Totalitarianism - search results
February 25, 2014
Boko Haram Islamic militants storm Nigeria boarding school, kill 29 childrenDAMATURU, Nigeria -- Gunmen from Islamist group Boko Haram stormed a boarding school in northeast Nigeria overnight and killed 29 pupils, many of whom died in flames as the school was burned to the ground, police and the military said on Tuesday.
Some of the students bodies were burned to ashes,â€ Police Commissioner Sanusi Rufai said of the attack on the Federal Government college of Buni Yadi, a secondary school in Yobe state, near the state's capital city of Damaturu.
Female students were spared in the attack, said spokesman Abdullahi Bego. The attackers went to the female dormitories and told the young women to go home, get married and abandon the Western education they said is anathema to Islam, he said. He was relating to The Associated Press what survivors and community leaders told Gov. Ibrahim Gaidam when he visited the now-deserted and destroyed Federal Government College at Buni Yadi, a secondary school 45 miles south of the state capital, Damaturu..
Soldiers guarding a checkpoint near the government school were mysteriously withdrawn hours before the attack, said Abdullahi Bego, the spokesman for the governor of Yobe state....
Go here for more gruesome details.
Allen West says this:
Some may read this story and ask who cares?
I’m not advocating the United States police the world but if we refuse to comprehend the global threat of Islamic totalitarianism, we are only fooling ourselves.
This is not about occupation warfare but strike operations against these non-state, non-uniform belligerents, and we must interdict their flow of financial and materiel support. Along with that we must stop the PC mantra of not attacking their ideology, stop calling them extremists and refer to them as who they are, jihadists, Islamic terrorists.
I am waiting to hear condemnation from President Obama. Not holding my breath.
No, me neither. Go read Allen West here.
From Jihad Watch:
Nigerian students trying to escape college attack were “slaughtered like sheep” by Islamic jihadists who slit their throats
February 25, 2014
Remember: when you hear Leftists and Islamic supremacists going on about “Islamophobia,” demonizing those who call attention to atrocities like this, this is what they are enabling: students burned alive, and having their throats slit when they tried to escape. This is, apparently, what the “Islamophobia” industry — the real one that pushes the concept, not the counter-jihad one that Hamas-linked CAIR imagines to exist — wants to see: heaps of dead Infidel bodies....
Adamu Garba said he and other teachers who ran away through the bush estimate 40 students died in the assault that began around 2 a.m. Tuesday at the Federal Government College at Buni Yadi.
It is a co-ed school about 70 kilometres south of Damaturu, the capital of Yobe state, and difficult to communicate with because extremists last year destroyed the cellphone tower there.
Soldiers still are gathering corpses so he could not give an exact number of dead, said military spokesman Capt. Eli Lazarus....
Much more here.
What happens 'over there' has nothing to do with us. Right?
Amerikan Stasi Police State Staring Us In The Face American sheeple stick heads in the sand, pretend to be ostriches Paul Craig Roberts Note: The Lorde story is likely a hoax, but it nevertheless captures the truth of the situation. American taxpayers have built an entire city in Virginia so that the Pentagon, can practice…
The post Amerikan Stasi Police State Staring Us In The Face — Paul Craig Roberts appeared first on PaulCraigRoberts.org.
The basis of a vibrant and dynamic society is an open and free marketplace where people ‘vote’ with their decisions on where to spend money, where to live, what to read, who to vote for, etc. In the United States, a good example of what occurs when decisions are centralized is healthcare and education- the key decisions are made outside the mainstream of the marketplace and the country ranks far below the rest of the developed world, even behind countries with considerably less economic wealth. As central planning and regulations remove potential players and solidify the positions of special interests, the quality of education and healthcare has plummeted.
So what does this have to do with the price of gold? Everything.
What is Money?
Gold is money. Federal Reserve Notes are not money on one important score; they are a poor long term store of value. One ounce of gold in 1938 was worth just about $35 and a new car was worth $860. If a new car dealer took the money from the sale of a new car in 1938, converted it to gold and gave that gold to his new born son, when the boy turned 75 in 2013 he could have bought a brand new Toyota Camry with the gold his father had given him. If instead, the father had given him the cash, he could have gone out and bought himself a fancy new bicycle with the dollars he'd held on to for 75 years.
If the old man, feeling flush, tossed in an extra ounce of the ‘barbarous relic’ for gas in 1938 his son could have bought about 350 gallons of gas for the ounce of gold. If the kiddo had held on to the gas money in the form of gold, he could have, in 2013, bought almost the exact amount, 360 gallons. But if the youngster had made the mistake of converting his ounce of gold into dollars, he could have, in 2013, bought a good bottle of Spanish wine with the Federal Reserve Notes he received in 1938 for his ounce of gold.
Money is a means of exchange, AND a store of value. The dollar is a great means of exchange but it's a pitiful store of value.
In essence, money is work. If someone wants to sell 1,000 kilos of wild salmon for $10,000 he might find a few buyers who, if they wanted to proceed, would ask about delivery. If the seller pointed toward the cold waters off the Alaskan coast and indicated that the fish were out there swimming around, he wouldn't have any buyers at any price. When someone pays for fish, they are not paying money for the fish, they are paying money for the work involved in finding them, catching them, and transporting them to market. Money is a means of exchange- the fisherman exchanges his work (the fish) for money and he uses the money to maintain the value of his work and later exchange it for the work of others. That is money for the working man.
The Sucker, the Conman and the Shill
Imagine the fisherman decides he needs a new boat and wants to finance the entire purchase price. He will go to his local bank and, if approved, will be given the funds to purchase the boat in exchange for signing a promissory note for the amount and terms of the loan.
When the fisherman signed the promissory note, he assumed that other fishermen, or their equivalents in productive society, worked, earned money, deposited that money in a bank to earn interest and that's the interest he was going to pay on his boat loan, plus the margin for the bank. The interest rate he was paying seemed reasonable, 7%. The guy who deposited the money needs a return, and so does the bank. In fact, it seemed cheap to him. He probably wouldn't continue fishing if the best he could do was make what the bank or the depositor made, say about half of his interest rate, 3.5%. For that, he would sell everything and buy a ten year bond that paid close to 3% and call it a day. But he’s not a banker and he assumes they're making money some other way.
The banker is thrilled. He did take some deposits and put them in reserve (about 10% of the loan amount) and he will be paid interest (.25%) on that amount by the Fed. Then he created, out of thin air, the entire loan amount to give to the fisherman. The money he gave the fisherman never existed before the fisherman signed the promissory note. The banker is making more than 70% on the money he has left in reserve, for which is also earning interest. Worst case, if the fisherman goes belly up, the banker will sell the boat. He can’t lose much.
The PhD Nobel Laureate, writing for a one of the world’s great newspapers, never a word he speaks of this, for if he did, only for Zero Hedge would he write and not a penny would he see for his poetic prose. So instead he writes about Democrats and Republicans and higher taxes on the fisherman to pay for the bigger deficits he is so fond of. More deficits, more debt, he exclaims. Just print the stuff like it’s going out of style and we’ll all be living high on the hog.
The fact is, only the fisherman actually does something worthwhile for society, while the banker stuffs his pockets and the PhD stuffs his ego while filling the masses with fantasies.
So what does this have to do with gold going below $960? Everything.
To survive as a human being in the United States, as well as in most corners of this world, one needs money. Money to put a roof over one's head, money to buy food, money to heat one's house, money to put a shirt on one’s back. The banker's script says that fiat money (dollars, yen, euros, etc.) is real money, the same as gold. Money is work, and gold stores the value of work. Fiat money is a claim on future work- it's not work itself.
What banks do is the equivalent of allowing people to become indentured servants, signing away their futures for a stack of instantly made Federal Reserve Notes, and they get their hooks in early. The average college graduate in 2012 had just over $20,000 in student loan debt on graduation day as well as additional credit card debt. The banker's ability to create money out of nothing and lend it to kids is a good example of how they have completely demolished any semblance of democracy in America. Who in their right mind would loan a kid $20,000 for a college education if the money they lent was earned through work? Would we pay billions to the NSA to spy on us, or trillions to fight imperial proxy wars all over the world if we had to pay for them with work (gold)?
Of course we wouldn't. If the money that was loaned to governments, businesses and individuals was real, much more critical thinking would be involved in its allocation and the cumulative votes of investors would render practical results, instead Twitter is valued at over $30 billion. But when the Fed is pumping trillions into markets, who is thinking about risk? If people actually decided on public policy through having to pay for those polices through work, the world would look much different than it does today. When money is created by the trillions out of nothing and simply laid as claim on the future work of the populace, then the only ones deciding on those policies are the money masters who control the printing presses.
If gold were used as the basis of our money, the only way to make more of it would be to dig it out of the ground and that takes work, something bankers and shills are quite averse too. To loan money they would first have to either work and earn it, or make a spread on what they paid in interest and what they earned on loans, becoming intermediaries. Neither variant is to their liking as they much prefer to print it out of thin air, loan it out and keep the interest. The now infamous 1% are dependent on this model of money creation and when their ponzi scheme collapsed in 2008, they turned on the presses overtime and made it all back and more in a few short years.
Gold is incredibly democratic in that there is no machine to print it. But there is paper gold, which the bankers have leveraged about a 100 times and with which they can drive the price of gold wherever they want with their fiat money. The script says that their money is real- the new and improved version of the outdated gold. Gold is the enemy of fiat money because its intrinsic scarcity and universally accepted value is a constant reminder of the banker's ponzi scheme.
In April of 2011 gold hit a record high of $1,923 an ounce. Come hell or high-water, the banksters want to announce in the corporate media they own, that once and for all the shiny stuff has been deemed a relic, nice for jewelry but wholly useless as money. To do this they will drive the price below $960 an ounce, halving its price in dollars in about three years. It doesn't take much to imagine the headlines, Is Gold a Worthless Investment? etc. But Dr. Krugman would say these are the fantasies of conspiratorial gold nuts. Really Dr. Krugman?
