Friday, March 25, 2016

Information Control, By Fair Means Or Foul

My day started with news that the Twitterverse is so infested with racist rhetoric that its spread is, well, automatic. Microsoft invented an artificially "intelligent" robot that would respond to conversations by mimicking language it encountered. 

Within 24 hours the "chatbot" was reportedly scorching its creators' ears with a level of intolerant invective that Microsoft had apparently not anticipated. (A type and level of nastiness that regular denizens of the Interwebs consider routine, by the way; note their comments on The Verge's article about the fiasco.)

Occupation of the narrative is effected in myriad ways, some visible and some invisible.

Those of us who work in public education have been feeling the icy winds of racist rhetoric creeping through cracks in the structure of tolerance and inclusion we hoped our schools would provide. Parents incited by hate talk radio and 24/7 media coverage of the demagogue with the bad hair call principals to complain of teachers pushing their own political views on students. Teachers that ask students to investigate wild claims -- e.g. immigrants are ruining our nation, or all Muslims should be deported for our own safety -- are questioned by their bosses about how their bias plays out in the classroom. 

This has a chilling effect on academic freedom, especially if aimed at young teachers with little job security and large amounts of student debt. 

Another way to control the narrative is the cyber strategy of blocking access to websites with ideas that threaten powerful interests.

One of my favorite international writers these days is Uri Avnery. He publishes a regular column on the website of Gush Shalom, a venerable Israeli peace and justice organization, and I subscribe to his columns via email -- which is good, because the Gush Shalom website is so often shut down by cyber attacks. 

I regularly get a message such as this when I try to navigate the archive of Avnery's columns:

Yes, I can wait awhile and try again, and I do. Sometimes, if I have time, and life's necessities are not too pressing.

Here's an excerpt from Avnery's most recent column, just to get the flavor:
I am told that a new generation of Jews in America is turning their backs on Israel altogether, even supporting Israel-haters. That would be a pity. They could play a role in resurrecting the Israeli peace camp instead, doing their bit for an enlightened Israel, upholding the old Jewish values of peace and justice. 
I don't see that happening. What I see is young and progressive American Jews quietly disappearing from the stage, leaving it to the new American Mussolini and his delirious, shouting up-and-down-jumping Jews.
For "new American Mussolini" read "the demagogue with the bad hair," and for "shouting up-and-down-jumping Jews" read "annual conference attendees" who went nuts over the demagogue's speech to AIPAC this week. 

Avnery again:
Trump spoke – unbelievably! – to an assembly of mostly elderly, wealthy and well educated Jews.
Jews, for God's sake! People who secretly believe that they are the most intelligent on earth! Delirious Jews, shouting, clapping, jumping up and down after every sentence, as if possessed.
Of course, AIPAC attendees also went nuts over Hillary's speech at their conference, as reported by Ben Norton in Salon. Her remarks signaled that, as far as this candidate is concerned, Israel can do no wrong. 

The words "occupation" and "settlements" were conspicuously missing. Because if you want to make it to the White House, you had better not say those words.

And, once there, if you want to stay in the White House, you had better say a lot of empty words -- while acting in a way approved by your corporate masters. As John Pilger observed in remarks titled "A World War Has Begun":
The Obama administration has built more nuclear weapons, more nuclear warheads, more nuclear delivery systems, more nuclear factories [than the previous administration]. Nuclear warhead spending alone rose higher under Obama than under any American president. The cost over thirty years is more than $1 trillion. 
A mini nuclear bomb is planned. [emphasis mine] It is known as the B61 Model 12. There has never been anything like it. General James Cartwright, a former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said, “Going smaller [makes using this nuclear]weapon more thinkable.”
But Obama got the Nobel Peace Prize after making a big anti-nukes speech in Prague shortly after being elected the first time. How's that for occupying the narrative? 

