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Tag Archives: OWS

security guysAlexander, Brennan, Clapper

Following the confessions of Gen. Keith Alexander, head of the NSA, and of James Clapper, director of National Intelligence, that they had, uh, misspoke, uh, lied, committed perjury and little things like that in testimony before the US Congress, comes the hardly surprising mea culpa of John O. Brennan, that he too had in such testimony, done the dirty deed.  This triumverate of the nation’s security apparatus each and every one committed a Federal crime, a felony, when, after raising their right hands and swearing “to tell the truth and nothing but the truth” they proceeded to tell falsehoods, prevaricated, mislead or otherwise lied before Congress.  The proper legal procedure for such behavior in our supposed system, would be for these people to be charged with a serious crime, be tried, and since they have more or less admitted to their crime, be convicted and sent off to a Club Fed, there to ponder their misdeeds and be “rehabilitated.”

However this is the United States of America, in the year 2014, and while elements of the lumpen proletariat (rednecks, white-trash, discolored folks of all tonalities, the economically poor and educationally disadvantaged) can be tossed for life in jail for 3 very minor transgressions of the law (like smoking a joint) under the Three Strikes & You’re Out laws which exist in many states, those on the other end of the social spectrum, have been issued a permanent Get Out of Jail Free card.   And indeed, just a day ago, our President, the famous Kenyan, declared his full confidence and trust in Mr. Brennan, and his actions with regard to the others indicates the same view of them.   While it would be sort of comforting to imagine that the roll-over-&-play-dead response to these professional snoops and liars is owing to the doubtless endless dirt they have on all our honorable politicians, I am inclined to think it is because Mr. Obama, and more or less anyone down the pecking order of our government are all essentially in support of the crimes these folks committed which caused them to commit the crime of lying about it all.  The entire cesspool of our political system is in on it all.

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At the present moment – though moves seem afoot to alter this modestly – the United States, constituting about 5% of the world’s population, houses some 25% of its prisoners.  I suppose it is no irony that the same approximate figure applies to the nation’s share of global resource use: we’re 5% of the global pop, and we gobble up 25% of the world’s resources.   Hmmm…    Need I note that the disproportion of our consumption of global wealth is rooted in what many in the world regard as great crimes.  Recall the adage:  “Behind every great fortune is a great crime.”

So perhaps it is only natural that we have evolved into a condition in which the greatest crimes – war crimes, financial crimes, or little Constitutional crimes (after all, the Constitution is, as famously described by our previous President, “just a goddam piece of paper”) such as, uh, lying to Congress in sworn testimony, are all quickly dismissed and forgotten. (Recall also the willfully unsworn testimony of the tandem duo of Bush & Cheney in the commission on 9/11?)   So in the new 21st Century America, criminality has become the norm, acts just too big for our little 20th century minds to embrace.   Criminality like letting the 9/11 attack occur since it had certain political advantages in the minds of a cluster of people who just happened to be in the government at the time.  People who had called for just such an incident, publicly, in their 1998 Project for the New American Century announcement, which they removed from the net after 9/11 and it was noted by many.

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So, lying has become – as perhaps it always was – our political and social norm.   The news is full of stories of corruption, though usually this isn’t the word applied, which itself is a kind of corruption: refusal to call things what they are.  Lies are lies; cheating is cheating; war crimes are war crimes.  But for some time now our society was wormed away from such a view:  torture is “enhanced interrogation,” war crimes are “we are not going to look back; we are going to look forward;” trillion dollar financial scams built on fraudulent loans and sliced and diced “derivatives” are called “too big to fail.”  And the higher one is in the hierarchy of power and control, the more protected one is from failure, indeed, failure becomes a mark for advancement.  Failing upwards signals total acceptance and complicity in a thoroughly corrupt system.  And so, in the current case, for sure to be forgotten tomorrow, as the rush of today’s hyper-kinetic news smears collective memory and leaves it roadkill, a thin plasma squashed against the windshield of a hystrionic now, Mr. Brennan, having said his “Gee, I’m sorry I lied to you Senators” will retreat into the black hole of our vast “security” apparatus and carry on, as have his partners in crime, General Alexander and Mr. Clapper.  Federal felonies simply don’t matter if you are high enough on the pyramid of power in the USA.  For taking your part in the vast system of corruption, you will be rewarded.  It rather reminds of the old USSR in its terminal days.

