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Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Two Views of Jesus’s Murder

The Two Views of Jesus’s Murder

Christianity has two conflicting views of Jesus’s Crucifixion, that
God sacrificed his Son to atone for mankind’s sins, or that Jesus
demanded economic and political justice for the poor and was
killed by Jerusalem’s power structure. The two interpretations
lead in very different directions, as Rev. Howard Bess explains.

By Rev. Howard Bess
Consortiumnews.com
March 30, 2013

Christian Holy Week begins with Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem (Palm
Sunday) and concludes with his celebrated resurrection (Easter).

But what happened during that fateful week and the meaning of
the Crucifixion remain a central focus of Christian debate.

Was Jesus killed by the Romans as an insurrectionist because he
favored political and economic justice for the poor and acted out
his outrage by overturning money-changing tables at the Temple?

Or did he die as a sacrifice to atone for the sins of mankind in
the eyes of God?

Rob Bell’s recent book, Love Wins, has brought the subject into
sharp focus as a challenge to the traditional Christian theology
that Jesus died as a sacrifice for sin and that his sacrificial
death was somehow required by a just God so the sins of the
world could be forgiven.

For many Christians this understanding of this sacrificial death
of Jesus presents a stern, demanding God (arranging the brutal
torture and murder of his only begotten son) rather than a loving
heavenly father who embraces all of humankind out of boundless
love.

Bell argues that the two images of God (a demanding tyrant
God and a loving God) are so incompatible that a choice must
be made.

Bell argues that there can be only one conclusion, i.e. the title
of his book: Love Wins.

Yet, among early Christians, there was no commonly accepted
meaning and understanding of the death of Jesus.

According to the gospel accounts, the Crucifixion took place
because he was charged with insurrection, and his call for the
establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth was interpreted
as seeking the overthrow of the Roman rulers.

This history has strong supporting research.

Based on that research, scholars believe that Jesus grew up
and taught in a rural area 70 miles north of Jerusalem.

His faith was shaped, not by Jerusalem and the Temple, but by
weekly gatherings of the community elders as they read Torah
(Jewish law) and discussed its meaning.

Jesus and his followers had only limited contact with Jerusalem’s
social, political and religious leaders, mostly through the retainers
(enforcers) of Herod’s Roman rule who also represented the
Jerusalem Temple.

Retainers made regular trips into the rural north to collect tithes
and taxes.

To understand Jesus, one must realize the depth of his contempt
for both the rule of Herod and the religious rulers of the Temple.

Northern Palestine was a hotbed for what was known as the small
tradition, which found heroes in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, Micah
and other Old Testament prophets, almost all of whom were critics
of the great tradition leaders who controlled the Temple in
Jerusalem.

As modern New Testament scholars have reconstructed the context
in which Jesus lived and taught, they have realized that Jesus was
not simply a religious figure.

He was a severe critic of those who controlled the Temple, those
who controlled the Empire, and those who controlled the economic
systems that starved and robbed the poor and left the orphan and
the widow to fend for themselves.

To Jesus, these issues all tied together.

But Jesus was a largely unknown and harmless critic as long as he
remained in his northern rural setting.

He was clearly an apocalyptic preacher.

He advocated overthrow of a corrupt system. He believed the days
of the oppressors were numbered.

But he believed the overthrow could be accomplished by love,
mercy and kindness.

Jesus took his message to Jerusalem. However, to call his arrival
a triumphal entry is to miss the point completely.

He chose to enter Jerusalem riding on a donkey as mockery of
the ruler’s horse. It was an ancient form of street theatre that
Jesus and his followers used to make their point.

The great tradition that was accepted by Jerusalem’s masses
was being publicly taunted by a figure of the small tradition.

But the critical point of Jesus’s visit to Jerusalem came when he
visited the Temple. In no sense had he come to worship and make
sacrifice.

He went to disrupt and to make pronouncements about the
judgment of God on the whole operation.

He went to the Temple to announce the destruction of a whole
way of life.

As a result, the charges that were leveled against Jesus can
be summed up as insurrection.

There were three specific charges: encouraging non-payment of
taxes, threatening to destroy property (the Temple), and claiming
to be a king.

It was the Temple incident that took Jesus from being an irritating,
but harmless country rebel from the rural north to a nuisance in a
city that controlled the great tradition.

As a result, Rome’s retainers killed him on a cross.

Yet, how Christians later interpreted these events was influenced
by the Old Testament in which priests laid out a sacrificial system
in which animals were ceremonially sacrificed to appease God for
the sins of the people.

Solomon had built a great Temple to carry out these sacrifices.

Some Old Testament prophets protested this system, as did Jesus.

The Gospel of John reflected the commonly held interpretation of
Jesus’s Crucifixion in the early Second Century C.E.

Stated simply, according to the John writer, Jesus died a martyr’s
death on behalf of his friends in protest against a corrupt political
and religious system.

Jesus willingly died because he loved his friends.

There is another notable insight found in John 15. Jesus is quoted as
saying “No longer will I call you servants but rather I call you friends.”

In a bold move, the John writer wipes out the master/servant
relationship between Jesus and his disciples and makes it into
a friendship so close that Jesus would gladly die for them.

In the passage, Jesus is prompted to call his disciples “friends”
four times.

No other place in the four gospels are the disciples called “friends”
of Jesus.

However, centuries after Jesus’s death, the Latin interpretation
of the Crucifixion took over the Church’s understanding of what
happened on that first “Good Friday.”

In Latinized Christianity, which followed the Old Testament
sacrificial system, the cross became an altar on which Jesus
became a sacrificial lamb.

According to the Latinized version, Jesus died for the sins of the
world to appease an upset God.

Now, many thoughtful Christians, led by Rob Bell, are protesting
as unacceptable that understanding of the cross.

Yet, the passage found in John’s gospel gives us a new insight into
the meaning of Holy Week and its celebrations.

Holy Week does not find its most profound meaning in a sacrificial
system that is demanded by an upset God.

Holy Week is a time to celebrate a friendship with Jesus, who is
viewed by Christians as the special son of a loving God, a friendship
so profound that Jesus was willing to die for the just causes of his
friends.



The Rev. Howard Bess is a retired American Baptist minister, who
lives in Palmer, Alaska.

http://consortiumnews.com/2013/03/29/the-two-views-of-jesuss-
murder

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Bloody Path to Empire

The Bloody Path to Empire

By Dick Overfield
OpEdNews.com
March 29, 2013

A new Gallup poll indicates 65% of Americans favor using drones to
kill people identified by our government as a problem of one kind or
another.

By government, the language used in the poll presumably refers
not only to the president, but to some person, or persons in the
intelligence community and/or the military.

There is no meaningful moral distinction between a young man
wielding a military assault rifle slaughtering children in a classroom
and another young man, and now woman, slaughtering children who
happen to be near a person Washington has decided to assassinate.

One chooses to experience first hand the bloody results while the
other pushes back from the console & has another cup of coffee.

One wades through the blood while the other is safely on the other
side of the world heading home for dinner with the spouse and kids.

All are engaged in sociopathic behavior.

Our schizophrenic media define the one as a crazed psychopath
and the other as a hero.

The hero, known in the military as an "unmanned systems operator"
following orders in a secret base somewhere, possibly next door or
in an abandoned salt mine, the location doesn't much matter, gets
to retire on a full pension, while the other's life ends violently with
suicide, or in a similarly violent event at the hands of the police.
Some face a darker fate in the ascending horror of one of America's
privatized prisons.

Both are executioners.

For The Examiner, in December of 2010, William Hamby wrote the
following:

Rachel Kalish and Michael Kimmel proposed a mechanism that might
well explain why males are routinely going crazy and killing people.
It's called "aggrieved entitlement." According to the authors, it is
"a gendered emotion, a fusion of that humiliating loss of manhood
and the moral obligation and entitlement to get it back. And its
gender is masculine." This feeling was clearly articulated by Eric
Harris and Dylan Klebold, the perpetrators of the Columbine
Massacre. Harris said, "People constantly make fun of my face, my
hair, my shirts..." A group of girls asked him, "Why are you doing
this?" He replied, "We've always wanted to do this. This is payback.
This is for all the sh*t you put us through. This is what you deserve."

