Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Six Ways the AmeriKan MSM is Making Love to You Right Now

"6 Brainwashing Techniques They're Using On You Right Now

by David Wong

Brainwashing doesn't take any sci-fi gadgetry or Manchurian Candidate hypnotism bullshit. There are all sorts of tried-and-true techniques that anyone can use to bypass the thinking part of your brain and flip a switch deep inside that says "OBEY."

Now I know what you're thinking. "Sure, just make an ad with some big ol' titties on there! That'll convince people!"

While that's certainly true ...

... they've got a whole arsenal of manipulation techniques that go way beyond even the most effective of titties. Techniques like ...

#6.
Chanting Slogans

Every cult leader, drill sergeant, self-help guru and politician knows that if you want to quiet all of those pesky doubting thoughts in a crowd, get them to chant a repetitive phrase or slogan. Those are referred to as thought-stopping techniques, because for better or worse, they do exactly that.

Sounds like:

"Say it with me now, folks!"

"FOUR MORE YEARS! FOUR MORE YEARS! FOUR MORE YEARS!"

"One, two, three, four, I, Love, The Marine, Corps. One, two..."

Why It Works:
The "Analytical" part of your brain and the "Repetitive Task" part tend to operate in separate rooms. But you didn't need an expert to tell you that. You know you can't solve a complex logic puzzle if I force you to scream the chorus to that Chumbawamba song over and over again while you're doing it. Try it.

Meditation works the same way, with chants or mantras meant to "calm the mind." Shutting down those nagging voices in the head is helpful for stressed-out individuals, but even more helpful to a guy who wants to shut down an audience full of nagging internal voices suggesting that what he's saying might be retarded.

Recently Seen:
At the political conventions, notice how they trained the audiences to fill the gaps between applause lines with chants ("U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!") rather than, say, pensive silence to carefully consider what the speaker has just said.

Also, those of you who've worked at Wal-Mart are familiar with the "Wal-Mart Cheer" that begins every shift:

They used to sacrifice a goat at the end, but PETA put a stop to it.

#5.
Slipping Bullshit Into Your Subconscious

The rise of the internet news portal has given birth to a whole new, sly technique of bullshit insertion. What They (and from here on, "They" with a capital T means anyone who draws a paycheck by manipulating your opinion) have figured out is that most of you don't read the stories, you just browse the headlines. And there's a way to exploit that, based on how the brain stores memories.

The Drudge Report lives off this. A single anonymous source will report to some news blog that, say, Senator Smith runs a secret gay bordello in New Orleans. Drudge will run the headline:

NEW QUESTIONS ABOUT SMITH'S SECRET GAY BORDELLO

Or perhaps there'll just be a question mark on the end:

SMITH: SECRET GAY BORDELLO ASS MASTER?

It doesn't matter that the headline merely involves "questions" about the bordello. The idea has been planted, and two months later when somebody mentions Senator Smith around the water cooler you'll say, "The gay bordello guy, right?"


Sounds like:

"WHAT IS OBAMA'S CONNECTION TO LEFT-WING EXTREMISTS?"

"TOYOTA PRIUS - MORE WASTEFUL THAN A HUMMER?"

"OFFICIAL SAYS WTC COLLAPSE 'UNEXPLAINED'"

Why It Works:
They call it "Source Amnesia." For instance, you know what a wolverine is, but probably don't remember exactly how you learned that piece of information. The brain has limited storage, so it stores just the important nugget (that a wolverine is a small, ferocious animal) but usually discards the trivial context, such as when and where you learned about it (the movie Red Dawn, probably).

In the era of the web and information overload, that's a mechanism They can exploit very easily. What They have found is that a piece of information--say, an ugly rumor about a politician--can be presented with all sorts of qualifiers (a question mark, attribution to a shitty source, the word "unconfirmed") but often the brain will only remember the ugly rumor and completely forget the qualifier.

And get this: it happens even if the headline we read was specifically about the rumor being untrue.

You'll see this daily, in every election cycle. The entire point of putting a shaky rumor into the press is to force your opponent to deny it. Why? Because They know that the denial works just as well as the accusation. Thanks to Source Amnesia, for millions of people all three of these ...

SMITH DENIES GAY BORDELLO RUMORS

SMITH REFUSES COMMENT ON GAY BORDELLO RUMORS

SMITH ADMITS GAY COCK BORDELLO

... register as the exact same headline.

Recently Seen:
During the presidential primaries, Drudge ran a huge photo of Barack Obama wearing a turban. Under it was an inflammatory headline about how disgusting it was that Clinton staffers were circulating such a picture.

But a huge number of people who saw it only remembered the picture (months later, 13% of voters still thought he was a muslim). That's the idea.

#4.
Controlling What You Watch and Read

Restriction of reading and/or viewing material is common to pretty much every cult. Here on the internet, we've all heard horror stories about Scientology, which goes as far as filtering members' internet access. Obviously the idea is to insulate the members from any opposing points of view, to keep them marching in line.

That technique works just as well outside of the cult world, but They have to be more subtle about it. It just takes a little poison in the well, that's all.

Sounds like:

"Of course the public is misinformed! They're reading that trash in the liberal mainstream media!"

"Of course the public is misinformed! They're watching Faux News and the other trash in the corporate mainstream media!"

Why It Works:
Studies show the brain is wired to get a quick high from reading things that agree with our point of view. The same studies proved that, strangely, we also get a rush from intentionally dismissing information that disagrees, no matter how well supported it is. Yes, our brain rewards us for being closed-minded dicks.

So with a little prodding, the followers will happily close themselves in the same echo chamber of talk radio, blogs and cable news outlets that give them that little "They agree with ME!" high.

This wouldn't have been possible even 20 years ago. I grew up in the 80s, in a house with three TV stations. Three. We got one newspaper, the local one. You didn't get to pick from the conservative news or liberal news, back in my day you took what you got and you were thankful for what you had, dammit.

Today, I go through that many outlets a day just to get my freaking video game news.

And now, that explosion of the 24-hour cable news stations and, later, the web and blogosphere, has created these parallel universes of Right vs. Left media outlets, complete with their own publishing arms.

And for each, their favorite topic of discussion is how corrupt and ridiculous the other side's media is. They each even have "watchdog" groups that exist purely for the reason of hammering away at each other (the left has FAIR and MediaMatters, the right has the Media Research Center).

Recently Seen:
When an MSNBC interview with candidate John McCain got tense, he responded to the question by openly accusing the reporter of being an operative for the other side:

Just days later the campaign called The New York Times "a pro-Obama advocacy organization."

This technique is relatively new, but you'll see a lot more of it in future elections. The candidate will talk right past the reporter asking the questions and says to his supporters, "These guys work for the enemy, don't believe a word they say. Their lies will only poison your mind."

#3.
Keeping You In Line With Shame

I won several formal debates in college using my patented technique of simply repeating my opponent's argument in a high-pitched, mocking tone while wiggling my fingers in the air. There really is no defense.

They call this the appeal to rididcule fallacy. To which I would simply rebut, "Oooooh, appeal to ridicule fallacy! Well I've got a 'phallus' you can 'see' right here, college boy."

Professionals have more sophisticated methods, but it boils down to the same technique. "They" know that if they can paint an idea as ridiculous, the listener usually won't bother examining it any closer to find out if the ridicule is justified.