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How swiftly does time go these days?  A mere six months ago the world was enthralled with the Sochi Winter Olympics, thought to be a triumph for Vladimir Putin; a month later Russia seized the Crimea; Malaysian flight 370 went missing and remains “a mystery.”  The World Cup came and went; Malaysian flight 17 went down over the Ukraine; Israel invaded Gaza; 50,000 kids from Central America showed up at the US border (owing to things America imposed on their native countries); the Ebola virus returned – the adrenalin race of events finally exhausts, and leaves a vacuum into which the worst is drawn.

Open Carry March on March 12, 2014

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Open carry gun supporters; if you ask their politics it is very likely to run to the right: American “militia” or maybe Brownshirts.

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The private military-style contractors, Craft International, at the Boston Marathon, whom no one says were hired for anything there, though there they were, “helping” the FBI, and then vanishing.  They carried black back-packs of a kind looking just like the one which the FBI alleges held one of the bombs.  The balance of the Marathon story is so full of fishy things one must wonder.

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Demonstrating its illogical editorial policies, the NYTimes once again, on Dec 11,  declined to post most items I’d written in response to OpEd items, but did print one.  Here’s the censored items:

Reply to an Editorial on our bloated Pentagon and cutting its budget (a little bit):

America spends more on militarism annually than all the rest of the world combined. It does so in part because it has morphed into an over-extended and reviled empire; it does so in part because it is very profitable for a narrow sector of the population, usually called “war profiteers” in history books. It does so in part because the military-industrial complex hi-jacked the nation back when former General and Republican President Eisenhower forewarned us of what was happening. He was correct and our military-industrial complex has inflicted on the nation all the ills which he sagely predicted. Go read his Farewell Speech.

Ironically this editorial is an example of the damage, this mincing around this massive ugly problem as if it were a sacred totem instead of an evil burden.

We can cut the Pentagon down by 4/5ths and it would not only do no damage, it would be a blessing on the nation in more ways than we can count.

But we won’t do it because we are terminally ill and our military-industrial complex is a major component of that illness.

And then a silly Maureen Dowd item on the even more silly Newt Gingrich:

Ms Dowd unleashes a massive missive of meandering metaphors, carefully constructed in binaries, but unlike Kierkegaard’s Either/Or which enlightens, Maureen’s sinks under the weightlessness of her wit. Too clever by far, just like what I just scribbled. Sunday morning gruel.

And then a reply to another rather inane item by Ross Douthat:

I think most of the country, as say in the electoral stats of 2008, – ( i.e., that actually “liberal” majority which our pundits insist doesn’t exist in lieu of their “America is basically conservative” mantra) – what most of America wants from Republicans is that either they go away, or they magically turn themselves back into some variant of the last sane ones, like Eisenhower (who would be reviled by today’s version as some kind of commie for his Farewell Speech). They are not going to voluntarily go away, though they do appear to have voluntarily reported themselves into the loony bin, which even Mr Douthat hints at in his despair. And they most certainly are not going to morph into the reasonableness of Ike.

Obama is already a few steps to the right of Ike, however, so there’s not much solace to be found in having him beat Newt or anybody else.

Why these can’t be printed I don’t know, especially since other writers say essentially the same things.  Some kind of secret black-list perhaps…. Oh, those conspiracies.

UPDATE, December 18:

Once again, the scissors at the Times came out, yesterday, 12/17, and the following was unpublished:

By Gail Mitt’s-Dog-On-Roof Collins, on the National Defense Authorization Act signing by the inimitable Obama-bot.

The most important element you weave into this story (sorry, dog) is Mr Obama’s signing of the bill which demolishes what is left of the Constitution, and gives him (and future President’s) the right to call someone, an American someone, “a terrorist” and have them locked up indefinitely without a trial. King George should have such a dream! But here we are, doing it. (Do you imagine the warped Supreme Court would deem this “unconstitutional?”). Mr Obama is doing this, following his usual pattern of vaguely liberal feints, and then doing whatever the corporate military-industrial overlords have requested. Mr Obama is one slick Harvard trained Stepn’Fetchit, with a special talent for a dazzling tap-dance just before he says “yes, massa.”