There is not one syllable in our Constitution that identifies the
purchase of an ultra sophisticated weapon designed to kill as
many people as possible as quickly & efficiently as possible as
an "unalienable right" bestowed on us by the Creator.

To say you believe this, stains the founding values of this country
and diminishes the humanity of the person saying it as well as the
person who believes it.

We, you and I, cultivate & prepare the minds and shape the thoughts
of those pulling the triggers on the weapons pointed at our children
in our schools as well as the children sitting down for dinner with the
wrong person in Pakistan, or Yemen, or Jordan...you get the idea.

It doesn't matter whether those thoughts occur in the head of a
pilot in a Blackhawk gunship, or one using the weapon system of
an F-18, or one using a 9mm Glock he just moments before used
to kill his mother.

Currently, no "she" has appeared at one of our schools, but do
any of us believe she won't make an appearance soon?

That Gallup poll makes it clear that Americans are now so morally
degraded that they believe the rule of domestic and international
law and the moral values that underpin it are no longer relevant.

We all know, or we all should know, that the CIA and its brothers
and sisters in the US intelligence community have been murdering
and torturing people for decades.

Conservatives routinely and openly think that's just hunkey dorey.
Liberals not so much. In any case, the distinction is completely
useless.

Here's why all this is a such a kicker.

By not prosecuting those in power who preceded him, a central
feature of Obama's legacy is going to be this festering truth.

He has made it clear conservatives, liberals, progressives,
independents, communists, christians and atheists, of
all political persuasions, genders, and colors, are directly
responsible for America's policy of torture and murder.

How has Obama done this?

He led us to believe he would end the torture, assassinations and
illegal wars.

He promised change that would put us on a stronger moral footing.

He insinuated that all public officials who committed crimes would
be prosecuted.

He failed.

He might have been just lying through his bright white teeth, or
he might have actually believed what he was saying.

For whatever reasons, he simply didn't do it. Not only did he fail,
he allowed it to get worse.

At a time when the US is transitioning military power to the Afghan
government and planning its 2014 withdrawal, it broke a new record
with the 447 drone strikes it launched in that war-torn country in
2012.

Every American, but particularly that 65% of Gallup's poll, should
know that they authorized their government to carry out more
strikes in Afghanistan than it did in Pakistan in the past eight
years, which is how long the CIA has been conducting such strikes.

Moreover, the US has decided to launch more drones this year than
ever before. About 338 drone strikes have been launched in Pakistan.

Obama has initiated six times as many drone strikes against
Pakistan as occurred under Bush.

Obama clearly likes drone strikes. His administration has
refused to reveal how many civilians have been killed.

Could it be because they don't know? Or, if they do know, that there
are just too many children and assorted other "collateral damage" in
the numbers?

Is it really true our government is doing this? How reliable are
these numbers?

Well, we don't know, but how reliable are any of the numbers
about the ugly stuff we get from our government and its
agencies?

Obama is not alone here.

President after president has made it clear we cannot trust our
political leaders to honor their promises let alone change the
corporate war profiteering agenda that shapes our government.

Most Americans believe that the federal government attracts
the dregs of our country and we expect next to nothing from
them beyond greed and febrile narcissism.

We do expect and hope for more from our presidents and we
nearly never get it.

So, can we ever know the truth? Whom can we trust?

We certainly can't trust our religious leaders. They are on a
par with what we find in Congress, or worse, if that's possible.

We can't trust our business leaders to do it because they are
the ones on whose behalf & obscene profits all the torturing
and murdering is being done.

War, and all its antecedent arts, is incredibly profitable.

A good capitalist would never pass up an opportunity like war.

Can anyone even begin to make a case that the Koch Brothers,
Halliburton, Raytheon & Lockheed Martin are anything beyond
predatory, ethically decrepit war profiteers?

Apparently, and this is most painful of all, we re-elected
Obama to continue pulling the triggers for these ingrates.

Yes, each of us re-elected him and that goes for everyone
who voted against him or didn't vote at all.

There is no escaping what our government does in our name.

So, when we tolerate criminal acts on the part of our political,
religious and business leaders, and do nothing to take away
their wealth and power, we lower ourselves to their level, we
become an accomplice to the evil they do.

What does this mean?

It means we are as guilty as are those who pull the trigger.

We are as guilty as those who give the order to pull the trigger.

We are as guilty as those who lie about the reasons for pulling
the trigger.

We are as guilty as those who cynically manipulate language
to justify pulling the trigger.

The trigger pullers know all this which probably makes it
easier for them to go ahead and pull the trigger.

We, at least those of us with a shred of conscience and pride in this
country still intact, are the only ones who can turn our country away
from the bloody path we have chosen.

What does this all mean?

It means we become the evil that we tolerate in others.

It's a very, very old idea and the Greeks had a great word for it
"Enantiodromia" or you become what you hate.

In this sense, every single American is guilty of every single second
of torture and every murder, no matter when, or where, or why it
was done. We all bear a collective guilt.

The only way to change this is for every one of us mature enough to
understand what is being done in our name with our tacit permission
to stand up and do everything possible to stop it.

Don't believe for a moment the perverse propaganda that we
must kill these men, women & children because they hate us
for our freedoms.

Don't believe for a moment you have a right to endorse these endless
murders and torture because those being killed are not interested in
your God.

Don't believe for a moment that they are about to attack us and
blow up the White House, the Pentagon, or Candlestick Park and
therefore we have to kill them all before they get a chance.

They hate us because we are allowing our corporate/congressional
cabal to use the US military to loot their countries and kill absolutely
anyone who stands in our way.

They hate us because we are doing to them what the most powerful
empire on earth was doing to us in the late 1700's and what we did in
turn to Native Americans, Mexicans, Filipinos, Cubans, and so many
others.

Now we are the strongest military empire in history.

It has been a bloody business getting here.

Our wars of empire, from our wars with Native Americans
to Afghanistan, have killed nameless millions.

At this moment, no nation is strong enough to stop us.

That will change and if history is anything it is a reckoning.

Is there an upside here somewhere?

Yes, there is. Outrage.

There are voices naming these crimes for what they are Alan
Grayson, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Jane Mayer, Julian
Assange, Medea Benjamin, Noam Chomsky, Cynthia McKinney,
and many others.

Yes, MANY others.

At this moment in the history of this republic, every American
needs to be thinking long and hard about what all this means
and to what extent we as a people are willing to let the looting,
torture, assassinations, and destruction of our country continue.



Richard Overfield is an artist and writer currently based in
New Mexico after living in Vancouver, Canada for 20 years.
His paintings are represented in over 300 public and private
collections in the U.S., Canada, Switzerland, France, England,
and Japan.

http://www.opednews.com/articles/2/The-Bloody-Path-to-Empire-
by-dick-overfield-130328-480.html

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Applying the Golden Rule to Peace

Applying the Golden Rule to Peace

By Winslow Myers
Consortiumnews.com
March 26, 2013

Rather than making serious efforts at peace settlements, President
Obama is skating toward possible U.S. involvement in two more
Middle Eastern wars, with Syria and Iran. And ex-Vice President
Cheney has no regrets about the Iraq War.

Such attitudes ignore a core principle of all major religions.

Sixty years ago, the psychoanalyst Erik Erikson gave a talk in India
on the Golden Rule, a formulation that occurs, with some variation,

in all the major religions.

Judaism: “What is hateful to yourself, do not do to you fellow man.”

Islam: “No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother

what he desires for himself.”

Christianity: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Erikson’s theme was the creative potential of mutuality between
spouses, parents and children, doctors and patients, teachers and
pupils, even between nations.

Mutuality, Erikson asserted, is a relationship in which partners
depend upon each other for the enhancement of their respective
strengths.

The curiosity of a student elicits from the teacher the skills for
transmitting the excitement of learning in a way that benefits
both teacher and student.