"In Istanbul, Turkey, a suicide bomber killed four people in a busy tourist area Saturday. Turkish officials said the bomber was a Turkish citizen who belonged toISIL. The attack killed an Iranian and three Israelis, two of whom also had U.S. citizenship." Source: Democracy Now!
As for the bombings in Turkey and then Belgium this month, the usual talking heads made the usual rush to judgement about the "Muslims" responsible (for bombing other Muslims). The narrative was predictably framed by blaming "them" and a lot of saber rattling on behalf of "us." Publications like the ones I read will point out that ISIS is an organization largely created, funded and supported by U.S. allies Saudi Arabia and Turkey, but you will not hear about this in corporate media land. The hand of the U.S. remains largely hidden in this sad state of affairs -- unless you've actually been paying attention to the destabilizing of Iraq and Syria under NATO airstrikes for well over a decade.

I'll conclude with a salient quote from Pilger:
How many people are aware that a world war has begun? At present, it is a war of propaganda, of lies and distraction, but this can change instantaneously with the first mistaken order, the first missile.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Okinawa's Beautiful Resistance To Rape Of Women And Environment

Okinawa resistance movement messages. Photo credit: Satoko Kojo
Okinawa is generally considered to be part of Japan, but it really isn't. Okinawa is an island in the Pacific Ocean that is as close to China's coast as it is to Japan's. And, until the end of WWII and the Allied invasion, Okinawans successfully resisted the domination of Imperial Japan by an alliance with China.  Following its defeat of Japan in 1945, the U.S. occupied Okinawa until 1972. The Pentagon's biggest military presence in "Japan" is actually in Okinawa.

Massive resistance to the U.S. military presence in Okinawa has heated up recently. The increased resistance is partly due to yet another rape committed by personnel coming from the military bases. 

From an editorial last week in the English-language version of the online Ryukyu Shimbo:
As long as the U.S.-Japan security treaty allows some 20,000 and several thousand US military personnel to be stationed in Okinawa, soldiers who cannot control themselves, and attack women in a vulnerable position, will continue to be among the stationed troops.
Nicholson apologizing to Okinawa's Governor Takeshi Onaga, who ran on a platform opposing the expansion of U.S. military bases and swept to power over the candidate backed by Japan's ruling party. Photo credit:
Lt. General Lawrence Nicholson was reported in StarsandStripes.Okinawa to have apologized to Okinawa's governor for the rape of a Japanese tourist by a sailor stationed there, and his apology described the U.S. presence in Okinawa as even larger:
Today, I came here to represent 27,000 uniformed members, 17,000 families, 4,000 civilians, 50,000 Americans. The allegation against the specific individual is a great shame and dishonor of us all.
Resistance to the U.S. presence in Okinawa has also increased in response to plans to expand the Henoko base into an offshore presence controlling the waters of Henoko Bay. 
Photo credit: AP
Anthropologist Hideki Yoshikawa reported extensively in Counterpunch on the difficult process of ramming through official approvals in the face of massive opposition by the actual people who live there.  Bases are heavily polluted sites, and the Pentagon recently blocked release of its own environmental study of a different base it is returning to Okinawans. As reported by Jon Mitchell in the Japan Times:
The U.S. military is refusing to release a report detailing environmental contamination at Camp Kinser, a 2.7-sq.-km U.S. Marine Corps supply base near Okinawa’s capital, Naha, that is scheduled for return to civilian use. Since April 2014, U.S. Pacific Command has repeatedly stonewalled a Freedom of Information Act request for the 1993 report, titled “USFJ Talking Paper on Possible Toxic Contamination at Camp Kinser, Okinawa.”
Indigenous people everywhere love their land and waterways, and revere their traditional ways of life. When they win territory back from U.S. control, it is often too polluted to support those ways. 

Okinawa's indigenous resistance is inspiring -- and that is why the corporate media in the U.S. make sure that most people never hear about it.
June 28, 2014 Boat Rally at Henoko. Via Masami Mel Kawamura/Okinawa Outreach.
Photo: Toyozato Tomoyuki

For news of their beautiful resistance, you can follow the Facebook community page I Expose the Expansion of US Bases in Okinawa.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

We Are Now In A Long Era Of Taxation Without Representation

The ongSyrian refugee crisis is epic, and the U.S. had a large hand in creating it.
I just read this excellent report back from a delegation that met with Maine's alleged representative to the U.S. Senate, Angus King.