After all, why even consider something that's ridiculous? That's only something a ridiculous person would do! And you're not ridiculous ... are you?


You are if you use something other than Alltel Wireless!
Look at these assholes! Is this you?

Sounds like:

"So now they're telling us that--get this, folks--global warming is caused by cows farting! Priceless!"

"And then he said we could save gas by inflating our tires! I couldn't make this stuff up, folks!"

Why It Works:
It's no secret you can short-circuit somebody's brain with shame. How many of us were shamed into doing something stupid in high school? Hell, I still have that huge Dokken tattoo on my back.

But why does it work? Well, there are these primitive, lower parts of your brain called amygdalae that controls those base, emotional reactions. That's where things like contempt and shame come from, and stimulating it can completely shut down the analytical part of your brain. The gang calls you a coward and the next thing you know, you're wedging a roman candle between your buttcheeks. You'll show them!

You can thank evolution for that. Way back when humans started forming groups and tribes, social status was everything. It's what guaranteed you food, protection and ladies (that is, a chance to pass on your genes). Mockery developed as a "conformity enforcer" to keep people in line.

Making a person, idea or behavior the target of mockery gave it a lower social position, and made it clear that anybody who associated with it would share that lower position, leaving them out of the hunting/eating/fucking that made life in the tribe worthwhile. Thousands of years later, a good dose of mockery can shut down critical thinking and make us fall right in line, no questions asked.

Recently Seen:
We again come back to our 2008 presidential campaign, and again we find both sides guilty.

The speakers at the Republican National Convention had a great time mocking Barack Obama as a "community organizer," drawing laughter from the crowd and skipping smoothly over the part where they explained what a community organizer is and why it's ridiculous.

And of course the other side does it with McCain's age...


From here

...as if there is something inherently silly about having lived a really long time.

#2.
Black and White Choices

Listen to an argument between your friends. Any argument. Listen to one guy say John McCain is a Fascist, while his opponent says Barack Obama is a Communist. Watch as even fans of the same football team bitterly divide themselves over whether the new quarterback is going to be "awesome" or "garbage."

Never anything in between. Everyone is a friend or enemy, every band either rules or sucks, black and white, nothing in the middle. They (capital T) love this, because They can convince you that you must choose either their way, or the most utterly retarded option on the opposite extreme.

Sounds like:

"Will we fight? Or run away as cowards?!?"

"You're not in favor of the death penalty? So you want murderers to just roam free then!"

"Are you going to the strip club with us, or are you a fag?"

Why It Works:
Because we evolved from creatures who were always in danger of being eaten, our brains were built on a very simple foundation: the "fight or flight" mechanism. This let us make lightning-fast decisions by boiling every situation into two options. Anyone who preferred to stop and mull over the subtleties of the scenario wound up in the digestive system of a saber-tooth tiger.

Fast forward thousands of years and you find a humanity with much fancier brains but that still prefers all-or-nothing choices when we're put under stress.

So if somebody wants to bypass your critical thinking circuitry, all they need to do is make you scared or anxious, often with a time limit or urgent threat ("We need to act now, or lose our way of life!").

Instead of pondering the situation with the analytical neocortex, you're using the primitive limbic system, scanning the landscape for the "Right" and "Wrong" move. You'll have no patience for wishy-washy talk about "a spectrum of options."

Recently Seen:
After the trauma of 9/11, the whole country dragged subtlety into the alley and shot it in the head.

But you can't blame us. After all, our entire fucking mythology and popular culture are based on the idea. There's a dark side of the force and a light side. Choose your path! Now! Ain't a fucking gray side, Luke!

Now, as bad as this one is, and you could make the case that 80% of the stupid choices humans make is because of this, there's one even more powerful. It's a spin-off of this one, and it's by far the best way to get thinking humans to respond like trained dogs.

#1.
Titties

No, other than that.

I'm talking about...

#1.
"Us vs. Them"

Holy shit. Here we go.

Sure, we know about the obvious examples, they're written across the history books in blood and bullet holes. Racism, genocide, horrifying caricatures on propaganda posters.

But They have figured out that the same technique that works so well for getting people whipped into a murderous apocalyptic frenzy, can be used sell you cars, or hamburgers, or computers.

Sounds like:

"The heart of America ain't in Hollywood! It's right here in [insert name of small town]!"

"You can listen to what I have to say, or bury you head in the sand with the rest of the sheeple!"

"You have a Nintendo Wii? Are you a toddler or just a retard?"

Why It Works:
Basically, we're hard-wired by evolution to form tribes. The more stress we feel, the more we feel love and attachment to those who look and sound the same as us, and the more we feel hatred to those who don't. It's just an old survival mechanism, since the ancient guys who didn't show that kind of blind loyalty were killed off by the fierce tribes formed by the ones who did.

So today we get that petty dehumanization of everybody outside of our group ("hippies," "rednecks," "fundies," "geeks," "douchebags," "libs", "cons," "fags," "breeders," "infidels," "towel-heads," "honkies," "darkies," "players", "haters").


WEST SIDE SUCKA

They can play on those old, primal urges for even the most retarded of results, such as fierce brand loyalty (the PS3 vs. 360 vs. Wii flame wars will make you claw your eyes out).

But to really make this one work, They can't just define your group, but have to define your group as the elite group, a shining beacon in a world full of weak-minded walking turds. The items on this list work best in combination, and you'll see in that the element of mockery and insulation from opposing viewpoints we talked about earlier (why listen to the viewpoints of those lesser sheeple?). Often this is combined with siege terminology ("The whole country has gone to hell, but we've got to stand up for common sense, folks! It's us against the world!")

Recently Seen:

Watch five seconds of an election stump speech. Every side does it.

In Sarah Palin's convention speech she talked about how people from small towns are totally the best ("We grow good people in our small towns, with honesty, sincerity, and dignity"). Earlier in the primaries the Clinton campaign did the same thing, talking about small towns as being the backbone of America where real, honest people are found. Always there is the unspoken reminder that these honest rural folk are under siege from those scary, phony freaks in the city.

When speaking to those city folk, on the other hand, Barack Obama made the infamous reference to those same small town types clinging to guns and religion, talking about them like they were savages to be studied through binoculars from a tower, with some peasant disease that needs cured by the enlightened.

Not only is "Us vs Them" the first and most important one on the list, it's the culmination and end goal of all the others. Drawing you into the right tribe is what They want most, because they can accomplish nothing without tribesmen.

If we don't find a way to resist it, this is what could leave the entire planet a charred radioactive ruin. And you know what else we lose if that happens?

The titties.

Check out The Cracked Cleans Up facebook Contest to find out how you can win an iPod Touch by making fun of your friends.

For more fascinating ways that your brain doesn't quite work, read Dave's answer to the question What is the Monkeysphere? or his look at the 7 Reasons The 21st Century Is Making You Miserable. Or just go to his profile and read everything he's written.

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Americans Reject Cess Pool of Corporate Corruption

"The simultaneous rejection of the bailout and a corrupt ruling class

by Glenn Greenwald

Tuesday Sept. 30, 2008

Retired New York Times reporter David Cay Johnston, writing at The New Republic yesterday, makes a critical point, in a piece entitled “Celebrating the Bailout Bill’s Failure”:

Whether you favor the $700 billion bailout or not, the House vote today should make you cheer — loudly.Why?

