serve democracy when better regulated, the diversity is expunged by the right wing, and the failure to regulate is the result of failed democratic institutions which have not themselves been "vulnerable to a vigilant public." The dark state "invisible power corrupts invisibly" but gold is the invisible power which had already corrupted the visible institutions.

      Lofgren says that we need only a "self-confident figure" to tell us that "national security and corporate power are outworn dogmas" and "the people themselves will unravel the Deep State with surprising speed." But the "deep…hunger for change" that he sees was deeper in 2008 when so easily destroyed by its "self-confident figure" Obama by simply not mentioning what "outworn dogmas" he would change. Blaming later Hill gridlock when he had two unopposed years without action only enables obfuscation. The more hawkish Hillary is not about to "unravel the Deep State" and mere self-confidence will not finance campaigns or buy media support to do more than split the vote of reformers. The media and elections must first be freed of gold, and the people cannot do that without free media and free elections.

      While history is full of surprises, and in US history "moments of timidity…have been time-bounded," the succession of cold-war fearmongering by global war upon diffuse "terrorist" backlash and political opposition to half-witted right wing imperialism does not suggest that "9/11 recedes," nor that any lesson was learned from three generations of failed military adventures with no relationship to the declared national principles. The cancerous dark state has grown in proportion to the failure of right wing foreign policy, and the failure of its own rationales. It is the triumphant institution of right wing tyranny as the immune dark sovereign over a failed democracy.

      Democracy may make further ultimate progress in China than in the US, or may survive only in micropowers of no interest to the right wing. But we must have faith in the power of the people, or we lose hope and take no action.

  • The Dark State: Snowden's Revelations on Secret Gov't Surveillance are the Tip of the Iceberg
    • Henry, I'm not an insider but know some of the technology. The R&D, capital equipment, and operation resources of interception and storage and preliminary processing (word recognition) can be budgeted in any palatable category. Then the questions and answers for rogue intercepts can be asked by a small group. The same is true on the operations side in controlling web access, planting false information, or disseminating false dossiers etc. The desire to conceal, a subculture of manipulation of the people "for their own good" (as defined by the right wing), contempt for the powerless, and right wing motives are all that is needed to cross the line without a budgetary paper trail. Such persons are attracted to the secrecy, discretionary power, and immunity from discovery or prosecution. so they will find and thrive in the dark state. The parallel presence of honorable employees only covers them, and internal barriers can protect cells from internal investigation, like a revolutionary organization.

      That structure can serve the plutocracy very well, as can the more public government, despite politicians who think that they are serving the people in some sense, especially when they are drawn from the sheep informed by commercial media, and encouraged with campaign contributions to see the superior interests of the wealthy. So we need not start from the premise that government is a plutocracy. It cannot long be otherwise without controls on elections and mass media to limit funding to limited registered personal contributions.

    • Another excellent article, Tom, and well documented to the extent possible. Not only do we not know the extent of the dark state, but we underestimate its private applications by right wing rogues. That one whistleblower bolted to freedom merely insults them. The FISA court was their puppet from the outset. The dark state of the US marks the encircling of the sheep by the wolves, the death of democratic institutions within this empty suit of armor, the triumph of gold over justice, the triumph of right wing imposters. Even in the winters of discontent and recession the people hide from the truth, as the plutocracy consolidates control of mass media, and not even consensus is found. Let us have circuses and Obama/Hillary for the truth is so bitter.

  • America still has a Torture Problem: 4 Reasons Why
    • It is well to expose the right wing bullies as cowards, in a government of the timid, by the bullies, and for the wealthy. Military, police, and money bully power produce bullies and the opportunities which attract them to create and propagandize fears, and actively attack and intimidate their moral superiors. Torture, foreign massacres, and the abandonment of the unfortunate are now popular sports which aggrandize and provide a sense of revenge to those trapped in a culture of bully institutions. Without a press and elections freed of gold, those who can lead to a better world remain unheard.

  • Manufactured Wars, Manufactured Military History
    • Thanks, Nick, for an accurate and appropriately understated article. All branches of government should be prohibited from preparing, financing, or approving propaganda for the people.

  • Three Years Later: Can the Libyan Revolution Succeed?
    • Thanks for this update. The evidence presented suggests that the government is not in sufficient control to do much enforcement. Confidence in its wish to protect all groups may determine more than its statements. If it has any forces it should show good faith in protecting the minorities relying upon militias, so as to remove causes of contention. As militias see that risks from their rivals are reduced, integrate them into a national force which is further deployed to address causes rather than fight other militias. Focus local aid where militias are deciding to support central government. Let them detain the Ghaddafi figures for now, or you will lose influence by creating political problems for the central government on behalf of a small group.

  • The Day the 5th Amendment was Droned to Death
    • I am surprised to find no commentary on the lack of war powers for drone attacks. The Constitution does not empower the USG to conduct foreign wars at all, only to repel invasions and suppress insurrections. Only a ratified treaty can do that, as part of the supreme law alongside the Constitution. The founders were strongly opposed to foreign wars, and the construction of warships was not authorized until threats to shipping emerged. Perhaps there are legal backdoors via NATO or other treaties, but secret executive arrangements with governments of target areas do not qualify. Without a strong constitutional basis for war powers, impeachment should ensue.

    • I enjoyed your unsparing comments on the empire, though. I'm no fan of drones, having turned down a contract to do some early research on their communications, due to concern about insufficient maturity and intelligence in the national leadership to have more weaponry.

    • I do not mean to conflate those, because of course the drone attacks are not on the high seas, not isolated forces, not the only means of response, not in response to crimes in the US, etc. I raise the issue because the argument is much closer to the Constitution, although not as presently used, and there may be some applications of drones that fit the intent of letters of reprisal. The online definitions I see are consistent but some assume that there is only a "letter of marque and reprisal" rather than two types. My source is recollection of Morison's account in the Oxford History of the American People, but I welcome any other sources.