Meeting with Sen. Angus King on US Syria Policy

A group of Maine peace activists met with Sen. Angus King (I-ME) on March 11 at the public library in Brunswick.  The 45 minute meeting to discuss Syria was attended by Rosalie Tyler Paul (Brunswick), Mary Donnelly (Brunswick), Joanne Hardy (Brunswick), Dud Hendrick (Deer Island) and Bruce Gagnon (Bath).

Sen. King sits on the Armed Services and Intelligence Committees in Washington and was a former governor in Maine.  King told us that he spends 60% of his time on these issues.  He is an Independent who caucuses with the Democrats in the Senate.

Rosalie began the meeting saying, "I want to speak to the opportunity that awaits our country to move beyond this very adolescent period. We have all the power to lead, we have the money and the muscle but not yet the moral leadership. If there is ever to be a coming of age for our species, we must stop killing each other and begin to cooperate."

We handed Sen. King two recent important articles on Syria and urged him to take the time to read them.  The first one is written by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. called Why the Arabs don’t want us in Syria: They don’t hate ‘our freedoms.’ They hate that we’ve betrayed our ideals in their own countries — for oil. We briefly shared the findings from this excellent piece that ran in Politico with Sen. King - particularly this bit:
Our war against Bashar Assad did not begin with the peaceful civil protests of the Arab Spring in 2011. Instead it began in 2000, when Qatar proposed to construct a $10 billion, 1,500 kilometer pipeline through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Turkey. Qatar shares with Iran the South Pars/North Dome gas field, the world’s richest natural gas repository. The international trade embargo until recently prohibited Iran from selling gas abroad. Meanwhile, Qatar’s gas can reach European markets only if it is liquefied and shipped by sea, a route that restricts volume and dramatically raises costs. The proposed pipeline would have linked Qatar directly to European energy markets via distribution terminals in Turkey, which would pocket rich transit fees. The Qatar/Turkey pipeline would give the Sunni kingdoms of the Persian Gulf decisive domination of world natural gas markets and strengthen Qatar, America’s closest ally in the Arab world. Qatar hosts two massive American military bases and the U.S. Central Command’s Mideast headquarters.

Of course, the Russians, who sell 70 percent of their gas exports to Europe, viewed the Qatar/Turkey pipeline as an existential threat. In Putin’s view, the Qatar pipeline is a NATO plot to change the status quo, deprive Russia of its only foothold in the Middle East, strangle the Russian economy and end Russian leverage in the European energy market. In 2009, Assad announced that he would refuse to sign the agreement to allow the pipeline to run through Syria “to protect the interests of our Russian ally.”

Secret cables and reports by the U.S., Saudi and Israeli intelligence agencies indicate that the moment Assad rejected the Qatari pipeline, military and intelligence planners quickly arrived at the consensus that fomenting a Sunni uprising in Syria to overthrow the uncooperative Bashar Assad was a feasible path to achieving the shared objective of completing the Qatar/Turkey gas link. In 2009, according to WikiLeaks, soon after Bashar Assad rejected the Qatar pipeline, the CIA began funding opposition groups in Syria. It is important to note that this was well before the Arab Spring-engendered uprising against Assad.
The second article we handed Sen. King recently ran in the Boston Globe and was penned by Brown University senior fellow Stephan Kinzer entitled The media are misleading the public on Syria.
Kinzer writes:
Washington-based reporters tell us that one potent force in Syria, al-Nusra, is made up of “rebels” or “moderates,” not that it is the local al-Qaeda franchise. Saudi Arabia is portrayed as aiding freedom fighters when in fact it is a prime sponsor of ISIS. Turkey has for years been running a “rat line” for foreign fighters wanting to join terror groups in Syria, but because the United States wants to stay on Turkey’s good side, we hear little about it. Nor are we often reminded that although we want to support the secular and battle-hardened Kurds, Turkey wants to kill them. Everything Russia and Iran do in Syria is described as negative and destabilizing, simply because it is they who are doing it — and because that is the official line in Washington.
I had the occasion about 18 months ago to have a brief word with Sen. King about Syria and at that time he was holding fast to the line that the US was supporting 'moderate' Syrians in their efforts to overthrow Assad.  This time he never brought up the word - by now alternative media in the US has largely dispelled that notion.  In this meeting I focused in on how ISIS is funded which includes generous contributions of money and weapons from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Israel and the US.  I mentioned that when Russia first entered Syria to help defend that legitimate government they began bombing ISIS oil truck convoys that were carrying stolen Syrian oil and moving it into Turkey.  Once there President Erdogan's son, who runs an oil distribution company, sold the oil to Japan and Israel and then shared the profits with ISIS.