Because the majority vote against it shows that Washington is not entirely in the service of the political donor class, by which I mean Wall Street and the corporations who rely on it for their financing. These campaign donors, a narrow slice of America, have lobbied and donated their way into a system that stacks the economic rules in their favor. But faced with as many as 200 telephone calls against the bailout for every one in favor, a lot of House members decided to listen to their constituents today instead of their campaign donors.

Johnston’s celebration that “Washington is not entirely in the service of the political donor class” is probably premature given that Congressional leaders are falling all over themselves to assure everyone that this deal will pass in a few days after it is tinkered with in one direction or the other. I recall all too well celebrating a similar “victory” back in March, when House Democrats astonishingly refused to comply with the demands of the “donor class” — and the entire political establishment — to pass Bush’s FISA bill to grant retroactive amnesty to the entire lawbreaking telecom industry, only to watch them jump into line and do what they were told a few months later. The corporate donor class and political establishment may lose a battle here and there, but they almost never lose the war, since they own and control the political battlefield.Still, Johnston’s overarching point is absolutely right. For better or worse, yesterday’s vote was the rarest event in our political culture: ordinary Americans from all across the political spectrum actually exerting influence over how our Government functions, and trumping the concerted, unified efforts of the entire ruling class to ensure that their desires, as usual, would be ignored. Time’s Michael Scherer described quite well what a stinging repudiation yesterday’s vote was for those who typically run the country without much opposition:

There was a lack of trust, a loss of confidence, a popular revolt.Nearly every major political leader in America supported the bailout bill. The President of the United States. The Vice President. The Treasury Secretary. The Chairman of the Federal Reserve. The Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Democratic and Republican nominees for president. The Democratic and Republican leadership of the House and the Senate. All of them said the same thing. Vote yes.

But the leaders anointed by the U.S. Constitution to most reflect the will of the people voted no. This is a remarkable event, the culmination of a historic sense of betrayal that the American people have long felt for their representatives in Washington D.C. Roughly 28 percent of the Americans approve of President Bush. Roughly 18 percent of Americans approve of Congress. These numbers have been like that for years.

Now those bad feelings have manifested themselves in the starkest of terms. Not enough of the American people believed their leaders. And so the politicians that were most exposed ran for cover.

Can anyone even remember the last time this happened, where the nation’s corporate interests and their establishment spokespeople were insistently demanding government action but were impeded — defeated — by nothing more than popular opinion? Perhaps the failure of George Bush’s Social Security schemes in 2005 would be an example, but one is hard-pressed to think of any other meaningful ones. We’re a “democracy” in which nothing is less important in how our government functions than public opinion. Yesterday was an exceedingly rare though intense departure from that framework — the kind of citizen defiance of, an “uprising” against, a rotted ruling elite described by David Sirota in his book, “Uprising.” On the citizenry level, the backlash was defined not by “Republican v. Democrat” or “Left v. Right,” but by “people v. ruling class.” As Johnston argues, yesterday’s events should be celebrated for that reason alone.It’s true that we don’t live in a direct democracy where every last decision by elected officials must conform to majoritarian desire, nor should we want that. In general, elected officials should exercise judgment independent of — in ways that deviate from — majority views. But the opposite extreme is what we have and it is just as bad — a system where the actions of elected officials are dictated by a tiny cabal of self-interested oligarchs which fund, control and own the branches of government and willfully ignore majority opinion in all cases (except to manipulate it).

Moreover, even in a model of representative rather than direct democracy, the more consequential an action is — should we start a war? should we burden the entire nation with close to a trillion dollars in debt in order to bail out Wall Street? — the greater the need is to have the consent of the governed before undertaking it. From all quarters, Americans heard the arguments in favor of the bailout — “agree to have this debt piled on your back for decades or else face certain doom” — and they rejected it, decisively, at least for now.

Anyone arguing that their views should be ignored, that their judgment be overridden by the decree of the wiser, superior ruling class (see David Brooks and Kevin Drum as good examples), is simply endorsing the continuation of the predominant framework for how our country has been run for the last decade, at least. Whatever else that is, there’s nothing “wise” about that framework. Even if one believes in principle that the country is best entrusted to the elevated wisdom of a magnanimous and superior ruling class, and that majoritarian opinion should be systematically ignored, our ruling class — the one we actually have — is anything but wise and magnanimous. It’s bloated, incestuous, reckless, inept, self-interested, endlessly greedy and corrupt at its core. Ye shall know them by their fruits. It’s hard to imagine anything less wise than continuing to submit to its dictates.

Liberation from — one could say “destruction of” — the system run by that ruling establishment class is of critical importance. Yesterday’s rejection of their decree, on such a momentous matter, was a shocking first step towards that objective (and the doom and panic of yesterday has given rise to calm and even optimism today, as those with cash have taken advantage of the market drop of yesterday and, around the world, are madly buying). There may be, almost certainly will be, even greater financial distress in the near future, and perhaps Americans will come to view these matters differently. But regardless of whether yesterday’s bailout was a good idea on the merits, the defeat — for now — of those who have enjoyed an unbroken (and ill-deserved) line of victories is something that ought to be cheered.

UPDATE: Strictly on the level of “Democratic v. Republican” political strategizing, Nancy Pelosi did exactly the right thing yesterday — she provided just enough Democratic votes in favor of the bailout so that it could pass only if there was substantial GOP support (thus preventing Republicans from cynically blaming the bailout on Democrats), while simultaneously ensuring that Republicans (and McCain) would be blamed if it failed. Strictly on a strategic level, it was — for the reason Matt Yglesias describes — all very well-played by the House Democratic leadership.

Relatedly, several comments are pointing out that House members only voted against the bailout out of fear of losing the upcoming election, not because of any “sincere” concern for what their constituents think. That’s a distinction without a difference. When elected officials take action out of fear of provoking the anger of voters, that is the democratic process in action. To say that the bailout failed (in part) because of public opinion isn’t to ascribe noble sentiments to members of Congress — it’s only to say that they were driven to do what they did by public opinion.

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The Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road

"Bare-Assed Naked in a Pig Skin Suit

For quite some time I’ve been saying here and elsewhere that those responsible for the problems of our time are going to be exposed and hung out to dry. It’s a given that most people wouldn’t understand how this could be possible when those responsible control the media that manufactures both the news and the viewpoints which are spoon fed to the public. It seems even more impossible when the foxes run the chicken house as their own poultry farm and when the laws that were designed to protect the public have been suspended or re-engineered to the point where they look like Michael Jackson’s face.

However… it’s happening. It’s happening the way the weather changes when one season moves into another. Increasingly as the days go by it becomes more of what is coming and less of what it was. It’s like ice cracking… here a crack …there a crack and soon it’s a spider-web of many cracks until one day the ice is gone altogether. Change is a constant.

Let’s not concern ourselves with why people are suddenly being exposed and ‘seen’ for what they are as opposed to what has been the case for so long. For far too long, a criminal mentality has prevailed over the worlds of politics and business and the engines of disinformation have dutifully pumped out their daily doses of Dairy Queen swirly ice cream that has not been ice cream at all but bullshit, flavored according to the tastes of what the public has been accustomed to. It’s still shit and if you were in your right mind it would still taste like shit. The reason it didn’t was because the public was on stage at a hypnotist performance, acting out according to the suggestions of the hypnotist. The spell is being broken. This isn’t the forum where I discuss the invisible causes of visible events. Let’s just assume this is happening because you can see it happening.