On April 11, 2013 gold closed at $1,562 an ounce. On April 12 someone sold 400 tons of gold, 300 of which was sold in just 30 minutes, driving the price of gold down below $1,500 an ounce, crashing through important technical levels and for many, marking the end to gold's bull run which began in 2000. How much is 400 tons of gold? It's about 15% of all the gold mined in 2011 or .25% of all the gold ever mined in the history of man, worth about $20 billion dollars at the time. This was obviously not done by someone who owned gold because there would be no reason to drive the price down so dramatically if someone wanted to exit a position. This was a naked short, done by someone with deep pockets to make a dramatic, headline catching move in the gold market. Not surprisingly, Dr. Krugman wasted no time chiming in and on April 15, 2013 he wrote of gold bugs, "Maybe, just maybe, the gold crash will finally bring intellectual capitulation. But I wouldn't bet on it."
That's very interesting coming from a Nobel prize winner who doesn't even understand the basics of money creation, as was clearly shown in his debate with economist Steve Keen.
Gold is much more than an investment, it's the backbone of liberty. Without it we will be led by the banksters and their shills down the merry way of slavery, plutocracy and totalitarianism.
It's in the script.
Robert Bonomo is a blogger, novelist and esotericist. Download his latest novel, Your Love Incomplete, for free here.
Posted on Oct 18, 2013
By Henry A. Giroux, Truthout
This piece first appeared at Truthout before the government shutdown was resolved.
In the aftermath of the reign of Nazi terror in the 1940s, the philosopher Theodor Adorno wrote:
National Socialism lives on, and even today we still do not know whether it is merely the ghost of what was so monstrous that it lingers on after its own death, or whether it has not yet died at all, whether the willingness to commit the unspeakable survives in people as well as in the conditions that enclose them.
Adorno’s words are as relevant today as they were when he first wrote them. The threat of authoritarianism to citizen-based democracy is alive and well in the United States, and its presence can be felt in the historical conditions leading up to the partial government shutdown and the refusal on the part of the new extremists to raise the debt ceiling. Adorno believed that while the specific features and horrors of mid-century fascism such as the concentration camps and the control of governments by a political elite and the gestapo would not be reproduced in the same way, democracy as a political ideal and as a working proposition would be under assault once again by new anti-democratic forces all too willing to impose totalitarian systems on their adversaries.
For Adorno, the conditions for fascism would more than likely crystallize into new forms. For instance, they might be found in the economic organization of a society that renders “the majority of people dependent upon conditions beyond their control and thus maintains them in a state of political immaturity. If they want to live, then no other avenue remains but to adapt, submit themselves to the given conditions.” In part, this speaks to the role of corporate-controlled cultural apparatuses that normalize anti-democratic ideologies and practices as well as to the paramount role of education in creating a subject for whom politics was superfluous. For Adorno, fascism in its new guise particularly would launch a systemic assault on the remaining conditions for democracy through the elimination of public memory, public institutions in which people could be educated to think critically and the evisceration of public spaces where people could learn the art of social citizenship, thoughtfulness and critical engagement. He also believed that the residual elements of the police state would become emergent in any new expression of fascism in which the corporate and military establishments would be poised to take power. Adorno, like Hannah Arendt, understood that the seeds of authoritarianism lie in the “disappearance of politics: a form of government that destroys politics, methodically eliminating speaking and acting human beings and attacking the very humanity of first a selected group and then all groups. In this way, totalitarianism makes people superfluous as human beings.”
The American political, cultural, and economic landscape is inhabited by the renewed return of authoritarianism evident in the ideologies of religious and secular certainty that legitimate the reign of economic Darwinism, the unchecked power of capital, the culture of fear and the expanding national security state. The ghosts of fascism also are evident in what Charles Derber and Yale Magress call elements of “the Weimer Syndrome,” which include a severe and seemingly unresolvable economic crisis, liberals and moderate parties too weak to address the intensifying political and economic crises, the rise of far-right populist groups such as the Tea Party and white militia, and the emergence of the Christian Right, with its racist, anti-intellectual and fundamentalist ideology. The underpinnings of fascism are also evident in the reign of foreign and domestic terrorism that bears down on the so called enemies of the state (whistleblowers and nonviolent youthful protesters) and on those abroad who challenge America’s imperial mission; it is also visible in a growing pervasive surveillance system buttressed by the belief that everyone is a potential enemy of the state and should be rightfully subject to diverse and massive assaults on rights to privacy and assembly.
The return to authoritarianism can also be seen in the pervasive and racist war on youths, whether one points to a generation of young people saddled with unspeakable debt, poverty and unemployment, or the ongoing criminalization of behaviors that either represent trivial infractions, such as violating a dress code, or more serious forms of terrorism, such as incarcerating increasing numbers of low-income whites and poor minority youths. Americans live at a time when the history of those who have been cheated, murdered or excluded is being destroyed. Eliminated from this history are the collective narratives of struggle, resistance and rebellion against various forms of authoritarianism. We live in a time in which the politics of the moral coma is alive and well and is most visible in the ways in which the rise of the new extremism in the United States is being ignored. The repudiation of intellectual responsibility confirms what Leo Lowenthal once called the “regression to sheer Darwinism - or perhaps one should say infantilism,” along with any sense of moral accountability toward others or the common good. The government shutdown offers a clear case of a kind of historical and social amnesia and a rare glimpse of the parameters of the new authoritarianism.
During the past few decades, it has become clear that those who wield corporate, political and financial power in the United States thrive on the misery of others. Widening inequality, environmental destruction, growing poverty, the privatization of public goods, the attack on social provisions, the elimination of pensions and the ongoing attacks on workers, young protesters, Muslims and immigrants qualify as just a few of the injustices that have intensified with the rise of the corporate and financial elite since the 1970s. None of these issues are novel, but the intensification of the attacks and the visibility of unbridled power and arrogance of the financial, corporate and political elite that produces these ongoing problems are new and do not bode well for the promise of a democratic society.
Such failings are not reducible either to the moral deficiencies and unchecked greed of both major political parties or the rapacious power of the mega banks, hedge funds and investment houses. Those intellectuals writing to acknowledge the current state of politics in America understand the outgrowth of a mix of rabid racism, religious fundamentalism, civic illiteracy, class warfare and a savage hatred of the welfare state that now grips the leadership of the Republican Party. The new extremists and prophets of authoritarianism are diverse, and their roots are in what Chris Hedges calls the radical Christian right, Michael Lind calls the reincarnation of the old Jeffersonian-Jacksonian right and what Robert Parry and Andrew O’Hehir call racist zealots. All of these elements are present in American politics, but they are part of a new social formation in which they share, even in their heterogeneity, a set of organizing principles, values, policies, modes of governance and ideologies that have created a cultural formation, institutional structures, values and policies that support a range of anti-democratic practices ranging from the militarization of public life and acts of domestic terrorism to the destruction of the social state and all those public spheres capable of producing critical and engaged citizens.
Needless to say, all of these groups play an important role in the rise of the new extremism and culture of cruelty that now characterizes American politics and has produced the partial government shutdown and threatens economic disaster with the debt-ceiling standoff. What is new is that these various fundamentalist registers and ideological movements have produced a coalition, a totality that speaks to a new historical conjuncture, one that has ominous authoritarian overtones for the present and future. There is no talk among the new extremists of imposing only an extreme Christian religious orthodoxy on the American people or simply restoring a racial state; or for that matter is there a singular call for primarily controlling the economy. The new counter-revolutionaries and apostles of the Second Gilded age are more interested in imposing a mode of authoritarianism that contains all of these elements in the interest of governing the whole of social life. This suggests a historical conjuncture in which a number of anti-democratic forces come together to “fuse and form a kind of configuration” - a coming together of diverse political and ideological formations into a new totality. The partial government shutdown is a precondition and test run for a full coup d’état by the social formations driving this totality. And while they may lose the heated battle over the government shutdown and the debt ceiling, they have succeeded in executing their project and giving it some legitimacy in the dominant media.
Hiding beneath the discourse of partisan politics as usual, the authoritarian face of the new extremism is overlooked in the dominant media by terms such as “the opposing party,” “hard-line conservatives” or, in the words of New York Times columnist Sam Tanenhous, the party of “a post consensus politics.” In fact, even progressives such as Marian Wright Edelman fall into this trap in writing that “some members of Congress are acting like children - or, more accurately, worse than children.” In this case, the anti-democratic ideologies, practices and social formations at work in producing the shutdown and the potential debt-ceiling crisis are not merely overlooked but incorporated into a liberal discourse that personalizes, psychologizes or infantilizes behaviors that refuses to acknowledge or, in fact, succumbs to totalitarian tendencies.
There is no sense in the mainstream liberal and conservative discourses that a new authoritarianism haunts the current notion and ideal of governance and is the culmination of what Hannah Arendt once viewed as a historical trend toward the limiting, if not elimination, of the political as it relates to and furthers the promise of a democracy to come. The wider contexts of power and politics disappear in these discourses. We get a glimpse of this erasure in a statement by former Texas congressman and Republican Party House majority leader Dick Armey. In commenting on the shutdown, Armey raises the issue of “How does a guy like Ted Cruz, who’s relatively new in town, who nobody knows, who hasn’t even unpacked his bags, drive this whole process?” What Armey ignores in this revealing and stark assessment is that the very cultural, economic and political conditions that he has helped to put in place along with a range of other right-wing ideologues helped to create the perfect storm for Cruz to appear and set in motion the authoritarian tendencies that have been percolating in the social order since the late 1970s.
What is clear in the current impasse is that the Republican Party has held the U.S. government hostage, in part, because it disagrees with a health initiative that has been endorsed by a large segment of the American people, been deemed legal by the Supreme Court and played a significant role in getting Barack Obama re-elected. For some, these practices resemble a politics that appropriates the gangster tactics of extortion, but this understanding is only partially true. There is a deeper order of politics at work here, and there is more at stake than simply defunding the Affordable Care Act. As Bill Moyers points out, the attack on the Affordable Care Act is only one target in the sights of the new extremists. He writes:
Despite what they say, Obamacare is only one of their targets. Before they will allow the government to reopen, they demand employers be enabled to deny birth control coverage to female employees. They demand Obama cave on the Keystone pipeline. They demand the watchdogs over corporate pollution be muzzled, and the big, bad regulators of Wall Street sent home. Their ransom list goes on and on. The debt ceiling is next.