Sen. King did not dispute any of these points we made about who was funding and arming Syria although he did say that the US too had bombed ISIS oil convoys heading into Turkey with the stolen oil.  "I am not going to defend Turkey but they are a strategic ally," he said.

Mary Donnelly spoke passionately about the refugees in Syria and that greater effort must be made to ensure that supplies of humanitarian aid get through to them.  Due to the recent ceasefire (largely organized by Moscow) some of that aid was now reaching the most hard pressed people inside Syria.

Dud Hendrick shared bits from a letter he handed to Sen. King that called on the US to end its massive and aggressive military empire of more than 900 bases.  Dud graduated from the US Naval Academy and served a tour of duty in Vietnam during that ill-fated war.

Joanne Hardy, an ardent supporter of the Palestinian people, urged Sen. King to push Israel to end its illegal settlement building which continues to displace the people into ever expanding refugee camps.  Sen. King responded, "We've never done anything about Israeli settlements. I'm very sympathetic to the cause of the Palestinians.  One of the problems is that it is easy to say one side or the other is right.  But can you sign an agreement with the Palestinians?  Who do you negotiate with?"

Sen. King did acknowledge that Israeli leader Binyamin Netanyahu does not appear willing to seriously negotiate a real peace agreement.  King was reluctant to acknowledge that the US has tremendous leverage over Israel when one considers the huge amount of aid given to it every year.

(The main expression of Congressional support for Israel has been foreign aid. Since 1985, it has provided nearly $3 billion in grants annually to Israel, with Israel being the largest annual recipient of American aid from 1976 to 2004 and the largest cumulative recipient of aid ($121 billion, not inflation-adjusted) since World War II. Seventy-four percent of these funds must be spent purchasing US goods and services. More recently, in fiscal year 2014, the US provided $3.9 billion in foreign military aid to Israel. Israel also benefits from about $8 billion of loan guarantees.)

Sen. King praised the Israeli 'missile defense' program called Iron Dome as something "that likely saved my son's life" when he was in Israel during the most recent exchange of Palestinian rockets and IDF counter-attack on Gaza.  While we didn't have time to discuss the merits of Iron Dome an analysis of the system's failures has been written by Subrata Ghoshroy who is a research affiliate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Program in Science, Technology, and Society.  His article in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists is called Iron Dome: Behind the hoopla, a familiar story of missile-defense hype.

After Sen. King left the Brunswick library meeting room our delegation remained to evaluate the meeting.  We agreed that unless fellow concerned citizens help by following up on these issues with Sen. King then we will not be able to move things forward.  One in our group remarked that, "Sen. King is still not willing to admit Israel's criminal behavior.  I was put off by his suggestion that the complicated history of the Middle East excuses US behavior in the region."

So we urge those Mainers who care about these complex but important issues in the Middle East to contact Sen. King and share with him your concerns.  You can send him a message at his web site here

Just yesterday Russian President Putin announced a pullout from Syria: "I consider the objectives that have been set for the Defense Ministry to be generally accomplished. That is why I order to start withdrawal of the main part of our military group from the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic starting from tomorrow,” he said.

It will be more than interesting to see what the US and their partners (Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, Israel) will do next in their effort to topple Assad.  In an article today Gareth Porter, an investigative historian and journalist specializing in U.S. national security policy, writes:
Jeffrey Goldberg’s newly published book-length article on Barack Obama and the Middle East includes a major revelation that brings US Secretary of State John Kerry’s Syrian diplomacy into sharper focus: it reports that Kerry has sought on several occasions without success over the past several months to get Obama’s approval for cruise missile strikes against the Syrian government. 