    • However much I agree with Mr.Van Buren's book and concerns for the trampling of constitutional rights, I should note that the Constitution does provide for Letters of Marque and Reprisal. The letter of marque authorizes arrest, while the letter of reprisal authorizes attack, apparently typically by a private armed vessel against a pirate ship. I don't know of examples. Apparently these were to be issued by the executive not the judicial branch, in cases where there was no other practical means. It was a military attack short of war, and the target was limited, armed, and not likely to have innocents aboard. So perhaps the drone issue is more that such attacks are too poorly targeted, loosely authorized, and counterproductive. And I have never heard a mention of letters of reprisal by the admin, so they don't care about the issue.

      But we are a post-Constitutional society. The greatest threat to the Constitution is the judiciary itself, which consists of right wingers who trumpet their defenses of rights whenever that coincides with their prejudices, and subvert them with profound dedication at all other times. The FISA court travesty shows their prejudices. They truly are half-wits who equate conformity with patriotism and expect to protect their wealthy compatriots with right wing connections and money, not a functioning judiciary.

  • Putinism in Cairo? The Rise of the Russian Model
    • Bill's perspective is valuable, but Joe's questioning of the Mubarak relationship seems valid in itself. The question hinges largely on the definition of our interests. Pursuing oil and AIPAC doesn't seem to have done anything for justice or democracy, and we could have bought the oil from any government there. If we had sought only justice and development we would have many allies, few wars and more oil than advisable. Russia and China would likely be allies in some sense, and our military budget would have produced roads and schools and hospitals rather than a list of mass atrocities. I wonder whether our military aid has not produced the arrogance of Egypt's military as well as the fundamentalism it purports to defend against. Perhaps others can address that from their perspectives.

    • But apart from the quantifier"equally" the note is substantially true, where the Obama admin is seen as another face of the same plutocracy, as ArizonaBumblebee notes above.

  • Did Religious Extremism drive 2 Million Egyptian youth to Unbelief?
    • It is unfortunate that our political science has not been encouraged to develop quantitative models of the social processes which drive acceptance of modern institutions. We might have a better idea of the processes involving stability under secular government which must precede viable democracy. If the nation cared to propagate democracy as politicians claim, it would long ago have found the need to know what actions lead where, and would have predicted that its mideast wars would lead to fundamentalist insurgency, rather than proceeding blindly with groupthink and vague handwaving at the highest levels..
      But then such careful foreign policy analysis would reveal that we have a stable plutocracy ourselves rather than democracy. And indeed we have struggled to bring such Democracy(R) to all who will buy it, and to exclude the real thing.

  • False Dawn: The 35th Anniversary of Iranian Revolution
    • This is a wonderful look at the art of the oppressed people of Iran, which "inspired mainly the young and educated classes to support the revolution ." While political Discourse is effective where not suppressed, political Art primarily educates the young morally, preparing the field for political arguments. I hesitate to credit Art with influence upon political and moral thinking, because that requires persuading the opposition by arousing sympathy with other groups where it did not exist, or specific political or moral argument for change, which most art forms do not facilitate.

      Poetry can compactly state a tragic situation or contradiction to start people thinking, or socially undermine a tyrannical elite, but the reader has little commitment to listen to deeper argument and little argument to consider. Fiction can present characters for reader sympathy, so the young may see that other experiences in life would lead to other views of society. It can also suggest some precise political argument in ways that sometimes elude censorship.

  • "The Iranians are Coming!" Derangement Syndrome over 1 Destroyer in Atlantic
    • It is admirable dramaturgy to expose US right wing lies by sending an old indefensible target vessel. Now if they were granted permission to visit US ports, a fraternal gesture significant to the US right wing, or (heaven forbid) rescued some US mariners, the old vessel could be retired with honors as a tourist attraction.

      If the right wing attacks it, as in the Gulf of Tonkin incident used as a pretext for the Vietnam War escalation, it would expose right wing lies there as well.

  • Broken Democracy: Republicans poised to take Senate, Americans Reject their Platform
    • If a free press is an immune system against the selfish right wing, and the truth its weapon, then we need the antibiotic, perhaps the internet. The surgery might be political campaigning, and the vaccines are perhaps scandals so plain and injurious as to build a public immune response to right-wing scams. But if Snowden and the Iraq debacle have not done it, the patient needs more radical intervention.

    • Well and moderately said. The standard right wing scams are false claims of patriotism and piety and self-reliance while destroying the nation, robbing the public, and falsely accusing true patriots. Such hypocritical demagoguery has worked since Plato and rules us today, a radical revolution against the Constitution.

      The plutocracy here cannot even be challenged without a free press and free elections. Greater awareness and activism are a hope, but a very dim hope. It would be encouraging to see real militancy against the rich and their mass media infrastructure, but unlikely. The future of democracy is elsewhere.

  • Now Peace Talks, John Kerry, are "Anti-Semitic" in Eyes of Israeli Far Right
    • It is certainly time to end those US subsidies of Israel, which subsidize their campaign bribes and other wrongful political influence here, and grant major aid to the Palestinians. Those politicians who have accepted such foreign-source campaign contributions should be imprisoned for failing to register as foreign agents.

      The whole idea of creating an ethnic state where the in-migration was already an explosive issue in the 1930s (as it would have been here if proportionate) was a foolish right wing escapade, and Palestine was the worst place for it. No other group has asked or been granted such discriminatory measures, and no other group demands or is granted a special word for discrimination against themselves, a golden opportunity for their right wing to define unique threats and propagandize their own people. Their right wing charade should be ended.

  • Christie, Clapper and other Officials who should be in Jail instead of Snowden
    • We probably agree on many of these points. But comparing casualties would require not only difficult statistics but a comparison of the problems and rationales. In SE Asia the US thought China was to blame for North Korea and North Vietnam but apparently it did not want them heavily armed; the arms were from the USSR. The only viable defensive perimeter there was the sea anyway, and they had nowhere to go from there. And we had no intent to benefit the people there. So my point was only that the rationale was so superficial that six million deaths is a crime warranting revulsion of all those who promoted the war, and the extreme carelessness and irresponsibility of their thinking.

      I agree with you both, that we have been in the throes of imperialism, and that we have everywhere failed in it. There has been no benefit for anyone, nor any intent to benefit anyone, but the US right wing.