Moyers is correct, but his argument can be extended. What Americans are witnessing is a politics that celebrates a form of domestic terrorism, a kind of soft militarism and a hyper-masculine posturing in which communities are organized around resentment, racism and symbolic violence. With the partial government shutdown and the looming debt ceiling crisis engineered by the extremists driving the Republican Party, the amount of human suffering, violence and hardships that many individuals and families are experiencing border on catastrophic and open up a whole new act in the theater of cruelty, state violence, human misery and the exercise of raw and savage power.
The assassins now in power are cultivating a culture of fear, vengeance and hatred not only directed at disposable populations such as the poor, low-income minority youths, whistleblowers, immigrants and those who are disabled, uninsured and unemployed - but also at civil liberties, labor unions, women’s reproductive rights and voting rights. Neoliberal common sense now colonizes everyday life and spreads the market-driven gospel of privatization, commodification, deregulation and free trade. Competitiveness, self-interest and decentralization are the new mantras governing society and provide the ideological scaffolding for “moulding identities and characterizing social relations.” The pursuit of the public good, social justice and equality has been replaced by the crude discourse of commerce, the drive for profits and “rational choice models that internalize and thus normalize market-oriented behaviour.” Entrepreneurial identities replace all modes of solidarity invested in democratic principles, and self-interested actors supplant the discourse of the public good. The production of capital, services and material goods “are at the heart of the human experience.”
The connection between private troubles and public considerations has been broken. The many problems the American people now face - from unemployment and poverty to homelessness - regardless of the degree to which they are caused by larger social, economic and political forces are now individualized, placed on the shoulders of the victims who are now solely responsible for the terror, hardship and violence they experience. The shutdown is not another example of an egregiously inept and morally corrupt group of politicians, it is a flashpoint registering the degree to which the United States has become an authoritarian state, one now governed by a system in which economics drives politics, irrationality trumps reason, the public good is canceled out by an unchecked narcissism and ethical considerations are subordinated to the drive for profits at any cost.
For those who have refused to participate in the willful amnesia that marks the contemporary slide into authoritarianism, the totalitarian practices of the past few decades have been quite clear. Domestic spying; secret prisons; kill lists; military aggression; the rise of corporatism; the death-dealing culture of hyper-masculinity, drones and the spectacle of violence; and a monochromatic media have not only registered a shift from state power to corporate power but also a move from the welfare state to the warfare state. Consumer sovereignty erases the rights and obligations of citizens and eviscerates ethical claims and social responsibilities from the meaning of politics. Government is viewed as the enemy, except when it benefits the rich, corporations and hedge fund executives. At the same time that social programs are viewed as a pathology and drain on the state, intellectuals are incorporated into a spectacle of conformity where they lose their voices and become normalized.
The hijacking of democracy by extremists in and outside of the government appears completely disassociated from the needs of the American people, and as such the instruments of dominant politics, power and influence appear unaccountable. And unaccountability is the stuff of political tyrants, not simply religious fanatics or market fundamentalists; it has been a long time in the making and has been fed by a relentless culture of fear, warfare, greed, inequality, unbridled power formations, the destruction of civil liberties and a virulent racism that has a long history in the United States and has gone into overdrive since the 1980s, reaching its authoritarian tipping point after the tragedy of 9/11.
Obama may not be responsible for the government shutdown and the debt ceiling crisis, but he can be charged with furthering a climate of lawlessness that feeds the authoritarian culture supportive of a range of political, economic and cultural interests. The American anti-war activist Fred Branfman argues that:
Under Mr. Obama, America is still far from being a classic police-state of course. But no President has done more to create the infrastructure for a possible future police-state. This infrastructure will clearly pose a serious danger to democratic ideals should there be more 9/11s, and/or increased domestic unrest due to economic decline and growing inequality, and/or massive global disruption due to climate change.
The new extremists in the Republican Party are simply raising the bar for the authoritarian registers and illegal legalities that have emerged under Bush and Obama in the past decade - including the bailing out of banks guilty of the worst forms of corporate malfeasance, the refusal to prosecute government officials who committed torture, the undermining of civil liberties with the passage of the Patriot Act, the National Defense Authorization Act, the establishment of a presidential kill list and the authorization of widespread surveillance to be used against the American people without full transparency.
The current crisis has little to do with what some have called a standoff between the two major political parties. It is has been decades in the making and is part of a much broader coup d’état to benefit the financial elite, race baiters, war mongers and conservative ideologues such as the right-wing billionaires, David and Charles Koch, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Americans for Prosperity, the Club for Growth, the Heritage Foundation policy hacks and other extremist individuals and organizations that believe that democracy poses a threat to a government that should be firmly in the hands of Wall Street and other elements of the military-industrial-surveillance-prison complex.
The willingness and recklessness of the new extremists to throw most of the American people, if not all vestiges of economic security and democracy, into political and economic chaos is a measure of the depth and degree to which the United States has become subject to a new form of authoritarianism. Not only has the shutdown caused the American public $300 million a day and portends a financial catastrophe, but it has shut down programs such as WIC that provide funding for “nearly nine million pregnant women, recent mothers, and their children under age five who rely on the program’s supplemental vouchers for healthy food, expensive infant formula, and other necessities. Fifty-three percent of all infants born in the U.S. are fed through the WIC program.” Nineteen thousand students in Head Start have lost their funding, 800,000 federal workers have been furloughed, and life-saving research for “children with serious medical needs has been affected.” In Maine, many of the poor will go without funds for heating, the Environmental Protection Agency has furloughed more than 16,000 workers, or 95 percent of its workforce, prompting what Sara Chieffo, the legislative director of the League of Conservation Voters, has called “a polluter’s heyday.”
It gets worse. Thousands of safety inspectors for the Federal Aviation Administration no longer on the job because of the shutdown will not be able to perform “included inspections for the de-icing of aircraft on the tarmac and checks that pilots do not fly longer than allowed.” As Think Progress has pointed out, this heavy-handed exercise of raw power means more people will get sick because routine food inspections by the FDA will be dramatically reduced, cutbacks in the staff of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will put the country at risk for the spread of infectious diseases, many low-income poor will be cut off from needed nutritional assistance, agencies that conduct workplace inspections and ensure worker safety will not be on the job, and the work of public health researchers may be set back for years. In fact, the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration, which already were underfunded for years, are “scrambling to recall furloughed employees to deal with a dangerous food-borne salmonella outbreak and a lethal Hepatitis outbreak in Hawaii.” As Michal Meurer and Candice Bernd point out, food-borne illnesses pose a real and dangerous threat to the American public, and the government shutdown should be seen as part of a broader right-wing plan to dismantle regulatory agencies, regardless of the lethal impact they may have on the American people. The food safety system is in crisis not for lack of resources and expertise but because of willful recklessness put into place through the right-wing policies of the new authoritarianism. There is more at work here than the recklessness of Senators Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and other Tea Party Republicans, bankrolled by a handful of billionaires; there is also the echo of authoritarianism that now saturates the American cultural and political landscape, endlessly normalizing itself in the media and other cultural apparatuses that showcase and normalize its corrupt politics, racist and class-based ideologies and culture of cruelty, all enabled under the sanctity of the market and in the name of state security. The shutdown and debt ceiling crisis signal the depth and degree to which the United States has become subject to a new form of authoritarianism.
A new type of criminal regime now drives American politics, one devoid of any sense of justice, equality and honor. It thrives on fear, the false promise of security and an egregious fusion of economic, religious and racist ideologies that have become normalized. This new dystopia wants nothing more than the complete destruction of the formative culture, collectives and the institutions that make democracy possible. Inequality is its engine, and disposability is the reward for large segments of the American public. It ideologies and structure of politics often have been hidden from the American public. The shutdown and debt-ceiling crisis have forced the new authoritarianism out of the shadows into the light. The lockdown state is on full display with its concentrated economic power and the willingness of the apostles of authoritarianism to push millions of people into ruin. Paraphrasing Eric Cazdyn, all of society is now at the mercy of a corporate, religious, and financial elite just as “all ideals are at the mercy of [a] larger economic logic.” The category of hell is alive and well in the racist and imperial enclaves of the rich, the bigoted, the bankers and hedge fund managers.
The question that remains is how can politics be redefined through a new language that is capable of articulating not only what has gone wrong with the United States but how the forces responsible can be challenged in new ways by new social formations and collective movements? The crisis caused by the shutdown needs to be addressed through a discourse in which the ghosts and traces of historical modes of authoritarianism can be revealed in tandem with its newly revised edition. This is a daunting task, but too much is at stake to not take it up. The authoritarianism that rules American society functions as more than an apology for inequality, the ruthlessness of the market and the savage costs it imposes on the American public; it also represents a present danger that cannot be repeated in the future. Authoritarianism in its present form in America is the result of the formative culture, modes of civic education and sites of public pedagogy necessary for a viable democratic society degenerating into caricature, or what Adorno called an “empty and cold forgetting.” The ghost has become a reality, although it has been reconfigured to adjust to the specificity of the American political, economic and cultural landscape in the 21st century. In 2004, I wrote a book titled The Terror of Neoliberalism: The New Authoritarianism and the Eclipse of Democracy. What is different almost a decade later is a mode of state repression and an apparatus of symbolic and real violence that is not only more pervasive and visible but also more unaccountable, more daunting in its arrogance and disrespect for the most fundamental elements of justice, equality and civil liberties.
The new authoritarianism must be exposed as a politic of disaster and a new catastrophe, one that is rooted in large-scale terror and the death of the civic imagination. It has to be contoured with a sense of hope and possibility so that intellectuals, artists, workers, educators and young people can imagine otherwise in order to act otherwise. If we have entered into an era of what Stanley Aronowitz calls “the repressive authoritarian state,” there are signs all over the globe that authoritarianism in its various versions is being challenged in countries that extend from Egypt and Greece to Chile and Mexico. The radical imagination is alive, but it has to be a site of struggle by those committed to creating a new politics, modes of identity, social relations, power arrangements and moral values that offer the glimpse of political and economic emancipation.