In the case of nations, fear of Hobbesian chaos if leaders relax their
futile race toward military superiority makes it difficult to encourage
mutuality.

Ruthless power relations turn the life-giving spirit of mutuality on
its head: do not even think of trying to destroy me because if you
do I will destroy you.

This paranoia rationalizes the unabated manufacture of ever more
destructive weaponry, irrespective of sensible policy goals, by ever
more powerful corporations.

As the vulgarism derived from the Golden Rule puts it, those with
the gold make the rules.

The ersatz American idea of mutuality (adore us, obey us, give us
your oil) has often resulted in tragedy or tragic farce, viz. former
Vice President Dick Cheney asserting recently regarding the Iraq War
that given the chance to do it all over, he wouldn’t change a thing.

Is there anything that we have learned about the context of
international relations in the years since Erikson gave his talk that
might make his paradigm of mutuality not only more relevant but
also more realistic?

Can the Golden Rule become more persuasive than gold?

First, establishment strategists schooled in pitiless power politics
like Henry Kissinger have come to the reluctant conclusion that
nuclear weapons cannot serve as a useful tool for furthering
anyone’s national interest.

Kissinger’s boss Richard Nixon wanted to use them against North
Vietnam, but was dissuaded lest other nuclear powers be drawn in.

Fortunately we were mature enough to accept defeat rather
than suicidal escalation, and that restraint has continued.

It may be a sign that we are gradually maturing beyond the folly of
war altogether that most American wars since Vietnam, since Korea
in fact, have been inconclusive stalemates.

When American, Israeli and Iranian diplomats, or their proxies,
sit down to talk, do they simply threaten each other?

Or do they hypothesize together what will inevitably occur down
the time-stream if they fail to establish the basic trust upon
which mutuality can be built?

Is it possible for them to help each other see the possibility of
shared survival goals despite the chasm of divergent motives
and stories?

Can they acknowledge how other nations have already gone through
the futile process of arming themselves to the point of being able
to pound each other’s rubble, only to arrive, a few months before
Erikson’s long-ago talk, at the Cuban Missile Crisis?

Do they share with each other the reality that the detonation of only
a few nuclear weapons has the potential to cause nuclear winter,
endangering not just specific parties to conflict but the planet as a
whole?

The second basis for mutuality even between enemies, following
upon the realization that anything else leads to nuclear extinction,
is the model of mutuality found in nature, pressed upon us by all
the ecological revelations and challenges that have arisen since
Erikson spoke.

Humans exist only through their mutual relationship with the air
they breathe and the food they consume, with the sun that fuels
photosynthesis, ocean currents, wind and rain.

Mutuality, whether or not we decide to make it our conscious goal,
is our essential condition.

Adversaries have the option to build mutuality upon these two
principles: first, war in the nuclear age solves nothing and has
become obsolete, and second, at every level from the personal
to the international, we know now how deeply interdependent
and interrelated all humans are with each other and their life-
support system.

These two realities have come down upon us a thousand fold since Erikson posited mutuality as an ethical touchstone, renewing and deepening the implications of the universal Golden Rule.

These realities can help guide contemporary diplomats from all nations through the dilemmas that raw military power cannot address.

Threats become less effective than initiating people-to-people
exchanges or giving the “enemy” fully-equipped hospitals,
gestures of good will that lessen fear and build relationship.

Such initiatives are exponentially lower in price than war itself.

As Erikson put it:

“Nations today are by definition units of different stages of political,
technological and economic transformation . . . insofar as a nation
thinks of itself as a collective individual, then, it may well learn to
visualize its task as that of maintaining mutuality in international
relations. For the only alternative to armed competition seems to be
the effort to activate in the historical partner what will strengthen
him in his historical development even as it strengthen the actor in
his own development — toward a common future identity.”

Finally, Erikson’s “common future identity” after we understand
that we are first of all a single species before we are Persian or
Jew, Muslim or Christian — requires the acknowledgement of a
further mutuality, the mutuality of earth-human relations.

Our very survival, let alone our flourishing, depends upon cooperation
to strengthen the living systems out of which we came — in order to
strengthen ourselves.

The Golden Rule, priceless beyond gold, calls us to swear on the lives
of our grandchildren not only to treat our enemies as we would wish
to be treated, but also the earth itself.



Winslow Myers leads seminars on the challenges of personal and
global change. He is the author of “Living Beyond War: A Citizen’s
Guide.” He serves on the Advisory Board of the War Preventive
Initiative, is a member of the Rotarian Action Group for Peace,
and writes for Peacevoice.

http://consortiumnews.com/2013/03/26/applying-the-golden-rule-
to-peace

Monday, March 25, 2013

Bradley Manning's Nobel Peace Prize

Bradley Manning's Nobel Peace Prize

By David Swanson
OpEdNews.com
March 25, 2013

Whistleblower Bradley Manning has been nominated for the Nobel
Peace Prize, and he should receive it.

No individual has done more to push back against what Martin Luther
King Jr. called "the madness of militarism" than Bradley Manning.

The United States is the leading exporter of weapons and itself
spends as much preparing for more wars as the rest of the world
combined.

Manning is the leading actor in opposition to U.S. war making,
and therefore militarism around the world.

What he has done has hurt the cause of violence in a number
of other nations as well.

And right now, remaining in prison and facing relentless prosecution
by the U.S. government, Manning is in need of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Alfred Nobel's will left funding for a prize to be awarded to "the
person who shall have done the most or the best work for
fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction
of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace
congresses."

The intent of the prize was to fund this work.

As a result of enormous legal expenses, Bradley Manning is in
need of that funding, unlike some other peace prize recipients.

In addition, his secret trial -- with a potential death sentence
could use all the attention that can be shined on it.

The people of the United States and the rest of the world have
learned more about the intentions of the U.S. government from
Bradley Manning than from anyone else.

"Thanks to Manning's alleged disclosures, we have a sense of
what transpired in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We have an image of how Washington operates in the world,"
author Chase Madar wrote in his book about Manning's
whistleblowing.

"Thanks to those revelations we now know just how our government
leaned on the Vatican to quell opposition to the Iraq War. We now
know how Washington pressured the German government to block
the prosecution of CIA agents who kidnapped an innocent man,
Khaled El-Masri, while he was on vacation. We know how our State
Department lobbied hard to prevent a minimum wage increase
in Haiti, the hemisphere's poorest nation."

Manning revealed a secret U.S. war in Yemen, U.S. records of
massive civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, video of a U.S.
helicopter attack on civilians and their rescuers in Baghdad, and
facts about the corruption of numerous governments including
those of the United States, Tunisia, and Egypt.

In those last two nations Manning's revelations contributed to
nonviolent pro-democracy movements.

Among the revelations made by Manning through WikiLeaks is
the extent of time and energy the U.S. State Department puts
into marketing U.S. weapons to the world's governments.

We all have a better understanding of the work that is needed for
peace as a result of this exposure of "diplomacy" as consisting so
greatly of weapons selling.

The Guardian newspaper and BBC Arabic detailed last week how the
United States armed and trained Iraqi police commando units that
ran torture centers and death squads.

Maggie O'Kane, executive producer of the documentary, said:

"I hope this film will be a legacy that actually says, 'If you want to
go to war, this is what war means. It means 14-year-old boys being
hung up and tortured. It means men being turned on spits. And
that's called counter-insurgency. . . .' This would not be coming to
light if it hadn't been for Bradley Manning."

Not only has Manning done the most to resist militarism, but he
has done it for its own sake, and not by chance or for any ulterior
motive.

This is made clear by his recent statement in court and by his earlier
communications in the chat logs that have long been a part of his
case.

Manning was horrified by crimes and abuses.

He believed the public should know what was happening.

He believed democracy was more important than blind subservience
in the name of a "democracy."

Manning has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by the
Movement in the Icelandic Parliament, the Pirates of the EU;
representatives from the Swedish Pirate Party, and the former
Secretary of State in Tunisia for Sport & Youth.