    • Hello Hunter, I was not attacking your point about the superficial rationality of containment - just noting that it made no sense as applied in SE Asia. We could defend Western Europe against invasion, and hold the line in Korea after that debacle, but there was nowhere for Vietnam to expand even if it had the intention, and it was the peacemaker in Cambodia. Even Kennan disavowed his containment concept as applied there.

      I don't think that our defense of Europe weakened the USSR as contained. We cannot be credited with its fall in the Baltics or the USSR collapse. It fell in part due to political faults but largely due to its vastly more difficult and entrenched cultural fragmentation.

      We have had no success at all it in dealing with our much smaller part of Central Asia's problems, and I think the whole region would be better off today if we had stayed out of it. Democracy there needs a period of secular stability which the USSR may have had some hope and purpose to provide, although likely to have failed anyway. There was no idealism or realism in Reagan's promotion of Al Qaeda there against the USSR; they were not "freedom fighters" and the admin had no concern for or understanding of Afghanistan.

      I would caution on celebrating the irony of communism collapsing in its internal contradictions. Capitalism has those too, and could go the same way. Both systems are potentially defective in addressing only one side in governing economic power, whereas beneficial systems of political power balance systemic power with individual rights. If we persist in refusing individual economic rights (which of course must preserve productivity incentives) then we might well go the same way.

      All of which I offer in the spirit of exploration and growth for purposes of justice, not ideology.

    • Admittedly the Cold War ICBMs and standoff in Europe, and the Korean War, gave the "stop communism" idea some credibility, but the US grossly exaggerated the threats, in Korea ignored the nationalist movements, and pretended that China was the cause although we threatened their industrial heartland by massing forces at the border. So the understandable misapprehension becomes the pretext for imperialism.

    • The formal rationales for the Vietnam War were so superficial as to be non sequiturs. There was no concern for the underlying societal needs and inevitable anticolonial movement in progress, nor for the declared principles of the US. The US mass media and politicians of gold sourced the pressure to "contain communism", a notion with no history or means of success. The US had no history of seeking benefits for the people there, nor of promoting democracy, which it opposed whenever that meant socialist democracy, as it usually did. The US entered the war on the fraudulent Gulf of Tonkin Incident, similar to our pretext in Iraq, fraudulently "elected" Diem, and then had him assassinated for negotiating with the North. Including Korea and Cambodia, our adventure there killed six million innocents solely to gratify and enrich right-wing bully boys in the US. I would not give the scoundrels the respectability of even superficial sense.

    • This courageous suggestion brightens the day. There is indeed a long list of traitors wrapped in the flag, in the public offices of secrecy and discretion and immunity. But as they have no use for democracy and rights, they will have no objection to their own rendition, nor a decade in tropical Guantanamo, and would surely then agree to lives of community service in a country they have destroyed, or confinement in glass cages at the intersections in DC.

  • Only post-Snowden did FISA Court even Consider if NSA Bulk Phone Collection is Legal
    • Good thoughts, and I have just that concern. But surely there is a better way if we pursue it.

    • Link to my 12/10/2010 CounterPunch article "Why Judicial Corruption Is Invisible" which considers these issues in much greater detail.
      link to counterpunch.org

    • In corruption cases the decision is simple., but as you note, mere ideological stance or judicial theory are not sufficient grounds for discipline. But consistent denial or obstruction of the founding principles or provisions of the Constitution, or decisions which plainly advance gold over humanity, are inconsistent with justice. The distinction in some cases is clear, but in many is as complex as the law, so I propose a College of Legal Advisors to provide guidelines for each area of law and for specific cases, so that radical departures are already argued as offenses of the judge.
      Of course that is a large mechanism, and must also address the evidence of the specific cases.

      There are also intermediate mechanisms such as new trials before remote judges, disciplinary suspensions, etc.

      The current hand-waving about using impeachment by Congress is impractical, as there are about 900 federal judges requiring investigation, and many or most require discipline or replacement. While any mechanism properly separating powers of the federal branches would be preferable to executive dismissals, in the current absence of any checks on the judicial branch the executive can and should make the initial correction. That would certainly spur Congress to amend the Constitution or otherwise provide a workable mechanism.

    • You're quite right, I concluded in haste and humor, to turn the dogs loose on the dogs. More study of internal investigation structures would be useful. But I enjoyed your observations and anecdote.

    • It is unfortunate that citizens know so little of the corruption and incompetence of the federal judiciary. Federal judges are selected, trained, and promoted on the basis of cynical right wing loyalties, and have no intention or capacity to regulate the executive branch. With few if any exceptions they hold the childish and anti-American belief that government by definition can do no wrong. The cases are sickening to read: time and again this foolish assumption is made, and principles are bent or fabricated to exonerate government where justice might easily have been done. The only exceptions are cases wherein some other right wing prejudice such as income-class loyalty was stronger.

      There is no hope in minor reforms there, either, because the Constitution provides no checks and balances of the judicial branch: it sits in judgment of itself via its "judicial conference" and without exception finds itself and its own members innocent of everything. The corruption increases at higher levels, which view themselves as autocrats. The Constitution only provides that judges "shall serve during good behavior" with no mechanism to define or enforce this, and certainly that cannot be left to them. Such power corrupts, and attracts the corrupt.

      An institution which did not recognize human rights in the slaves for nearly a century, until forced to do so by Congress in passing the Civil Rights Act of 1872, and which could not then figure out during the next century that it should enforce that, needs to be restructured.

      The executive should simply dismiss judges in large numbers for right wing histories and conduct like that of FISA and Citizens United and the GW Bush election scam, to mention just a few. That is equally in accordance with the Constitution and much needed. There is a case wherein NSA surveillance of private communication is always warranted and should be used.

  • Why Tunisia's Transition to Democracy is Succeeding while Egypt Falters
    • Thank you for these insights. A view of the cultural and historical causes perhaps cannot be summarized. The morale of the officer corps explains much, and no doubt arises from these practical considerations even beyond the spectre of a scolding by one's third grade teacher. The origins of this Tunisian secular-religious detente and large general labor union must be illuminating. Perhaps US military aid has facilitated and legitimized military disdain for civilian rule in Egypt. But perhaps I do not give enough credit to Tunisian third grade teachers.