John McCain takes credit for a bail-out that then fails. Sarah Palin is by degrees shown to be a clueless twit with a dangerous capacity to believe whatever she is told by people more dangerous than herself and these things are being revealed to the public, in many cases by the same people who were concealing it from the public. The people who were responsible for the de-regulation that caused many of these problems are getting caught in their own webs of denial. The rapacious and greedy machinations of Wall Street are screening in the theaters on Main Street. And this isn’t just happening in America… all across the world in every country, the fortunes of those abroad are being compromised by the Big Tuna whose carcass is rotting in the sun.

This is stage one… or stage two but it’s only one of the preliminary stages. In this stage, the bad actors are now being given the opportunity to posture in even more humiliating performances while they do all the wrong things, instead of the right things but… once again, let’s not concern ourselves with why this is. Now Congress is being given an opportunity to strut their stuff and- true to their rigorous code of self-interest are betraying the businessmen and women who bought them in an earlier stage. Consonant with that, others are supporting the bail-out which will give their opponents the deciding edge in each campaign as they trumpet to their constituents how their competitor for office worked to sell out the American people.

This bail-out… though it is made to look complex, is quite simple. Certain forces from the business and political world want to give the publics money to the very agencies that caused the problem which the bail-out is supposed to fix. What the bailout accomplishes is to give these criminals the wherewithal to prop up their stocks before they dump them. However you may understand this situation, however nuanced your perceptions may be, one thing is clear… you don’t throw money at the people who created the problem in the first place. The real issue here is not what it appears. The real issue is that the Federal Reserve is in trouble and that makes me feel like I just took a good dose of oxycodone.

Let me point a few other things out… 700 billion will not fix this problem. The problem is much greater and you have to look at derivatives to understand why. Actually, the real problem is unbridled greed and shifting paper, inflating values, packaging and repackaging and selling and re-selling debt until nothing is what it seems. Nothing is what it seems.

The Bush legacy is now a dead skunk in the middle of the road. The Republican idea that wealth trickles down is bankrupt and always was a lie. The democrats have shown themselves to just be the other side of the face of a bare-assed naked pig. Ron Paul is totally redeemed. Day by day, the perpetrators of world misfortune are now being given the opportunity to lie and point fingers at each other and plead and beg with outstretched hands for the camera that is recording all of it.

What does this kind of a system do whenever it gets into this kind of a situation? It goes to war.

This is early days and you are getting a real glimpse at the sort of folk that got turned loose on you by the people you elected to protect you. It’s going to get more and more revealing as more and more stupid things get done and said, as the rats begin to desert the ship… as the empire crumbles… as the dollar begins to appear on rolls in the toilet stalls. Something is in the wind and it is opening doors where people are doing things to each other that they made against the law for everyone else.

Here’s an interesting read. I make no claims about it. You’re hearing a lot of things. Some will tell you that all of this has been engineered by a few for the sole purpose of enriching themselves. This could well be true. Some will tell you that there’s nothing we can do because they’ve got control of everything. What you have just seen from the public’s reaction to the bail-out suggests otherwise. Nobody really knows what’s going on but… a whole lot of people and conditions are being exposed and a lot of the criminals are being made to dance like a chicken on a griddle. This will keep happening and they will keep looking for new ways to frighten and confuse you. Meanwhile, something they don’t understand is going on at the same time.

Some of you think there’s going to be an election in November. Some of you think that one of the two choices you can make is going to make a difference. Both of these candidates are whores to the very interests who brought this situation about. I’m not going to talk about solutions now… it probably isn’t my job anyway. But it is interesting that I and others know better what should be done than those entrusted to do it. Of course, we aren’t wearing sexual restraints with gag reflex ping pong balls in our mouths and waiting for a taste of what’s in store in that basement of the pawn shop in Pulp Fiction at the hands of agents from a nasty little abortion in the Middle East.

What I will say is that we are in the denouement of a Shakespearean play that the actors are unaware of. They think all it’s going to take is to throw some victims to the mob and point a few fingers and tell a few lies and then it’s back to business as usual… au contraire. Things are not what they were and this is only the beginning of the ice cracking and the unexpected doing a Jack in the Box in the most unexpected places. Meanwhile, the sleeping classes are waking up. Pardon me a little shadenfreude as the miscreants expose themselves with every effort they make to conceal themselves.

As much as there are going to be some storms and fury, there is going to be positive change. There’s going to be more change than Obama or anyone else intended or expects and it’s going on, right in front of you, right now. The scales are adjusting and nothing anyone does is going to alter that.

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Keeping the Pressure On Congress

"Southern California Shanty Town / Tent City

Webmaster's Commentary:

I relinked this because I am watching the corporate mainstream media screaming and crying and wringing their hands about what a bad thing it is that the bailout has not passed and how SOMETHING must be done to force those mean ol' representatives to change their votes and take $700 billion (at a minimum) from YOU and give it to guys so rich they can't remember how many homes they own.

But the tent cities springing up across America, residence of people who have lost their one and only home, scarcely got a notice in the American corporate media. Indeed the first story about the huge tent city in Ontario was reported by BBC!

So, it should be clear that ABCNNBBCBS serves the interests of the ultra-rich. Looking at their news broadcasts it almost seems like there is no other news than how important it is that we should all give what little money we have left to the Wall Street "wizards" so that they can have one more spin at the wheel.

Folks, this bailout is not over. Rest assured that the congressional leadership and rich donors are screaming at congress to get this thing rammed through. Never mind that it won't actually improve the economy and to hell with the "Will of the people." Congress will take money that we could use to start businesses and create jobs away from We The People and give it to the banks so that they can loan it to us at interest ... so we can start businesses and create jobs.

DO NOT RELAX! The crooks are waiting for you to relax and think that this is over. Call, FAX or visit your congressmen.

Here is the list of who voted for and against the bailout.

Thank and support the ones who voted NO, because Pelosi and her goons are trying to get them to change their votes.

Then get busy going after everyone who voted yes, and let them know in no uncertain terms that passage of the bailout means their removal from office the next time they are up for re-election, and that if it is not this November that the blogs have a very long memory and no forgiveness. Remind them that if the bailout passes, you will empty your bank account the very next day and urge all your friends to do the same.

The other side is motivated by greed. They actually believe God wants them to have all of the money, and you living in a tent (or a cardboard box) is a small price to pay for them to buy another mansion. The only thing that will stop them is you.

THIS IS NOT OVER YET! Like Dracula, the bailout will rise from the grave to drain the very blood from the people of the United States." -- Webmaster of Wake the Flock Up

Throw Them All Out.Com

"Are You Tired of Being Ripped Off By Congress and the White House?

Is this Wall Street Bailout the Last Straw for You?

Well we have a chance to do something about it this November, on Election Day. The people of Pennsylvania showed us the way.

Last year, Pennsylvania residents learned that their legislature–Republicans and Democrats–had connived in the middle of the night to give themselves a raise in violation of the state constitution, which said raises could only be given to the next cycle of elected officials, not to those who were voting. They got around this by declaring the increases “undocumented expense reimbursements.”