The nomination states, in part:

"These revelations have fueled democratic uprisings around the
world, including a democratic revolution in Tunisia. According to
journalists, his alleged actions helped motivate the democratic
Arab Spring movements, shed light on secret corporate influence
on the foreign and domestic policies of European nations, and
most recently contributed to the Obama Administration agreeing
to withdraw all U.S. troops from the occupation in Iraq."

The Norwegian Nobel Committee (send them a note) can either
begin awarding the peace prize to opponents of war or continue
on its current course -- one which already has many questioning,
not whether Manning is worthy of the prize, but whether the prize
is worthy of Manning.



David Swanson is the author of "When the World Outlawed War,"
"War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency
and Forming a More Perfect Union."

http://www.opednews.com/articles/Bradley-Manning-s-Nobel-Pe-
by-David-Swanson-130325-607.html

Friday, March 22, 2013

America’s Willing Executioners

America’s Willing Executioners

By Rob Urie
Counter Punch
March 22, 2013

Ten years after the invasion, occupation and widespread destruction
of Iraq was set into motion the revisionist apologetics are flying fast
and furious.

These include the denial of culpability for crimes committed, the
systematic under counting of the innocents slaughtered and displaced
and the conveniently forgotten hubris of empire in the high theater
of technocratic carnage.

They also wanly posit the historical epic is behind ‘us,’ the 75% of
the populace reported in poll results to have supported the war
before news began leaking that its murder and mayhem weren’t
achieving their hypothesized results.

So to this 75%, a/k/a the American people, is the problem that
we murdered too many or not enough?

Put another way, what number of murdered Iraqis would be too
many if today there were a Starbucks on every corner in Baghdad
and Payday Lenders to bridge the cash flow shortfalls of the
citizenry that remains?

And whither the good old days?

Once upon a time the decomposing corpses of those responsible
for destroying an entire nation, murdering a million or more of
its citizens, causing the premature deaths of a wee chunk of the
home folk and costing it a few trillion of its national ‘product’
would be on display for all to see—a cautionary exhibit against
future hubristic incaution.

This, if for no other reason than to assure that before another such
adventure is undertaken, as the Nazis about to be hung at Nuremberg
had it, we are sure to ‘win.’

And as gestures of contrition for these and other transgressions
and magnanimity toward those slaughtered and their friends and
family who remain, fair trials followed by swift executions of
those found guilty at gallows set within public view on the White
House lawn for Messrs. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle,
Powell, and Ms. Rice, would place some distance between these
architects of distant carnage and the other 75% of this nation who
at one point or another supported ‘their’ war.

The culture and political economy of impunity and immunity from
prosecution for crimes high—war crimes under legally agreed upon
terms, is matched only by the absolute immiseration, persecution,
incarceration, torture and purposeful and negligent homicide of
those on the other side of this imperial power.

No war criminals have yet been charged in the bungled plunder of Iraq
and the torch of aggressive war, murder, torture, illegal surveillance
and robotic murder have been passed from war criminals past to war
criminals present.

Likewise, the methods of imperial economic extraction intended
for America’s client nations now place much of the same 75% that
at one time supported the war on the wrong side of the imperial
divide.

The murder drones tested on distant battlefields now carry
surveillance and murder technologies ‘at home’ to assure
phone bills are paid and for-profit prisons filled as the
‘other’ political party divides our collective wealth amongst
its new owners.

Of the 75% of war supporters not among its chief architects, but
certainly prominent in the supporting cast, is the propaganda wing
of the military-oil-banker oligarchy, America’s ‘fourth estate’ which
filled the alchemist’s role of converting fresh and long decomposed
bullshit into the solid gold of public ‘opinion’ so effectively.

The New York Times, former home of ‘reporter’ Judith Miller,
talented conveyor of White House press releases re: weapons
of mass destruction, and now occasional home of former
full-time dull-eyed hack and ‘liberal’ hawk Bill Keller, sought
street cred with the always kind and thoughtful crowd who
regularly confess their undying love for this god or that and
their fellow man in churches and synagogues across the nation.

In Mr. Keller’s (and the New York Times’) favor is that participating
in the murder of a million or more innocents and destroying an
entire nation-state was ‘just business’ with the articulated goal
of re-branding the (New York) Times the paper of choice amongst
the NASCAR/trailer park conservatives who prefer their dis-
information with a patina of ‘class.’

The task of ‘responsible’ war critics is now to assess the lessons
learned from the Iraq debacle while promoting the lowest possible
circumference of culpability.

The number of Iraqis who died as the direct consequence of the
U.S. invasion: 112,000 – 122,000.

Fuck you.

The only honest effort at counting placed the number at 655,000
by mid-2006. What makes the higher count more plausible than
the lower?

The lower number is that which can be ‘proven’ in the context of a
level of violence that assured most dead wouldn’t be counted. The
latter takes the context of violence into account and constructs the
higher number using associated information—cross-corroborated
family-hospital-morgue records.

What then is ‘responsible’ in leaving the historical record to favor
those responsible for the deaths of so many innocents?

Unless ‘conservative’ means farthest from the truth, America
murdered, or caused the premature death of, a million or more
Iraqis (2006 number inferred forward using higher known numbers
in 2007 – 2009) by the only honest effort at counting yet undertaken.

Likewise, the ‘lessons learned’ were there for all who cared to see
prior to the attack on Iraq.

Wars of aggression, torture and murder were known to be heinous
acts as well as prosecutable offenses under international law since
the trials at Nuremberg.

Imperial hubris has played a role in major military blunders
throughout known history. And the wounds the U.S. (as
oligarchic nation-state) received in the Middle East are
nearly all self-inflicted.

Conversely, the lessons coming from the Iraq debacle are
anti-history.

The rich and powerful are never called to account for their actions;
the institutional rot that accompanies war, murder, torture and
plunder has no effect on the viability of these institutions, and
the breach of public trust that derives from the lies of officialdom
never destroy the social ‘fabric’ to the ultimate detriment of us all.

But, in fact, this anti-history isn’t history at all, but rather a series
of wishful delusions that exist in the space between actions and their
consequences.

At this point re-addressing the lies of the attack on Iraq is so much
noise.

Weapons of Mass Destruction—where are they?

Payback for the attacks of September 11, 2001—Iraq had nothing
to do with them?

To democratize the Middle East—read the first Iraqi Constitution
and terms of political economy (written by the Bush White House)
if you’re really that gullible?

The ‘real’ reasons combine imperial conquest, domestic and global
political aspirations of connected Neo-Conservatives, personal
retaliation for Saddam Hussein’s alleged attempt on George H.W.
Bush’s life, military expansionism and to secure the second largest
known oil reserves in the world.

And let us not leave out belligerent stupidity and near complete
ignorance of history. Are any of the latter ‘legitimate’ goals?

In the first, none are the stated goals. In the second, even were
they deemed to be so by god, launching aggressive war, murder
and torture are war crimes prosecutable under treaties signed
and ratified by the U.S.

American culture, the national mythology, which feeds on Nietzsche’s ‘resentment’ informed by capitalist propaganda, sees in the ruling
class that led us into Iraq the loveable scoundrel, the soldier of
empire whose courage and wits have made ‘us’ the nation we are.

George W. Bush was raised to understand resentment better than
most likely have context to imagine—exploiting it is a central
strategy of the plantation management cum factory ownership/
management ‘skill-set’ taught the southern aristocracy from birth.

But what passes for swashbuckling bravado, his ‘bring it on’
comment inviting violent retaliation for the U.S. invasion is an
affectation used, along with the threat of a rope around one’s
neck or a Pinkerton’s nightstick to the head, to keep the hands
in the fields and the workers in the factories.

The calculated resentment epitomized by Mr. Bush’s pseudo-
populist belligerence effectively hid his (America’s) grotesque
slaughter behind a cartoon facade–the fathers, mothers, husbands,
wives, children, sisters, brothers, friends and communities
murdered, brutalized, lives destroyed, social demons unleashed,
that are the true consequences of America’s actions.

With as yet not fully realized irony the plutocrats and ‘their’
institutions that brought war and its death, destruction and
carnage to Iraq now bring it home.