  • Syria Conference Roiled by Shouting Matches, Insults
    • Kurdish autonomy seems appropriate as well; these are suggestions for debate rather than developed solutions. Measures for the Kurds might be part of a separate Iraq-Iran-Turkey-Kurdish-PKK negotiation to resolve Turkey-PKK concerns.

    • There may be propaganda value in getting "two sides together in the same room" but what is the chance of compromise when the UN is so biased as to exclude Russia and Iran altogether but allow the US to announce a position?

      The best hope for agreement is usually in providing for all parties:
      1. a golden parachute for Assad's loyalists and himself;
      2. continued access of Russia to its Mediterranean base;
      3. autonomy for Syrian Shiites, perhaps a province with DMZ
      (such as the northern coastal area by the naval base and the Kurds, and their population areas at the Lebanon border);
      4. democracy with provincial autonomy;
      5. demilitarization with UN enforcement including arms flows;
      6. massive humanitarian and economic aid but no military aid.

      It is hard to see the US/Israel/Saudis agreeing to any realistic plan, or the UN under US influence, but if they do not they eliminate the chance of any realistic peace agreement. If they did, they could set an example for the mirror situation in Iraq (such as a Sunni autonomous province with UN DMZ), and if they do not, is the intransigence of global and regional powers the core problem here? Perhaps the UN should first arrange a peace conference between the global and regional powers.

  • Massive War Crimes: Syrian Regime Tortured, Starved, Murdered 11,000 Prisoners
    • Thanks, I should say perhaps, although now it often seems to be true.

    • correction "no one plays by the rules when it means personal ruin"

    • I do not recall historical cases of leaders outside of established democracies stepping down gallantly rather than using all available means to stay in power. There are cases where the leadership has fled, usually when provided a very nice destination and confronted with the likelihood of defeat by a unified opposition. That is, no one plays by the rules when the alternative is personal ruin. So worsening of civil war does not lead me to conclusions about the responsibilities of the parties, except that they are not great or courageous thinkers.

      Perhaps international institutions should always ensure the security of leaders however bad who defer to international control; and guarantee the interests of all parties under international surrogate government, and the segregation and support of groups in conflict, and the demilitarization of warring factions. No doubt it has been US military adventurism and arm-twisting of the UN which has prevented the development and acceptance of such institutions of conflict resolution. The US has allegedly threatened to militarily attack the Hague if it prosecutes US personnel for war crimes. Certainly it has shown no interest or capacity in serving as peacemaker, nor in promoting its alleged ideals abroad.

  • NSA Surveillance is about Control & Leverage, not Security
    • Thank you for an excellent summary, Mr. McCoy. Now we need a good history of the failure of oversight by the judiciary and congressional committees.

      In this era it is not only political blackmail which is critical. It is quite easy to publish (or disseminate via private services) information on political views for economic discrimination, to rightwing managers most likely to seek or use that against employees and job seekers, and to government agencies making contract, hiring, and security clearance decisions, including oversight decisions. Thus the dark state automates advantages for rightwingers on the pretext of national security, and disadvantages to progressives and truer patriots, all of which makes and destroys lives economically more surely than scandal.

      It is very significant that secret technology and institutions always serve the right wing of false conservatism for personal and institutional gain, never the progressives who advance the real national interest (except against the rare true national security threat, versus the majority of threats imagined or created by the right wing). Thus the dark state advances the right wing against the national interest, far beyond the means of tyranny of which Plato warned in his Republic. So the failure of oversight and the tendency to abuse are among the most critical issues of our time.

  • After Defending Pot, Obama has to Pardon Medical Marijuana Growers He Jailed
    • In the enforcement of law there is much discretion, and the executive certainly could pardon past offenders and decide not to go after certain offenders, provided that it was nondiscriminatory. It would be a direct contravention of law to refuse support payments, as well as a political liability.

    • Good point. It may be a minor issue, but honesty is required and persecution with failure to investigate is tyranny. At least start with the medical need cases, to embarrass the right wing attackers of counterculture. Then have the FDA do a very well researched whitepaper on counterindications. And if it is truly as safe or safer than alcohol, reverse the whole lot of convictions, reassess that part of the war on drugs, and expose its advocates in Congress.

  • Gov't used Surveillance of MLK in Bid to Destroy Him: Now they want us to just Trust Them
    • The security institutions and technology of an era provide motive and opportunity to the right wing exploiters who rise within any organization, without training or method beyond copying the fearmongering they have seen, and using the public credulousness and budget against security threats to gain power and aggrandize themselves. Where the right wing has already gained control of mass media and elections with economic force, there is little public awareness; when the means to identify and hurt critics reaches such a critical point, the right wing power grabs cannot be stopped. So long as we have the means to their ends, and lack effective democratic institutions to regulate it for the public good, they will come to control it, regardless of the good intent of so many others in government.

      It is interesting that we can see the end game of democracy, but cannot confidently predict its progress or even the time scale. We can only see the institutional and political pieces in place. Perhaps it will oscillate for generations of steady decline and accommodation; perhaps it is gone already; perhaps we only await another 9/11 and rightwing president to save us from nothing with tyranny.

  • US Intel Officials keep Talking about Killing Snowden, then say "trust us with your data"
    • Even if we suppose that few NSA employees wish to do wrong, it is an agency controlled by political processes and appointees, like the CIA, and all such agencies have been turned to political ends at times at the convenience of the administration, in every era of our recent history. Even a small group like GWB/Wolfowitz's zionist Perle/Feith/Wurmser team operated offices within the CIA to provide fake "intelligence" to GWB that brought us the Iraq travesty and humanitarian disaster. And that was over the protests of much of the CIA. It is the potential of such "factions" (as Jefferson, Madison, and Jay put it) against which we need checks and balances, and these have never worked to regulate the secret agencies, and no longer work even between the federal branches. While the statements of a few are not an argument, they do show the problem: the dark state is an interest group and it is beyond control. The motive and the servants of abuse are there, regardless of the good character of the majority, and they have assembled a technology and a pretext for tyranny which far exceeds any demonstrated capacity of democracy to regulate. And we have not even protected our "public" institutions from control by economic forces, so that we have no freely elected representatives to regulate them.