A New Beginning Without Washington’s Sanctimonious Mask Paul Craig Roberts It is hard to understand the fuss that Washington and its media whores are making over Edward Snowden. We have known for a long time that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been spying for years without warrants on the communications of Americans and people…
The post A New Beginning Without Washington’s Sanctimonious Mask — Paul Craig Roberts appeared first on PaulCraigRoberts.org.
In September 1955 an editorial column in Toward Freedom, titled “Consent of the Governed,” criticized “the tendency to make the communist issue so big that it obscured all others.” During the recent Bandung conference, which had launched the non-aligned movement, the editor noted that the US press had focused hard on public criticisms of Soviet subversion. But it had ignored other statements by world leaders that “urged the third way of emphasizing democracy and the consent of the governed.”
The following month Bill LLoyd took up the urgent need for timetables leading to self-government:
“The fiction of France’s ‘domestic jurisdiction’ in Indochina 10,000 miles away brought the United States to the verge of war in April, 1954. The extreme version of this concept shelters both colonialism and communist totalitarianism, and promotes their interaction to undermine orderly, peaceful progress.”
Six former colonial areas – Jordan, Ceylon, Nepal, Libya, Cambodia and Laos – joined the UN in 1955. Lloyd said it was a time “when national freedom again was recognized as a logical, acceptable goal for all peoples.” The call issued in Bandung had helped power the drive for UN membership. He also acknowledged that the US maintained an air base in Libya and that the removal of Algeria from the UN agenda represented a setback. However, for the first time a UN visiting mission had proposed a timetable for independence in Tanganyika (Tanzania) – although it was just “within 25 years.”
Other countries were edging toward freedom. Ghana was preparing for full independence, Sudan’s parliament had declared it independent, Malaysia was preparing to vote, and Morocco was making slow progress. But thousands of lives were being lost in Algeria, nationalists were defying the British military occupation of Cyprus, and violence persisted in Kenya.
In the midst of the 1956 elections Lloyd addressed the connection between politics and morality. European powers had “milked the colonial people for all they could get,” he charged in an editorial with the pointed title, “Wrongs Must Be Righted.” Too many people forgot “the simple moral fact that the wrongdoer must make restitution before his good intentions can be given full confidence.” That meant restitution for descendants of “grievously wronged” Native Americans and the African people:
“… a full balancing would require colonial governments to spend more for the education of each African child than for each European child, and more for African than for European agricultural development, rather than the lesser amounts that actually are spent in both cases.”
If Europe’s governments claim that can’t afford it, Lloyd added, the US should handle a big part of the cost by shifting some money from military spending to a “huge and dramatic educational and development program through the United Nations.”
The Conference on Independent African States
When Ghana became a sovereign nation on March 6, 1957, Homer Jack represented the TF executive board at the independence celebrations and filed a report in the April issue. The British union jack had been replaced with Ghana’s flag of red, green and gold, he wrote, but economic colonialism lingered.
Jack met with Prime Minister Nkrumah and saw promise in some of his bold ideas. For instance, he liked Nkrumah’s idea for a conference of independent African states – including the Union of South Africa – “to “achieve an African personality in international affairs.” A year later he covered that event, as well as the Sixth Pan-African Conference, both held in Accra.
Although a few participants at the Conference of Independent African States, notably Tunisia and Ethiopia, were cautiously pro-Western the majority leaned toward neutralism, Jack reported. But there were various types – the positive neutralism of the United Arab Republic, Ghana’s positive non-alignment, and Morocco’s non-dependence. The final resolutions talked about “non-entanglement with the big power blocs.”
Asserting that the African states had a distinctive personality which would speak to the cause of peace, the conference called on the great powers to stop producing nuclear weapons and suspend all testing. In particular, they condemned France’s provocative intentions to test nukes in the Sahara. They urged more African representation in disarmament talks and more consultation generally on global affairs.
There was no anti-Israel rhetoric, by the way, only a call for a “just solution of the Palestinian question.” Part of the reason was that Ghana, which hosted the event, was becoming one of Israel’s closest friends on the continent. The other friend was the Union of South Africa.
Regional Federalism and Atomic Colonialism
Bill Lloyd frequently focused on the challenges of independence and the tension between centralization vs. federal states rights. In an April 1955 commentary he said that, taken to an extreme, self-determination could lead to fragmentation. On the other hand, new countries had a perfect right to suspect the colonial powers of trying to use divide and conquer tactics.
The ideal was sovereignty of the people. But based on his Swiss research Lloyd argued pragmatically for the potential of “regional federalism under democratic guarantees.” This involved authority for the central government in the areas of defense, foreign relations, and trade but also suggested flexibility; for example, states and regions should be able to negotiate trade agreements with foreign governments subject to federal approval.
|William B. LLoyd, Jr.|
In matters like smuggling and piracy, on the other hand, the help of the world community should be welcomed. He also proposed an novel trade off: In return for aid, Lloyd suggested that new nations ought to allow their dissatisfied minorities “to appeal to public opinion through the world organization for a peaceful settlement of their claims.”
The continued testing of hydrogen bombs by the US, USSR and UK led to another idea – expanding the definition of colonialism. It needed to go beyond denial of basic rights of self-determination, he said, “to include the forceful imposition of radioactive fallout upon the citizens of unwilling and protesting nations.”
Foreign planes were prevented from violating the recognized air sovereignty of nations. Invasion by radioactive fallout was an even greater violation, he charged. It was atomic colonialism, the ultimate form of environmental racism.
In a follow up editorial TF Board member Robert Pickus discussed the “engineering of consent,” particularly by the Atomic Energy Commission. “We cannot trust our government to give us adequate information because we have given it a prior command: Secure us, by preparing for war,” Pickus wrote.
He identified a profound conundrum; Americans wanted democracy, which meant access to information, but they also wanted to be prepared to wage atomic war – which meant secrecy and ultimately loss of control over the government.
On the Road Toward Freedom: A Cold War Story, part three of six.
Next: Continent in Crisis
Where do you locate yourself on the political spectrum? Are you liberal or conservative? On “the left”, “the right”, or perhaps you’re a bit of both (“moderate”). It is no secret that American mass culture often blunts the capacity for civic engagement and political awareness. Yet those who pursue an identity in acceptable political dialogue are less aware of how the parameters of American politics have been carefully crafted to elicit vicarious and seemingly meaningful participation for the politically inclined.
This is at least partially because political elites have for close to a century carefully crafted and presided over a political universe of smoke and mirrors for their subjects; one where citizens think and act as if they have political choices and agency, thereby perpetuating the myth of democratic participation and enfranchisement. Thinking along these lines is apparent in the almost century-old writings of the well-known American political commentator Walter Lippmann.
Lippmann’s many observations on media and public opinion are significant not just because he was a distinctly influential and gifted commentator, but also because of his many close working relationships and affinities with the most powerful financial and political elites of his day. In fact, historian Carroll Quigley recognizes Lippmann as “the authentic spokesman in American journalism for the [Anglo-American] Establishments on both sides of the Atlantic in international affairs.”
As World War One concluded, Lippmann played a central role in recruiting intellectual talent for “the Inquiry,” a group of several dozen analysts set up by the Wilson administration and powerful Wall Street bankers and oil barons to ostensibly establish plans for a peace settlement, what eventually crystallized as Wilson’s Fourteen Points and a transnational system of governance called the League of Nations most Americans rejected. In reality, the Inquiry was a philosophical and functional precursor to the Central Intelligence Agency, gathering, analyzing, and producing recommendations on how the bankers and oil men should proceed with maintenance of their overseas assets in a vastly rearranged geopolitical environment.
In the years following the Inquiry’s dissolution Lippmann wrote his most well-known work, Public Opinion, where he lamented the US public’s rejection of an international government and expounded on how the thinking and behavior of modern individuals are largely determined through prejudice, or “stereotypes”, thus rendering citizens unfit for meaningful participation in public affairs. “For the most part we do not first see, and then define,” he famously wrote, “we define first and then see.” And, acknowledging the growing power and political implications of electronic mass media, Lippmann marveled at how “on the screen the whole process of observing, describing, reporting, and then imagining, has been accomplished for you.”
Along these lines Lippmann envisioned how political persuasions may be ready-made to develop a seeming relationship with political iconography and sloganeering where positions, sensibilities, and identification with an imagined community all take place through televisual displacement and atomization. With the media’s major control over representation and imagination comes the power to exclude undesirable political objects and ideas, thereby rendering them for all practical purposes out-of-mind.
The stereotypical dynamic and ideal endures in the binary oppositions governing much of what passes for American political discourse today: liberal/conservative, Democratic/Republican, Red/Blue, pro-choice/pro-life, Tea Party/Occupy, and so on. Far removed from the union hall, tavern, or country club where political opinions derived from lived interaction and experience, defining subjective opinion through imagined political adversaries with malevolent ulterior motives is now typically carried out in mass mediated form that provides one with their own sense of purpose and moral rectitude. It is also a perfectly suitable technique for a mechanized and streamlined journalism that has little time or resources for fathoming and assessing the nuanced complexity and broader possibilities inherent in all genuine political thinking. As political theorist Sheldon Wolin remarks, “The responsibility of the responsible media include maintaining an ideological ‘balance’ that treats the “Left” and the “Right” as polar opposites as well as moral and political equivalents.” Manufactured political opinion also become deeply ingrained in the public mind through shared cultural figures and artifacts.
In one of the most well-known situation comedies in American television history, All in the Family, Archie Bunker was an archetype that forever unified bigotry and pettiness with conservatism in the popular mind. Archie’s childish persona acted synergistically alongside the enlightened and educated liberalism of Michael Stivic. The Bunker/Stivic binary, echoed to the present in the jousting punditry of cable news, remains a template for locating ones imagined place on the political spectrum.
Stereotypes and imagined positions are the exact opposite of what perceptive minds capable of discerning controversies and problems would expect and desire from political exchange. Above the din of clashing ideologies the very same forces Walter Lippmann moved with and spoke for remain, apart from and unimaginable in the prisonhouse of political opinion they helped design and construct.