Meantime in the broader world the Euro continues to be the focus of politicians and economists, and, well, frankly under attack by “the markets.”  Today Moody’s rating agency, a tool of “the markets” huffed and puffed about downgrading the AAA ratings of France and Germany.   Curiously this attack of the bankers, for that is what it is, has produced Europe’s new odd couple:

Merkel and Sarkozy cozy up in defense of the Euro

Every other day there seems, as there was today, to be yet another ominous report on the state of the Euro and the state of Europe: some countries are tilting towards authoritarian regimes (Hungary);  others, under economic stress have voted in conservative/rightist governments (Portugal, Spain) as if somehow the parties which produced their problems would magically become their opposite.  And others, in a bit of backroom banker’s maneuvers have been given newly appointed heads: in Greece a “technocrat” was not elected, but appointed.  He is of the banking community and was installed to impose “austerity.”   In Italy the odious Silvio Berlusconi was pushed out in a kind of coup engineered by, well, bankers.  And he was replaced with another so-called “technocrat,” a banker who once worked for, would you ever guess, Goldman Sachs.

Basically the minuet in Europe is one in which sovereign nations are being supplanted by the ever mysterious hidden hands of “the market.”   Of course we are not allowed to actually name names or actually define just what is “the market.”  Our conservative ideologues might call that “class warfare” or something, and we can’t have that.  And John Mills, whose words have been twisted beyond recognition by the corporate powers which are steadily engaged in a trans-Atlantic coup d’etat, would not likely approve of how his philosophy of “the hidden hand of the market” has been bent to the service of oligarchs.

One Euro pizza in Madrid

Meantime, back in the USA, the police have broken up almost all Occupy camps and the media, run by our wonderful corporate masters, have delegated their movement to the back pages, if not to oblivion or Foxxy ridicule.   Though the truth is Occupy continues to exist and grow, and has impacted the American political arena in ways far deeper than the faux Tea Party, despite not being supported with millions in Koch money.  It is, instead, supported by tens of millions of Americans who share their multi-faceted views and admire their willingness to stand up and be counted.

Occupy in Portland, Oregon

And in Russia, following a parliamentary election in which Putin’s United Russia party was found transparently rigging the vote with the usual ballot box stuffing and similar things, but was caught on cell-phone videos doing so (the old guard apparently is too old to realize that almost everyone has some kind of camera and video, and the means to upload it to the world).   And in turn, even in Russia there’s a Spring in December going on.

Protesters in Moscow

On a global level there appears to be something of a generational struggle in process, in which the entrenched powers that be, where ever and what ever ideology they claim, are being besieged by the young (and some of the old), whose futures have been robbed by a globalized transnational oligarchic system that developed since the Cold War began in the late 1940’s and mutated into a more harshly corporatized entity since the fall of the Soviet Union.  We note that in many areas of the world half the population is under 25 years of age.

Lottery ticket seller in RomeThe latest front-runner for the Republican nomination in USAFrom George Landow’s On the Marriage Broker Joke as Cited by Sigmund Freud in Wit and its Relation to the Unconscious or Can the Avant-Garde Artist Be Wholed?