Tiring of Mr. Bush’s hick-schtick and needing a technocratic language
to effectively sell bank bailouts and Quantitative Easing to a populace
now spending more time with unemployment checks than with the
sales pitches for ‘smart’ bombs of yore, the new boss, same as
the old boss, Barack Obama, claims the right to murder ‘terrorists,’
a/k/a anyone he wants to, abroad as well as in the ‘home land.’

The same ‘responsible’ critics of the war over there offer unqualified
assurances the ‘liberal,’ ‘progressive,’ Mr. Obama means to murder
only ‘bad guys’ here in the U.S.

But, the entire remainder of American history aside, anyone reading
the FBI files recently released under the Freedom of Information Act
knows the peaceful protesters of Occupy Wall Street were only a few
short months ago considered fair targets for state murder.

And one of the lasting gifts from Mr. Bush and his fellow war and
economic criminals is a political economy ringing America’s major
cities dependent on finding domestic ‘terrorists’ for house payments
and dental bills to be made.

A quick guess is find ‘them’ they will. More broadly, and stepping
further back in time, the U.S. was born as imperial project and
has always carried these internal dynamics with it. Mr. Bush, with
‘his’ war, and now Mr. Obama, with his own imperial predations
and bailouts of connected insiders, represents the interests of a
predator class that only sees national boundaries when it serves
their interests to see them.

In the mythology, ‘our’ lovable rogues stole oil from the Iranians and
bananas from the Guatemalans while acting in what was claimed to
be the national interest.

That in recent decades the ‘national interest’ was expanded to
cut your wages, loot your pension, destroy public education and
healthcare and steal ‘your’ house with a predatory loan, all for
the benefit of America’s ruling class, puts you, the 75% who flew
your flags and regaled in dim idiocy like ‘freedom ain’t free,’
squarely on the wrong side of empire.

That most Americans have more interests in common with ‘the
enemy,’ ordinary Iraqis, than with America’s ruling class, makes
the nationalist hatreds so easily rallied more toxic and self
destructive than could ever be inflicted from without.

America’s war on Iraq is among the sadder epics in millennia of
blood-soaked, tragedy filled history.

Those murdered and those whose lives were destroyed have no
heroic storyline, no grand narrative to ease their pain or to
provide the sense there is any possible rhyme or purpose to this
miserable existence.

They were murdered; their and their family’s lives destroyed, by
antique Cold Warriors and dull-eyed bureaucrats in the service of
pirate capitalists and the legions of resentful fools they so easily
rallied to do their bidding.

Today there is weak remedy in justice, fair trials for the culpable
with punishment commensurate with their crimes.

Even this, far more just than the idiot, lunatic violence visited
upon their victims, seems a remote possibility at present.

But with anti-history framing the space between actions and their
consequences, finding justice for those wronged would serve justice,
and with it history.



Rob Urie is an artist and political economist in New York

http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/03/22/americas-willing-
executioners

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

An Illegal Anniversary

An Illegal Anniversary

By Robert Jensen
Dissident Voice
March 20, 2013

On the 10th anniversary of the United States’ illegal invasion of Iraq,
we can expect the war’s supporters to argue that military action
seemed necessary at that moment, while critics will remind us of the
suffering that resulted from that tragic miscalculation.

But amid the rationalizations and critiques, we should linger on this
uncomfortable term: “illegal invasion”.

No matter how much we all ignore it, here is the reality:

The U.S. invasion of Iraq was unlawful.

The leaders who planned and executed the war are criminals.

U.S. citizens bear some responsibility for not holding those leaders accountable.

The charter of the United Nations is clear about when the use of
force in international relations is legal.

War must be authorized by the U.N. Security Council, and in this
case the council rejected a resolution authorizing war.

The only other condition under which a member state can go to
war is in self-defense when attacked, a principle that is extended
to the right to respond to an imminent attack, what is sometimes
called “the customary right of anticipatory self-defense.”

The basic principles are uncontroversial and clearly articulated
in articles 39 and 51 of the U.N. Charter, though there is debate
among legal experts about interpreting terms such as “imminent”
and “anticipatory.”

But whatever one’s position in those debates, there is no way to
stretch the facts of this invasion to justify a self-defense claim.

At this point, many people respond by dismissing international law
as irrelevant. Because U.S. policymakers’ first job is to protect
Americans, they argue, our leaders shouldn’t be constrained by
international law—the Constitution trumps international law or
treaties.

But a small problem arises:

Article VI of the U.S. Constitution states that “all Treaties made, or
which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States” are
part of “the supreme Law of the Land.”

Since the United States signed the U.N. Charter (and, in fact, wrote
most of it), to reject international law in this matter is to express
contempt for the plain meaning of the U.S. Constitution. No patriot
would dare.

So, back to those uncomfortable conclusions:

A decade ago, U.S. leaders launched what under the principles of
the Nuremberg Tribunal is called a “crime against peace.”

Whether in the course of that crime, U.S. forces also committed
war crimes can be debated.

For example, should the deliberate bombing of the civilian
infrastructure of a country be considered a war crime?

What about the use of cluster munitions in ways that predictably
kill civilians?

I believe both are criminal, but let’s put those more complicated
issues aside. The illegality of the invasion itself is not a tough
question.

In my travels outside the United States, I have found that the vast
majority of people agree that the U.S. invasion was unlawful. Within
the United States, mentioning this worldwide consensus typically is
considered idealistic and irrelevant.

But while we can ignore evidence and logic, and even ignore
the world, we can’t escape the implications of those choices.

The moral force of law, domestic or international, lies in the
consistent application of clear standards.

When laws are applied only to the poor and the rich act with
impunity, for example, we understand that as a perversion of
the law.

Over and over in the United States, we proclaim our commitment
to the rule of law—we are a nation of laws not men.

If that were the case, we would turn over to the International Court
of Justice high-ranking figures from the Bush administration, which
initiated the war; from the Obama administration, which continued
the war; from Congress, which enabled the war; and from the
military, which prosecuted the war.

We would determine the amount of reparations we owe Iraq
and begin to make payments.

And we would apologize to the Iraqi people, and to the world.

Why is that unthinkable in our political culture?

Perhaps it is because we worship power rather than respect law.

Perhaps it is because we have no intention of acting on the moral principles we routinely impose on others.

Perhaps it is because we are not the people we tell ourselves we are.



Robert Jensen is a professor of journalism at the University of Texas
at Austin and and board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource
Center in Austin. His latest book is We Are All Apocalyptic Now: On
the Responsibilities of Teaching, Preaching, Reporting, Writing, and
Speaking Out (Monkey Wrench Books). Jensen is also co-producer of
the documentary film Abe Osheroff: One Foot in the Grave, the Other
Still Dancing (Media Education Foundation, 2009), which chronicles
the life and philosophy of the longtime radical activist.

http://dissidentvoice.org/2013/03/an-illegal-anniversary

Monday, March 18, 2013

Absurdity Surging

Absurdity Surging

By Andrew Levine
Counter Punch
March 18, 2013

By the middle of March four years ago, we were deep into Barack
Obama’s first hundred days.

By then, even those of us who never expected much – because we
paid attention to his campaign, and because the shape of things to
come was evident from his very first appointments — were already
disappointed.

A Clintonite Restoration was underway; there would not even be
cosmetic changes.

Obamamania had a longer shelf life, but it too was beginning to
fade. By late summer, it was already turning rancid.

As term two gets underway, only the most deluded Democrats expect
anything good to come from the first hundred days, or from the next
three and three-quarters years.

Therefore the good news is that there will be less disappointment
this time around.

The bad news is that, although Obamamania is ancient history,
alarmingly many former Obamamaniacs are still in denial.

This is why there is not more outrage over Obama’s drone driven
state terrorism or his efforts to expand America’s perpetual war
regime, and why it took a Tea Party Senator, Rand Paul, to focus
public attention on the dangers Obama’s policies pose.

It is also why the public tolerates the impunity Obama accords too
big to charge, much less imprison, financial criminals, and why he
gets a pass on doing Wall Street’s bidding.