Gonzales, Servando. 2010. Psychological Warfare and the New World Order: The Secret War Against the American People. Spook Books.
Lippmann, Walter. 1997 (1922). Public Opinion, New York: Free Press.
Quigley, Carroll. 1975 (1966). Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time, Angriff Press.
Steel, Ronald. 1980 (1970). Walter Lippmann and the American Century, New York: Atlantic Monthly Press and Little, Brown, and Company.
Wolin, Sheldon. 2008. Democracy Inc.: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism, Princeton University Press.
Michael Moore, Chris Hedges on Challenging NDAA Indefinite Detention and the “Corporate Coup d’État”
The ability of the U.S. government to jail people without charge or trial is now back in court. A group of reporters, scholars and activists are suing the Obama administration over the controversial provision in the National Defense Authorization Act, saying it could allow for the indefinite detention of journalists and others who interact with certain groups. On Wednesday, the Justice Department asked an appeals court to reverse a judge's earlier decision blocking indefinite detention, saying the ruling would hamper its ability to fight terrorism. On the same day, the Academy Award-winning filmmaker and activist Michael Moore and the case's lead plaintiff, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges, took part in a panel featuring some of those who were in the courtroom opposing the NDAA. We air excerpts of their remarks. [includes rush transcript]
Chris Hedges, senior fellow at The Nation Institute. A former foreign correspondent for The New York Times, he was part of a team of reporters awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for the paper's coverage of global terrorism. He is the author of the new book, Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, with illustrator Joe Sacco.
Michael Moore, acclaimed Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker.
Amy Goodman: Last week, the ability of the U.S. government to jail people without charge or trial was back in court. A group of reporters, scholars and activists, including Noam Chomsky and Chris Hedges, are suing the Obama administration over the controversial provision in the NDAA, the National Defense Authorization Act, saying it could allow for the indefinite detention of journalists and others who interact with certain groups. Well, last Wednesday, the Justice Department asked an appeals court to reverse a judge's earlier decision blocking indefinite detention, saying the ruling would hamper its ability to fight terrorism. The Obama administration has already won an emergency freeze of the ruling while the case is appealed.
Well, on the same day, Wednesday, an event, just after the court hearing, was held in New York featuring a panel of some of those who were in the courtroom to oppose the NDAA. Joining them was the Academy Award-winning filmmaker and activist Michael Moore and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges. We end today's show with their remarks. The case is known as Hedges v. Obama. Michael Moore began by responding to a question about how he got involved.
Michael Moore: How did I get involved in it? Well, I mean—I mean, I've been involved in this sort of thing for a very long time, in general, in terms of these issues. I was the chair of the American Civil Liberties Union in Flint when I was 19 or 20 years old. And what Chris said in the last panel here about the corporate coup d'état, that's something I've been talking about, trying to talk about, for a couple of decades, since Roger & Me_, that something was afoot here and that we were going to have our democratic way absconded with. And I agree with him that—that it has been successful. But I remain an optimist because I know history, and I know that coup d'états that were successful at first were eventually overthrown. And I just want to use that word "overthrown" here publicly tonight, so this can be replayed at my trial. I — [phone ringing] should we get that? Or—
Matt Sledge: Yeah.
Michael Moore: Who ordered the pizza?
Matt Sledge: Silence your phones, please, if you can.
Natasha Lennard: Really, really. Let's ignore it.
Michael Moore: Well, I—you know, I've had to deal with the issue of the police trying to suppress information or to cause harm or—on any of a number of different levels to those who try to bring out the truth. I had a small alternative newspaper in Flint, Michigan, back in the 1970s. Our printer was raided by the police, and they took the printing plates of our newspaper right off the press and searched and seized everything. And it was because we had done an article on the mayor using federal moneys for his campaign, re-election, and so he went to a local judge, and the judge approved the search warrant, and they grabbed all of our stuff. So, that was, you know, one of my first experiences. Now, that particular incident, along that same year with—a CBS affiliate in Boise, Idaho, was also raided by the police, that the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press asked me to work with them. And a law was passed, a shield law was passed, the following year to essentially prohibit police raids of newsrooms, unless there's an actual crime, like a murder or robbery or something, going on.
So, I know. I mean, I could talk about this all night in terms of my own—what my own personal experience has been, you know, what I have learned since, in terms—within the Bush administration and what they did or were doing or how they tried to deal with Fahrenheit 9/11, all the way from official government things to just the sort of propaganda that they put out on me in order to, you know, I think, stir the pot of the unhinged. And so, I've—I wrote about this in my last book and the number of—not threats, but actual assaults or attempted assaults that I've had to go through, up to and including an individual planning to blow up our house in Michigan, and was only caught because one of his weapons went off at his home, and a neighbor heard it and called the cops, and came in and they found all the fertilizer bomb stuff and a list of—a small list, actually, of, well, liberal, left people that he'd like to assassinate, with me at the top of the list, and then there was Rosie O'Donnell, Janet Reno and Hillary Clinton. So, I don't know how I ended up on the lesbian list, but I'm happy and proud to be there. That's a joke. Just trying to—well, any time I talk about this, it's obviously not a pleasant thing to talk about.
So, I was very happy to hear about this lawsuit that these guys initiated. And Chris, of course, I've been a huge fan of his for a long time. Please read his books. Pass his books around. This man is our—he's our 21st century Noam Chomsky, not that Noam isn't still in the 21st century.
So—and, of course, an honor to sit here with Daniel Ellsberg, who I was thinking about the other day, Daniel. I don't know if you've ever seen the documentary Hearts and Minds about the Vietnam War. It's a great documentary, if you have a chance to see it. And they won the Oscar for best documentary that year. And when they went up on the stage to collect it, they read from a telegram from the North Vietnamese, thanking Americans to, you know—which, of course, as we—in these days, we'd never even think of such a thing. It would be like, you know, in the way that things are conflated now, that you would be reading something from al-Qaeda or whatever. But in this movie, Daniel appears in this movie and provides some very important lessons about Vietnam, not only just what he went through personally, but what—what this country was led through in terms of the lies that were told. And by not having a press that was active at first to expose the lies, we lost a lot of lives, and we participated in the slaughter of anywhere from two to three million Southeast Asians. But he said—he said something, and I was thinking about this, because they're—watching the news on Egypt today, and talking about whether the United States—you know, we were for Mubarak, then we were against Mubarak. You know, we were—and it's like—and somebody asks, you know, "Which side is right? You know, are we on the right side?" And the same question was asked during Vietnam. You know, were we on the right side? Because this was a people's uprising in South Vietnam. And Daniel said, "The question is not whether we're on the right side. The only question or point is, is that we are the wrong side. That's it." We are behind a lot of this madness. Our corporations are benefiting from it greatly. And people who live in the Flint, Michigans of this world are suffering considerably.
So, I'm proud to be part of this and be supportive of it. And I'm very—of course I've been very supportive of Bradley Manning, from the beginning, helping to fund the fight. And I put up some of Julian Assange's bail money.
Audience Member: Thank you, Michael!
Matt Sledge: I think—we'll get to, you know, WikiLeaks and whistleblowing in a minute, of course. Before we do that, I wanted to re-ask my question from the last panel about this drones memo. You know, what's the end game with this—with the lawsuit here? You know, if you win the lawsuit and the administration retains the power to assassinate American citizens, you know, how—is that Pyrrhic victory?
Chris Hedges: The memo is fascinating to read. It looks like it's written—
Matt Sledge: Well, they won't release the memos yet.
Chris Hedges: Yes, well, the free white paper.
Matt Sledge: It's a white paper, the pre-memo white paper.
Chris Hedges: The white paper. Right, the pre-memo white paper. What is—because it's so amateurish. It looks like it's written by a first-year law student. I mean, you know, whatever you think of John Yoo—and I hope he burns in hell—he actually had a much more sophisticated legal argument to torture human beings. Look, the drone wars—this is—it's not an example of—and I think this is true with the NDAA, I think it's true with the FISA Amendment Act, I think—go all the way back. What they're attempting to do is legally justify what they're already doing. They have argued that under the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force Act they have a right to assassinate American citizens. I have read that act innumerable times, and Bruce and Carl did, and none of us find that in the act. That is, to be generous, a radical interpretation of the AUMF. And so, what they're seeking to do is legally justify, in the same way that Yoo was attempting to legally justify torture. They're essentially looking for kind of legal cover.
And so, I think it's all connected. It's all a part of this very rapid descent into a frightening form of corporate totalitarianism. And that is just writ large across the landscape. And as we go down—and they know we're going down. Look, I mean, you know, they—these forces are cannibalistic. Forty percent of the summer Arctic sea ice melts, and here we're literally watching the death throes of the planet, and these corporations, like Shell, look at it as a business opportunity. They know only one word, and that's "more." They have commodified everything. Human beings are commodities, disposable commodities. The ecosystem is a disposable commodity. And they will—now with no impediments, they will push and push and push. It makes Herman Melville's Moby Dick, which I'm just re-reading, the most prescient study of the American character, because we're all on the Pequod, and Ahab's running the ship. And as Ahab said, "My means and my methods are sane, and my object is mad." And they're not going to stop themselves. The formal mechanisms of power are not going to stop them. It's up to us.
And literally, you know, I have a five-year-old, and his favorite book is Out of the Blue. He'll sit on the floor and look at narwhals and porpoises, and every time I see him do it, it rips my heart out, because I know that if there is not a radical change in our relationship to each other and to the planet, every single one of those sea creatures will be dead within his lifetime. In theological terms, as a seminary graduate, these are forces of death, literally.
Matt Sledge: Well—
Chris Hedges: And it is all—
Matt Sledge: Which is the corporation arguing, you know, or lobbying for Section 1021 of the NDAA?