Goldberg reports that “on several occasions” Kerry requested that Obama approve missile strikes at “specific regime targets”, in order to “send a message” to Assad – and his international allies – to “negotiate peace”. Kerry suggested to Obama that the US wouldn’t have to acknowledge the attacks publicly, according to Goldberg, because Assad “would surely know the missiles’ return address”.
Now is indeed the right time for the peace movement around the world to call on the US to match the move by Russia to lower the military footprint on Syria.  If the world wants to bring peace to the region, and reduce the refugee crisis, then we must speak out now loudly and clearly demanding that the attempts to topple the elected Assad government must end.

Bruce K. Gagnon    Posted 3/15/16 to his blog: Organizing Notes
Coordinator, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space

After reading Bruce's report I sent King a message. You can, too:

Dear Angus King,
The long U.S. campaign for regime change in Syria may not be apparent to most of your constituents, but the humanitarian crisis of Syrian refugees certainly is. When we use our influence and military power to destabilize a legitimate government seen as a threat to U.S. economic interests -- or the economic interests of U.S. allies like Turkey and Qatar -- it is a disservice to taxpayers. I do not care to defend one nation's right to extract and transport natural gas or any other fossil fuel. The blind allegiance to dinosaur-like energy policies is pushing our planet toward the brink of climate disaster. and no one is the U.S. will be exempt from the negative consequences.

Who determines U.S. policy in southwestern Asia -- Israel? Continuing to arm one of the richest nations in the world as it pushes for war with Iran is dangerous and foolhardy. Continuing to enable Israel's violent occupation of Palestine is likewise dangerous and foolhardy. I have repeatedly heard you mention that your son was in Israel when rockets were being fired by Hezbollah, and Israel was responding by pounding civilian targets in Gaza resulting in the deaths of thousands of children and families. Again, the fact that most of your constituents are fooled into thinking this is a symmetrical conflict can be laid at the feet of corporate "news" media, but some of us are actually paying attention. Why you would use your own family member for propaganda purposes is your business. What you do with the taxes I work hard to pay is very much my business. A teacher and woodworker married couple in Maine pay about 30% of our earnings in federal taxes while many of the corporations who contribute to your campaigns pay nothing.

Your actions and words have shown that you believe you are in the Senate to represent corporate profits, not the people of Maine. That is not what you swore to do when you took the oath of office.

We are now in a long era of taxation without representation. And I think we know where that sort of thing eventually leads.
Lisa Savage

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Information Control, Part 3: Covering Up Violence

Educational publisher McGraw-Hill announced recall and destruction of college textbooks with a truthful map of the steady encroachment of Israel's land theft from Palestine. Teachers like me have been using versions of this map for years, but I guarantee you that most secondary or post-secondary students in the U.S. have never seen anything like it. And they never will if Zionist controllers of the narrative get their way. What kind of pressure did they bring on McGraw-Hill that resulted in abrupt recall of their  text? 

With a title like Global Politics, the textbook editors should have kept the map and added a chapter on information control with Israel's constant policing of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign as a case study. 

Just last week police arrested a woman at a Paris International Women's Day march wearing a "Boycott Apartheid Israel" shirt. France is not alone in passing legislation that criminalizes the increasingly successful BDS campaign  -- Israel itself has done so, and the U.S. House of Representatives has tried on more than one occasion.

Then there is the case study of how corporate media portray frequent violent attacks on protesters brave enough to show up at rallies for the demagogue with the bad hair.

Photo credit: HUSclub Rich on Facebook
The most notorious event took place at the University of Illinois in Chicago this week: thousands of student protesters diverse in race, ethnicity and religion shut a rally down. The man who cancelled claimed Chicago police told him to do so, but police denied it. 

Many of us feel encouraged by the example of young people coming together to say "oh hell, no!" to race-baiting and threatened oppression if the demagogue actually gains office. (So far he is just a media celebrity with no experience in governing, which is powerful enough to be taken seriously in this day and age I guess.) It's no surprise that corporate media outlets like CNN falsely portrayed the protesters as violent, selling the U.S. public on the notion that white privilege is under attack and that it is time to be scared, very scared.