A few weeks back I chanced into a brief notice that George Landow, a.k.a Owen Land, and if I recall properly a few other name changes during his life, had been found dead in his apartment in Los Angeles in June. I guess I must have missed earlier notice as I was traveling in Europe then.  I recall visiting him in his apartment, shared with John Schofill (who also changed his name to Luther something), at the time a hot-shot cinema avant gardist , sometime in the early or mid 1970’s in Chicago, where both were teaching at the Art Institute.   I recall George being a rather weird guy, which fit perfectly well with his rather weird films.    John was a self-appointed genius, and when showing me clips of his upcoming “masterpiece” one sensed one should sit on knees before the screen in religious silence and awe, and comment accordingly.  I found his footage nothing special and failed to behave as expected (I found similar behavior in Stan Brakhage, who had servile acolytes at his feet and seemed to require it – I never found his work all that wonderful and failed to kiss his toes either).   John seemed insulted by my failure to genuflect at the altar of his genius, and George seemed uptight.  I do remember finding it all a bit too much, and finally giving Landow a big bear hug, lifting him off his feet and perhaps suggesting he loosen up a bit.    Some decades later I think, but my memory is hazy here, that I bumped into the new Owen Land in Los Angeles, at some film something. He said he was trying to make a movie there, which from what I read, apparently he did:   Dialogues, or A Waist Is A Terrible Thing To Mind

Owen Land, 1944 – 2011

This weekend, responding to the Opinion Page columns by Thomas “Ever Wrong”  Friedman and to Ross “Never Doubting” Douthat I found myself twice

Though other respondents raked both columnists over the coals no less kindly, somehow my words seem to have gotten under their flunky editor’s skins.

Ever Serious Thomas

To Mr Friedman:

For someone who is given to peering over the horizon to see the future, Mr Friedman has a lot of catching up to do:  many of us noted the wallow into corruption of America’s institutions quite some time ago. Decades ago. But here, suddenly, it dawns on Mr Friedman that our system is corrupt and if it doesn’t shape up things could get ugly. But they already are ugly with a Justice Department that doesn’t prosecute the real crooks, a Congress that is capital’s poodle, an Executive that is merely Bushism with more articulate words, and all the consequences of the long-term corruption (much of which under other names Mr Friedman championed – from smash-mouth talk about Iraq to “globalization” and all the other wrong steps he’s taken). It is ugly to be evicted from your home because your job got shipped to China and some robo-mortgage was sold to you with tiny nasty print. It is ugly to be conned into a costly student loan on the premise of a hot-shot job to find the economy got shipped to lower-labor cost lands like India.

I bet if I waded through past column I could find Mr Friedman waxing about his lunch with Mubarack and how hunky-dory things were down on the Nile, peace with Israel, etc.

Eat humble pie, Mr Friedman. Something is going on and you didn’t know what it was, did you, Mr. Jones?

[Update.] On Nov. 2, I replied to another Friedman Op-Ed item, and again was censored.  Here’s what I wrote.  I note that many others made the same points, so I guess it must be “getting personal.”

“Moreover, I am certain….” Every time Mr Friedman utters this phrase or some equivalent, I feel like ducking for cover. He is serially wrong, so when he assures us of something, one has to look under the hood. He still tries to make his Iraq frothing at the mouth look good, never mind the damaging real-world evidence. Now he equivocates on our Afghan follies. Given how wrong wrong wrong Thomas is on the not-so-great game of opining as a “pundit” one must take his advice on The Great Game with a boulder of saline material.

Do ever-wrong columnists ever retire (in shame)?

Ross “Doubtless” Douthat

To Mr. Douthat:

Mr Douthat, typically, doesn’t comprehend what is before his eyes, or he can only see it through the thick distorting prism of his prejudices.  OWS – which he finally acknowledges as something other than as an object of ridicule – isn’t about fiddling with a few financial factors in the existing equation. It is about a wholesale rethinking of our values and priorities; it is about, OMG, questioning capitalism itself (in Douthat’s eyes as radical as questioning the Catholic hierarchy). It is about our need to shift from a profit-oriented system to a humanistic one which perceives that we live on a finite planet and that constant growth, as required to generate the riches and imbalances of a capitalist system, isn’t possible. We need to shift to a self-sustaining system in which limited wealth is equitably shared, not only among ourselves, but globally. This is anathema to our capitalist priests.

So Mr Douthat can only sit on the side-lines wondering how to fiddle with the existing system to “make it work ” not having learned the actual lesson that it can’t work because of original contradictions and design flaws. He imagines his current favored would-be candidate, Romney, will somehow morph (which Mitt is good at) into a Republican wizard who will save the system with wise decisions. The reality is that Romney is more a Wizard of Oz sort, a pure all-American fraud.