The citizenry rose up and in a leaderless grassroots campaign, they swept out off office many long-time members of the legislature who had voted for the measure, as well as a judge who backed the action (the state’s judges get whatever the legislators get)!

If Pennsylvania voters can do this, so can the rest of America.

If you are fed up with having your money (and your kids’ money, and their kids’ money!) stolen and handed to the greedy, crooked bankers, insurance executives and auto tycoons who have been destroying jobs and undermining the US economy for years while enriching themselves at our expense, then make a pledge to yourself to vote against any member of your congressional delegation, whatever the party, who votes for this latest colossal $700-billion Wall Street bailout!

Vote for a third party candidate, or vote for the incumbent’s challenger (a better option if you really want to oust him or her).

No exceptions! It doesn’t matter of your senator or representative has done some good things. Voting for this bailout is a travesty that outweighs any other act.

Next (and this is critical!) send this website address:
www.throwthemallout.synthasite.com
to everyone you know.

And talk to everyone you know and get them to join this viral campaign to clean out the Capitol of the thieves and corporate whores who are wrecking the country.

We have been passive too long!

--more--"

The Power of “No”

"The Power of “No” and the Need to Keep the Pressure on Congress

by Dave Lindorff

Incredible! This time, when the People spoke, Congress listened.

At least 228 members of the House listened. They voted early this afternoon to reject the Bush Administration’s scaremongering, and the cowardly Democratic Congressional leadership’s attempt at ducking and covering by attaching some meaningless verbiage to what remains a case of legalized highway robbery. At least for the moment, the bailout scam is killed.

Earlier in the day, the Congressional switchboard was jammed. You could get through, but it took a dedicated finger on the redial button of your phone. Operators at the Capitol say it’s been that way for a week now, as Americans across the country have been flooding their Congressional delegations with phone calls (and emails) urging them to vote “No” on the Bush/Paulson Wall Street bailout.

That today was no exception, even after Democratic Party leaders (and both major party presidential candidates, John McCain and Barack Obama) had bought into the plan following their adding of some window-dressing measures designed to make it look more palatable, showed that the public is not being fooled (calls were reportedly running better than 9:1 or more like 999:1 against a bailout, perhaps more like 99:1).

People see clearly that this proposal is a trillion-dollar giveaway to the very people who have been hollowing out and destroying the US economy for over a decade or more by convincing both parties to let them do whatever they want to get rich, free of any kind of significant oversight or regulation.

As Nobelist economist Joseph Stiglitz has written of this outrageous rip-off, there are four problems facing the financial system, and the bailout proposal only addresses one–getting the toxic mortgages off the banks’ books and onto taxpayers’ hands. Left unsolved is the gaping hole in banks’ balance sheets in the form of loans made to people and companies which cannot be repaid, which will mean they still won’t start lending money again. Left unaddressed too is the continuing collapse of housing prices, which will inevitably lead to more bank collapses even after the bailout. Finally, Stiglitz says there is the general loss of faith in the financial system–a major crisis which the bailout will also not solve.

Stiglitz doesn’t even address a fifth problem which is that this trillion-plus-dollar boondoggle (and when you add in the bailouts of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, AIG, Bear Stearns, the multiple mega-bank failures and the pending auto-industry bailout, you’re already talking $1.5 trillion and counting), all of it with borrowed money, the stage is being set for a collapse in the US dollar, with consequences that will reverberate through the economy. Consider: if the dollar collapses, as many experts say is almost inevitable with this kind of huge addition to the national debt, oil prices (which are set in dollars) will soar to compensate, the price of all the other goods that Americans import–more than half of everything we use in daily life thanks to the decimation of American manufacturing–will rise dramatically, and ultimately, in an effort to stem the bleeding, interest rates will have to be raised, thus bringing what’s left of the economy to a grinding halt.

All of this is readily predictable–and indeed a group of over 200 prominent economists has written Congress joining Stiglitz in opposing the bailout plan–but that doesn’t matter to the proponents of the bailout in Washington. What they want is to get past Election Day, and the bailout may do that, unless the public gets really aroused.

The tsunami of calls and emails to Congress, and last week’s nationwide demonstrations against the bailout suggest that the public is waking up to this looming disaster and to the fact that they are being sold a bill of goods.

But it ain’t over yet. We can be sure there will be arm-twisting now to try and get 12 members of Congress to change their votes and win passage in the House (the Senate, where two-thirds of the members aren’t facing election for two or four years, will probably pass the bill easily). A continued expression of public outrage and of a promise of retaliation at the ballot box against those who vote for the bailout needs to be expressed.

If you haven’t made an effort to call your two senators and your representative to demand that they vote “No” on this bailout, do it now (the number is 202-225-3121 or 202-224-3121), and don’t give up when you get a busy signal. That’s a sign that you are not alone. Just keep hitting “redial” until you get through. At that point, get the operator, before switching you, to give you direct numbers for your three members of Congress, so you can bypass the main switchboard number after that. If you did call, call again and say you don’t want anyone changing their vote to become a bailout backer.

Unlike the 2002 rush to war against Iraq, we’ve shown that this latest bum’s rush can still be stopped. We did stop it.

To make your next call more impactful, make sure you tell each member of your congressional delegation that any yes vote on the bailout means you will vote against them next election. To read about this strategy, go to: ThrowThemAllOut.com…and then spread the word.

Keep the pressure on!

And don’t forget to contact the Obama campaign too. How embarrassing for candidates Obama and McCain, who both got suckered into backing the bailout, which it is now abundantly clear the American people recognize as a ripoff.

PS: Imagine if the same kind of pressure had been brought on Congress back in October 2002 when Bush was scare-mongering Congress into approving a war against Iraq. We’d have 4500 young Americans still alive, 40,000 other young Americans would still have their limbs and other body parts. A million-plus Iraqis would still be alive. And the country would have an extra $500 billion with which to deal with the current economic crisis.

--MORE--"

The "NEW" Bailout Bill

"Ammunition To Use Against the "New, Improved" Bailout Proposal

The financial elite will propose a "new, improved" version of the bailout bill in the next couple of days. Here is some advanced ammunition to use against the proposal:

Unless the new bailout proposal will actually help Americans, use the above proven lies by the proponents of the original bailout monster to argue that the liars cannot be believed, and that the fruit of the poisonous tree is itself poisonous.

--MORE--"

What the Peoples' Victory Won

"Silver Lining of the Economic Crash . . . A Window of Opportunity to Plant the Seeds of Truth

The economic crash - as horrible as it is - has a silver lining.

It is a window of opportunity wake Americans up from their comfortable slumber and make them question their government.

Stalin said that dictatorships only last so long as the dictators keep their people well-fed. Americans have been strongly motivated not to question the government because they have been led to believe that if they just follow the party line, they'll get nice jobs, make a bundle of dough, buy into "the American dream". A crash has the possibility to awaken Americans from their long nap. It has the potential to get Americans to open their eyes and start questioning the lies they have been told by our government and their media lapdogs about virtually everything. Indeed, polls show that the economic crisis has increased Americans' distrust in government.

The old systems, institutions and habits are collapsing. This is a window of opportunity to reach people with truth.