There's a history here, too.

Racial justice blogger Shay Stewart-Bouley in a post to BlackgirlinMaine observed that the demagogue,

...trades in dog-whistles and has been richly rewarded for his bombast by now being on a speeding train headed directly for the GOP nomination, much to the dismay of the establishment GOP who must now grapple with the house they allowed to be built on the foundation of hate after the 2008 elections.
Here's a good, short video making the connection between dog-whistles, racism, and why the white working class in the U.S. is so panicky right now. Also the history of using that fear to control government policies.

Guess what? Economic discrimination over generations is a form of violence, too. It results in malnourished children living in sub-standard housing that is bad for their health. It results in broken families who can't afford to stay together. It results in missed educational opportunities, and chronic unemployment. Mental stress, substance abuse, and addiction. Lack of health care. Homelessness and despair.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

U.S. Allies Lead The World In Repression And Violence

Where to begin. There is such a long list of U.S. allies ruled by regimes dedicated to repression and violence, especially targeting those who effectively resist in word or deed. 

Depicted above is celebrated environmental organizer Berta Cáceres, who was assassinated March 2, 2016 at her home in Honduras. You remember Honduras: the Central American republic whose elected government was toppled by a military coup enabled by U.S. complicit support in 2009 and since then. 

The illegitimate government of Honduras continues targeting indigenous leaders like Cáceres on behalf of corporations greedy for access to resources.

A taste of Berta Cáceres' wisdom, the kind of message that gets you killed if you get famous enough saying it:

In our worldview, we are beings who come from the Earth, from the water, and from corn. The Lenca people are ancestral guardians of the rivers, in turn protected by the spirits of young girls, who teach us that giving our lives in various ways for the protection of the rivers is giving ourlives for the well-being of humanity and of this planet… Let us wake up! We’re out of time. WE must shake our conscience free of the rapacious capitalism, racism and patriarchy that will only assure our own self-destruction.  Our Mother Earth – militarized, fenced-in, poisoned, a place where basic rights are systematically violated – demands that we take action.
The U.S. has a long history of rapacious policies in Central and South America, perpetrated by regimes with either D or R after their names. 

Reagan, both Bushes -- all were horrible neighbors to the people south of the U.S. border who were standing in the way of profits for their corporate supporters. And both Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have Cáceres' blood on their hands.

Onward to Saudi Arabia. Last weekend CODEPINK held a summit in Washington DC to examine this strange U.S. bedfellow.
Source: Al Jazeera English on Twitter:
"Pope Francis condemns massacre of nuns & workers at Yemen retirement home "
As one of the most repressive regimes on the planet, especially for a wealthy country, SA is distinguished by beheading dissidents, imprisoning and whipping journalists and bloggers, and treating all adult women like perpetual children. Even aside from its domestic policies,

the House of Saud has backed and trained ISIS terrorists fighting in Iraq and Syria, and has itself been bombing targets like nursing homes in Yemen.

Let's end our examination of dreadful U.S. allies with Turkey, long a NATO bulwark against Russia's influence in the region. The ongoing civil war in Syria has provided the pretext for Turkey to shell Kurdish units outside its border while a military blockade disguised as a "curfew" has included civilian massacres in Sur, Diarbakir in Turkey's southeast. 
As reported by Figen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş, Co-chairs of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in the Kurdistan Tribune:

One hundred and seventy-eight bodies have so far been collected from the “Savage Basements” in the Cizre district of Sirnak. Yet, the family members who were asked to identify the deceased report that the bodies were burnt beyond recognition. Furthermore, bodies have been intentionally transported to various other cities in Turkey for autopsy procedures, which in turn have aggravated the suffering of the family members.
Meanwhile, U.S. ally Turkey is making international news for its crackdown on journalists, many of whom have been jailed on criminal charges. Ironically, these charges often include terrorism. Several major media outlets have been closed down entirely. 
 reporting from Istanbul for The Guardian wrote:
“By lashing out and seeking to rein in critical voices, President Erdoğan’s government is steamrolling over human rights,” said Andrew Gardner, Turkey researcher for Amnesty International. “A free and independent media, together with the rule of law and independent judiciary, are the cornerstones of internationally guaranteed freedoms which are the right of everyone in Turkey.” 
The takeover of Cihan and Zaman follows the same pattern as a government crackdown on the Koza Ipek media group in October last year. The group’s newspaper and television operations have since been shut down entirely.
It would take quite a long time to complete a list of the U.S.'s odious allies and their outstanding crimes against humanity. 