Chris Hedges: All of them. All of them. Who writes our legislation but corporate lobbyists? The security and surveillance state is the mechanism. Look, we have, not far from here, a few blocks from here, a joint command center with the NYPD and Goldman Sachs. I was arrested in front of Goldman Sachs with the Occupy movement. And let me tell you that when they—when the security came out, it was a mixed security of Goldman Sachs security and NYPD security. These corporations have created 70 percent of our—we have 16 intelligence agencies, and as Jeremy Scahill has pointed out, 70 percent of their work are outsourced corporations. We have handed the capacity for the security and surveillance state to private corporations.
Amy Goodman: Chris Hedges is the Pulitzer Prize-winning former New York Times correspondent who has sued President Obama over the National Defense Authorization Act, the NDAA. Others involved in that suit are Noam Chomsky, Cornel West, Daniel Ellsberg. The suit is known as Hedges v. Obama. Before that, you were listening to the Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore.
The NDAA and the Death of the Democratic State
Posted on Feb 11, 2013
|Illustration by Mr. Fish|
By Chris Hedges
On Wednesday a few hundred activists crowded into the courtroom of the Second Circuit, the spillover room with its faulty audio feed and dearth of chairs, and Foley Square outside the Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse in Manhattan where many huddled in the cold. The fate of the nation, we understood, could be decided by the three judges who will rule on our lawsuit against President Barack Obama for signing into law Section 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
The section permits the military to detain anyone, including U.S. citizens, who “substantially support”—an undefined legal term—al-Qaida, the Taliban or “associated forces,” again a term that is legally undefined. Those detained can be imprisoned indefinitely by the military and denied due process until “the end of hostilities.” In an age of permanent war this is probably a lifetime. Anyone detained under the NDAA can be sent, according to Section (c)(4), to any “foreign country or entity.” This is, in essence, extraordinary rendition of U.S. citizens. It empowers the government to ship detainees to the jails of some of the most repressive regimes on earth.
Section 1021(b)(2) was declared invalid in September after our first trial, in the Southern District Court of New York. The Obama administration appealed the Southern District Court ruling. The appeal was heard Wednesday in the Second Circuit Court with Judges Raymond J. Lohier, Lewis A. Kaplan and Amalya L. Kearse presiding. The judges might not make a decision until the spring when the Supreme Court rules in Clapper v. Amnesty International USA, another case in which I am a plaintiff. The Supreme Court case challenges the government’s use of electronic surveillance. If we are successful in the Clapper case, it will strengthen all the plaintiffs’ standing in Hedges v. Obama. The Supreme Court, if it rules against the government, will affirm that we as plaintiffs have a reasonable fear of being detained.
If we lose in Hedges v. Obama—and it seems certain that no matter the outcome of the appeal this case will reach the Supreme Court—electoral politics and our rights as citizens will be as empty as those of Nero’s Rome. If we lose, the power of the military to detain citizens, strip them of due process and hold them indefinitely in military prisons will become a terrifying reality. Democrat or Republican. Occupy activist or libertarian. Socialist or tea party stalwart. It does not matter. This is not a partisan fight. Once the state seizes this unchecked power, it will inevitably create a secret, lawless world of indiscriminate violence, terror and gulags. I lived under several military dictatorships during the two decades I was a foreign correspondent. I know the beast.
“The stakes are very high,” said attorney Carl Mayer, who with attorney Bruce Afran brought our case to trial, in addressing a Culture Project audience in Manhattan on Wednesday after the hearing. “What our case comes down to is: Are we going to have a civil justice system in the United States or a military justice system? The civil justice system is something that is ingrained in the Constitution. It was always very important in combating tyranny and building a democratic society. What the NDAA is trying to impose is a system of military justice that allows the military to police the streets of America to detain U.S. citizens, to detain residents in the United States in military prisons. Probably the most frightening aspect of the NDAA is that it allows for detention until ‘the end of hostilities.’ ” [To see videos of Mayer, Afran, Hedges and other participating in the Culture Project panel discussion, click here.]Five thousand years of human civilization has left behind innumerable ruins to remind us that the grand structures and complex societies we build, and foolishly venerate as immortal, crumble into dust. It is the descent that matters now. If the corporate state is handed the tools, as under Section 1021(b)(2) of the NDAA, to use deadly force and military power to criminalize dissent, then our decline will be one of repression, blood and suffering. No one, not least our corporate overlords, believes that our material conditions will improve with the impending collapse of globalization, the steady deterioration of the global economy, the decline of natural resources and the looming catastrophes of climate change.
But the global corporatists—who have created a new species of totalitarianism—demand, during our decay, total power to extract the last vestiges of profit from a degraded ecosystem and disempowered citizenry. The looming dystopia is visible in the skies of blighted postindustrial cities such as Flint, Mich., where drones circle like mechanical vultures. And in an era where the executive branch can draw up secret kill lists that include U.S. citizens, it would be naive to believe these domestic drones will remain unarmed.
Robert M. Loeb, the lead attorney for the government in Wednesday’s proceedings, took a tack very different from that of the government in the Southern District Court of New York before Judge Katherine B. Forrest. Forrest repeatedly asked the government attorneys if they could guarantee that the other plaintiffs and I would not be subject to detention under Section 1021(b)(2). The government attorneys in the first trial granted no such immunity. The government also claimed in the first trial that under the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force Act (AUMF), it already had the power to detain U.S. citizens. Section 1021(b)(2), the attorneys said, did not constitute a significant change in government power. Judge Forrest in September rejected the government’s arguments and ruled Section 1021(b)(2) invalid.
The government, however, argued Wednesday that as “independent journalists” we were exempt from the law and had no cause for concern. Loeb stated that if journalists used journalism as a cover to aid the enemy, they would be seized and treated as enemy combatants. But he assured the court that I would be untouched by the new law as long as “Mr. Hedges did not start driving black vans for people we don’t like.”
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Activist Heavyweights Convene Against NDAA
Posted on Feb 8, 2013
After a court hearing over the 2012 NDAA in Manhattan on Wednesday, Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges appeared on a panel of activists who are suing the Obama administration over its attempt to claim the right to indefinitely hold U.S. citizens in military detention.
The group convened to discuss the state of the lawsuit. Joining Hedges were these co-plaintiffs: Pentagon Papers whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg; Revolution Truth Executive Director Tangerine Bolen; journalist and U.S Day of Rage founder Alexa O’Brien; and Demand Progress Executive Director David Segal. They were joined by legal counsel Carl Mayer and Bruce Afran.
For a second panel on the “broader context of the case,” Hedges, Ellsberg and Bolen remained and were joined by filmmaker Michael Moore, NSA whistle-blower Thomas Drake and Jesselyn Radack, an attorney for CIA whistle-blower John Kiriakou and a director of the Government Accountability Project.
Natasha Lennard of Salon.com and Matt Sledge of The Huffington Post moderated the discussion, which was organized by StopNDAA.
Joe Friendly:Said Carl Mayer: “In broad terms, the stakes I think are very high, because what our case comes down to is, are we going to have a civil justice system in the United States, or a military justice system? The civil justice system is something that’s ingrained in the Constitution and was always very important in combating tyranny and building a democratic society. And what the NDAA is trying to impose is a system of military justice that allows the military to police the streets of America, to detain U.S. citizens, to detain residents in the United States, in military prisons. And I say that probably the most frightening aspect of the NDAA is that it allows for detention, quote, ‘until the end of hostilities.’ We’re now, by my count, at day 4,163 of this war, which is an open-ended war against al-Qaida, the Taliban, and now it’s defined as ‘associated forces’ in the NDAA.”
Said Chris Hedges: “The drone wars … the NDAA … the FISA Amendment Act … what they’re attempting to do is legally justify what they’re already doing. They have argued that under the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force they have the right to assassinate American citizens. I have read that act innumerable times … and none of us find that in the act. That is, to be generous, a radical interpretation of the AUMF. And so what they’re seeking to do is legally justify, in the same way that [Bush assistant attorney general John] Yoo was attempting to legally justify torture, they’re essentially looking for kind of legal cover. … It’s all a part of this very rapid descent into a frightening form of corporate totalitarianism.”
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
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Submitted by Brandon Smith of Alt-Market blog,
In our modern world there exist certain institutions of power. Not government committees, alphabet agencies, corporate lobbies, or even standard military organizations; no, these are the mere “middle-men” of power. The errand boys. The well paid hitmen of the global mafia. They are not the strategists or the decision makers.
Instead, I speak of institutions which introduce the newest paradigms. Who write the propaganda. Who issue the orders from on high. I speak of the hubs of elitism which have initiated nearly every policy mechanism of our government for the past several decades. I am talking about the Council On Foreign Relations, the Tavistock Institute, the Heritage Foundation (a socialist organization posing as conservative), the Bilderberg Group, as well as the corporate foils that they use to enact globalization, such as Monsanto, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, the Carlyle Group, etc.
Many of these organizations and corporations operate a revolving door within the U.S. government. Monsanto has champions, like Donald Rumsfeld who was on the board of directors of its Searle Pharmaceuticals branch, who later went on to help the company force numerous dangerous products including Aspartame through the FDA. Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan have a veritable merry-go-round of corrupt banking agents which are appointed to important White House and Treasury positions on a regular basis REGARDLESS of which party happens to be in office. Most prominent politicians are all members of the Council on Foreign Relations, an organization which has openly admitted on multiple occasions that their goal is the destruction of U.S. sovereignty and the formation of a “one world government” or “supranational union” (their words, not mine).
However, one organization seems to rear its ugly head at the forefront of the most sweeping mass propaganda operations of our time, and has been linked to the creation of the most atrocious military methodologies, including the use of false flag events. I am of course referring to the Rand Corporation, a California based “think tank” whose influence reaches into nearly every sphere of our society, from politics, to war, to entertainment.
The Rand Corporation deals in what I would call “absolute gray”. The goal of the group from its very inception was to promote a social atmosphere of moral ambiguity in the name of personal and national priority. They did this first through the creation of “Rational Choice Theory”; a theory which prescribes that when making any choice, an individual (or government) must act as if balancing costs against benefits to arrive at an action that maximizes personal advantage. Basically, the ends justify the means, and moral conscience is not a factor to be taken seriously if one wishes to be successful.