On the other hand, there is a tendency for people to become scared, to be driven lower on the Maslow pyramid to the point that they have no energy to think about truth or justice or liberty.
Indeed, this is exactly what the elites hope.

Will truth or a resigned survival-based disinterest prevail? It is not yet clear.

But one thing is for sure . . . the game has changed, and there is a huge window of opportunity to spread truth while people's habitual ways of thinking have been knocked for a loop.

--MORE--"

"America Wins Major Battle Against the Financial Elite

America has won a major battle against the financial elite.

The house has rejected the bailout scam. The will of the people - as expressed through thousands and thousands of angry phone calls and faxes to Congress - prevailed.

But the financial elite will regroup and try another attack on the people and the free market . . .

Big Money and their Congress critters will try again, and use dirty tricks and try to pass it when no one is looking.

So we must redouble our efforts to make sure we win the war, as well as just one battle.

Call and thank those who voted no, and tell congress that anyone who voted yes or who votes yes in the future will be kicked out of office, tarred and feathered. And demand that they address the real financial issues, like Iraq (it is bankrupting America, we have to get out), derivatives (by far the largest financial crisis), etc.

Find congress members' contact info here.

--MORE--"

Don't Weep for Wall Street

I'm not.

"Why Main Street SHOULDN'T Weep for Wall Street

Why should anyone who isn't a Wall Street insider cry for their demise?

At their height of glory, what were they up to?

Corporate raiders taking over firms and ransacking the pension funds, borrowing against the firm and then declaring bankruptcy, sending thousands into unemployment.

Massive tax breaks and insider deals for Wall Street fronted companies to exploit the American forests and wilderness areas for some oil, coal and uranium, then when the mine taps out, walk away from your phony front company, let it go into default and let the American public pick up the bill for cleaning up those toxic wastelands.

Massive tax cuts for Wall Street firms that offshored their jobs to China with more people laid off.

Outsourcing of other jobs to India and Mexico, with more unemployment, moves that were financed and approved by Wall Street.

Constant inflation of the money supply for Wall Street that the Fed engineered by printing Monopoly money 24/7 to help finance those sweetheart insider Wall Street deals that left Americans holding the bag and the bill.

The Gold Panic of 1893, the Bank Panic of 1907, the Crash of 1929, the 1980's looting of the Savings and Loan industry and the current debacle going on in and around Wall Street, where the Armani clad grifters are trying to tag us for several trillion dollars, all courtesy of Wall Street.

All the while, one bubble after another got blew up then blown up by Wall Street financial sharpies. The Internet bubble. The credit bubble. The housing bubble and the really monstrous one that's lurking in the background, the derivative bubble.

The richest fucks on Wall Street paid Congress to cut the taxes on the wealthiest and then moved massive amounts of that loot to TAX FREE offshore havens in the Cayman Islands and Switzerland.

All of these Wall Street programs fucked over this country, with less taxes to pay for health care, little money for infrastructure maintenance and less for schools.

We're supposed to give tons of our money to a motley collection of Wall Street con artists, pimps, grifters and hustlers and feel bad if we don't?

The same Wall Street that fought tooth and nail for decades against Big Government interfernce in their various games of "Three Card Monte," and is now wailing like a cat in heat for Big Government bailout.

That Wall Street? (Thanks, Nepo!)

The same Wall Street that for years and years always gave "Two-Thumbs Up" to the stock of that slave labor plantation known as WalMart, and at the same time, constantly downgraded the stock of Costco, saying the wages Costco paid to its employees were TOO high.

Save that Wall Street?

The same Wall Street that gets a hard on anytime it hears of some Fortune 500 company downsizing, throwing thousands of people out of work?

That Wall Streeet?

And this same bunch of bastards are threatening to tank not only ours, but the world's economy if we don't hand over our life savings?

This is what Americans are supposed to rally around and save?

FUCK WALL STREET!

--MORE--"

I second that motion.

People Who Opposed The Bailout are NOT To Blame for the Stock Market Crash

"People Who Opposed The Bailout are NOT To Blame for the Stock Market Crash

Some people have blamed those who oppose the bailout for the crash in the stock market. Are they right?

Well, first of all, the overwhelming majority of Americans rejected the bailout. So if you start trashing those who opposed the bailout, your dissing America.

Second, most experts who have looked at the bailout say it won't work, and will actually make the economic crisis worse.

Third, the bailout doesn't address the fundamental issues which need to be addressed to actually stabilize the U.S. economy, such as the trillions of dollars being spent in Iraq and the phony war on terror, the national debt, derivatives, lack of savings, the loss of our manufacturing base, the fact that the wealthiest people have collected all of the poker chips so that regular people can't keep playing, and gaming of the markets by the super-rich and the government.

And last but not least, investors who are dumping stocks because a quick "fix" wasn't approved don't understand what is going on. hey don't understand the real, fundamental problems with the economy. For example:

  • They don't get that America is broke due to spending trillions in Iraq and trillions more in the phony war on terror, and the bailout would only make matters worse.
  • They don't understand that unless the derivatives bomb is diffused, it will take out the world's economy when it explodes, bailout or no.
  • They haven't learned that speculation is not real economic growth, and that until America restores its productive economy, it will remain a house of cards in a storm

Are those who oppose the bailout responsible for the stock market crash?

No . . . those who got us into Iraq and the war on terror based on lies, who have run up the national debt into the stratosphere, those who hawked derivatives as a safe bet (including Alan Greenspan), those who have encouraged borrowing instead of saving, those who argued it was good for America to ship our manufacturing jobs overseas, those who have been so greedy that they've taken all the chips, and those who have been gaming the markets are responsible.

--MORE--"

The Shadow of the Pitchfork

"The Shadow of the Pitchfork: Elite Panic Attack as Bailout Goes Bust

by Chris Flotd

The vote by the House of Representatives to defeat the Wall Street bailout plan is the first act of political courage that the Congress of the United States has mounted in the last seven years. The fact that it was due largely to right-wing Republicans afraid of going down with the sinking ship of the witless leader they have followed blindly throughout his reign is a delicious irony -- but the whys and wherefores of the vote are not important. What matters is that one of America's moribund institutions has flickered to life long enough to derail a disastrous action that would have shoved the nation even deeper into the pit of corruption and ruin where it has been mired for so long.

The New York Times called the House vote "a catastrophic political defeat for President Bush, who had put the full weight of the White House behind the measure." But this is manifestly untrue. As everyone but the nation's media -- and the Democratic Party -- knows, George W. Bush has no "political weight" to use, or lose. Yes, he still retains the authoritarian powers that the spineless Democrats have given him with scarcely a whimper of protest (and often with boundless enthusiasm); but as a political force -- i.e., someone whose opinions and statements can sway popular opinion -- he has been a dead and rotting carcass for a long time. He is the most unpopular president in American history; and I can report from first-hand, eyewitness knowledge that he is thoroughly despised by some of the most rock-ribbed, Bible-believing, flag-waving, down-home, John Wayne-loving Heartland types that you can imagine. Even his own party -- a party fashioned in his own image, the Frankensteinian melding of willfully ignorant religious primitivism and rapaciously greedy crony capitalism that he has embodied in his twerpish person -- kept him away from their convention this year.