Muckety-mucks in the Justice Department, the Securities and
Exchange Commission, and at Treasury have much to answer
for too, but the buck stops just where Harry Truman said it did.

And it is why hardly anyone still cares that Obama protects Bush
era war criminals or that he continues their work.

A reason not to despair four years ago was that Obama had
announced his intention to close Guantanamo; a reason to despair
now is that Guantanamo is still going strong and that instead of
imprisoning people Bush-style, without due process, Obama just
has them killed.

On the flimsiest of national security pretexts, he undermines basic
rights and liberties, and treats international law with a scofflaw’s
contempt.

And although he talks a good earful about “transparency,” he is
among its greatest enemies: witness Bradley Manning and some
half dozen others whom his administration has prosecuted, and
his on-going attack on WikiLeaks.

And yet liberals cut him slack.

They blame Republicans and persist in thinking that, despite it all,
Obama remains a “good guy.” Republicans excel at obstructionism;
Democrats are even better at deceiving themselves.

In all likelihood, it will soon get even worse.

The humanitarian interveners who are itching for another war in the
Middle East are already looking forward to a deepening quagmire in
Syria. Lebanon beckons them too; and of course there is always Iran.

On the home front, Obama seems more eager this Spring than ever
before to grand bargain progress away.

If Tea Party obstinacy slackens, Ronald Reagan will finally triumph
definitively over FDR and LBJ.

It will happen on Obama’s watch — if not quite at his instigation,
then with his far from reluctant acquiescence.

Then there is the Keystone XL pipeline decision in the offing, and
much more that cannot now be foreseen. Before long, we may well
look back on the first first hundred days as a Golden Age compared
to the hundred days currently in progress.

Four years ago, disappointment was in the air. Now absurdity is
with an intensity that is staggering.

That our politics reeks of absurdity is hardly news.

It has long been the Republicans’ stock-in-trade, and in our semi-
established duopoly party system, Republicans hold up half the sky.
The electoral scene a year ago was a case in point.

Mitt Romney became the GOP standard bearer because every one
of his opponents was an outright buffoon.

But it was only after each of them self-destructed that the lunatics
ceded control of the asylum long enough for GOP grandees to see to
it that their man would get the nod.

But their man still had a base to appease, and that based hated
Romney’s guts. He therefore had no choice but to join them with a
vengeance. A Republican “shellacking,” rivaling the one Democrats
took in 2010, was the inevitable result.

The almost equally inevitable result has been that at a policy level,
notwithstanding Democratic victories, the lunatics still call the shots.

This is because Democrats are ridiculous too; they too wallow
in absurdity. However, their ridiculousness is subtler and more
insidious. They are not buffoons; quite the contrary. They are
merely preposterously inept.

And so, as they muddle on, they err grievously; and then do
the same thing over and over again. The name for this is
insanity. But there is method to the madness.

Were it a deliberately adopted strategy, it would be a risky one.
The risk is that, if things go too far awry, Obama looks weak,
and Democrats seem not quite up to the tasks of governance.

That perception helped fuel Democratic losses in 2010.

But it can also yield electoral success. Because Republicans, Tea
Partiers especially, cannot resist the bait, the more likely outcome
is that, in stirring Democrats on and then blocking their every
move, they look idiotic and childish.

And so, in 2012, Obama didn’t need to run on his record or even
on his promises. Republicans handed him the prize he sought.

Obama couldn’t be bothered to campaign for House Democrats or
for Democrats at the state level, and he hogged all the money he
could get his hands on for his own campaign.

But his effect on Republicans, Tea Partiers especially, helped his
party too; Republican absurdists made Democrats look good.

They certainly helped them keep their base on board. And they
helped advance the Clintonized Democratic Party’s longstanding
goal of replacing Republicans as the favored flunkies of the ruling
class.

What self-respecting plutocrat wants to leave the management
of global capitalism in the hands of idiots or children?

Was that Obama’s plan all along?

Liberals in denial insist Obama cares about policy issues, and
that he’s doing the best he (or anyone) can.

But the evidence suggests that what he cares about is his own
success; that, for him as for Vince Lombardi, the former coach
of the Green Bay Packers, winning isn’t the main thing, it’s the
only thing.

The evidence suggests it, but I’m not so sure that his insanity
is a strategic pose. Acquiescence, it seems, comes naturally to
him; susceptibility to “bipartisan” foolishness is in his genes.

In dealing with the Soviet Union, Richard Nixon is said to have
found it strategically useful sometimes to seem unhinged; Obama
is less guileful. He is smarter than Nixon certainly, or than
Henry Kissinger, but he lacks their “gift” for strategic thought.

But what he does is no less absurd on that account.

The existentialists found metaphysical absurdities liberating;
perhaps they are. But political absurdities are merely disabling.

They make a bad scene worse.

And so, with both Republicans and Democrats doing their part,
each in their own way, to make absurdity the new normal, our
political scene has taken a turn for the worse.

The more the situation is tolerated, the worse it gets. This is
why we are now on a downward trajectory.

And it is why the Bushes and the Clintons, the two most awful
families in our nation’s political history, won’t go away.

That the decrepit House of Bush and the Clinton wannabe dynasty
have spawned the two figures now billed as front-runners for 2016
is not merely ludicrous; it is emblematic of our current state of
affairs.

This is a cause for concern; ludicrousness happens. It has happened
before.

In saner days, nothing seemed more ludicrous than the thought of
Ronald Reagan in office. But it didn’t take long, once the rightwing
of the then still “moderate” Republican Party succeeded in floating
the idea, that that actor-huckster became President of the United
States.

This led to what Obama, not disapprovingly, called “a transformative
presidency.” He was right too: we have had nothing but Reaganite
Presidents since.

And so, almost three and a half decades later, Obama is poised to
consummate the Reaganite vision.

Because, as a Democrat, he can bring the opposition along, he, like
Clinton before him, is a more effective, though less dedicated,
Reaganite than the villainous Gipper himself or than any Bush could
possibly be.

The idea that Bush and Clinton dynasties would still dominate
American politics is at least as ridiculous.

But unlike the early 1970s, when Reagan was a joke, the idea of a
President Jeb or Hillary is nowadays not just acceptable but almost
common sensical.

This shows how profoundly resistance to absurdity has worn down
in recent years.

It also shows how susceptible Americans are to dynastic temptations.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. At least a few dynastic episodes
in our history turned out not too badly, compared to the alternatives.

The Kennedys had, and still have their problems, and their hearts
have not always been in the right place. But the name does say
“liberal” and the perception does have a basis in fact. In today’s
world, this is not a bad thing.

The name also suggests noblesse oblige, a virtue that was once
esteemed and that is now practically extinct.

As for JFK, the wisest course is to frame no hypotheses. Who
can say what would have happened had he not been killed?

It is fair to say, however, that had RFK become President in 1968
instead of Richard Nixon or Ted Kennedy in 1980 instead of Reagan,
the world would now be a better place.

Kennedys have style; they are good-looking streetwise Irish pols with
social graces enough for any Boston Brahmin. For eight decades, they
have been as savvy as anyone in Washington and as glamorous as
Hollywood stars.

On the Brahmin side, in the nineteenth century, the Adams Family
didn’t do badly either with John and John Quincy. They even had
descendants of intellectual distinction – Henry and Brooks, most
notably.

Compare them to the Bushes.

Over only three generations, from Prescott to George W. and Jeb,
intelligence was bred out of them along with noblesse oblige. Any
semblance of competence at governance is gone as well.

And yet Jeb is testing the waters.

Conventional wisdom has it that, among the contenders appearing
before this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC),
he is the one “adult” in the room.

This means that, like Obama’s longed for Grand Bargain, he stands
a chance, if Tea Party obstinacy falters.

And, of course, Hillary Clinton has been an inexorable menace from
the day her husband entered the national political scene. There is
just no getting rid of that family.

They are even becoming an inter-generational threat.

Even Chelsea, the hedge funder, wants in. She will help judge
a Peterson Foundation contest designed to engage youth in
the importance of deficit cutting – in other words, she will
cheerlead for austerity.