Hilariously, rational choice theory has been attacked in the past by pro-socialist (collectivist) critics as “extreme individualism”; a philosophy which gives us license to be as “self serving” as possible while feeling patriotic at the same time. In reality, the socialists should have been applauding Rand Corporation all along.
What Rand had done through its propaganda war against the American people was to infuse the exact culture of selfishness needed to push the U.S. towards the socialist ideal. At the onset of any communist or national socialist society (sorry socialists, but they do indeed come from the same collectivist mindset), the masses are first convinced to hand over ultimate power to the establishment in order to safeguard THEMSELVES, not others. That is to say, the common collectivist man chooses to hand over his freedoms and participate in totalitarianism not because he wants what is best for the world, but because he wants what is best for himself, and he believes servitude to the system will get him what he wants with as little private sacrifice as possible (you know, except for his soul…).
The psychologist Carl Jung notes in his observations of collectivism in Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia that most citizens of those nations did not necessarily want the formation of a tyrannical oligarchy, but, they went along with it anyway because they feared for their own comfort and livelihoods. Many a German supported the Third Reich simply because they did not want to lose a cushy job, or a steady paycheck, or they liked that the “trains ran on time”. Socialism is by far the most selfish movement in history, despite the fact that they claim to do what they do “for the greater good of the greater number”.
Rand also used Rational Choice Theory as a means to remove questions of principle from the debate over social progress. Rational Choice propaganda commonly presents the target audience with a false conundrum. A perfect example would be the hardcore propaganda based television show ‘24’ starring Kiefer Sutherland, in which a government “anti-terrorism” agent is faced with a controlled choice scenario in nearly every episode. This choice almost always ends with the agent being forced to set aside his morals and conscience to torture, kill, and destroy without mercy, or, allow millions of innocents to die if he does not.
Of course, the real world does not work this way. Life is not a chess game. Avenues to resolution of any crisis are limited only by our imagination and intelligence, not to mention the immense number of choices that could be made to defuse a crisis before it develops. Yet, Rand would like you to believe that we (and those in government) are required to become monstrous in order to survive. That we should be willing to forgo conscience and justice now for the promise of peace and tranquility later.
This is the age old strategy of Centralization; to remove all choices within a system, by force or manipulation, until the masses think they have nothing left but the choices the elites give them. It is the bread and butter of elitist institutions like Rand Corporation, and is at the core of the push for globalization.
In my studies on the developing economic disaster (or economic recovery depending on who you talk to) I have come across a particular methodology many times which set off my analyst alarm (or spidey-sense, if you will). This latest methodology, called “Linchpin Theory”, revolves around the work of John Casti, a Ph.D. from USC, “complexity scientist” and “systems theorist”, a Futurist, and most notably, a former employee of Rand Corporation:
Casti introduces his idea of “Linchpin Theory” in his book “X-Events: The Collapse Of Everything”, and what I found most immediately striking about the idea of “Linchpin Events” was how they offered perfect scapegoat scenarios for catastrophes that are engineered by the establishment.
Linchpin Theory argues that overt social, political, and technological “complexity” is to blame for the most destructive events in modern human history, and it is indeed an enticing suggestion for those who are uneducated and unaware of the behind the scenes mechanics of world events. Casti would like you to believe that political and social tides are unguided and chaotic; that all is random, and disaster is a product of “chance” trigger events that occur at the height of a malfunctioning and over-complicated system.
What he fails to mention, and what he should well know being a member of Rand, is that global events do not evolve in a vacuum. There have always been those groups who see themselves as the “select”, and who aspire to mold the future to there personal vision of Utopia. It has been openly admitted in myriad official observations on historical events that such groups have had a direct hand in the advent of particular conflicts.
For instance, Casti would call the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria an “X-event”, or linchpin, leading to the outbreak of WWI, when historical fact recalls that particular crisis was carefully constructed with the specific mind to involve the U.S.
Norman Dodd, former director of the Committee to Investigate Tax Exempt Foundations of the U.S. House of Representatives, testified that the Committee was invited to study the minutes of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace as part of the Committee's investigation. The Committee stated:
"The trustees of the Foundation brought up a single question. If it is desirable to alter the life of an entire people, is there any means more efficient than war.... They discussed this question... for a year and came up with an answer: There are no known means more efficient than war, assuming the objective is altering the life of an entire people. That leads them to a question: How do we involve the United States in a war. This was in 1909."
So, long before the advent of Ferdinand’s assassination, plans were being set in motion by globalist interests to draw the U.S. into a large scale conflict in order to “alter the life, or thinking, of the entire culture”. When a group of people set out to direct thinking and opportunity towards a particular outcome, and the end result is a culmination of that outcome, it is obviously not coincidence, and it is definitely not providence. It can only be called subversive design.
In the economic arena, one might say that the collapse of Lehman Bros. was the “linchpin” that triggered the landslide in the derivatives market which is still going on to this day. However, the derivatives market bubble was a carefully constructed house of cards, deliberately created with the help of multiple agencies and institutions. The private Federal Reserve had to artificially lower interest rates and inject trillions upon trillions into the housing market, the international banks had to invest those trillions into mortgages that they KNEW were toxic and likely never to be repaid. The Federal Government had to allow those mortgages to then be chopped up into derivatives and resold on the open market. The ratings agencies had to examine those derivatives and obviously defunct mortgages and then stamp them AAA. The SEC had to ignore the massive fraud being done in broad daylight while sweeping thousands of formal complaints and whistle blowers under the rug.
This was not some “random” event caused by uncontrolled “complexity”. This was engineered complexity with a devious purpose. The creation of the derivatives collapse was done with foreknowledge, at least by some. Goldman Sachs was caught red handed betting against their OWN derivatives instruments! Meaning they knew exactly what was about to happen in the market they helped build! This is called Conspiracy…
One might attribute Casti’s idea to a sincere belief in chaos, and a lack of insight into the nature of globalism as a brand of religion. However, in his first and as far as I can tell only interview with Coast To Coast Radio, Casti promotes catastrophic “X-Events” as a “good thing” for humanity, right in line with the Rand Corporation ideology. Casti, being a futurist and elitist, sees the ideas of the past as obsolete when confronted with the technological advancements of the modern world, and so, describes X-event moments as a kind of evolutionary “kickstart”, knocking us out of our old and barbaric philosophies of living and forcing us, through trial by fire, to adapt to a more streamlined culture. The linchpin event is, to summarize Casti’s position, a culture’s way of “punishing itself” for settling too comfortably into its own heritage and traditions. In other words, WE will supposedly be to blame for the next great apocalypse, not the elites…
I might suggest that Casti's attitude seems to be one of general indifference to human suffering in the wake of his "X-Events", and that he would not necessarily be opposed to the deaths of millions if it caused the "advancement" of humanity towards a particular ideology. His concept of "advancement" and ours are likely very different, though. I suspect that he is well aware that X-Events are actually tools at the disposal of elitists to generate the "evolution" he so desires, and that evolution includes a collectivist result.
With almost every major economy on the globe on the verge of collapse and most now desperately inflating, taxing, or outright stealing in order to hide their situation, with multiple tinderbox environments being facilitated in the Pacific with China, North Korea, and Japan, and in the Middle East and Africa with Egypt, Syria, Iran, Pakistan, Yemen, Mali, etc., there is no doubt that we are living in a linchpin-rich era. It is inevitable that one or more of these explosive tension points will erupt and cause a chain reaction around the planet. The linchpin and the chain reaction will become the focus of our epoch, rather than the men who made them possible in the first place.
Strangely, Casti’s theory was even recently featured in an episode of the ABC mystery/drama show “Castle”, called “Linchpin” (what else?), in which a writer turned detective uncovers a plot by a “shadow group” to use the research of the innocent Dr. Nelson Blakely (apparently based on Casti) to initiate a collapse of the U.S. economy by assassinating the ten-year-old daughter of a prominent Chinese businessman, triggering a dump of U.S. Treasuries by China and fomenting WWIII:
Now, I think anyone with any sense can see where this is going. Casti and Rand Corporation are giving us a glimpse into the future of propaganda. This is what will be written in our children’s history books if the globalists have their way. The fact that Linchpin Theory is featured in a primetime television show at all is a testament to Rand Corporation’s influence in the media. But, as for the wider picture, are the trigger points around us really just a product of complex coincidence?
Not a chance.
Each major global hot-spot today can easily be linked back to the designs of international corporate and banking interests and the puppet governments they use as messengers. Casti claims that “X-events” and “linchpins” cannot be accurately predicted, but it would seem that they can certainly be purposely instigated.
The globalists have stretched the whole of the world thin. They have removed almost every pillar of support from the edifice around us, and like a giant game of Jenga, are waiting for the final piece to be removed, causing the teetering structure to crumble. Once this calamity occurs, they will call it a random act of fate, or a mathematical inevitability of an overly complex system. They will say that they are not to blame. That we were in the midst of “recovery”. That they could not have seen it coming.
Their solution will be predictable. They will state that in order to avoid such future destruction, the global framework must be “simplified”, and what better way to simplify the world than to end national sovereignty, dissolve all borders, and centralize nation states under a single economic and political ideal?
Is it the Hegelian Dialectic all over again? Yes. Is it old hat feudalism and distraction? Yes. But, I have to hand it to Casti and Rand Corporation; they certainly have refined the argument for collectivism, centralization, technocracy, slavery, moral relativism, and false-flag dupery down to a near science…
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On January 8, Vice President Nicolas Maduro addressed National Assembly Speaker Diosdado Cabello. He said Chavez:
“asked that (I) inform that, according to the recommendations made by the medical team that is watching over his health, the process of post-operation recovery should be extended beyond 10 January of the current year.”
“For this reason, he won’t be able to appear on that date before the national assembly.”
“This constitutes an irrefutable supervening reason to invoke article 231 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in order to formalize, at a later date, the corresponding swearing-in before the Supreme Court.”
Article 231 states:
“The candidate elected shall take office as President of the Republic on January 10 of the first year of his constitutional term, by taking an oath before the National Assembly.”
“If for any supervening reason, the person elected President of the Republic cannot be sworn in before the National Assembly, he shall take the oath of office before the Supreme Tribunal of Justice.”