Nothing -- absolutely nothing -- could be politically safer than opposing George W. Bush. And yet the entire Democratic leadership, Barack Obama included, lined up to support a cockamamie plan proposed by this scorned and shriveled figure, a plan that was transparently nothing more than an audacious raid on the Treasury by Big Money hoods and yet another authoritarian power grab by a gang of murderous, torturing, warmongering toadies. This was the plan and these were the people that the Democrats decided to fight for.

What's more, the Democrats stood shoulder to shoulder with the president on what is apparently the only issue that can now stir Americans to genuine anger and widespread protest: a direct threat to their bank accounts. Wars of aggression like the Nazis used to wage; elaborate tortures like the KGB used to practice; concentration camps, lawbreaking leaders, diminishment of liberty, the slaughter of a million innocent people in a land destroyed by an illegal and pointless invasion -- all of that stuff is pretty much OK, easily swallowable, worth no more than a shrug or perhaps a frowny "tsk tsk" before going on to the sports pages or flipping over to another channel. But put out an open ploy to steal their money and give it to the filthy rich -- and baby, it's pitchfork time! Yet here, as the public face of just such a ploy, is where the Democrats chose to make their stand.

So Monday's rejection of the bailout plan is not a catastrophic political defeat for George W. Bush; he has no political standing, no political future. But it is a vast and humiliating defeat for the Democratic leadership, across the board, who, as Democrat Lloyd Dogget of Texas said

“never seriously considered any alternative” to the administration’s plan, and had only barely modified what they were given. He criticized the plan for handing over sweeping new powers to an administration that he said was to blame for allowing the crisis to develop in the first place.
Now the Democratic elites have had their collective head handed to them on a platter. It is a dish most richly deserved. And although it is almost possible to believe that they will learn anything from this episode, there is now a chance -- a chance -- that we can at least have a discussion of alternatives to the Bush scheme.

I still believe it is unlikely any genuinely effective program -- one that could manage and mitigate the now-unavoidable effects of the Wall Street/Washington-induced disaster -- will ever get enacted. After all, the Democrats are largely owned by the same corrupt and greedy elites now seeking a handout. And it seems reasonable to assume that the Bipartisan Bailout Bunch will eventually find some kind of sugar to tempt away the two dozen votes they need for their next "compromise" on the Bush-Paulson plan.

Then again, who knows? There are obviously a lot of very powerful and privileged people sweating more bullets tonight than they have sweated in many and many a year. They have roused the drowsy beast of popular anger at last, and no one can say what might happen next. Probably nothing -- or rather, more of the same, in some form or another. But still, it is good to see the icy beads of panic dotting the brows of elites who have inflicted and/or countenanced so much death, destruction, terror and degradation in the past few years. Today they have suffered a very rare defeat in the relentless, remorseless class war they have been waging against us for decades. And that it is something to celebrate -- at least for one night.


--MORE--"

Winter Patriot Was Wrong

"Wrong Again! Twice! Another Look At Azizabad And Wall Street

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I've made a few mistakes lately and it's time to 'fess up. I was wrong about the Azizabad massacre, and I was wrong about the Wall Street bailout, too. Oops.

The Azizabad Massacre

On August 22, an American airstrike killed more than 90 innocent people in Afghanistan. Most of them were sleeping children.

At the time, I assumed the Pentagon would write off the victims as "collateral damage" and I wrote a piece to that effect. But that didn't happen; instead our military spokesmen denied the story, saying that the airstrike had killed at least 25 "militants" and that at most five civilians had been killed.

Investigators from Afghanistan and the UN went to the scene, interviewed the survivors, looked at the graves, and confirmed the original reports. But the Pentagon stuck to its story. I wrote a second post on the attack in which I mentioned that the damage to civilians was even worse than what had been reported; I also mentioned that the word was being leaked: the Americans had been deceived. An unidentified spokesman blamed the attack on misinformation that the Americans had been given by the Taliban. But the US still didn't admit killing all those people.

Instead Pentagon spokesmen insisted that the UN and Afghan inspectors had been fooled by the survivors of the attack, who (according to the Pentagon) had made up the story about all their relatives being killed. The US even accused the survivors of fabricating evidence -- dead children in graves, and so on. No American investigator ever visited the scene, no Pentagon representative asked any questions on the ground. Instead they just told us what they wanted us to believe. And it was all a pack of lies, of course.

I say "of course" because this is only the latest in a long series of events in which Americans have killed innocent people on the ground in Afghanistan and then lied about it repeatedly. The civilian casualties and the lies intended to cover them have even caused a strain in the Afghan-US "relationship".

If this strain ever got serious it could jeopardize the entire US occupation of Afghanistan, which would be a very good thing in my opinion because the US has no business occupying Afghanistan. The bombing, invasion and subsequent occupation are war crimes and crimes against humanity, just as our crimes against Iraq have been -- though very few will say so.

But I'll say it: the war in Afghanistan would be entirely unjustified, even if the official story of 9/11 were true, which it obviously isn't.

I was still following the Azizabad story when my computer began to break down, and I didn't get a chance to follow up on my two early stories. But Carlotta Gall, veteran war reporter for the New York Times, traveled to the scene, looked at the evidence, talked to the people, and filed a report that left no doubt that the UN and Afghan investigators had been right along, and that the Pentagon had been blowing smoke up our backsides once again -- with enormous assistance from the American "news" media.

The Times of London posted a graphic cell-phone video from the scene of the atrocity, and reported:
As the doctor walks between rows of bodies, people lift funeral shrouds to reveal the faces of children and babies, some with severe head injuries.

Women are heard wailing in the background. “Oh God, this is just a child,” shouts one villager. Another cries: “My mother, my mother.”

The grainy video eight-minute footage, seen exclusively by The Times, is the most compelling evidence to emerge of what may be the biggest loss of civilian life during the Afghanistan war.

These are the images that have forced the Pentagon into a rare U-turn. Until yesterday the US military had insisted that only seven civilians were killed in Nawabad on the night of August 21.
The Times has much more to say, including:
In the video scores of bodies are seen laid out in a building that villagers say is used as a mosque; the people were killed apparently during a combined operation by US special forces and Afghan army commandos in western Afghanistan. The film was shot on a mobile phone by an Afghan doctor who arrived the next morning.

Local people say that US forces bombed preparations for a memorial ceremony for a tribal leader. Residential compounds were levelled by US attack helicopters, armed drones and a cannon-armed C130 Spectre gunship.
That's a C130 in the photo, and for the war-porn shot shown here it was shooting flares. For the sleeping children, they used live ammo.

Chris Floyd picked up on Carlotta Gall's report and wrote an excellent post about it, and Glenn Greenwald read Chris and wrote a good piece about it too. Here Greenwald quotes Floyd:
The mass death visited upon the sleeping, defenseless citizens of Azizabad encapsulates many of the essential elements of this global campaign of "unipolar domination" and war profiteering: the callous application of high-tech weaponry against unarmed civilians; the witless attack that alienates local supporters and empowers an ever-more violent and radical insurgency; and perhaps the most quintessential element of all -- the knowing lies and deliberate deceits that Washington employs to hide the obscene reality of its Terror War.
Greenwald drew attention to the amazing fact that the Pentagon's story had been broadcast into America's living rooms on a daily basis by FOX News, which was featuring reports from an "independent journalist".