The Peterson Foundation is the creation of Pete Peterson, the
bipartisan one per-center and inveterate (ruling) class warrior
who has been trying to undo New Deal and Great Society advances
for as long as anyone living can remember.

Of course, one could argue that Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton are
“qualified” to be President. Even if their accomplishments fall
short, at least they are properly credentialed.

Remember, though, that Jeb would be a nobody but for his family
connections, and that had First Lady Hillary not been Bill’s official
wife, she’d not have been parachuted into New York state to run
for the Senate in 2000, and her political career would never have
gotten off the ground.

Were we not swimming in a sea of absurdity, the legs up the
two of them benefit from would be political death warrants.

Have not the Bushes and the Clintons done enough harm already?

If guilt by association won’t save us, what about, in Jeb’s and
especially Hillary’s cases, outright complicity?

Obama’s penchant for spreading murder and mayhem, and his
pathological “centrism,” are far greater menaces, at least for
now; but, for sheer absurdity, nothing comes close to a political
scene with Bushes and Clintons still scuttling about.

Indeed, the very idea of a Bush-Clinton race in 2016, only eight
years after the worst President in the history of the United States
left office and sixteen years after we thought we’d seen the back
of the man who steered the Democratic Party to the right of where
Republicans used to be is an offense to political morality.

That this is what “moderate” Republican grandees and
mainstream Democratic Party liberals are now promoting
is not only disheartening; it is beyond ridiculous, the very
quintessence of absurdity.



Andrew Levine is a Senior Scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies,
the author most recently of THE AMERICAN IDEOLOGY (Routledge)
and POLITICAL KEY WORDS (Blackwell) as well as of many other books
and articles in political philosophy.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/03/18/absurdity-surging

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Killing Me Microsoftly

Killing Me Microsoftly

from: tony whitcomb expotera.ceo@gmail.com
to: billg@microsoft.com
date: Tue, Mar 12, 2013 at 5:18 PM
subject: Killing Me Microsoftly
mailed-by: gmail.com

Hey Bill, it's me, Tony.

So Bill, what up with the death threat the other day, G-money?

Bill, that wasn't very cool, not very cool at all, Bill.

Now Bill, is this really anyway to treat your former loyal and
dedicated employee, as well as your former loyal and dedicated
business partner?

Now Bill, is this really anyway to treat the man who personally
delivered to you, a concept, a business plan, and a company, that
is bigger than Microsoft, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Myspace,
and Twitter, all combined?

Now Bill, is this really anyway to treat the man who freely gave you
and your partners, a 49% ownership stake in the world's first multi-
billion dollar Internet start-up, for a zero cash contribution on all of
your end?

And Bill, is this really anyway to treat the man who's life you have
already made an absolute living hell over these past five years now?

Bill, you mad Bro?

Because Bill, I am now really, really, pissed off!!

Bill, you and your partners tried to steal my company completely
away from me, and my group of over 50 Private Investors, by
way of an illegal inside hostile takeover, back in April of 2008,
and now in March of 2013, you actually have the nerve, the balls,
and the audacity, to send someone to tell me that "I Am A Dead Man"
simply because I wouldn't quietly let you and your fellow inherently
dishonest and insatiably greedy "Connivers" openly steal "Expotera"
as well as openly steal "The Presidential Election" back in 2008??

Bill, for the past five years, you have been doing nothing but testing
my nuts, as well as testing the patience's of the Expoterians, and the
patience's of our Creator, and Bill, I just want you to know, that your
$60+ billion earth dollars mean absolutely nothing to the Expoterians,
or to our Creator, and, your $60+ billion earth dollars will be of
absolutely no help to you once you close your eyes for the final time
and once you take your final breath.

So Bill, if I were you, I would be very, very, careful about making
any further threats upon the lives of others, or upon the lives of
those who you have already completely "Fucked Over" my friend,
because Bill, "Life and Death are in the Power of the Tongue" and
Bill, at some point, we all have to return "Home" with, or without,
someone else's blood on our hands, and with, or without, someone
else's stolen property, on our hands, as well.

And Bill, if something should now happen to me, my blood, along
with my stolen intellectual property, will clearly be all over you and
your partners hands, so in the words of Tryon Edwards, "To murder
character is as truly a crime as to murder the body: the tongue of
the slanderer is brother to the dagger of the assassin."

Monday, March 11, 2013

Dead Man Walking

Dead Man Walking

Gentlemen:

Yesterday, your "messenger" did as instructed, and he delivered
your "message" to me, but really now, to tell me that I am a
"Dead Man" on a Sunday, and before the start of Church??

That wasn't very classy, nor was it very Christ like either.

Anyways, my message now back to all of you is simply this:

"Yea, thou I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I
will fear no evil: For thou art with me; Thy rod and thy staff, they
comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of
my enemies; Thou annointest my head with oil: My cup runneth
over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my
life, and I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever, Amen."

Now, please tell my "assassin(s)" as well as their "employer(s)" that
"All of our Deaths, are now Sleeping above each of our Heads" and
we are all "Dead Men Walking" now, because whatever now happens
to me, shall now be answered by my Creator, and by the Expoterians,
"10 to the Twelfth Power" or "Tera" as in "Expotera" gentlemen,
because in the words of Indira Gandhi, "If I die a violent death, as
some fear and a few are plotting, I know that the violence will be
in the thought and the action of the assassins, not in my dying."

So gentlemen, the next move is truly all yours, but for now, I have
a mission to complete and my mission is called "Expotera" and
gentlemen, I fully intend on completing my mission, so until we all
meet again, and until death do us part, dueces!!

Tony

Friday, March 8, 2013

Privatizing Hell

The Economic Motives for Incarcerating America

By Christopher Helali
Dissident Voice
March 08, 2013

In a society driven by “bottom line” economics, Americans are
more apt to commodify everything from their bodies and their
relationships to nature in its totality.

The incessant need to bring the market into daily life and our base
existence has culminated in a transformation of social relations
between the people and their institutions.

The drive for economic wealth and prosperity has corrupted state
institutions originally meant to positively serve all citizens.

Since Capitalist mechanisms influence all facets of our existence,
the prison system, once a small institution in the United States,
took on a life of its own after the deindustrialization phase of the
1980s and has since expanded tremendously, at a great financial
return to private and governmental interests.

The incessant demand for capital, coupled with the collapse of
major industries in the United States and the decline of unions,
led to a predominately uneducated workforce, comprised primarily
of minorities, who were unemployed with marginal skills beyond
heavy industrial labor training.

This vacuum of highly skilled laborers and the demand for more
complex skills created a manufactured human surplus which
inevitably led to social instability, leading the state to
increase the prison population and begin privatizing the
prison system.

One cannot overlook the similarities between the Prison-Industrial
Complex and the Military-Industrial Complex.

In both systems, corporations lobby the government to be awarded
lucrative contracts to do work that the state should do for itself.

As a result, corporations ranging from AT&T to Nestle Food
Services all provide the equipment and services needed to
run prison facilities.

State run prisons have been privatized to the extent that they are a
source of profit for major corporations who supply these prisons with
everything from food to office supplies.

This drive for profit ultimately created the Prison-Industrial Complex,
where human beings are no longer given equal protection under the
law and are reduced to a state controlled labor force.

The modern nation state today has returned to slavery by perverting
the law and reconstituting the entire purpose of “crime and
punishment.”

Today, punishment is not about rehabilitation or the penalty for some
crime, but more often than not, it is a transaction of cheap labor
benefitting the market at reduced costs to corporations.

It is an established fact that the legal system in America favors a
small elite, upper class, comprised of mostly wealthy white citizens,
over the rest of the population.

Thus, at its core, the legal system in America is not only broken but
ultimately prejudiced against most citizens based on race, class and
sexual orientation amongst other factors.

The idea of punishment, engrained into the minds of Americans
through dramatic and reality television shows like COPS and Law &
Order and heavily publicized legal cases which create an illusion that
prisons are a necessary and integral part of society.