Israel, Jordan, and South Korea spring to mind in this regard. The burning questions U.S. citizens should be asking themselves is why does my government support these regimes, and does this bode well for my own security and civil liberties in the days to come? Most will not ask these questions, because they rely on corporate "news" to bring them what little information about the world they require. Mostly they are served up hype about the presidential primary season plus celebrity gossip. America is so exceptional it doesn't need to concern itself with the actions of its friends. Because, really, who among us can find these countries on a map anyway?

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

#SuperTuesday Of Doom

Cartoon used with permission.
My aunt, who is Australian, emailed me this morning as news of U.S. Super Tuesday results reached her: "Do something, do anything...or we'll all be floundering through the worst period in the history of the USA ever, and ever, and ever."

When I was a young history major the essential question was: How could the German people let the Holocaust happen? Now that I have lived through the last 59 years I understand exactly how they could. And the role of the media then in Germany was negligible compared to its pervasive hold on my country today. U.S. "news" magazines declared the demagogue with the bad hair the front runner months ago. And his name recognition was already sky high as the result of his horrid reality show, and using his own vast wealth to buy air time and notoriety.
The Central Park 5, who served between six and thirteen years in prison for a crime they did not commit.
Source: New York Daily News
His racist street cred dates all the way back to the Central Park 5, a group of young men of color wrongly accused and incarcerated over a violent attack on a white woman in New York City in 1989. The future demagogue with the bad hair was a real estate and media mogul at the time, and his role in whipping up sentiment to execute the five young men is described here.

The media-fueled ascent of the demagogue with the bad hair is designed to pressure us into supporting the party that does this:

So, sorry, I won't be supporting the warmongering Democratic candidates either. Bernie Sanders is a lot of hot socialist-sounding air à la Obama; he is a Zionist, and he fought hard for military contracts, among them the F-35 jet, in Vermont. Because, "jobs." Right. 

Hillary has more blood on her hands because she has had more power for longer, and the Democrat Party leadership is rightly scared that their heavy-handed tactics against grassroots support by naïve Bernie followers will cost them the election. 

But anyone running with a D after their name will represent the same corporate interest as people running with an R after their name.

I will be caucusing here in Solon for the Maine Independent Green Party this Sunday, expecting we will nominate Dr. Jill Stein for president. Sure, there's little chance she can win since the electoral system makes sure we only get to choose between two corporate parties, but does it really make much difference which celebrity spokesperson for the corporations who own the U.S. government is elected? Black people are gunned down constantly by police now even with a Black man in the White House. At least the Greens are on the ballot in Maine, and I am happy to do some of the work to keep them there.

I think that the economic crash and bank bailouts of '08 will one day be seen as a turning point. The working poor in the U.S. took it in the teeth, and Occupy Wall St. scared the crap out of the 1%. After people coming together to effect change were violently evicted from their non-violent tent cities around the country, police and demagogues went into overtime inciting racial hatred.

What supporters of the racist demagogue are really afraid of is that they will never compete successfully with someone as beautiful, intelligent and educated as Dr. Suzanne Barakat, whose family members were shot for being Muslim in North Carolina last year. 

Stop Provoking Violence, Mr. Trump
Dr. Suzanne Barakat's brother was killed in the Chapel Hill shooting last year. She wants Donald Trump to stop inciting against Muslims.
Posted by AJ+ on Friday, February 26, 2016
If people in the U.S. understood where their real interests lie, they would support the Green Party whose platform calls for slashing the military budget and funding sustainable energy, free college education, universal health care, and debt relief for the people. But the corporate media will make sure that the vast majority of them never know they have a choice except the ones labeled D and R.

To my aunt: I will keep working to get real information out to people. Because if voting really changed anything, they wouldn't let us do it.