  • The Shame and the Danger of Egypt's 98% Vote
    • It is quite fair to remark the immaturity and authoritarian intent behind such a result. President Diem of South Vietnam declared a 98% victory in the (first and last and) overtly rigged 1962 election in which ballots were color-coded so that thugs could beat up his opponents afterward. The CIA tried to convince him to choose a more plausible number in the 60 percent range but he refused. Then when he and his brother tried to negotiate secretly with North Vietnam they were assassinated on US arrangements with their military, allegedly a state dept initiative rather than JFK's orders. How we have taught democracy to the world. But at least historians can save themselves the trouble of determining the fairness of the election..

  • 4 Ways Obama has Misled on NSA Surveillance
    • 1. The article does refer to major systematic abuses, however: one does not assume that we would be told of abuses in the use of data, when we were not told by government of any of these abuses. Such abuses must be presumed from what we now know, so the Obama statement that abuses have not been alleged is deceptive.
      2. The "fifty threats averted" claim has been shown to be false: these were a mix of non-threats, setups by US agencies, and threats averted by other means. It was deliberate deception to make this claim. If there were even five cases, why not say that.
      3. The metadata storage is the least of the problem, although not minimal, because it permits political characterization. The US has been doing large scale automatic speech recognition for more than ten years, and you may be sure that it looks for political speech, and follows those metadata links. At most the will of any administration, or of one rogue appointee, separates such capabilities from systematic political abuse. And every era in our recent history shows administration abuse of the surveillance technology of the times. FISA has rubberstamped every request made to it, and no oversight committee objected to these abuses.
      4. A whistleblower on the Snowden scale is not protected by any law. If the administration is implicated, as is necessarily the case with executive agencies, such a law is a trap to catch and prevent disclosure by whistleblowers. It could work where an agency has only a local abuse issue, but that cannot be assumed or determined by a whistleblower within a compartmentalized secret agency. Neither can its proper usage be determined, or its abuses exposed. So its invocation in the Snowden case is deliberate deception.

    • Where is the pretending? The article does not criticize proper surveillance of foreign threats as you suggest. The issues here are improper surveillance..

  • Assange on Obama Speech: "Embarrassing," Dragged Kicking and Screaming to Reform by Snowden
    • The use of a "public" comittee member is a charade: the"advocate" is chosen and disciplined for conformity with the group. It is an admission that the rightwing FISA court does nothing of which the public would likely approve. And indeed it has rubberstamped every application including the most questionable, and has been found to have been massively deceived and to have taken no action. Those who know the federal judiciary see no oversight capacity in FISA, and it has shown none. In the Guardian, every commenter considers the speech an embarassment to and betrayal of the US. Would a "public advocate" have told us what Snowden did, when FISA did not? Just trust us, you don't need democracy.

  • The Ruling that Endangers the Internet as we Know It
    • I would not count on the FCC to represent more than a current administration's political views. The Reagan era FCC argued that gold=rights, and sold off the remaining radio spectrum to investors, so that we mere humans are stuck with a few odds and ends of bandwidth for all purposes. If the FCC takes a stand for internet rights today, it will be made to approve permanent impairments after the next round of campaign contributions. And the federal judiciary doesn't need bribes to equate gold with rights: that belief is a condition of appointment. The FCC would have to convince them that the interests of the rich would be impaired if their judgment does not coincide with the interests of the people. But the sycophants of the rich watch the mass media to stay within the party line and protect their careers. They will fearlessly protect our right to be cheated and deceived by their cronies in business.

  • Turkey's Fierce Battle on the Religious Right
    • Thanks you for your insights and benevolence.

      "Since the Gülen Movement is based in the USA and seems to have close relations with Washington, Erdoğan believes that the USA is using the Movement as its ‘subcontractor’ in pushing forward its agenda..." Such fears seem fairly reasonable in that context, and concern with the Israel connection sounds anti-rightwing rather than anti-Jewish.

      One wonders how this political situation affects Turkey's potential as a peacemaker in the Mideast. And whether the conflict is promoted by the US-Israeli rightwing strategies to destabilize Mideast powers with ethnic cinflict.

  • False Nostalgia: The Original Fallujah Campaign Destabilized Iraq
    • Thanks for an excellent summary; it is too easy as a non-specialist to forget the details.

      This is a fine example of the blundering of force without concern for the social and political context, or the goals alleged to the public, as usually happens with our administrations counseled primarily by the NSC, which can see only force as a solution. One wishes that "security" planning was dominated by organizations for the relief of medical, food, housing, and other needs, and followed plans continuously derived from analyses of social, political, and economic processes, which ensured allocation of resources for aid and development processes known to work, rather than right wing militarist fantasies. It is hard to imagine a nonpartisan College of Policy Analysis consistently suggesting destruction of a city.

  • Top Ten Things wrong with NSA Surveillance of Americans
    • Metadata collection is simply the tip of the iceberg; the fragment that NSA was forced to admit. Of course it deosn't stop there: automatic voice recognition on a massive scale has been done for over a decade, and of course it is looking for political speech, and automatically follows those metadata links.

      Because history shows politically-motivated surveillance in every generation with the technology available then, it is certainly done by NSA and other agencies today. There is not only no way to prevent this, there is no way to discover it. There is no basis for trust of secret organizations, and no history of effective monitoring: always the right wing muscles into the monitoring committees and courts, and the secret agencies are allowed to serve the right wing. FISA is not only a rubberstamp, the entire federal judiciary is no more than a right wing charade promoting rightwing prejudices, people, and profits. There is no potential for checks and balances there, and there have never been checks and balances over the judiciary.

      It is a simple matter to automate disadvantages for those automatically identified as political undesirables (progressives), much worse than the mere traffic delays of "Bridgegate", and to distribute denunciation dossiers to right wing operatives in executive agencies, the judiciary, and industry. And just as simple to automate advantages for right wing sympathizers, their companies, and those they wish to benefit.

      Personal vendettas by NSA operatives against persons they simply dislike are already admitted, and they cannot be limited to someone's ex. Those are certainly politically motivated as well, and doubtless include former employers, acquaintances, competitors, and notables. They have only to define their prejudices by selecting connections of any kind, or enter a list of those they dislike, and allege some security risk under the seal of their agency. Assuming honor among thieves is unrealistic.