The Times tipped its hand early in the Occupy Wall Street game when, in keeping with the rest of the corporate owned and controlled press, it consigned the events down on Zuccotti Park to a small notice and then ignored it.  A far cry from the prompt coverage which the Tea Party corporate zombie demonstrations received.  Then, grudgingly, with snide and contemptuous articles the NYT, along with other national press, admitted that the demonstration there actually existed.  And when it sprouted companions across the country, and then across the globe, it began to actually take it with a small dose of seriousness.  As have our authoritarians in government who are now applying police force.  It is merely a matter of time before some are killed.

As was quipped by a very serious person quite long ago, a “free press” is available to those that own them.

Denver banker with OWS

It’s been a month now since some scruffy/hippie/anarchists pick-your-derogatory-term, went and camped out near Wall Street.  For weeks the American press ignored them, then vilified and ridiculed them, and yet their numbers kept growing – in Zuccotti Park in NYC, and then like a fungus, materializing in cities and towns across the world, and then across the globe: 900 cities and towns, all sharing in the same diffuse and unrhetorical “there is something profoundly wrong about how the world is organized.”    The powers that be – the politicians and their financial buddies, the giant corporations and their “news” media – simply had no idea what to do with them, except apply the Pravda-like practice of figuring if they didn’t report it, it didn’t exist.  In a display of extraordinary stupidity and blindness, with the fresh examples of Tunisia and Egypt and the whole Arab spring, the honchos of America (and elsewhere) seemed blind-sided when thanks to the internet the news spread like wild-fire across the country and the globe.  One would have thought they’d learned a thing or two by the most recent bits of history – the indignados of Spain, the strikes in Greece, the global signs of discontent from the middle-east to the middle-west.  But no, our Masters of the Universe, and their hired political lackeys and pundits didn’t see, because, as ever, caught in the bubble of their own small 1% world, they didn’t imagine any world but their own: they could not conceive that the world was not all well and good, never mind the blatant evidence in their own statistics.     Even though they had been explicitly involved in constructing that alternate universe of globalization, which translated as rampaging out-of-control capitalism – the one that made them filthy rich and left everyone else behind.

About three weeks ago, I got an e-mail from someone I did not know – Daniel Levine.   He wrote about being in the OWS group, and I asked him to keep me informed on things, and I asked him who he was and to tell me something of himself.  He replied, and said he’d keep me updated, and said he was 21, and thought if he hadn’t seen my 1987 film Plain Talk and Common Sense (uncommon senses) he might not have gone to join the Wall Street uprising.  As someone who is somewhat cynical about the efficacy of so-called “political” film-making – of which I’ll have much more to say soon on the http://www.jonjost.wordpress.com blog – I was a bit skeptical, but it did move me to think that my work had, in any way, helped clarify and move someone to act.   Likewise, with this blog, and other internet things which have absorbed much of my energies in the last decade and more, where I have consistently drawn into question our national religion of “Free Market Capitalism”, noted the depths of our corruption (not only financial, but far deeper and more profound, our ethics and morals as bent by the values of that capitalism) and the severe damages it inflicts upon our society. I would like to think perhaps all this energy did not go to waste, but was a tiny ripple in a larger social wave which was building all this time.   I don’t think anyone is the sole holder of a thought, but that if one thinks something, millions of others must do likewise.   Unlike many of my friends, who seemed terminally pessimistic about young Americans, I have always felt and said that I thought, at some time, somehow, things would finally erupt.  And so it seems they have.

Where ever you are – in America or elsewhere in the world – I encourage you to go out and join your fellow humans and add your voice to this movement, whatever name one wishes to give it.   We need to defeat the economic masters of this system, and their political and cultural minions, who have orchestrated the policies of the last decades and more, policies  which have obviously failed the vast majority of humans while enriching and empowering a tiny sliver who seem utterly heedless of the circumstances of humanity.  They seem to lust for wealth and power beyond rationality, and would, if left unchecked, render the world uninhabitable in their pursuit of it.  Occupy Wall Street and all the other streets should be the beginning of a major revision in humanity’s understanding of its place on the globe and our relationships with one another – as individuals and as societies.