It turned out that the "independent journalist" was none other than Oliver North, the convicted serial liar who was a useful tool of evil back in the days of the "Iran/Contra Scandal".

How quaint: a scandal!

To think there could even be one of those in these post-9/11 days. Sigh.

Greenwald also quoted Dan Froomkin quoting George Bush:
"Regrettably, there will be times when our pursuit of the enemy will result in accidental civilian deaths. This has been the case throughout the history of warfare. Our nation mourns the loss of every innocent life. Every grieving family has the sympathy of the American people."
Froomkin's comment:
It's a bit hard to convince people that our nation mourns the loss of every innocent life when we don't even acknowledge them.
He's playing on understatement, of course. It's not "a bit hard". It's impossible.

The photo of the injured Afghan boy comes to us courtesy of the AP via Froomkin's post at Nieman Watchdog.

Now I'm thinking back to the Bush quote:
Regrettably, there will be times when our pursuit of the enemy will result in accidental civilian deaths.
He didn't actually use the term "collateral damage" but he said virtually the same thing. So maybe I wasn't entirely wrong after all. But all those people are still dead.

And, unless I am much mistaken, they're dead because Americans called in an airstrike based on a tip they got from the "enemy". It's utterly preposterous, and despicable, and much worse than I originally thought it could be. Fool me once ...

The Wall Street Bailout

... fool me twice!

I was also wrong about the Wall Street bailout. On Sunday, I wrote a brief post congratulating my fellow citizens on our purchase of "toxic waste" "worth" $700 billion, and now it turns out that the purchase is off, or at least it has been delayed, after the House of Representatives refused to pass a bill backed by the President and the House leaders of both parties.

The vote was 228 to 205 against the bill, and the bipartisan breakdown is instructive: 65 Republicans and 140 Democrats voted for the bailout, while 133 Republicans and 95 Democrats voted against it.

In other words, more than 67% of the Republicans voted against the measure, while nearly 60% of the Democrats voted for it.

The Republicans have usually voted together, especially when the twice-unelected president has expressed firm views. And Bush has made his support of this bailout proposal very clear.

So there's no question that the president has been rebuffed by his own party on this matter. But -- as Chris Floyd points out -- this is not news; last month the big elephants didn't even let the little chimp speak at their convention.

Meanwhile, the donkey house leadership -- exemplified by Miss Impeachment-Is-Off-The-Table, Nancy Pelosi -- despite their best efforts, could only muster 60% of their "colleagues" in support of this obviously criminal president. So Pelosi has not only shown her truly treasonous colors once again; she's been rebuffed by a significant portion of her own party as well.

Nonetheless, House leaders and presidential mouthpieces say, they will try again to get this bill passed, perhaps later in the week. So the deal is not undone yet, and my reporting may have been more "premature" than "wrong".

Or it could be that, like the Azizabad story, the reality is much worse than my early reports indicated.

As it was becoming evident that the congress would not pass the bailout measure, the Federal Reserve announced that it
will pump an additional $630 billion into the global financial system...
There's no congressional vote on that, my friends, and we're not getting any toxic waste in return. It's just the first of many donations that will be made in rapid succession, unless I am very wrong.

The purpose of this particular transfusion is to
settle the funding markets down, and allow trust to slowly be restored between borrowers and lenders
as Bloomberg helpfully explains.

And that's the end of reality as a motive force, as far as I can tell.

The best way to restore trust between borrowers and lenders would be to resume the enforcement of laws against predatory lending practices, and to let the firms that have made too many bad investments disappear.

Arthur Silber, who has been digging very deeply into this story lately, reports that "the crisis" may cost as much as $5 trillion before they stop throwing money at it. Of course, by that time, things will be much worse than they are now.

And there's the rub.

The bailout is not a solution to the problem. It could never be a solution and it could never be taken seriously as a potential solution, for the simple reason that the problem is insoluble.

It's not even one problem. It's a tangled mess of problems, some of which were almost certainly created deliberately by our government and its best friends, primarily in order to separate us from our money.

The problems include: an insane level of military spending; repeated cuts to the funding of our social systems and physical infrastructure; excessive tax cuts, especially for the excessively rich; extreme deregulation, especially of the financial "industry"; the movement of formerly American industries to foreign countries; increasing global population; limited global resources; increasing destruction of our natural environment; and the strain of committing multiple war crimes simultaneously. All these forces acting together mean that things are getting more expensive, and that we are becoming less able to afford them.

We can't change any of this by giving hundreds of billions of dollars to the banks that have done the worst job of managing their investments, no matter how many hundreds of billions of dollars we give them.

Thus the "solution" cannot work; it doesn't even begin to address the problem; its only possible purpose is to steal your money and give it to some of the people who are most responsible for the mess we're in today.

So why would we do it?

Gimme an "F". Gimme an "E". Gimme an "A". Gimme an "R". What's that spell?

Some of the details in this NYT piece could be classified under "blackmail" ... or "extortion" ... or "terrorism". Like this:
Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr., appearing at the White House late Monday afternoon, warned that the failure of the rescue plan could dry up credit for businesses big and small, making them unable to make payrolls or buy inventory. Vowing to continue working with Congress to revive the rescue plan, Mr. Paulson said it was “much too important to simply let fail.”

Supporters of the bill had argued that it was necessary to avoid a collapse of the economic system, a calamity that would drag down not just Wall Street investment houses but possibly the savings and portfolios of millions of Americans. Moreover, supporters argued, a lingering crisis in America could choke off business and consumer loans to a degree that could prompt bank failures in Europe and slow down the global economy.
And this:
Stock markets plunged as it appeared that the measure would go down to defeat, and kept slumping into the afternoon when that appearance became a reality. By late afternoon the Dow industrials had fallen more than 5 percent, and other indexes even more sharply. Oil prices fell steeply on fears of a global recession; investors bid up prices of Treasury securities and gold in a flight to safety. [...]

House leaders pushing for the package kept the voting period open for some 40 minutes past the allotted time at mid-day, trying to convert “no” votes by pointing to damage being done to the markets, but to no avail.

and this:
The United States Chamber of Commerce vowed to exert pressure, warning in a letter to members of Congress that it would keep track of who votes how. “Make no mistake,” the letter said. “When the aftermath of Congressional inaction becomes clear, Americans will not tolerate those who stood by and let the calamity happen.”
I've got news for you: The calamity is already happening, Americans have stood by and watched it develop for years without doing anything about it, and it's going to continue regardless of whether or not the federal government gives a few criminal banks more of our money than anyone can possibly imagine.

I've got more news for you: a scoop before its time, if you will...

Electing John McCain won't solve the problem.

Electing Barack Obama won't solve it either.

Now What?

I can't shake the feeling that these two stories are tied together in ways that transcend the obvious "WP was wrong".

For instance, I wonder whether a nation which tolerates -- not to say thrives on -- deliberate lies about the people it has killed, could possibly deserve anything other than a full-spectrum economic meltdown.

The USA has been attacking defenseless countries for generations.

What goes around, comes around.

And it's been a long time coming.

--MORE--"

The Terrorist Who Made Sense

"IN “BIZARRO WORLD,” WHO DO SO-CALLED “TERRORIST” LEADERS MAKE MORE SENSE THAN OUR OWN?


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