      The discretionary power enjoyed by judges and secret operatives already makes them drunk with a vision of their own perfect judgment, autocracy, divine favor, and immunity from prosecution. The modern dark state employee has thousands of times that power and no visibility at all, let alone accountability. His victims cannot even know what has been done to them.

      Increasingly our history has been dominated by secret wars and deceptions of the public, and consolidation of control of elections and media by economic powers. Now the actions of government are little but that, and the dark state brings this to permanence. We await "reforms" by the likes of McCain and know that all is lost.

  • Fallujah Tribes broker extremist withdrawal deal to forestall Gov't invasion
    • It is interesting that the Kurds have been so much more stable and independent with their greater resources in the north. I'm curious whether an autonomous Sunni Arab province in Iraq (perhaps with DMZs toward the Kurds and Shiites) would give them a few generations under provincial self-government to overcome anger. Could it be arranged to have adequate resources, perhaps landlocked to prevent a secession movement, or would the Saudis subsidize such a province?

  • Gatesgate: Why Obama was right to Distrust his Generals on Afghanistan
    • Woodward's accounts suggest that Obama initially held out for an objective basis to believe that the miltary's proposals for surges would achieve clear-and-hold if not nation building. Apparently they never even responded with such a basis. Hillary was solidly with the military regardless, and Biden was eventually excluded from the planning sessions due to his lone dissent. So it was the generals' failure to base military options upon any concern for the ultimate goal, their perpetual belief that more force is the only possible answer, and their ability to control the options, which led Obama to capitulate to a surge. Had the mass media and elections been free rather than controlled by economic concentrations, perhaps he would have had less pressure on him. But group-think comes through in the Woodward account, and the military was nearly the entire group. Had Obama infinite courage and self-confidence, he would still have been alone with Biden against the unanimous ranks of the military. The structure at the top is simply a failure.

      We should have a College of Policy Analysis structured to have the answers, to protect the unpopular or enemy views, so that the administration can point to their white papers and not ask generals to do sociological and political development and historical analyses.

  • Top Ten Things Bob Gates was Wrong about, Some Criminal
    • I wonder whether we would have done better to support the USSR there regardless of ultimate goals, as its secular ideology seemed more likely to moderate religious and cultural tensions with the incentive of economic development. As noted by others, the tree of democracy flourishes only where the soil is fertile, after perhaps three generations under secular government. Likely the USSR would have failed anyway, as did the British three times, each intervention larger and longer than the last.. But of course the mindless right wing had to secretly punish the USSR.

  • Assange warns of Information Apartheid & Encompassing State: "This is the Last Free Generation"
    • Yes, complicit and credulous in an improving economy, that the right wing drove that and served them rather than itself. Economic crashes have not brought political reform, and not even economic reform this time. There are rare surprise reforms, and Obama might have used emergency powers to remove gold from elections and mass media, but the democrats emerged as partners of the right wing, and we will be given more excuses and minimalism in the next meltdown.

    • It is unfortunate that employee coalitions have no such power: morally concerned technologists are bypassed by hirng naive tribal loyalists instead. Right wing bully boys win in business and the dark state.

      The minority concerned with protecting democracy cannot do so where the mass media and elections are controlled by economic concentrations, so moral leadership is lost. The public will to protect those institutions was insufficient in the exuberant emergence of the middle class, and now internal reform is precluded. The plutocracy which digested the democratic organism within this empty suit of armor will stand until it toppled by external economic power.

      The 15-35 year old rebels don't have a chance: the science of reform within intricately corrupted and elaborately self-defended institutions is not begun, and would only be turned against itself.. Immoral oligarchies have been deposed, sometimes by economic disaster or unrelated wars, but I find no precedent for reconstruction of the spirit of democracy in the people. It can be preserved as a seed within the universities and the dreams of idealists, but many winters will pass before it finds a fertile soil. And even then, the right wing mechanisms of tyranny described in Plato's Republic, now advanced far beyond the public comprehension, will flourish and bring about its downfall. Perhaps the tree of democracy can flourish only at the periphery of this struggle of the most powerful state with the disease of tyranny, in the small dependent states.

  • US Arms Shiite Iraqi Gov't to Kill Sunni Rebels, Arms Syrian Sunni Rebels to overthrow Shiite Gov't
    • Alas, if I were an insider I would solve far too many problems, but by massive foreign aid and domestic reform rather than warmongering. But if the refugee problem gets much worse there, I will propose approving the merger of Blackwater remnants and UHaul under UN control.

    • If only these people were nomadic, Maliki could swap Sunni Iraq with Assad's Syria and eliminate both problems. But years ago in an unguarded moment I half-humorously emailed the US ambassador from Turkey a seven-swap suggestion involving Turkey (and the Kurds), Greece, Cyprus, Israel (which wound up on Cyprus), Palestine, Iraq and others, which I thought really sorted out the Mideast very happily. I even refrained from giving Jerusalem to Walt Disney. But a few days later malware tried to connect my computer with something in Turkey, so I guess that the answer was "No thanks."

  • FDL Book Salon on Andrew Bacevich, Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country
    • It will stop when democratic institutions and mass media are protected from gold; that is, not in our lifetimes, nor in this empire. Even long-range optimism is negated by the failure of democracy to defend against either control by economic power, or technology.

  • NSA bribed Encryption Companies to Install Back Doors: Was the Law Broken? Did Obama Know?
    • The minority of idealists can lead the people only with a public forum and democratic process free of economic influence, which we do not have, and without which we cannot get it. The challenge is to create that as a subculture within corrupted institutions, or as a microcosm such as a city or state, and then generalize it. But those things happen only when the bread and circus supply fails and the plutocracy is not vigilant with the help of pseudo-patriots and surveillance, an unlikely prospect.

    • The problem goes much further than the encryption backdoors, which have been around longer than RSA (the 1980s US DES Data Encryption Standard itself was designed to permit hostile decryption). US and allied military and communications equipment must be presumed to be easily disabled or controlled from the US regardless of the purchasers, who must now increasingly see that. US tech companies are already steadily less competitive against other sources (not that those can be presumed to serve customer interests) and will lose market share but continue to upgrade their disservices.
      Of course the USG executive branch knows of this practice, having made very extensive efforts to originate it and having extensively exploited it, and any plea of ignorance by the Presidents since at least 1980 is a carefully constructed ruse of the please-don't-tell-me-the-details variety.