Counter-intuitively, many Americans believe crime is out of control
and prisons are necessary to counteract the pervasive evil in our
society.

This is contrary to the current data on crime and violence which
show a decrease in crime and an increasing incarceration rate.

In a 2004 New New York Times article entitled “Despite Drop in
Crime, an Increase in Inmates,” author Fox Butterfield points
to the latest DOJ statistics that showed an steady increase of
the prison population despite a 16% decrease in violent crime,
36% decrease in murder arrests and 25% decrease in arrests for
robbery from 1994 to 2003.

Thus, prisons are now a default punishment for crimes in general,
regardless of how small the offenses like possession of small amounts
of Marijuana or even carrying condoms.

This led The Sentencing Project, a Non-Profit focused on reforming
the justice system to conclude in their report “Incarceration and
Crime: A Complex Relationship” that “While incarceration is one
factor affecting crime rates, its impact is more modest than many
proponents suggest, and is increasingly subject to diminishing
returns.”

Director Michael Moore in his documentary “Capitalism:
A Love Story” spotlights a privatized for-profit juvenile
facility in Pennsylvania called PA Child Care.

This scheme between one of the owners of the facility, Robert Powell
and two local judges, Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan, created
a “kids for cash” system where the more incarcerated children were
sent to the facility, the more money they earned.

By the time the scheme was exposed and the perpetrators were
brought to justice, over 6,500 juveniles had been wrongly convicted
and sentenced for crimes that did not warrant incarceration.

This is capitalism taken to the end, whereby the logical conclusion
of the system is pure profit, no matter the human or environmental
cost.

In her famous book “Are Prisons Obsolete?” professor and activist
Angela Davis writes a chapter on the Prison-Industrial Complex
highlighting the economic motivations that have transformed the
legal system in America.

She states “The prison industrial complex is fueled by privatization
patterns that, it will be recalled, have also drastically transformed
health care, education and other areas of our lives.”

The racist structures that perpetuate the prison system coupled
with the supply of unemployed black males and centered in urban
areas leads to a reality where prisons become labor camps with a
large, exploitable labor force.

There is a devastating convergence between the ideologies of
racism and the capitalist motives of growth, expediency and
profit.

The exploitation of prison labor is clearly discernible with the
new prison systems that are factories as well as prisons.

In a Mother Jones article entitled “What do Prisoners Make for
Victoria’s Secret?” author Caroline Winter details the various
products inmates make.

The products range from lingerie for Victoria’s Secret and JC Penny
to military uniforms and parts for airplanes.

The wages prisoners receive range from 19 cents to minimum wage
for work that would earn a union worker $25 to $30 an hour.

This dangerous development is all too appealing for the corporate
interests eager to break the last vestiges of union demands and
exploit a cheap and abundant labor force.

According to the statistics of the Department of Justice, the total
prisoner population has gone from approximately 500,000 in the
early 1980s to over 2 million inmates today.

The United States now has the highest rate of incarceration in the
world, beating out the nations criticized for human rights violations.

It is completely justifiable to assert that the US incarceration system
is a violation of International Human Rights laws, for example
violating certain provisions in the International Convention on Civil
and Political Rights, which the US is a signatory of.

This dangerous trend constitutes a conflict of interests where
State interests collude with private market forces.

This dangerous allegiance, much like the Military Industrial
Complex, brings the nation closer to a police state where
laws disproportionately benefit the wealthy and powerful.

In the final analysis, it is fitting to counter the classic biblical phrase
“The kingdom of God is at hand” by crying out “The kingdom of hell
is here; the prisons!”

Hell actually exists in concrete structures where our comrades go to
rot in solitude.

America is a land of the imprisoned, where injustice is cast as
justice and the Devil wears black robes.

The Prison Industrial Complex is proof of the failure of the so called
“American Dream.”

Willie Williams, an inmate who wrote a poem for Struggle Magazine entitled “Slave to Inmate” writes, “Given names, Master, and a
shack with mud floors to live in; Given numbers, guards, and a brick
building with concrete floors and bars to live in.”

Williams testifies that racism is alive and well, simply mutated from
old style chattel slavery to the exploited victims in the dungeons of
capitalism.

Thus, it is fitting to end with the words of Minnesota hip hop artist
Brother Ali who says “Welcome to the United Snakes; Land of the
Thief, Home of the Slave.”



Christopher Helali is Adjunct Professor of History at MassBay
Community College and a member of the Communist Party USA.

http://dissidentvoice.org/2013/03/privatizing-hell-the-economic-
motives-for-incarcerating-america/

Monday, March 4, 2013

What is Socialism?

The Root of all Good?

By Alexander Vancel
The Allegiant
March 04, 2013

Opponents to Socialism like to paint a picture of the “evil
government” taking all of your hard earned money and
redistributing it a way that they deem necessary.

Rather than breaking down forms of Socialism, we are provided
with scare tactics such as the government taking from the rich
and giving it to the poor, like Robin Hood.

Closer examination shows that there are many Socialist Programs
which are already provided by the government.

These forms of Socialism have a different name so we don’t think
about packing our bags and running away from the “tyrannical
government coming to get us and our freedom.”

Police Officers, Firefighters, Roads and Bridges, Military Personnel,
Student Grants and Loans, Public Schools, Jails and Prisons, Farm
Subsidies, the EPA, and many more programs are all forms of
Socialism.

Americans pay their taxes to the state and government which are
then redistributed toward these types of programs which benefit
our society.

When tax money is given to a recipient who betters our society,
this is a form of Socialism.

Interestingly, when this subject is broken down into words that we
are more familiar with, most people do not object to the process.

Only when the word is used to describe something or someone in
a negative way does it become “evil” and hated.

Simple word play is apparently enough to alter how society views
programs that we all benefit from in some way.

If we ask someone if they want to pay our military personnel to
defend us and our country, more than likely the answer will be yes.

Police Officers and Firefighters are essential to all groups of people
in America but we wouldn’t try to declare these groups as evil takers,
well most of us wouldn’t anyway.

Somehow a small group of people have persuaded a large number of
individuals into thinking that Socialism is a terrible concept and try
to encourage a sort or revolution against the idea.

A familiar tale of greed and wealth redistribution would be that of
Robin Hood; the hero who takes from the evil person in charge and
gives the goods to the poor in order to benefit society, a SOCIALIST.

When this story is told, most people would probably root for Robin
Hood, but when we take those ideas and apply then to real life they
are somehow seen as different and negative.

Social Security is a system in which we pay a portion of our paycheck
into a pool of money which is then given to those who are recipients
of the program.

Social Security is "SOCIALISM" but that is not demonized and
presented as an evil system which is taking from the rich and
giving to the lazy people in America.

When we need medical care or we are unemployed, we are more
than happy to receive money from the government to help us in
our time of need.

Only when people have to pay instead of reap the benefits is there
an issue of the Socialistic process.

Greed is the only answer as to why society does not want to aid
those in need, even when they are from the same country.

“Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness,” would include taking
care of your fellow Americans, helping other people is what America
is good at.

We can give foreign aid to other countries but aren’t allowed to
use those same funds to help our own citizens?

Seems to be an oxymoron and against someone who we might all
know of by the name of Jesus Christ.

Yes, Jesus is one of the most famous Socialists and yet he is adored
and worshiped, literally. This man healed this sick and helped the
poor and others in need, yes a Socialist.

Jesus advocated that the rich give their wealth to the poor in order
to help everyone, in fact the bible verse of Mark 10:25 states “It is
easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich
man to enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Socialism is only demonized by the greedy and those who feel like
they should only have to look out for themselves until it applies to
them.

When their situation changes and they need a form of Socialism,
then it is something should be provided.

Jesus and Robin Hood are two examples that we would agree
where giving to the poor is of good moral character.

Real Americans should support a type of Democratic Socialistic
structure where the needy are not left to fend for themselves or
worse to die.

This country should be for supporting our fellow Americans and
taking care of each other.

Jesus helped those in need and in bad health.

Robin Hood redistributed wealth.

We could learn a thing or two from these individuals.

http://theallegiant.com/what-is-socialism