No date is specified. It can happen any time. Dominant PSUV National Assembly members can extend Chavez’s absence up to six months. Vice President Nicolas Maduro can replace him for 90 days.
The NA can authorize an additional 90 days. Constitutional wiggle room may permit more.
Cabello responded, saying:
“President Chavez, this assembly concedes to you the necessary time so that you can get better and recover.”
The National Assembly approved Maduro’s request. More on Chavez below.
Presidential illnesses aren’t rare. Noted US heads of state took ill, became sidelined, couldn’t perform their duties properly, or at times at all.
Woodrow Wilson was America’s 28th president. He served two terms from 1913 – 1921. His health was a state secret.
In November 1912, he was elected president. In March 1913, he took office. Few knew his health history.
In 1896, he suffered a stroke. It caused marked right upper limb weakness. Sensory disturbances affected his fingers. For almost a year, he couldn’t write.
In 1904, he developed right upper limb weakness. It lasted months. In 1906, he lost vision on his left eye. He had multiple neurological problems. He experienced double vision.
He had severe episodic headaches. They lasted days. Hypertension and atherosclerosis affected him.
In summer 1918, he was frail. He suffered breathing problems. Much worse lay ahead.
On October 2, 1919, he collapsed. He experienced a debilitating stroke. For the rest of his presidency, he remained in seclusion. He was sidelined unable to govern.
Historian John Milton Cooper called his condition “the worst instance of presidential disability we’ve ever had.”
“We stumbled along….without a fully functioning president” for 18 months. Information about his health was suppressed. An official White House statement said he suffered from “nervous exhaustion.”
He was dying. Few knew. His top officials and congressional leaders weren’t told. His personal physician, Dr. Cary Grayson, said nothing. The public was entirely shut out.
He served two full terms. He hung on longer than expected. On February 3, 1924, he died.
Franklin Roosevelt served from 1933 – 1945. In 1921, poliomyelitis left him paralyzed below the hips. In the 1920s, an enlarged pigmented lesion affected his left eye. Some believed it was malignant melanoma.
In 1944, he was too ill to run. He was advised to step down. In January, he complained of headaches. He was visibly tired. Once he blacked out at his desk. He was gravely ill. He kept it secret.
In March 1944, he developed heart disease and high blood pressure. His condition worsened. Congestive heart disease affected him.
He was in no condition to serve. He ran in November. He was reelected. On April 12, 1945, he died.
A state-sponsored assassination ended Jack Kennedy’s presidency. Had he lived, his health might have undone him.
At age two, he nearly died from scarlet fever. He contracted measles, whooping cough, and chicken pox. He had upper respiratory infections and bronchitis problems.
In 1935, he experienced jaundice. His weak physique caused multiple sports-related injuries.
His mother called him “a very, very sick little boy.” In the 1930s, he began taking steroids for colitis. Complications followed.
They included duodenal ulcers, back problems, and underactive adrenal glands. It’s called Addison’s disease.
In 1947, his Addisonism was diagnosed. At the time, he was told he had a year to live. He was given his last rights.
As a WW II naval officer in the Pacific, he experienced malaria. The 1960 presidential campaign exhausted him.
As US senator and president, his health was kept secret. Few knew what later was revealed.
Ronald Reagan served from 1981 – 1989. Before becoming president, he suffered from severe nearsightedness, fractures, urinary tract infections, prostate stones, hearing loss, temporomandibular (jaw) joint degeneration, osteoarthritis, and a trans-urethral prostatecomy.
He had a history of benign prostatic hypertrophy. He experienced prostatis and skin cancer.
In January 1981, he took office. In March, he was shot. Loss of blood alone might have killed him. Emergency surgery saved him. He never fully recovered.
Early in his presidency, Alzheimer’s disease symptoms surfaced. They worsened. He forgot cabinet officer names. On a Brazil state visit, he toasted the people of Bolivia. He served two full terms. He lived to age 93.
Other US presidents experienced serious health problems. John Adams was diagnosed manic depressive. James Madison suffered from epilepsy. He had high fevers. It left him “deranged” for weeks.
George Washington experienced Klinefelter syndrone. Thomas Jefferson suffered from rheumatoid arthritis. Chester Arthur had chronic renal disease.
Lincoln, Roosevelt, Kennedy, William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, James Garfield, William McKinley, and Warren Harding died in office.
Presidents are mortal like ordinary people. They carry on best they can.
Hugo Chavez took office in February 1999. He institutionalized Bolivarianism. Chavismo reflects his social justice commitment. He’s been reelected four times. On October 7, Venezuelans gave him another six years.
He’s recovering from his fourth cancer surgery in 18 months. He needs more time to regain health. He’s getting superb care in Havana.
On January 8, the Havana Times headlined “Chavez to Remain in Cuba under Treatment,” saying:
Doctors ordered continued round-the clock treatment. His scheduled January inauguration will be postponed. The governing United Socialist Unity Party (PSUV) plans a mass January 10 supportive rally.
It’ll be held outside the Miraflores Presidential Palace. Expect tens of thousands to turn out. Cabello urged everyone to come.
Bolivian President Evo Morales and Uruguay’s Jose Mujica will attend. So will Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino. Other regional leaders may come or send representatives.
The opposition Democratic Unity (MUD) coalition urged “civic strike.” Cabello said Chavismo will prevent destabilization.
On January 7, Granma International headlined “Chavez assimilating treatment and in stable condition,” saying:
Venezuelan Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said he’s “receiving rigorous and constant treatment.” He’s responding well. His condition is stable. He needs more recovery time.
Venezuelans want him to take all he needs. They pray for his full recovery. They reelected him president. They hope he’ll fully recover and serve six more years.
Media scoundrels take full advantage. Roger Noreiga is a former neocon US assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs. He’s a world class scoundrel. He’s an unindicted war criminal.
He’s been involved in Washington’s Latin American agenda since the 1980s. He aided Reagan’s Contra wars. He’s militantly hostile to Cuba. He helped force Haiti’s Aristide from office.
He wants neoliberal harshness replacing Bolivarianism. He claims Chavez gave Iran a strategic hemispheric platform. He’s helping Tehran acquire nuclear weapons. He’s developing his own.
He wants America denied Venezuelan oil. He seeks foreign buyer replacements. On January 7, his Foreign Policy article headlined “Venezuelan Roulette.”
He claims “Chavez clinge(s) to life in a Havana hospital.” An “intense struggle is under way.”
“Cuban-backed ideologues (and) narcogenerals” vie for control. The nation’s “future….hang(s) in the balance.”
He and other ideologues make this stuff up. They claim split PSUV leadership. If Chavez dies, power struggles and destabilization will follow.
MUD opposition figures spread Big Lies. Media scoundrels regurgitate them. Unnamed sources, dubious analysts, and right-wing ideologues are cited.
Chavismo is institutionalized. It’s unified and resilient. Bolivarianism is part of Venezuela’s culture. It’s too strong to die. PSUV leaders intend to preserve it.
They respect Chavez’s wishes. Before leaving for Cuba, he asked party officials to elect Nicolas Maduro president if he can’t serve. It’s unthinkable to believe they won’t do it.
Preserving Bolivarianism matters most. Chavez called for unity under Maduro to assure it. PSUV leaders will honor his wish if needed.
On January 8, The New York Times headlined “Chavez, Too Ill to Return to Venezuela, Will Be Sworn In Late, Official Says.”
Maduro announced it. He “invoked a disputed section of the Constitution that government officials say allows the swearing-in to take place in the future.”
Constitutional language is clear. Venezuela’s Supreme Tribunal of Justice can administer Chavez’s oath of office at an unspecified later date. The Times didn’t explain.
The Washington Post demeaned Maduro. It called him a ‘bus driver turned vice president.” He’s a former union leader, legislator, National Assembly Speaker and Foreign Minister.
His credentials are strong. He’s well-respected. He’ll rise to the occasion if called on. In 1999, Chavez did as a relative unknown. Maduro and other PSUV leaders won’t let Venezuelans down. Preserving Bolivarianism matters most.
The Wall Street Journal headlined “Ailing Chavez Seeks to Delay Inauguration,” saying:
Failure to return by January 10 “raise(s) the possibility of a constitutional crisis.” Demeaning Chavez followed. “The former tank commander” remains hospitalized.
Opposition leaders cried foul. Delaying Chavez’s inauguration is “unconstitutional,” they claim. Venezuelan law explains otherwise.
Venezuelans “are divided on whether Mr. Chavez’s illness means he should step aside,” said the Journal. Overwhelming popularity supports him. Scoundrel media misinformation changes nothing.
Venezuela’s Catholic Church weighed in. Regional and Vatican authorities are notoriously right-wing. As Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI opposed reform.
His biographer, John Allen, said “today (he) believes the best antidote to political totalitarianism is ecclesial totalitarian-ism.”
As cardinal and pope, he’s been hardline. He opposes liberal morality. He won’t tolerate diluting top-down authority.
On January 7, Venezuela’s Catholic Church called it “morally unacceptable” to “alter” constitutional law because of Chavez’s health.
Venezuelan Bishops Conference president Diego Parron said:
“At stake are the good of the country and the defense of ethics. To alter the Constitution to attain a political objective is morally unacceptable.”
Chavez’s illness puts “at grave risk the political and social stability of the nation.”
Expect lots more anti-Chavista rhetoric ahead. Dark forces never quit. Expect Venezuelans to have the last word. They reelected Chavez overwhelmingly. They intend to keep him.
They urge him speedy recovery. No matter how long it takes, he’s worth waiting for. He’s someone they don’t want to lose. Hopefully they won’t have to.
Note: On January 9, Venezuela’s Supreme Tribunal of Justice postponed Chavez’s January 10 inauguration for an specified date to be named later.
Chief Justice Luisa Morales said:
“As president reelect, there is no interruption of performance of duties.”
“The inauguration can be carried out at a later date before the Supreme Court.”
The Constitution’s Article 231 stipulates it. Vice President Maduro will perform Chavez’s duties in his absence. Morales quashed opposition demands for a caretaker president.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.