  • A Government of the Billionaires, for the Billionaires, by the Billionaires
    • Very inspiring summary of the problem of freeing the institutions of democracy from the economic powers which have arisen since the Constitution was written. And it is well that we start the reform process from the original vision.

      The plutocracy is government of the timid, by the bullies, and for the rich, truly a government of all the people. But like the former organism within this empty suit of armor, fully digested by plutocracy, its present organization is suitable only to fertilize the growth of a democracy better protected from gold.

      The mass media and elections cannot be freed of economic power by reliance upon the mass media and elections. We have seen the rapid ascendency of police repression and surveillance of demonstrations and written dissent. Democracy is gone, and it cannot be rebuilt or reformed by means presuming democracy.

      We had a chance that Obama would use his mandate for "change" by exercising the emergency executive powers. He could have investigated congressional campaign contributions, put the mass media into the hands of the universities until publicly controlled mass media corporations could be required by Constitutional amendment, and then called new elections funded solely with registered limited individual contributions. That is probably the only way back to democracy in America: alarming as it is and dangerous as a precedent, it is less so than the loss of democracy to economic concentrations. Obama could still do that, and if he does not we will have plutocracy in our time. He will not, because it is easier to sing of gradualism and consensus, and that is his job. Both parties are the instruments of plutocracy.

      All of the means of reform are precluded except that one. If not persuaded, feel free to try a Senate campaign, peasant rebellion, bake sale, or Supreme Court case, and when all else fails, write a letter to your congressman.

  • Dear Pres. Obama: Dissent isn't Possible in a Surveillance State
    • I wholeheartedly agree in principle, Hunter, and would be very alarmed by the sweeping use of emergency executive powers. I am not tempted to totalitarian means at all where there is any other option, however lengthy and difficult.. But with much consideration I do not believe that there is a another way here: our democratic institutions are simply not functioning sufficiently for the major reform required. The means which established them cannot re-establish or reform them. Democracy in the US is gone; we have oligarchy in fact, however loose, and it is here to stay.

      Already we have seen the failure of demonstrations, the rapid ascendency of police repression and surveillance in the service of economic concentrations. If we do not use whatever means are available (and executive emergency powers are the least damaging) democracy will not be restored. One cannot remove economic power from elections and the free press without already having free elections and a free press. And no future president is likely to have such a mandate for "change" as Obama had. He was the only chance in our lifetimes, and he did not see it.

      Yes, reliance upon executive emergency powers sets a terrible precedent for factions. It is an act dangerous in history. But it is also the only way to restore democratic elections and a free press in the genuine state of emergency we face, and their loss is far for damaging. If we simply voice the desirability of gradualism and consensus we do not comprehend the permanence of the loss of democracy.

      I wish that I could maintain with you the view that present institutions can be made to reform, but I know that it will not happen.

    • But the phrase "people who leak classified information" would falsely represent the problem in WWII or Cold War terms with the presumption of virtue in making it classified. It is not so, and that is the whole issue here.

      Dissent from the trashing of fundamental freedoms upon which democracy depends is not hysteria. The article is well reasoned, moderate, and to the point.

      Truly "Greatness has escaped Mr. Obama" when he failed to take any action in the national emergency of his first term, when he might have broken the death grip of economic concentrations upon elections and mass media. He was immature, unaware of the real problems of the nation, poorly advised on the economy, and unable to resist the militarists in foreign policy, He could have taken such action at any time by declaring a state of emergency, investigating Congressional campaign contributions, calling new elections with registered individual contributions only, and placing the mass media in the hands of universities until properly constituted publicly controlled mass media corporations can be required by Constitutional amendment, funded as with elections. That would have been the change needed to restore democracy, only possible by an activist president.

      Truly "Obama’s chance at greatness is before him" not only on surveillance issues, which would require a far stronger hand and more courage than he has shown. But he and his advisors lack the knowledge and abilities, so the chance is illusory. The crime is that his party nominated such a babe in the woods just for the momentary triumph over racism, and failed to produce better advisors.

      But of course they and both parties are in the pockets of economic concentrations and will do nothing about the real problems.

  • Google, Microsoft, Silicon Valley Giants Demand Rollback of out-of-control NSA Spying
    • These companies are not at all concerned about spying on citizens; it is their business. Bamford noted in 2003 that Microsoft and NSA built adjacent office complexes in Texas to facilitate closer cooperation in spying upon Microsoft users. The others do the same.

      They have all promoted central "cloud" data storage, which contradicts the long trend toward vastly cheaper and larger local computer memory which has brought us so much speed and convenience. Cloud storage has exactly one value and that is getting your data in the best place for commercial and government spying.

      None of these companies. nor the government, nor the courts (FISA or otherwise) nor the politicians care in the least for constitutional rights: they expect to protect themselves with money and connections, not rights. Try enforcing any constitutional right in federal court without money or connections (or a large angry group) behind you and you will agree. If you win they will gut the decision on the next round.

      The public morality and concern for the ideals claimed by the nation has long been inadequate to prevent abuses like this, or we would not have economic concentrations in control of mass media and elections. The ignorant believe that the courts are Santa Claus, and that government does what it should, because they want to believe it. As H.L.Mencken said "The average man avoids the truth as diligently as he avoids arson, regicide, or piracy on the high seas, and for the same reason: because he believes that it is dangerous, that no good can come of it, and that it doesn’t pay."

  • Uygur: Bush Targetting of Juan Cole proves that NSA can't be trusted with our Personal Data
    • I am relieved every day to hear you state such matters cogently and fearlessly, and delighted that you are not induced to back down or overstate.

  • Solar would be Cheaper: US Pentagon has spent $8 Trillion to Guard Gulf Oil
    • You are comparing US military expense there to world electricity production. Other hidden costs to the US include funding the warmongering industry and its control of media and elections, and social support of the amoral right wing. Other costs to US victims are incalculable.

  • Interview with Jeremy Scahill Questions "War on Terror"
    • Well, there is the question whose answer requires a dark science of reform, in this era of domestic policing of dissenters and control of mass media and elections by economic concentrations, in turn controlled by right-wing bully boys.
      How indeed do we replace the right-wing oligarchy with public debate and free elections?

      Not by the means which established the nation, which required public debate and the lack of an effective secret police. Even to suggest an answer now is to be blacklisted and monitored. Not by merely commenting on the internet, which can only hope to raise the consciousness of the few already motivated to learn. Little do comments matter where the number in opposition does not matter. The right wing scorns dissent with confidence that it can never lead to internal change without a free press and free elections.

      So the advocates of internal reform and those of internal violence are likely both wrong: there will be no change until the empty suit of armor is toppled by its external enemies, either militarily or economically, a result toward which we hurtle with unprecedented speed, only due to the unusual folly of our right wing in foreign policy. The US recycles itself.

  • GOP: No Climate Change because, Bible
    • The first step is certainly to eliminate any funding of elections and mass media other than registered individual contributions capped at perhaps the average day's pay.

      But we will still have the nutcases around for generations due simply to ignorance, a sort of entropy. It is the right-wing fear-mongering and other organized deceptions which we may hope to eliminate by restoring public debate and fair elections.

      That is probably impossible here. Not only the dark state problems and other repression of effective dissent, but the fact that without public debate it cannot be restored. The US is an empty suit of armor which will stand until it has enough enemies to topple it; whose occupant has been quite digested by economic concentrations and has little value but to fertilize the growth of some better organization.

  • UN to look into US Drone Program, but the Biggest Victim is Democracy
    • Apparently the founders considered that a pirate vessel was a purely military entity less than a state, where the executive might have discretion to counterattack with very low risk of involving innocents, and without troubling Congress to declare war in potentially numerous small incidents. It is significant in showing that the executive was not given discretion to attack foreign nations or parts thereof, nor to attack vessels without issuing the public Letter of Reprisal, nor to attack entities not purely military and distinct from potential locations of innocents. Homes and villages such as those attacked by drones and Operation Phoenix operations in Vietnam, characterized only by counts of suspect persons coming and going, were not authorized. And in fact the Constitution does not authorize even Congress to conduct foreign wars of any kind - only to suppress insurrections and repel invasions. Foreign wars can be conducted only by treaty, only because treaties become part of the Supreme Law of the Land like the Constitution.

      But as others observe here, in fact the drone-based GWOT is a wildly careless attempt to suppress an idea or movement, like the war on communism, which cannot be properly defined or contained, which results in an increased number of enemies, and cannot in fact achieve a defined objective because the idea being fought is not a limited military objective.

      I am a software engineer who refused to do the initial research on drone control communications, on the grounds that the US government does not have the maturity or the responsibility to have more powerful weapons, knowing that someone else would do the job based on tribalistic loyalty rather than real patriotism. Even engineers should be students of history and foreign policy.

      My source notes that the Barbary pirates were attacked by a semi-private force from the US, which deposed a local Bashar whose relationship to the pirates was at best unclear. Perhaps Juan will clarify that.

    • While this debate is essentially unaffected, it should be noted that the US Constitution does authorize Letters of Reprisal issued by the executive, usually against a pirate vessel well known to have attacked targets in the US or US shipping. The letter authorizes private vessels to attack the specified vessel. I do not have examples of typical limitations stated in such a letter. Letters of Marque authorized in the same phrase authorize arrest in other nations or at sea of named persons believed to have committed crimes within US jurisdiction.

  • 10 Ways Arab Democracies Can Avoid American Mistakes
    • The constitutional amendments suggested should limit contributions to (1) defined mass media and (2) political campaigns to contributions by individuals not exceeding in any year the national average of one day's pay, all contributions to be registered by the donor, recipient, and any third parties; with no recipient allowed to receive or spend any contribution or other resources not so accounted or from any other source.

      But with economic power encrusting once-democratic institutions, there is no way to get such amendments without another US revolution (no longer possible) or an executive decree temporarily placing the mass media in the hands of the universities (and later public-interest corporations of a viable structure) and requiring new elections with the electoral process and a free press restored. That won't happen; the issue was submerged in the euphoria of affluence over the last century, and the disease has progressed too far.

  • King on Guns, War and Non-Violence as a Social Movement
    • I also lived through this time, and I suppose we have mentioned some distinct effects of the "race riots" upon different sectors among the majority. The nonviolent means and message is always essential, and the argument for it is far more civil, gratifying, and popular among intellectual folks. But sadly, it is regarded with contempt by the really selfish, unless backed by threat of some disadvantage to themselves. That is not an argument for force in general, just a recognition that carrying a big stick enables one to speak more softly. I do not like to make the point but it is necessary.

    • Certainly non-violent means such as communication, education, legal and political action are necessary components of major reforms opposed by governments. Even revolutions succeed only by setting the stage for non-violent reform. But non-violent means are sufficient only where the government is unable to sustain a broad counterinsurgency, as in the British colonies of North America, or not much inclined to fight, as in British India. MLK did not bring about enforcement of the 1872 Civil Rights Act in the 1960s; it was brought about by riots in ghettos across the country, which inspired fear in the selfish and hypocritical majority, who could then sanctimoniously declare for the rights of others. At the time, MLK's non-violence was celebrated by the mass media to quell violence, and had no effect upon the process of enforcing civil rights, except to show doubters that some African-Americans were not violent. That is a factor only in preventing reactionary suppression of disadvantaged minorities in an affluent democracy. No realist will argue that czarist Russia might have been toppled by Ghandi or MLK, even in its much weakened state.

  • Rumsfeld, Bush and the Supreme War Crime
    • See Bamford's Pretext For War for details on Wolfowitz' use of Doug Feith, Richard Perlman, and David Wurmser (Israelis who previously collaborated to persuade Netanyu to involve the US in a war against Iraq and Iran) to operate the offices in CIA, DIA, and NSA which provided discredited and manufactured "intelligence" to Bush to propagandize the people of the US toward theIraq war.

Showing comments 124 - 101
Page: